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Ground zero for news

What are the odds that Western New York would find itself at the center of the news universe twice within a matter of days?

There was, of course, the crash late Thursday of Flight 3407. The same day, an Orchard Park woman was beheaded in a grisly murder her estranged husband has been charged with.

The plane crash was front page news around the world. While it's taken a few days, the beheading has, as well. It was the second-most viewed story on the BBC's Web site when I checked Tuesday morning. CNN is among the other major news outlets that have given the story prominent play.

Interestingly enough, one major outlet that has not touched on the story yet, at least as of Tuesday evening, is the English-language edition of Al Jazerra. The only mention of the suspect comes in this story about his launching of a cable station featuring Muslim-oriented programming.

Elsewhere in the press, ugly stereotyping has surfaced because the accused is a Muslim. The head of the state chapter of the National Organization for Women has labeled it "apparently a terroristic version of honor killing." This from someone who I doubt knows anything about the case except what she's read in the newspapers.

The local Muslim community is dismayed over the murder and troubled by bigoted kneejerk reactions.

"Whenever a Muslim does something wrong, Islam goes on trial," said Nazim Mangera, imam of the Islamic Society of the Niagara Frontier.

To those who have been so quick to point the finger, before we really know what motivated the killer, let me remind you that the biggest mass murderer in American history, aside from the perpetrators of 9-11, is a white male from Pendleton who was raised a Roman Catholic.

Not that I ever saw his religion, lapsed as it was, in the headlines.

As for the plane crash, The News has at least 10 reporters still working the story. Their focus -- what caused the crash, and could it have been prevented? Similar to what the National Transportation Safety Board is doing.  

Elsewhere on the Web, sites worth checking out are Live Air traffic Control, this New York Times topic page on airline crashes and this legal site dealing with the worst kind of ambulance chasing.

Des forges Finally, there is this tribute page to Alison Des Forges, posted by Human Rights Watch. It includes links to other online coverage and links to some of her work on genocide. (The video above is from Democracy Now! The segment on Des Forges starts 1:45 into the clip and features an interview with Des Forges and one of her colleagues from Human Rights Watch.)

I can't say I knew Des Forges -- I interviewed her once by phone a long time ago on a topic I don't recall.

But I feel confident in saying that no one who ever walked the streets of this city ever did more noble work, and that this community is so much the poorer for her death.

If ever a soul deserved to rest in peace, it is Alison Des Forges.


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