i am

My photo
harlem, usa
same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. mjt975@msn.com.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Happy Kwanzaa Everyone!

nguzo saba (the seven spiritual principles) - a guide for daily living...

umoja (unity)
to strive for & maintain unity in the family, community, nation & race.

kujichajulia (self-determination)
to define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves & speak for ourselves instead of being defined, named, created for & spoken for by others.

ujima (collective work & responsibility)
to build & maintain our community together & make our sister's & brother's problems our problems & to solve them together.

ujamaa (cooperative economics)
to build & maintain our own stores, shops & other businesses & to profit from them together.

nia (purpose)
to make our collective vocation in the building & development of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

kuumba (creativity)
to do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful & beneficial than we inherited it.

imani (faith)
to believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders & the righteousness & victory of our struggle.

dr. maulana karenga
september 7, 1965

Friday, December 21, 2012

First Lady Michelle Obama Writes An Open Letter To Sandy Hook Victims And Their Families

first lady michelle obama wrote an open letter to the victims of the tragic shooting at sandy hook elementary school in newtown, connecticut. the compassionate letter, entitled, "holding you in our hearts," was published in the hartford courant yesterday. the letter reads as follows:

"over the past week, we as americans have been united in our grief as newtown has laid to rest so many beautiful, innocent children, along with the heroic educators who worked every day to help them achieve their dreams. as a mother of two young daughters, my heart aches for you and your families. like so many americans, i wish there was something - anything - i could do to ease your anguish.

but i know that i cannot begin to imagine the depths of your grief. i know that for many of you, the pain you are enduring right now seems unbearable; any many of you may be asking yourselves, how can we go on - as families and as a community? but i also know that we have already begun to see the answer to that question in the countless acts of courage, kindness and love here in newtown and across america.

over the past week, i have been awed and inspired by newtown's heroes: the first responders who risked their lives at a moment's notice; the educators whose devotion to their students shone brightest in one of our nation's darkest hours; the children who comforted each other despite their fear; the families coming together to support each other as they grieve.

and i am so proud of the outpouring of love and support that has come from every corner of america; from first responders from neighboring cities rushing to help however they could; from people in cleveland and charlotte and juneau and so many other communities joining together to honor newtown with their thoughts and prayers; and in living rooms and houses of worship and the halls of government, where we are beginning to have those difficult conversations about how we can build a safer, more peaceful tomorrow for all our children.

and i want you to know that this is just the beginning. as my husband has said, in the coming weeks, he will use all the powers of his office to engage citizens from across the country to find ways to prevent tragedies like this one. and please know that every minute of every day, we are thinking of you, and praying for you, and holding you and your families in our hearts as you begin the slow and wrenching work of healing and moving forward.

in the months and years ahead, may the memories of those beautiful children and those heroic adults be a blessing for their families, for your community, and for our country, and may god bless you all."

first lady michelle obama, washington, dc.

today is the fifth consecutive day funerals will be held for victims of the massacre in newton, as three staff members and two students will be laid to rest. at 9:30 a.m., a moment of silence will take place nationally for the sandy hook victims, marking a week ago when adam lanza killed 26 people, including 20 children. he then took his own life.

newtown officials will convene together at 9:28 a.m. on the steps of edmund town hall in newtown, for the 9:30 a.m. moment of silence. governor dannel p. malloy, lt. governor nancy wyman and newtown first selectman patricia llodra will be among those in attendance. 

bells from nearby trinity episcopal church are also scheduled to ring 26 times in memory of each life lost in the tragedy. the u.s. post office has set up a special p.o. box for persons to send cards and flowers expressing their condolences and sympathies to the newtown community. the address is: box  3700, newtown, connecticut 06470.



Sunday, December 09, 2012

Biggie Smalls' Autopsy Report Leaked

it's been almost 16 years since brooklyn's own christopher wallace, also known as biggie smalls, big poppa, or the notorious b.i.g., was gunned down & killed in los angeles. now, because of a leaked autopsy report, shockingly graphic details of the legendary rapper's unsolved murder have finally been revealed.

wallace, who stood six foot one & weighed 395 pounds, was shot four times while riding in the passenger seat of a chevy suburban on wilshire boulevard march 9, 1997. he was struck in the chest, forearm, leg, scrotum & shoulder. according to the report, three of the shots were not fatal.

the shot to his left hip tore through his vital organs, perforating his colon, heart, liver & upper lobe of his left lung, the report detailed. doctors attempted to perform an emergency thoracotomy, but sadly, wallace was pronounced dead at 1:15 a.m.

wallace's death at age 24 shocked the hip hop community. he became a central figure in the east coast with the release of his prophetically titled 1994 album, ready to die. he went on to collaborate with sean "diddy" combs, jay-z, lil' kim & faith evans. wallace married evans just nine days after they met. he was also romantically linked to lil' kim.

six months before wallace's death, actor/rapper tupac shakur was shot & killed - also in california. the two stars were prominent in the controversial "east coast/west coast" beef amongst hip hop artists. ironically, biggie & tupac were once close friends. nevertheless, details surrounding the murder of "big poppa" remain murky: an assailant has never been identified.

in an interview with mtv, lil' kim was asked what she would say to biggie if he were alive today. said kim, "i would say he did a good job. he did a good job. he should be proud of himself. he should be very proud. he did some good things when he was here, i hope he looks at me & he's proud. he should be proud of the kids he made & how they turned out. he should just be proud of his work...that he left here on earth."

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Chiefs Win The Football Game But How Will They Heal Their Loss?

the scoreboard in arrowhead stadium on sunday afternoon read kansas city chiefs 27, carolina panthers 21. the chiefs improved their record to 2-10, which, especially given their dismal season, would normally be cause for celebration. but their victory came in the aftermath of an unimaginable tragedy involving one of their players. 

saturday morning chiefs linebacker jovan belcher killed his 22 year-old girlfriend, kasandra perkins. belcher then drove, alone, five miles to the stadium & shot himself - in front of chiefs coach romeo crenell, chiefs defensive coordinator gary gibbs & chiefs general manager scott piloi - in the parking lot of the team's facility.

many people, inside & outside of the nfl community, debated the purpose of the game being played. crenell said the team decided to play because "we're football players & coaches & that's what we do on sundays." chiefs center ryan lilja, one of the team captains who affirmed their decision said, "none of the options were good. the least worst option was to play. there was no precedent for this & i don't know if this was the right or wrong choice. but we chose to do it together."

professional male athletes are human & react to death in various ways. linebacker derrick johnson said belcher's death didn't really hit him until he woke up sunday morning & drove to the stadium. quarterback brady quinn pondered how well people actually communicate their real feelings in a society where social media dominates. lilja talked about a desire to hug every teammate when he walked into the locker room. 

the chiefs remind us of how the relationship between sports & extended families resonate universally. players openly talked about ways to support zoey, the three month-old daughter of belcher & perkins. team owner clark hunt emphasized therapists will be available for all who need support. crenell also mentioned how critical it was for the team to unify when he addressed them saturday morning.

said crenell, "the thing that helped the most was that we were able to lean on each other. we were able to let some things out." the chiefs also had to balance missing a friend & idolizing a murderer. there was no mention of belcher or perkins during the moment of silence before the game - the message was intended to demonstrate support for domestic violence - but a team employee left belcher's cleats, helmets, jersey & shoulder pads in his locker.

chiefs right tackle eric winston said, "the hardest part is to try & speak positively about belcher & also know what happened. that's the most confusing part for me. i've dealt with somebody taking their own life before, but never something like this." no one on their team ever experienced this type of trauma. in a town where football reigns supreme & two families are deeply wounded, the chiefs decided to heal the only way they knew how: by playing football on a sunday afternoon.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

NYC Murder Total Could Be Lowest Since 1960

not a single person was slashed, shot or stabbed in new york city monday, a possible sign of a downward trend in violent crime which could put the city at its lowest murder numbers since 1960 by the end of the year.

when asked about the absence of those incidents, chief nypd spokesman paul browne told the daily news it was a "nice way to start the week." browne added he couldn't recall a time when the city logged zero such cases in the same day.

tom repetto, an nypd author & historian, told the daily news the absence of shootings & stabbings monday was uncommon, but indicative of a larger trend. repetto said, "they're going to come in with the fewest number of murders since about 1960...it's an almost impossible figure, but their programs have been fabulously successful in stopping crime."

murders citywide are down 23% year over year, with 366 recorded thus far in 2012 - compared with 472 the year before. the city is on pace to finish the year slightly above 400, repetto said. shootings are also down.

total crime is up in the city by three percent this year, but officials attribute that statistic mostly to an increase in grand larcenies connected to the rise in smart phone & tablet thefts. police have implemented a series of programs to deter those crimes, particularly in the subways.  


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. of Illinois Suddenly Resigns From Congress

representative jesse jackson, jr.of illinois resigned from congress wednesday, citing health problems. jackson's resignation - just two weeks after voters re-elected him to a ninth term - comes amid a house ethics committee investigation into his dealings with imprisoned former illinois governor rod blagojevich & reports of a new federal probe into possible misuse of campaign money.  

in his resignation letter to house speaker john boehner, jackson wrote, "i am aware of the ongoing federal investigation into my activities & i am doing my best to address the situation responsibly, cooperate with the investigaters, accept responsibility for my mistakes...they are my mistakes & mine alone. the constituents of the 2nd district deserve a full-time legislator in washington, something i cannot be for the forseeable future. my health issues & treatment regimen have become incompatible with the house of representatives." 

jackson, 47, mysteriously disappeared in june, but it was later revealed he was being treated at the mayo clinic for bipolar disorder & gastrointestinal issues. rumors about potential alcoholism were neither confirmed nor denied. he returned to his washington home in september & went back to the clinic with his father, rev. jesse jackson, who said his son had not yet "regained his balance." 

even though his only communication with voters was a robocall asking for patience, jackson handily defeated two challengers november 6. he spent election night at the mayo clinic but later issued a statement thanking his supporters & saying he was waiting for the doctors' ok before he could "continue to be the progressive fighter" they'd known for years. he left the clinic a second time earlier this month yet has not spoken publicly since.

jackson took office in 1995 after winning a special election. voters in the district have said jackson's family name & attention to local issues have been the primary reasons for their unequivocal support. as such, he has easily won every re-election since then & brought home close to $1 billion in federal money for his district during his popular tenure.

he began his career in washington with a magnetism which set him apart from his hundreds of house colleagues. but his shocking resignation ends a once-promising political career tarnished by allegations he was involved in discussions about raising campaign funds for, then, governor rod blagojevich in exchange for an appointment to president barack obama's vacated u.s. senate seat.

the house ethics committee is investigating reports of those allegations, which jackson denies. after the allegations surfaced, jackson cut back on public appearances & interviews. blagojevich is now in federal prison after being convicted of trying to sell the seat, among other things. the timing of jackon's leave in june & the way it was handled invited scrutiny - it was announced just after a former fundraiser connected to blagojevich's allegations was arrested on unrelated medical fraud charges.      

illinois governor pat quinn, a democrat, has five days to schedule an election to replace jackson after he receives official notice. the election must be held within 115 days, according to election officials. the vacancy left by jackson's departure creates a rare opportunity for someone new to represent his heavily democratic district, which is made up of south side chicago neighborhoods, several southern suburbs & some rural areas.      


Monday, November 12, 2012

Uganda Intends To Pass Anti-Gay Bill

uganda's anti-gay bill is expected to pass before the end of 2012, despite international criticism of the draft legislation, the speaker of the country's parliament said monday. speaker rebecca kadaga insists the bill is what most ugandans want. kadaga also told the associated press the bill - which originally mandated death for some gay acts - will become law this year.

kadaga said, "ugandans are demanding it," reiterating a promise she made before a meeting of anti-gay activists who spoke of "the serious threat" posed by homosexuals to uganda's children. some christian clerics at the meeting in kampala, the country's capital, asked the speaker to pass the law as "a christmas gift."

in a petition the activists said, "speaker, we cannot sit back while such a destructive phenomenon is taking place in our nation. we therefore, as responsible citizens, feel duty-bound to bring the matter to your attention as the leader of parliament...so that lawmakers can do something to quickly address the deteriorating situation in our nation."

the anti-gay activists paraded in front of kadaga, with parents & schoolchildren holding up signs saying homosexuality is "an abomination." the speaker then promised to consider the bill within two weeks, declaring that "the power is in our hands." kadaga said of activists who want the bill to become law, "who are we not to do what they have told us? these people should not be begging us."

uganda's penal code criminalizes homosexuality, but in 2009 a lawmaker with the ruling party said a stronger law was needed to protect uganda's children from homosexuals. parliamentarian david bahati charged at the time that wealthy homosexuals from the west were "recruiting" poor children into gay lifestyles with promises of money & a better life. bahati believes his bill is sufficiently popular among lawmakers to pass without difficulty.

gay rights activists in uganda, while opposing the bill, point out that it has helped their fight for equality by putting what used to be a taboo subject on the national agenda. homosexuality is illegal in many african countries. pepe julian onziema, a prominent ugandan gay activist, said the new push to pass the law was frustrating. 

"it's disappointing, but we are also going to seek a meeting with the speaker," onziema said. but he also said it's unlikely the speaker will agree to such a gathering. while the bill appears to be popular in uganda, it has attracted widespread criticism abroad. newly re-elected u.s. president barack obama has described the bill as "odious," while some european countries have threatened to cut aid to uganda if the bill becomes law.        

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Marijuana Legalization & Same-Sex Marriage Backed In Historic Votes November 6

altering the course of u.s. social policy, colorado & washington set up a showdown with federal authorities by legalizing recreational use of marijuana. maine & maryland became the first states to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote. the outcomes for those ballot measures tuesday were a milestone for persistent but thwarted activists & advocacy groups who for decades have pressured for drug decriminalization & gay rights.

"today the state of washington looked at 70 years of marijuana prohibition & said it's time for a new approach," said alison holcomb, manager of the campaign that won passage of initiative 502 in washington. colorado governor john hickenlooper, a democrat who opposed legalization, was less enthused. said hickenlooper, "federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don't break out the cheetos or goldfish too quickly."   

the marijuana measures in colorado & washington could pose headaches for the u.s. department of justice (doj) & drug enforcement administration (dea), which consider pot an illegal drug. the doj has declined to say how it would respond if the measures were approved. colorado's amendment 64 will allow adults over 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, but using the drug publicly is banned. amendment 64 allows people to grow up to six marijuana plants in a private, secure area.

washington's measure establishes a system of state-licensed marijuana growers, processors & stores, where adults can buy up to an ounce. it also establishes a standard blood test limit for driving under the influence of marijuana. the washington measure was notable for its sponsors & supporters, who ranged from public health experts & wealthy high-tech executives to two former top justice department's officials in seattle, u.s. attorneys john mckay & kate pflaumer. 

ethan nadelmann of the drug policy alliance, which opposes the so-called "war on drugs," said, "marijuana policy reform remains an issue where the people lead & the politicians follow...but washington state shows that many politicians are catching up." estimates show pot taxes could bring in hundreds of millions of dollars annually, but the sales won't start until state officials make rules to govern the legal weed industry. 

the washington measure was opposed by derek franklin, president of the washington association for substance abuse & violence prevention. franklin said, "legalizing is going to increase marijuana use among kids & really create a mess with the federal government. it's a bit of a tragedy for the state." in oregon, a marijuana-legalization measure was defeated. in massachusetts, voters approved a measure to allow marijuana use for medical reasons, joining 17 other states. but in arkansas, a similar measure was rejected by their voters.

the results in maine & maryland broke a 32-state streak, dating to 1988: gay marriage was rebuffed by every state voting on it. they will become the seventh & eighth states to allow same-sex couples to marry. in another gay-rights victory, minnesota voters defeated a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same sex-marriages there. similar measures were approved in 30 other states, most recently in north carolina in may.

"the tide has turned - when voters have the opportunity to really hear directly from loving, committed same-sex couples & their families, they voted for fairness," said rick jacobs of the courage campaign, a california-based gay rights group. said jacobs, "those who oppose the freedom to marry for committed couples are clearly on the wrong side of history."

washington state also voted on a measure to legalize same-sex marriage, though results were not expected until wednesday at the soonest. the outcomes of the marriage votes could influence the u.s. supreme court, which will soon consider whether to take up cases challenging the law that defines federal recognition to same-sex marriage. the gay-rights victories come on the heels of numerous national polls that - for the first time - show a majority of americans supporting same-sex marriage.

maine's referendum marked the first time that gay rights supporters put same-sex marriage to a popular vote. they collected enough signatures to schedule the vote, hoping to reverse a 2009 referendum that quashed a gay-marriage law enacted by the legislature. in maryland & washington, gay-marriage laws were approved by lawmakers & signed by the governors this year, but opponents gathered enough signatures to challenge the laws.

maryland governor martin o'malley, who campaigned vigorously for the marriage measure, spoke to a jubilant crowd in baltimore. christopher wold, 31, danced with his partner of four years after the results became clear. he said they'd like to marry now that it's legal in maryland. said wold, "it feels so good to be accepted by so many people of all different backgrounds. it just feels wonderful."

the president of the most active advocacy group opposing same-sex marriage, brian brown of the national organization for marriage, insisted tuesday's results did not mark a watershed moment. said brown, "at the end of the day, we're still at 32 victories. just because two extreme blue states vote for gay marriage doesn't mean the supreme court will create a constitutional right for it out of thin air." heading into the election, gay marriage was legal in six states & the district of columbia - in each case the result of legislation of court orders, not by a vote of the people. 



Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Barack Obama Re-Elected U.S. President

president barack obama was re-elected u.s. president last night, defeating republican candidate mitt romney with more than 300 electoral votes. obama told an exuberant crowd at his headquarters in chicago, "while our road has been hard, though our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up. we have fought our way back & we know in our hearts that for the united states of america the best is yet to come."

obama mentioned he wants to meet with romney to discuss how they can work together. obama said, "we may have battled fiercely, but its only because we love this country deeply." romney made a brief & gracious concession speech at his somber headquarters in boston. romney said he "prays the president will be successful in guiding our nation." romney urged all americans to put political bickering aside & "reach across the aisle" to tackle the nation's problems.

with votes counted in 75% of the nation's precincts, obama held a narrow advantage in the popular vote, leading by about 25,000 out of the more than 99 million cast. obama captured seven of the nine states where the rivals & their allies poured nearly $1 billion into dueling television commercials. as such, this was the most expensive campiagn in american history; dividing government once again.

according to organizations who track advertising, romney & republican groups spent over $550 million. obama & his allies spent over $381 million. each candidate felt the race would be decided in nine battleground states: colorado, florida, iowa, nevada, new hampshire, north carolina, ohio, virginia & wisconsin. in virginia, the polls had been closed for several minutes when obama's campaign texted a call for volunteers "to make sure everyone who's still in line gets to vote." florida still remains too close to call, but state law mandates everyone waiting is entitled to cast a ballot.  

democrats retained control of the senate with surprising ease. republicans did the same in the house, making it likely speaker john boehner of ohio - obama's partner in unsuccessful deficit talks - would reclaim his seat at the bargainig table. the election emerged as a choice between their belief in very different governmental roles: whether to occupy a major, front-row place in american lives, or, in the background as a less-obtrusive facilitator for private enterprise & entrepreneurship.

the economy was rated the top issue by about 60% of voters surveyed as they left their polling places. but more held former president george w. bush responsible for current circumstances than obama did after four years in office. unemployment stood at 7.9% on election day, higher than when obama was inaugurated. despite signs of progress, the economy is struggling amidst the worst recession in u.s. history. about 4 in 10 said the economy is on the mend, but more than that said it was stagnant or getting worse more than four years after the near-collapse of 2008.

according to exit polls, 53% of voters said obama is more in touch with people like them, compared to 43% for romney. about 60% said taxes should be increased, taking sides on an issue which divided obama & romney. obama wants to raise taxes for people making $250,000, but romney does not. in 2008, obama was elected the first black president. in 2012, romney became the first mormon to appear on a general election ballot. yet neither race nor religion dominated this campaign.

obama reiterated during his term america is recovering from the worst recession since the great depression. while he conceded progress has been slow, he accused romney of recycling outdated republican policies which help the wealthy & hurt the middle class. romney countered by saying a second obama term could mean a repeat recession in a country where economic growth is weak & unemployment is worse four years after obama took office. furthermore, romney believes his experience as a successful businessmen would help him create policies to make america healthy.

here is the state-by-state breakdown for each candidate:

barack obama - california, colorado, connecticut, delaware, district of columbia, hawaii, illinois, iowa, maine, maryland, massachusetts, michigan, minnesota, nevada, new hampshire, new jersey, new mexico, new york, oregon, pennsylvania, rhode island, vermont, virginia, washington & wisconsin.

mitt romney - arizona, arkansas, georgia, idaho, indiana, kansas, kentucky, louisiana, mississippi, missouri, nebraska, north carolina, north dakota, oklahoma, south carolina, south dakota, tennessee, texas, utah, west virginia & wyoming.     



Wednesday, October 31, 2012

California Death Row Inmate Spared Execution

a federal appeals court has overturned the death sentence of california's longest serving death row inmate, a 54 year-old mono indian man convicted in 1978 for killing a woman during a drug & alcohol fueled carjacking.

douglas stankewitz, who spent 34 years awaiting execution, will be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole unless prosecutors decide within 90 days to retry the penalty phase of his trial, which would consider punishment only - not guilt or innocence.

the decision late on monday by the ninth circuit court of appeals comes just a week before californians vote on a referendum to abolish the death penalty in their state. in 2006, a federal judge halted all executions in california, saying a three-drug lethal injection protocol risked causing inmates too much pain & suffering before death. the state revised its protocol, but executions have not resumed.

an appeals court panel, in a two-to-one decision, ruled stankewitz received ineffective legal counsel during the penalty phase of his murder trial, when he was sentenced to die. his lawyer, they wrote, failed to investigate & present evidence "including evidence of his deprived & abusive upbringing, potential mental illness, long history of substance abuse & use of substantial quantities of drugs leading up to the murder."

in a recent interview with reuters inside san quentin state prison, stankewitz called the death penalty "a joke," & described how long delays in the appeals process, coupled with ineffective counsel, had led him to spending more than three decades waiting to die. during the interview stankewitz said, "they can't kill me because the system is messed up so bad."

stankewitz suffered alcohol exposure in the womb, was removed from his home at age six after his mother beat him & bounced between foster care facilities where he was severely troubled & abused, court documents show. just 19, he & a group of friends carjacked theresa graybeal, 22, from a k-mart parking lot in modesto. they drove across rural heartland to fresno, roughly 100 miles away, where graybeal was shot & killed.      

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Wrath of Hurricane Sandy: State-by-State

from the carolinas to wisconsin, the super storm hurricane sandy is churning off the east coast & is expected to join up with two other weather systems to create a huge & problematic disaster for up to 50 million people. listed below is a snapshot of what is happening, &/or what is expected, state-by-state.

carolinas - the u.s. coast guard rescued 15 members of a crew forced to abandon a tall ship off the north carolina coast, but the captain is still missing. the hms bounty was originally built for the 1962 film, mutiny on the bounty, starring marlon brando. the hms bounty has also been featured in other films, including one of the pirates of the caribbean movies.

connecticut - the university of connecticut closes tuesday, joining hundreds of other schools & school systems across the state. the closure includes uconn's law school & the uconn health center, but the john dempsey hospital will remain open during the storm. power outages: 117,400.

delaware - dover air force base has relocated some aircraft in anticipation of the storm, & the federal emergency management agency (fema) has requested the base be used as a staging area for support & supplies. some residents of the low-lying areas of the base have been ordered to evacuate. power outages: 1,800.  

illinois - the powerful storm is expected to extend as far as chicago, where the national weather service already has issued high wind warnings & lake shore flood warning for tuesday & wednesday. water may pile up on the south shore of lake michigan, said louis uccelini, director of environmental prediction for the national oceanic & atmospheric administration.

kentucky - sandy is expected to bring snow to far southeastern kentucky. a winter storm warning is in effect for harlan, letcher & pike counties through wednesday morning. forecasters say snow could accumulate four to ten inches in high elevations & one to three inches in lower elevations.

maine - virtually all maine public schools opened monday but some closed early before the heaviest rain & wind. state officials say the biggest concern is wind, which is expected to cause widespread power outages. the state's utilities say they have crews poised to deal with expected power outages, including some from canada. power outages: 26,000.

maryland - baltimore mayor stephanie rawlings-blake says vehicular travel is banned on city roads beginning at 6:00 pm monday. the restrictions do not apply to hospital employees, medical providers or uniformed personnel. governor martin o'malley earlier monday closed the bay bridge.

massachusetts - voluntary evacuation recommendations have been issued in lynn, new bedford, plum island & scituate. the recommendations are for just certain sections of the communities that could be affected by flooding. a red cross spokeswoman said just a few people stayed at its shelters sunday night, but she expects more people monday night & into tuesday. power outages: 222,000.

michigan - michigan utilities say high winds could cause power outages in the state & they're keeping an eye on the weather to respond to power problems. dte energy company said gusts of 50 mph monday & into tuesday could affect some of its 2.1 million customers.

new hampshire - governor john lynch has urged all drivers to be off the roads by 3:00 pm. lynch declared a state of emergency & directed non-essential state workers to be released from work monday afternoon. he also urged other employers to consider releasing their workers early. the governor has put 100 new hampshire guard soldiers on active duty. power outages: 99,000.

new jersey - all roads into & out of ocean city are closed due to flooding that has cut off the popular jersey shore resort community. hurricane sandy already had flooded most of atlantic city, sweeping away an old section of the city's famed boardwalk. power outages: 434,000.

new york - mayor michael bloomberg said the city's public schools will remain closed on tuesday after being shut down monday. earlier, governor andrew cuomo said the brooklyn-battery tunnel & holland tunnel would close at 2:00 pm monday. airports in the metropolitan new york city area are open, but air carriers are not operating. power outages: 451,967.

ohio - residents of low-lying areas & along lake erie were told to watch for flooding. utilities are anticipating high winds that could blow down trees & poles. snow is fore casted in some areas.

pennsylvania - officials from the state transit agency & the pennsylvania turnpike have instituted speed restrictions over concerns about high winds. they've also ordered certain vehicles, including empty trucks & motorcycles, off some highways. the national weather service says southeastern pennsylvania could get winds reaching 75 mph & rainfall up to 10 inches. power outages: 74,000.

rhode island - officials are concerned about wind driving water north up narrangansett bay, which could create flooding in low-lying areas of the upper bay, including cranston, providence & warwick. about 2,600 national grid customers were without power, mostly in barrington & other parts of bristol county. power outages: 80,000.

tennessee - snow is expected in higher elevations, where a freeze warning has been issued. high winds are expected in many areas.

vermont - governor peter shumlin declared a state of emergency to provide access to national guard troops in a state still recovering from the devastating effects of the remnants of hurricane irene. culverts & storm drainage basins in some spots have been cleared of debris. power outages: 13,170.

virginia - a curfew is in place on virginia's swamped chincoteague island. officials say the entire 37-square mile island is underwater, & there is no way off the island because a causeway to the mainland has been closed. the 3,500 islanders who decided to tough out sandy have been told to keep off the streets. power outages: 9,500.

washington, d.c. - taxis originating in washington are authorized to add an emergency flat rate of $15 per trip because of the hurricane, starting monday. the price is supposed to expire at noon tuesday, but can be extended if considered necessary. the capital's area transit system shut down rail service for the first time since 2003. power outages: 2,300.

west virginia - governor earl ray tombin declared a state of emergency monday. sandy is expected to bring high winds & heavy rains & leave behind flooded towns & as much as three feet of snow on the state's highest ridge tops. eastern parts of the state can expect to get up to six inches of rain. 14 counties are under blizzard warnings.

wisconsin - with waves expected to reach as high as 33 feet tuesday on lake michigan, the port of milwaukee is taking steps to protect its boats & docks. the hurricane is expected to create dangerous conditions on the great lakes. the national weather service issued gale & storm warnings for the lakes through wednesday.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Alabama Constitution: Amendment Four Vote Could Amend Segregationist History

legal segregation ended decades ago in alabama. sadly, civil rights workers & community rights activists suffered the wrath of fire hoses, police dogs & racism in the early 60's. but segregation is still mandated by the state's constitution; voters on november 6 will get their second chance in recent years to eliminate an anachronism that still exists on paper.

amendment four - the proposal to delete the constitution's archaic language affirming segregation - is tucked amid routine issues of bonds, city boundaries & sewers on a crowded election day ballot. in 2004 the state narrowly voted to keep the outdated & racially controversial language, which brought national ridicule upon itself.

ironically, alabama's two largest black political groups are opposed. they say the proposed changes would erase some of the polarizing text, but would retain segregation-era language saying there is no constitutional right to a public education. also, the state's main teachers' group back them in a "no" vote. supporters of amendment four say it's time to shed the last reminders of an era of discrimination & project a more welcoming image of a modern state eager to draw companies & jobs to alabama.

the people of alabama were not reluctant to amend the 111-year old constitution in the past. in fact, they've approved more than 800 amendments in their history, making theirs the nation's longest state constitution. it is now four times longer than the average constitution & on november 6 alabama could get 30 more amendments added to its heft.

but making changes involving segregationist language often is vexing difficult. for example, the u.s. supreme court declared anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional in 1967. however, it wasn't until 2000 when alabama voters removed the state constitution's ban on interracial marriage. even still, 40 percent of the people voted to keep the controversial ban. 

today, black groups are leading the opposition to change. the alabama democratic conference & the alabama new south alliance say the change, backed largely by white republicans with a pro-business approach, looks like a "feel good" change but is not. said black democratic senator hank sanders of selma, a new south founder, "it is a wolf in sheep's clothing. it seems so good but is so bad."

amendment four would excise antiquated language regarding poll taxes & separate schools many people consider to be racist in origin. nonetheless, critics say the language being proposed in the amendment as a substitute undermines funding for public education by reaffirming there is no right to a public education at taxpayers' expense in alabama.

alabama's constitution once provided for "a liberal system of public schools throughout the state for the benefit of the children." but after the u.s. supreme court banned school segregation in 1954, folks' attitudes changed. irate alabama citizens voted in 1956 to amend the constitution & subsequently thwart the prospects of societal integration.

republican state senator arthur orr of decatur - amendment four's sponsor - said he knows other states have used the racist language against alabama when competing for industries. said orr, "it's important symbolically to send a message to our sister states & to the world that alabama is a different place than it was 50 years ago."

orr's proposal drew support from republican governor robert bentley, alabama's chief recruiter for new industry. alabama has had success in recent years luring major industries, including an airbus assembly plant for mobile, & securing expansions at its auto assembly plants. also, the governor vowed not to take a salary until the state's 8.3 percent unemployment rate dropped to 5.2 percent.

no black members of the legislature voted for orr's proposal last year when lawmakers decided to put it on the november 6 ballot. sanders & joe reed, chairman of the alabama democratic conference, said no one pays attention to the school segregation & poll tax language because it has been effectively dead for 50 years. they said removing it is not worth the cost of restating there is no right to a public education.

the alabama education association (aea) saw public education funding drop more than $1 billion in the past five years. class sizes increased, some school revenue shifted to non-education functions of government & teaching positions were cut. they worry if voters reiterate there is no right to a public education, a cash-strapped legislature will move even more money away from public schools to other functions. aea attorney bobby segall said, "it has all kinds of implications in the future for the diversion of education funds & for the funding of education generally."

orr sought to word the amendment by seeking to strip harmful language on segregation without entangling himself in the tax issue. said orr, "in 2004, alabama took a black eye because the amendment was voted down...what they heard outside the state is alabama votes to reaffirm its commitment to segregationist language & poll taxes. they didn't understand the argument over the full potential for increased property taxes."

retired university of alabama law professor martha morgan, an expert on alabama's constitution, says voting"no" on november 6 is likely to give the state another black eye. morgan said," it's better to get a black eye than to inflict a mortal wound to public education by taking away the right to public education." no matter the outcome, the issue could divide alabama again next year. othni lathram, director of the alabama law institute, said a state commission working on updating alabama's constitution is already scheduled to take up the document's education provisions in 2013.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Athletes Endorse Presidential Candidates

its less than three weeks before the increasingly contentious presidential election. tonight is the third in a series of debates between president barack obama & republican nominee mitt romney. a number of high-profile athletes have publicly endorsed their candidate for u.s. president. listed below are these individuals & the man they want inaugurated in the white house january 20, 2013:

president barack obama

muhammad ali, boxing legend. carmelo anthony, new york knicks all-star forward. victor cruz, new york giants all-pro wide receiver. gabby douglas, 2012 olympic gold medalist, all-around gymnastics. grant hill, los angeles clippers forward. 

lebron james, miami heat all-star forward. derek jeter, new york yankees all-star shortstop. magic johnson, part owner, los angeles dodgers. michael jordan, minority owner, charlotte bobcats. floyd mayweather, five-division world boxing champion.

mitt romney

greg anthony, basketball analyst, cbs, nba tv & tnt. chris dudley, 14-year nba veteran. john elway, executive vp of football operations, denver broncos. rowdy gaines, three-time olympic gold medal swimmer. dorothy hamill, olympic gold medalist, figure skating.

hulk hogan, 12-time world champion wrestler. vince mcmahon, world wrestling entertainment chairman. jack nicklaus, 14-time major golf champion. kim rhode, olympic skeet shooting champion. kristi yamaguchi, olympic gold medalist, figure skating. 

Indiana Fever Win FIrst WNBA Title

the indiana fever defeated the minnesota lynx 87-78 to win their first wnba championship title before a raucous sellout home crowd in indianapolis, indiana. the fever won the best of five series three games to one in a brilliant display of team defense, offensive rebounding & clutch shooting. the defending champion lynx sought to become the first team to repeat since los angeles in 2001 & 2002.

first-team all-star forward tamika catchings led four fever women who scored in double figures. catchings was named most valuable player of the finals, averaging almost 25 points per game. the 2011 wnba mvp & 2012 wnba defensive player of the year added the one caveat missing from her illustrious basketball resume. "when you come into this league, your goal & dream is to win a wnba championship...twelve years later, it's so sweet right now," said catchings.

catchings had won three olympic gold medals & an ncaa championship at tennessee in 1988, but never a wnba crown. her fever team lost to the phoenix mercury in 2009, despite being up two games to one. this time, she had her father in the crowd cheering her on - along with legendary volunteers coach pat summit. fever no. 2 scorer katie douglas missed most of the series with a severely sprained knee, but with 3.2 seconds left in the game, she checked in to a loud ovation.

indiana held minnesota below 40 percent field goal shooting in all three of their wins. lynx all-star point guard lindsey whalen said, "they played tough defense. they contested shots & they made it tough for us to get in the lane a little bit. i think that was the theme of the whole series. they were just tough & give them credit for the way they played."

seimone augustus, minnesota's all-star guard & leading scorer in the playoffs, was held to eight points on just 3-of-21 shooting from the floor sunday. augustus shot 6-for-30 in the last two games of the series after the fever switched guard briann january over to guard her. catchings said january, who was on the wnba first team all-defense squad, did her job. "she set the tone...all her (augustus') baskets were hard...she used up all her energy in the first quarter," said catchings.

whalen scored 22 points & dished out eight assists. ironically, the lynx were 25-0 this year when whalen had seven or more assists in a game. lynx all-star forward maya moore - 2011 wnba rookie-of-the-year - finished with 16 points. said the lynx's fiery coach cheryl reeve, "it was hard being the hunted, as we all know. there's a reason this hasn't been done in over ten years. i really felt like if there was a team that could do it, it was our team."

fever guard erin phillips scored 18 points, while teammates shavonte zellous & january had 15 points each. said zellous, "coming into halftime, we said we have 20 minutes & we're not going back to minnesota to close this thing out." phillips said, "they made some huge runs at us & gave it everything at us & i'm just relieved more than anything because we deserve this. we've been through so much as a team, we've lost in crucial times & we've stuck together. i'm just so proud right now."

Monday, October 08, 2012

WNBA 2012 Year-End Awards

the 2012 women's national basketball association (wnba) is currently in post-season mode. each year, before the champion is duly crowned, the wnba recognizes individuals for their worthy accomplishments. this year's recipients are as follows:

most valuable player - tina charles, connecticut sun.
defensive player of the year - tamika catchings, indiana fever.
sixth woman of the year - renee montgomery, connecticut sun.
most improved player - kristi toliver, los angeles sparks.
rookie of the year - nneka ogwumike, los angeles spatks.
coach of the year - carol ross, los angeles sparks.  

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Tigers' Miguel Cabrera Wins Triple Crown

miguel cabrera of the detroit tigers achieved a milestone in baseball yesterday. cabrera won the triple crown, finishing the season with 44 home runs, 139 runs batted in, while hitting .330. he is the first player since carl yastrzemski of the boston red sox in 1967 to accomplish such an extraordinary feat. in fact, of the nearly 18,000 men who've played major league baseball, only 12 have won a triple crown.  

in the fourth inning of the tigers final regular season game against the kansas city royals in kansas city, cabrera was pulled from his third base position by tigers manager jim leyland. the royals fans stood in unison as cabrera walked slowly to the dugout & tipped his cap in appreciation. he was 0-for-2 in the game, but nobody cared. they were witnessing history & the fans shared their admiration & respect - even for an opposing player. 

during the month of august cabrera hit 18 home runs with 51 runs batted in. media pundits began to consider baseball history. but 45 years had passed since yaz' remarkable season & the likely hood of cabrera's success was steadily challenged by the angels' mike trout for the batting crown & the rangers' josh hamilton for the home run crown. also, he'd entered the royals series in a slump, hitting .200 with one homer in seven games.

cabrera took the home run lead from rangers center fielder hamilton with a blistering right field shot on monday. he went 4-for-5 that day. tuesday cabrera was 2-for-3, distancing himself in the batting race between him & angels rookie phenom trout, whom some consider his greatest threat for the american league most valuable player race.

"right now, i don't know how to explain it...it was hard the last two weeks because everybody talked about that...it was kind of hard to focus...kind of hard to go out there...right now, it's an unbelievable feeling. wow," said cabrera. tigers catcher alex avila said, "this is one of the greatest things ever achieved. i had chills today once it happened. we probably won't ever see this again. it's been 45 years & it's gotten harder & harder." said leyland, "this is history."

cabrera joins hall of famers like ty cobb, rogers hornsby, jimmie foxx, ted williams, mickey mantle & frank robinson with his triple crown deed. said yastrzemski, "i am glad that he accomplished this while leading his team to the american league central title." said robinson, "miguel has been outstanding all year long, by coming to play every day, showing his discipline at the plate & making the most of his great talent."     

Saturday, September 29, 2012

U.S. Supreme Court To Hear Affirmative Action Challenge Of White Female Student

on october 10, the u.s. supreme court will hear fisher v. university of texas, no. 11-345, a major challenge to affirmative action in higher education. the case was brought by abigail fisher, a white woman who says she was denied admission to the university of texas based on her race. the university selects parts of its class by taking race into account, as one factor among many, in an effort to ensure educational diversity.

nine years ago the court endorsed that university's approach in a five-to-four vote. the majority opinion in the case, grutter v. bollinger, was written by justice sandra day o'connor. in fact, she said she expected it to last for a quarter of a century. but o'connor retired in 2006.

o'connor was succeeded by justice samuel a. alito, jr., a president george w. bush appointee who consistently votes to limit race-conscious decision-making by the government. chief justice john g. roberts, jr., another bush appointee, has made no secret of his distaste for what he calls,"a sordid business, this divvying us up by race."

justices anthony kennedy, antonin scalia & clarence thomas all dissented in the grutter case, which suggests there now may be five votes to limit or overturn it. the aim of such a decision may depend on the intricacies of the admissions system in texas. the university provides automatic admission to students in texas who graduate in roughly the top ten percent of their high school classes. their system generates diversity, partly because many texas high schools remain racially homogeneous.

ms. fisher narrowly missed the cutoff at a high school whose students have above-average test scores for the state. she was rejected for one of the remaining spots under the part of the admissions program considering applicants' race. the court may uphold the texas system under grutter, or it may rule against it by saying, for instance, race-conscious admissions are forbidden where a race-neutral method - like the ten percent program - can said to be working fairly.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Colonoscopy 101

last wednesday morning i had a colonoscopy. first time. the procedure was unpleasant yet worthwhile. they were supposed to anesthetize me - but didn't. or, should i just say, whatever local medication they injected me with refused to do the job. i felt the black snake inside me. my stomach was in knots. i wanted to ask my male doctor, "before you hit it, can we get to know each other better? how about dinner & a movie? a little foreplay..."

so i'm making light of a dark situation. but that's who i be.

the preparation was horrible. tuesday, i had to drink a gallon of water mixed with a chemical which has too many syllables to pronounce, much less remember. every 15 minutes i had to drink a glass of this stuff, which kinda tasted like salt & alka seltzer. my doctor told me it would taste like gatorade. she lied. that shit was nasty. p-funk. the bomb.

after a couple of hours my head started to spin. my equilibrium was unbalanced. my stomach was nauseated. i began to vomit as i sat on the toilet releasing liquid waste. i felt like linda blair. unplugged. i called a female friend who has more health issues than myself. she assured me the drink was the hard part & everything else would be was a piece of cake. uh, okay, i guess. 

around 10 pm i began to experience slight emotional relief. i called another friend. a guy. why? because i value balance in my relationships. we laughed at the absurdity of it all. his compassion was comforting. other friends, diverse men & women, told me what to expect before the procedure. i appreciate their support, primarily because it came from their personal experience with having a colonoscopy themselves. some more than one.

more than once? oh mah goodness....

to my delight & surprise, i woke up spiritually refreshed wednesday morning. in fact, i was pleased at how i felt before undergoing the unknown. but i serve a loving god. his wisdom is infinitely better than my own. as such, i was unafraid of the outcome. they told me i had some internal hemorrhoids. most importantly, no cancer was found! i don't have to do another colonoscopy in 7-10 years.

in the immortal words of madea, "ha-le-loo-yer."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pennsylvania Set To Execute Death Row Sexual Assault Victim

unless the state's board of pardons prevents it, pennsylvania will execute terrance "terry" williams, 46, by lethal injection. williams is on death row for the 1984 murder of amos norwood, who sexually abused wlliams as a child. months earlier, williams had killed another man who also raped him. governor tom corbett set an execution date of october 3, which would make williams the first person put to death in the state in 13 years.

prosecutors characterized williams as a serial killer, but the jurors never heard evidence of the years of horrific abuse he suffered from older men. child advocates, judges, prosecutors, the jurors who found him guilty & the victim's wife say he should not die. additionally, over 345,000 people have signed a petition on colorofchange.org to grant him clemency. a similar viral show of support for a death row inmate was given to troy davis a year ago.

terry williams' case has exposed the inherent flaws in the precarious administration of the death penalty, while acting as a catalyst in the push for a death penalty moratorium in the keystone state. williams could become the first non-volunteer execution since 1978. all three of those who were executed since the u.s. supreme court reinstated the death penalty waived their remaining appeals.

barely 18, williams killed norwood, 56, with a tire iron, set him on fire & left him in a cemetery. at age 17, he killed herbert hamilton, 50, by cutting his throat with a knife, for which he received 27 years. but the jury in his capital murder case didn't know norwood, a church leader, sexually abused him from the age of 13 & raped him until he bled the previous night. also, williams endured poor legal representation. his new attorneys argue prosecutors knew about the abuse, but told williams' co-defendant, marc draper, to testify robbery was the motive for the killing.

sadly, williams' life began in tragedy. he was brutally beaten by his mother & alcoholic stepfather with belts, extension cords, fists & switches. at age 6, he was raped by an older boy in the neighborhood. in middle school a teacher repeatedly raped him. when a robbery landed him in juvenile detention, he was gang raped by two older boys. as a teenager, williams was sexually exploited by older men - in exchange for clothes, food, money & other gifts.

although williams suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the ongoing violence he experienced, he received no mental health treatment or counseling. williams used alcohol & other drugs to self-medicate, as well as self-mutilation & suicide attempts to deal with his pain. eventually, he fatally attacked two of his abusers.

five of the jurors who sentenced williams say they were unaware of his long history of sexual abuse. they said this information would have influenced their decision. furthermore, a number of jurors say they want a life sentence for williams, rather than death. moreover, the jurors were not instructed life sentences means life without parole. pennsylvania is the only state where such an instruction is not required.

"the reason that i opted for the death sentence was because i was under the impression that if we sentenced terry williams to life in prison then he could get out on parole," said one of the jurors. "if i had known that a life sentence meant life without parole, i personally would have voted for a life sentence & i think other people probably would have voted for life too," the juror said. mamie norwood, the widow of amos norwood, says the execution goes against her christian beliefs & she has forgiven williams.

meanwhile, dozens of child advocates, former judges & prosecutors, law professors, mental health professionals & religious leaders, including the archbishop of philadelphia, have publicly demanded a commutation of terry williams' impending death sentence. they join a host of human rights organizations & the european union in calling for williams' clemency.

the williams case is front & center in the national consciousness, primarily due to two recent high-profile sex abuse scandals in pennsylvania. jerry sandusky, a former assistant coach at penn state university, was convicted of sexually abusing young boys. a scathing report from former fbi director louis frech found university officials failed to intervene & protect children. 

ironically, the archbishop of philadelphia - despite his support of williams - is under fire for providing cover to men of the cloth who abuse kids. monsignor william j. lynn, former secretary clergy for the archdiocese of philadelphia, was recently found guilty of endangering children & protecting predatory priests from the law. lynn was sentenced three to six years.

with 216 people condemned to death, pennsylvania has the fourth largest death row population in america, behind california, florida & texas. alabama is in fifth place. according to the death penalty information center, 61% of death row inmates in the keystone state are african-american, 30% are white & eight percent are latinjo. yet, the 2010 census states blacks are only 11% of the state's total population. also, six pennsylvania inmates have been released from death row due to evidence of innocence, of the 140 such inmates across the nation.

a study commissioned by the pennsylvania supreme court found pay for court-appointed criminal defense lawyers in philadelphia is "grossly inadequate" & "unacceptably increases the risk of ineffective assistance of counsel in individual cases & is primarily responsible for the first judicial district's growing inability to attract a sufficient number of qualified attorneys willing to accept court appointments in capital cases."

marc bookman of the atlantic center for capital representation wrote, "court appointed lawyers in philadelphia rarely visit their clients much, seldom file motions on their behalf & never use a jury questionnaire." he also said, "this is not a technical issue...death sentence after death sentence has been reversed based on the quality of legal defense in philadelphia."

in light of these problems & the scheduled execution date, a bipartisan state senate commission wrote a letter to governor corbett calling for a postponement of all executions until it completes its study on the effectiveness of the death penalty. the commission will release its findings, which will discuss the cost, fairness, impact & proportionality of the death penalty, in 2013.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Serena Williams & Andy Murray Win U.S. Open Singles Titles

serena williams defeated world #1 victoria azarenka of belarus, 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 to win her fourth u.s. open women's singles crown. the 30 year-old african-american now has 15 major singles titles. as williams thoroughly dominated the first set, cbs commentator & international hall of famer john mcenroe called her the greatest female women's tennis player in history.

but williams had to withstand a furious comeback by her opponent, the 2012 australian open champion. the 23 year-old azarenka began the year with a 26-match win streak. she is dominant on hard courts - her favorite surface - & felt confident going into the final, despite her 1-9 record against williams, who first won the u.s. open as a 17 year-old teenager in 1999.

azarenka's competitive spirit & punishing ground strokes gave her an edge. in the past she would fold under duress but her mental toughness is now an asset. after winning the second set 6-2, she broke williams twice & led 5-3 in the final set. down match point on azarenka's serve in game eight, williams broke back & continued to fight like a champion. when azarenka's backhand sailed out, she hit the ground in amazement, smiling at her latest accomplishment.

andy murray of britain defeated world #1 novak djokovic of serbia, 7-6 (12-10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 to win his first major singles title. murray sunk to his knees after the last point, letting tears of joy freely as he became the first brit since fred perry in 1936 to emerge victorious in a major men's singles championship. previously, murray was 0-4 in major final matches.

the hard-fought & highly contested match lasted four hours & 54 minutes, tying a record for the longest u.s. open men's singles final, set in 1988, when mats wilander defeated ivan lendl. ironically, lendl serves as murray's new coach. the first set was nearly 90 minutes. but the tiebreaker lasted almost 25 minutes, setting a record for the longest tiebreaker in u.s. open men's singles finals history.

both players gave a tremendous effort with brilliant shot making from all parts of the court. their back court rallies were long & punishing - one lasted 54 shots in total. murray was up 4-0 in the second set & seemed destined for a straight set victory. undaunted by murray's fine play, djokovic, the defending champion, roared back to tie the match at two sets all. but murray's perseverance was too much for djokovic. he held serve in game eight, to finally win a major singles title.   

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

First Lady Michelle Obama Electrifies DNC

the democratic national convention is taking place in charlotte, north carolina this week, following the republican national convention which was held in tampa, florida. last night, before 20,000 people diverse in age, culture, faith, gender & orientation - unlike the gop contingent - first lady michelle obama electrified the audience with a brilliantly moving testimony to her husband, family & nation.

her message was simple: president barack obama is just like you. "barack knows the american dream because he's lived it," she said. the first lady tried to reassure voters her husband shares their values of faith, hard work, perseverance & sacrifice. as such, she drew a stark contrast between obama & gop nominee mitt romney, although she never mentioned his name in her powerful speech.

first lady michelle obama reminded folks of their tough times together as a couple when "we were so young, so in love, so in debt...our combined monthly student loans was more than our mortgage," said the first lady. the comment drew laughter from the packed house. mrs. obama said her husband got his favorite coffee table from a dumpster & sometimes wore dress shoes a size too small.

with a mix of personal anecdotes & policy talk, the first lady's speech was her most poignantly political to date. said the first lady, "today, after so many struggles & triumphs & moments that have tested my husband in ways i never could have imagined, i have seen first hand that being president doesn't change who you are - it reveals who you are."

she painted a portrait of a leader who knows first hand the struggles of everyday americans who listen to them with compassion & empathy as president, while he also tries to keep their best interests at heart & in mind. said mrs. obama, "that's the man i see in those quiet moments late at night, hunched over his desk, poring over the letters people have sent him...i see the concern in his eyes & i hear the determination in his voice as he tells me, "you won't believe what these folks are going through michelle, it's not right, we've got to keep working to fix this. we've got more work to do."

the first lady sought to counter republicans trying to depict obama as something other than a typical american, while implying romney can't relate to people burdened with a recessive economy. yet neither obama nor romney live like the average working-class american who struggles daily with credit card debt, health care costs & mortgage payments. both men are millionaires who have access to power, privilege & resources few americans will ever experience.

as she stood in the center of the convention's blue-carpeted stage rocking a bright pink dress, mrs. obama's words spoke to the core contrast between the democratic party platform & the republican party platform. democrats say the president is pushing policies to boost the middle class, while romney wants to protect the wealthy & hope their success trickles down. the crowd roared with chants of "four more years."

mrs. obama delved more deeply into the details of her husband's policies than in any of her previous speeches, demonstrating her courage, growth & integrity. the first lady promoted signing of the lily ledbetter act giving women equal work for equal pay, his health care overhaul, push for tax cuts among middle incomer earners & the auto bailout he engineered early on in his presidency. she said, "in the end, for barack, these issues aren't political, they're personal."

the first lady is the most popular figure in this year's presidential campaign. in fact, she earns higher favor ability ratings than the commander-in-chief, his republican rival, the other contender for first lady, or either candidate for the vice presidency. according to the latest associated press-gfk poll, 64% of americans said they had a favorable view of mrs. obama, compared to 53% for the president.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bloomberg Wants To Ban Beverages

mayor michael bloomberg is proposing to ban sales of sugar-sweetened beverages over 16 ounces in new york city. while new yorkers would be limited to 16-ounce beverages, they would still be able to indulge in other high calorie items.

this restriction will cover everything from coffee drinks, juice drinks, soft drinks, sports drinks & teas. furthermore, bottled & fountain beverages over 16 ounces could no longer be sold in coffee shops, food trucks, movie theaters, restaurants, sports venues & street carts.

according to the mayor, new yorkers need help deciding what size beverage is appropriate. but beverage restrictions don't make people healthy - commitment, discipline, exercise, nutrition & responsibility do. solving the complex problems of diabetes & obesity starts with giving people more choices, not fewer choices.

visit NYCBeverageChoices.com for more information.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Gunmen Dead, Others wounded during shooting near Empire State Building

a disgruntled laid-off women's accessories designer shot a former co-worker to death in front of the empire state building yesterday. the incident took place just after 9:00 am, causing a chaotic showdown with police, who killed the suspect. at least nine others were wounded, some possibly by police gunfire, city officials said.

some of the wounded were grazed by bullets & others hit directly, but all were expected to survive, officials said. the gunshots rang out on the fifth avenue side of the building at a time of day when the sidewalks are packed with consumers, employees, merchants, students & tourists. after the shootout, 34th street between park avenue & sixth avenue was shut down. police helicopters buzzed overhead & swarms of officers gathered around the tragic crime scene.

jeffrey johnson, 53, was laid-off a year ago at hassan imports. he confronted a 41 year-old former colleague & shot him in the head, police commissioner ray kelly said. apparently, the two had traded accusations of harassment when johnson worked there. johnson walked away after shooting him, but a construction worker who witnessed the encounter followed johnson & alerted police, officials said.

johnson then turned his .45 caliber pistol on the two officers & they traded gunfire, killing johnson. although it's not clear how many shots johnson fired at the officers, they fired a total of 14 shots, some of which wounded people nearby. johnson worked at the company almost six years & was laid-off because due to downsizing.

"we were just working here & we heard bang, bang, bang!", said mohammed bachchu, 22, of queens, a worker at a nearby souvenir shop. he rushed from the building & saw seven people lying on the ground, covered in blood. another queens resident, rebecca fox, 27, said she people running down the street & initially thought it was a celebrity sighting, but then saw a woman shot in the foot & a man dead on the ground.

said fox, "i was scared & shocked & literally shaking...it was like csi, but it was real." she said police seemed to appear in seconds. hassam cissa, 22, of the bronx, said he saw two bodies on the ground & police applying a white cloth to a man's stomach wound. gunshots outside one of new york's leading tourist attractions prompted fears of terrorism, but federal officials said that wasn't the case. a guard at skyscraper said it didn't involve the parts of the building where tourists gather to visit the skyscraper.

the gunfire came less than two weeks after a knife-wielding man was shot dead by police near times square, another popular tourist site. authorities said police shot 51 year-old darrius kennedy after he lunged at officers with a kitchen knife august 12. kennedy was smoking marijuana in times square on a saturday afternoon when officers first approached him. it was the beginning of an encounter stretching seven crowded blocks.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Armed Washington Man Arrested in alleged threat against President Obama

the secret service on tuesday arrested a washington state man accused of making an e-mail threat against president barack obama & brandishing a shotgun at officers who came to his door. anton calouri, 31, was arrested at an apartment in this south seattle suburb for investigation of making threats against the commander-in-chief & assault on a federal officer, said brian leary, a secret service spokesman in washington, d.c.

u.s. attorney spokeswoman emily langlie said the threat was sent to a general purpose federal bureau of investigation (fbi) e-mail address. the fbi then notified the secret service, said leary. he refused to discuss the nature of the threat but federal way spokeswoman cathy schrock said she understood it was a threat to kill the president.    

a secret service agent & a federal way police officer went to an apartment in a four-plex at the panther ridge apartments, knocked & announced themselves for about three minutes. they faced a man armed with a shotgun when the door opened. "the shotgun was coming up to point in the direction of the agents...the two officers were able to close in & take control of the weapon before anyone was harmed," said schrock. the officers also seized a gun in the man's ankle holster.

because the resident made statements about explosive devices in the apartment, the federal way bomb squad was called to evacuate the four-plex & sweep it for explosives; but none were found said schrock. a woman who identified herself as renee - calouri's mother - told a local tv station at the apartment scene, "i don't know a whole lot...how would you feel if your son got arrested? never got arrested, was in the military, has a college education. and i'm just a little bit upset & shocked."

schrock said she understood calouri's mother lived in her son's apartment. the spokeswoman said the mother was allowed back in their apartment briefly to get some personal belongings. her location was not known tuesday night. federal agents began searching the unit after the all-clear tuesday evening concern for explosives. calouiri was scheduled to appear in court wednesday at 2:00 pm.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Misdiagnosed Patient Settles $20 Million Suit For Wrongful HIV-Positive Test

in 2005, terry hedgepeth sued whitman-walker clinic in washington, d.c. because it mistakenly told him five years earlier he was hiv-positive. a seven year court battle ended this week when the clinic quietly settled for $20 million. on tuesday, just a week before the case was scheduled for trial in d.c. superior court, an agreement was reached. details of the settlement were not disclosed.

"we are happy to settle the case amicably," said don blanchon, whitman-walker's chief executive. he would not comment further on the case. hedgepeth's attorney, johnathan c. dailey, said "the case was resolved amicably" & also declined to further discuss the agreement. but dailey added the agreement came a year after the d.c. court of appeals unanimously ruled (in the case) medical patients who are given incorrect information from their doctors about a life-threatening illness can seek legal recourse for emotional distress.

said dailey, "we changed 25 years of law. now if a doctor misreads information, a patient can sue for negligent emotional distress." dailey said his client, now 59 years old, married & living in the maryland suburbs, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder because of the misdiagnosis. "the effects of those five years have not worn off completely," dailey said.

according to court records & interviews with dailey, hedgepeth went to whitman-walker after his then, girlfriend, with whom he'd been sexually active, told him she has aids & feared she'd infected him. a clinic employee mistakenly wrote in hedgepeth's files he'd taken two tests at the clinic & one of them was positive. later, a clinic doctor failed to carefully review his chart & began counseling him about the virus.

during the next four years no further blood tests were done; hedgepeth continued to believe he was hiv-positive. as such, he became depressed, according to the court records, quit his job as a caterer, began using alcohol & other drugs, while twice committed to psychiatric wards because of recurring suicidal thoughts. 

hedgepeth was monitored at whitman-walker but never medically treated for the virus. the clinic also arranged for him to live in a facility with hiv-positive people. in june 2005, he sought alternative treatment from the abundant life clinic in southeast washington. the clinic conducted a routine blood test & discovered he was not hiv-positive. a month later, hedgepeth was referred to johns hopkins bayview medical center to take a follow-up test which confirmed his hiv-negative status.

in august 2005, hedgepeth sued whitman-walker for medical negligence. one year later, d.c. superior court judge robert e. morin dismissed the case. in 2009, three judges on the d.c. court of appeals agreed with morin's decision, saying hedgepeth was not physically harmed by the misdiagnosis, noting he'd not been prescribed hiv medication which caused any side effects.

hedgepeth & his attorney petitioned for all 10 of the d.c. appellate judges to review the case in 2009. last year, the judges reversed the lower court's decision, finding the case should move forward because serious emotional distress could result from a doctor's negligence. the ruling finally gave hedgepeth a chance to be heard by a jury. on tuesday, as both sides were preparing for trial, they resolved the provocative case.

although dailey believes the appellate judges' decision gives people misdiagnosed with deadly diseases grounds for such lawsuits, his victory is not universally accepted. catherine hanssens, executive director of the center for hiv law & policy in new york, said courts & juries realize doctors make mistakes. "many people who find out they are not hiv-positive view it as good news - they don't run out & get a lawyer...doctors are not infallible & patients have to realize doctors don't & should not have the last say in their health.," said hanssens. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Felix Hernandez Throws Perfect Game

felix hernandez pitched the seattle mariners' first perfect game & the 23rd in baseball history, overpowering the tampa bay rays in a brilliant 1-0 victory wednesday afternoon. the 2010 cy young award winner has never hid his desire for pitching perfection. for a franchise on its way to 11 straight seasons without a playoff appearance, hernandez is the one constant keeping fans interested in mariners baseball.

"it was always on my mind, every game, i need to throw a perfect game. for every pitcher i think it's in their mind," said hernandez after reflecting on his historic achievement. "today it happened & it's something special. i don't have any words to explain this. this is pretty amazing. this doesn't happen every day," said the talented right-hander.

hernandez is revered in the pacific northwest, not only for his magnanimous performances on the mound, but for his willingness to stay in one of the smaller market cities. although he could easily have waited & sought a bigger payday with, perhaps, the angels, rangers or yankees, king felix humbly signed an extension two years ago which will keep him a happy seattle mariner through 2014.

riding down in a crowded elevator after the game, seattle general manager jack zduriencik jokingly held his cellphone to his ear & said, "no, we're not trading felix." mariners catcher john saso said, "it almost seems like a matter of time before this happens...a little dribbler here or something it's ruined, but his competitive attitude & competitive mind he brings out to the mound each time he pitches, you know you have a guy out there who's going to give you a chance to win."

hernandez threw the third perfect game in baseball this season - a first in mlb history - joining gems by philip humber of the chicago white sox against the mariners in april, along with matt latos of the san francisco giants against the houston astros in june. more than half of all perfect games, 12, have come in the last 25 seasons.

this was also the sixth no-hitter in the majors this season, three of them at safeco field. on june 8 six mariner pitchers held the los angeles dodgers hitless in seattle. there have been seven no-hitters in a season twice since 1900. the first time was in 1990, then again the following year, with nolan ryan throwing two of them.

hernandez's dominance got stronger as the game progressed. he cruised for five innings, then pitched through tough at-bats, delay tactics & mounting pressure of perfection to close out the gem. hernandez fanned 12 batters, including eight in the final four innings. he struck out the side in the sixth, did it again in the eighth, while clocking 95 mph in the ninth.

two starts earlier against the yankees, hernandez tossed a two-hit shutout, which seattle manager eric wedge called the finest outing he's ever seen from his all-star pitcher. "it was special. he had special stuff," said wedge. "but felix is so consistently good that when he does take it up to another level, which we've seen him do through the course of the year, you never know how it's going to turn out," wedge said.

hernandez has now struck out 10 or more batters in a game for the fifth time this season. most of his outs were on the infield. there were only five fly ball outs. after another outstanding game his battery mate saso said, "you could throw any lineup out there today & it's close to the same result." his record is now 11-5 for the year.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Judge Won't Halt Pennsylvania Voter ID Law

a pennsylvania judge on wednesday refused to stop a tough new voter identification law from going into effect. commonwealth court judge robert simpson said he wouldn't grant an injunction halting the law requiring voters to show valid photo identification. opponents are expected to file an appeal within a day or two to the state supreme court.

the republican-penned law has ignited a furious debate over voting rights as pennsylvania is poised to play a key role in the november 6 presidential election. republicans defend the law as necessary to protect the integrity of the election. but democrats say the law will hinder college students, elders, poor folk & historically disenfranchised (blacks, latinos, i.e.) americans from fair voting practices.

"we're not done, it's not over," said witold j. walczak, an american civil liberties union lawyer who helped argue the case for the plaintiffs. he said, "it's why they make appeals courts." simpson didn't rule on the full merits of the case, only whether to grant a preliminary injunction stopping it from taking effect.

votes by four of six supreme court justices would be needed to rescind the ruling by simpson, who is a republican. but the high court is currently split between three republicans & three democrats following the recent suspension of justice joan orie melvin, a republican who is fighting criminal corruption charges.

the state's lawyers acknowledged they are "not aware of any incidents of in person voter fraud." instead, they insisted lawmakers properly exercise their latitude to make election-related laws when they chose to require voters to show widely available forms of photo identification.

republican governor tom corbett signed the law in march; every democratic lawmaker voted against it vehemently. at issue is the requirement of all pennsylvania voters to produce a valid photo id before their ballot can be counted - a substantial change from the law it was designed to replace. that law required identification only for people voting in a polling place for the first time & it allowed non-photo documents such as bank statements or utility bills.

but some of the people who sued over the law say they will be unable ot vote because they lack the necessary documents, inlcuding a birth certificate, to get a state photo id, the most widely available of the ids valid under the law. lawyers who provided free legal representation to the plaintiffs also warned it'll be difficult for many others to get a valid photo id. they presented testimony from department of transportation license workers who appeared uninformed about these new legal requirements.

in addition, some voters won't know about the law until they get to the polls. as such, long waits will result while untrained election workers struggle to carry out a complex & unnecessary - some feel racialized - law amid the traditionally larger turnout in presidential elections, they argued.

according to folks from the attorney general's office, which defended the law, the state is planning to begin issuing a special photo id card for registered voters who are unable to get a pennsylvania department of transportation-issued id & lack any other photo id acceptable under the law, such as an active-duty military or passport id.

also, they say the state is rolling out a public relations campaign to raise awareness of the new voter laws. the department of state, which oversees elections in pennsylvania, has not produced any kind of study or survey estimating the number of people without a valid photo id required by the law.

finally, the obama administration's department of justice is looking at whether pennsylvania's oppressive new voter laws requiring photo identification complies with federal laws. monday they asked the state's top election official & a chief supporter of the law for a long list of information about it.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

2012 Summer Olympics in London - USA Gold Medal Winners

the 2012 summer olympics in london have been exciting to watch. i've been engrossed in many of the sports from day one. despite my contempt with american politics, a strong sense of patriotism seems to emerge at a time like this. although the games are not over, listed below are american gold medal winners to date:

boxing: claressa ahields.

cycling: kristin armstrong.

gymnastics: gabby douglass, aly raisman.

judo: kayla harrison.

rifle: jamie lynn gary.

skeet shooting/men: vincent hancock.
skeet shooting/women: kim rhode.

swimming/men: nathan adrian, ricky berens, tyler clary, conor dwyer, matt grevers, brendan hansen, ryan lochte, michael phelps.

swimming/women: missy franklin, katie ledecky, allison schmitt, rebecca soni, dana vollmer, shannon vreeland.

tennis/men: bob & mike bryan.
tennis/women: serena & venus williams.

track & field/men: aries merritt, christian taylor.
track & field/women: allyson felix, brittney reese, sanya richards-ross, jenifer suhr.

volleyball: misty may-treanor, kerry walsh-jennings.

women's gymnastics; women's rowing; wonmen's soccer; women's water polo.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The War On Drugs Is A Failure!

today, the united states accounts for five percent of the world's population, yet 25% of the world's prisoners are on american soil. why? the so-called war on drugs. actually, the war with drugs might be more accurate. the land of the free & home of the brave imprisons more people each year. the prison industrial complex is real talk.

these are our nation's war on drugs facts:

conservative estimate of annual government spending on the u.s. war on drugs: %51,000,000,000.

number of people arrested in 2010 in the u.s. on nonviolent drug charges: 1,638,846.

number of people arresred in 2010 for a marijuana law violation: 853,838.

number of people charged in 2010 with marijuana law violations who were arrested for possession only: 750,591. (88%).

number of americans in 2009 behind bars of federal, state & local jails & prisons: 2,424,279 - or, one in every 99.1 aduits: the highest incarceration in the world.

number of states whom allow the medical use of marijuana: 16, plus the district of columbia.

fraction of people incarcerated for a drug offense in state prison whom are black or latino, although these groups use & sell drugs at similar rates as whites: 2/3.

tax revenue which drug legalization would yield annually, if currently illegal drugs were taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol & tobacco: $46.7 billion.

number of murders in 2010 in juarez, mexico, the epicenter of that country's drug war: 3,111 - the highest muder rate of any city in the world.

number of students who have lost federal financial aid eligibility because of a drug conviction: more than 200,000.

number of people in the u.s. who died from an accidental drug overdose in 2007: 27,658.

just say no? i don't think so. for more information visit www.drugpolicy.org.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Back On The Blog

its been several months since my last blog post. i'm still unsure why, but i was unable to access my own blog to write new posts. i decided to wait until i bought a new compuiter to continue my journey thru the blogosphere. well, that day has come! ok, the day passed a few weeks ago - apathy & procrastination are two inherent enemies - however, in this moment i'm back on the blog!

i miss blogging. i started seven years ago not knowing what to expect, how to proceed, if i would commit, who would read, etc. but i was determined to write. about what? my intention was to speak my heart as it opened to the universe. i get inspired to share pieces of my personal journey but more importantly my strong sense of justice compells me to write about various social issues impacting our lives each day.

exploring issues like aids, black cultural politics, community activism, drug addiction, ecology, global poverty, human sex trafficking, mental illness, prison industrial complex, same-sex marriage & white supremacy has challenged my fears, intolerance & woundedness in very painful ways. but still i write.

i write bcuz i feel the spirit of writers...

i write bcuz i feel the spirit of maya angelou, james baldwin, deeepak chopra, michael eric dyson, zora neale hurston, toni morrison, sonia sanchez, alice walker, iyanla vanzant & paramahansa yogananda.

i write bcuz i feel the spirit of mumia abu-jamal, amiri baraka, franz fanon, khalil gibran, bell hooks, june jordan, audre lorde, larry neal, louis reyes rivera & neale diamond walsch.

i write bcuz i feel the spirit of michelle alexander, frances cress welsing, frederick douglass, langston hughes, yusef kuumonyaka, caroline myss, thich naht hahn, don miguel ruiz, ntozake shange & marianne williamson.

i write bcuz i feel the spirit of asha bandele, julia cameron, angela y. davis, essex hemphill, elisabeth kubler-ross, haki madhubuti, rumi, ivan van-sertima, tim wise & gary zukav.

i write bcuz i feel the spirit of melody beattie, stanley crouch, mari evans, john henrik-clarke, sarah jones, dalai lama, terry mcmillan, pablo nerada, sri swami satchidananda & saul williams.

writing is my passion. walsch says, "passion is everything...when you kill passion, you kill god." i pray those who visit my blog will experience a sense of happiness, a sense of hope, a sense of humanity, a sense of humility & a sense of humor as i (finally) get my black ass back on the blog.