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Titanic Tales: The Costa Concordia

Photo: An oil removal ship is seen next to the Costa Concordia cruise ship as it ran aground off the west coast of Italy at Giglio island, January 16, 2012. Over-reliance on electronic navigation systems and a failure of judgement by the captain are seen as possible reasons for one of the worst cruise liner disasters of all time, maritime specialists say. (REUTERS/ Max Rossi)

When I read hastily the headlines on Jan 14—a shipwreck in Italy, seventy missing, three known dead—I immediately thought: it must be the Africans again. The refugees, the clandestine, the invisible, the nameless, the unwanted… Those "less-than-human" people coming from all over the world to the Italian coast, looking for a safe haven from dictatorships, from hunger.

My Somali Italian friend Suad, who works with her community In Italy now, urges her people in Somalia NOT to take that dangerous ride: even if you survive the trip, what waits for you in Italy can be fatal. Italy is in deep economic crisis today, on the verge of bankruptcy and social disorder. The new government struggling to remain a G8 power while the euro and United Europe are at stake. Italy also struggles to overcome a big moral value crisis after twenty years of Berlusconi's reign of sexism, racism, indolence and corruption.

But I was wrong about the Africans. It was a fancy cruise ship full of wealthy foreigners that wrecked unexpectedly near the island of Giglio.

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Response to Boing Boing post on "Police Pad" gadgets in Georgia, from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia

Editor's Note: In response to an anonymously-sourced wisecrack we published about police corruption in former Soviet states, the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs has responded with a statement, which we are more than happy to publish in full.

Georgian Police: Model for Successful Transformation

The article published on [Boing Boing on] January 12, 2012, about the initiative by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia to introduce new portable field computers (so called “Police Pads”) ends with an anonymous quote declaring that "100% guaranteed those crooked, fat, lazy cops will be using these devices primarily for porn and Russian gambling services."

Stereotypes like this are easy to toss out—but are quite simply incorrect. This quote does not reflect the productivity, effectiveness, transparency, and reliability of the police force in Georgia today, but rather the bygone era of the 1990s, a reality that has drastically changed thanks to an ambitious and successful reform process.

The reform process in Georgia began immediately after the 2003 Rose Revolution. The new government inherited a completely corrupt and bloated law-enforcement system. The systemic corruption and the high level of crime throughout the country resulted in a very low level of public trust: fewer than 10% of Georgians had confidence in the police, according to 2003 polls. And the very low average policeman's salary (approximately $68 per month) made the soliciting of bribes routine. 

Georgia has since made the creation of an efficient and modern police force a national priority, undertaking a series of reforms that sought to rebuild the national police force literally from the ground up. The entire national police force was fired, and a new force hired, trained and deployed with the aim of meeting the highest international standards of professionalism.

These reforms are widely regarded as an unqualified success. Having reduced corruption and bribe taking to levels comparable to those in Europe, the police in Georgia have earned the trust and respect of the public they serve:

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Guestblogger signing off!

diegodoppleganger.jpgI am signing off as a BB guest blogger. It has been a great deal of fun to post here occasionally and I was very happy to contribute to a site I have been reading for years. Thanks to all the BB editors who write articles provoking thoughts, laughter, and outrage. Particular thanks to Rob Beschizza for helping me craft my pieces and providing excellent layout work on a number of features. I will still be a not-so-mild-mannered professor and continue my work with CAPL to provide free, high quality, authentic images for the foreign language teaching community. Most of all, I would like to acknowledge to support of my family of three amazing kids and my smokin' hot wife Christy. She is also a foreign language professor and I have never met someone who is simultaneously so intelligent and kind hearted. Much of my work owes a great deal to her support and critical eye. Sláinte!

Welcome, guestblogger Jessamyn West!

Our next guestblogger is the incomparable activist geek librarian Jessamyn West, who, along with other library-hackers like Jenny Levine are part of a movement to redefine librarianship in the information age. I've been enjoying Jessamyn's projects and thoughts for years and it's a delight to have her here. Here's her official bio:
I'm a library technologist working in rural Vermont teaching people on the back end of the digital divide how to use computers.

I also help run MetaFilter.com, especially Ask MetaFilter and travel around the world talking about library technology issues. My blog, librarian.net talks a lot about the intersection of libraries, technology and politics.

I'm grumpy about the USA PATRIOT Act, threats to open access and bad laws shaping bad culture.

I like moss, snowshoeing, old books and the color orange.

Not only that, but she co-edited Revolting Librarians Redux, one of the most exciting books I've read in the past ten years.

Welcome, Jessamyn!

Chano Domínguez at the Jazz Standard in New York (photo-essay)

01 Chano D.jpg

(Boing Boing guestblogger Ned Sublette is an author, historian, photographer, and singer-songwriter who lives in New York City. His most recent book is "The Year Before The Flood." Photo above: Chano Domínguez, Dec. 3, Jazz Standard. Photos in this post: (c) 2009, Ned Sublette]

In presenting his version of Kind of Blue . . . [pianist Chano] Domínguez came with a quintet format I have not seen before: bass (Mario Rossy), cajón (Israel Piraña Suárez), a wailing flamenco vocal (Blas Córdoba, also on handclaps), and a handclappper (Tomasito) who also contributed bursts of percussive dance on a wooden mini-floor set at the front of the Standard's stage. So there were only two harmonic instruments and a voice, set against a rich, brittle rhythmic conversation.
steinwayth.jpgThat's from a review I wrote Friday morning, posted over at allaboutjazz.com, of Thursday night's splendid performance by Chano Domínguez at the Jazz Standard in New York. Now let me back up.

Last year I played the most amazing festival: the Voll-Damm Barcelona International Jazz Festival (Voll-Damm is the sponsor). That was the festival where I spent two days with Bebo and Chucho Valdés...

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