i am

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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.

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.