30 July MMXIV - When Winston Churchill was informed that Pearl Harbor had been attacked by the Japanesethat day of infamy for whom?thus coercing the United States to take part in World War II, the chubby war lover (warmonger?), who drank a glass of the very best French cognac every hour on the hour, and who now found more somebodies, drinking buddies, upon whom he could count on to fight the Nazis, he literally jumped for joy. (The death of one individual is a Tragedy, the death of millions is History.) The rest is History! And, while it was the sacrifices of the Soviets (30,000,000 casualtiesthe Soviet ambassador stationed at Caracas, Venezuela told me it might have been 40,000,000 slaughtered) who, in fact, destroyed the crazy Nazi regime, every 6 June, since 1944, the Americans, English, French (the principal ringleaders), et alia, stage a vulgar, just about ridiculous, diplomatic dramaturgy boasting (celebrating!) their title to fame for safeguarding this world from the tyranny of the Nazi madmen. The prime movers of the spectacular, one American president after the other, droppers of atomic weaponry on the non-celebrated Nagazaki and Hiroshima, agitators of the non-celebrated Korean War, instigators of carpet bombing during the non-celebrated Vietnam War, twice invaders of the non-celebrated Iraq, trespassers in the non-celebrated Afghanistan, and haughty landlords of hundreds of military bases scattered all over the world, have beatified themselves for seventy years still reminiscing on their exploits achieved on the Normandy beaches. (Oh, these Americans are a wonderful peopleif they aren't bombing you!) Listen to the medals of the ancient war veterans clinking aloud! The uniformed European draft-dodging nobility with their manicured fingers on The Button! The well-staged media presentations and the pious press conferences! Has anyone thought to ask even one of these old farts whether or not they think that their personal ritual killings were well worth the effort in saving this world for Richard Nixon, George Bush, Tony Blair, Prince Charles, Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande? And, heaven forbid, had Hitler won the war, would he have put our political clowns in a concentration camp? (We surely cannot!) And what about Josif Stalin who, when asked what he thought of the pope, said this: How many divisions has he got? I would love to run up to Josif today, if he were alive, and ask him: What do you think of Tony Blair, Josif? Which brings me to reflect on this: The Europeans (Western Civilization I) have been obtuse for 2000 years; the Americans (Western Civilization II) have been obtuse for 200 years! N'est-ce pas? Well...OK! If you don't believe me when I say that Western Civilization I and Western Civilization II are dumber than George Bush II and Tony Blair combined, please read John Maynard Keynes's The Economic Consequences of the Peace, Harcourt, Brace & Howe (1920), JMK's Swan Song after he resigned in disgust from the group formulating the draft of the Terms of Peace after World War I.
It is frustrating to see that the antagonisms of the Cold Warespecially those aggravating ones between the DisUnited States of America and the ex-Union of Soviet Socialist Republicshave been recently rekindled as a result of the deteriorating relations in common to the Russian Federation and Ukraine. Such enmities are very much not needed, at this time and place, in agitating the world's fragile geopolitical condition that which is putting overwhelming pressure on the DisUnited States' tenuous status as the Policeman of the World, and causing unrelenting anguish for peoples on our planet too many of whom wish the immediate wipeout of the DUS.
If we examine the world map it is immediately obvious that the Russian Federation is the largest sovereign state in the world. It encompasses 17,098,242 square kilometres and has a population of 142,470,272 (July 2014 Central Stupidity Agency estimate). In the 2010 Russian Federation census, 190 ethnic groups were surveyed. Enormous in magnitude, tremendous in ethnic representation, the RF (not Roger Federer!) has toiled for centuries in order to incorporate its vastness and satisfactorily respond to its multifaceted population which, according to the Marxist-Leninist tradition, must respect all human beings, including gay men and women, as equal participants in an equalized social setting. For these reasons, an authoritarian, centralized governing body has for centuries characterized the Muscovy-Soviet Union-Russian Federation's political, economic and social home dominion. This convoluted arrangement, not perfect, has not always peacefully manoeuvred.
Included in this land area is the world's largest steppe (cold region), The Great Steppe (Eastern Europe and Central Asia), a large, flat area of land with grass and very few trees, semi-arid and with a continental climate. (My friend Alexey Aleksandrovich Fedorov, who lives in Birsk, Siberia and is a professor at the University of Novosibirsk, told me that in winter temperatures tumble to -45°C and winds kick up to 60-80 kpheasily. AAF is lucky, he told me, because his apartment was built during the Soviet era and is still in relatively good condition, while newer, modern edifices are not constructed as well as those the commies fabricated. Of course, the RF's national, dilapidating heating network is not as reliable as it once was.) You can hear the generals in the Pentagon: Our boys fought courageously in the desert regions of the Middle East, and you can bet they will honor us upon the rolling treeless plains in the RF that are characteristic of arctic and subarctic regions, consist of black mucky soil with a permanently frozen subsoil, and have a dominant vegetation of mosses, lichens, herbs, and dwarf shrubs. The DisUnited States' Census Report regularly lists German-Americans as the largest ethnic grouping in the DUS. Would it be possible that the German-Americans (General John J Pershing, General Norman Schwarzkopf, General Dwight D Eisenhower, Sergeant Chuck Hagel, Donald Rumsfeld, Chester W Nimitz, Henry The Carpet Bomber Kissinger, et alia) could be, or could have been, so dumb enough to invade the RF as the lunatic Hitler did? I certainly do think so! I easily can imagine American troops humping along in -40°C temps and with 100-kilometer-per-hour winds blowing them along their merry, chauvinistic ways! Can Do attitude! Might is Right! Once you've got them by their b***s, their hearts and minds will follow! These holier-than-thou bouncers at the Doors of Evil throughout the world!
In the dawning years of the 21st century, the Russian Federation, in a delayed reaction, is experiencing a psychological coming out from the horrible events it endured during World War II. To somewhat actualize this dastardly occasion that destroyed the lives and spirits of hundreds of millions of individuals throughout the world, and placed Western Civilization in the docket literally questioning its authenticity and efficaciousness, we must regrettably refer to the World War II death lists. Some estimated numbers of combatants and non-combatants who were massacred for the time of WWII include the following: China: 15,000,000. Germany: 9,000,000. Poland 6,000,000. Soviet Union: 30,000,000-40,000,000. Jewish people: 6,000,000. Non-Jews including handicapped persons, prisoners of war, ethnic Poles, Slavs, gay men and women: incalculable millions. The Soviets lost approximately 10% of their total population, while the Poles sustained almost 20% of theirs. When you walk through Europe you can feel the blood squishing beneath your feetnotwithstanding the splendiferous Italian shoes PRADA and FERRAGAMO manufacture for you to give you that kick you need to get through the day's hectic occurrences. Explore the trends: Buckled Chain-Heel Cutout Sandal...Gladiator Sandals...Playful Printed Sneaks...Layer-cut Crystal-Covered Suede Sandals...Britt Leather Peep-toe Ankle Boots...Bowery Leather Open-toe Mules...Victory Leather Almond-toe Flats... Of course, you can instruct these shoe manufacturers on how exactly you want your shoe designed. Build your own boots! Click your heels wherever you go to let everyone know you are coming! Give your feet celebrity status!
It is beseechingfrom a philosophical, ethical perspectivethat the two World Wars and the massive casualties (combatants and non-combatants gauged to be some 200,000,000) incurred during their hideously destructive historical periods, be also analysed on the far side of the political, economic and social consequences that these two cataclysms for humankind inflicted during their demented butcheriesoutcomes which even thusly haunt our psyches today.
The other day I set out 100 uncooked edible beans on my kitchen table and then examined them carefully. After, I added another 900 to arrive at the 1000 sum that I thought might be revealing in some fascinating fashion. But was not. Subsequently, I purposefully dumbfounded myself: I reckoned I could not possibly multiply, for my mind to observe, 1000 raw beans by 30,000 beans in order to arrive at a 30,000,000 figurethe underestimated ( ? ) amount of Soviets stamped out in order to bring about the closing out of the Third Reich.
The visual images, or part of them, of some 30,000,000 Soviet dead, mangled, rotting, maggot-infested, sentient beings, soldiers, civilian men and women, childreneven animals if you wish to include themcaught up in artillery barrages, tank assaults, mortar attacks, rifle bursts, machine gun rakings, et cetera, would naturally, today, be blotted out on any news reporting in order not to offend sensitive viewers curious to take note of such devastatingly shocking visual takes which could forever leave upon them, us, horrible mental representationsthe idea being not to allow us to see to how low the beastliness of us might actually degenerate. (Do you know why?) Of course, in addition, it would be impossible to catalogue the devastation spent on Soviet homes, hospitals, schools, transportation systems, communications, libraries, shops, et alia. You say this is History? But, is it truly?
This killing field orchestrated by German and Soviet soldiers must have left even more mental scars (for fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, grandchildren, future generations...) than strictly physical onesespecially upon the Soviets and Russians. Today, the Germans are attempting to be not reminded of their atrocities. The Russians want to let go from their memories the atrociousness they levied upon the Germans when they invaded Deutschland. The Soviets, doomed twice, absorbed the savage bloodbath of the Germans, then became brutes themselves. Today, millions throughout the world, with the Russians, celebrate each year 9 May 1945, the day the Germans surrendered to the Soviets, just as the other allies lionize 6 June 1944. The Ribbon of Saint George is a patriotic symbol proudly wornto bequeath to forthcoming generations the memories and the sense of victory of one of History's most heinous carnagesby both the military and civilians. (Alexey sent me a piece of this ribbon, and although I keep it as a memento of Alexey's generosity, I cannot wear as a symbol of solemnization.) The vast difference in the number of military and civilian casualties between the Western European nations and the Soviet Union is stark. How can we say today that these sordid events can be flippantly recorded in our History books where they can be laid away between other chapters to eventually be failed to be thought of? (Do you know anyone reading a History book?)
Yet, today something striking is simmering in the Russian Federation's Psyche. There is a very poignant setting about on the part of the citizens of the Russian Federation eager to crawl out of the Black Hole they have been living in for decades, and now they are creating healthy psychological buffer zones in order to relieve their nation's disordered psychic and behavioral states resulting from severe mental or emotional stress and/or physical injury.
Let us take three examples. The Russian people are reaching out to other peoples in the world in a way that would have been beshrewed by Soviet authoritarians. Unfortunately, these breakaways can be afforded only by the Russian well-to-do classes and, of course, the new Russian billionaires. (One of these mega-rich individuals has frequently anchored his yacht off the coast of Forte dei Marmi in Italy, and with his entourage, vulgarly goes around the coastwise village showing off how much money he and his cohorts have. In fact, Italian waiters sometimes receive tips of thousands of €€€depending on how drunk and unstinting the Russian retinue is that day.) On the bright side of this unruliness, Russian moguls do pass on their experiences to other Russians, and this learning process, being spread around so well, gives other less flush Russians the confidence to visit the places where their silly tycoon exemplars have opened doors for them. The Italians are jumping for joy because these moneyed Russians are buying villas in Forte dei Marmi that Italians themselves cannot afford. And you can just imagine the prices the Italians are asking!
The second illustration is not just crass, nouveau riche capitalism as the previous one was, comrades! About a year ago, I met a very attractive young woman from St. Petersburg (once Leningrad), Russia's second largest city, Polya Alexeeva, who had come to Florence, Italy to study fashion. Polya is bright, enthusiastic and earnestly interested in accomplishing that which would enhance the reputation of her city and country in the eyes of the world. The spirit she conveyed to me was truly remarkable. Her open-mindedness and curiosity, an essential feature of her character, made me think that there are many Russians like her who are struggling to effectuate a Russian voltafaccia and demonstrate to everyone, including Russians, that there does exist the possibility of brighter days. In fact, Polya has the cutest of smiles! I enjoined her not to make a fetish out of fashion as how the Italians have done. Render style beautifulnot a design to mould over and over again ad nauseum. Do not imitate the Italians' penchant to frequently produce Trinkets of Vulgarity in place of genuinely beauteous creations.
Perhaps the definitive exemplification that amazed me most was the overly-successful Sochi February 2014 Olympics, the twenty-second Winter Olympics, at a cost overrun of $51 billion, the most expensive in the history of the Olympics. The common sense of the Russian people, who anxiously went about their ways doing their best to put on a presentation unequalled in Olympic history, saved the day and impressed all who witnessed the world-broadcast events. (Alexey served as a volunteer.) This occasion functioned to allow the Russian people to demonstrate to the world that they were concentrating their efforts to seek joy and free expression for themselves and the universe that was eyeing what would be the culmination of years and years of preparation for this unparalleled festivity. A national coming-together was invigorating the anima of the peoples of the Russian Federation. With the opening ceremony, 7 February 2014, visually sped throughout the world, hundreds of millions of people were awarded probably the finest Winter Olympics' opening ceremony ever staged, and second only to the one performed at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. The display was thrilling, and when I told Polya how affected I had been when viewing the opening ceremony, her eyes flooded with tears of joy, and she threw her arms around me and arduously hugged me. I was so happy for us.
The Americans just don't get it! Their brains have been rinsed so efficaciously that when there is a propagandistic yelp that will corroborate their idea of themselves that the DisUnited States is the best of all the alternatives, all fall in line, knee-jerk in compatibility, and beat the patriotic drums that betray their arrogance, chauvinism and foolishness. Once at the center on the mantelpiece of Olympic trophy-winning, the waning DUS sought, in recompense, to smirch all that had to do with the Sochi 2014 Olympics. And in a mode often despicably callous. With their tongues in cheek, American comics burlesqued the Russian drive to mount a successful, crowd-pleasing event that would imprint a beautiful memory upon the mental faculties of citizens throughout the world. They nitpicked away where they could. They insulted the image of the President of the Russian Federation who enjoys an extremely popular support in his beleaguered nation. I ask, what are the Americans afraid of? That they would fall from their self-mounted pedestal? They have already! By now, everyone knows Americans crashed when they really inexpertly, savagely posited their high-handedness in Vietnam and subsequently in Iraq, two times, and Afghanistannot to mention the disaster that they and the English and French have concocted in Israel. God bless America? No, God help America! In fact, who is going to help them? Themselves?
In closing, it is to be said that GAZPROM, the Russian energy giant, in a consortium, is constructing a gas pipeline from the Russian Federation, under the Black Sea, and then through to Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia and Italy. The underwater section will be 930 metres long. The total length of the structure will be 2,506 kilometres. The pipage will be capable of transporting 63 billion cubic metres of gas per year. This construction will not enter Ukrainian territory. Quod erat demonstrandum: Will History books chronicle that Russia's usurpation of the Crimea was an effort to protectfrom the instability of the Ukrainian pro and contra forcesthe Southern Stream flow of gas to Eastern and Western Europe in order to keep the tootsies of the Europeans toasty-roasty?
Senator John McCain, the bigot, called the Russian Federation a gas station. Will he also call the RF a water cooler when the worldabout to stomach a tremendous impoverishment of waterrealizes that the RF is rich with this Blue Gold?
DC Football Team Loses Trademarks, Name Ruled to be Racist
(TriceEdney) - That racist nickname has been tackled for another loss.The latest setback for the Washington professional football team: The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the federal trademarks held by the D.C. team on the name.
We decide. that these registrations must be cancelled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered, the board wrote in its opinion.
Speculation that the decision could prod billionaire owner Daniel Snyder to consider a name change appears to be as solidly grounded as the notion that the moon is made of green cheese. He already has vowed to appeal the decision and expects to win. Hes fended off calls to change the name for the last 14 years, vowing never to do so.
The team has had its nickname since the 1930s and first registered the name as a trademark in 1967. Without a registered trademark, the D.C. team would be unable to protect its brand name or retain the exclusive rights to sell merchandise with the team name and logo.
The financial hit likely would be in the tens of millions of dollars annually.The D.C. team made $2.5 million at last years training camp in Richmond, mostly through merchandise sales.Five Native American citizens petitioned the patent office to overturn the teams six registered trademarks.The named plaintiff in Blackwell v. Pro Football Inc.is Amanda Blackhorse, a Navajo and psychiatric social worker.
It is a great victory for Native Americans and for all Americans, Ms. Blackhorse stated. I hope this ruling brings us a step closer to that inevitable day when the name of the Washington football team would be changed.The plaintiffs had largely made the same argument as those who filed a trademark suit in 1992. The Patent Office canceled the trademarks in 1999, but the decision was overturned on appeal to federal court. A judge ruled that the petitioners had waited 25 years too long to challenge the trademark.The team is confident the latest decision also will be overturned on appeal.
Weve seen this story before, team attorney Bob Raskopf said in a statement issued shortly after the ruling was announced Wednesday.And just like last time, todays ruling will have no effect at all on the teams ownership and of the right to use the (racist mascots) name and logo, he added. We are confident we will prevail once again. The plaintiffs believe that the current decision is based on appropriate grounds that will be upheld. Raymond H. Boone, the late Free Press editor/publisher,was the first newspaper owner in Virginia to ban the use of the D.C. teams racist nickname from his papers news and editorial columns.He announced the ban last year.
President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and 50 other U.S. senators are among others who have blasted the racist nickname. Sen. Reid said this week he would never attend another home football game until the team changes a name that he calls a racial slur.
US Foreign Policy Wrong Side of History, Wrong Side of World Opinion
By Dr. Wilmer J. Leon, III
(TriceEdney) - Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop. Israel must also live up to its obligations to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society. And just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel's security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank.
Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress. - President Obama Cairo 2009
A very interesting and powerful vote took place at the UN on Wednesday July 23. The UN Human Rights Council voted 29 to 1 to launch a commission of inquiry into alleged Israeli war crimes in Israels Gaza offensive against the Palestinians. The lone dissenter in the vote was the United States. Nineteen countries, mostly European abstained. According to East Idaho News, US State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said, the country (US) had no issue being the sole vote against the commission, adding that the U.S. will continue to stand up for Israel, "even if it means standing alone."
Very few if any mainstream American news outlets or sources reported on this damning vote. In the country where freedom of the press and an independent news media are supposed to carry the day, a biased misrepresentation of this ongoing conflict continues by omission and commission to distort Americans perspectives on the Palestinians ongoing struggle for autonomy and human rights.
An investigation into alleged war crimes is a very serious investigation. War Crime is defined as a crime (as genocide or maltreatment of prisoners) committed during or in connection with war. The US governments blind and blanket support of Israels acts of genocide against the Palestinian people will prove to be on the wrong side of history and judging by the latest UN vote, in conflict with the rest of the world.
Genocide is defined as the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group. According to Press TV, Ayelet Shaked an Israeli politician and parliament member of the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party recently called for the slaughter of Palestinian mothers who give birth to "little snakes." They have to die and their houses should be demolished so that they cannot bear any more terrorists are all our enemies and their blood should be on our hands. This also applies to the mothers of the dead terrorists. Shakeds comments accurately describe the actions being taken by the Israeli government. Reacting to Shaked's remarks, the Turkish premier, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Israel's policy in Gaza is no different than Hitler's mentality.
Americans need to understand that the basis of Israels attacks on and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians is not security, its bigotry and racism. It is the bigotry, racism and oppression that make Israel less secure. Palestinians are forcibly resisting the oppression and genocide that the Israeli government is imposing upon them. In February 2014 the Israeli Knesset passed a bill that explicitly distinguishing between Muslim and Christian Palestinian citizens of Israel. Reports show that vast amounts of Israels territory are restricted for the use of Jews only, often on lands expropriated from Palestinians. There, two separate legal systems; one for Jews and one for Arabs and a two-tier transportation system. There are separate roads in the West Bank that only Jews are allowed to drive on. These realities are not being reported on in mainstream American media.
President Obama was correct in 2009 when he stated that the US cannot accept the continued construction of settlements and Israel must ensure that Palestinians can develop their own society. However, for some reason the US continues to accept and encourage these atrocities. Contrary to the presidents statements in 2009, the ongoing actions of his administration continue to allow Israel to violate international and US law, two of which are the U.S. Foreign Assistance and Arms Export Control Acts. Both of these make it illegal to export defense articles and/or services to any country unless they are used solely for internal security or legitimate self-defense.
No one can reasonably argue that the asymmetrical nature of the Israeli incursion into Gaza is legitimate. Regardless of how many times Israeli PM Netanyahu says it is and no matter how many times President Obama says that Israel has the right to defend itself, Israels actions are illegal and immoral. According to 22 U.S. Code § 2304 - Human rights and security assistance no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights. Security assistance may not be provided to the police, domestic intelligence, or similar law enforcement forces of a country, and licenses may not be issued under the Export Administration Act of 1979 [50 App. U.S.C. 2401 et seq.]
There is another issue surrounding these atrocities that must be addressed. The deafening silence of leadership within the African American community is unacceptable. The NAACP, the Congressional Black Caucus, and other organizations should be front-and-center in condemning the Israeli governments actions and the Obama administrations support and encouragement of them. Their arguments should be based upon the immoral basis Israels actions, violations of US and international law, and that American taxpayer dollars should not go to a country that is engaging in ethnic cleansing. The African American community was vocal, active and on the right side of history regarding South Africa, but silent in Rwanda and Somalia. Our voices should be heard on this issue.
It is important to remember that while leadership within the African American community remains conspicuously silent regarding the Palestinian-Israeli issue, Israel supported the apartheid regime in South Africa. According to Professor Juan Cole, The Israeli government had extremely warm relations with Apartheid South Africa, to the point where Tel Aviv offered the Afrikaners a nuclear weapon.
In his book Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice Dr. Clarence Lusane writes, in the aftermath of WWII, one of the most significant developments in terms of race and U.S. Foreign policy was the emergence of a much stronger and vocal African American voice in U.S. foreign relations. Today, that voice is conspicuously absent from the narrative and innocent men, women and children continue to die because of it. Lusane wrote the following in the context of the rise of Powell and Rice and their promotion of US imperialism and hegemony but I believe that it also applies to the deafening silence referenced above, For many around the world, it appears that a progressive black American foreign policy agenda and consensus, which has existed for centuries, has eroded if not disappeared altogether.
President Obama was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace on the shoulders of Dr. Ralph Bunch (1950), ironically for his mediation of a conflict in Palestine in the late 1940s and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1964). In his acceptance speech, President Obama said, I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility. It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations - that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter and can bend history in the direction of justice.
Mr. President, take action that reflects our highest aspirations. Dont become a mere prisoner of fate or of Netyanyahu. Yes, our actions do matter and our inaction is resulting in great cruelty and hardship for the Palestinian people. We cannot stand for the slaughter of innocent men, women and children. Your administrations policy towards the Palestinians is on the wrong side of history and on the wrong side of world opinion.
Ordered to Prison Sept. 8, Ray Nagin Files Appeal Notice
(TriceEdney) - Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin last week filed a formal notice of appeal in the corruption case that resulted in a guilty verdict on 20 of 21 criminal counts and a 10-year prison sentence, The Associated Press reported.
Nagin, a Democrat and businessman who campaigned for mayor on an anti-corruption platform, was convicted in February on charges including conspiracy, bribery, money laundering, wire fraud and filing false tax returns. The charges stem from his two terms as mayor from 2002 to 2010 including the Hurricane Katrina disaster in 2005.
During his first term in office, Nagin often referred to himself as a change agent who was committed to rooting out public corruption.
With the support and backing of the New Orleans business community, Nagin was able to move up from the back of a crowded field of mayoral candidates to defeat former NOPD Supt. Richard Pennington in the 2002 mayoral race.
Three years later, the mayors woes began to mount with the colossal challenge of rebuilding New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina flooded 80 percent of the city. With the pressures growing to make it possible for displaced New Orleanians to return home and get the city back up and running, Nagin tried to reassure displaced Black residents that they would always be welcome in post-Katrina New Orleans by uttering his now-infamous comments about New Orleans always being a Chocolate City.
The brief notice said the appeal will cover the verdict, the sentence and an order that Nagin forfeit over $500,000 acquired illegally, as well as court rulings prior to the verdict.
The notice was filed in U.S. District Court, and the appeal will be considered by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
According to court papers, the appeal is including but not limited to the courts judgment on the jurys verdict, sentencing, fine, assessment and forfeiture, as well as all other prejudgment interlocutory orders and rulings in this case.
Nagin, 58, has been ordered to report to the federal prison in Oakdale, La. on September 8.
A defiant Nagin continues to insist he is innocent and that he is paying the price for standing up to powerful people in New Orleans. On the local WBOK radio station, Nagin has talked often about a shadow government that controls everything that happens in the Crescent City.
His remarks puzzled some residents who disapproved after Nagin huddled with wealthy White business owners from New Orleans in Dallas, Texas shortly after Hurricane Katrina to devise a blueprint for post-Katrina New Orleans, When criticized by some residents and questioned by the media, Nagin said he saw nothing wrong with Blacks not being a part of that meeting because Blacks dont participate in New Orleans economy in a meaningful way.
Until his indictment in 2013, Nagin was perhaps best known for a widely heard, profanity-laced radio interview in which he angrily blasted the federal response in the days after levee breaches flooded most of the city during Katrina.
He had been elected as a reformer, but prosecutors said graft in his administration pre-dated Hurricane Katrina and flourished afterward. The bribes came in the form of money, free vacations and truckloads of free granite for his family business, Stone Age, LLC.
While Nagin appeals his case, prosecutors may appeal as well. They had pushed for a sentence of about 20 years, pointing out that the former convicted mayor has shown no remorse. Federal prosecutors objected when U.S. District Judge Helen Berrigan departed from federal guidelines with the 10-year sentence.
Robert Jenkins, Nagins lead attorney, had argued that Nagin should be spared a stiffer sentence because he was a first-time offender for whom a 20-year sentence would be a virtual life sentence.
Judge Berrigan seemed to agree, explaining that she didnt believe Nagin was a criminal ringleader and perhaps made questionable decisions because of his desire to help those around him.
A decision on whether to appeal will be made by the U.S. Solicitor General in Washington, according to the U.S. Attorneys Office.
Its interesting that Ray Nagin has been painted like some kind of champion of Black peoples rights in New Orleans because his record as mayor does not reflect that, Ramessu Merriamen Aha, a New Orleans businessman and former congressional candidate, told The Louisiana Weekly. During his tenure, cops were killing Black people like we were going out of style, the Road Home program was methodically shortchanging many Black homeowners in New Orleans, thousands of Black teachers, administrators and school staffers were fired by the state and the citys housing projects were torn down without any input from the people who lived there.
White people are now disappointed that Nagin just received a 10-year prison sentence, but that vendetta was sparked by the Chocolate City remark, Aha added. Many people seem to forget that it was the white business community that went out and found Ray Nagin, recruited him to run for mayor and threw its support behind him to catapult him to victory. Those same people in the business community now take no responsibility for putting Ray Nagin in the drivers seat at City Hall.
New Nike Basketball campaign recognizes the baddest athlete around.
The Baddest: Kevin Durant
Throughout his MVP season, Kevin Durant proved again and again that he is among the leagues elite; some would even say the baddest.
He broke scoring records while averaging 32 points a game, capturing his fourth scoring title and leading his team to 69 wins and the conference finals. Durants scoring versatility, leadership and confidence have risen to new heights.
Nike Basketball celebrates KD and the launch of the new signature KD7 with The Baddest campaign. Highlighted by an old-meets-new television spot, the ad honors KD and his timeless renaissance style.
Notable cameos in The Baddest TV spot include basketball legends George Iceman Gervin, Chris Mullin and Charles Oakley; and sharp-witted comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory.
Ruby Dee Exits the Stage but Remains in Our Hearts
by Marc H. Morial
(TriceEdney) - The kind of beauty I want is the hard-to-get kind that comes from within: strength, courage, dignity. Ruby Dee
In the past several weeks, two remarkable African American women artists took their final bows. In the midst of mourning the May 28 passing of Dr. Maya Angelou, we learned that last Wednesday, June 11, the great actress and activist Ruby Dee died at her home in New Rochelle, New York. Both Maya Angelou and Ruby Dee used their incomparable talents to reshape our notions of beauty, womanhood and race. They also inspired millions of people around the world with their extraordinary wisdom and dignity. Everything about Ruby Dee was an expression of a lifelong dedication to human rights, racial equality and social justice -- from the roles she portrayed to the causes she championed, even to the man she loved and was married to for 56 years, actor Ossie Davis. Though her physical presence is no longer with us, the larger than life impact Ruby Dee had on the stage, screen and the public consciousness will live on forever.
Known widely for her 1959 Broadway and 1961 movie roles as Ruth Younger, the wife of Walter Lee Younger, as played by Sidney Poitier, in A Raisin in the Sun, Ruby Dees acting career spanned more than six decades and earned her numerous awards, including an Emmy, a Grammy, an Obie and a Screen Actors Guild Award. In 2008, she was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Mama Lucas, the mother of Denzel Washingtons character, Frank Lucas, in American Gangster. In 1995, President Bill Clinton awarded her and Ossie Davis the National Medal of Arts. She also won widespread acclaim for her 1950 portrayal of Rachel Robinson, the wife of the first Black major league baseball player in The Jackie Robinson Story. She and Ossie Davis also had notable roles in several Spike Lee films including Do the Right Thing and Jungle Fever.
Ruby Dees elegant and tenacious presence radiated as much off the stage and screen as it did on. She and Ossie Davis, who died in 2005, were civil rights and social justice activists who supported and worked alongside Paul Robeson, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. This unique husband-wife team even served as master and mistress of ceremonies for the historic 1963 March on Washington. They were both long-time members and supporters of numerous civil rights organizations. In 1970, the New York Urban League honored Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis with its prestigious Frederick Douglass Award. In 1986, the National Urban League presented them both our Equal Opportunity Day Award, and in 1985 at the National Urban Leagues 75th anniversary Founders Day program, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis served as key program participants, sharing poetry and reflections of Urban League history.
In 1998, the couple published a joint autobiography titled, With Ossie & Ruby: In This Thing Together, an epitaph that will adorn the urn that will hold both their ashes. According to the Washington Post, in 2008, Ruby Dee described the epitaph to Jet magazine: If I leave any thought behind, it is that we were in this thing together, so lets love each other right now. Lets make sense of things right now. Lets make it count somehow right now, because we are in this thing together. That was not only the key to the remarkable marriage of Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis; it is a lesson for us all.
Marc Morial is president/CEO of the National Urban League
The Face of Economic Recovery
by Julianne Malveaux
(TriceEdney) - From its June 18-19 meeting, the Federal Reserve is hedging its bets. It says the US economy is on the mend, but more slowly than expected. Theyve reduced their estimate for economic growth and say that it will take a year or more to get to where we were six years ago. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has offered a starker forecast. Expected growth for the United States is about 3 percent, a level considered normal and in recovery. They projected something right above two percent earlier this year. Now they say the United States economy will grow at about 1.9 percent, below robust recovery, and that it will take until 20187 to get the labor market back on track.
Meanwhile, the stock market seems to signal a healthy recovery, and surveys of human resource professionals say that more employers are offering signing and retention bonuses to get the best employees and to keep them. Obviously the nearly 10 million people that are unemployed arent being offered any kind of bonuses. Most of them just want work. Thats not to mention the 3.4 million people who have not worked in half a year or more. Bonus? Please.
The economic recovery is as bifurcated as our economic reality has always been. The Occupy folks estimated it in a way that galvanized energy and spoke some truth. Does the top one percent of our population get all the benefits of economic growth? Just about. One of the most telling statistics deals with race and recovery. Aggregately, whites and Asians Americans have fully recovered from economic shortfalls, African Americans have seen their wealth rebound by only 45 percent. They have lost 55 percent of wealth, bearing a disproportionate burden from this recovery.
When we parse the data by class, we learn that President Obamas focus on the middle class leaves the poor where they have always been at the periphery of economic progress. Until the job markets open up at entry level, instead of providing opportunities for the middle class and more, the recovery will not trickle down. Meanwhile, there are members of Congress who truly believe that the unemployed are jobless because they want to be. These are folks who apparently refuse to read the data about the search for work.
What does economic recovery look like? It looks like vibrancy. It looks like people joyfully working. It looks like people who spend, if not freely, certainly less cautiously. They dont have to run an algorithm in their brain before they decide that their child can have an ice cream cone. It means being able to put a few pennies aside for college possibilities. It means having a moment to exhale.
For all the talk of Wall Street exuberance and economic recovery, there are millions who are still waiting to exhale. While we mostly focus oh the officially unemployed, the equally pressing concern is about those who are underemployed, working part time when they want to work full time. All of these folks are in the job search mix, and they are too often the people we ignore.
In many ways this is also a race matters narrative. Economic recovery looks great for some, good for others, and absolutely dismal for those at the bottom. The unofficial unemployment rate among African Americans remains at someplace near 25 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics wont measure that, because then they will have to report the economic failure inherent in this so-called economic recovery.
The Federal Reserve and the IMF are reporting economic projections that trickle down. They say the economic recovery will not happen as quickly as they once projected, and that they have a wait and see attitude. The Fed is moving closer to raising interest rates, and are withdrawing from their bond buying program that fostered economic stability. Their wait and see really means pulling back, which may help the overall economy. When will those on the bottom, the least, the last, and the left out, experience recovery. Until those who make public policy are prepared to deal with persistent economic bifurcation, economic recovery looks good for some, dismal as ever for others.
Julianne Malveaux is a DC based economist and author.
Clyburn to Black Church: Lets Rededicate Ourselves to Civil Rights Gains
Copy of FBI flyer showing three missing civil rights workers who were found murdered during Freedom Summer of 1964
Congressman Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) speaks to congregation at Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church. PHOTO: Courtesy GMCHC
by Hazel Trice Edney
(TriceEdney) - In a year with a string of civil rights anniversaries - including the 50th Anniversary of Mississippi Freedom Summer - one of the highest ranking African-Americans in the U. S. Congress, is warning commemorators to go far beyond simply recalling the pain and suffering.
U. S. Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), who also serves as assistant House Democratic Leader, told a Washington, D.C. congregation that with the 70th anniversary of the signing of the GI bill (veterans educational benefits) June 22; the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation ruling March 17, and the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, signed into law on July 2, there is much opportunity for a civil rights revival of sorts.
Whether you celebrate the 70th anniversary of a change in your life, the 60th anniversary of a change in your life or the 50th anniversary of a change in your life - whatever you celebrate - just remember that this year as we celebrate, lets rededicate ourselves to the proposition that we will not allow those who lost their lives and were beaten Lets rededicate ourselves to the proposition that we will not allow those lives to have gone down in vain.
Clyburn was giving remarks at the Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church in North East D.C. as he prepared for a signing of his new memoir, Blessed Experiences: Genuinely Southern, Proudly Black. He told the mega-church congregation, led by Bishop Alfred Owens, that even his worst moments being jailed during civil rights battles in the 60s have come to be blessings and lessons to be passed on.
I had experiences, and as I said in this book, all of them were not pleasant, but all of them were blessings, he said. Sometimes it required that I look back to see the blessings because many times when I was experiencing it, it felt like a curse.
Clyburns remarks came as civil rights enthusiasts across America prepared to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Mississippi Freedom Summer this week. It was during this summer in 1964 that three civil rights workers went missing as hundreds of volunteers mostly young White northerners defying Jim Crow laws - converged on Mississippi to register Black voters.On June 21, 1964, it was discovered that the three men, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney, had been arrested, released and then beaten and killed by a Ku Klux Klan lynch mob.
According to the NAACP, the murders led to the first successful federal prosecution of a civil rights case in Mississippi that had been investigated by the FBI.
In sync with the same sentiments expressed by Clyburn, NAACP President Lorraine C. Miller issued a statement saying the best way to commemorate this horrific tragedy of Freedom Summer is to take action for voting rights in 2014 by pledging to vote this November to honor the sacrifices made by Freedom Summer activists for our right to vote.
A string of speakers and a gala will take place during the Mississippi Freedom Summer commemoration June 25-29. Details are outlined on the official website, http://freedom50.org/.
Miller concluded, The circumstances under which we fight may have changed, but our values remain constant. All Americans, regardless of income or the color of their skin, must be able to freely exercise their constitutional right to vote The work of civil rights activists to protect this right did not stop when Freedom Summer ended, or even with the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As long as there are legislators fighting to keep our most vulnerable populations away from the polls, our work and our struggle continues.
'Free Her Rally' Draws Crowd to National Mall
Despite dark clouds, more than 200 people came out to the National Mall for Saturday's Free Her Rally. PHOTO: Glynn A. Hill/TriceEdney
by Glynn A. Hill
(TriceEdneyWire.com)Gray clouds and occasional drizzle didnt stop more than 200 people from gathering on the National Mall Saturday to protest and demand an end to the alarming incarceration rate of women - disparately African-American.
Some came from as far as New Haven, Conn. for the rally, which featured speakers, singers, and a spoken word performance aimed at continuing to raise awareness of criminal justice disparities.
Our focus is on the women and bringing them home, said Andrea James, executive director of Families for Justice as Healing, a Boston, Mass.-based criminal justice reform group. She was also the organizer of the Free Her Rally. Its important to help the rest of the country understand how very wrong this slippery slope weve gone down is in terms of incarcerating women, particularly those who are African-American; and the impact its had on our children and our communities, she said.
There are currently more than 200,000 women in prison or jail in the United States. That figure represents an increase of over 800 percent in the past three decades according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).
Of those women in state prisons, more than half have been sentenced for drug or property crimes, which are non-violent offenses. In 2005, just 35 percent of women in prison were convicted of violent offenses, according to the BJS.
The rate of incarceration for African-American women has declined over the last 15 years, dropping 30.7 percent between 2000 and 2009. Yet, they are still imprisoned at nearly three times the rate of White women and have a higher incarceration rate than Hispanic women, according to the Sentencing Project, a research and advocacy group, pressing for reform.
Most of the speakers had friends and relatives who had been incarcerated or were imprisoned at some point themselves. They spoke about their personal experiences with a criminal justice system that they feel punishes communities just as much as individuals. For them, when mothers go behind bars, there are wide-ranging repercussions that intimately affect those around them.
Its destroying our communities, said Patricia Allard, an attorney from New York who spoke at the rally.
When you take a mother away from her child for a non-violent offense, you are essentially sentencing the child as well, she said. People talk about harm reduction around drug use. Instead Id like to talk about reducing the harm that the prison industrial complex does to families.
In 2007, approximately 65,600 women in federal and state custody reported being the mothers of 147,400 minor children, according to a BJS special report. It said that 77 percent of incarcerated mothers reported providing most of the daily care for their children before incarceration. Eleven percent of incarcerated mothers reported that their children were being placed in foster care, compared to only two percent of fathers.
For advocates, this is also an issue of human rights.
These are women who couldnt even attend their own childs funeral, said Dorothy Johnson Speight, the founder and executive director of Mothers in Charge, which works toward violence prevention, education and intervention for youth, young adults, families and community organizations.
Speight says events like the Free Her Rally are important for raising awareness to ultimately bring about change.
If the change in lifestyle isnt evident when incarcerated women are sentenced, it becomes clear after they are released.
Women face significant obstacles in effectively reentering society and providing for themselves and their children as they find themselves restricted from governmental assistance programs. Some states even impose bans on people with certain convictions working in certain industries such as nursing, child care, and home health care.
In light of this, there has been some progress on incarceration disparities.
The 2010 Fair Sentencing Act narrowed the disparity between penalties for crack and powder cocaine offenses. In 2013, President Obama granted clemency to 21 individuals (eight commutations and thirteen pardons).
Despite those successes, advocates are looking for more. They say that the passage of the Smarter Sentencing Act would help, but more must be done to heal the cultural scars that harsh or unfair sentences have done to communities.
James is the final speaker. When she is done talking, the crowd bursts out with chants of Free Her! Free Her!
James says this is only the beginning and that the next step is building off of their momentum.
Were working hard to get commutation for the women we support, she said. Weve been around the country twice with the Free Her Rally, coming together and coalition-building. We want to push the legislation from state to state to make change, and ultimately bring the women in the federal system home too.
Voter Suppression Key Topic at National NAACP Convention
NAACP President Cornell William Brooks gives his first speech at the NAACP Convention. PHOTO: Courtesy/NAACP
(TriceEdney) - Stopping voter suppression. That was a primary topic at the 2014 NAACP national convention as participants looked ahead to the crucial midterm elections in November that will decide control of both the U.S. House and Senate.
In a speech to convention attendees in Las Vegas, new NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks stressed that each vote will have an even bigger impact this fall making voter protections more critical. He said the NAACP would focus on turning out the vote this fall and rallying support to restore the full power of the Voting Rights Act that the U.S. Supreme Court gutted.
Lighter turnouts in off-year elections only emphasize the degree to which we need a full and robust Voting Rights Act, Brooks told the convention. In 2012, Black voters turned out at a higher rate than White voters for the first time in American history, helping re-elect President Obama.
But in the 2010 midterm elections, Black voter participation was considerably lower, and the GOP took control of the U.S. House, along with many state and local offices.
As a result, we saw a wave of voter suppression laws, Jotaka Eaddy, the NAACPs voting rights director, said at a panel discussion focusing on the issue. Some 22 states have new and more restrictive voting laws that will go into effect before the Nov. 4 election, she said. She cited Republican-controlled North Carolina, Kansas, Arizona, Texas, Florida and Tennessee as examples of states that are making it more difficult for Democratic-leaning African-Americans and young people to cast ballots.
The NAACP cited the efforts of the Obama administration to oppose the wave of restrictions. Attorney General Eric Holder drew praise for his pre-convention announcement that the U.S. Department of Justice would intervene to support court challenges to laws in Wisconsin and Ohio that limit voting. Hilary O. Shelton, vice president for policy and advocacy for the NAACP, said that the wave of laws that mostly GOP governors are pushing are aimed at keeping low-income and minority voters out of the voting booth.
In many areas of our country, its very difficult to elect an African-American. And some people are saying, Why bother? Shelton said.This years convention coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act and Freedom Summer, a 1964 effort to overcome White supremacist control of Mississippi by registering African-Americans to vote. Last year, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision threw out a section of the Voting Rights Act that required certain states with a history of discrimination to get federal clearance before changing voting laws and practices a case that opened the door for states to impose the new restrictions.Virginia is one of those states.
The Republican dominated General Assembly has pushed through a bill requiring voters to show photo IDs to cast ballots as a result of the high courts decision. Shelton said he believes the GOP is pushing voter suppression because the party is threatened by the rising tide of young voters,Latinos and African-Americans and those groups lean heavily Democratic. He said the GOP would have to align itself more with issues important to Black people,including efforts to help them obtain jobs, housing and education, if the party wants to attract such voters.
Its like, you can invite me to the party, but if youre not serving the food I want to eat or playing the music I want to dance to, Im not coming, Shelton said. One highlight of this years convention was an address by Vice President Joe Biden, who spoke on Wednesday, the closing day. U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and two Nevada House members, Dina Titus and Steven Horsford, the states first Black congressman,also spoke at the convention.
Miko Peled is a peace activist who dares to say in public what others still choose to deny. Born in Jerusalem in 1961 into a well known Zionist family. Peled says Israel is another Aparthied government.
Is Hamas a terrorist organization? According to the State Department Hamas is on the Terrorist List. Back in the 1980's Nelson Mandela was on the State Department's Terrorist List, as the United States supported the Apartheid government of South Africa. Not until the Anti-Apartheid movement gained notoriety, the United States has to change its position on South Africa's racist government.
Peled as the questions, is Israel a racist state, is Zionism a racist ideology, and a colonialist ideology that must be brought to an end like apartheid, and replaced with a real democracy. There is a part two to this video.
Trying to Understand What Makes Sense
Two boys at the Detroit Water Rally held July 18. Photo: Courtesy/National Nurses United
(TriceEdney) - Last month, a United Nations panel held that cutting off water to Detroit residents suffering from high unemployment rates and low incomes, leaving them unable to afford their water bills, was a violation of basic human rights. This past weekend, actor Mark Ruffalo and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) joined close to a thousand protesters in a march organized by National Nurses United from Detroit's Cobo Center to Hart Plaza. The chants of the crowd included "We got sold out, banks got bailed out." And there were renewed calls for a financial transaction tax, commonly referred to as a "Robin Hood tax."
It was announced this week that the water shutoffs would be temporarily suspended for 15 days.
During the Great Depression there was a stock market bubble that burst on Black Tuesday, Oct. 29, 1929. But there also was massive land speculation that collapsed the local economies of Texas, Florida and California, leading to more than 2,000 municipalities and municipal corporations being in default. The uncertainty of resolving the issue led Congress in 1934 to create a special chapter of the federal bankruptcy law to handle municipal bankruptcies.
Chapter 9 bankruptcies have spiked in each of the last three recessions. They have not reached the heights of the Great Depression. This has allowed room to treat each bankruptcy as a unique case-but the trend clearly suggests these are not independent events.
In the case of water and sewage bonds and the city of Detroit, the hike in water rates involves the perverse logic Chapter 9 was intended to avoid. A rash of foreclosures from the housing crisis helped escalate a depopulation of Detroit, while the largest drop in automobile demand in U.S. history that was part of the Great Recession meant a loss of employment in Detroit. The result of depopulation and less economic activity of course meant less revenue for the water authority-but the bonds still needed to be paid. So that means a hike in water bills for an unemployed and poor population.
The full costs of the Great Recession still are being tallied. Regrettably, distant from the free fall of 2008, the stories have been pointing blame at Detroit, Flint, Puerto Rico, Sacramento and the hundreds of other local government authorities that still need to meet basic government functions-like the provision of clean water-but with big drops in revenue.
In fact, while the number of payroll positions have reached their 2008 peak, public employment still is down, and state and local governments continue to shrink their budgets. But we still have children to educate, roads that must be repaired and in cities like Chicago, public order and safety to maintain.
So, how does it make sense that President George W. Bush and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulsen could bum rush Congress into a huge, multibillion-dollar deal to create the Troubled Asset Relief Program, but there is no national outcry when a city the size of Detroit can't provide affordable water to its citizens? If banks are too big to fail, don't we have cities too big to fail? Where Hurricane Katrina caused too much water that drowned New Orleans, isn't it also a catastrophe when thousands of households surrounded by potable water can't afford a drink? Doesn't the plight of Detroit at least warrant a White House convening?
The current level of cynicism created by our political leadership feigning impotence to deliver solutions to simple problems like affordable water is dangerous. In the case of Detroit, it is the same indifference to the poor we saw in New Orleans after Katrina. It is a mixture of two odd beliefs: That the poor created this problem-too lazy to pay rising water bills or too lazy to flee the rising waters from a broken levee-and, if it will cost money, then it isn't something that government should fix.
The government can solve the problems of rich Wall Street banking firms that can't pay their bills-even if it means creating a whole new government apparatus like the TARP. But the government cannot refinance the water system of Detroit, repair our roads or come up with the funds to keep our schools from closing in Chicago or Philadelphia?
This set of inconsistencies fuels the right-wing fanaticism of the Tea Party and the nihilism of the violence we see in cities like Chicago. Both are too dangerous to ignore.
We need a financial transactions tax to ensure we never have to ask how we can afford the government we deserve.
Follow Spriggs on Twitter: @WSpriggs. Contact: Amaya Smith-Tune Acting Director, Media Outreach AFL-CIO 202-637-5142
Guns and Violence: The Sad Beat Continues
(TriceEdney) - At the recent "On the Run" tour concert in Philadelphia with half a million people attending, Beyonce and Jay- Z portrayed the pistol packing Bonnie and Clyde outlaw couple with lot of fake guns and fireworks.
Meanwhile across the nation this July 4th weekend there were real drama, real tears, real guns, injuries and death. A small snapshot: Eighty-five people were shot in Chicago, fourteen killed which included a 14 and 15-year-old boy shot by police. In Rocky Mountain, N.C. grandmothers dived for cover, shielding young ones under their bodies as shots rang out at a picnic. And on Monday, Wanda Ross, a minister at DCs Greater Mt. Calvary Holy Church learned her nephew Joshua Johnson, 26, had been robbed, shot in the head and was on life support, and now he has died.
Nearly all of shootings were Black on Black crime and data show Blacks are more likely to be killed by gunfire than White people. The Department of Justice reported that in 2010, the rate of firearm homicides for Black people was 14.6 per 100,000 people. By comparison, the rate for White people was 1.9 per 100,000.
So what does the platinum pair Beyonce and Jay-Z so honored by the Obama White House have to do with the homicide epidemic sweeping across Black communities? Some would argue a lot.
Keith Magee, a Distinguished Senior Fellow, of the University of Birmingham in England attended the concert. He says, I was astonished by their masterful artistry and capable performances, but was equally astounded by the thematic thread of Bonnie and Clyde. To think that they would utilize outlaws and robbers noted for gang violence and murders in the midst of our current crisis of violence was disappointing.
Though they were careful to reiterate throughout the concert this isnt real, the reality of what is happening in cities and town across American is. Jay-Z, a product of the Marcy Projects of Brooklyn, first hand knows the impact of gangs, gun violence and bloodshed. Beyonce was Time Magazines Person of The Year and therefore has global impact on young girls. The two of them should perpetuate positive, life affirming messages to the audience they serve.
To raise these issues is not to blame the current murderous cycle on Beyonce, Jay-Z and their filthy rich hip hop cohorts. Certainly, parents, professors, preachers and others have a role. But those performers who have struck gold promoting drugs, guns and violence should take some ownership of the problems that lethal combination has created. They must be challenged to write and perform lyrics that inspire the young to value life, education and peace.
Cant be done? James Brown Black and I am Proud" inspired a generation as did Aretha Franklins "Respect" anthem. Whether multi-millionaire idols like Beyoncé and J-Z own up to it or not they are role models. Their most popular lyrics have become part of the reality narrative mixed with guns and bravado that are raising the death tolls across America.
Badly needed are alternatives, which groups such as the Black Women for Positive Change are working to provide. They are sponsoring a Harmony-jam for young poets, musicians and singers at Metropolitan AME church in Washington DC on August 23. The Harmony-jam will highlight young people who provide positive, inspirational messages as part of their National Summit on Non-violence.
We believe in the transformative power of music, art, poetry and rap. When culture leaders, such as Jay-Z, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg follow the lead of the top selling composer like Pharrell Williams they can greatly reduce the violence in the world, says Dr. Stephanie Myers, national co-chair of the Black Women for Positive Change. She has also announced a National Week of Non-Violence focused on anti-violence activities August 16-23. An increasing number of mayors and activists have joined in.
The song, Happy has proven there is an international appetite for optimism and positive messages. We are calling on our musical geniuses to get busy and demonstrate their power in positive non-violent ways, Myers added.
Meanwhile in Philadelphia, Beyonces and Jay- Z's gyrating Bonnie and Clyde tribute has long since been overshadowed by police sirens and yellow tape. This is not the first time Joshua has been shot, according to his aunt, Wanda Ross. He was in a wheelchair in his home as a result of injuries received from a shooting in 2005. Robbery is the suspected motive for the shooting.
Ross says, Our whole family is in pain. If we lose Joshua, that will be two of my nephews gone. His brother was recently killed in Iraq. Sadly enough her own son, Stephen Anthony Ross, Jr. 20, was shot and killed in May, 1990.
So the sad beat goes on-- guns and violenceand we all wonder if it will ever end?
Former Congressman Jackson in Line for Early Prison Release
Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.
by Frederick H. Lowe
(TriceEdney) - Good behavior has cut former Congressman Jesse L. Jackson Jr.'s time behind bars. Jackson is scheduled to be released from prison on Sept. 20, 2015, a spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Prisons today told The NorthStar News & Analysis.
Jackson, who is serving his sentence in the federal prison camp at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala., had been scheduled to be released on Dec. 31, 2015.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Jackson to 30 months in prison for misusing $750,000 in campaign funds. Judge Jackson and the former congressman are not related.
Former Congressman Jackson transferred to the federal prison camp from the federal prison in Butner, N.C., where he began his sentence last October.
The Bureau of Prisons cut Jackson's prison time because of good time he had already earned and the good time he will earn in the future.
Inmates can earn up to 54 days of good time for each year they are in prison, reducing their sentences, the spokesperson said. They can lose good time for fighting and other infractions that violate prison regulations.
When Jackson completes his prison sentence, his wife, Sandra Stevens Jackson, a former Chicago Alderman, will begin her time behind bars. Judge Jackson sentenced Sandra Jackson to 12 months in prison.
Judge Jackson allowed the Jacksons to served staggered sentences with the former Congressman serving his sentence first, followed by Sandra Jackson. The judge allowed the arrangement so one parent could be with their two young children. Sandra Jackson pled guilty in February to filing false federal income tax returns on $570,000 from 2006 through 2011.
Jackson is the son of Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., founder of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, which is based in Chicago. His son represented Illinois 2nd Congressional District from 1995 to 2012.
Fifty Years After Civil Rights Act: A Land of Opportunity
by William Spriggs
(TriceEdney) - Fifty years ago this week, the U.S. Senate passed the version of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that would be passed by the House and signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The bill faced a filibuster of 14 hours and 13 minutes by the late Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia.
Between the passage by the Senate and debate by the House, three young civil rights workersMichael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Earl Chaneydisappeared into the night on June 21, 1964, driving in the rural area near Philadelphia, Miss. Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney were later found dead, having been murdered for trying to register African American voters in Mississippi.
On Monday, this week, the AFL-CIO supported a Moral Monday protest in North Carolina revisiting many of the issues America faced in 1964, and meant to be addressed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Many things have changed since then. Too many things have not.
The Senate debated the Civil Rights Act for 60 working days, including Saturday sessions. Rarely today does Congress meet to carefully craft legislation lifting the lives of people. An important purpose of the act was to ensure economic freedoms for African Americans, especially the right to hold a job. In the 1960s, major American newspaper want ads openly advertised for segregated job openings. Those cold hard lines denied access to earning a living. Today, Senate Republicans filibuster votes to raise the minimum wage, and House Republicans refuse to debate it. That cold hard line leaves more than 2.6 million Americans working full time, year round but living in poverty, and Americas poor families with workers are unable to earn enough to get out of poverty.
North Carolina is a state where a child born into poverty has less than a 6 percent chance of moving up to the top 20 percent of the income pile. In the Wilson area, a poor child has only a 3.9 percent chance of moving up above middle. This is not because of single parent households, individual irresponsibility or the water people in North Carolina drink. The problem is that North Carolina has policies that trap people who fall down into poverty.
Lose a job? In North Carolina, the average unemployment benefit will replace only 35 percent of your pay, ranking 30th out of 53 unemployment systems in the United States and its territories, and you only have a 35 percent chance you will get any benefit at all, ranking 51st out of 53. If you are a single mother, then your combined Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families benefit will just get you to the level of extreme poverty (50 percent of the poverty line), ranking 43rd out of 51 (the 50 states and the District of Columbia).
Hunt for a job, and you will be in one of the states where the minimum wage remains at the federal level of $7.25 an hour, making you a minority among American workers, since most now live in states where democracy is working to lift the minimum wage to more decent levels. Or, try landing a job that has paid sick days, health insurance and retirement benefitsmeaning a union job; the share of jobs protected by a collective bargaining agreement in North Carolina stands at less than 4.8 percent, ranking 48th out of the 51.
At the August 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom, labor and civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph famously remarked: Yes, we want all public accommodations open to all citizens, but those accommodations will mean little to those who cannot afford to use them.
North Carolina and its radical Republican governor and legislature are hastily passing laws not to put government on the side of the people, but to put people at the servitude of the 1 percent. They have been limiting access to unemployment insurance, standing in the way of accepting federal support to extend access to health insurance to the working poor and in the way of lifting the minimum wage. And, to make sure that no one objects to their hijacking of democracy, they are taking actions to limit voting and to deny access to the state capitol for people to exercise their 1st Amendment right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
So, while the Civil Rights Act of 1964 sought the end of race-based laws, the state of North Carolina is trapping people into poverty.
The Fight for the South
by Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.
(TriceEdney) - With the Republican takeover of the Virginia State Senate, Republicans now control the state legislatures in all 11 former confederate states. Now the reconstruction of the New South that was launched by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Lyndon B. Johnson is under assault. Kings movement and Johnsons presidential power transformed the South after the Supreme Court ruled segregation unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education.
The Voting Rights Act gave Blacks the right to vote. Civil rights legislation opened up public facilities and launched an era of affirmative actions to overcome segregation. The War on Poverty extended Medicare, food stamps, housing aid, jobs programs and more to the impoverished. The transformation generated its own reaction.
Johnson predicted that Democrats would lose the South for a generation. Under Nixon, the Republican Party adopted a southern strategy, making itself the party of white sanctuary, displacing conservative Democrats. Slowly, Republicans began picking up seats and consolidating their position, even as the country grew more diverse. Barack Obamas election shocked many white southerners, accelerating the process. Now Republican governors and legislatures across the South are chipping away at the progress that has been made.
Emboldened when the Supreme Court overturned key parts of the Voting Rights Act, they are passing legislation that makes voting harder for working and poor people, disproportionately minorities. And when the Supreme Court affirmed state rights over the expansion of Medicaid in health care reform, Republican governors and legislatures across the South blocked the expansion, depriving millions of poor working families of decent health protection.
Where governors once sought to stand in the schoolhouse door, now they stand at the hospital door. These states are not opposed to federal money. Of the top 10 states with budgets containing the highest percentage of revenue from the federal government, five are in the South Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Virginia and South Carolina. South Carolina, for example, suffers the third-highest poverty rate in the U.S., with nearly 20 percent of all residents and more than one-fourth of all children in poverty.
Yet, Gov. Nikki Haley has turned her back on $11 billion in federal resources for Medicaid expansion and hundreds of millions for education. The state lobbies for more money for military bases, ports and highways, but turns its back on the poor. Will the progress of the last decades be turned back? Will the Old South block the growth of a New South?
The political threat is clear. Republicans consolidate their position as a party of white sanctuary and dominate elections across the South. National Democrats decide it is not worth investing in those states, with the exception possibly of outliers, like Texas and Florida. The Deep South descends once more into a region of racial reaction. One problem with this is that a reactionary South can have an inordinate influence in our national politics.
Weve seen how a Republican minority in the Senate, constructed significantly of senators from the southern states, can obstruct sensible reforms, from raising the minimum wage to paycheck fairness to allowing refinancing of student loans at a lower rate. This Republican Party could block steps to strengthen civil rights laws, enforce labor laws, or provide a helping hand to the poor. If the New South is to be revived, the battle must be fought at the state and local level.
As Dr. King taught us, only the victims of oppression can stop their own victimization. A new movement of poor working people joining across lines of race or gender must rise to challenge the new reaction. When that movement builds, people of conscience across the country will respond. In North Carolinas Moral Monday demonstrations, we may be seeing the beginnings of that movement. It is spreading to Georgia and South Carolina. Once more, the battle for the future of the South is joined. We all have a stake in its outcome.
Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. is president/CEO of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition