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Fiji to Dump Queen from Currency

Voreqe Bainimarama
© Agence France-Presse
Fiji will drop Queen Elizabeth II from its currency and replace her with local plants and animals, the South Pacific nation's military ruler Voreqe Bainimarama (pictured) has announced
Fiji will drop Queen Elizabeth II from its currency and replace her with local plants and animals, the South Pacific nation's military ruler Voreqe Bainimarama has announced.

Bainimarama, who seized power in a bloodless coup in 2006, said Fiji's cabinet had accepted his recommendations for new designs on the country's 10 coin and note denominations, none of which featured the Queen.

"Important and iconic flora and fauna of Fiji has been selected to replace Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II?s portrait," he said in a statement released Tuesday.

He said the new coins would be introduced in June next year.

Bainimarama, who holds the titles of Prime Minister and Finance Minister among a clutch of other portfolios, gave no reason for the change.

Britain supported the Commonwealth's decision to suspend Fiji in 2009 after Bainimarama's government broke a promise to restore democracy following the coup.

X

France: Dior Fires John Galliano After Bigotry Complaints

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© Remy De La Mauviniere/Associated Press
The British fashion designer John Galliano in Paris in July 2010 at the end of the presentation of his Fall-Winter 2010-2011 Haute Couture collection for Christian Dior.
The French fashion house Christian Dior said Tuesday that it would dismiss its chief designer, John Galliano, after the surfacing of a video that showed his anti-Semitic outbursts at a Paris bar.

In a brief statement, Sidney Toledano, Dior Couture's chief executive, said he condemned ''in the strongest terms'' Mr. Galliano's words, ''which are in total contradiction with the essential values that have always been defended by the Christian Dior house.''

Dior, however, was still planning to go ahead with its autumn/winter 2011 ready-to-wear show on Friday as part of Paris fashion week. A spokeswoman for a separate label, John Galliano, said its women's wear show would also go ahead as scheduled Sunday.

Known as the ''bad boy'' of the fashion world for his flamboyant and provocative style, Mr. Galliano helped to energize Dior after he joined it in 1996 as creative director, increasing sales and making it a jewel of the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton luxury-goods empire run by the French billionaire Bernard Arnault. LVMH also owns the John Galliano line. Olivier Labesse, a spokesman for LVMH, did not return calls seeking comment on the designer's role there.

The departure of one of its most important designers has left the fashion world buzzing with questions. Dior, which was founded in 1945, is one of the few labels still specializing in haute couture.

In its statement, Dior said it had ''immediately suspended relations'' with Mr. Galliano and ''initiated dismissal procedures.'' It cited the ''particularly odious comments'' contained in the video posted Monday.

The video was posted on the Web site of the British tabloid newspaper The Sun. It appeared to show Mr. Galliano taunting patrons at a Paris bar, declaring in a slurred voice that ''I love Hitler'' and that ''people like you would be dead,'' and ''your mothers, your forefathers'' would all be ''gassed.'' It was unclear when the video was recorded or who recorded it.

Attention

More Than 140,000 People Flee Libya

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© The Associated Press / Benjamin Girette
Egyptian, Tunisian and Libyan refugees in Ras Ajdir at the Tunisia-Libya border, Tuesday, March 1, 2011
The United Nations refugee agency says over the past 10 days, more than 140,000 people have fled to Egypt and Tunisia from Libya. The UNHCR says tens of thousands of people are stuck at the borders and in urgent need of help.

The U.N. refugee agency says the situation at the Libya-Tunisia border is chaotic. It says 14,000 people crossed the border Monday, the highest number to date.

The agency says it is crucial to move tens of thousands of people away from the overcrowded border to avoid a humanitarian crisis. But transportation is scarce.

UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming says the agency has erected 1,500 tents, which can shelter 12,000 people. And she says two airlifts planned for Thursday will deliver tents and supplies for up to 10,000 people.

"We have now visited the border entry point to Tunisia. What is unfortunate is that thousands of people are waiting on the Libyan side of the border to enter. Some for as long as three days. They are obliged to spend the night outside in the bitter cold without shelter. We are very concerned that a large number of sub-Saharan Africans are not being allowed into Tunisia at this point. We are in negotiation with self-appointed volunteers from the local community who are guarding the border," she said.

Handcuffs

U.S. Arrests 678 Gang Members, Many Tied to Mexico Cartels

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© QUADRATIN, AFP/Getty Images
Federal Police officers stand by a blockade on the Apatzingan-Morelia road, in Morelia, Michoaca State, Mexico, on December 9, 2010. Gunmen from La Familia cartel drug blocked several roads in Michoacan State during a confrontation between drug cartels and Federal Police, said the state government of Morelia.
A two-month operation by U.S. authorities has led to the arrests of 678 gang members from 113 different gangs, including 13 linked to Mexican drug cartels, a top law enforcement official said Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) teamed up with 170 law enforcement agencies around the country for operation "Southern Tempest" targeting violent gangs linked to international drug trafficking organizations.

Around two-thirds of those arrested are foreign nationals and nearly half have ties to drug trafficking groups, mainly in Mexico, ICE director John Morton told reporters.

"The purpose of this effort was to target violent street gangs associated with drug cartels, particularly in Mexico," Morton said.

The announcement of the wave of arrests came two weeks after ICE agent Jaime Zapata was shot dead while travelling in his car with another U.S. federal agent in Mexico.

Last week, the Mexican military arrested a suspect in Zapata's slaying, and days later detained the alleged shooter's boss, a member of the Zetas drug cartel.

Attention

Canada: No Bail for Couple Accused of Leaving Mother in Garage

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© Brett Gundlock, National Post
David Hao, lawyer for Kwong Yan and Qi Tan leaves the Ontario Court of Justice, Tuesday March 01, 2011 in Toronto, Ont. Hao and Yan have been charged with failing to provide necessities of life, and criminal negligence causing bodily harm after their elderly mother was found in their garage.
A couple accused of making the husband's mother live in a freezing garage since last November has been denied bail, following a video-link courthouse appearance here Tuesday morning.

Kwong Yan, 43, appeared from Toronto East Detention Centre wearing an orange prison suit. Qi Tan, 28, appeared from Vanier Centre for Women.

Yan and Tan turned themselves in to police on Friday, said David Hao, a lawyer who appeared on the couple's behalf at the Ontario Court of Justice.

Police charged them with failure to provide the necessities of life and criminal negligence causing bodily harm after Yan's 68-year-old mother was found by paramedics last Wednesday, in response to a call from Yan.

Police said the woman was unconscious, frostbitten and malnourished.

Hao, who said he has not officially been retained, said the couple came to see him Thursday at his North York, Ont., office, a day before giving themselves up to police.

"They were mainly upset about their mother's illness and not about the charges pending against them," Hao said.

The court remanded the couple into custody and set their next appearance for March 15 at College Park courthouse.

Light Saber

Wisconsin Police Have Joined Protest Inside State Capitol

madison protest police
© Unknown
From inside the Wisconsin State Capitol, RAN ally Ryan Harvey reports:

"Hundreds of cops have just marched into the Wisconsin state capitol building to protest the anti-Union bill, to massive applause. They now join up to 600 people who are inside."

Ryan reported on his Facebook page earlier today:

"Police have just announced to the crowds inside the occupied State Capitol of Wisconsin: 'We have been ordered by the legislature to kick you all out at 4:00 today. But we know what's right from wrong. We will not be kicking anyone out, in fact, we will be sleeping here with you!' Unreal."

You can find more updates from Ryan Harvey on Twitter @ryanharveysongs and his blog Even If Your Voice Shakes.

UPDATE: This video says it all. It makes me proud of my neighbors. "Let me tell you Mr. Walker, this is not your house, this is all our house."


Jenn Breckenridge is a whip smart liberal treehuggin' b-girl from San Francisco by way of VA, D.C., Philly, Brooklyn and LA. After starting up several green dot coms and freelancing as a social media strategist for eco-conscious companies, Jenn busted onto the NGO scene as the social media manager for Rainforest Action Network. Everyone around here loves her and she loves everyone else. Ms. Breckenridge plans on winning this whole environmental thing. (Yes, I wrote this myself. What?) As RAN's social media manager, Jenn can be found on Twitter: @RAN

Family

UK: 29-yr-old Woman is Set to Become Britain's Youngest Grandmother

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© Alamy
History repeating itself: Kelly John and Shem Davies became parents at 14 - now their daughter Tia is expecting a child with her boyfriend Jordan Williams
A woman who is set to become Britain's youngest grandmother at 29 said it was 'her worst nightmare' when she discovered her 14-year-old daughter was pregnant.

Kelly John said she always hoped Tia would not repeat her mistake and become pregnant at 14.

But after getting over the shock, the grandmother-to-be has vowed to do 'everything' to bring up the new baby.

Schoolgirl Tia and her baby-faced 4ft 11in 15-year-old boyfriend Jordan Williams have vowed to prove they can be good parents despite their age.

But Tia's father - Shem Davies - who split with her mother years ago, said at the same age he had expected to stay with Kelly forever and bring up his daughter.

He told the News of the World: 'I just didn't know how to be a dad - I was still a kid myself.'

The couple broke up at the age of 15 - and now his daughter has fallen pregnant he is hoping she will not do the same thing.

Tia and her boyfriend Jordan said they usually used condoms - and see the baby as a blessing.

Heart - Black

US: Baby Stabbed to Death by Teenage Father After Child Abduction in Palmdale

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© KTLA News
Child Abduction Suspect Crashes While Being Pursued by Police
A 5-month old boy stabbed by his teenage father during a child abduction in Palmdale has died, authorities say.

Palmdale Sheriff's Station deputies responded to a report of a child abduction in Palmdale at about 11:00AM, Tuesday.

An Amber Alert was issued for the child and his father, 17-year old Christopher Earl Glass, around 2:00 Tuesday afternoon.

According to the alert, Glass picked up his 5-month-old son from a relative's home earlier today and drove to the child's mother's home.

The two argued, and Glass drove off with the boy still inside his white SUV.

Glass then allegedly sent a text message to the mother, threatening to stab the boy.

Evil Rays

Australia: Cyberbullying an epidemic

Cyber bullying
© Thinkstock
Cyber bullying is becoming a serious problem
One in four school children is being bullied using modern technology, and that frightening ratio could go even higher as more children get access to computers and phones.

Traditional schoolyard bullying is now taking place over the internet and via phone messages.

A 2008 Galaxy Research poll found one-quarter of schoolchildren suffer from cyberbullying, but Alannah and Madeline Foundation cybersafety general manager Jackie Van Vugt said that figure could be higher.

"We have research showing 1 in 10 students is being cyberbullied every few weeks," she says. "The latest research we have was done a few years ago now, and evidence from overseas shows it's at much higher rates in the US and the UK now."

Info

Large majority of Americans back public employee union rights: poll

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© Unknown
Washington - Americans want to maintain the collective bargaining rights of public employee unions by a nearly two-to-one margin, according to a new New York Times/CBS poll.

Sixty percent said they oppose attempts in states like Wisconsin to curtail those rights, while only 33 percent said they support those efforts. Seven percent had no opinion.

The results may reflect a growing backlash against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), who has for weeks been involved in a high-profile standoff with state Democrats and union supporters over his budget plan, which would curtail union bargaining rights.