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.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hundreds Protest Obama's Visit to South Africa

hundreds of protesters marched to the u.s. embassy in south Africa on Friday in a peaceful protest against the impending visit by president barack Obama. the demonstrators opposed drone strikes, global warming, the war in Afghanistan, u.s. policy on cuba, and other issues.

the protesters want to raise public awareness and warn American citizens about human rights violations committed by the Obama administration, which include the non-closure of the Guantanamo bay prison holding terrorism subjects, remarked campaign coordinator mbuyiseni ndlozi. said ndlozi, "their administration's government is not welcome, and is being received with antagonism. therefore they'll have to rethink the standards by which they hold their government."

protesters carried signs which read, "no, you can't Obama," a message inspired by the "yes, we can" campaign slogan adopted by obama during his historical presidential run in 2008. Obama and his family arrived in south Africa later Friday as part of a tour of three African countries. their three-day trip includes a visit to cape town's robben island, where former president nelson mandela spent 18 of his 27 years imprisoned by the apartheid government.

demonstrators staged a similar protest outside the parliament building in cape town where Obama's record on human rights and trade relations in Africa were questioned. protesters also plan to rally Saturday at the university of Johannesburg's Soweto campus, where Obama will address students and receive an honorary law degree, and on sunday at the university of cape town.

despite his global popularity, Obama is not free of criticism, even from people of African-descent. one of the protesters, abdurahman kahn said, "he's coming here to plunder African and south Africa. he's coming for the wealth and resources, for the gold mine and diamonds, while the majority of Africans and south Africans are suffering."


Friday, June 28, 2013

New York City Council Votes to Increase Oversight of NYPD

over the objections of mayor michael bloomberg and police commissioner ray kelly, the new york city council early thursday morning approved by veto-proof majorities a pair of bills aimed at increasing oversight of the new york police department (nypd) and expanding new yorkers' ability to sue over racial profiling by officers.

the two bills, known together as the community safety act, passed during a late-night meeting of the council. the meeting began after 11:00 pm and lasted more than three hours. members also voted to pass the city's budget and override a mayoral veto of a law on paid sick leave.

the two policing bills, for months, have stirred a heated public debate between its supporters - who seek a legal means to change the nypd's controversial stop and frisk program - and its detractors, among them, bloomberg and kelly, who both warned these measures would hamstring police officers and lead to a dangerous increase in crime.

one bill, known as intro 1979, would create an independent inspector general to conduct investigations, monitor and review police policy, and recommend changes to the department. the monitor would be part of the city's investigation department alongside the inspectors general for other city agencies. the law would take effect january 1, 2014, leaving the matter of the monitor to the next mayor.

the other bill, intro 1980, would expand the definition of bias-based profiling to include age, gender, housing status and sexual orientation. it also would allow individuals to sue the nypd in state court, not only for individual instances of bias, but also for policies which disproportionately affect people in any projected categories without serving a significant law enforcement goal.

both measures passed the 51-member city council with the votes needed to override a mayoral veto. after these landmark bills passed, just after 2:20 a.m., scores of supporters who had filled the chamber's gallery and waited hours through the debate erupted into loud cheers.

bloomberg, who has promised to veto both measures and this week called his opposition to them a matter of "life and death," said after the vote, "i will veto this harmful legislation and continue to make our case to council members over the coming days and weeks." an override of his veto would extend the conflict between the mayor and the council over policing. the process could take more than two months, putting the override veto only weeks before the mayoral primary.

christine quinn, the council speaker who faces a growing challenge to her early front-runner status for mayor, supported intro 1979, which passed 40-11. but she opposed intro 1980, which passed 34-17. before casting her vote she said, "i worry about having too much judicial involvement." quinn believes intro 1980 would not make new yorkers less safe.

despite her earlier stated opposition, she allowed both bills to move forward, and on monday presided over a so-called discharge vote - the first since the current structure of the council was established in 1989 - to bring the legislation out of committee, where it has stalled. the two bills were first introduced as a package last year by councilmen brad lander and jumaane williams.

the mayor has 30 days to veto the bills. the city council has 30 days from its next full meeting to hold an override veto. kelly sent a letter on tuesday to each council member urging them to vote against it. kelly argued intro 1980 could be used to force the removal of surveillance cameras. he wrote, "the bill would allow virtually everyone in new york to city to sue the police department and individual police officers over the entire range of law enforcement functions they perform."

councilman williams, responding to kelly's letter, said, "if the cameras were put in high crime neighborhoods as a response, that's good policing. if he put them there because black people live there, that's a problem." at least one council member received a call from his local police commander to protest the legislation ahead of the vote.

"they were deeply concerned about 250s and said they would be unable to perform them because of the profiling part of the reform," said councilman daniel dromm of queens, referring to the police form used for street stops. dromm said, "but for me, it's the teeth of the reform; it's the needed piece." he voted for both bills.

peter vallone, jr., the chairman of the public safety committee, said, "new yorkers went to bed a long time ago, safe in their beds. but they are going to wake up in a much more dangerous city." vallone, jr. voted against both measures.



Supreme Court Disables Voting Rights Act

in a 5-4 decision, the united states supreme court on tuesday held section four of the voting rights act (vra) was unconstitutional. in one fell swoop, the court severed section four and the historical section five, which is widely regarded by progressive folk as the heart of the voting rights act.

section four provides the "coverage formula" for the "covered jurisdictions" under section five. the "covered jurisdictions" included certain states and other locales, among them in new york city, the bronx, kings and new york counties. section five required the "covered jurisdictions" to submit any change in voting procedures for preclearance to the department of justice, or alternatively, the federal district court in washington, dc.

the supreme court concluded the "coverage formula" in section four was inconsistent with current conditions and therefore, unconstitutional. the "coverage formula" was based on whether or not a jurisdiction had a voting test in the 1960's or 1970's, or had low voter registration or lower turnout. the court stated, "we issue no holding on section five itself, only on the coverage formula. congress may draft another formula based on current conditions." their decision renders section five moot.

esmeralda simmons, attorney and executive director of the center for law and social justice (clsj) at medgar evers college, said, "section five of the voting rights act has been the most powerful civil rights law ever enacted in the united states. right here in new york city, the center, for over two decades, has used section five of the voting rights act to prevent voting rights discrimination against black, latino and asian new yorkers."

simmons continued, "that was the beauty of the voting rights act: unlike most civil rights laws where you have to be discriminated against before you can file a claim, under section five, changes had to be "pre-cleared" by the federal government or a court before they could be put into practice. the center will fight to reinvigorate the voting rights act. we will join with others who believe that the protection of voting rights is critical to the defense of democracy in the usa."

 the vra decision came as a result of a challenge to constitutionality of section four and section five - both filed by shelby county, alabama. ironically, alabama is the home of selma, the site of the "bloody sunday" beatings of civil rights demonstrators which served as the catalyst of the vra's enactment. between 1982 and 2005, alabama had one of the highest rates of successful cases under section two of the vra.

more recently, state legislators cooperating with fbi investigation captured conversations between members of the state legislature and their political allies discussing a gambling referendum derisively referring to black people as "aborigines" and expressing concern if the measure on the ballot "every black, every illiterate would be bused to the polls on hud financed buses."

the federal district judge presiding over the trial where the recordings were introduced said, "the recordings represent compelling evidence that political exclusion through racism remains a real and enduring problem in alabama."

the vra decision came a day after three other provocative civil rights decisions. in the most watched case - fisher v. university of texas - the court raised the standard institutions of higher education with affirmative action programs must meet to survive legal challenges. the court mandated colleges must show there was no "available workable race-neutral" alternative available to them. finding the university of texas had not shown this, the court returned the case to the lower courts.

the other two cases involved claims of employment discrimination under title vii of the civil rights act of 1964. the court's subsequent ruling now makes it harder for workers to prove they have suffered employment discrimination under the law.

in vance v. bell, a black woman accused her supervisor of racial harassment. the court held the person she accused was a co-worker and not a supervisor -a distinction requiring a higher burden of proof. the court rejected the definition of "supervisor" employed by the equal employment opportunity commission.

in the second case, university of texas southwestern medical center v. nassar, a physician of middle eastern descent alleged he retaliated after complaining of hostile treatment from a hospital supervisor because of his cultural and religious background. writing for the majority, justice kennedy noted retaliation cases should have a higher standard than regular discrimination cases and declared employees in such cases must prove retaliation was not just a motivating factor, but the determinative factor in negative employment actions such as a demotion,

joan gibbs, clsj general counsel, said, "the shelby, fisher, vance and nassar cases vividly demonstrate the reasons why black people must stay on freedom and justice, to defend the gains of the past while challenging current issues such as voter suppression, and stop and frisk."

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Supreme Court Overturns 1996 Federal Defense of Marriage Act

the supreme court on wednesday ruled the federal defense of marriage act (doma), which defines marriage as a union between one man and woman, is unconstitutional. doma was signed into law by president bill clinton in 1996. the law bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages for purposes such as immigration, insurance benefits, social security survivors' benefits and tax filing.

section three of the law defines marriage as "a legal union between one man and woman as husband and wife" and a spouse as "a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife." that provision had been struck down by eight lower courts before the supreme court's 5-4 ruling in united states v. windsor settled the matter for good. 

this historical decision means legally married same-sex couples are now entitled to the same federal benefits as married opposite sex couples. the majority opinion was written by justice anthony kennedy and joined by justices stephen breyer, ruth baden ginsburg, elena kagen and sonia sotomayor. chief justice john roberts and justices samuel alito, antonin scalia and clarence thomas dissented.

president obama praised the ruling. obama said, "we welcome today's decision, and i've directed the attorney general to work with other members of my cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly."

obama further stated, "on an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation's commitment to religious freedom is also vital. how religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions. nothing about this decision - which applies only to civil marriages - changes that." 

attorney general eric holder said, "the court's ruling gives real meaning to the constitution's promise of equal protection to all members of our society, regardless of sexual orientation." the ruling impacts a "broad array of federal laws" holder added, saying the justice department will begin working to implement it. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Supreme Court Sends Affirmative Action Case Back To Lower Court

the u.s. supreme court on monday sent back a texas case on race-based college admissions to a lower court for another look. the court's 7-1 decision leaves unsettled many of the basic questions about the continued use of race as a factor in college admissions.

justice anthony kennedy, writing for the court, said a federal appeals court needs to subject the university of texas admission plan to the highest level of judicial scrutiny. the compromise ruling overturns the decision by the new orleans-based fifth u.s. circuit of appeals, which upheld the plan.

kennedy said the appeals court did not test the texas plan under the most exacting level of judicial review. he said such a test is required by the court's 2003 decision upholding affirmative action in higher education. justice ruth bader ginsburg was the lone dissenter. justice clarence thomas said he would have overturned the high court's 2003 ruling.

the landmark case involves abigail fisher, a white texan who sued the university after she was denied a spot in 2008. fisher has since received her undergraduate degree from louisiana state university. the challenge to the texas plan gained impetus partly because the makeup of the court has changed since the last time the justices ruled on affirmative action in higher education.

in 2003, justice sandra o'connor wrote the majority opinion which held colleges and universities can use race in their quest for diverse student bodies. o'connor retired in 2006, but her replacement, samuel alito, has shown himself to be more skeptical when considering race as factor in a potential student's desire for higher education.

fisher's lawsuit was also fueled by a 1990s state law signed by then, governor george w. bush. the law automatically offers about 75% of its spots to graduates in the top 10 percent of their texas high schools - as was fisher. the admissions program has since been changed; now, the top eight percent gain automatic admission. 

according to university statistics, over 80% of black and latino students who enrolled at the flagship campus in austin in 2011 were automatically enrolled. both sides acknowledge the use of race is modest. in all, black and latino students encompass over 25% of the incoming freshman class. white students constituted less than half the entering class when students of asian descent and other ethnicities were added in.  

the university said the extra measure of diversity it gets from the slots outside automatic admission is crucial because too many of their classrooms have, at best, only token minority representation. but at the same time, texas argued race is one of many factors considered, and whether race played the key factor is too impossible to tell.

the Obama administration, 57 of the fortune 100 companies, as well as large numbers of private and public colleges backed the texas program. one of the benefits of affirmative action, the administration said, is it creates a pipeline for diverse officer corps it called "essential to the military's operational readiness." in 2003, the court cited the importance of a similar message from military leaders.  

Friday, June 21, 2013

Miami Heat Wins 2013 NBA Title

the miami heat defeated the san antonio spurs 95-88 in a hard-won, highly competitive game seven to repeat as 2013 nba champions. miami capped their best season in franchise history with their third consecutive finals appearance. they won 27 straight games - second to the lakers' 33 straight in 1969 - and finished the season at 66-16.

lebron james was named finals mvp for the second year in a row, joining hall-of-famers michael jordan and bill russell as the only men to win back-to-back finals mvp. james had 37 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and two steals. all five of his three-pointers were timely and his defense on spurs guard tony parker limited their successful pick and roll offense. 

in the last 12 months james has two nba titles and an olympic gold medal. pundits have questioned his field goal shooting since his rookie year in cleveland. but afterwards james said, "i work on my game a lot throughout the offseason. i put a lot of work into it and to be able to come out here and have the results happen out on the floor is the ultimate. the ultimate. i'm at a loss for words."

dwayne wade, miami's franchise player and '06 finals mvp, finished the game with 23 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. the three-time nba champion was noticeably hobbled by knee injuries the last two years and struggled with inconsistent play in this year's playoffs. but the proud father and newly author was all smiles during the post-game press conference. 

wade said, "it took everything we had as a team. credit to the san antonio spurs, they're an unbelievable team, an unbelievable franchise. this is the hardest series we ever had to play. but we're a resilient team and we did whatever it took." wade came into the league with teammates james & chris bosh, yet at 31, he's a couple of years older and his knees might hinder a potential dynasty.

bosh, part of the big three and subject to trade rumors during the playoffs, was scoreless, as was ray allen, who hit the game-tying three-pointer with five seconds left during regulation of game six. shane battier was benched during games four and five, but hit six three-pointers to finish with 18 points. he said, "it's better to be timely than good." mario chalmers scored 14 points for the heat.

san antonio sought to become the first team to win a game seven on the road since washington beat seattle in 1978. the spurs lost game six in overtime, blowing a five-point lead with 28.2 seconds in the game. tim duncan finished with 24 points and ten rebounds. kawhi leonard had 19 points and 16 rebounds. manu ginobli scored 18 points and parker scored 10 points on just 3-of-12 shooting.

duncan said," just give credit to the miami heat. lebron was unbelievable. dwayne was great. i just think they found a way to get it done. we stayed in the game. we gave ourselves opportunities to win the game, we just couldn't turn that corner." ginobli said, "in my case i still have game six in my head. today we played an ok game, they just made more shots than us. lebron got hot, shane (battier), too. those things can happen. but being so close and feeling that you are about to grab that trophy, and seeing it vanish is hard."    

Monday, June 17, 2013

Supreme Court Strikes Down Arizona Law Requiring Proof of Citizenship To Vote

the supreme court on monday struck down an arizona law requiring people to submit proof of citizenship when they register to vote. the vote was 7-2. justices samuel alito and clarence thomas, two of the court's conservative wing, both dissented.

justice antonin scalia, writing for the majority, said a 1993 federal law known as the motor voter act takes precedence over the arizona law. scalia said the motor voter act requires states to "accept and use" the federal voter registration form. 

a few states have similar laws, which they say are meant to reduce voter fraud. but civil rights groups say the arizona law intended to discourage voting by legal immigrants - they worried more states would follow suit if the court upheld. groups opposed to the arizona law said the court blocked an attempt at voter suppression.

"today's decision sends a strong message that states cannot block their citizens from registering to vote by superimposing burdensome paperwork requirements on top of federal law," said nina perales, vice president of litigation for the mexican-american legal defense and education fund.

citizenship is a requirement to vote in any federal election, and the federal registration form requires people to state, under perjury, they are american citizens. states can use their own forms, but they must be equivalent to the federal form.

the arizona law, known as proposition 200 & and adopted by arizona voters in 2004, went further than the federal form by requiring applicants to provide proof of citizenship. according to the brennan center for justice, arizona has used the law to reject 30,000 voter applicants.

challengers to the law argued using a naturalization document as proof would require an applicant to register in person, as opposed to through the mail, because federal law opposes copying the document. a federal appeals court said arizona went too far - essentially rejecting the federal form. but arizona contends prop 200 is similar to asking for id at an airport, which is not a rejection of a plane ticket.    

the supreme court ruling pointed out arizona still has an option: it can ask the federal government to include state-specific instructions on the federal form, and go to court if the government says no. alabama, georgia and kansas have laws almost identical to arizona's and joined prop 200 in urging the court to uphold the additional proof of citizenship.

at an oral argument in march, thomas horne, a lawyer for arizona, told the justices the state had a right to ask for additional information beyond the federal form. horne said, "it's extremely inadequate. it's essentially an honor system. it does not do the job." justice sonia sotomayor replied, "well, that's what the federal system decided was enough."

scalia said during the argument federal law empowers states to take additional action to assess a potential voter's eligibility. he said, "under oath is not proof at all. it's just a statement." patricia millett, a lawyer for groups opposed to prop 200 countered, "statements under oath in a criminal case are proof beyond a reasonable doubt" in criminal cases resulting in execution. she said, "it's a very serious oath."

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal Win 2013 French Open Singles Titles

serena williams defeated world #2 maria sharapova of russia 6-4, 6-4 to win the 2013 french open singles championship. the victory at roland garros was williams' second there - 11 years after she beat her older sister venus in 2002, which is the longest gap for any woman. williams now has 16 major singles titles.

last year, williams shockingly lost in the first round at the french open. her record is 74-3 since, including titles at wimbledon, the olympic gold medal in london, the u.s. open & the year-ending wta championships. the 31 year-old african-american became the oldest woman to win a major since martina navratilova won wimbledon in 1990 at age 33.

williams, who has a home in paris, said in french during the trophy ceremony, "eleven years. i think its unbelievable. now i have 16 grand slam titles. its difficult for me to speak because i'm so excited." she served 10 aces, three in the final game, the last at 123 mph on match point. williams extended her career-best winning streak to 31 matches. she is 43-2 this year, including 23-0 on clay.

rafael nadal beat fellow spaniard david ferrer 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 to become the first man in tennis history to win the same major singles title eight times. the king of clay also broke the men's record for match wins at roland garros. he improved to 59-1, his lone defeat in 2009 against robin soderling in the fourth round.  

seeded fifth in the tournament, nadal returned to the tour in february after a seven-month layoff caused by knee trouble. he's 43-2 this year, with seven titles in nine tournaments. nadal has won his last 22 matches. he said, "this one is very special one. when you have period of time like i had, you realize that you don't know if you have the chance to be back here with this trophy another time."

nadal came into the final with a 16-match winning streak on clay against his buddy ferrer, ranked #4 in the world. at age 31, ferrer was playing in his first major singles final. the win gave nadal an astounding career record of 72-34 against the top four players in the world. he now has 12 major singles titles, tying roy emerson, two behind pete sampras' 14 & five behind roger federer's 17.    


Friday, June 07, 2013

Forbes' List of the 20 Highest-Paid Athletes in 2013

1) tiger woods - $78.1 million.
                           salary/winnings: $13.1 million
                           endorsements: $65 million.

2) roger federer - $71.5 million.
                              salary/winnings: $6.5 million
                              endorsements: $65 million.

3) kobe bryant - $61.9 million.
                           salary/winnings: $27.9 million
                           endorsements: $34 million.

4) lebron james - $59.8 million.
                            salary/winnings: $17.8 million
                            endorsements: $42 million.

5) drew brees - $51 million.
                         salary/winnings: $40 million
                         endorsements: $11 million.

6) aaron rogers - $49 million.
                             salary/winnings: $43 million
                             endorsements: $6 million.

7) phil mickelson - $48.7 million.
                               salary/winnings: $4.7 million
                               endorsements: $44 million.

8) david beckham - $47.2 million.
                                salary/winnings: $5.2 million
                                endorsements: $42 million.

9) cristiano ronaldo - $44 million.
                                   salary/winnings: $23 million
                                   endorsements: $21 million.

10) lionel messi - $41.3 million.
                             salary/winnings: $20.3 million
                             endorsements: $21 million.

11) tom brady - $38.3 million.
                          salary/winnings: $31.3 million
                          endorsements: $7 million.

12) derrick rose - $37.4 million.
                             salary/winnings: $16.4 million
                             endorsements: $21 million.

13) joe flacco - $36.8 million.
                         salary/winnings: $35.9 million
                         endorsements: $850,000.

14) floyd mayweather, jr - $34 million.
                                           salary/winnings: $34 million
                                           endorsements: $0.

15) manny pacquiao - $34 million.
                                     salary/winnings: $26 million
                                     endorsements: $8 million.

16) mahendra singh dhoni - $31.5 million.
                                              salary/winnings: $3.5 million
                                              endorsements: $28 million.

17) kevin durant - $30.9 million.
                              salary/winnings: $16.9 million
                              endorsements: $14 million.

18) alex rodriguez - $30.3 million.
                                 salary/winnings: $29.8 million
                                 endorsements: $500,000.

19) fernando alonso - $30 million.
                                    salary/winnings: $28 million
                                    endorsements: $2 million.

20) peyton manning - $30 million.
                                    salary/winnings: $18 million
                                    endorsements: $12 million.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Susan Rice Appointed National Security Adviser

calling her the patriot who puts american interests first, president barack obama on wednesday named susan rice as his national security adviser. rice currently serves as the u.s. ambassador to the united nations. she will replace tom donilon, a key foreign policy adviser to the commander-in-chief, who is resigning.

rice was the subject of republican ire over faulty explanations for the attack which killed four americans in benghazi, libya. obama considered nominating her as his second-term secretary of state. but rice withdrew, saying she didn't want her potential new post to be a distraction for the white house. the president nominated john kerry, who easily won confirmation from his former senate colleagues. 

rice's cabinet-level job as national security adviser does not require senate confirmation. a white house official confirmed the foreign policy personnel changes in the morning - ahead of a planned announcement by the president in the afternoon. the official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the changes before they were made public.

rice, a close obama confidante, began working for him during his historical 2008 presidential campaign. she also has a solid relationship with many of his advisers. rice is nationally respected for her commitment to human rights issues & also pushed for a more interventionist strategy in libya.