Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Gunned Down At Home

Well America, you can now be shot by police for doing nothing more than minding your own business while standing in your own driveway. Guess where? Florida of course! The sunshine state where you may never see the sun shine again if you make the "wrong move". For instance being a teenager walking down the street with skittles and iced tea is a no no. You might even get shot by some psycho citizen. Sometimes I wonder if it would be better to never go to Florida again. But a life lived in fear is not a life. It is just an existence, and who among us just wants to exist? 

A Florida man says he was shot and injured in the driveway of his home by sheriff's deputies after reaching into his mother's car for a cigarette, according to media sources.
Roy Middleton, 60, was reportedly shot in the leg shortly before 3 a.m. Saturday after he went to retrieve a cigarette from his mother's car in the driveway of their home.
Middleton said he was reaching into his car for a cigarette when he was confronted by sheriff's deputies responding to a burglary call. A neighbor had called 911 after they saw him reaching into the car, 
reports the paper.
Middleton said he heard a deputy ordering him to put up his hands. He was backing out of the driveway with his hands raised, he said, when they opened fire.
"It was like a firing squad," he said. "Bullets were flying everywhere."
The Escambia County Sheriff's Office reportedly wouldn't comment. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the incident and the deputies have been placed on paid administrative leave.
Is this a reward for a job well done, or an attempt for them to have the officers lay low until the gun smoke clears?


Will Bill Thompson Be The Next Mayor Of New York?

It seems as if the mayoral election in New York City has taken an unexpected turn. Anthony Wiener, who was once the front runner in the campaign has imploded because of his inability to stop "tweeting his meat", and his numbers are falling. City Counsel Speaker Christine Quinn, whose campaign was predicated upon her breaking the glass ceiling by being both the city's first openly gay, and female mayor, has come under fire for allegedly allowing the City Council to be "manipulated" by Mayor Bloomberg. Quinn is still leading, but has slipped in the polls in recent weeks. Another Democratic candidate, New York City Public Advocate, Bill deBlasio is now tied with Bill Thompson for second place. But   Thompson is expected to get 35% of the black vote, and has the support of both the influential teachers union and the New York City Firefighters.

Thompson may actually have a shot at becoming the second African-American mayor in New York City history.

As you read this you might be thinking what I was thinking. Who is Bill Thompson?
Bill Thompson was the 42nd Comptroller of New York City. He was sworn in January of 2002, and was re-elected to serve a second term in January of 2006. In 2009 Thompson left office to run for mayor of NYC, and although he was unsuccessful, it was an extremely close race with Thompson getting 46% of the vote, and Mayor Bloomberg getting 51% to squeeze out a victory.

If I may be blunt, and I will. Bill de Blasio is not really a factor in this race. Thompson may win because he is the lesser of "3 evils". Although New York is a Blue state, there is still a certain element who will have to choose between a Black man, a lesbian, and an arrogant pervert if he insists on embarrassing himself by staying in this race. Decisions! Decisions!


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

No More Hate, And No More Nonsense

This is the best news I've heard since my wife said, "Yes I'll marry you!"

In a major shakeup for the radio industry, Cumulus Media, the second-biggest broadcaster in the country, is planning to drop both Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity from its stations at the end of the year, according to industry sources. 


Cumulus has decided that it will not renew its contracts with either host, the source said, a move that would remove the two most highly rated conservative talk personalities from more than 40 Cumulus channels in major markets. 

The decision comes after negotiations between Cumulus and Premiere Networks, the division of Clear Channel that distributes Limbaugh and Hannity's shows, broke down due to disagreements over the cost of the distribution rights, the source said. Cumulus is known to drive a hard bargain on costs, and Clear Channel is known to seek top dollar for big names.

As industry insiders caution, Cumulus and Clear Channel have come to the brink before during contract negotiations only to resume talks. But the source told the media that Clear Channel was unlikely to reduce the cost for distribution rights to a level that would satisfy Cumulus.

Cumulus declined to comment. "Cumulus is not in a position to comment about negotiations with talent under contract, no matter what the rumor of the day might be," according to a spokesperson.

But in recent weeks, Cumulus has been quietly reaching out to radio talent agents and political insiders about new local and regional station hosts to fill some of the airtime that will be left vacant by Limbaugh and Hannity, industry sources said. Cumulus is also expected to move some of its existing talent which includes Mike Huckabee, Mark Levin, and Michael Savage into one of the slots.

Premiere, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, is expected to carry Limbaugh and Hannity on stations in many of the markets where they are currently signed with Cumulus, should the negotiations not go through. A spokesperson for Limbaugh was not immediately available for comment, and Hannity did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Back in May, a source close to Limbaugh said that the host was considering ending his affiliation agreement with Cumulus because CEO Lew Dickey was blaming the company's advertising losses on Limbaugh's controversial remarks about Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student. On an earnings call two days later, Dickey reported a $2.4 million first-quarter decline in revenue related to talk programming, which he attributed, indirectly, to Limbaugh's remarks about Fluke. 

Dickey is expected to hold another earnings call this week, though it is unclear if he will address the contract negotiations.

According to recent surveys the number of those who support the disturbing, propagandist hate mongering which has been a hallmark of both programs is dwindling. When listenership dwindles, advertisers pull out, and when advertisers  pull out it becomes no longer feasible to keep a radio show on the air.

I am almost tempted to believe that the departure of both Limbaugh and Hannity is the direct result of a newly enlightened public. But let's not be fooled. There is still a segment of the population who's sentiments were echo's whenever either of the two were on the air. But now that Limbaugh and Hannity will no longer be allowed to poison the airwaves with their rhetoric, these people will become the silent minority. Relics of a bygone era who were manipulated into going against their own best interests.


Monday, July 29, 2013

That Conservative Black Chick!

I have always been puzzled by African-American conservatives. I have never understood their decision to align themselves with a group who's ideology is not all inclusive. Being a Black conservative is almost like an oxymoron. They seem contradictory in nature. But that's just my opinion. The beautiful thing about America is the fact that everyone has the right to believe whatever they want to believe, even if what they believe is detrimental to their own well being. 
But when they use their beliefs as a platform to cast aspersions from a top a proverbial high horse, it becomes decisive, self serving and at times, evil.

Crystal WrightFollowing Sybrina Fulton‘s, (Trayvon Martins mother), powerful and emotional plea Friday to the National Urban League, conservative Black token du jourCrystal Wright, who has coined the moniker, Conservative Black Chick, took to Twitter and attacked the grieving mother as being opportunistic, dishonest, and phony.

Wright cruelly accused Fulton of “manufacturing a race war” and suggests that she “move on” or “get on with writing her book.” 

Move on from her murdered child? Ms. Wright has sank to an all time low, and her insensitive accusations are nothing more than a disgusting attempt to appease the morally bankrupt jackals within her party.

Mimicking the crass, troll tactics of some of her GOP brethren, Wright agreed and retweeted followers who claimed that Sybrina Fulton “didn’t care about Trayvon till she copyrighted his name and made trash cans of money.”

This woman is nothing more than a vulgar puppet, a black faced extension of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannady, and the like with less moral fiber. Wright is even worse than the aforementioned because she actually is what she despises. But what she doesn't realize is, she has already been defined by those who are in her party, and no matter how much she thinks she belongs, I am willing to bet that they don't think she belongs. 

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
Abraham Lincoln


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Should Getting Married Be Based On Love Alone?

From the very first time that we recognize that there is a thing called love. Most of us have a romantic notion or idea of what we think love is. We believe that we will meet that one magical person who will always understand us, always know what we want, and always give us what we need. The second we get the slightest inclination that we've found that special someone, most of us fall in love, or what we think is love, and we want to marry a stranger based on what we see on the surface.
There are always signs that Mr., or Mrs. Magic has a flaw or two but those flaws are often ignored in favor of the fantasy, because, everybody has flaws. In many cases it ends up being a trade off. People go into marriages for what they want or what they love about a person and accept what they "think" they can deal with. The problem is, as time passes, they become accustomed to what attracted them in the first place. That thing that made them fall in love. But often times come to realize that the thing that they thought that they could deal with has become just too much to ignore.

For instance. You knew that this man was a cereal cheater, but you married him any way. You knew that this woman did not have the ability to manage money, but you married her anyway.
Lets be honest, 50% of the time what we thought was love was infatuation and lust. But infatuation doesn't last forever, and being in lust can fade. Once that happens people feel as if they have fallen out of love but in fact they have fallen into reality. 

No one should get married for love alone because some people just don't know what love is, or why they think they love some one. Love and marriage should never be based  on physical pleasure because, like anything else, no matter how good it is, you become accustomed to it. Then there has to be stimulation outside of the bedroom. There has to be love outside of the bedroom, or what you were in was never love in the first place. We all have short comings but not all of us are interested in managing them, and bettering ourselves. If your mate is content on being complacent in drama and is not a forward thinking individual where their future is concerned. Why would it be beneficial to enter into a marital union with them? The union of marriage is just that, it is a union. It is never wise to become one with someone who either cannot manage themselves individually, or have no intentions to o so.

The bottom line is, when it comes to a perspective spouse it is important to look past what you feel, and think. In other words, love with your mind as well as your heart, and never let your heart lead you into a situation that your mind cannot handle. In the beginning of most relationships physical attraction becomes an essential over all other factors, but as time goes on other things become essential in the preservation of a relationship. The inability to manage a crisis is not an afrodisiac. The inability to manage money, or provide is not and afrodisiac.
There is an old saying, "familiarity breeds contempt". But this should not be the case in a marriage. Familiarity with your spouse should make love stronger. If your feelings for your spouse have become contemptuous then you've gotten yourself into a union where there is no unity.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Just When You Thought You Heard It All News (7-27-2013)

Early Tuesday morning, Akua McClaine was having a seizure but her five-year-old son knew what to do, call 911.

Demonte Reilly knew exactly what to say when the operator answered the call. Demonte told the operator what had happened to his mother, her age and her medical history, as well as their location. His mother had drilled him on what to say if he ever had to call 911. The operator was so impressed with the boy’s actions that she contacted the local news,
 “I’m so proud of him,” McClaine told the news station about her son’s actions. “He saved me.”

The only thing Demonte doesn’t remember about the ordeal was how long it took for the EMS to arrive. He just graduated from kindergarten, so he doesn’t know how to tell time. As for McClaine, she was treated at a local hospital and released. “I just said, ‘baby I love you so much’ and he said, ‘no mommy, I love you.’”
Little Demonte is probably the tiniest hero in America.
Side Bar: What did they do to this boys hair?!

There are stupid criminals, and then there are stupid criminals. Then again, just being a criminal is stupid. It is quite a fruitless endeaver in the long run, unless you're a bank CEO, or work on Wall Street. But this guy is nobody's CEO, and I doubt that he could find work on Wall Street.

A would be burglar got busted when the owner of the shop he was allegedly attempting to rob walked in on him...stuck in the chimney.

Ernest Raney, owner of Capital Pawn in Harrison, Ark., opened up his shop on Wednesday and began hearing sounds, thinking something might have gotten lodged in the chimney. Something had in fact gotten lodged in the chimney, which turned out to be 38-year-old Michael Wayne Case, A.K.A Arkansas's Albert Einstein.

It appears Case climbed into the 10.5-inch by 11-inch chimney opening late Tuesday night in an attempt to burglarize the pawn shop and became stuck for nearly 10 hours. He later claimed he had merely fallen in, which is highly unlikely given the small size of the opening. Police have charged him with commercial burglary, resisting arrest, and criminal mischief.

When firemen and police arrived to extract Case, they pulled him out by lowering a rope down the chimney. The damage caused to get Case out reportedly will cost around $2,500.

"His mouth was real violent. He cursed and basically used foul language that I don't repeat," Raney said.

What's more, the chimney is sealed at the bottom, so had Case been able to wriggle down to the end of the space, he would not have wound up inside the shop.

"Chimneys don't go straight down," Raney's wife Marie said. "He didn't know chimneys himself. If it had been possible, he could not have gotten out of our store because we have burglary alarms. He wasn't thinking." 

Of course he wasn't thinking. You need a brain to think.

This last story gives the phrase "keystone  cop" a whole new meaning.

In a story that was shared with a monthly police magazine, a police officer in Sussex, England, ended up chasing himself around for 20 minutes. A CCTV (closed circuit TV) operator saw a suspicious man on the streets, and called a plainclothes officer for help. The operator gave directions to the areas where the suspicious man was caught on camera, and the officer always seemed to be close, but could not see any evidence of the man. That is, until they realized that the "suspicious character" was actually the plainclothes officer! The date of the misadventure has been lost in the retelling, as all police officers involved were too busy laughing.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Little Weiner That Could?!

In January of 1990 Washington D.C Mayor Marion Barry was arrested for cocaine possession. According  to sources, Barry and a female companion were smoking crack in a hotel room. He was charged with three felony counts of perjury, 10 counts of misdemeanor drug possession, and one misdemeanor count of conspiracy to possess cocaine. Barry was convicted of only one of the fourteen charges. The jury failed to come to a decision on the remaining charges, forcing the judge to declare a mistrial. Barry was sentenced to 6 months in prison in October of that year.

As if this wasn't unsettling enough, he then went on to win a Counsil seat in 1992, and was elected mayor of Washington DC again in 1994.

Fast forward to January 1998, former White House intern Monica Lewinski came forward with allegations that she had a affair with then President Bill Clinton. Clinton adamantly denied the allegations. But the evidence, which included taped conversations about the affair, and a semen stained dress which Lewinski  had kept as a "keep sake", became too much for Clinton to overcome. He then recanted his claim of innocence, and sought to re-define the term "sexual-relations"  in the process. 

William Jefferson Clinton was impeached on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice by a divided House of Representatives, which recommended virtually along party lines that the Senate remove the nation's 42d President from office.

A few hours after the vote, Mr. Clinton, surrounded by Democrats, walked onto the South Lawn of the White House, his wife, Hillary, on his arm, to pre-empt calls for his resignation. The man who in better days had debated where he would stand in the pantheon of American Presidents said he would stay in office and vowed ''to go on from here to rise above the rancor, to overcome the pain and division, to be a repairer of the breach.'' 

Mr. Clinton became only the second President in history to be impeached, in a stunning day that also brought the resignation of the incoming Speaker of the House, Robert L. Livingston.

Clinton not only completed his 2nd term in office. But he was also able to cement his legacy as arguably one of the best Presidents in US history.

So you may ask. What do former DC Mayor Marion Barry, and former President Bill Clinton have in common? Both men overcame seemingly insurmountable, career ending scandals, and were unapologetic about the decision to continue their political careers. 

Both scandals set a president and set the "standard", for a new kind of politician. The kind of a shameless public figure who expects the public to embrace his very public flaws. Both Barry and Clinton have given politicians who have become mired in scandal. But their ability to bounce back has given other politicians the distinct impression that they may be able to rise from the ashes of disgrace, and ascend to prominence once more. The latest example is former Congressman and mayoral hopeful Anthony Wiener.As predicted by Wiener himself, the sex scandal that led to his 2011 resignation from Congress would become an issue during his mayoral campaign. And a series of lewd texts and photos revealed Tuesday has forced Wiener to ask New Yorkers to "give him another chance."

Wiener's wife: "I love him, I have forgiven him"
In 2011, Weiner accidentally tweeted photos of his crotch to his Twitter followers, but claimed he'd been hacked.
He'd mistakenly sent a lewd message to his followers that was intended to be private. He ultimately admitted to having "inappropriate" online relationships with several women and resigned that June.

"I'm surprised more things hadn't come out sooner," Weiner said Tuesday. "Things aren't that much different than they were yesterday."
"I said there were more things out there," he continued. "We went through this process and worked through some of these challenges and we put it behind us." 

Wiener's Internet nom de plume or pen name was........wait for it,........Carlos Danger! I guess all of the good alias's were taken by the internet other weirdos.

In May, he announced he would seek the Democratic nomination for New York City mayor, embarking not only on a political campaign but also an apology tour.

Recent polls have shown support among NYC Democrats for his bid, though his former congressional colleagues have either endorsed other candidates or stayed silent.

The fact that Wiener has the gall to ask the public to disregard his juvenile behavior because his admission precluded these latest revelations is an insult in and of itself. The sad part is the fact that Wiener may actually be elected.

But the fact remains that any grown man who engages in such reckless, pre-pubescent behavior has issues to say the least, and the fact that he refuses to withdraw from the race for Mayor of New York is mind boggling. The mayor of freak town, maybe. But the mayor of New York? The big apple, or any city for that matter, deserves so much better than a mayor who insists on, and is not genuinely apologetic about tweeting his private parts into cyber space.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

20 Years For "Standing Her Ground"

Justice is a fickle creature who's vision seems to penetrate her blindfold. It has become increasingly difficult to believe that the notion of the american penal system being just, is little more than a myth rooted in good intentions, left to the scrutiny of mans own devices. The result is nothing less the epic failure of a flawed system prone to malfunction.  

In Tampa, Florida, Marissa Alexander had never been arrested before she fired a bullet at a wall one day in 2010 to scare off her husband when she felt he was threatening her. Nobody got hurt, but this month a northeast Florida judge was bound by state law to sentence her to 20 years in prison.

Alexander, a 31-year-old mother of a toddler and 11-year-old twins, knew it was coming. She had claimed self-defense, tried to invoke Florida's "stand your ground" law and rejected plea deals that could have gotten her a much shorter sentence. A jury found her guilty as charged, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Because she fired a gun while committing a felony, Florida's mandatory-minimum gun law dictated the 20-year sentence. Her case in Jacksonville has drawn a fresh round of criticism aimed at mandatory-minimum sentencing laws. The local NAACP chapter and the district's African-American congresswoman say blacks more often are incarcerated for long periods because of overzealous prosecutors and judges bound by the wrong-headed statute. Alexander is black.

The sentencing has added fuel to the controversy over Florida's "stand your ground" law, which the judge would not allow Alexander to invoke. State Attorney Angela Corey, who also is oversaw the prosecution of shooter George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case, stands by the handling of Alexander's case. Corey says she believes Alexander aimed the gun at the man and his two sons, and the bullet she fired could have ricocheted and hit any of them.

At the May 11 sentencing, Alexander's relatives begged Circuit Judge James Daniel for leniency but he said the decision was "out of my hands."

"The Legislature has not given me the discretion to do what the family and many others have asked me to do," he said.

The state's "10-20-life" law was implemented in 1999 and credited with helping to lower the violent crime rate. Anyone who shows a gun in the commission of certain felonies gets an automatic 10 years in prison. Fire the gun, and it's an automatic 20 years. Shoot and wound someone, and it's 25 years to life.

Critics say Alexander's case underscores the unfair sentences that can result when laws strip judges of discretion. About two-thirds of the states have mandatory-minimum sentencing laws, mostly for drug crimes, according to a website for the Families Against Mandatory Minimums advocacy group.

"We're not saying she's not guilty of a crime, we're not saying that she doesn't deserve some sort of sanction by the court," said Greg Newburn, Florida director for the group. Rather, he said, the judge should have the authority to decide an appropriate sanction after hearing all the unique circumstances of the case.

U.S. Rep. Corinne Brown, D-Jacksonville, has been an advocate for Alexander. Brown was present at the sentencing, where she and Corey had a brief, terse exchange afterward as sign-toting supporters rallied outside the courthouse.

"The Florida criminal justice system has sent two clear messages today," Brown said afterward. "One is that if women who are victims of domestic violence try to protect themselves, the `Stand Your Ground Law' will not apply to them. ... The second message is that if you are black, the system will treat you differently."

Victor Crist was a Republican state legislator who crafted the "10-20-life" bill enacted in 1999 in Gov. Jeb Bush's first term. He said Alexander's sentence – if she truly did fire a warning shot and wasn't trying to kill her husband,  is not what lawmakers wanted.

"We were trying to get at the thug who was robbing a liquor store who had a gun in his possession or pulled out the gun and threatened someone or shot someone during the commission of the crime," said Crist, who served in the state House and Senate for 18 years before being elected Hillsborough County commissioner.

On Aug. 1, 2010, Alexander was working for a payroll software company. She was estranged from her husband, Rico Gray, and had a restraining order against him, even though they'd had a baby together just nine days before. Thinking he was gone, she went to their former home to retrieve the rest of her clothes, family members said.

An argument ensued, and Alexander said she feared for her life when she went out to her vehicle and retrieved the gun she legally owned. She came back inside and ended up firing a shot into the wall, which ricocheted into the ceiling.

Gray testified that he saw Alexander point the gun at him and looked away before she fired the shot. He claims she was the aggressor, and he had begged her to put away the weapon.

A judge threw out Alexander's "stand your ground" self-defense claim, noting that she could have run out of the house to escape her husband but instead got the gun and went back inside. Alexander rejected a plea deal that would have resulted in a three-year prison sentence and chose to go to trial. A jury deliberated 12 minutes before convicting her.

"The irony of the 10-20-life law is the people who actually think they're innocent of the crime, they roll the dice and take their chances, and they get the really harsh prison sentences," Newburn said. "Whereas the people who think they are actually guilty of the crime take the plea deal and get out (of prison) well before. So it certainly isn't working the way it is intended."

Alexander was also charged with domestic battery four months after the shooting in another assault on Gray. She pleaded no contest and was sentenced to time served.

Her family says that doesn't erase the fact that a relatively law-abiding person, a woman with a master's degree who was making positive contributions to society will endure prison for two decades over a single violation in which no one was hurt.

"She had a restraining order against him. Now Marissa is incarcerated and he's not," said her father, Raoul Jenkins. "I'm wrestling with that in my mind and trying to determine how the system worked that detail out. It's really frustrating."

Newburn says Alexander's case is not an isolated incident, and that people ensnared by mandatory minimum laws cross racial barriers.

In central Florida, a white man named Orville Lee Wollard is nearly two years into a 20-year sentence for firing his gun inside his house to scare his daughter's boyfriend. Prosecutors contended that Wollard was shooting at the young man and missed.

He rejected a plea deal that offered probation but no prison time. Like Alexander, he took his chances at trial and was convicted of aggravated assault with a firearm. Circuit Judge Donald Jacobsen said he was "duty bound" by the 10-20-life law to impose the harsh sentence.

"I would say that, if it wasn't for the minimum mandatory aspect of this, I would use my discretion and impose some separate sentence, having taken into consideration the circumstances of this event," Jacobsen said.

So, in Florida a wall can get justice for being shot, but a human being cannot.

To say that Florida has an obvious misapplication of this law is an extreme understatement. Marissa Alexander has been sentenced to 20 years in prison having no previous criminal record, for firing a warning shot into the wall to scare her abusive husband, and George Zimmerman, who happens to have been arrested in 2005 for assaulting a Police Officer, murders Trayvon Martin and goes free.

In the state of Florida it seems as if the "stand your ground" law is highly discretionary, and depends on how prosecutors decide to apply it on any given day. With that being said, it is a sad day in America when people are not allowed equal protection under the law.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The President Speaks

It is no secret that Barack Obama has attempted to define himself as a "colorless president" to the dismay of many in the African-American community. The President is first and foremost a politician who's career cannot be built on bias, and after all, he is the president of the entire United States. Not just the president of black America or white America. So when we put this in context and perspective his motivations are somewhat understood, although not greatly appreciated. Given the fact that he identifies himself as African-American, the conservative right has chosen to marginalize him, and the black community has chosen to embrace him. Although it seems at times that President Obama has done everything short of totally ignoring the latter, while constantly extending his hand across the isle in the name of bipartisanship to no avail.

Many have wondered if his African American stance began to emerge months ago when he commented on the Trayvon Martin murder. " If I had a son he would look like Trayvon."

His comment spoke to a deep seeded empathy, and identification with this narrative. In the days following the George Zimmerman's not guilty verdict, the world waited with baited breathe for the presidents response. 

 President Obama spoke in deeply personal and revealing terms about the nation’s racial divides on Friday afternoon, moved by the acquittal and resulting controversy in the Trayvon Martin murder case to comment publicly on a subject he had conspicuously avoided during his first term as president.

Speaking without notes or a teleprompter in a surprise appearance in the White House press room, the president highlighted what he called the lingering racial tensions in American life and called on citizens to do some “soul-searching’’ about their attitudes.

It was a remarkable commentary by the nation’s first black president, giving his most extensive remarks on race, on the nation’s racial history, about the incarceration rate of young black males, and about controversial “Stand Your Ground” laws.“Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” Obama said. “And when you think about why, in the African-American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.”

President Obama in 1978.

He explained his own experiences with bias and racial profiling, and sought to explain to the nation why the black community was so outraged over a Florida jury’s decision to acquit George Zimmerman last week in Martin’s killing.

‘There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store.’ ‘Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.’

“There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me,’’ the president said. “There are very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me at least before I was a senator. There are very few African-Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.’’

Zimmerman was found not guilty a little over a week ago of killing Martin in February 2012 during a confrontation in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, said he was trying to protect his neighbors from a perceived threat when he saw Martin, who was walking nearby wearing a black hooded sweatshirt.

Zimmerman followed the teenager. And then, during an altercation between the two, he fired shots that killed Martin, who was unarmed and carrying little more than a packet of Skittles, and a can of iced tea. Zimmerman said afterwards he fired because he felt his life was at risk. Stand Your Ground laws vary by state, but generally allow a victim to fight back if they feel threatened.

The problem with the phrasing of these laws is the fact that the term "feel threatened" is highly subjective. Especially given the fact that a persons feelings are most often a direct reflection of their own personal attitude or bias. For others it may represent a proverbial get out of jail free card, and a license to kill.

Obama had expressed an interest in the case from the beginning. Shortly after the incident gained national attention, he remarked from the White House Rose Garden that, had he had a son, he would have looked like Martin.

On, the day after the verdict, Obama issued a written statement, and he continued talking about it in the following days with friends and family, according to a White House official.

On Thursday, the president told his senior staff he wanted to speak out publicly. Not in a television interview or a speech, but simply speaking “from the heart” before the cameras. So he entered the White House briefing room when reporters were awaiting press secretary Jay Carney on a sleepy Friday afternoon.

Obama said the black community is “not naive” and realizes “that they’re disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence.” They also realize that statistically, Martin was more likely to be shot by a black peer than anyone else.

But the African-American community is frustrated, Obama said, by being painted with such a broad brush.

“And that all contributes, I think, to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different,” he said.

Obama has spoken about race previously. In 2008, under criticism for the comments of his pastor Jeremiah Wright, he gave a speech in Philadelphia addressing the topic. A few months after being elected, he commented at a White House press conference that police in Cambridge, Mass., “acted stupidly” when they arrested Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr., who had broken into his own home.

Obama later apologized for his comments and invited both Gates and Cambridge Police Sergeant James Crowley to the White House for a “beer summit.”

But his comments on Friday were far more personal and extensive than his previous statements on race since he was elected.

“This is one of the strongest, if not the strongest, statement that I’ve seen him make, at all, in the more than quarter of a century of knowing him,” said Charles J. Ogletree, who was Obama’s professor at Harvard Law School. “This will go down as one of his most dramatic, comprehensive, and perhaps even controversial statements on race that we have seen him make in his entire career.”

Obama’s comments were praised by both the Zimmerman and Martin families.

“President Obama sees himself in Trayvon and identifies with him. This is a beautiful tribute to our boy,” Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, said in a statement.

Robert Zimmerman Jr., the brother of the man who was acquitted in Martin’s killing, said on Fox News that he was glad Obama spoke out about the case.

“I think the president was speaking off the cuff, and I think he was very sincere in his remarks,” Robert Zimmerman said. “My concern is that . . . we do everything we can for children who are having difficulties — and I really see eye to eye with the president on that difficulties in life.”

Obama spoke quietly at times, with long silent pauses punctuating his 19 minutes at the podium. He did not take questions.

He called for a review of the Stand Your Ground laws, which have been implemented in more than 20 states.

“For those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these ‘Stand your Ground’ laws, I’d just ask people to consider, if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?” Obama said . “And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened?”

As he ended his remarks, The President referenced his two daughters, saying their generation is better adept at handling racial issues.

“We should also have confidence that kids these days, I think, have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did,” Obama said. “And along this long journey, we’re becoming a more perfect union. Not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.”

I must admit that I am both proud of and impressed by our president, who finally realizes that in his 2nd term as there is no longer a need to walk down the middle of the road.


Monday, July 22, 2013

How Does a Major City Go Bankrupt?

I've always thought of big cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta as colossal, self sustaining, behemoths that were too big to fail. But they are far from impregnable, and not exempt from struggle.

Detroit filed the largest municipal bankruptcy in the nation’s history Thursday, marking a new low in a long decline that has left the U.S. automaking capital bleeding residents and revenue while rendering city services a mess.

The city, which was the nation’s fourth-largest in the 1950s, with nearly 2 million inhabitants, has seen its population plummet to 700,000 as residents fled rising crime and deteriorating basic services, taking their tax dollars with them.

In March, as Detroit faced an estimated debt of $19 billion, Michigan appointed an emergency manager vested with extraordinary powers to rewrite contracts and liquidate some of the city’s most valuable assets. That led to once unthinkable proposals such as forcing public employees to cut their retirement benefits or demanding that investors in municipal bonds, long considered among the safest investments,  take pennies on the dollars they lent to Detroit. In recent days, both of those groups objected, propelling the city to file for bankruptcy.

In a sign of Detroit’s dire fiscal situation, few officials and lawmakers in Michigan or Washington vigorously protested the decision, a far cry from the 1970s, when President Gerald R. Ford intervened with federal loans to prevent New York City from falling into bankruptcy. The fact that there is far less stigma now could encourage other distressed cities and towns to follow Detroit’s lead, some analysts worry.

Detroit’s deterioration, which started after the 1967 race riots which were among the most violent in the country’s history, helped accelerate the cities rapid decline. 

But to blame the implosion and deterioration on the residents of Detroit would be doing them a grave injustice. Especially given the fact that the auto industry abandoned the city for low cost manufacturing in other countries like China and Brazil. Auto makers like General Motors who effectively fueled thriving middle class communities by paying high wages which created an economic boom, fled Detroit, taking the jobs right along with them. Thus crushing the middle class and sending the city into a tailspin from which it has never recovered.

In the 1950s, Detroit, known worldwide as the Motor City, had one of the highest per capita incomes in the country when auto plants were hiring. Now it has the highest rate of violent crime among the nation’s big cities. Average police response time is almost an hour. Nearly 80,000 buildings are abandoned or seriously blighted, and 40 percent of the city’s streetlights do not work. The jobless rate is above 18 percent, more than twice the national rate.

The abysmal services encouraged more people to flee. The city lost more than a quarter million residents from 2000 to 2012. Tax revenue and state aid have plummeted crimping Michigan’s finances. Its best-known cultural export, Motown Records, left long ago.

To plug its deficits, the city borrowed huge sums over the years. And the state appointed emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, a former D.C. bankruptcy lawyer, was unable to forge a deal with creditors.

In a letter authorizing the bankruptcy filing, Gov. Rick Snyder (R) said the consequences of laboring under extreme debt would be even worse than bankruptcy.

“I know many will see this as a low point in the city’s history,” 

he wrote. “If so, I think it will also be the foundation of the city’s future, a statement I cannot make in confidence absent giving the city a chance for a fresh start, without burdens of debt it cannot hope to fully pay.”

That view is widely shared, as few political leaders pushed for a bailout of the city. After news of the bankruptcy filing, the White House issued a statement saying that President Obama is following the situation and that he remains “committed to continuing our strong partnership” with Detroit.

But others warned that bankruptcy would bring pain to the city’s 9,500 employees and nearly 20,000 retirees, while plunging its financial future into uncertainty.

“A bankruptcy might be good in terms of wiping out the debt,” said Coleman A. Young II, a state senator and son of a former mayor of Detroit who served for 19 years. 

“But in terms of the human impact, retirees who could have their pensions gutted, citizens who will lose services . . . it is going to be painful.”

The filing begins a one to three month process to determine whether the city is eligible for Chapter 9 protection and who may compete for the limited settlement money that Detroit has to offer. But it could be years before the city emerges from bankruptcy.Orr has talked about spinning off city assets, including the Coleman A. Young International Airport and the beloved Belle Isle park, to raise money. Some have mentioned the city auctioning off some of the valuable works at the Detroit Institute of Arts. But Orr has reportedly said he will not sell the art, much of which is protected by private covenants, city agreements and state laws.

It is unclear whether those barriers will stand in a municipal bankruptcy, in which a federal judge has no power to force asset sales but can refuse to approve a debt-settlement plan.

This week, the city’s two pension funds filed suit seeking to block a bankruptcy, an action that Orr’s office said indicated that negotiations outside bankruptcy court were fruitless.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Worst Places To Work!

To have a job is truly a blessing. But to have a job that you like is both a treasure and a blessing in one. I've spent many a Sunday on the edge of depression because of where I had to get up and go the next day. I would begin each Monday struggling to get to Wednesday, thank God for Thursday, rejoice on Friday, and then do it all over again on Sunday night. At the time I could not imagine a worse place to work. Until I left and started working for a company that actually was worse. But that was years ago, and my past experiences have  given to the ability to appreciate the job that I have, and while it is not perfect, my days of Sunday night depression are over. If just waking up on Monday morning seems like a laborious, soul draining task, then the following may give you comfort if you are not employed by any of the following companies. But if you are, keep hope alive, and walk by faith.

For the second year in a row, 24/7 Wall St. has identified America’s worst companies to work for. While company management can improve employee satisfaction, most of the companies on our list continue to make workers miserable. In order to identify America’s worst companies to work for, 24/7 Wall Street examined employee reviews at jobs and career community site Glassdoor. Based on the reviews, the site scores companies on a scale of one to five with an average score of 3.2 for the over 250,000 companies measured. Then they identified the nine publicly traded companies that received scores of 2.5 or lower.

Certain industries appear more likely to have lower employee satisfaction than others. Four of the companies on this list 1: Dillard’s Inc. 
2: Sears Holdings Corporation 
3: Dollar General Corporation 
4: RadioShack Corp.  
These companies that are all retail establishments, and are at the top of the worst list.

The majority of the others provide services that require installation and repair. These include companies like home security system provider,
5: ADT 
Corporation transaction technology company
6: NCR Corp
and satellite television provider and
7: DISH Network Corp. 

Not surprisingly, employees most often complained about low wages and poor benefits. Many noted that they were paid even less than the already low industry average for their job. Benefits, if the company provided any, were either difficult to afford or inadequate.

While some employees at all levels were unhappy, complaints at these companies were disproportionately from sales representatives, customer service agents and technicians. These were generally lower-paid, front-line workers dealing directly with customers.

Issues with middle management were universal among the employees of these companies, but the types of complaints varied. Depending on the company, employees felt they were micromanaged, treated unfairly or like children, or asked to meet extreme demands.

Another attribute shared by many of the companies on this list is the perception that they have been overwhelmed by larger, better-equipped competitors. RadioShack falls into that category. It cannot effectively compete with, or even Best Buy. This is also true for Sears Holdings, which owns Sears and Kmart and competes with Walmart and Target. Dish, which competes with AT&T and large cable companies, faces a similar problem.

In order to identify America’s worst companies to work for, 24/7 Wall Street examined employee reviews at Glassdoor To be considered, companies had to have a minimum of 300 reviews. Of the more than 300 companies with more than 300 comments, the site identified the nine publicly traded companies that received the worst scores, 2.5 or lower. This year, Sears Holdings and subsidiary Kmart made the cut independently. Both scores are included. These are the worst companies to work for.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Just When You Thought You Heard It All News (7-20-2014)

My little one loves her kids meal, and each and every time we go out for fast food, she just has to have one. There is usually some little toy inside that she can't wait to have. But as one family found out, not all kids meals have toys.

Although finding a packed marijuana pipe in a fast-food meal might make some people very happy, the Michigan customer who discovered the drug paraphernalia in his 4-year-old grandson's meal was not pleased.

The grandfather called police when he found the pipe in a Burger King Kids Meal purchased Tuesday at a franchise in Dundee, Mich., according to local news sources.

"He handed the ... meal ... to his 4-year-old grandson, and when they opened it up they found a loaded marijuana pipe inside," Dundee Police Chief David Uhl told Toledo News Now.

The customer also wrote down the license plate of a car full of young people he had spotted outside the restaurant and deemed "suspicious," according to Uhl. Officers who arrived at the Burger King were able to track down the car, which was found to contain, surprise, even more marijuana.  

Upon further questioning, a 23 year old employee admitted that the pipe was his and that he had placed it in the meal to hide it while working, according to reports.

Both the employee and two young men from the car, ages 18 and 20, were cited for possession of drug paraphernalia. They were then released but could face further formal drug possession charges. Neither of the other suspects worked at the Burger King.

The next day Burger King introduced its new "Ganja Bacon Ranch" burger. 
Hmmm, what a coincidence.

Know we know why he has that permanent, weird look on his face.

Imagine coming home after a long, hard day only to find out that your home is gone, and there is a concrete slab where your American dream used to be.

David Underwood was having a hard time finding his house over the weekend.

He and his wife were searching everywhere for the Fort Worth, Tex., property that had been in their family for years. They thought the home had vanished, and they were right. The city confirmed Monday that its demolition crews leveled the wrong house. 

A few weeks ago I complained about the city not picking up my trash.  But at least my house was still there.

"We came around Silver Creek looking for the lot and my wife said, 'David, I think the house is gone,'" Underwood said. "We looked up there and sure enough, it's gone!"

The three-bedroom, ranch style home, which sat on a lake, was once owned by Underwood's grandmother. It was nearly empty but not condemned like the house next door, the house that was actually due to be demolished. Instead, crews took Underwood's home, valued at $82,000, which he planned to fix up and move into. 

All that's left is a cement foundation.

The city's code compliance office confirmed the epic blunder with an oh-so-apologetic statement to reporters:

On July 12, 2013, contractors demolished the wrong property on Watercress Drive. The property to be demolished should have been 9708 Watercress Dr. The property that was demolished was a vacant structure located at 9716 Watercress Drive.

Underwood's neighbor tried to alert city officials when demolition crews showed up at the wrong doorstep on Friday. Apparently, the warning didn't work.

It was later reported that Underwood's jilted high school sweat heart was part of the demolition crew, and was seen crying behind the wheel of the bull dozer. Could be.

One of the worst things that you can do is underestimate someone based on their appearance. Looks have nothing to do with heart, as one low life criminal had to find out the hard way.

 A masked robber apparently thought the 96-year-old owner of a neighborhood grocery store in Marshfield, Wisconsin would be an easy target for his crime. But, he was so wrong.

Margaretta Wolf has owned the store bearing her family name for 54 years. And she wasn't about to turn over her cash to the armed intruder after he ordered her to open the cash register.

"I said: `I'm not opening up that cash register and that's it, I'm not opening it. I said you can have all the Tootsie Rolls you want but I am not opening that cash register,'" said Wolf.

The man in the silver mask and carrying a knife continued to give Wolf orders during the robbery attempt Monday.

"He said, `Walk in the back of the store,' I said, `I'm not walking no place, I'm standing right here,'" Wolf recounted.

The elderly store owner stood her ground when the man flashed a pocketknife and placed it on the counter.

"I said, `I'll press a button and I'll have somebody here in seconds,'" she said.

Wolf said the would-be robber appeared frustrated, looked around, spotted a security camera in the corner, grabbed the knife and fled.

Marshfield Police Lt. Darren Larsen said he's just glad Wolf is OK.

I'll bet the would be robber is glad that he's OK. If he didn't leave when he did, grandma dynamite would have probably cut him with his own knife.


At Point Blank Range

Stories like the following are one of the reasons why we need stricter gun laws across the nation. Until the gun lobby stops putting profit before human lives, there will continue to be one tragedy after another.

A video entered as evidence in the murder trial of John Henry Spooner on Tuesday shows the 76-year-old shooting his 13-year-old neighbor Darius Simmons in the chest a point blank range killing him.

The Milwaukee senior is charged with first-degree homicide after the alleged incident in May of last year. Jurors saw the video, taken from Spooner's own surveillance camera, that shows the suspect walk out of his house, brandishing a gun. After a short argument, the man in the video waves the gun around before he shoots Darius in the chest. Darius then managed to flee outside the scope of the camera before dying.

Spooner has been found guilty of first-degree intentional homicide in the fatal shooting. I guess there is still some justice left in America.

Cases like this are all about perception. This 13 year old child was automatically perceived as a threat because of the preconceived notions of a geriatric gun slinger, and he was murdered because of it. There is no disputing the facts, and there is no mistaking the intent to kill, and another young life is lost to gun violence.