Sunday, June 30, 2013

Aaron Hernandez

The story is all too common and seems to keep repeating itself. Young men with the world at their feet who screw it up by running a foul  of the law. So much promise, and bright futures dim in the wake of almost Shakespearian tragedies time after time. These cautionary tales are almost painful to hear, which is why it is almost agonizing to write about. But if I report on this story and it keeps at least one budding superstar from falling then it is well worth it.

In Attleborough, Massachusetts, National Football League player Aaron Hernandez was charged with the execution style murder of a friend and fired by the New England Patriots last Wednesday, a rapid fall for the rising star who was signed to a $41 million contract with one of the league's top teams.

The charges capped a day of furious developments in which Hernandez, 23, was removed from his home in handcuffs and paraded into court to face accusations that he fatally shot semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd. Lloyd's body was found on June 17 in an industrial park near Hernandez's house.

Michael Fee, a lawyer for Hernandez, entered a plea of not guilty and called the prosecution's case circumstantial. As prosecutor Bill McCauley described the killing, Hernandez stood impassively in court, handcuffed and still in the white T-shirt he was wearing when he was arrested.

In addition to murder, the criminal counts against Hernandez included five weapons charges related to the possession of unlicensed firearms. He was ordered held without bail.

McCauley told the court that Hernandez had a falling out with Lloyd a few nights before the killing after they had been at a Boston night club where Lloyd spoke to people with whom Hernandez said he "had trouble."

Hernandez, accompanied by two friends, drove to Lloyd's home in Boston the night of the killing and picked him up in a rented silver Nissan Altima, McCauley said. As they drove back to North Attleborough, where Hernandez lived, they stopped at a gas station where Hernandez bought fuel, gum and rolling papers for cigarettes.

Sure! Everybody rolls cigarettes now a days.

In a minute by minute reconstruction developed from cell phone records and security video, including a 14-camera system Hernandez had at his house, prosecutors detailed what they said was an early morning killing.

McCauley said that shortly before his death, Lloyd had sent text messages to his sister, first asking if she had seen the people with whom he had gone out and later following up with, "NFL." His final message read, "Just so you know," McCauley said.

The four men drove to an industrial park near Hernandez's home, where he shot Lloyd five times, at least once while Lloyd was waving his arm trying to protect himself and twice standing over Lloyd while he lay on the ground, McCauley said. The bullets went straight through Lloyd's body.

"He orchestrated the execution. And that was just what it was," McCauley told the court.

Security video from Hernandez's home showed him returning after the killing, carrying a weapon that he brought to the basement of the house, McCauley said.

Investigators have not recovered that weapon, a 45 caliber handgun they believe Hernandez used on the attack.

Two women from Hernandez' family left the courtroom in tears while prosecutors were describing the shooting.

McCauley said Hernandez later tried to interfere with the investigation by not answering his door when police first arrived at his home and telling his sister not to speak with authorities.

The case has attracted intense interest in Boston, with media camped out around the spacious home where Hernandez has lived for the past week with his fiancée and their eight-month-old child. The judge agreed to issue an order that had been requested by Hernandez's attorney to prevent lawyers on either side from discussing the substance of the case with the media.

"Aaron is fine," Fee told reporters as he left the court. Hernandez was driven away in a white police van.

The New England Patriots said in a statement soon after the arrest that Hernandez had been cut from the team.

"At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do," it said.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement that Hernandez's arrest was "deeply troubling" and he "will have his day in court."

In a separate case, Hernandez has been sued by a Connecticut man, Alexander Bradley, who said Hernandez shot him in the face after the two left a Miami strip club in February, causing him to lose an eye. A Florida police official said last week that law enforcement had investigated the shooting but abandoned the case after Bradley refused to cooperate.

Hernandez had emerged as a potent weapon in one of the best tight-end tandems in the NFL, earning him a $4 million-per-year contract. In April, footwear and apparel company Puma announced a two-year endorsement deal with him. On Wednesday, Puma spokeswoman Katie Sheptyck declined to comment.

Hernandez played at the University of Florida before being drafted by the Patriots in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL draft.

Another young man has thrown his future away. For what?! It often seems as if although they have all of the talent, and opportunity in the world, but they lack guidance. While simply refraining from murder may seem like a by gone conclusion for most of us. For those who are used to having their every desire handed to them as they sit on a pedestal it may seem like an obvious choice.  A choice that always leads down the road to ruin. But in a world where discipline is not a priority off the field, young men will always fall victim to bad judgement, and selfish desire. Fall from grace? Why does athletic ability always equal grace?


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Pastor Pedophile

If there is anyone you can trust outside of your home and your family, it should be your Pastor. The man or woman that you see in the pulpit each and every Sunday, called by God to preach and teach the gospel (allegedly). 

Unfortunately there are some who are nothing more than wolves in sheep's clothing masquerading as men and women of God. 

Pastor Gregory Ivan Hawkins, who leads Zion Plaza Church in Tulsa, Okla., was arrested Monday on complaints of sexual abuse of a minor, after a 15-year-old girl reported to police that she was pregnant with his child.

Gregory Ivan Hawkins is being held on $50,000 bond at the Tulsa County Jail. He allegedly began a sexual relationship with the girl in April 2012, when she was 14, according to the arrest report.

The arrest report also states that the girl told police she had sex with Pastor Hawkins in multiple locations from April 2012 to January 2013, when she became pregnant with his child.

Police also recorded two recorded two calls between the pastor and victim in which he apologized and admitted having sex with her, saying he found her “very sexy, attractive and beautiful."

Hawkins, 52, is also the owner of Zion Child Care &  Learning Center located at 612 E. 16th Street North, which is the same location as the church. Another snake in the pulpit.

I hope that the state of Oklahoma closes this child care center. Who is to say that this "man" is not stalking his prey, or planning to victimize another child. 

When I heard about this story, I hoped that it wasn't true. But as I did my research and read the details I became furious. As the father of two daughters I cannot imagine what this girls parents must being going through. But once I calmed down I quickly realized that there is one question that always gets lost in cases such as this. Where were her parents? Parents are supposed to protect their children and keep them from all hurt, harm, and danger. No grown man, whether he is the Pastor or the President should be able to spark an intimate relationship with your 14 year old daughter. Of course no grown man should want to. But we live in a sick world. Far too sick for anyone to be naive. 


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Will Trayvon Get Justice?

It is probably the most notorious murder case since the O.J. Simpson trial, and once again 20 years later we are a country divided. The Trayvon Martin case has set a firestorm of speculation, racism, and doubt in the criminal justice system. We all know the story, on February. 26, 2012 in Sanford, Florida an unarmed 17 year old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by an over zealous, mentally impaired neighborhood watch commander named George Zimmerman. Martins crime? Walking down the street wearing a hoodie with a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea.
Zimmerman pursued Martin while repeatedly using the word nigger and murdered him in cold blood after being given explicit instructions from a 911 operator not to engage in a pursuit several times. The recorded call was released months ago, and Zimmerman's intentions were crystal clear.

It sounds like an open and shut case even if you remove the race factor. When one person intentionally shoots and kills another person who is unarmed without the slightest hint of provocation. It is nothing short of murder, regardless of what the variables are.

But unfortunately this is not the world that we live in, and race was the difference between Trayvon Martin being shot dead and making it home alive.
From day one there have been attempts to assassinate, and defame Trayvons character. Everything from his High School disciplinary record to his so called "thug attitude" have been fair....or should I day unfair game. The most recent conservative commentary suggests that Trayvon could have broken the bottle of iced tea that he had and used the pieces of broken glass as a weapon. Which might have been possible if he were not carrying a can of iced tea. Ever try stabbing someone with a can?

Perhaps even more disturbing than the level of extreme absurdities, preposterous innuendo, and endless supposition that now seems to be a media staple, is the support that George Zimmerman has gotten from some of the public since the shooting. He received more than $100,000 in donations for his legal defense fund from anonymous donors who supported him after soliciting funds on the Internet.
The Internet provides what I call Clan anonymity. It gives large swaths of people the opportunity to anonymously voice their opinions, and support their causes. Most of whom would not do so in public for fear of not being politically correct. The Internet takes the concept of the "telephone tough guy" to a stratospheric level. But it also gives those of us who are paying attention, the opportunity to realize, recognize, and understand the fact that there is an unwavering commitment to ignorance and bigotry lurking in the shadows. 

After what seems like 12 eternities the Trayvon Martin case has finally gone to trial, and a jury of six women will decide whether George Zimmerman was acting in self-defense when he fatally shot Trayvon Martin,  at townhouse community in Sanford, Fla. Legal experts say a jury of all women, all but one of whom is white, is unusual and may work against Zimmerman given the perceived sensibilities of the gender. Whether any of the women are mothers, particularly of a teenage son is unknown. But regardless of what their personal details entail, I hope that those women make an intelligent decision after having weighed and analyzed all of the evidence.

Trayvon Martin's family deserves justice.


The S.C.O.T.U.S Turns Back Time

In 1965 the Voting Rights Act was signed into law. The act insured the African-Americans would have the right to vote by requiring southern states to seek government approval for any voting stipulations they wished to enact. Before this many African-Americans were subjected to humiliation by being asked to do things like, count the bubbles on a bar of soap.

The Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act on Tuesday, the provision of the landmark civil rights law that designates which parts of the country must have changes to their voting laws cleared by the federal government or in federal court.

The 5-4 ruling authored by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, ruled in Shelby County v. Holder that “things have changed dramatically” in the South in the nearly 50 years since the Voting Rights Act was signed in 1965.

The court’s opinion said it did not strike down the act of Congress “lightly,” and said it “took care to avoid ruling on the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act” in a separate case is 2009, “Congress could have updated the coverage formula at that time, but did not do so. Its failure to act leaves us today with no choice but to declare [Section 4] unconstitutional. The formula in that section can no longer be used as a basis for subjecting jurisdictions to preclearance.”

The Voting Rights Act has recently been used to block a voter ID law in Texas and delay the implementation of another in South Carolina. Both states are no longer subject to the preclearance requirement because of the court’s ruling.

“Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions,” Roberts wrote.

“There is no doubt that these improvements are in large part because of the Voting Rights Act," he wrote. "The Act has proved immensely successful at redressing racial discrimination and integrating the voting process."

This represents an assault on life and liberty as we know it, and will practically insure that there will not be another African-American president in my lifetime.

In his bench statement, Roberts said that Congress had extended a 40-year-old coverage formula based on "obsolete statistics and that the coverage formula "violates the constitution."

Congress, the court ruled, “may draft another formula based on current conditions.” But given the fact that Republicans currently control the House of Representatives, many voting rights advocates consider it unlikely that Congress will act to create a new formula.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a wide-ranging dissent on behalf of herself and Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, justifying the continued vitality of the Voting Rights Act's preclearance provision.

"The sad irony of today’s decision lies in its utter failure to grasp why the VRA has proven effective," Ginsburg wrote. "The Court appears to believe that the VRA’s success in eliminating the specific devices extant in 1965 means that preclearance is no longer needed."

In other words, the Supreme Court believes that as a country we've made so much progress since 1965 that racism no longer exists. But just because a dog on a leash can't bite does not mean that he has learned not to, and will not do so once you unleash him.

It seems as if The SCOTUS has positioned the dog to bite.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I Know What It Is

I was made to float on rain drops.
Sit my soul on the sun.

I was made to find my path on streets of gold.
Leaving a lasting impression on each and every one.

I breathe and I inhale the sunset, tasting its color sweet on my lips.
I watch her roam and move through our happy home, thanking him for my most previous gift.

And then I pause sometimes wishing for a do over for something that happened the other day.
Snapped in my mind, then I knew that bad was the other way.

Then I chilled. Like crushed ice wearing shades looking cool to saxophone whales.
I chilled. Like sudden November days with weather acting all kinds of ways.

Then I asked myself. I made myself process what it all means. 
This poem I'm writing, this life, and the fruition of my dreams.

By nature I ponder complex answers that evolve from thought process never ending.
Then it hits me, I know what this is. So I need to stop pretending.



Monday, June 24, 2013

Just When You Thought You Heard It All News (6-29-2013)

You just can't make this stuff up!!

Brandon Antwan Crosley, is accused of assaulting his father after an argument about how to properly make Kool-Aid.
Brandon wanted to use pure cane sugar and his father wanted him to use sweet N' low, and apparently the two could not come to a compromise.....just kidding!!

Crosley's father, 48 year old, Greg Crosley told cops that his 22-year-old son was making Kool-Aid and was "doing it wrong," according to a police report. Crosley said he then tried to give his son some helpful tips.

Brandon Crosley allegedly didn't take kindly to his father's advice, and responded by punching his dad in the head two or three times before fleeing their shared apartment. 

The report notes that Greg Crosley has a permanent disability and uses a cane to walk. 

Brandon Crosley was charged with abusing an elderly person, according to the Brevard County Sheriff's Office, and now uses Kool Aide along with Vaseline to make jail house lipstick. Brandon and his cell mate are very happy........well at least his cell mate is.

1, 2, 3
Singing off key:
 "Though you may not drive a great big Cadillac. Gangster white walls, TV antenna in the back. You may not have a car at all. But remember brothers and sisters, you can still stand tall. Just be thankful FOR WHAT YOU GOT" (William Devaughn, "Be Thankful For What You Got" 1974). MESSAGE!!!!!
The song is 39 years old but the message is still the same. Yet some people go to extreme lengths because they haven't figured out how to be thankful.

A South Florida woman who is accused of injecting people with Fix-a-Flat and other substances such as pancake batter, in a black market buttock-enhancing business was released on bond last Friday. 

Yes, Fix A Flat, and pancake batter!!

Oneal Morris, 31, posted $25000 bond and walked out of the Broward County Main Jail.

Morris’ bond was reduced from its original $150000 as part of an agreement with prosecutors, said Morris’ attorney, Michael Mirer.

Morris will also be placed on house arrest with a monitor and has to surrender her passport, Mirer said.

But wait it gets better, and by better I mean worse.

Morris, who police said was born a man and identifies as a woman, was arrested in late July on charges of practicing medicine without a license and manslaughter in the death of Shatarka Nuby, 32. She died in March of 2012 in Tallahassee from what an assistant medical examiner called "massive systemic silicone migration" as a result of the cosmetic silicone injections, according to authorities.

I can't believe that these women actually trusted this "man-thing". They were not happy with who they are so they put their trust in someone who has no idea who he is. Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

By the way it's called Fix a Flat, not Fix A Flat Behind. Come on people!

Side Bar: If you squint and look through one eye, he kinda, sort of, looks like a..........NAAAAW!

The one thing that the first and last story have in common is Kool Aid. But in the first story Kool Aid was used for evil. This next story is a heart warming narrative about Kool Aid being used for good.

Eight-year-old Michael Diamond of Garfield Heights, Ohio lost his grandmother recently (Garfield Heights is 10 miles southeast of Cleveland).

He overheard his parents talking about how they didn’t have enough money to pay for a proper burial, so last Thursday he decided to help out.  Michael set up a stand selling Kool-Aid by the cup to raise money for his grandmother’s funeral.

He only sold $55 worth on the first day but the local news found out about it and came to do a story on Michael.

The next day, people in the area made a special trip to Garfield Heights to buy Kool-Aid from Michael.  Some people paid $100 a cup.  By Monday, he had raised over $5,500, which is enough to give his grandmother a decent service.

If this story doesn't restore your faith in humanity, then nothing will.


Ohhhh Yeahhhhh!!!!!!

Stick A Fork In Paula Deen

It seems as if every few years some celebrity slips. They forget where they are, get caught up in who they are, and think that they are so mainstream that they can actually get away with using the N-word. The latest offender is Paula Deen, one of the premiere purveyor's of deep fried meat treats, and Southern fried everything.

Many of the very dishes she fetishizes, like fried chicken, fried okra, and biscuits. Have slave roots, remnants of an African culinary culture co-opted by an entire region, and defined and marketed to the world as “Southern cooking.”

But if Southern cuisine is a racially integrated export, some of its purveyors still struggle with the region’s legacy, as revelations about Ms. Deen’s use of the word “nigger” showed this week. The now former Food Network star and Savannah, Ga., restaurateur said in a May deposition related to a harassment lawsuit involving her brother, Bubba Hiers, that “of course” she had used the word, but not in a “mean way.”

Really?! This word is seldom said in a nice way. Try using this word in a nice way. Anyone?

In part because Deen has been embraced by liberals like Oprah Winfrey and Kathy Griffin, and has been an avid Obama supporter, the N-word quotes shocked many of her fans and confirmed for many Northerners that behind that genteel facade and Sun Belt shine, the South hasn’t really changed. Those of us who pride ourselves on being firmly rooted in a little something called reality with our feet firmly planted on the ground, never brought into this whole "new south" facade anyway. 

As Chicago Now columnist John Chatz wrote, “To many of us, the South still stands for slavery and the Civil War. This may be wrong and it may be simple, but people like Paula Deen help keep these opinions alive.”

In the end, the woman who has done a lot to put Southern culture on a pedestal to be admired, heavily buttered, battered, and chowed down on, may now be responsible for raising deeper questions about whether the marketing of Southern culture and cuisine comes with a side of bigotry.The key word is marketing. Being a favorite of Oprah's practically guarantees mainstream credibility not to mention a presumed level of racial tolerance.

In the deposition itself, she claims that her view of the N-word has changed over time, she also related one time in which she used it. When asked in what context, she replied, 

“It was probably when a black man burst into the bank that I was working at and put a gun to my head.”

“What did you say?”

“Well, I don’t remember, but the gun was dancing all around my temple. I didn’t feel favorable towards him.”

Deen said she used the word when retelling the story to her husband. She said she’s used the word since then, 

“but it’s been a very long time.”

But in the deposition in a harassment lawsuit involving her brother, allegations were raised that the word frequently flies in the restaurant’s kitchen. In her deposition, Deen defended an episode from 2007 when she imagined a plantation-style wedding reception with an all-black wait staff.

On Friday, Deen made several apologies, including one that explained that she “was born 60 years ago when America’s South had schools that were segregated, different bathrooms, different restaurants, and Americans rode different parts of the bus. This is not today.”

And...................her point is?!

In a later video clip, she went farther:

 “I want to apologize to everybody for the wrong that I’ve done. I want to learn and grow from this … inappropriate, hurtful language is totally, totally unacceptable.”

The statements weren’t enough to appease the Food Network, which said Friday it will not renew its contract with Deen. The swift condemnation may hurt her long-time restaurant businesses, too, although many Americans have also rallied in her defense.

Had her slurs been in reference to the "gay community" I am sure that far fewer Americans would defend her.

But what really irked a lot of Americans about Deen’s comments is a long-held suspicion about Southern culture and its food, that it’s all honey and biscuits on top, but ultimately debilitating and unhealthy below the crust. That may not be the whole truth, but to say it’s not part of the truth would be disingenuous, especially given the controversy cooked up by arguably the South’s greatest culinary ambassador.

Paula Deen has made a fortune pedaling Southern culture and in doing so, she had an obligation to that culture. Instead she singlehandedly affirmed people’s worst suspicions of people who talk and eat like her. At least musicians who have gone on to find fortune and fame utilizing "black music", and African-American culture, have the decency to pay hommage, give credit to, and even honor those who have inspired them. In not doing so, Deen has made it that much harder to believe that the most notorious part of the Southern narrative is ancient history rather than present day.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Living In The Past

If you're  a single mother because your husband or child's father passed away. This is not for you. If you are a single mother and your child's father is a genuine loser. Then this is not for you. If you happen to be a single mother who is a loser herself, or a grown woman with a child who relishes wallowing in self pity, then this IS definitely for you.

All too often I hear bitter single mother's complain about how hard their lives are. Fishing for sympathy as they wear their all too familiar disdain for their lives on their sleeves. Listening to some, you could almost get the impression that they had nothing to do with getting  pregnant, and the child's father's are all low life's who made promises and then pulled a "hit and run".

These stories have become a romanticized struggle, and testament to a way of life to which they as kindred spirits are all accustomed to. The villain in this narrative are always men who are never there to defend themselves. But are generally recognized as irresponsible, emotional predators who opted out of parenthood. The question is. Are these tales of whoa based on fact?

The reality is, there have always been, and there always will be people who will cause turmoil, and confusion. The trick is recognizing whether you are that tumultuous person or if the person you're in a relationship with, is the one who is reeking havoc in your life.
Sometimes it can be a difficult thing to understand the dynamics of a situation or have a clear understanding when you think with your heart. But there is one thing that we can all be sure of. People will ALWAYS reveal themselves, and who they really are will always come to the surface. 
In most cases having a baby will not change who they are, or advance the relationship. It just makes things more complicated. Having a baby to save a relationship, or in hopes that a man is going to change is like trying to put out a fire with a bucket of gasoline. It only makes things worse. One of my favorite quotes is from Maya Angelou. 
"When someone shows you who they are, believe them."
In addition to this, you should know who you are, and then ask yourself what role you played in making your life the way it is. It is so much easier to blame someone else than it is to hold yourself accountable for your actions, and using your past as a crutch will never take you into the future. Like everything else in life, you pray, do everything you can to make a situation better and then you just stand.

That so called man that has caused you so much pain is not in your life for a reason. God is still in control.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Is Obesity Really A Disease?

This week the American Medical Association officially declared obesity a disease or a medical condition. 
Before I get into my opinion I believe that it is important to first define what a disease is.

disordered or incorrectly functioning organpart, structure, or system of the body resulting from the effect of genetic or developmental errors, infection, poisons, nutritional deficiency or imbalance, toxicity, or unfavorable environmental factors; illness; sickness; ailment.

While obesity can be the root cause of some diseases, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and kidney disease. Obesity in and of itself is not a disease by definition.

 The AMA isn't vested with legally binding authority on what is a disease and what is not a disease. In fact, when it comes to the labeling of diseases, there is an International Classification For Diseases which already has a range of categories covering obesity  "due to excess calories" to obesity due to a side effect of prescription drugs.

So what's the big deal with the AMA? The group still has considerable influence, and the vote could give more clout to efforts to have obesity interventions paid for by insurers and to get the public focused on the problem.

"We felt it's time to take a stance and say we're going to identify this as a disease," Dr. Douglas Martin, chairman of the AMA public health committee that referred the resolution for vote, told MedPage Today. "We think that's going to send a message not only to the public but to the physician community that we really need to make it a priority and put it in our cross hairs."

I do not believe that being over weight or obese is a disease. We live in a world were there is a need to classify, quantify, and complicate some things. Especially in reference to pacifying the masses. By classifying obesity as a disease there is no implication culpability, and every indication of helplessness. In essence this classification takes the responsibility out of the hands of the individual and places the blame squarely of the shoulders of an uncontrollable force, turning responsible adults into helpless victims. Being overweight is not an airborne bug, or something that can be passed on by contact. 
While nobody chooses to be obese, not doing anything about it is definitely a choice.

I know what it's like to battle obesity. At the height of my battle I weighed in at a whopping 325lbs. I had back pain, leg pain, feet pain, and severe fatigue. It was then that I decided that enough was enough, and I did whatever I had to do to lose 80 pounds. Some days it's still a struggle but I persist.

I didn't get fat because of depression, or because I was mistreated as a child. It is not my parents fault, and my eating was not a sign of some deep seeded issue. I just loved to eat, and I did it way too much for far to long. It's just that simple. My first step was to take responsibility for my condition, my second step was to find a solution, not escape accountability by calling my obesity a disease. Labeling it as such does not encourage self examination. This diagnosis does little more than promote dependency.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Just When You Thought You Heart It All News (6-22-2013)

Some people are crazy. Others are just plain stupid. But there is also that rare breed of people who's antics have a category all their own.

On May 21, a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California dismissed a complaint filed by a woman who said she had purchased "Cap'n Crunch with Crunch Berries" because she believed it contained real fruit.  The plaintiff, Janine Sugawara, alleged that she had only recently learned to her dismay that said "berries" were in fact simply brightly-colored cereal balls, and that although the product did contain some strawberry fruit concentrate, it was not otherwise redeemed by fruit.  

This woman's brain was probably made of crunch berries.

She sued, on behalf of herself and all similarly situated consumers, some of whom may believe that there are fields somewhere in our land thronged by crunchberry bushes.

No words...........

According to the complaint, Sugawara and other consumers were misled not only by the use of the word "berries" in the name, but also by the front of the box, which features the product's namesake, Cap'n Crunch, "aggressively thrusting" a spoonful of 'Crunchberries' at the prospective buyer."  

Using the phrase "aggressively thrusting" in reference to cereal seems so wrong, for so many reasons.

 Sugawara claimed that this message was reinforced by other marketing representing the product as a "combination of Crunch biscuits and colorful red, purple, teal and green berries."  Yet in actuality, the product contained "no berries of any kind."  She  claimed fraud, breach of warranty.
The case was dismissed.

I wonder if she knows that Cap'n Crunch is not a real captain. Or is he?

What in the world?!?!
There's a buzz happening in Beverly Hills over a group of women who call themselves the "Marijuana Moms."

Maybe the "Moron Moms" would be more appropriate.

Many of the members of this loosely-knit group of pot-smoking parents smoke the wacky weed in order to relax or cope with chronic pain. In addition, they meet regularly for lavish dinners where the herb is the key ingredient in dishes like cannabis leaf salad, chicken fried in cannabis oil and marijuana milk shakes.

Cheryl Shuman, a 53-year-old mother of two, said the group's joint mission is to show that smoking marijuana makes them better parents and better wives.

Define better? I hope the kids don't eat the fried chicken.

"We've all come up against people who say marijuana is for dirty druggies, but we are proof you can be good parents and productive members of society and use it," Shuman said, 
"I like to think we are bringing some glamor and exclusivity to marijuana use."

I have lived in The United States my whole life, and all of this time I thought that Beverly Hills was part of California. Who knew that it was actually another planet.

One of of the marijuana moms, January Thomas, 37, not only tokes up to five times a day while she looks after her daughter, 2-year-old Zenna, but she reads her child books with titles like "Mommy's Funny Medicine," and "It's Just A Plant."

Marijuana makes me a better more creative parent. Thomas said in a video for Barcroft TV. "It puts me in the moment with Zeena and stops me worrying about everyday problems."

Another one of these "Really Stoned Housewives of Beverly Hills" credits ganja with saving her marriage to her husband of 14 years who happens to be a cop.

Probably not anymore. A cop cannot live with a perp.

Simmi Dhillon, 40, sustained serious injuries in a 2003 car accident that left her with chronic pain and a reliance on prescription painkillers, but said the giggle weed saved her.

"When I found medical marihuana my life turned around, I was 37 and I tried a joint my friend was smoking [and] for the first time in years I felt human. I was able to be the wife I wanted to be once again and it saved our marriage.

"Now I can talk to my 10-year-old son about drugs and be completely honest about it. Before I was like a zombie on prescription medication now he's got his mom back."

Marijuana is illegal in California without a prescription, but even with one, parents who partake get negatively judged by others. Diane Fornbacher of the pot-legalization group NORML says this judgment is unfair.
Compton moms would never be allowed to get high much less say that it makes them better parents. Child services would be all other that house.

Some criminals are dumb. Some criminals are dumber......and then there's 
Jamie Neill.

Neil who was inebriated, who tried to stick up a gas station while wearing a clear plastic bag as a "mask" in Cornwell England, has been sentenced after his chosen disguise gave him away. Jamie Neil, 41, and his accomplice Gareth Tilley, 20, were both reportedly drunk and high last September when they decided to rob the convenience store at a local gas station. 

Correction, they were both very drunk and very high.

So they grabbed "the nearest thing they could find" to disguise themselves. “Before arriving at the location Tilley disguised his face using a scarf,” says Detective Constable Steve White. “And Neil, being less resourceful, put a plastic bag on his head.” Tilley then pointed his cell phone at the gas station clerk and demanded cash, but when the phone's keypad lit up and betrayed the fact that it wasn't a pistol, the employee hit the alarm. Neil grabbed and headbutted the employee and, with several bottles of liquor in hand, he got free but only temporarily. An off-duty officer recognized Tilley on the street two days later, identifying him from the gas station's security footage, in which his face was clearly visible through the plastic bag. Both have pled guilty and will spend the next two years in prison. Constable White called the plastic bag the most "ridiculous" disguise he had ever come across.


2 1/2 Years Later

This commemoration probably receives the least recognition. But there are few events that have had as great an impact on America and life as we know it, as Juneteenth. Yesterday, June. 19, 2013 marked the 148 anniversary of Juneteenth.

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation,  which had become official January 1, 1863. 

The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.

Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years. Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another, is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. And still another, is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. 

Certainly, for some, President Lincoln's authority over the rebellious states was in question. For whatever the reasons, conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.

 One of General Granger’s first orders of business was to read to the people of Texas, General Order Number 3 which began most significantly with:

"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer."

The reactions to this profound news ranged from pure shock to immediate jubilation. While many lingered to learn of this new employer to employee relationship, many left before these offers were completely off the lips of their former 'masters' attesting to the varying conditions on the plantations and the realization of freedom. Many former slave owners chose to murder the majority of their former slaves rather than relent to the law of the land and give them the freedom that was rightfully theirs in doing so. 

Those who made it off of the plantations felt that leaving would be their first grasp of freedom, and life, even if they had no place to go. North was a logical destination and for many it represented true freedom, while the desire to reach family members in neighboring states drove some into Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Settling into these new areas as free men and women brought on new realities and the challenges of establishing a heretofore non-existent status for black people in America. Recounting the memories of that great day in June of 1865 and its festivities would serve as motivation as well as a release from the growing pressures encountered in their new territory. The celebration of June 19th was coined "Juneteenth" and grew with more participation from descendants. The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date.

We much never forget that freedom is definitely something that deserves to be celebrated no matter which race, or color you are. Freedom is a blessing.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

No Habla Espanol In Whole Foods

It has always been a pet peeve of mine. People who migrate to the United States for a slice of the American dream but don't learn or practice speaking English.
There are many countries in the world where you cannot earn a living, raise a family, or even survive if you don't speak in their native dialect. But here in America anyone and everyone can settle into their own little pocket of society and reap the benefits of living in America without knowing the slightest bit of English.

Faced with a boycott, Whole Foods has revised its English-only language policy for employees on the job after two of the chain's employees in New Mexico were temporarily suspended from work for speaking Spanish, they claimed. Calls for a boycott prompted Whole Foods to change its company language policy.

In a blog post, Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb maintained that the two workers received one-day suspensions for unacceptable “workplace behavior,” not for speaking in Spanish as the two alleged.

But his post said that the issue had prompted the retailer, which tends to court a customer base known for more politically progressive views, to reevaluate its company handbook’s stance on English-language usage.

Previously, the company policy stipulated that employees must speak English “if you speak English and are in the presence of customers.” Conversations with other workers had to be in English “any time you are on the clock and discussing work-related tasks or subjects.”

In my opinion this company policy is more than fair. Each and every job has its policies and stipulations which employees must adhere to. I fail to see the issue in requesting that employees speak a language that everyone in their work place understands. 

The revision, which Robb said would be discussed at upcoming store meetings across the company, softens that wording.

“When speaking with customers or fellow Team Members, please make sure you are sensitive to others who may want to join your conversation or ask you a question. If needed, switch to a common language to be inclusive and respectful,” it said. Workers still are required to converse in English with shoppers “unless requested otherwise by the customer.”

“Sounds like it’s corporate revisionism,” said Brent Wilkes, national executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, whose New Mexico chapter contacted Whole Foods after the incident. “For them to make a mistake of this magnitude means there are other problems,” he said. “A diverse company wouldn’t have done this.”

“They’re heading in the right direction, but we’re still not convinced they’ve done enough,” Wilkes said. “I think it should say use of Spanish in the workplace is encouraged... and the company values multilingualism as an asset.”

This is definitely corporate revisionism. Masterful word smithing with appeasement as the ultimate goal. Which wouldn't be an issue if the the original policy actually needed to be revised.

The League, arguing the rule violated New Mexico's constitution protecting Spanish and America-Indian languages, had considered calling a boycott of Whole Foods.

Despite its hippie roots, this isn’t the first time Whole Foods has had to do damage control after angering liberal consumers. When promoting his new book in January, Whole Foods’ other co-CEO, John Mackey, used the word fascism when discussing President Obama's Affordable Care Act, a statement he later retracted after some customers called for a boycott. Mackey also provoked ire for saying climate change is “perfectly natural and not necessarily bad.”

“It’s surprising that a company like Whole Foods, which had had the reputation of being a fairly modern company, would have a system like this in place that’s so backwards,” Wilkes said of the retailer’s former language policy.

In his blog post, Robb said, “We will remain open to further changes as we continue to seek third-party perspectives.”

What people fail to understand is that whole foods first and for most is a business. A business who's image has been carefully crafted to cater to a selected niche group. Many of whom fly the flag of progression but are actually "hip" contrarians who are not as forth right with their conservative views. So this does not surprise me at all. While the New Mexico store is especially susceptible to a boycott because of its population, I wonder what the sentiment is in other parts of the country in reference to an English only policy. The comment of co-C.E.O John Mackay in reference to the Affordable Care Act or Obama Care, was a tell tale sign of his indifference toward racial tolerance. This was much more than a hint.

While I fully support an English speaking policy, I do not support racism under the guise of good customer service. It is nothing more than a smoke screen for bigotry.


Monday, June 17, 2013

The Right To Remain Silent

It is perhaps one of the most prolific pieces of case law in the legal system. Miranda rights. As a result, each time someone is arrested and in custody they must be read their rights or (Mirandized). They are as follows.

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?” 

 The Supreme Court’s decision in Miranda v. Arizona four different cases involving custodial interrogations.  In each of these cases, the defendant was questioned by police officers, detectives, or a prosecuting attorney in a room in which he was cut off from the outside world.  In none of these cases was the defendant given a full and effective warning of his rights at the outset of the interrogation process.  In all the cases, the questioning elicited oral admissions and, in three of them, signed statements that were admitted at trial. 

Miranda v. Arizona: 

Miranda was arrested at his home and taken in custody to a police station where he was identified by the complaining witness.  He was then interrogated by two police officers for two hours, which resulted in a signed, written confession.  At trial, the oral and written confessions were presented to the jury.  Miranda was found guilty of kidnapping and rape and was sentenced to 20-30 years imprisonment on each count.  On appeal, the Supreme Court of Arizona held that Miranda’s constitutional rights were not violated in obtaining the confession

Vignera v. New York:  

Vignera was picked up by New York police in connection with the robbery of a dress shop that had occurred three days prior.  He was first taken to the 17th  Detective Squad headquarters. He was then taken to the 66th  Detective Squad, where he orally admitted the robbery and was placed under formal arrest.  He was then taken to the 70th  Precinct for detention, where he was questioned by an assistant district attorney in the presence of a hearing reporter who transcribed the questions and answers.  At trial, the oral confession and the transcript were presented to the jury.  Vignera was found guilty of first degree robbery and sentenced to 30-60 years imprisonment.  The conviction was affirmed without opinion by the Appellate Division and the Court of Appeals.

Westover v. United States:

  Westover was arrested by local police in Kansas City as a suspect in two Kansas City robberies and taken to a local police station.  A report was also received from the FBI that Westover was wanted on a felony charge in California.  Westover was interrogated the night of the arrest and the next morning by local police.  Then, FBI agents continued the interrogation at the station.  After two-and-a-half hours of interrogation by the FBI, Westover signed separate confessions, which had been prepared by one of the agents during the interrogation, to each of the two robberies in California.  These statements were introduced at trial.  Westover was convicted of the California robberies and sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment on each count.  The conviction was affirmed by the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 

California v. Stewart:

 In the course of investigating a series of purse-snatch robberies in which one of the victims died of injuries inflicted by her assailant, Stewart was identified as the endorser of checks stolen in one of the robberies.  Steward was arrested at his home.  Police also arrested Stewart’s wife and three other people who were visiting him.  Stewart was placed in a cell, and, over the next five days, was interrogated on nine different occasions.  During the ninth interrogation session, Stewart stated that he had robbed the deceased, but had not meant to hurt her.  At that time, police released the four other people arrested with Stewart because there was no evidence to connect any of them with the crime.  At trial, Stewart’s statements were introduced.  Stewart was convicted of robbery and first-degree murder and sentenced to death.  The Supreme Court of California reversed, holding that Stewart should have been advised of his right to remain silent and his right to counsel.   

The Court  held that “without proper safeguards the process of in-custody interrogation of persons suspected or accused of crime contains inherently compelling pressures which work to undermine the individual’s will to resist and to compel him to speak where he would otherwise do so freely.”  Therefore, a defendant “must be warned prior to any questioning that he has the right to remain silent, that anything he says can be used against him in a court of law, that he has the right to the presence of an attorney, and that if he cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for him prior to any questioning if he so desires.”

The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Supreme Court of Arizona in Miranda, reversed the judgment of the New York Court of Appeals in Vignera, reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Westover, and affirmed the judgment of the Supreme Court of California in Stewart.

Recently The Supreme Court says prosecutors can use a person's silence against them if it comes before he's told of his right to remain silent.

I am not a lawyer. But this makes no sense to me. It sounds like a prosecutorial loop hole.

The 5-4 ruling comes in the case of Genovevo Salinas, who was convicted of a 1992 murder. During police questioning, and before he was arrested or read his Miranda rights, Salinas answered some questions but did not answer when asked if a shotgun he had access to would match up with the murder weapon.
Prosecutors in Texas used his silence on that question in convicting him of murder, saying it helped demonstrate his guilt. Salinas appealed, saying his Fifth Amendment rights to stay silent should have kept lawyers from using his silence against him in court. Texas courts disagreed, saying pre-Miranda silence is not protected by the Constitution.

The high court upheld that decision.

The Fifth Amendment protects Americans against forced self-incrimination, with the Supreme Court saying that prosecutors cannot comment on a defendant's refusal to testify at trial. The courts have expanded that right to answering questions in police custody, with police required to tell people under arrest they have a right to remain silent without it being used in court.

Prosecutors argued that since Salinas was answering some questions therefore not invoking his right to silence and since he wasn't under arrest and wasn't compelled to speak, his silence on the incriminating question doesn't get constitutional protection.

Salinas' "Fifth Amendment claim fails because he did not expressly invoke the privilege against self-incrimination in response to the officer's question," Justice Samuel Alito said. "It has long been settled that the privilege `generally is not self-executing' and that a witness who desires its protection `must claim it.'"

The court decision was down its conservative/liberal split, with Alito's judgment joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia.

Liberal Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented. "In my view the Fifth Amendment here prohibits the prosecution from commenting on the petitioner's silence in response to police questioning," Breyer said in the dissent.

Salinas was charged in 1993 with the previous year's shooting deaths of two men in Houston. Police found shotgun shells at the crime scene, and after going to the home where Salinas lived with his parents, obtained a shotgun kept inside the house by his father. Ballistic reports showed the shells matched the shotgun, but police declined to prosecute Salinas.

Police decided to charge him after one of his friends said that he had confessed, but Salinas evaded police for years. He was arrested in 2007, but his first trial ended in a mistrial. It was during his second trial that prosecutors aggressively tried to use his silence about the shotgun in closing remarks to the jury.

Salinas was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The Texas Court of Appeals and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the conviction, with the latter court saying "pre-arrest, pre-Miranda silence is not protected by the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, and that prosecutors may comment on such silence regardless of whether a defendant testifies."

There was a time when you had to watch what you said. But now, you have to watch what you don't say. Staying out of trouble is so much easier. God help us all.