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first_imgFrom the moment Jerome Suah’s first song, “Left Alone,” was recorded in 2007, it was received with positive feedback from family members and friends. His dream of becoming a reggae musician was just emerging; and since them, he has never backed down.“It was at that point that I decided to follow my musical career and chose the name ‘J. Younkonde’ as my stage name,” he said.At first J. Younkonde did not realize that being a musician was not going to be a walk in the park or in his case, becoming a star over night. But as time evolved, the young Liberian reggae star put in the hard work required for success.“With all this in mind,” he said, “I instantly got to work, with lots of sleepless nights, each time trying to perfect my musical talent.”After much hard work, one of his biggest breakthroughs came when J. Younkonde started performing for universities and other community events across America, including performances at UB University and the Chadron States College.Finally the biggest moment came when J. Younkonde was given the opportunity to do freestyle with Alicia Keys after getting her consensus to do so on the song “We Are Here.” Not just stopping at this point, the artist has started the year with a new single called “Struggle,” a song that speaks about the social issues in Africa and around the world. The song is making a wave on YouTube.“I feel that my dedication is paying off. As a reggae artist, I’m currently known as one of the best and stand out Liberian artists because of the style of reggae music I do and its powerful message,” he said.Liberia Music Award Foundation Country Representative, Joseph Junior Teah, spoke about him as the LMA 2015 nominee who rocked the stage at that event, and described him as one of the best raw and structured Liberian talents based in the United States, “and the energy he brings to the stage make him unique.”Teah added that the “artist represents change; from Don Bosco life to being a well-defined artist.”Like other Liberian children that experienced the devastating 14 years of civil war, J. Younkonde was separated from his parents at a very tender age. Because of this, he had to experience life in the streets of Monrovia, from one orphanage home to another.He said: “While I was at the St. John Don Bosco orphanage home, I was given the opportunity to attend Feama Community Elementary School and there I began my education sojourn. But not too long when another war broke out, I had to flee from Monrovia to go to my hometown in Grand Gedeh County, my parents’ birthplace.”Years later he was given the opportunity to migrate to New York; where in 2004, he purchased his first reggae album called “Reggae Power,” which was a defining moment on his journey to superstardom.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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first_imgWASHINGTON – Under federal law, the Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho should have been prohibited from buying a gun after a Virginia court declared him to be a danger to himself in late 2005 and sent him for psychiatric treatment, a state official and several legal experts said Friday. Federal law prohibits anyone who has been “adjudicated as a mental defective,” as well as those who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility, from purchasing a gun. A special justice’s order in late 2005 that directed Cho to seek outpatient treatment and declared him to be mentally ill and an imminent danger to himself fits the federal criteria and should have immediately disqualified him, said Richard J. Bonnie, chairman of the Virginia Supreme Court’s Commission on Mental Health Law Reform. A spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also said that if found mentally defective by a court, Cho should have been denied a gun. The federal law defines adjudication as a mental defective to include “determination by a court, board, commission or other lawful authority” that as a result of mental illness, the person is a “danger to himself or others.” Cho’s ability to buy two guns despite his history has cast new attention on the adequacy of background checks that scrutinize potential gun purchasers. And since federal gun laws depend on states for enforcement, the failure of Virginia to flag Cho highlights the often-incomplete information provided by states to federal authorities. Only 22 states submit any mental health records to the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System, the FBI said in a statement on Thursday. Virginia is the leading state in reporting disqualifications based on mental health criteria for the NICS system, the statement said. But Virginia state law on mental health disqualifications to firearms purchases is worded slightly differently from the federal statute. So the form that Virginia courts use to notify state police about a mental health disqualification only addresses the state criteria, which lists two potential categories that would warrant notification to the state police – someone who was “involuntarily committed” or ruled mentally “incapacitated.” “It’s clear we have an imperfect connection between state law and the application of the federal prohibition,” Bonnie said. The commission he leads was created by the state last year to examine the state’s mental health laws. Bonnie, the director of the University of Virginia Institute on Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy, said his panel would look into the matter: “We are going to fix this.” Bonnie said he believed similar problems exist elsewhere in the country: “I’m sure that the misfit exists in states across the country and the underreporting exists.” After two female students complained about his behavior in 2005, Cho was sent to a psychiatric unit for evaluation and then ordered to undergo outpatient treatment, which would not qualify as an involuntary commitment under Virginia law, Bonnie said. “What they did was use the terms that fit Virginia law,” he said. “They weren’t thinking about the federal. I suspect nobody even knew about these federal regulations.” But Christopher Slobogin, a law professor at the University of Florida who is an expert on mental health, said that under his reading of Virginia law, outpatient treatment could also qualify as involuntary commitment, meaning Virginia law should have barred him from buying a weapon as well, an interpretation that Bonnie said he and the state’s attorney general disagree with. Slobogin added that the federal statute “on the plain face of the language, it would definitely apply to Cho.” A spokesman for the Virginia state attorney general’s office declined to comment Friday, saying only that various agencies were “reviewing this situation.” Richard Marianos, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said Friday that federal and state officials were looking into the question, studying the court proceedings and testimony. But he added: “If he was adjudicated as a mental defective by a court, he should have been disqualified.” Dennis Henigan, legal director at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said the oversight on the federal law in Virginia has probably been occurring for some time. “They may have been doing this for years, just basically assuming, if the guy’s not disqualified under state law, then we don’t have to send anything to the state police,” Henigan said. “It’s a failure to recognize the independent obligation to the federal law.” Most states do not follow the letter of the federal law when it comes to the mental health provisions, said Ron Honberg, legal director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, an advocacy group. “I suspect if we look at all the requirements that exist for the states, there’s probably a whole lot of them that don’t implement them,” Honberg said, explaining that the gap often comes from a lack of resources but also because no one is enforcing the requirements. “When something like this happens, then people start to pay attention to this,” he said. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., has been pushing a bill to require states to automate their criminal-history records so that computer databases used to conduct background checks on gun buyers would be more complete. The bill would also require states to submit their mental health records to their background check systems and give them money to allow them to do so. According to gun control advocates, however, the mental health information submitted to the NICS is often spotty and incomplete, something McCarthy’s bill is designed to address. Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., a former member of the National Rifle Association’s board of directors, is co-sponsoring the bill, which has twice passed the House only to stall in the Senate. According to congressional aides, he is negotiating with pro-gun groups to develop language acceptable to them. “The NRA doesn’t have objections,” Dingell said in an interview. “There are other gun organizations on this that are problems.” A spokesman for the NRA declined to comment Friday on the legislation, but Dingell said the measure could prevent future tragedies: “It resolves some serious problems in terms of preventing the wrong people from getting firearms.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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first_imgSouth African traditional healer Sibonakaliso Mbili was sentenced to life imprisonment for influencing four persons to behead Indian-origin woman Desiree Murugan in 2014. Judge Thoba Poyo-Dlwati gave the ruling at the Durban High Court on Oct.4, and found that the four perpetrators — Jimmy Stanley Thelejala, Mlungisi Ndlovu, Mbali Magwala, and Falakhe Khumalo — lured Murugan to a Shallcross sports ground, before carrying out the killing.Murugan was killed by the four after Mbili promised Khumalo 2 million Rand ($153,000) for bringing the head of an Indian or white or colored woman, for use in illegal witchcraft practice. Murugan, a 39-year-old Indian-origin woman who hailed from Chatsworth, Durban, was stabbed 197 times and beheaded on Aug. 17, 2014. Her headless body was found at the Shallcross sports field.While Thelejala and Ndlovu were given 15-year jail terms, Magwala was sentenced to 12 years in prison. All the three were minor high school students at the time of committing the crime. Khumalo had pleaded guilty earlier and is serving life sentence. It was found that Thelejala and Ndlovu helped Khumalo kill and behead Murugan. Magwala did not actively participate in the act, but assisted the three by selecting her as a victim and washing her head in a bucket after the murder.“Mbili used his influence as a sangoma by promising them [teenagers] muthi that would not make them visible to police,” Judge Poyo-Dlwati said, News 24 reported. “I agree with the State that there are no substantial and compelling circumstances that will make the court deviate from the prescribed maximum sentence.” The judge pointed out that she had kept into view the fact that Mbili pleaded innocence even though there was strong evidence against him. Mbili was accused of cutting Murugan’s head into several pieces, placing them in tins and burying them in his yard.Poyo-Dlwati pointed out that the ruling should serve as a warning “that no matter your beliefs, don’t trample other humans’ right to life”.The Traditional Healers Association of South Africa had earlier condemned the practice of using human body parts as traditional medicines, saying it was done by rogue elements, mainly in rural areas, and maligned genuine traditional healers. Related ItemsDesiree MuruganIndian woman beheaded AfricaIndian woman murdered DurbanIndians South AfricaLittle IndiaSibonakaliso Mbililast_img read more

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