Sunday, September 30, 2007

An Open Letter to White Progressives About Jena

I yield the floor to Prometheus 6:

An open letter to white progressives about Jena

The Jena, LA controversy isn't over. I didn't expect it to be over this quickly, but a couple of things have happened since the recent demonstration that make me genuinely concerned about how it will eventually be resolved. What put my concerns over the top was the recent statements by the District Attorney and Mayor of Jena that indicate their sympathies are far too closely aligned with those of white supremacist organizations. But what first made me concerned was the reaction of progressive white folks...something I thought we might adjust over time by filling in the huge gaps the mainstream media has left in the story. The more I read on the Jena controversy the more I feel like the drowning guy who keeps getting water balloons lobbed at him.

I've had my emotional reaction to it already. Thinking about the entire situation I conclude I have a snowball's chance in hell of changing the minds of the Mayor or District Attorney. They are taking the hardest line possible, and as I said, there was those recent statements...

I've realized though that there are several issues conflated in most Black folks' reaction, and teasing them apart might help those progressives among you that find yourselves troubled by the Jena demonstration feel more at ease.

I'm going to start with the nooses. Yes, it strikes you as obvious, I'm sure you rolled your eyes. And you, well, you just don't think it's as bad as a kick in the head. Well, this is not an argument, it is a statement. To Black Americans, a hangman's noose send the same signal as a burning cross. There may be some differentiation with you but for most Black people there is not. And I heard that guy over there, he said they use nooses in plays, they play that “hangman” game, and I say yes the meaning of a hangman's noose is more contextual than that of a burning cross. But somehow when those nooses turn up, they are always in that context.

Again, this is not an argument, it is information for you. You should treat nooses like swastikas.

When you hear Black people say the kid got beat up because the nooses were hung, it means that is the wound that festered as opposed to the infection that was the months of subsequent brawling. That is one point.

Second, the domestic media coverage of this has been horrible beyond merely being absent. I am one of the folks who have been following the case from the first article in the Chicago Tribune. You have no idea how frustrating it was to read article after article saying “nooses were hung and a white kid got jumped,” when NPR, in the most detailed description of events I've seen, says the response to the nooses was a silent protest. The school called the police.

I watched every mainstream media outlet skip right over that. That's another point.

I can find no specifics about what happened between the beginning of the semester and Nov. 30; the NPR article just says “Fights began to break out at the high school. But that year, the football team was having an unusually good season and the black athletes were a major reason why. So while there were fights throughout the fall, nobody wanted to take any action that would hurt the team. “ All I know for certain is they bypassed a number of opportunities to resolve the issue during this time.

The next report was of a Black youth, Robert Bailey, being beat up at a mostly white party one Friday night. The District Attorney could have said that was the last straw. He did not. The next day Bailey got into an argument with one of the students at a store. The student went to get a gun from his car, and was disarmed. The District Attorney said that was the last straw...and had Bailey arrested for defending himself. Monday, two days later, Justin Barker “loudly bragging to friends in the school hallway that Robert Bailey had been whipped by a white man on Friday night,” incited a riot and got hurt. A high school brawl ensued.

Equal protection under the law would see Justin Barker compelled to identify the people that assaulted Robert Bailey, and have those people charged with the same crime. And it will not happen.

Don't worry. There's only one more point.

You, white progressives, must see that this is a real problem and not let it die. Because the discomfort of staring the reality of racism in the face so soon after Jeff Jacoby declared racism irrelevant has brought forth the inevitable diversion. The natural one is the disproportionate crime rate in the Black community. And I'm not having that discussion right now...later, perhaps. I just need you to see that this problem is not one Black people can address. It is one you must address if there is to be justice.

I need you to see that when you have a well defined issue and dump ninety-two other issues on top of it, you cannot even claim to be trying to help.

And if you're saying you need do nothing about racism until it is the last problem on Earth, I think ALL Black people need to hear that.

Thank you, P6, for your eloquence.

Will we continue to hear birds chirping from the White Progressive Blogopshere? Or, will they throw down their defensiveness and recognize the serious issue of UNEqual Justice that is NOT going away.

Let's Not Forget About Darfur

As a poster reminded me, let's not forget about Darfur.

Act to End Genocide in Darfur Sudan

View Current Signatures - Sign the Petition
To: United Nations, White House

In the Darfur region of Sudan, government-supported militias are attacking and burning undefended villages, raping and murdering civilians, and abducting women and children. Over 700,000 victims of this ethnic cleansing have fled to other parts of Sudan, and another 110,000 refugees have crossed the border to Chad, where they are suffering from malnutrition and disease, and are exposed to daily cross border raids by militias, who murder them and steal the blankets and food given to them by international aid agencies.

The United Nations and member countries have done nothing to stop the militias, who continue to attack villages, burn homes, and rape and kidnap people.

Mukesh Kapila, U.N. co-ordinator for Sudan said, "I was present in Rwanda at the time of the genocide, and I've seen many other situations around the world and I am totally shocked at what is going on in Darfur. This is the world's greatest humanitarian crisis, and I don't know why the world isn't doing more about it."

Sign the Petition Here

Stand with the Burmese Protestors

Stand with the Burmese Protesters

After decades of military dictatorship, the people of Burma are rising – and they need our help. Marches begun by monks and nuns snowballed, bringing hundreds of thousands to the streets. Now the crackdown has begun, but the protests are spreading...

When the Burmese last marched in 1988, the military massacred thousands. If the world stands up and supports their struggle, this time they could win. We're in a race against time-- targeting the dictatorship's main backer China in a global advertising campaign, delivering the petition to the UN secretary-general and sending the Burmese our support via radio--

Sign this petition HERE.

Museum clings to Black WWII history

Hat Tip: Booker Rising

Museum clings to black WWII history

White owner struggles to stay in business
September 30, 2007

POWNAL, Vt. -- Down a dirt driveway, in one of the whitest states in the nation, is a museum dedicated to the experiences of black servicemen and -women during World War II.
The Museum of Black World War II History is run by 65-year-old Bruce Bird, a white, retired factory worker who sold his home and used the proceeds to convert a two-room 19th century schoolhouse to house it. The museum, which opened in June 2006, offers display cases filled with World War II weapons, models of tanks and aircraft and other memorabilia.

At best, it gets a handful of visitors a week.

Bird doesn't know where the money will come from to pay his next fuel oil bill.

But he's steadfast in his resolve to recognize the WWII service and sacrifice of more than 1.1 million black servicemen and -women.

''We don't get enough people yet,'' Bird said. ''With any museum, you essentially need a rich sponsor. We haven't found one yet. I contend this museum should be run by a rich, famous black veteran, none of which I am.''

But Bird's build-it-and-they-will-come approach appears to be working, a little bit at a time.

''I think the museum is a great thing,'' said Gregory Black, a retired U.S Navy officer who runs the Web site and has a link to the Vermont museum from his site. ''One of the things, overall, that African Americans are very disenchanted with these days is we don't really feel appreciated. We don't feel recognized for the contributions that we've made."

Bird wants to change that. His displays tell the stories of:

• • The 6888th Central Postal Directory Unit, made up entirely of black women who served in Europe.

• • The 761st Tank Battalion, which spent 183 days in combat in Europe.

• • The Pearl Harbor heroics of U.S. Navy mess attendant 2nd class Dorie Miller, of the battleship West Virginia. During the Dec. 7, 1941, attack, he pulled many wounded shipmates to safety and then, wielding a weapon he hadn't been trained to use, shot down at least two Japanese planes.

• • The Battle of the Bulge, in December 1944, when about half of the artillery battalions surrounded by the Germans near the Belgian city of Bastogne were made up of black soldiers.

And, of course, the museum has a display about the Tuskegee Airmen, the aviators who came to symbolize the challenges of black service members who sought to fly in combat and, once there, won the respect of fellow servicemen and the enemy.

'Hell of a good time'

Bird, who is single, used the profits from the sale of his house to buy a vacant schoolhouse. He used his credit card to put on a new roof and pay for electrical, plumbing and heating work. Much remains to be done.

The building is accessible to the handicapped, except that it doesn't have a handicapped-accessible restroom, and he can't afford the $5,000 cost to build one, so he can't bring in bus tours, as he'd like.

''I am having a hell of a good time," Bird said. "I never made appreciable amounts of money. I never married. What am I going to do for the rest of my life?

''Eventually, I will leave enough money so they can hire someone,'' he said. ''The first plan is to live a long time because it will take a long time.''


Website Addy: Museum of Black WWII History

Bruce Bird
Founder and Curator
179 Oak Hill School Road
Pownal, VT 05261

I plan on making a donation to the museum. Don't forget our museums. I know where you live there is a local Black History Museum of some sort. They need our support, and in order to keep our story alive, we need to support them. I don't know when I'm going to get to Vermont again, but I can make a donation so that someone, if they're in that neck of the woods, can visit it.

Related Site: Black Military World

Roundup of This Weeks Events

Hear analysis of the past weeks events, from OnPoint Radio.

Topics: Iran & Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Democratic Debate, Republican no shows at PBS Debate, Myanmar, How the Democrats have become more like pro-war Neo-Conservatives in their foreign policy (as I have been saying for years, particularly the last few years. The Dem Candidates are arguing about who will be the best pro-war Republican President...notice how they have slowly moved closer to the Neo-Conservative position. People seem fed up with the Republicrats -- this one Party with two heads. But people are so used to being ruled by the 2-Party system that they don't know how to push for more viable political Parties. This is like trying to introduce Democracy to Iraq.... the People in the U.S. can't even conceive the idea of actually having more viable Political Parties...although most Americans see the need for more Parties),.....more topics also discussed.


  • Anne Kornblut, national political correspondent for The Washington Post

  • Barbara Slavin, diplomatic correspondent for USA Today and author of the forthcoming book, "Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, the U.S., and the Twisted Path to Confrontation"

  • Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst and senior editor at The Atlantic Monthly



    Related Post Regarding Iran (my take from several weeks ago) See Here

    Saturday, September 29, 2007

    Instant Runoff Voting

    Let the Most Popular Candidate Win

    Ross Perot. Ralph Nader. Like theirs, my face is pinned up on the dart boards of angry partisans everywhere. I was bitterly accused of spoiling the 1980 election and helping Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter.

    But the real culprit is America's practice of plurality voting, by which candidates win without an absolute majority. In this system, third-party hopefuls can rarely aspire to be more than "spoilers." Worse, the one-third of all voters who are not registered as Republican or Democrat feel pressured to vote against their worst nightmare rather than their best hope.

    A simple reform would correct this problem. Instant runoff voting (IRV), which lets voters rank their choices, would allow America to achieve the basic goal of its electoral system – electing the candidate with the most support.

    (Former Illinois Congressman John B. Anderson was an independent candidate for president in 1980 and is chair of FairVote, a nonpartisan electoral reform organization based in Maryland.)

    Full article here from the Christian Science Monitor

    Friday, September 28, 2007

    Giuliani Advisor Norman Podhoretz Too Scared To Debate

    Hear a whacky discussion with pro-war neoconservative Norman Podhoretz. During the program, Podhoretz argues that we are in World War IV. He is under the false assumption that we can fight a war against an ideology using Conventional military power. But this will not work, cannot work and has already proven to be a failure.... yet he repeats the mantra over and over.

    He is calling for war with Iran, thinking that Air Strikes will do just fine. He seems oblivious to the fact that the U.S. would need 500,000 troops on stand by just in case the aerial bombing doesn't quite work out as planned, or in case Iran launches a major Counter attack. Where would the U.S. get these 500,000 extra troops? We definitely would not have any significant help from an international coalition. No nation, besides Israel, is foaming at the mouth, eager to go into Iran.

    I have said it a million times, you cannot defeat an ideology with tanks, bomber planes, and Aircraft Carriers. In fact, you may only make the problem worse. The U.S. has strengthened its enemies, via this John Wayne, Cowboy foreign policy. The war in Iraq and the U.S. over-reliance on military power to solve its problems, has been a gift to Al Qaeda and other Jihadi movements around the World. Yet, Podhoretz and his fellow pro-war neocons, either fail to see this fact, or choose to ignore it.
    He seems to be oblivious to the fact that terrorism has skyrocketed since 9/11 and since the start of the war in Iraq in 2003.

    During the program Podhoretz also runs from any serious debate with the other panelists. In fact, one of the pre-conditions for his appearance on the program was that he would not debate other panelists...and that he would not even appear with the other guests. He had to be brought on separately.

    He makes a ton of whacky claims during the discussion.... I could not count all of them. But a few that stand out are- He tries to compare the current "War on Terror" with the Cold War. Of course there is no real comparison. He also goes on to predict that George W. Bush will one day be considered one of the nations greatest Presidents. He also claims that the War on Terror is going pretty good. WHAT?????? lol

    Why should you be concerned about this man? Because this is a top foreign policy advisor to the Republican Presidential front-runner Rudy Giuliani.... who has a good chance of becoming the next President. A Giuliani Presidency would be worse than what we currently have. I never thought we would be on the brink of something worse than the Bush Administration. But here we are.

    The other guests come on later and begin clearing up some of Podhoretz's nonsense.

    The other guests were:

    --Christopher Dickey, Middle East Regional Editor and Paris Bureau Chief for Newsweek Magazine

    --Gen. William Odom, a retired Army Lt-General, Director of the National Security Agency from 1985 to 1988 and Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence for the US Army from 1981 to 1985. He is currently a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a professor (political science) at Yale University.

    This is a must hear interview.


    Judge Strikes Down Large Part of Patriot Act

    Judge Finds Provisions of Patriot Act to Be Unconstitutional

    Hear an interview with former Judge Andrew Napolitano, who provides some analysis on this landmark decision. Even Napolitano slams the Bush administration...and he's a Conservative Pundit. However, he also describes himself as a Libertarian.

    The case that led to the Court challenge stemmed from an illegal search of the home of American attorney Brandon Mayfield. Mayfield was suspected of having ties to the Madrid Bombing suspects. The government turned out to be wrong and Mayfield sued, challenging the Constitutionality of the provisions that allowed his home and office to be searched without warrants.

    Listen Here

    Report below from New York Times

    Judge Rules Provisions in Patriot Act to Be Illegal

    Published: September 27, 2007

    WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 — A federal judge in Oregon ruled Wednesday that crucial parts of the USA Patriot Act were not constitutional because they allowed federal surveillance and searches of Americans without demonstrating probable cause.

    The ruling by Judge Anne L. Aiken of Federal District Court in Portland was in the case of Brandon Mayfield, a lawyer in Portland who was arrested and jailed after the Federal Bureau of Investigation mistakenly linked him to the Madrid train bombings in March 2004.

    “For over 200 years, this nation has adhered to the rule of law — with unparalleled success,” Judge Aiken’s opinion said in finding violations of the Fourth Amendment prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure. “A shift to a nation based on extraconstitutional authority is prohibited, as well as ill advised.”

    The ruling is a new chapter in a legal battle that began after the Spanish police found a plastic bag with detonator caps in a van near the bombings, which killed 191 people and left 2,000 injured in the deadliest terrorist attack in Europe since World War II.

    Initially, the F.B.I. found no match for the fingerprints. But after reviewing a digitally enhanced set of the prints, the agency identified 20 possible matches, including Mr. Mayfield.

    Though Spanish officials had doubts about the match, federal agents began surveillance on him and his family, using expanded powers under the Patriot Act. Mr. Mayfield was jailed for two weeks before a federal judge threw out the case.

    Mr. Mayfield, 38, who was born in Oregon and brought up in a small town in Kansas, converted to Islam in 1989. He was a lawyer in a child custody case for Jeffrey Leon Battle, who had been convicted of conspiring to aid the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

    Mr. Mayfield said his religion and legal work had led investigators to be overzealous in connecting him to the Madrid plot.

    Mr. Mayfield sued the government, which apologized and agreed to a $2 million settlement last November. The settlement included an unusual condition that freed the government from future liability with one exception. Mr. Mayfield was allowed to continue a suit seeking to overturn parts of the Patriot Act.

    It was that suit on which Judge Aiken ruled Wednesday. Her opinion said the court recognized that “a difficult balance must be struck in a manner that preserves the peace and security of our nation while at the same time preserving the constitutional rights and civil liberties of all Americans.”

    In examining the history of the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act, the opinion discussed a change by Congress in October 2001, under the Patriot Act, that allows surveillance and searches if the government declares that “a significant purpose” of that activity is gathering foreign intelligence. In the past, such searches and surveillance had been allowed if “the purpose” was to obtain foreign intelligence.

    Congress’s intent, the opinion said, was “to break down barriers between criminal law enforcement and intelligence gathering.” Judge Aiken said a practical effect of “a seemingly minor change in wording” was to allow the government to avoid the constitutional probable cause requirement.

    “In place of the Fourth Amendment,” the judge wrote, “the people are expected to defer to the Executive Branch and its representation that it will authorize such surveillance only when appropriate.”

    She said the government was “asking this court to, in essence, amend the Bill of Rights, by giving it an interpretation that would deprive it of any real meaning.”

    A spokesman for the Justice Department, Peter Carr, said it was reviewing the decision and declined to comment further.

    A lawyer for Mr. Mayfield, Elden Rosenthal, issued a statement on his behalf saying that Judge Aiken “has upheld both the tradition of judicial independence and our nation’s most cherished principle of the right to be secure in one’s own home.”

    Democratic Candidates Square Off At Dartmouth College

    The Democratic Presidential candidates squared off at Dartmouth College on Wednesday.

    They were all still lying about pulling troops from Iraq, especially Hillary Clinton. However, they also appeared to be more cautious about how many troops to pull out and when. I plan to make a huge post about the "Iraq Withdrawal" question and I will highlight the fact that the whole discussion is a fraud. WAKE UP! There will be no end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq anytime soon, no matter who wins the Presidential election in November of 2008.

    The Iraq post is quite long and I have not even begun to type it up. No rush though... since troops will be in Iraq indefinitely, and since the candidates will be lying about withdrawal until election day, I figure I have plenty of time.

    Talking Points Memo has provided a video of the highlights from the debate.

    Thursday, September 27, 2007

    Update on Myanmar/Burma Protests and Mobile Phones

    Here is an interesting article from MobileActive on mobile phones and Internet technology as instrumental in the Burmese political protests:
    The Democratic Voice of Burma has emerged as a major newssource for mobile and video footage from Burma. Other content from inside of Burma is sent by citizens to the BBC where there are some moving pctures, many taken by mobile and emailed or MMSed to the BBC. More footage taken by people in Burma was on the BBC newscast tonight and is here as well (Real Player required). We have little information about the prevalence of mobiles in the country and ability to MMS footage out of the country, but it appears that the Internet is only inconsistently filtered, allowing both pictures and video taken by mobiles and cameras to be sent and published around the world.

    Full article here.

    Mychal Bell Is Freed On Bail

    Hat Tip: Skeptical Brotha:

    Mychal Bell is freed on bail
    September 27th, 2007

    Hat Tip: Doug Simpson, Associated Press

    A black teenager whose prosecution in the beating of a white classmate prompted a massive civil rights protest here walked out of a courthouse Thursday after a judge ordered him freed.

    Mychal Bell’s release came hours after a prosecutor confirmed he will no longer seek an adult trial for the 17-year-old. Bell, one of the teenagers known as the Jena Six, still faces trial as a juvenile in the December beating.

    District Attorney Reed Walters’ decision to abandon adult charges means that Bell, who had faced a maximum of 15 years in prison on his aggravated second-degree battery conviction last month, instead could be held only until he turns 21 if he is found guilty in juvenile court.

    The conviction in adult court was thrown out this month by the state 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal, which said Bell should not have been tried as an adult on that particular charge.

    Walters credited the prayers of people in this small central Louisiana town with averting a “disaster” when tens of thousands of demonstrators descended on the town. Some critics of Walters considered that a slap against the peaceful marchers.

    Now, it's time to get after that DA. Call him before Congress, Rep. Conyers. Let him explain that NYTimes Op-Ed full of lies.

    Mychal Bell's Bail Set at $45, 000

    Hat tip: Skeptical Brotha

    Mychal Bell’s bail set at $45,000
    September 27th, 2007

    Hat Tip: (CNN) — Bail was being posted Thursday for Mychal Bell, a black teenager accused of beating a white classmate, after a district attorney’s announcement that he would not appeal a higher court’s decision moving Bell’s case to juvenile court, according to the Rev. Al Sharpton.

    Mychal Bell, 17, is accused with five others of beating Justin Barker in a school fight.

    Bell’s bail was set at $45,000, Sharpton said. The paperwork was being worked out, he said, and the bail bondsman was at the courthouse.

    Earlier Thursday, Bell was moved from jail to a juvenile facility, according to his attorney, Lewis Scott.

    LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters said his decision not to appeal was based on what he believed is best for the victim in the case.

    “While I believe that a review would have merit … I believe it is in the best interest of the victim and his family not to delay this matter any further and move it to its conclusion,” Walters told reporters. Watch the district attorney say he won’t challenge the ruling. »

    He said a march by 15,000 people last week in the small town of 3,000 residents led by civil rights leaders Sharpton and Martin Luther King III did not influence his decision.

    Demonstrators were protesting how authorities handled the cases of Bell and five other teens accused of beating fellow student Justin Barker.

    Many said they are angry that the students, dubbed the “Jena 6,” are being treated more harshly than three white students who hung nooses from an oak tree on high school property.

    The white students were suspended from school but did not face criminal charges. The protesters say they should have been charged with a hate crime.

    Bell, now 17, was the only one of the Jena 6 behind bars. His bond previously was set at $90,000.

    A district judge earlier this month tossed out Bell’s conviction for conspiracy to commit second-degree battery, saying the matter should have been handled in juvenile court. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal in Lake Charles, Louisiana, did the same with Bell’s battery conviction in mid-September.

    Prosecutors originally charged all six black students accused of being involved in beating Barker with second-degree attempted murder and conspiracy. Walters reduced charges against at least four of them — Bell, Robert Bailey Jr., Carwin Jones and Theo Shaw — to battery and conspiracy.

    Bryant Purvis awaits arraignment. Charges against Jesse Ray Beard, who was 14 at the time of the alleged crime, are unavailable because he’s a juvenile.

    Wednesday, Gov. Kathleen Blanco announced that Louisiana State Police officers will protect the families of the Jena 6 and investigate any threats they have received. A white supremacist Web site posted the names and addresses of the six black teens after last week’s march, calling on followers to “let them know justice is coming.”

    Thursday, the FBI said it has been made aware of allegations of threats.

    “Threats are taken seriously, and as these investigations are ongoing we cannot comment further,” said Sheila Thorne of the FBI’s New Orleans, Louisiana, office.

    The December 4 attack on Barker came after months of racial tension, including at least two instances of fighting in the town, sparked originally when three white teens hung nooses from an oak tree on the town’s high school grounds.

    Walters has said there was no direct link between the hanging of the nooses and the schoolyard attack, and defended the prosecutions ahead of last Thursday’s peaceful march. Blanco defended the prosecutor Wednesday, saying, “He has a solid record and is highly respected among his peers.”

    Walters also addressed the stress and notoriety the town has been subjected to, saying the only way he and other residents “have been able to endure the trauma that has been thrust upon us is through the prayers of the Christian people who have sent them up in this community.”

    He also suggested that some kind of “disaster” was averted when thousands of marchers came to Jena last week.

    “I firmly believe and am confident of the fact that had it not been for the direct intervention of the Lord Jesus Christ last Thursday, a disaster would have happened,” Walters said.

    “The Lord Jesus Christ put his influence on those people and they responded accordingly,” he said, without explaining exactly what he meant.

    Soon after the district attorney spoke, a local reverend took issue with his comments.

    Obviously, we are serving two different gods here,” the Rev. Donald Sidley said. “My Bible says that we should do — we should be loving, love your neighbor as yourself.

    “For him to try and separate the community like he is and then using Christ Jesus to influence the people that Jesus is working on their side, well, that’s — that’s absurd. … God is god of the human race,” said Sidley, of the New Evergreen Church.

    Well, maybe some sort of justice is finally going to take place. He should have been out of jail the nanosecond his conviction was vacated.

    Troops Open Fire On Protesters In Myanmar

    Troops have opened fire on protesters in Myanmar, killing nearly a dozen and wounding several more. Several Monks have also been arrested in the largest crackdown in Myanmar in 20 years. A brutal crackdown in 1988 led to the deaths of thousands of civilians there.

    Meanwhile, the Russians have made it clear that they don't stand on the side of Democracy in these kinds of conflicts. They have worked to block a joint statement of condemnation from the UN Security Council. China also supported blocking any condemnation, but that is to be expected from China. This is why it is so important for the people within Myanmar to fight for themselves and not depend on outsiders, including the United States. Although it is interesting that the U.S. received help during its freedom struggle, the Chinese received help from its Brutal repression at the hands of the Japanese, and the Russians beat back the Germans with the help of a Western front in WWII drawing precious German resources. But when another nation is battling for its freedom... they (China and Russia specifically) can't even agree to make a statement.

    Perhaps China has forgotten about the Japanese occupation. Perhaps Russia has forgotten about the great battle of Stalingrad. Quite frankly, China is afraid of having another Democracy in its neighborhood, fearing that the protest sentiment could spread. And Russia wants to see governmental authority preserved at all costs... because it wants to feel comfortable knowing that it can continue with its own crackdown against Democratic elements there.

    The Chinese throw a fit at the mere mention of Japans brutal repression in their Country... all they want to do is "condemn".


    Previous Post Regarding the Myanmar Protests

    Sad Update to the Nailah Franklin Story

    A sad and unfortunate update to a story posted a few days ago.

    Police have located a body believed to be that of Nailah Franklin. Additional Reports from ABC News, and MSNBC.

    The body was reportedly found not far from where her car was abandoned. I'm curious as to why the Police did not do a more thorough search of the area originally. Was the body missed by tracking dogs?

    I hope this case can be resolved quickly for the sake of her family. Hopefully the lack of any solid known leads (at this point) is just a sign that police are not wanting to show their cards, as opposed to being indifferent. We shall see as the case moves along.

    Man Shoots Pregnant Girlfriend In Stomach With Sawed Off Shotgun

    Unspeakable Brutality Unleashed Against Pregnant St. Louis Woman

    Yep.... another gruesome story from the jungle-- the St. Louis metro. Hear the audio blurb from KMOX Radio.

    Boyfriend puts a sawed off shotgun to his girlfriends stomach and pulls the trigger... killing the baby and leaving the young lady in critical condition. What's even worse is that it appears that he may have planned this out over a significant period of time... This madness was reportedly brought on as a result of an argument over who was the father of the baby.

    The victim was 6 months pregnant. She is currently fighting for her life at a local hospital.


    I seem to hear a report like this about once per week....either nationally or locally. And I always ask myself... why won't these women leave these thugs alone? It drives me crazy! After learning about this case, I was reminded about a case in the St. Louis area that occurred about 2-3 years back... A young womans live-in thug boyfriend killed her and her three small children. (picture above) [2] He shot them all execution style. And for what? I don't think the investigators ever found anything close to a logical motive. And on top of all of that... the young woman was working her butt off everyday and taking care of her kids... AND supporting her thug boyfriend. It turns out....that this man was a convicted felon from California. She had recently just met the man and started a live-in relationship with him.

    I will be doing a post soon on why some (so many) women are attracted to the "bad boy", the "thug" types, the criminals, etc. Not blaming the women who become victims of these men...but I have to raise the question... why is the meathead...the thug, etc so popular? We even see it reinforced in the popular Black culture.... One female celebrity after another...(R&B singers & actresses in particular) either is dating or has dated a rapper/bad boy, at some point during their fame. In the process they have created a minefield for the young women across the nation who emulate them. Between J. Lo and that despicable Beyonce... I don't know which one has been worse in terms of popularizing this negative male image.... telling women that this is the kind of man that they should want... because it's the "in" thing.

    Is this still the "in" thing? Or is the pendulum starting to swing the other way?


    Report below from the St. Louis Post Dispatch

    Pregnant woman shot; man charged
    By Patrick M. O'Connell

    ST. LOUIS COUNTY — A man accused of putting a sawed-off shotgun against his pregnant girlfriend's abdomen and pulling the trigger was charged Wednesday with murder and assault.

    The fetus died and the mother was severely wounded, St. Louis County police said.

    Andre Stewart, 32, became upset during a fight Tuesday night about the paternity of the unborn child, police said.

    Vernell Macon, 21, who had been six months pregnant, was in critical condition at an area hospital, police spokeswoman Tracy Panus said.

    The specifics of the argument were unclear, but a man who knew the couple said Wednesday that Stewart had claimed he was the father.

    It happened about 10:30 p.m. at an apartment in the 2600 block of Eltarose Drive, in a complex east of Lucas and Hunt Road near the Jennings city limit.

    Stewart was charged with first-degree murder, first-degree assault and two counts of armed criminal action. He was being held in lieu of $1 million cash-only bond.

    Stewart hid the sawed-off shotgun under a couch last week and pulled it out during the argument, according to court documents. Stewart told Macon to be quiet, then put the barrel of the gun against the woman's abdomen and fired, police said.

    Stewart and Macon lived together at the apartment. A woman who lives across the hall said she heard the radio turned up loudly Tuesday night but was not aware anything was wrong until a swarm of police cars and an ambulance arrived.

    "They were real sweet people," said the woman, who declined to give her name. "I don't know what happened last night."

    Tory DuPree, who described himself as an acquaintance, said Stewart called himself the unborn child's father. DuPree described the victim as "a pretty nice girl; she was quiet."

    "He and the victim, I never really saw them fighting or anything like that," DuPree said. "I was surprised."

    Giuliani Supporters Have Lost Their Minds

    I knew that Giuliani would try to exploit 9/11 for his own personal & political benefit, but I didn't think that things would get this bad.

    Yes, the Giuliani camp has stated that they are not part of this fundraising event, but at the same time, they have not denounced it either. And will they refuse to take the money? I doubt it. Therefore, that to me is an implicit wink and a nod acceptance of what is taking place regarding the event.

    I have another interesting post related to Giuliani that I don't have time to get to at the moment. I will try to post that tomorrow.

    In the meantime, take a look at this short video sponsored by firefighters.... which challenges the hero myth that Giuliani has been milking for the past 6 years.

    Wednesday, September 26, 2007

    Mychal Bell's Case to be heard by Juvenile Court


    'Jena 6' teen's case to be heard in juvenile court, governor says

    BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (CNN) -- The case of Mychal Bell, a black teenager accused of beating a white classmate in Jena, Louisiana, will be heard in juvenile court, Louisiana's governor announced Wednesday.

    Mychal Bell, 17, is accused with five others of beating Justin Barker in a school fight.

    Gov. Kathleen Blanco said that she discussed Bell's case with LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters on Wednesday, and that Walters agreed not to challenge a state appeals court ruling that dismissed Bell's battery and conspiracy convictions.

    The court ruled that Bell, who was 16 at the time of the beating, should have been tried in juvenile court instead of having the case transferred to adult court.

    Blanco made the announcement with civil rights leaders Martin Luther King III and Al Sharpton.

    Last week, they led about 15,000 marchers to Jena, a town of 3,000, to protest how authorities handled the cases of Bell and five other black teens accused of beating white high school student Justin Barker.

    Many said they are angry the students, dubbed the "Jena 6," are being treated more harshly than three white students who hung nooses from an oak tree on high school property.

    The white students were suspended from school but did not face criminal charges. The protesters say they should have been charged with a hate crime.

    Prosecutors originally charged all six black students with second-degree attempted murder and conspiracy

    The black students now face charges of aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy in the schoolyard beating.

    The altercation was the culmination of racially tense events in the town, including two fights sparked by the hanging of the nooses.

    CNN's Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.

    Small Donors Rewriting Fundraising


    Small donors rewrite fundraising handbook
    By: Jeanne Cummings
    Sep 26, 2007

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On a table near The Cashew’s upstairs bar, Nicola Heskett is laying out an array of pens and donor information forms as Jason Moehlman strolls in, still sweaty from the muggy evening’s air.

    He slaps down a $20 bill to cover the recommended contribution for the Kansas City Lawyers for Barack Obama Happy Hour. “Uh, would you mind using your credit card? I think it’s a little cleaner,” says Heskett, 36, a first-time, small-time bundler for Obama who is helping to rewrite political fundraising playbooks this cycle.

    The rise of the baby bundlers — people who ask friends and family to donate for a candidate and then direct the money to the campaign — is adding a face-to-face dimension to tactics used in 2004 to spur an explosion of Internet donations.

    The influx of these new players, combined with unorthodox appeals by the candidates, also is fundamentally reshaping the parties’ donor bases.

    The surprising end result could be that the Democratic nominee will buck historic trends and have a significant financial edge in a cycle when the nominees alone are expected to spend an unprecedented $1 billion.

    Obama on Monday e-mailed supporters to report he had 75,000 new donors in the third quarter, which ends Sunday.

    That figure nearly matches the entire Republican field’s donor base in the first six months of the year.

    According to an August analysis by the Campaign Finance Institute done in partnership with Politico, 87 percent of the donors to Democrats in the first six months of this year didn’t give money to any candidate in the party’s crowded 2004 primary, the first presidential race after passage of the McCain-Feingold reform law that put a premium on limited individual donations.

    There’s also a significant infusion of new blood on the GOP side: Among Republican givers, 89 percent of donors did not give to President Bush in his 2004 reelection race.

    That figure could reflect two trends: the engagement of new donors such as those backing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney from the Mormon community and the fatigue or disenchantment of Bush-Cheney donors.

    Several high-ranking members of the president’s 2004 campaign finance team haven’t written a single check to a 2008 candidate.

    Rest of the article is here:

    I think this is interesting, because it means that this isn't the same old financial pie that they are cutting from. They are creating entirely new pies, which is something that hasn't happened before. Howard Dean was the first one to tap into this new financial way of doing things, but 'The Establishment' still had relative control over the money. With the kinds of money that candidates like Obama is bringing in, this is an entirely new group that ' The Establishment' hasn't been able to reach out to before and get to donate.

    Of course, all of this could be settled with public financing of campaigns, but that would be too much like right.

    On Class-Based Politics

    Greetings readers of Mirror on America! My bio at the About the Bloggers page tells a little bit about me. I am a long-time reader of Mirror on America and an admirer of the writings of the Angry Independent and the various contributors of this blog. When AI offered the opportunity to have more co-bloggers participate in the blog, I jumped at the chance. I also operate my own blog called An Ordinary Person and Politics in America where I deal with politics from the standpoint of an ordinary person living in the US.

    I was wondering how best to introduce myself to the readers of this blog. I figured since it is about politics I might as well do it with an illustration of the basics of my own political beliefs. Below is one of the pieces that I originally wrote for An Ordinary Person which is about a political argument that I had with a dinner guest about a couple of years back. The conversation was illuminating to me in not only defining clearly what I really do believe, but to clear up any misunderstandings I had with my friend (and myself) on what I do not.


    On Class-Based Politics

    Yesterday I had an interesting exchange of ideas with a dinner guest. The conversation turned to politics, particularly the state of politics in American society. We both agreed that the Democrats are doing a terrible job against the Republicans. Where we diverged are our ideas of what will make it better. My friend is a Democrat by affiliation.

    According to him, what needs to happen is for Democrats to get their act together and beat the Republicans. I diverged from him when I said that I have totally abandoned the Democratic party as representing my interests as an ordinary, working person. I told him that the Democratic party in the past decade has veered to the right in matters of economics that there is virtually no difference anymore between Democrats and Republicans who espouse a pro-business, corporate-dominated agenda based on free market ideology. Democrats, for all intents and purposes, now espouse the same things as Republicans in matters of economic policy (no matter what rhetorical style they use in appealing to the public).

    I told him that what is needed is class-based politics where working people are organized politically to fight for their own interests.

    This is when the discussion turned interesting. It turns out my friend disagrees with me. What surprised me is that his disagreement was based on him defending the idea of the US political and economic system as being primarily created for the benefit of business. Furthermore, to challenge it is tantamount to espousing Socialism or Communism. Basically he made several points:

    • What is good for business is ultimately, good for workers

    • The US is a capitalist country

    • In Socialist economies people become lazy and complacent. They develop a tendency to over-rely on government handouts and not make any independent moves to improve their lot in life.

    • Capitalism is ultimately better for workers than Socialism. Socialism doesn’t work.

    • The US system of political democracy allows for representation of all points of views, even workers. There is no need to change the system.

    What I said in response ultimately boiled down to:

    • There is something wrong with the inequities that currently exist in American society. The skyrocketing cost of higher education, crumbling public schools, the persistence of racial and class inequality, the inequities of a for-profit-based healthcare system, etc.

    • The American capitalist system works primarily to the advantage of and for the benefit of corporations and the rich. If you have money you will have access to the best this country has to offer. If you don’t you don’t.

    • The Democratic party is not addressing these issues in any substantive way. The interests of ordinary people simply aren’t a priority for the Democrats. The Republicans at least are honest and upfront about their pro-business, pro-free market agenda.

    • What is needed is a political party of, for and by working people to fight for their interests in the political arena.

    Mind you I said nothing about Socialism or that the capitalist system is inherently evil. It was he who offered the “Socialism is bad” counter argument to what I was saying.

    Just to clear things up here is what I believe:

    • I believe in democracy. I believe in democratic participation. I am not out to “change the system” from its current model to a Socialist or a Communist model.

    • However, I believe that the two-party political system is too narrowly focused and too dominated by pro-business and free market interests to represent the interests and concerns of working and middle class people.

    • I also believe that the two-party system is rigged by the two major parties to keep out any outsiders who will challenge the dominance of the two major parties.

    • I am perfectly willing to work within the confines of the US political and economic system.

    • However, I also believe that the interests of ordinary, working people are not properly represented in the US political and economic system.

    • The capitalist class is for its own interests, period—whatever makes them the most profit. They will choose the bottom line over the interests of working people when these interests clash 100% of the time.

    • The business class and millionaires are overwhelmingly represented in positions of power and influence in this country. Working people are not. In order for things to get better for working people, this needs to change.

    The first step to change is for working people to organize themselves into a political party which will fight for their interests in the US political system. Notice I say nothing about overthrowing the system or the government. What I actually advocate is a more active role in participating in the system to make sure the interests of working people get their proper due.

    Welcome To the New Co-Bloggers

    Two new co-bloggers have been added to the bloggers list. They are... Liberal Arts Dude from Washington DC, and Pamela Jolly from New Orleans. You can find out more about these co-bloggers from the bio page, which you can find on the sidebar.

    I am still working on getting more co-bloggers and resident guest bloggers. This remains a challenge.... particularly my effort to reach out to non-African American bloggers.

    I am interested in adding 1-2 more people over the next month.

    In the meantime, I am glad these bloggers have agreed to come on board and give of their time....and their writing.

    A Few Thoughts On the Jena 6 Protest

    I have not really touched on this topic because I have not devoted the kind of time to it that I probably should have. I was occupied with other concerns during the week of the protest.

    I liked the fact that so many African Americans were able to mobilize to highlight what appears to be a miscarriage of Justice in Jena. I support the idea of a level playing field for the 6 young men involved in the altercation with the White student. Yes, they should be punished, but not with such harsh prison sentences. The White students should have been held accountable as well. The authorities could have dealt with the problem more effectively, but it appears as though they were either incompetent, or had no desire to do so.... or both.

    With that being said.... the first thing that I thought when I saw so many people gathering that day was why in the hell can't Black Americans gather like this for so many other worthy causes that need attention? As bad as the Jena situation was and continues to be, there are much more urgent problems that Black Americans should be mobilizing against. Now I will probably get hate mail for stating that....but I have to write what I feel.

    The so-called "Black Community" has a lot more to be concerned about than a group of White kids, and bigoted officials from a little Town in Louisiana. There are probably dozens of Jena's in this Country....but they are not the most pressing threat to Black Americans. The most urgent problems for the so-called "Black Community" today are intracultural. They don't come from "The White Man". Yet we have the good Reverend Al Sharpton stating recently that the Jena case "Marks the Beginning of a 21st Century Rights Movement". Oh Please Reverend Al!!... Save it for those Black folks who are willing to swallow that nonsense.

    Obviously Reverend Al is more interested in maintaining a niche for himself, and making sure that Civil Rights remains a viable business for him. "Civil Rights Inc.".... that's what I often think about when I see Reverend Al and Jesse Jackson.... although I respect Jesse's early work. Neither man has adapted effectively to the times that we live in today. This is the same problem that the NAACP is facing.

    I just hope that the "Black Community" puts the same amount of effort into mobilizing against the more urgent intracultural problems that it faces. 300 people have died in Philadelphia so far this year, and most have died as a result of Black on Black violence. White kids from Jena did not take all of these lives.... but I suspect that if they had... we would have seen riots in cities across the Country. But when it is Black on Black violence, it is somehow seen as not warranting any serious mobilization. I just don't see nearly the same level of urgency on that front. And this problem of Black on Black violence is plaguing cities around the Country.... New Orleans, Chicago, St. Louis, Newark, Washington DC, Baltimore, Detroit, Houston, Oakland, Atlanta, and so on..... Where is the urgency?

    We also have the problem of a degenerate Rap Culture that is poisoning the minds of Black youth, who are internalizing the negative images that they are bombarded with on a daily basis. And the message from many of the Black adults in their lives is either we don't care...or the messages are somehow not all that bad. In addition, we have Black youth who are failing to graduate at a rate of nearly 50% in some urban areas.

    And we have heard about the problem of crime... the level of out of wedlock births, the AIDS rate for African American young women, and other problems. Another blogger has recently mentioned some of the same ironies and problems with the protest. Now I don't often agree with African American bloggers in general when it comes to issues of race & politics, but I agreed with the overall gist of this bloggers message regarding this particular issue.

    With that as a backdrop, the Jena 6 issue seems disjointed... not that it isn't important... it just seems problematic from the standpoint of proportionality relative to the bigger picture.
    Why couldn't Black folks mobilize more against BET, or against the brutal Dunbar Village gang rape in Florida? Why can't Black folks mobilize in such large numbers to demand fair voting practices, and better political representation (perhaps joining with non-Black Americans to form new viable political Parties). Why can't Black Americans mobilize more to demand a change to the negative way that they are portrayed in the media? Why can't Black Americans mobilize in such large numbers to take back their own neighborhoods, clean up their streets, and to fight back against this degenerate "no snitching" culture? Why can't Black Americans mobilize in such large numbers to highlight the continuing aftermath of Hurricane Katrina... not just for New Orleans, but for the Gulf Coast as a whole... questioning a nations responsibility towards the well being of its citizens regardless of color? Why can't Black Americans mobilize in such large numbers to highlight the disparities in healthcare and demand solutions? Thousands of African Americans die each year unnecessarily, due to problems with this Country's healthcare system. The folks down in Jena are not to blame for that....although I suspect that the same kind of racism and indifference may be a common thread between the folks in Jena and the Healthcare policymakers in Washington DC. But my point is... So called "Black America" needs to get its priorities in order.

    I'm all for protesting against racial injustice in Jena Louisiana.... but that injustice pales in comparison to some of the other evil and injustice that Blacks are unleashing against their own. The Black on Black violence, Black on Black misogyny, Black on Black negative media images are a much bigger threat to me than the incident in Jena.

    House Passes New SCHIP Legislation

    The House of Representatives approved an enhanced version of the popular SCHIP child healthcare program, by a vote of 265 to 159... just short of being Veto proof. See how members voted.

    The Senate is also expected to pass the legislation later this week.

    This is a battle that Bush might lose. Republicans, concerned about next years elections, may be willing to switch their votes in hopes of averting bad PR. It's hard to know if enough Republicans would be willing to change their votes to override a Veto.


    Previous blog entries on SCHIP

    SCHIP Deal Forces Bush's Hand On Veto

    Bush To Veto Child Healthcare Program

    Tuesday, September 25, 2007

    An Enduring Relationship in Iraq and The Child Healthcare Veto

    A Nation of Mixed up Priorities

    The leader of the Compassionate Conservative Party has a problem with adding $30 billion for childrens Healthcare. But there is no problem with wasting $400 billion for a war that the Country did not need.

    Thousands Protest Against Military Rule In Burma

    Thousands of Burmese citizens took to the streets today, in defiance of warnings and threats by the military dictatorship there. The protests, led by Monks, are a part of a larger wave of anti-government demonstrations that have put pressure on the country's dictators.

    The military government has now imposed (or will attempt) a curfew and a ban on public assembly.

    The protesters are demanding an end to military rule and are calling for Democracy. This is a true example of how real Democracy is born....from the ground up.... not from the top down. It cannot be imposed.

    Roundup of Current Events

    The Carpetbagger Report has a nice list of interesting current events. There are too many to cover one by one.

    School Discipline Tougher on African-Americans

    Hat tip: Booker Rising

    School discipline tougher on African Americans
    By Howard Witt Tribune senior correspondent
    September 25, 2007

    AUSTIN, Texas - In the average New Jersey public school, African-American students are almost 60 times as likely as white students to be expelled for serious disciplinary infractions.

    In Minnesota, black students are suspended 6 times as often as whites.

    In Iowa, blacks make up just 5 percent of the statewide public school enrollment but account for 22 percent of the students who get suspended.

    Fifty years after federal troops escorted nine black students through the doors of an all-white high school in Little Rock, Ark., in a landmark school integration struggle, America's public schools remain as unequal as they have ever been when measured in terms of disciplinary sanctions such as suspensions and expulsions, according to little-noticed data collected by the U.S. Department of Education for the 2004-2005 school year.

    In every state but Idaho, a Tribune analysis of the data shows, black students are being suspended in numbers greater than would be expected from their proportion of the student population. In 21 states—Illinois among them—that disproportionality is so pronounced that the percentage of black suspensions is more than double their percentage of the student body. And on average across the nation, black students are suspended and expelled at nearly three times the rate of white students.

    No other ethnic group is disciplined at such a high rate, the federal data show. Hispanic students are suspended and expelled in almost direct proportion to their populations, while white and Asian students are disciplined far less.

    Yet black students are no more likely to misbehave than other students from the same social and economic environments, research studies have found. Some impoverished black children grow up in troubled neighborhoods and come from broken families, leaving them less equipped to conform to behavioral expectations in school. While such socioeconomic factors contribute to the disproportionate discipline rates, researchers say that poverty alone cannot explain the disparities. "There simply isn't any support for the notion that, given the same set of circumstances, African-American kids act out to a greater degree than other kids," said Russell Skiba, a professor of educational psychology at Indiana University whose research focuses on race and discipline issues in public schools. "In fact, the data indicate that African-American students are punished more severely for the same offense, so clearly something else is going on. We can call it structural inequity or we can call it institutional racism."

    Rest of the story is here:

    This is another one of those ' Duh' moments. Nothing in this story is any kind of new news for Black folk. Only in black and white newsprint what we already knew. We've seen it, time and time again, Black children being punished with a greater severity than other groups.

    Blacks Receive Unequal Nursing-Home Care

    Hat tip:

    Report: Blacks Receive Unequal Nursing-Home Care
    By Kathleen Fackelmann,
    USA Today

    A new report reveals a system of separate and unequal nursing-home care for black Americans, one that could expose frail seniors to substandard care.
    The study, out in the September/October issue of Health Affairs, finds that 60% of blacks in nursing homes ended up in just 10% of the facilities — typically ones that had been cited for quality problems.

    "The nursing-home industry is still quite segregated," says researcher David Barton Smith of Temple University in Philadelphia. "There are homes for blacks and homes for whites."

    His study of 7,196 nursing homes in 147 metropolitan areas throughout the USA is one of the first to document a troubling trend in care provided to black Americans.

    "It is time to air the dirty laundry" about the problem, Smith says.

    Nursing homes may simply reflect the racial composition of the neighborhood, he says. Blacks who live in the inner city tend to go to nearby facilities, which also may have mostly black patients covered by Medicaid, the federal health insurance program for the poor.

    Medicaid payments don't sufficiently cover the cost of providing services to most residents, says Alan Rosenbloom, president of the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care, a group representing for-profit nursing home chains.

    Homes that rely heavily on Medicaid are more likely to cut staff to the bone, and that can result in shoddy care, Smith says.

    The analysis in Health Affairs also found that:

    _Blacks were nearly three times as likely as whites to be in nursing homes that predominantly cared for Medicaid patients.

    _Blacks were twice as likely to be located in homes that had provided such poor care that they were subsequently kicked out of Medicaid and Medicare.

    _Blacks were nearly 1½ times as likely as whites to be in homes that had been cited for deficiencies that could cause immediate harm.

    The study also found that nursing homes in the Midwest were most likely to be racially segregated. Nursing homes in the South were the least likely to have an unequal distribution of minorities.

    Hospital-discharge planners may steer blacks to just a few facilities known to accept Medicaid patients right away, Smith says. Inner-city hospitals are under tremendous pressure to discharge patients quickly — often to the first easily available bed, he says.

    "This study reflects disparities in the quality of care for African-American seniors, and that is simply wrong," Rosenbloom says.

    He and Smith agree that one way to address the problem would be to increase Medicaid payments to facilities struggling to care for lots of impoverished patients.

    In addition, families don't have to accept the hospital's recommendation for a nursing home, especially if the home is short on staff or has other quality problems.

    "Just say no — 'I don't want my mother to go to that nursing home,' " Smith says.

    I know that all of us have someone in our lives that, someday, this might be an issue. I don't want any of my relatives to go into a nursing home. I just don't think that they are any good, and articles like this one, and the one below just reinforce my opinion.

    It shouldn't be a surprise that racism would follow our elders into nursing care; after all, it has been an issue all of their lives, and the disparity of value of our lives has been present since day one. And, while studies like this are discouraging and maddening, they are also valuable because they validate what we've long suspected , but been told that we ' imagined'. Since certain folk can only believe stats on a piece of paper, well, here they are.

    Monday, September 24, 2007

    Have You Seen Me?

    Update: Website - Bring Nailah Franklin Home


    Chicago woman missing since Tuesday

    CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- Police stepped up their search for a missing drug sales representative after finding the 28-year-old woman's car near an abandoned building in Hammond, Indiana.

    Nailah Franklin's family called police after she didn't show up for an important business meeting.

    Nailah Franklin was last heard from Tuesday, when she sent an uncharacteristically vague text message to friends and family saying that she was having dinner and that she'd call later.

    She never did.

    Days earlier, Franklin had filed a police report saying she had been getting threatening phone calls.

    Franklin's sister, Lehia Franklin Acox, said the family is trying to stay positive as police search the car for clues that could shed light on her disappearance.

    Being positive "is our only option," Acox said before a weekend prayer vigil.

    "We're all just trying to keep our spirits up, but it's a challenge," she said. "This is really taking a toll on us, with every day that passes. We're not sleeping well, we're not eating well."

    When Franklin didn't turn up for an important meeting last Wednesday with her boss at Eli Lilly and Co., co-workers at the Indianapolis-based drug company called her family, and family called police.

    Franklin's sales territory covered Chicago's suburbs, her sister said.

    Acox said it's unusual for Franklin not to contact her friends or family, leading them all to fear that she didn't leave willingly. Franklin had recently filed a police report about threatening phone calls she had received, but she declined to file an order of protection against the alleged offender, a man she once dated.

    Franklin's car, along with some personal items, was found Friday night near an abandoned building in suburban Hammond, said Chicago Police spokeswoman Monique Bond. She said the car was being taken to Chicago for forensic and evidence processing.

    Several jurisdictions, including Chicago, Hammond, and the Cook County Sheriff's Department, were searching for Franklin, Bond said. Divers have also been involved in the search.

    Acox said the discovery of the car was heartening because it could yield some clue to Franklin's whereabouts, but "on the other hand, it's still maddening because we do not have (her) back with us." E-mail to a friend

    Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

    Related Articles:
    Family clings to hope for its missing star

    Family Embraced In Prayer

    Chicago Police step up search for missing Lilly drug rep

    Sunday, September 23, 2007

    Morehouse to Institute Dress Code

    Hat tip: Dr. Marc Lamont Hill:

    From Diverse Online:

    Morehouse President to Freshmen: ‘Look the part. Act the part. Talk the talk and walk the walk’
    By Tracie Powell
    Sep 12, 2007

    When 20-year-old Marcus Traylor stepped onto campus last month on the first day of the fall semester, he was struck by something he had never seen before on the Morehouse College campus: a group of 100 or more freshmen walking to class wearing stylishly new maroon sports jackets, complete with Morehouse insignia.

    During his first two years, it wasn’t uncommon for Traylor to see fellow students walking across campus wearing pajamas and flip-flops to class.

    That won’t happen under the college’s new administration, and Traylor says that’s OK with him.

    “I saw the new sports jackets and wanted one for myself. They are very professional looking, very smooth,” Traylor says. He adds that he’ll have to pay for his own jacket, while every member of this year’s freshmen class was given one by the university. Next year, the cost of the jackets for incoming freshmen will be included in new student orientation fees.

    Morehouse could soon join a growing number of university campuses that have instituted dress codes. A handful of public and private campuses, where students once exercised the freedom to dress as they please, have adopted stricter codes of conduct that prohibit sagging jeans, flip-flops and even the wearing of baseball caps inside buildings.

    While other college campuses such as Paul Quinn College in Dallas and the business school at Illinois State University recently began regulating student attire this fall, Elise Durham, media relations manager at Morehouse College, points out that the school hasn’t officially changed its policy, but has set forth a set of expectations for students.

    Still, candidates running for Morehouse student government positions are debating the issue, and the school’s new president is also talking about it.

    Morehouse’s new president, Dr. Robert Michael Franklin Jr., wants to make being smart cool again and put morality at the forefront of the college’s mission. The jackets are the first step in that direction, according to officials. It’s also part of the school’s new, stricter dress and conduct expectations.

    In two separate speeches to incoming freshmen as well as returning upper-classmen, Franklin emphasized a laundry list of unacceptable behaviors and conduct, which included cursing as well as the kinds of clothing some students wear.

    “We are Morehouse, and we will not tolerate sagging pants that gravitate far below your waistline. No do-rags; no baseball caps inside buildings,” Franklin said in his first public address to students last month. “No pajamas in the classroom. You are men of Morehouse. You are better than that. I will be watching and expecting class from you.”

    “Look the part. Act the part. Talk the talk and walk the walk,” Franklin emphasized to students who gathered inside Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel to hear his speeches.

    Traylor doesn’t mind Franklin’s charge to the Morehouse student body. “They’re getting stricter on the dress code, and that’s fine. It’s a show of pride. I think it’s a good move, a move in the right direction.”

    - Tracie Powell

    I don't know how I really feel about this. On the one hand, I think our youth look absolutely ridiculous with pants hanging down to their knees and wearing clothes 2 -3 sizes too big. On the other hand, I know that college is about personal expression, and that's what you work through when you're in college - it's supposed to be about that, and if you're a Black student at a Black college, you're definitely supposed to have that extra comfort level to be yourself and express yourself.

    I'm as conflicted about this as I was about the hair codes instituted by Hampton last year at their Business School. But, I can't help but think those young men look FINE in that picture above...LOL....sue me, I can be shallow.

    So, is the Dress Code part of the overall, get the young men in the frame of mind for success, or, is it like the blogger Johnathan L. Walton asks: Is Negro Industrial Education Making a Comback?

    Be Careful About Nursing Homes

    Reading this story today just made my blood boil.

    Hat tip:

    More Profit and Less Nursing at Many Homes
    Published: September 23, 2007

    Habana Health Care Center, a 150-bed nursing home in Tampa, Fla., was struggling when a group of large private investment firms purchased it and 48 other nursing homes in 2002.

    The facility’s managers quickly cut costs. Within months, the number of clinical registered nurses at the home was half what it had been a year earlier, records collected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services indicate. Budgets for nursing supplies, resident activities and other services also fell, according to Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration.

    The investors and operators were soon earning millions of dollars a year from their 49 homes.

    Residents fared less well. Over three years, 15 at Habana died from what their families contend was negligent care in lawsuits filed in state court. Regulators repeatedly warned the home that staff levels were below mandatory minimums. When regulators visited, they found malfunctioning fire doors, unhygienic kitchens and a resident using a leg brace that was broken.

    “They’ve created a hellhole,” said Vivian Hewitt, who sued Habana in 2004 when her mother died after a large bedsore became infected by feces.

    Habana is one of thousands of nursing homes across the nation that large Wall Street investment companies have bought or agreed to acquire in recent years.

    Those investors include prominent private equity firms like Warburg Pincus and the Carlyle Group, better known for buying companies like Dunkin’ Donuts.

    As such investors have acquired nursing homes, they have often reduced costs, increased profits and quickly resold facilities for significant gains.

    But by many regulatory benchmarks, residents at those nursing homes are worse off, on average, than they were under previous owners, according to an analysis by The New York Times of data collected by government agencies from 2000 to 2006.

    The Times analysis shows that, as at Habana, managers at many other nursing homes acquired by large private investors have cut expenses and staff, sometimes below minimum legal requirements.

    Regulators say residents at these homes have suffered. At facilities owned by private investment firms, residents on average have fared more poorly than occupants of other homes in common problems like depression, loss of mobility and loss of ability to dress and bathe themselves, according to data collected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

    The typical nursing home acquired by a large investment company before 2006 scored worse than national rates in 12 of 14 indicators that regulators use to track ailments of long-term residents. Those ailments include bedsores and easily preventable infections, as well as the need to be restrained. Before they were acquired by private investors, many of those homes scored at or above national averages in similar measurements.

    In the past, residents’ families often responded to such declines in care by suing, and regulators levied heavy fines against nursing home chains where understaffing led to lapses in care.

    But private investment companies have made it very difficult for plaintiffs to succeed in court and for regulators to levy chainwide fines by creating complex corporate structures that obscure who controls their nursing homes.

    By contrast, publicly owned nursing home chains are essentially required to disclose who controls their facilities in securities filings and other regulatory documents.

    The Byzantine structures established at homes owned by private investment firms also make it harder for regulators to know if one company is responsible for multiple centers. And the structures help managers bypass rules that require them to report when they, in effect, pay themselves from programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

    For this article, The New York Times analyzed trends at nursing homes purchased by private investment groups by examining data available from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services.

    The Times examined more than 1,200 nursing homes purchased by large private investment groups since 2000, and more than 14,000 other homes. The analysis compared investor-owned homes against national averages in multiple categories, including complaints received by regulators, health and safety violations cited by regulators, fines levied by state and federal authorities, the performance of homes as reported in a national database known as the Minimum Data Set Repository and the performance of homes as reported in the Online Survey, Certification and Reporting database.

    Rest of this horror story and injustice at the link above.

    Be careful when thinking about putting your loved ones in a nursing home. This is another reason to give pause, and definitely for you to investigate beforehand.

    Deal on SCHIP Forces Bush's Hand on Veto

    Hat tip:

    Deal on children's health bill sets up veto showdown

    Despite a clear veto threat from President Bush, Democratic and Republican negotiators on Friday announced a breakthrough deal on the children's health insurance program, agreeing to expand the initiative by $35 billion in an attempt to provide health care to million more uninsured children.

    The agreement sets up a major showdown with the White House over a key domestic policy initiative backed by Democrats as well as a growing number of GOP moderates. The House will vote on the bill Tuesday and the Senate could vote as early as Wednesday. President Bush has promised to veto the legislation, and even though the Senate has the votes to override Bush's veto, the House does not yet have the votes for an override. It takes a two-thirds vote in both chambers to override a presidential veto.

    The expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) will be funded by a 61 cent increase per pack of cigarettes. While conservative Republicans, along with President Bush, have said they will never support any tax increase, plenty of Republicans in both chambers seem to find a tobacco tax increase more palatable than virtually any other potential tax hike.

    Under a deal announced Friday afternoon, dental coverage, along with mental health benefits, will be provided to all children eligible for the SCHIP program. Pregnant women will also receive expanded coverage under the deal. The program, which currently covers 6.6 million uninsured children, could provide benefits to up to four million more children.

    The joint announcement by Senate and House leaders released Friday also pointed out that children of higher income families will not receive the SCHIP benefits. President Bush, in his press conference yesterday, complained that congressional negotiators wanted to provide the health benefits to children in families making about $80,000, but several lawmakers pointed out that there is no such provision in the legislation.

    Moderate Republicans like Ray LaHood of Illinois are hoping Bush doesn't veto the bill.

    "This is a good bipartisan compromise to help the millions of uninsured children in our country," LaHood said. "Whatever financial strains a family may endure, it should have no impact on the type and quality of care their child receives for health related matters. I support this bill and will encourage my Republican colleagues to do the same."

    Of course Bush is going to veto it. Can't have children being covered by insurance. Oh, there's money for his War Profiteering buddies in Iraq, but making sure that children have health insurance, well we can't have that, can we? We can spend 400 Billion in Iraq, and Billions of that has been wasted,if not out and out stolen and just looted by his friends, but 35 Billion to make sure that children are healthy - can't have that. Suddenly he become a fiscal conservative. Wouldn't want those children to be healthy. If they weren't born to a well-off family, then why do they deserve health care? Where are the pro-lifers on this? Where are they on the health of children already here?


    Previous Post Regarding Bush's Schip Veto Threat

    Romney Silent on Blackwater Shooting


    Romney silent on Blackwater shooting
    By: Kenneth P. Vogel
    Sep 22, 2007

    Mitt Romney has remained mum on the alleged killing of 11 Iraqis by a company where one of his top advisers serves as vice chairman, even as the case has led to an uproar in Baghdad and Washington. Barack Obama, John McCain and other politicians have raised the possibility of tighter controls on the firm.

    The top counterterrorism and national security adviser to Romney’s presidential campaign is Cofer Black, vice chairman of Blackwater USA. The Iraqis died after guards employed by the private security firm opened fire following an alleged attack on a State Department convoy under their protection. Blackwater has a lucrative contract to guard U.S. diplomats in Iraq.

    Blackwater has said its employees acted “lawfully and appropriately” in response to the attack. But Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf has said a report found that the security guards opened fire first on Iraqis who were driving in their cars. And the incident has prompted a noisy debate over the role of independent security contractors in Iraq — a debate Romney thus far appears to be steering clear of.

    The shooting renewed critics’ allegations that U.S. security contractors, in general, and Blackwater, in particular, are basically unregulated mercenary armies deployed by the U.S. government on the streets of Baghdad and other Iraqi cities. And the policy discussion sparked by the incident may begin to color the debate over troop levels in Iraq, a topic that’s played prominently in the presidential race.

    “There is no way you can have a rational discussion of troop redeployment without discussing how contract employees are going to be a part of that equation,” said a senior Republican congressional source who has worked on security contractor issues. “There’s consensus on both sides that additional oversight of these contractors is necessary. This is going to be a front-burner issue now as we begin to discuss safe, responsible redeployment and as we continue to learn more about incidents involving private security contractors.”

    Why would anyone be surprised that Flipping Mitt would be mute on this? From the man who said he wanted to DOUBLE Guantanamo? Asking him to take a principled stand about mercenaries killing INNOCENTS? Please. That would mean that he had a backbone, and virtues.

    Related Article:

    Iraq Wants Blackwater Out of the Country

    Saturday, September 22, 2007

    Taking a Leave of Absence

    I will have to take some time off...probably a week or so. Then I need to go to one or two blog posts a week after that. I have finally hit a brick wall... I have been blogging so heavily (this site has well over 1,300 postings, with at least 85% being from me) that I have neglected other things... namely my job search. A lot of time/effort goes into making most of the posts that I do. Just surfing through my online resources to obtain background on an issue or to get a blogging idea can take up to 2-3 hours or more.

    But it is crunch time regarding other issues right now.

    This site has grown beyond my wildest imagination.... and I have not been able to keep up. The blog is so wide ranging that I can't keep up with all of the events that are worthy of commentary. Therefore, I will build a blogger core to try to keep things going. The search for co-bloggers continues...and I am finally getting the kinds of responses that I need. Although I need more. The issue now is finding bloggers who would be a good fit and who have the blogging interests that we need. For example, the search for a blogger who can focus on international affairs continues.

    I will be adding at least one co-blogger within the next few days... In addition, I will be adding 2-3 more... for a total of 3-4 new people. I also hope to create the position of Editor. I am open to suggestions on that candidate...(although I have someone in mind). But I could create an additional position of Asst. Editor. Probably too ambitious...but i'm a big thinker. I hope to have the Editor spot filled within the next week or two. I hope the person I have in mind accepts... otherwise, it will be back to the drawing board.

    Two co-bloggers had to move on....and I need to fill those spots.

    Again, anyone interested in being a co-blogger/contributing writer, send me an e-mail. Read through the blog, and read through the introductory posts in the sidebar to get a feel for what kind of commentary we would like to have. Although race is an important issue...and will remain so here (and has been in the spotlight lately because of foolishness in Louisiana) we also do commentary about various other issues... including international politics, foreign policy, Iraq/Middle East, religion, domestic politics, the 08 election, Independent politics, Political analysis, Interviews/Audio/Video, current events, Homeland Security, The economy, the media, music, Personal commentary (that has some kind of social relevance), just about anything except for celebrity gossip. I even enjoy occasional light blogging and humor. Know any good sources for political cartoons...or you see a cartoon that you think is relevant to current events.... add it.

    Anyway... I will be making my selections over the next month.

    I leave you in the very able hands of my co-pilot Rikyrah.

    There have been a lot of issues that I wanted to touch on this week...but I will have to let it go... sometimes I feel the need to change the world with my keyboard....even though I know that will never happen. No one cares what I write.

    My cutting room floor will have to be full for a while. This week there was Jena, The new poll that says George W. and General Petraeus failed to shift public opinion on Iraq, the Blackwater situation (which I did manage to post about), Hillary Clintons healthcare plan, The missing weapons from Iraq that have now turned up in the hands of insurgents (yes...your tax dollars are going towards new weapons that have ended up in the hands of the enemy...and that have probably contributed to injury or death of U.S. soldiers)...there is apparently an investigation underway.... and of course there was more. But I just can't keep up with it all any longer.... at least not right now.


    If you want a good roundup of this weeks events, check out the On Point radio program via Public Radio. That program offers some of the best weekly roundups, and some of the best analysis of events that I know of. Commentator/Journalist/Author Jack Beatty rarely misses the mark. You can't get that kind of independent/progressive & well thought out commentary from many other places.