Monday, April 30, 2007

An Interview With Mavis Staples

Mavis Staples talks with Tavis Smiley in an awesome interview from April, 26th. She is talking about real music and real history.

Listen Here

P.S. "Respect Yourself" was written by St. Louis singer Luther Ingram, who died a few weeks ago.

Legend of Black Radio Passes On

UPDATE: Bernie Hayes Comments on Rod King


my comments

St. Louis, (And Black Radio) loses a radio pioneer

Dr. Jockenstein (Rod King) died today. King was a radio fixture for three decades. He was one of the great DJ’s of Black radio, from an older tradition, where Black DJ’s & their stations were really a part of uplifting the community (unlike today). The nation is losing these great African American DJ’s, as many are now getting up in age and passing on. I am no longer a fan of Black radio- have not been for several years, because the whole format has changed so much....DJ's like Jock are a rarity on the radio, since many are moving on.

Jock got his nickname from George Clinton many years ago, after the two worked together for a concert. They were friends ever since. Whenever Parliament came to town, Jock was the man….. This was also the case with other artists who visited the city over the years.

Jock was also a member of the St. Louis Radio Hall of Fame, which includes some very well known broadcasters, known locally and nationally. See his Hall of Fame entry online under the name “Rod King”.

Jock was also active in the community for all sorts of causes over the years….too many to list. He was always involved in something.

Bernie Hayes, another great St. Louis DJ, columnist, and a nationally respected historian of Black radio, will no doubt have comments about the passing of Jock…. I will try to post the comments here.

I was already working on a playlist of St. Louis Soul (music from artists who were born in St. Louis, got their start or developed their craft in St. Louis, or were a big part of the St. Louis community)….. So that will partly be my toast to Jock and DJ’s like him, who are now passing on.


Here is an article from the St. Louis Post Dispatch online

DJ 'Dr. Jockenstein' dies at 55
By D. Paul Harris

Roderick G. “Rod” King, , aka, Dr. Jockenstein, the legendary disc jockey who for three decades mentored other DJs and played the music and offered the talk that drew thousands of fans and radio listeners, died this morning at St. Anthony's Medical Center after a long illness.

King suffered a stroke in 2002 and never fully recovered. He was 55.
King worked at several local radio stations during his career. His last radio stint was with KMJM-FM, 104.9, where on Saturday afternoons hosted the “slammin jammin oldies” program.

Sylvester Caldwell, a.k.a. “Sylvester the Cat” a longtime friend and colleague, said King was a “true radio personality” and a mentor to generations of disc jockeys.

“Jock has paved the way and opened the door for upcoming jocks like me to carrying the torch,” said Caldwell, 47, who currently host the “slammin jammin oldies” program. “He was truly one of a kind.”

Israel Naming Forest In Honor of Coretta Scott King

But do we want that "honor"? I say we because Coretta Scott King= us.....she is a representative & symbol of an entire segment of people in this country, whether the world likes it or not and regardless of whether the King family likes it or not.

This is a very dubious "honor", from a country who's practices have been widely described as Apartheid, in terms of how it deals with Palestians. Now, I am not saying that this is the correct or incorrect view...but the fact is, many DO hold this view, including a former U.S. President. And based on the conditions in Palestine, the analogy is probably at least partly true. There are some elements of Apartheid that can be found in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

See Report Here

I can't be 100% certain where Dr. King would stand on this issue if he were still alive. On one hand, we know that Israel & its vicinity, sits on sacred religious ground, of great importance to at least 3 major religions, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Dr. King, being a minister of the Christian gospel, may have appreciated having Coretta considered for the honor. However, there was another part of Dr. King that (I believe) would have told him to decline the honor, based on principles of Justice, his legacy of Civil Rights and his love for Peace.

This has to be one of the most awkward and ironic "honors" that I have ever heard of. Are the Israelis completely in the dark about what the King legacy is really all about? Are they doing this for their own purposes, to spruce up their own image? (This seems to be a good possibility).

The King family should not allow themselves, The country, or African Americans to be played on this issue. They should not allow Israel to use us in a way that makes us pawns in their dispute with Arabs (and much of the rest of the world). The Israelis are not stupid...they know full well that Martin and Coretta are powerful symbols of Peace and Justice around the world. Should Israel be allowed to co-opt this positive image?

The Palestinians (the people of color struggling under occupation) and poor people of color all over the world must therefore be confused about this "honor". Most believe that Dr. King would have been on their side in the struggle against poverty, Apartheid, racial and religious discrimination, unjust wars, colonialism, imperialism, military occupation, etc.

Of course the Congressional Black Caucus seems to be supporting the effort, completely overlooking Israels track record regarding the treatment of Palestinians. This kind of irony is just beyond strange to me. Did the CBC lose its collective mind on this issue? Have they forgotten their own history? If so, how quickly some of us forget. WE were the Palestinians not so long ago. Although, we didn't usually resort to violence.

Yes, Black Americans and Jews formed bonds throughout the years, however, Dr. King was a man of principle..... he was probably the most principled man that I know of. I don't think that he would have sat quietly while the Apartheid of Arabs took place..... not on his watch.

Money also seems to be part of this deal....according to the above report, which would help explain why the CBC is willing to sell the souls of black folks so easily.... and to play dumb on the question of what Dr. King stood for. I just think back to the last Israeli attack against Lebanon (attacking a nation for something that Hezbollah thugs did) and of all the hundreds of innocent men, women and babies that were slaughtered, mostly by Israel. I know in my heart and soul that Dr. King would not have been in support of that war. So the irony here is killing me.

This is also yet another strike against the CBC. The list of CBC mis-steps keeps piling up.

George Tenet Causes a Big Stir With New Book

Former CIA Director George Tenet, makes waves with his new book and his appearance on 60 Minutes. Watch 60 Minutes Interview Here. Even to this day Tenet seems to be conflicted, caught between his loyalty to Bush and his desire to protect his own reputation (under attack by the neo-cons). The book is light on criticism of Bush and instead zeros in on Dick Cheney and the neo-cons who were the puppetmasters behind Bush.

There was one comment that Tenet made that bothered me (just one of a few)..... The comment was that "The CIA does not torture".

Come on now George!!!

It has been pretty well established that some torture took place. We have had CIA operatives kidnapping people (some innocent) from all over the Middle East and Europe. Many have ended up in Cuba. Those released have confirmed that some torture took place.

Hear an award winning audio documentary about Gitmo prisoners. Several former prisoners tell their stories about life at Gitmo. The prisoners in the story were innocent. Some were sold-out to American troops by their countrymen so that the reportees could collect money. Keep in mind that Afghanistan was (and is) one of the poorest countries in the world. Therefore, the offer of money in exchange for "tips" led to a lot of false reports and innocent people being taken into custody and sent to Gitmo. This was one of the biggest flaws in the whole system. This led to a situation where interrogators were wasting their time talking to innocent folks.

The prisoners tell stories about how they were forced to tell interrogators what they wanted to hear in order to avoid being harmed. They also talk about some of the ridiculous questions that they were asked during the interrogations.

Previous Blog Entry On This Subject

Sr Army Officer Criticizes Leadership of Generals

Lt. Col. Paul Yingling criticizes Generals in new editorial; stating that they have not provided good leadership in Iraq.

It is unusual for an active duty officer to publicly criticize officers of higher rank. The article, entitled "A Failure of Generalship" can be found in the Armed Forces Journal.

Hear Audio Report from NPR.


Report from The Washington Post

Report from the BBC

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Atlanta Officers Plead Guilty in Death of 92 Year Old

Two Atlanta Police officers pleaded guilty last week for the death of a 92 year old woman shot dead during a botched drug raid.

Meanwhile, the New York Times is reporting a culture of widespread corruption within the Atlanta Police Department.


Previous postings on this story

Eldery woman shot, FBI taking over case

Prosecutors may seek murder charges

Alberto Gonzales Assistant Monica Goodling Granted Immunity

Monica Goodling, the former Justice Department official who was in the middle of the firings of 8 U.S. Prosecutors, has been granted immunity by the U.S. Congress. She is now free to tell on her former bosses. I can't wait for these hearings to get started. :)

Things are not going too well right now for Alberto Gonzales or for the rest of the Bush Administration.

While the Congressional investigations move forward, another investigation is also starting, which will examine what Karl Rove and other White House officials were doing during the planning for these firings.

If that was not enough, Jack Abramoff is still around.... as well as other Republican Congressmen who are under indictment....and some or all may be cooperating with Federal investigators/Grand Juries.

U.S. Missile Defense Plan Is Damaging International Security

A Proposed U.S. Missile Defense Plan for Europe is Already Damaging International Security and Stability. Relations With Russia Are Being Set Back By Decades.

"The U.S. Is Raising the Risk of Mutual Destruction"-- Russian Pres. Vladamir Putin

A proposed U.S. missile defense system for Europe is already causing international instability. Relations between Russia and Europe have reached their lowest point since the demise of the Soviet Union.

At a time when the U.S. can least afford a new diplomatic crisis, the neo-cons have created yet another problem for the country. The Bush administration (without the knowledge of the American people and with no debate), has plans to put a missile defense system, including an early warning radar system, in Eastern Europe. Such a move is very likely to trigger a new arms race and has set back U.S.- Russia relations by 20 years.

The plan calls for interceptor missiles to be hosted by Poland and the Czech Republic. However, there is no good reason for such a system. Any benefits are far outweighed by the consequences. Russia has already stated that it will counter this move. Russian President Putin has announced that Russia may no longer honor a long standing European Security Treaty, called the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty or CFE treaty. The treaty is one of the bedrocks of European stability. The treaty limits the number of troops and the amount (and type) of weapons that can be deployed in the border areas between Russia and Eastern Europe. The treaty basically created a large demilitarized zone, and was designed to prevent arms races, and accidental military clashes.

This move by Russia (to possibly pull out of the CFE treaty) will likely pave the way for a Russian military build-up of some kind in Europe, which could include the deployment of nuclear weapons. Of Course the U.S. and NATO may respond...and then there could be a tit for tat situation that spirals almost out of control.

The U.S. claims that the system is not aimed at Russia, however, there is no other logical explanation for it. No other nation would require this kind of U.S. Plan. Iran does not pose such a threat at the moment. And even if it did, the U.S. has other options, such as mobile naval based TMD systems and other systems that could deal with such a threat.

This U.S. initiative is reckless and is already having a negative impact on international security. It is another example of Bush administration incompetence on the world stage. Luckily there are several European governments that are weary about the U.S. and its anti-missile plan. They are not enthusiastic about a new arms race and instability on their continent. Hopefully these countries will be able to kill this deal before it kills us. This plan does nothing to increase our security.

For Russia, this is yet another threat in a long lost of threats that it sees from the U.S. Russia has already seen U.S. meddling in the conflict in the Russian region of Chechnya, the invasion of Iraq of which Russia had economic interests, the attack against Russia's ally Yugoslavia, the U.S. push for Kosovo independencs, the U.S. threatening Russian interests in Iran, an out of control expansion of NATO right up to Russia's doorstep, basically in an effort to surround, isolate & intimidate Russia and as a symbolic way to humiliate Russia. The proposed additional NATO nations offer nothing of military significance, just like the newest NATO members. Many of these countries are unstable and have known disputes with neighbors. Bringing these countries into NATO actually raises the risk of a military confrontation, rather than deterring one. Ukraine and Georgia are the newest countries nominated for NATO membership. These are two very unstable countries with a lot of political, and ethnic turmoil. But I believe that the European and U.S. defense industries are at least partly behind this. Each new NATO country has to have new upgraded military hardware that matches up with the U.S. and the rest of Europe....big business for the defense industry.

Russia has also seen U.S. meddling in its disputes with Georgia and Ukraine, and is still upset about the U.S. withdrawal from the ABM treaty. Let's put this into perspective. If the U.S. had a former giant foe who was making alliances with one country after another, moving closer to our borders and even surrounding our territory, Americans would not only be nervous but would be pretty upset and angry. But let's consider that the same rival was also invading other countries (as the U.S. is doing today) putting military force at the heart of its international political strategy....if Americans were facing this, they would be in a panic. So the Russian reaction (so far) is not surprising or unreasonable....and should have been predicted by policymakers in Washington DC who are paid six figure salaries to know this ahead of time.

The Peace and Anti-War community in the U.S. and around the world must make this missile defense dispute a top priority. Hopefully European governments will get an earful from their citizens, encouraging Europe to scrap this plan.
Related Links

A Roundup of the Weeks Events

The On Point Public radio program offers great analysis of the past weeks events.

Topics include the Democratic Debate in South Carolina, Iraq legislation (and the strategy by Congressional Democrats to get Bush to veto their Iraq funding bill), George Tenet and more.

Listen to Program Here

George Tenet Comes Out Of The Shadows With New Book

Former CIA director George Tenet is breaking his silence about his experiences with the Bush Administration. In a new book entitled "At The Center of the Storm: my years at the CIA", Tenet candidly discusses what was happening in the inner-circle of the White House during the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq. He states that there was no real debate within the White House before the war.

George Tenet says that the Bush Administration used him as a scapegoat. His "Slam Dunk" comment was taken out of context and overblown.

This is yet another blow for the Bush Administration. Although the claims of no real debate taking place is not surprising. This only confirms what many people (myself included) thought all along. It is clear that the Bush administration wanted to go to war with Iraq even before 9/11. In fact, they wanted to go to war with Iraq before Bush even became President. If you read old documents from the PNAC (Project for a New American Century), a right-wing neo-conservative group that basically became the foundation of the Bush administration, you will find that interest in the Middle East, particularly Iraq, and concern for oil are spelled out. The use of military power to inject Democracy into the Middle East and to control energy are major aims of the organization.

Some believe that Tenet followed along too willingly, and allowed himself to be used, and that he even facilitated the Iraq disaster when he probably knew better. He should have spoken up while he was still in office.

George Tenet will be on 60 Minutes Today. This will be the kickoff of several speaking engagements and interviews that he will do all across the country. I will blog his interviews here, so stay tuned.

An Example of Corporate and Government Pimping

Hear a quick example of how the Government (and Corporate America) pimps ordinary citizens.

The following story is from St. Louis Radio station KMOX AM. The story is about a St. Louis area resident, Jo Anne Bailey, who had her property (home) value increase by 50% after a mandatory assessment by the County Government. This is done so that the County gets more in tax revenue. Yet at the same time, her property was determined to be blighted by the local government, so that her property can be snatched through eminent domain. Ms. Bailey's home is located on land where developers want to build commercial property. Her home happens to be in an area where some of St. Louis County's most prime real-estate is it's far from being "blighted". This area has homes that range anywhere from three hundred thousand to over a million dollars.

Hear Story

Local governments basically admit to being frauds when they do this, because property that goes up 50% in value can't be blighted..... especially in an area of prime real-estate. In the case of St. Louis County, I think that the government unintentionally slipped up and exposed its own fraud. This was apparently a case of different government agencies not communicating (or conspiring) good enough.

The tax assessment should provide the homeowner with plenty of ammo to fight the blighted claim on her property. But the Federal government has to do something about this kind of government sanctioned fraud...conducted in cooperation with Corporations. This is why the Supreme Court ruling from a couple of years ago, allowing local governments to take land for "private" use was a bad deal.....because it opened the floodgates for this kind of fraud....basically legalizing it. There were not enough safeguards in place to protect citizens from this kind of government abuse.

This is a classic example of a local government abusing the "blight" laws for corporate interests. The concept of listing property as blighted was originally intended to be a catalyst for redeveloping and improving poor, run-down areas. However, in recent years, blight laws have been abused by governments in more middle class or upscale areas, to assist corporate entities with taking private property, mainly homes and small businesses, so that larger commercial properties can be built.

Citizens like Ms. Bailey are catching hell coming and going. On one hand, her property faced an extremely high property assessment for the purpose of increasing her taxes, but on the other hand her land has been slapped with the "blighted" title so that her property can be taken at rock bottom prices. By getting hit with the "blighted" label, developers will be able to get away with offering the homeowner lowball amounts rather than a fair market price. Furthermore, if developers decided for some reason to change their minds and move on, Ms. Bailey is then stuck with a "blighted" home or a home that once had that label. This would make it harder to sell the home.

The African American Roundtable

Hear another great African American roundtable discussion from NPR.

Program from Friday, April 27th.

Guests discuss Thursday's debate between Democratic candidates for president; and Vice President Dick Cheney's commencement speech at Brigham Young University.

Joining the panel: Mary Frances Berry, professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania; Joe Davidson, an editor at The Washington Post; Nat Irvin, professor of future studies at Wake Forest University.

Listen To Program (link fixed)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Race is onstage in South Carolina debate

Democrats may have to address the issues of inequality and justice

Those stately homes sit on the mostly white side of town. In the city's poor black neighborhoods, the odd laundromat and ramshackle corner grocery are spread amid broken-down cars and beat-up furniture left stranded on the buckled sidewalks. A decrepit mobile home park and some clapboard homes — windows gone, porches collapsed, boards missing — seem scarcely fit for human habitation.

Those disparities could force an uncomfortable conversation. The issues likely to come up in tonight's Democratic presidential debate are familiar ones — the war in Iraq, healthcare, the economy, education. The big difference in South Carolina is race, which overlays just about every policy discussion in the state, as it has since Emancipation and reconstruction.

"Here you have to face issues that candidates shy away from elsewhere," said state Rep. Bakari T. Sellers, who went to school in Orangeburg and now represents the district next door. "Issues of justice and inequality. Issues of race."

I'm looking forward to this debate. I want the candidates to acknowledge some awful truths and put forth substantive proposals on how to deal with the problems that have been caused by government policies born of racism. I know that's a lofty order, and I'll probably be disappointed, but that's what I want.
"When you look at the candidates up on the stage, the whole world will think how far we've come," said Bakari Sellers, who has driven past All Star bowling alley countless times yet never set foot inside. "But if you look just below the surface here in South Carolina, where you have the Confederate flag still flying, where you have such widespread inequality, you see how far we still have to go."

It'll be interesting to see how far the candidates are willing to go.

make it plain

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Hey John McCain "its your support for Bush and his Iraq war ... Stupid"

I'm not with this nit-wit, Whit Ayres regarding his comments in WaPo regarding John McCain when he said:

"It's a far more competitive race than it was six months ago, but I think people continually have a tendency to jump to premature conclusions about political campaigns," said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster not working for any of the candidates. He added that McCain's "national stature is so great and the campaign's fundraising potential is so great that it would be a serious mistake to write him off prematurely."

Both, Nit-Wit, Whit Ayres, and John McCain have to be some stupid bastard's to think the American people are going to support his campaign. McCain can launch his bid for the White House all he wants. His candidacy is going nowhere fast.

This turkey is done! Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani has surged past McCain in national polls because of one thing, McCains public and private support for Bush's unpopular war and policy in Iraq.

"Its your support for Bush and his Iraq war... Stupid"

African American Political Pundit is a regular contributor to Mirror on America

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Remember Jessica Lynch?

Lynch Tells The Truth About The Lies of Bush & Company

Jessica Lynch was the U.S. Army Private who was turned into a war hero by the Bush Administration in an effort to stir up emotions of Patriotism and to help sell the War in Iraq. She was used as a propaganda tool. This was particularly effective at the time because the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 were still fresh in the minds of Americans. The public at the time (not very knowledgeable about what the hell was going on in the World) had fallen for the lie told by the Bush administration that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11.

Lynch was captured in the early days of the Iraq War, suffering various injuries. The myth that was sold at the time said that she fought off several enemy fighters single-handedly, while she lay wounded. She quickly gained hero status. Of course we have since learned that this was all a lie, perpetrated by top military officers and by the Bush administration to tamper with the emotions of the American strengthen support for the war (which was already strong at the time). It was just a part of a whole series of lies used by the Bush Administration to bolster support for the war.
Well today, for the first time, Jessica Lynch went before Congress to tell the whole ugly truth about the situation and how she was glorified for political purposes. She was joined by Kevin Tillman, the brother of Pat Tillman, who was also used for propaganda purposes.

The Hearing Was Conducted by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Chairman- Henry Waxman.

The People Behind the Images

British TV personality Louis Theroux looks at the U.S. Rap industry, and explores how the negative images in Rap are promoted.

They have been able to warp the minds of consumers & the artists.
Unable to find the full video.

"Black death is being pimped by Corporations" -- Chuck D. in Documentary, Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes.

The video speaks for itself.


See the Documentary- Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes (Video At Bottom of Page).

Random Thoughts, April 24th

I just watched the Anderson Cooper Special Report from CNN about "Snitching" -The predominantly Black urban practice of not cooperating with Police, not providing witness information, etc. and in the process, protecting criminals. BLACK FOLKS ARE KILLING THEIR OWN WITH THIS FOOLISHNESS!!!

As a black man, I am embarrassed by this nonsense. What we are seeing is the mental genocide of Black people in this country. Their hearts are still pumping blood through their veins, but the souls of some Black folks are dead....and their minds are on vacation.
I see no hope for this situation.... which is driven by the ignorant Rap culture. Nothing will change it overnight. This is because Rap culture has such a strong influence on Black Americans. This is why I am glad I don't listen to the stuff. In fact, I pride myself on being Rap-Free for the past 16 years.

But as I have mentioned before.... just a few things will change this situation...

#1. Parenting/Restoration of Family. I have covered Bill Cosby quite a bit on this blog as he spoke about the need for Black people to get back to good parenting and to restore the concept of family (a value that no longer holds prominence in Black Culture). There are too many "Parents" who have no business with children... many just don't have the upbringing to provide good guidance and a healthy environment for a child. The fact that Black culture is going down the toilet should be no surprise to anyone who is paying attention.

#2. The second thing that could change this situation is Black women finally standing up and saying "No More"!. They must reject the negative images of women created by Rap culture and by corporations. However, I don't see this happening anytime soon. Black women are some of the biggest consumers of this music. How ironic is that sh*t? When they should be protesting it, they are out buying the CD's and bobbing their heads to the music....providing a living for the
very people who are degrading them. Not a day goes by where i'm not pissed off by this craziness.


I don't watch much TV..... much of the programming is just asinine. But over the past few months, I have become hooked on the re-runs of the Amazing Race. strangely enough, I never caught the original programs.... because of my working hours.

The show is a good escape.... you can mentally put yourself in the different places where they travel. Plus, they always seem to find a way to hook get you to tune in for the next episode.


Too many things to do, and not enough time to do them.

I am trying to go back to school again... all part of self improvement, and making myself "viable". And an effort to get "established".

In my 30+ years, I have never really been in a position to really enjoy life.... to stop and smell the flowers. I have been stuck in this meaningless paperchase....of which I have reaped no benefits as of yet. I am beginning to wonder if any of my efforts have been worth it.

I often see lesser men who have everything.... girlfriends/wives (some gorgeous), families, are home owners, and have their financial situations in order....and seem happy. So somewhere I must have taken a wayward turn.

In American culture people are increasingly defined by class. In fact, the U.S. is becoming more like a Caste in India. Your social circles are defined by your economic class. Your relationship with the opposite sex is determined by class. Almost every aspect of life is determined by class level. We are defined by job, income, our zip codes, appearance, race, etc... and on top of that, it is now becoming harder to move from one class to another. This lack of class mobility is one of the main characteristics of a Caste system.

Can we really be surprised by the actions of Cho Seung-Hui? Yes, he was probably predisposed to murder-suicide because of one or more mental conditions, but he was certainly helped along by pressures & conditions in American culture. He was, in part, an American creation. As an immigrant from S. Korea, he was teased by his American classmates, who (while teasing him) mistakenly called him Chinese. This kind of ethnic, religious and cultural ignorance is pervasive and ingrained in American culture. With that kind of taunting, it is a miracle that he did not have major issues sooner than he did. But on top of that, he was under pressure from his family and community to "do well". "Doing Well" for Asian immigrants means measuring up to a white standard. This is especially the case for the men. For Asian women.... what do you often see? What does "doing well" mean for them? It often means meeting and marrying a White man.... meaning a White man who is "successful".... has plenty of money, etc etc. This is actually encouraged in many Asian families.... parents wanting their daughters to marry White men...with the idea that this person would be the best for their daughter because of the assumption that they are successful, have financial wealth, etc. It's sickening.


I am looking forward to the Summer. I will probably be in school or signed up by then (unless a job offer comes). I am hoping to get into Washington University in St. Louis.... one of the best Universities in the World. I wish I would have started last year....but I needed a break after just finishing a degree at another University. Washington University is a diamond in the rough for St. Louis. I often think that it is one of the few good reasons why anyone should move here, lol.

I know that I probably can't afford it.... because I am in enough debt as is. But I have to be able to compete. If I change my mind and decide to go somewhere else, it will probably be Webster University (another good school...though not as good as Washington U.), where I have already earned a degree. I can't really go wrong with either school.

It just seems that as a Black man... there is no such thing as having too much education.
I just wish I had some help on these student loans.... which total between 50 and 60 thousand at this point. These people are already calling me wanting their money.... but I have the same crappy job that I had a year ago.... so I have no money for them. I have a policy now of not answering the phone because of all the calls from the loan companies. They'll get their money....but i'm in no hurry. Hell....why can't education be free in this country? At least the first two years of college should be free IMO. This goes back to the class thing... poor folks start off at a disadvantage....because they either can't afford college at all....have to join the military for money, or have to go deep into debt.... starting their lives tens of thousands of dollars behind. This is what priviledged kids take for granted....they typically don't have to worry about these kinds of problems.

That's enough for now.....

Bush Administration Facing New Investigation

The White House is facing a new investigation from the Office of Special Counsel. The Investigation will focus on White House Operations, particularly the activities of Karl Rove and his involvement in the firings of U.S. Attorneys. See here and here. The agency will be looking for violations of the Hatch Act.

I'm skeptical about these kinds of investigations. Although the agency is independent, the person leading the probe was appointed by Bush. These investigations never seem to go anywhere. But even the news of a new investigation won't be good for Bush & Co. or the Republican Party, especially with the election next year.


Previous Post On This Issue

Monday, April 23, 2007

New PBS Documentary - Gangs Of Iraq

PBS has just released a great new documentary- Gangs of Iraq. The program takes a look at the effort to recruit & train Iraqi security forces, and how religious and tribal divisions have made it nearly impossible to put effective military and police forces in place in Iraq. Iraqi police and military personnel often put tribal and religious loyalties ahead of their jobs. This made it easy for Iraqi security forces to be infiltrated by militant groups.

The training of these security forces is important if Iraq is to defend itself and handle its own affairs.

Imus Backlash Finally Producing Some Results

But It's Not Even Close to Being Enough

St. Louis based broadcasters Michael and Steve Roberts are leading the way towards cleaning up the garbage (Rap) that is put over the airwaves. The entrepreneurs have just announced that they will stop playing music with offensive lyrics.

The trend is catching on with broadcasters across the country. A major FM station in New York has decided to change its format away from thug rap to something less offensive and a little less damaging to the community.

Unfortunately, these broadcasters have not gone far enough. For example, the Roberts brothers say that while they will cut out the most offensive material, they will still play plenty of other rap, including rap from the artists whos lyrics they have had to ban. To me this is like doing Cancer surgery and only cutting out SOME of the disease. As we all know.... you must remove all of the disease if the patient (in this case young Black America) is to survive.
That's what thug rap is for the so-called "Black community"... it's a Cancer.

Now Russell Simmons, One of the Kings of Coonery, is doing an about face by calling for the elimination of 3 words from Rap lyrics. This could be a start, but it really doesn't get to the heart of the matter. The misogyny will still be expressed in other ways....especially in the videos. And as far as the words, the Rap culture can and will simply create euphemisms to replace these words... doing very little to blunt the impact of this language.

What we are seeing with the Roberts brothers, Russell Simmons, New York's 105 FM and others calling for these bans, is more likely an effort to sanitize the negatives of the Rap industry so that it will be more acceptable without really changing in a fundamental sense. It's like putting Sheeps clothing on a wolf.... or sugar coating a poison pill. Even if these efforts are successful, Rap will not be any less dangerous or damaging to society....especially to Black youth.

Misogyny, senseless materialism, "bling", an over emphasis on sex, thuggery, irresponsibility, and other ignorance will continue to be the overriding messages carried by this degenerate "Black" cultural expression. This is what needs to change. And until it does, Black culture will continue to go down the toilet.

And one voice that is missing in the debate is the voice of Black women. Where are Black women on this issue? They continue to be silent. Perhaps they are too busy bobbing their heads to the same kind of rap music that has been degrading them for much of the past decade. The irony is unbelievable.

Beyond the mild protest against Nelly by Spellman College, Black women have not taken a clear stand in this debate, nor have they really made a whimper. They have been absent.... MIA in this debate. What happened to the Black women of the 1960's and 70's (or the 80's for that matter)? There use to be a thread of consciousness among them. I have often wondered if they even care what their image is (collectively speaking.... because I know there are a few who do care quite a lot). When there is a demeaning comment, or image in the media....particularly from Rap, they have usually been muted. This is what made the Imus situation stand out and made it so hypocritical.

Juanita Millender McDonald Passes Away

She was one of the few CBC members who was outspoken about the situation in Darfur. If the CBC wants to honor her memory, then they would be much more aggressive on Darfur and other issues. She also pushed for reform of the election process.... something high on the list of issues for me.

High Turnout in French Election

The French elections are an example of Democracy in action.

Perhaps the U.S. could take notes.

74% voter turnout, multiple parties to choose from (more than 2 significant parties) media determining who the favorites are and brainwashing the people.... The people decide, NOT the media. As an American I can't help but get a little green with envy. The U.S. has nothing close to this kind of system. But the U.S. LOVES to boast that it is the greatest Democracy on earth.

The Black Minstrel Show Continues

The following is a post from co-blogger Sonya. She comments on a 60 minutes discussion between Anderson Cooper & Thug rapper (& Cancer to the "Black Community) Cameron Giles. They discuss the issue of "snitching".

Cam'ron: Snitching Hurts "Code Of Ethics"
Rapper Also Tells Anderson Cooper It Would Hurt His Business

(CBS) Rap star Cam'ron says there's no situation — including a serial killer living next door — that would cause him to help police in any way, because to do so would hurt his music sales and violate his "code of ethics."

Cam'ron, whose real name is Cameron Giles, talks to CNN's Anderson Cooper for a 60 Minutes report on how the hip-hop culture's message to shun the police has undermined efforts to solve murders across the country.

That doesn't make a bit of sense.

"If I knew the serial killer was living next door to me?" Giles responds to a hypothetical question posed by Cooper. "I wouldn't call and tell anybody on him—but I'd probably move. But I'm not going to call and be like, 'The serial killer's in 4E.'"

Giles' "code of ethics" also extends to crimes committed against him. After being shot and wounded by gunmen, Giles refused to cooperate with police. Why?

"Because … it would definitely hurt my business, and the way I was raised, I just don't do that," says Giles.

Pressed by Cooper, who says had he been the victim, he would want his attacker to be caught, Giles explains further: "But then again, you're not going to be on the stage tonight in the middle of, say, Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, with people with gold and platinum teeth and dreadlocks jumping up and down singing your songs, either. We're in two different lines of business."

A sellout by any other name...

"So for you, it's really about business?" Cooper asks.

"It's about business," Giles says, "but it's still also a code of ethics."

Excuse me for a moment while I gag.

Ethics? I call it moral bankruptcy. Inordinate selfishness. Absolute ignorance. What has taken hold of the psyche of a significant number of black people is a pathology so profound that it defies all logic and understanding.

I expect that at some point in the future there will be a lightbulb moment for those who have adopted the code of the lawless and thoughtlessly made themselves willing victims of the predators in their midst. But until that time comes, too many decent people will bear the brunt of the damage resulting from the ignorant rantings of Cam'ron and his kind.


Cross Posted from Make It Plain

My thoughts:

I don't think there is any hope for the Black community, with this kind of mindset being so pervasive.

It's embarrassing to me as a Black man. Especially when I see so many Black folks defending this nonsense.

Ethics? I call it moral bankruptcy. Inordinate selfishness. Absolute ignorance. What has taken hold of the psyche of a significant number of black people is a pathology so profound that it defies all logic and understanding.

You hit the nail right on the head. Blacks are activily taking part in their own degradation and destruction...and it defies all good sense.

You also mentioned a lightbulb moment might come.... but that light should have lit up in the minds of black folks a long time ago. Look at what is happening in the major metro areas across this country... especially in places like DC, Philly, St. Louis, New Orleans, Houston.... & other places where crime & gang activity is way up. The school systems and other institutions in some of these urban areas are also in disarray. How bad does this have to get before a light goes off?

I honestly believe that these light bulbs are blown. It is time for someone to change the bulbs. The problem is... I don't know if that is even possible....because the skulls of Black folk may be too thick... they are stubborn.

They listen to the rappers more than they listen to their pastors, or their teachers.
Cam'ron mentioned something very profound/revealing...when he stated "the way I was raised, I just don't do that,".

As far as i'm concerned, this is the key. PARENTING. This is why Bill Cosby was right. And this is also why he got such a huge backlash.... because people did not want to look in the mirror.

Good parenting in the so-called "Black Community" is basically non-existent. Parenting in Black America is certainly inadequate. There are always a few good parents who do a great job...but I am referring to the masses of households. Black America is in a crisis when it comes to parenting... this is one of the key sources to all of this poisoning of the brain that we see with Black youth.

This is why Black youth are so out of control (and I see it all the time). This is why they struggle in school...why they are prone to trouble, why they have run-ins with Police. They are not used to boundaries....No one ever set boundaries for them growing up. Therefore they do not respect authority and lack discipline & a sense of responsibility. So they lash out when someone finally sets boundaries for them (usually when it's already too late).

What will turn this thing around? Because I just don't see lightbulbs going off for these people. The Black community is constantly hitting a new low...and each time it does... the light bulbs do not light up.

Recent light bulb moments where lights failed to turn on:

1. Black women and AIDS.

2. The Black drop out rates

3. Black rates of incarceration

4. Katrina

5. and now Don Imus

And there have been several others. But the light bulbs just don't seem to come on, no matter how bad things get.

One of the first steps will have to be rebuilding the concept of family within the so-called "Black Community". A sense of values and morals has to be brought back. And good parenting will have to be key. Other ethnic groups know the importance of parenting...and as a result, youth of other backgrounds generally don't have problems that are as severe as those faced by Black and Latino youth.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

New York Times On The Decline Of St. Louis

The New York Times recently took an honest look at my hometown. The city has serious problems, although the wider Metro area is doing well.
The city is attempting to renew itself....but it is progressing too slowly. The city is not condusive to any real recovery.... the crime, the political foolishness, the severe blight, loss of population, the school system, the red tape...all discourage any meaningful or aggressive investment effort. St. Louis never seemed to learn from other cities that have been more successful....such as Atlanta, Cleveland, Seattle, etc. It takes so long to get anything done in St. Louis....whether it's building a hotel, redeveloping blighted areas, building roads, etc. This is also a town where major projects often seem to fall through. "The Bottle District" project- a major proposal to build new condos and retail facilities near the Riverfront (including new skyscrapers) is the latest big project to collapse. Ground was actually broken on the project a couple of years ago, but no work was ever done. The investors, fed up with red tape, eventually pulled out.
It's still hard to go downtown and enjoy an event. Parking can run from $10-15 (Who the hell wants to pay that much just to park?). And even if you do find parking, you have to walk quite a distance to get to your event. This is why I avoid downtown. The other reason is the crime. Other cities that have been successful at revitilizing their downtowns have tackled both problems.... creating plenty of free parking to encourage more downtown visitors (and new residents), AND dealing effectively with any crime issues.

See Report

Training Iraqi Security Forces No Longer Top Priority

U.S. policy-makers have backed off from the idea that training Iraqis should be a top priority.

But this tells me that the U.S. is not serious about seeking an exit strategy. Because training Iraqis would be a key factor in any plan to pull U.S. troops out. But I have believed all along that the U.S. planned to stay in Iraq for several years.

See Report from The Moderate Voice

Interview With Jeremy Scahill

Hear an interview with Jeremy Scahill, Author of book, "Blackwater: The Rise of the Worlds Most Powerful Mercenary Private Army.

Related Posts

View Documentary entitled "Private Warriors". The use of private contractors has created a separate private paramilitary branch of the U.S. Government in Iraq.

How Halliburton is Stealing Your Money

World Facing New Showdown Over Kosovo

Kosovo Independence Could Spark a New Conflict in the Balkans

Just when the U.S. can least afford to stir up another conflict, it appears to be pushing for a diplomatic confrontation over Kosovo Independence.

Russia and Serbia have always vowed that they would not allow Kosovo to become an Independent State. The U.S. sought to delay dealing with the issue in 1999, fearing a wider & more costly dispute. Now the issue has returned.

The U.S. will soon help clear the way for a final vote in the UN which would grant independence to the Serbian province, which has effectively been a UN protectorate since the U.S. led a bombing campaign in 1999 which squashed a civil war and ejected Serbian forces.

But if the Kosovo problem flares up again, it could be an even more dangerous situation than before, because the White House is full of brainless pro-war politicians (not much different from the Clinton Administration in that respect). However, the Bush Administration is much less tactful. The Kosovo situation would require intense & delicate diplomacy to prevent a major political and military problem.

A new Cold War has already begun (but as I like to remind people....the old Cold War never really ended). A renewed conflict in Kosovo could make matters worse, setting Europe, The U.S. and Russia back 20 years.

The last flare up in Kosovo in 1999, nearly led to a confrontation between Russia and NATO.

The Following is from the Herald Tribune

BELGRADE, Serbia: The United States and Russia are heading for a clash in the U.N. Security Council over a U.S.-backed plan that would grant independence to Serbia's breakaway province Kosovo — a diplomatic standoff that could unleash renewed violence.

Washington is pushing a Security Council resolution which it hopes would lead to Kosovo's quick split from Serbia. Russia, a traditional Serb ally, is threatening to block the plan.

The impasse is the latest irritant in relations between the United States and Russia, which is reasserting itself on the international stage largely through its influence as an energy giant. Other high-profile disagreements include U.S. plans to station elements of an anti-missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, and Russia's support for breakaway regions in Georgia and Moldova.

The European Union is seeking to break the deadlock by offering Serbia the prospect of quick membership in the 27-nation bloc if it drops its opposition to the U.N. draft. EU foreign ministers are meeting with their Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Monday in Luxembourg to try to reconcile differences.

U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said this week that the United States considers independence the only option for the predominantly Muslim region, and has suggested that Washington may recognize Kosovo's split even if Russia vetoes the U.N. plan in the Security Council.

But Lavrov responded in Belgrade on Thursday by noting that unilateral recognition would "endanger the stability" of the Balkans — scene in the 1990s the worst carnage in Europe since World War II — and would be "absolutely unacceptable."

Kosovo has been under U.N. and NATO administration since a 78-day NATO-led air war that halted a Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists in 1999 that killed 10,000 people and left nearly a million displaced.

Ethnic Albanians, who make up 90 percent of Kosovo's 2 million people, have for decades been seeking independence from Belgrade. But Serbia and Kosovo's Serb minority say the province is the heart of their medieval homeland and must remain within its borders.

Moscow's position is that the U.N. proposal on Kosovo would set a dangerous precedent for separatists elsewhere in the world by dismembering a sovereign U.N. member against its government's will.

Russia supports Serbia's stand to continue negotiating with rival Kosovo Albanians to reach a compromise, something Washington says is impossible after more than a year of deadlock.

Burns said that delaying Kosovo's independence "would lead to more violence, rather than less" — an assertion Lavrov dismissed as "blackmail."
Burns also hinted that the U.S. would support a declaration of independence by Kosovo's ethnic Albanian-dominated parliament.

"We expect that Kosovo's leaders will subsequently declare their independence," Burns said. "The U.S. and other countries will then recognize the new state."
Belgrade officials, who demanded anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said Russia is suggesting to the Serbian officials to move some 200 of its police and military staff into the Serb-populated northern Kosovo regions in case the province's independence is recognized without the U.N. Council's consent, an apparent move to keep at least a part of Kosovo under its control.

"You know what that would trigger?" said a ranking Western diplomat, indicating that NATO and EU troops stationed in Kosovo would have to respond with force against the Serbian incursion.


Veterans Struggling to Get Healthcare

Public Radio report on how Veterans are still struggling to get healthcare.

These issues keep cropping up, just as the Bush administration claims that it is doing everything it can for American military personnel.

Alberto Gonzales Flops At Senate Hearing

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Desperate for support among fellow Republicans, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales faced grim prospects Friday after a bruising Senate hearing that produced one outright call for resignation and a fistful of invitations and hints to quit.

One GOP member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, John Cornyn of Texas, predicted Gonzales would weather the furor and said he should. "Frankly, I don't think the Democrats are going to be satisfied with the resignation by Al Gonzales," he said.

Gonzales gave no indication Friday that he was leaving.

Continue Here

Watch Hearings
Part 1 and Part 2

I knew that he would not leave quickly.... this is why I did not jump on the bandwagon that assumed over the last month, that he would be gone by now.

Although I do believe that he will not finish his term as Attorney General.
What people have to remember is that the Bush administration never does anything quickly, unless it has to do with stealing & diverting taxpayer money, dropping bombs, or curtailing civil liberties. Consider how long it took for the Bush-ites to get rid of Donald Rumsfeld?

Hopefully the next AG will be less loyal to Bush & Co....and will be more loyal to the law. I would also like to see someone with actual experience as a prosecutor.

I personally believe that AG's should not be chosen by the President at all. I think the AG should be chosen via national election and should serve 4 year terms. The position should also avoid dealing with political parties. Until there is an independent Justice Department, politicians will continue to get away with all sorts of misconduct.


Blog Entry from Truthdig

The Fired U.S. Attorneys React to Gonzales' Testimony

Thursday, April 19, 2007

"I Yield You No Ground"

Dreier: Will the gentlewoman yield?

Holmes Norton: I will not yield, sir. The District of Columbia has spent 206 years yielding to people who would deny them the vote. I yield you no ground. Not during my time. You have had your say, and your say has been that you think the people who live in your capital are not entitled to a vote in their House. Shame on you.

The Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton was the commencement speaker at my law school graduation. Her thesis was: "The law can be noble, and the law can be base." I thought she was wonderful then. I think she's wonderful now. She has ably served the citizens of the District of Columbia as their non-voting Delegate in the House of Representatives since 1991.

It appears that the District of Columbia may finally get a full congressional seat as the House has passed legislation to add one seat for D.C. and another seat for Utah. Of course, it's still an uphill battle because there aren't enough votes in the Senate to avoid a filibuster by republicans, and if it makes it out of the Senate, Bush has threatened to veto it. Republicans don't want the residents of the District of Columbia to have representation. Per the Washington Post:

The House Republican leadership strongly opposed the bill, saying it violates the constitutional requirement that representatives come from states. "This legislation was constitutionally suspect last month, and it is constitutionally suspect today," said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas).

Please. Republicans couldn't care less about the Constitution. Elections have shown us time and time again that the republican party will do whatever it can to prevent as many black people as possible from having a voice in government. It's just that simple. Except for the few like Rep. Thomas Davis:

The House legislation is sponsored by Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) and the city's non-voting congressional delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton (D). Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) has also championed the measure, leading thousands of demonstrators to Congress this week to demand representation for the city.

"This is a great and historic day for the residents of the District of Columbia," Fenty said in a statement after the vote. "I look forward to the continued success of the D.C. Voting Rights Act and urge the Senate to take up this important legislation immediately."

Kudos to the Democratic leadership and staffers who made this legislative victory possible:

Democrats had expected to use their majority in the House to pass the legislation last month. But Republicans introduced a motion to send the bill back to committee with added language stripping the District of its tough anti-gun laws.

That put the Democratic leaders in a box. They knew that some Democratic members from pro-gun areas would feel obliged to back the motion. If it passed, however, it would have subjected the legislation to potentially lengthy delays in committee, and possibly even killed it, the leaders said.

Democrats realized they had inadvertently turned the D.C. voting-rights bill into a target for all sorts of motions. The source of their trouble: they had added a provision at the last minute to pay for the new House seats. That provision widened the range of permissible attachments to the bill.

In recent weeks, Democratic staffers successfully crafted legislation that would be shielded from such parliamentary maneuvers. They put forward two bills: one adding the House seats, and another that would pay for them, by tweaking a tax provision.

As mentioned above, this is but one skirmish in the long battle against taxation without representation. But as long as D.C. residents, and those who support them, remain steadfast and yield no ground, they will be victorious.

Cross-posted at make it plain

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Update to German Army Story

German Army Instructor seen in video has now been fired. Report Here


Previous Post

Ghetto Nation - A Book By Cora Daniels

With Ghettonation, acclaimed journalist and author, Cora Daniels, takes on one of the most explosive issues in our country today in this thoughtful critique of America's embrace of a ghetto persona that is demeaning to women, devalues education, celebrates the worst African American stereotypes, and contributes to the destruction of civil peace. Her investigation exposes the central role of corporate America in exploiting the idea of ghettoness as a hip cultural idiom, despite its disturbing ramifications, as a means of making money. She showcases Black rappers raised in privileged families who have taken on the ghetto persona and sold millions of albums, and not so Black celebrities such as Paris Hilton, who have adopted ghetto attitudes and styles in pursuit of attention and notoriety. She also gets personal, exploring her own relationship to ghetto and the ways in which she is both part and outside the Ghettonation.

Daniels infuses this serious look at the degradation of American society with the honesty, found in her debut book Black Power Inc., as well as humor - including lists of events and people that deserve placement in the Ghetto Hall of Fame and a short section written entirely in ghetto slang. The result is not only a timely engrossing expose, that will surely trigger much needed debate, but also Ghettonation is a poignant call for action.

See a Book Review From the Washington Post.

Hear 2 Interviews with Author Cora Daniels

Interview 1

Interview 2

Report from USA Today

See Authors Website Here,

See Blog Here

Commentary - The Imus Distraction

The Imus Distraction

By James Harris

Longtime radio personality Don Imus and his executive producer, Bernard McGuirk, have been fired by MSNBC and CBS for their racially charged dialogue during which they referred to members of the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos.” Imus and McGuirk’s comments triggered sharp opposition from black leaders Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. And though both civil rights bigwigs have made careers out of these kinds of remonstrations, I think Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be ashamed of the way that Jackson and Sharpton have pimped his legacy.

During the civil rights movement, blacks fought to gain a seat at the table, asking for basic human rights—to be able to drink from the same fountain as whites, not to be lynched by lawmakers and so on. King’s leadership in the 1950s and ’60s stemmed from one hope: “That little black boys and little black girls would be able to sit at the table of brotherhood with little white boys and little white girls.” King’s dream has, for the most part, come true.

But in the time since, what have blacks and black leaders done with their civil rights? What have leaders like Jackson and Sharpton done to strengthen the spirit of black children who continue to grow up in violent and disjointed communities? By and large, predominantly black areas have festered in tragedy while black leadership has failed to reverse the plight of the black populace.

Michael Eric Dyson, an author and a University of Pennsylvania professor, explained on NBC’s “Today” show that if people like Imus “are using the airwaves to spread hate, [their and] his racial epithets must be met with equal force.” Imus has indeed been met with blunt and comparable force from the black community and from advertisers General Motors and Procter & Gamble. But given the fact that black male high school graduates in their 20s are jobless at a rate of 30 to 50 percent and black male dropouts are jobless at a rate of 60 to 70 percent and, as board Co-Chair of AIDS Project of the East Bay Michon Coleman explained to me, black women account for nearly 70 percent of all new AIDS cases in the United States, there are far more pressing matters for blacks than an inundated radio loudmouth.

If Imus and his cohorts get on the radio and scream “Nigger!” repeatedly for four hours, that has nothing to do with black people. Why does it matter what he says? If the black family is to be made strong, then blacks must take responsibility for their own uplift. And, yes, protest is part of that responsibility, but this particular protest was a waste of time.

I have spoken to Al Sharpton on a few occasions; his radio show and TV show are outstanding. Simply put, he gets it. But I would ask the Reverend, when are blacks going to get past protest of racist diatribe and get to the reparation of the black family? If blacks fail to start reconstruction on their broken social and economic structures and don’t collaborate to start open, honest dialogue about the misogyny and violence that bedevil hip-hop and about the tendency of black men to find homes in prisons across America, then progress will continue to evade those who need it most.

The Imus episode and the surrounding hoopla only divert the attention of America as they force us to recognize the obvious: that there are still racists among us. Dr. King’s legacy was never about making sure whites like Imus didn’t use inflammatory language, but rather it was about the establishment of dignity and pride for blacks who had been stripped of their humanity. What happened to that struggle, to that kind of improvement? I will not—nor should you—celebrate the dismissal of Imus, because after his 15 minutes of shame are over, black men will still be slaying each other with unbelievable frequency in Camden, N.J.—only minutes from Rutgers University. Don Imus may be out of a job, but black pride is still fading into the abyss.

James Harris is a radio producer and filmmaker based in San Francisco, Calif. He has worked in radio for nearly ten years, producing a variety of talk and music content. James is currently directing and producing a documentary film exploring the economic undercurrent of Hurricane Katrina. James holds a BA in Communication from Santa Clara University.

Virginia Tech Suspect Identified - Plenty of Warning Signs

The Virginia Tech shooting suspect has been identified.

Warning Signs Overlooked Again?

According to classmates and instructors, there were plenty of warning signs that indicated something was wrong. However, an effective reporting system may not have been in place.

Various Articles

Suspect identified: Report from the Guardian and the NY Times.

Suspects Writings Raised Questions: From the Houston Chronicle

The blog entry below is from Ian MacFarlane, a former classmate of the suspect and current AOL employee.

What happened yesterday:

When I first heard about the multiple shootings at Virginia Tech yesterday, my first thought was about my friends, and my second thought was "I bet it was Seung Cho."

Cho was in my playwriting class last fall, and nobody seemed to think much of him at first. He would sit by himself whenever possible, and didn't like talking to anyone. I don't think I've ever actually heard his voice before. He was just so quiet and kept to himself. Looking back, he fit the exact stereotype of what one would typically think of as a "school shooter" – a loner, obsessed with violence, and serious personal problems. Some of us in class tried to talk to him to be nice and get him out of his shell, but he refused talking to anyone. It was like he didn't want to be friends with anybody. One friend of mine tried to offer him some Halloween candy that she still had, but he slowly shook his head, refusing it. He just came to class every day and submitted his work on time, as I understand it.

A major part of the playwriting class was peer reviews. We would write one-act plays and submit them to an online repository called Blackboard for everyone in the class to read and comment about in class the next day. Typically, the students give their opinions about the plays and suggest ways to make it better, the professor gives his insights, then asks the author to comment about the play in class.

When we read Cho's plays, it was like something out of a nightmare. The plays had really twisted, macabre violence that used weapons I wouldn't have even thought of. Before Cho got to class that day, we students were talking to each other with serious worry about whether he could be a school shooter. I was even thinking of scenarios of what I would do in case he did come in with a gun, I was that freaked out about him. When the students gave reviews of his play in class, we were very careful with our words in case he decided to snap. Even the professor didn't pressure him to give closing comments.

After hearing about the mass shootings, I sent one of my friends a Facebook message asking him if he knew anything about Seung Cho and if he could have been involved. He replied: "dude that's EXACTLY what I was thinking! No, I haven't heard anything, but seriously, that was the first thing I thought when I heard he was Asian."

While I "knew" Cho, I always wished there was something I could do for him, but I couldn't think of anything. As far as notifying authorities, there isn't (to my knowledge) any system set up that lets people say "Hey! This guy has some issues! Maybe you should look into this guy!" If there were, I definitely would have tried to get the kid some help. I think that could have had a good chance of averting yesterday's tragedy more than anything.

While I was hesitant at first to release these plays (because I didn't know if there are laws against it), I had to put myself in the shoes of the average person researching this situation. I'd want to know everything I could about the killer to figure out what could drive a person to do something like this and hopefully prevent it in the future. Also, I hope this might help people start caring about others more no matter how weird they might seem, because if this was some kind of cry for attention, then he should have gotten it a long time ago.

As far as the victims go, as I was heading to bed last night, I heard that my good friend Stack (Ryan Clark) was one of the first confirmed dead. I didn't want to believe that I'd never get to talk to him again, and all I could think about was how much I could tell him how much his friendship meant to me. During my junior year, Ryan, another friend and I used to get breakfast on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Shultz Dining Hall, one of the cafeterias on campus, and it was always the highlight of my day. He could talk forever it seemed and always made us laugh. He was a good friend, not just to me, but to a lot of people, and I'll miss him a lot.


Below are 2 plays written by suspect, Cho Seung-Hui.

WARNING: Writings Contain Profanity and Disturbing Events

Monday, April 16, 2007

32 Murdered on Virginia Tech Campus - Not Exactly A Surprise

Monday April 16, 2007

Associated Press Writer

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP)- A gunman opened fire in a Virginia Tech dorm and then, two hours later, in a classroom across campus Monday, killing at least 30 people in the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history, government officials told The Associated Press. The gunman was killed, bringing the death toll to 31. Update: Total now 33, including gunman.

``Today the university was struck with a tragedy that we consider of monumental proportions,'' said Virginia Tech president Charles Steger. ``The university is shocked and indeed horrified.''

It was not immediately clear whether the gunman was shot by police or took his own life. His name was not released, and investigators offered no motive for the attack. It was not known if the gunman was a student.

The shootings spread panic and confusion on campus, with students complaining that the university did not warn them about the first burst of gunfire until more than two hours later.

Continue Here


My Commentary

This was a terrible story to wake up to. It's horrifying.
But I can't say that it is surprising to me. Story from NY Times.

I studied this issue when I was in college. Law Enforcement and Academia refer to this as an "active shooter" incident. This has been a problem that has been widely debated over the past several years.

College campuses (and schools in general) are notoriously open to this kind of incident. This is one of the biggest holes in U.S. "homeland security". The country has not learned from Columbine, and other similar events.

It is easy for a suspect to walk into one of these campuses to do a mass shooting attack. And if a domestic suspect can so easily attack one of our college campuses.... then it would be extremely easy for Al Qaeda to do it. This debate has to be framed in the wider context of Homeland security and terrorism preparedness.

This is part of the big hole in security that the Bush Administration has left open. It has been due to a complete lack of leadership at the top.

The North Hollywood Bank Robbery of 1997 and the Columbine High School massacre of 1999 are probably the two biggest incidents that changed how Law Enforcement approaches active shooters. After these incidents (and several others over the years) many police departments realized that they had to respond to these events more quickly. As a result, many departments formed rapid response units. These units are typically made up of regular street officers who have additional training and are allowed to carry assault rifles & body armor in their patrol cars. These officers can go directly into the area of danger to attempt to neutralize the threat as soon as they arrive at the scene.

This response was needed because it typically takes SWAT teams 10-15 minutes or more to respond to these kinds of incidents (far too late). Many SWAT members are not working at the same time, and have to respond from home or from various parts of a metro area. Equipment has to be brought to an active shooting scene from a central station. Once at a scene, it can take another 5-10 minutes to assess the situation and develop a plan. All of this takes too long. In fact, the original concept of SWAT, which was born in Los Angeles, was not designed to deal with the kind of active shooter situations that we see today, where several people are being shot execution style, over a short time frame. SWAT was created to deal with hostage situations and barricaded individuals, and to carry out dangerous surprise raids. SWAT is more of a long-haul approach, where teams take several minutes to set up and are prepared to wait for several hours before a resolution is reached. But for active shooter situations, SWAT is not very effective at all. Active shooting incidents are almost always over and done with by the time SWAT units arrive. This has been well known for quite some time and is proven over and over again, yet Police departments and local governments across the country have been slow to make the changes necessary to effectively deal with this problem.
In the case of Virginia Tech, SWAT units were already in the area or on alert after the smaller initial shooting, but were still unable to reach victims at the second location in time. However, first responders (who were probably not fully prepared) did appear to arrive while the shooting was still underway.

For active shooters, Law Enforcement needs a time sensitive response... This has been what the Academic community and the Law Enforcement community has been debating for years now. This is how the idea of rapid response units came about. The consensus that has developed on this issue is that first responders are most likely going to have the best chance at stopping such events in progress...and therefore, first responders should be properly equipped to handle these situations.

The problem with the rapid response concept has been a lack of funding, a lack of training, and an uneven implimentation across the country. Most big city departments now have some kind of plan in place for dealing with active shooters, especially in the wake of 911 with the percieved threat of terrorism. However, many of the smaller communities, have not put plans in place. This is problematic, considering that many of our college campuses are in smaller suburban and rural areas. County Sherrifs and small town Police Departments must now sit down and come up with plans to deal with this kind of problem. The small Police Departments that don't have plans and procedures in place, must now come up with an effective policy, and for those Police agencies that do have some kind of plan in place, they must refine those plans.

Even for those places where a rapid response plan is in place, there has not been uniformity regarding procedures. For instance, in St. Louis County Missouri, only patrol Sergeants are allowed to have the assualt rifles....while in other departments, any trained officer can have the extra firepower. In my opinion, the more the merrier, because it's all about decreasing the response time, so that suspects can be killed or cornered before they are allowed to murder more people. Rapid response plans will not prevent all deaths and are not designed to. The aim of rapid response units is to reduce the number of people killed in these kinds of events.

I don't know what the plan was for Virginia Tech or for the Blacksburg Virginia Police Department or Montgomery County Sheriff. But from what I can tell, the response appeared confused and may have been botched. It doesn't appear that any rapid response plan was effectively used. But the large size of the campus should be taken into account. This kind of confusion is common when you have various police agencies (probably well over half a dozen in this case) attempting to respond to this kind of call, and trying to communicate and plan on the fly as the situation evolves.

This also highlights the need to have effective campus Police on hand. College Campuses and High Schools of a certain size should be required by law to have an adequate police staff on hand. Campus police typically will know the area the best- knowing how to get to various buildings, specific offices, knowing the roads in and out, etc. Local police typically have trouble finding specific buildings on such large sprawling campuses... so it's unrealistic to expect them to quickly locate a suspect.

Local police departments in these kinds of communities (along with State & Federal agencies) must practice together at least once a year, and should become familiar with major attractions like college campuses, malls, hospitals, etc, so that confusion can be minimized.

It is also important for College campuses to have certain security procedures in place to begin with, so that it would not be so easy for a suspect to walk freely throughout these kinds of facilities without being challenged...either by systems or by people. Campuses need badge systems for access to buildings...regardless of how much students will complain. There should also be an ability for campus buildings to be locked down and secured (from a central location if needed) before people are allowed in and out. I don't know if such systems would have stopped this shooting considering that the suspect could have been connected with the University as a student or former student. But it would help tremendously.

This hole in Americas domestic security can no longer be ignored. The Bush administration will be forced (unfortunately they have to be forced into doing things) into making policy and funding security initiatives for dealing with this problem.

Now some people will call for more gun control. I am pro-gun control, but it is not clear whether that would have made a difference in this case. We don't have enough information on this case yet to determine if that was a factor. The suspect was not likely someone with a criminal record who would have been prevented from obtaining a weapon. So that would not be an issue if that is the case. Ban guns altogether? That's not going to happen in a country where the right to bear arms is protected under the 2nd amendment of the Constitution. In order to ban weapons, a Constitutional amendment would be required....and that would be impossible. The NRA, one of the most powerful lobbying groups in U.S. history, would work very hard to squash any effort to ban firearms. So in this particular case I don't see the issue of gun control or a lack thereof as being a major factor. Like I mentioned, I am someone who is in favor of gun control. But gun control cannot prevent all of these incidents...and is not designed to. Gun control is designed to make it harder for criminals to obtain guns through legitimate means, to force gun dealers to keep records and play by the rules, to keep certain kinds of weapons & ammunition off the street, and to allow authorities to track gun sales. Gun control does not equal a ban on all firearms.

The fact is, in a country where gun ownership is legal, there will always be a good supply of these weapons. People will have access to them. So I see no way to prevent someone (with no criminal record) from obtaining a weapon to carry out one of these horrific acts. There is no way to screen law abiding purchasers of guns to determine what their intentions are. And even if you make it harder for citizens to get guns through legitimate means, they will still have access to firearms on the street- via the underground market. Therefore the focus must be on how to prevent or mitigate these kinds of attacks after the point where someone has obtained a firearm... more counseling and mental health programs, better security at vulnerable locations, better access control systems, increased deployment and better use of rapid response units, better coordination with security and local law enforcement personnel, etc.