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Mississippi Delta has many stories to tell

By BETH J. HARPAZThe Associated Press

CLARKSDALE, Miss. The Mississippi Delta has no shortage of museums, historic attractions and clubs devoted to the blues. But visitors will find the region has many other stories to tell, from the cotton plantations where African-American families worked and lived in desperate poverty to culinary traditions that reflect a surprising ethnic diversity. THE BLUES TRAIL AND MUSEUMS

You can’t miss the big blue guitars marking the famous crossroads of Highways 61 and 49 in Clarksdale. This is where, according to legend, Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil to learn how to play the blues. Roadside signs for the Mississippi Blues Trail make it easy to find other sites as well, from Clarksdale’s Riverside Hotel, where Bessie Smith died, to the Dockery Farms cotton plantation in Cleveland, where many pioneering bluesmen lived, worked and made music, among them Charley Patton, Roebuck “Pops” Staples and Howlin’ Wolf.

A sign in a field at Clarksdale’s Stovall Plantation notes that Muddy Waters’ songs were recorded here in 1941 by musicologist Alan Lomax as he collected folk music for the Library of Congress. The sharecropper’s shack that Waters lived in has been restored and relocated to the nearby Delta Blues Museum . In Indianola, the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center pays tribute to King’s life and legacy. He’s buried there as well. These museums and others use photos, artifacts, videos and other exhibits to explore the blues’ roots, beginning with African musical traditions brought to the South by slaves. Because Delta cotton plantations were relatively isolated, musical styles developed here uninfluenced by trends elsewhere. But eventually many African-Americans who barely eked out a living working for white landowners in the decades after the Civil War migrated away from the South, seeking economic opportunity elsewhere along with an escape from segregation and racial terror. Muddy Waters left the Delta for Chicago in 1943. B.B. King left Mississippi for Memphis, where he got his big break at radio station WDIA. These and other bluesmen were worshipped by 1960s music giants like Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones. “Muddy Waters’ music changed my life,” said Eric Clapton. As the title of one of Waters’ songs puts it, “The Blues Had A Baby And They Named It Rock And Roll.”


Stop in Cat Head, a Mississippi blues music and gift store in Clarksdale, for a chat with owner Roger Stolle, a blues fan who moved there to “help pull the blues scene together in a way that would get people to come.” Local clubs stagger their schedules so you can hear live music every night. Stolle keeps a list online of who’s playing where .

Clarksdale’s best-known club is Ground Zero, co-owned by actor Morgan Freeman and Clarksdale Mayor Bill Luckett, but blues fans may be disappointed by party-vibe bands playing songs here like “Sweet Home Alabama.” A more interesting venue is Red’s. Don’t be fooled by its rundown appearance and tiny, informal living room-style interior. Red’s showcases under-the-radar, brilliantly talented musicians like Lucious Spiller whose performances will make you realize why the blues still matter. Delta festivals include the Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival, Aug. 11-13, and the Oct. 12-15 Deep Blues Fest. Next year’s Juke Joint Festival will be April 12-15, 2018. FOOD, LODGING AND CURTAINED BOOTHS

Mississippi cuisine isn’t just catfish and barbecue. Doe’s, in Greenville, where a security guard watches over your car as you dine and walks you to the parking area when you leave, is known for steaks the size of your head and has been recognized by the James Beard Foundation. Chamoun’s Rest Haven in Clarksdale, founded by a Lebanese family in the 1940s, serves some of the best kibbe you’ll find outside the Middle East. At Larry’s Hot Tamales, ask owner Larry Lee to share stories of how Mexican tamales became a scrumptious Mississippi staple. For upscale bistro fare like ceviche and roasted vegetables, try Yazoo Pass in Clarksdale.

To learn more about culinary traditions in Mississippi and elsewhere in the South, visit the Southern Foodways Alliance website. Delta accommodations range from motels to the Alluvian, a luxury boutique hotel in Greenwood. The city, once a major shipping point for Delta cotton, is also where the movie “The Help” was filmed. Today Greenwood is headquarters for Viking Range, the kitchen appliance manufacturer, and a Viking cooking school (classes fill up fast so book ahead). Other Greenwood spots include the excellent Turnrow bookstore and the tasting room for the Winery at Williams Landing, which specializes in wines made from Mississippi-grown muscadine grapes. Pick up a bottle for dinner at Lusco’s, a BYOB restaurant famous for whole grilled pompano fish and for curtained booths that offered cotton traders privacy for business deals, romantic liaisons and alcohol consumption. A unique lodging option in the Delta is spending the night in a preserved sharecropper’s shack at the Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale or at Tallahatchie Flats in Greenwood. Some travelers may find the concept offensive as a sugarcoating of the misery experienced by those who had no choice but to live this way. But for others, a night spent in a rustic cabin that rattles with the howling wind or shakes to its foundations in a thunderstorm may evoke the very vulnerability that makes the blues so haunting.

The Real Story Behind the ‘Somali Pirates VS Ship’s Private Security …

The Real Story Behind The 'Somali Pirates VS Ship's Private Security ...A team member of a private security team aboard the MV Avocet points his weapon at an incoming pirate skiff in the Arabian Sea, likely sometime in 2011.

We have come a long way since the height of Somali piracy when highly organized pirate gangs roamed the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean in search of merchant ships to hijack for multi-million dollar ransoms. During the most active years, from 2008 to 2012, armed pirates were attacking hundreds of ships per year[1], successfully pirating more than 130 vessels and taking their crews hostage some of whom were held captive for years[2] in the most abominable conditions imaginable. Fortunately, a combination of international naval presence in the region and private armed security teams contracted by the ship owners was successful in suppressing the scourge of piracy in Horn of Africa region. And while a spate of recent incidents bearing the characteristics of Somali piracy during its peak have been a cause for alarm, Somali piracy is far from the point it was at over a half-decade ago. So when a video posted last week by a supposedly pro-seafarer page showing a shipboard security team opening fire on an incoming pirate skiff went viral, we thought it was necessary to provide some context and/or details since absolutely none was given.

The video in question is titled Somali Pirates VS Ship s Private Security Guards and since it was posted last Thursday it has racked up over 12 million views, easily reaching YouTube s top trending list. It has also prompted some publishers to re-post as if this just happened. The problem is, the video is now more five years old.

Video Details

The video in question was originally posted online by an unidentified source in April 2012. Details of the video were not immediately clear in the original posting on LiveLeak[3], but in May 2012 Bloomberg was able to track down the video s origin[4] and shed some light on the incident after it sparked a debate about the guards use of of force, which many at the time called excessive. Here s the video in question:

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According to the Bloomberg report, the video first appeared at a shipping conference in December 2011 and was filmed by a team member from the Norfolk, Virginia-based private security firm Trident Group while operating aboard the MV Avocet, a 53,462 dwt bulk carrier owned by New York-based Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc. In the Bloomberg article, Thomas Rothrauff, president of Trident Group, defended the team s actions, saying their operating procedures were legal and in full compliance with rules for use of force. In the report, Rothrauff even noted that at least some of the boat s occupants were probably killed or injured, although there is no way to know for sure. We re not in the business of counting injuries, Rothrauff told Bloomberg at the time.

Rothrauff added that the attack shown in the video was the second in 72-hours launched by pirates operating from a nearby mothership, and also said that the pirates in the video were returning fire, although it is somewhat hard to tell from the video. The report also noted that all of Trident Group s operations are shot on video, and the video is technically owned by the hiring company, which in this case is Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc.

So why the re-post now?

For one, Somali piracy is back in the news[5] after years of calm. In March, Somali pirates were able to hijack their first commercial ship since 2012[6] the oil tanker Aris 13. The vessel was released a few days later following a clash with local maritime forces and no ransom was paid. Since then, there have been a handful of other incidents that have added to the concern, but nothing compared to what we were seeing during the height of piracy. The good news, currently Somali pirates have no commercial vessels or hostages under their control. So, to the re-uploaders of this video, we say shame on you. While you may claim to be a group highlighting the lives of all those connected to the high seas. In our opinion, all you are doing is creating confusion by regurgitating old content, which you do not own, without context or details, and all for the sole reason of generating views and income. If you really cared about the seafaring community, you would donate 100% of the proceeds from video to any one of the number of charities helping seafarers and former hostages who are still struggling with the lasting effects of piracy on the high seas.


  1. ^ attacking hundreds of ships per year (
  2. ^ held captive for years (
  3. ^ posting on LiveLeak (
  4. ^ the video s origin (
  5. ^ Somali piracy is back in the news (
  6. ^ Somali pirates were able to hijack their first commercial ship since 2012 (

Masked men rob security guard collecting cash from Holmes Chapel supermarket

Police are appealing for information after three masked men robbed a security guard collecting cash from a Holmes Chapel supermarket today (Monday). The robbery happened at approximately 11.45am at Aldi on Manor Lane. Cheshire Police say three unknown men drove into the Aldi car park in a black Vauxhall Astra.

The men, who were all dressed in black and wearing balaclavas, then got out of the car and approached a G4S security guard who was collecting cash from the store. They pushed the guard to the floor before stealing a quantity of cash that he was carrying. The men then got back into the Astra and fled the scene, first travelling on southbound on Manor Lane, before turning right onto Chester Road and then left into Selkirk Drive, before parking the car at Holmes Chapel Leisure Centre.

After parking the car one person was seen exiting the vehicle and fleeing the scene. Detective Sergeant Steven Smith said: We are currently following a number of lines of enquiry and as part of the investigation I m keen to hear from anyone who has any information in relation to this incident.

I d specifically like to hear from anyone who believes that they may have seen the black Vauxhall Astra as it travelled away from the store along Manor Lane and Chester Road, as we believe that this is where two of the offenders have exited the Astra and possibly got into a second vehicle. Anyone with any information in relation to the incident is asked to contact Cheshire Police on 101 quoting incident number 287 of 24 April 2017. Information can also be passed anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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