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.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Vote Count Officially Completed for New York City Primary

almost three weeks after new york city's primary for mayor, election officials have finished counting votes, and bill de blasio has avoided a runoff. mr. de blasio, a democrat, finished with 40.81% of the votes. he exceeded the 40% threshold by about 5,600 votes.

the september 10 election showed de blasio with a little over 40% of the vote. but tens of thousands of paper ballots remained to be examined, leaving a plethora of unanswered questions about whether or not a runoff would be necessary.

bill thompson finished in second-place with 26.14% of the vote. thompson reluctantly conceded six days after the primary. he also criticized the city's board of elections, stating the pace of the vote count left him with no reasonable way to wage a viable campaign given the uncertainty of the election results.

in four of the five boroughs, election officials finished tallying votes two weeks after the primary. the results from manhattan were certified three days after the other boroughs were done, a board of elections spokesman said. christine quinn, city council speaker garnered 15.74% of the vote, john liu, city comptroller had 6.84% and anthony weiner, former congressman had 4.94%. 

in the republican primary for mayor, joe lhota, former chairman of the metropolitan transit authority, won with 52.75% of the vote. lhota was followed by john catsimatidis, the billionaire owner of the gristedes supermarket chain with 40.69% and george mcdonald, the founder of the doe fund, with 6.38%.

tuesday, october 1, there will only be one race on the ballot: a runoff for the democratic nomination for public advocate between councilwoman letitia james and state senator daniel squadron. overall, voter turnout was small, as expected, roughly 22%. about 692,000 of the city's 2.97 million registered democrats voted, or 23%. among republicans, the turnout was even less. about 61,000 of the city's 471,000 republicans voted, or 13%.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Planned Parenthood Sues Texas Over Controversial New Law Restricting Abortions

the nation's largest provider of abortions sued the state of texas on friday over a controversial new law restricting abortions. planned parenthood, which has nearly 750 affiliate health centers, faces a loss of a large number of their centers in texas due to new provisions within the new law, the organization's officials argue.

the lawsuit challenges a provision stating doctors who provide abortions must have admitting privileges at a local hospital. another provision requires direct supervision of a doctor for women to receive the so-called "abortion pill" ru-486.

"we're in court today to stop a terrible situation for women in texas from getting even worse," cecile richards, president of planned parenthood federation of america, said in a statement. the texas attorney general's office had no immediate comment on the lawsuit.

opponents argue the new law could make it difficult for women to get an abortion in rural areas of the state. they also say the procedure requires very few women to be admitted to a hospital. patricio gonzales, president and ceo of planned parenthood association in hidalgo county, texas, shared his concerns with nbc news.

gonzales said, "it's going to drive poor women to illegal means or ways to terminate the pregnancy, which puts them at risk health-wise. this bill doesn't do anything to prevent abortions. it's going to harm more than do any good." he further added some of the illegal medications available in mexico cause serious hemorrhaging and bleeding, sending women to texas emergency rooms.

the new provisions will not go into effect until october 29. but this polarizing issue has dominated texas politics - and helped to elevate the profile of a leading democratic critic, state senator wendy davis. earlier this year, davis made headlines staging a nearly 11-hour filibuster against abortion restrictions and told supporters she may run for governor.   

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

WNBA 2013 Year-End Awards

the following individuals were recently acknowledged by the women's national basketball association (wnba) for their outstanding achievement in 2013:

most valuable player - candace parker, los angeles sparks
rookie of the year - elena della donne, chicago sky
defensive player of the year - sylvia fowles, chicago sky
most improved player - shavonte zellous, indiana fever
coach of the year - mike thibault, washington mystics
kim perrot sportswoman - swin cash, chicago sky;
                                          tamika catchings, indiana fever

first team all-wnba

candace parker. los angeles sparks
diana taurasi, phoenix mercury
sylvia fowles, chicago sky
maya moore, minnesota lynx
lindsey whalen, minnesota lynx

second team all-wnba

seimone augustus, minnesota lynx
tamika catchings, indiana fever
tina charles, connecticut sun
elena della donne, chicago sky
angel mccoughtry, atlanta dream

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Life Goes On: The Historic Rise in Life Sentences in America

serious crime rates have been declining in the united states for the last 20 years, yet the number of prisoners serving life sentences has more than quadrupled since 1984. senior research analyst ashley nellis documents in her powerful new report, life goes on: the historic rise in life sentences in america, over 159,000 people were serving life sentences in 2012, with nearly 50,000 serving life without parole.

some of the key findings in her report include: one of every nine people in prison is serving a life sentence. approximately 10,000 lifers have been convicted of nonviolent offenses. nearly half of lifers are black and one in six are latino. more than 5,300 (3.4%) of the life-sentenced are female.

more than 10,000 life-sentenced people have been convicted of crimes which occurred before they turned 18 and nearly one in four of them were sentenced to life without parole. the population of prisoners serving life without parole has risen more sharply than those with the possibility of parole: there has been a 22.2% increase in life without parole since 2008.

the report recommends eliminating life without parole, increasing the use of executive clemency, preparing prisoners sentenced to life for release from prison and restoring the role of parole in prisoner release. these progressive initiatives are intended to promote public safety, reduce the high cost of mass incarceration and reshape our crime policies to facilitate rehabilitation.  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal Win 2013 US Open Singles Titles

world #1 serena williams of the united states defeated world #2 victoria azarenka of belarus 7-5, 6-7, 6-1 to win her fifth us open women's singles crown. fiercely battling her opponent's competitive spirit, the swirling wind and quite often her own nerves, williams prevailed in a repeat of last year's hard-fought title bout with azarenka, which also went three sets.

the two women later shared their mutual respect. williams said, "vika's such a great opponent, such a great fighter, and that's why she's been able to win multiple grand slams. that's why it was never over until match point." azarenka replied," she's a champion, and she knows how to repeat that. she knows what it takes to get there. i know that feeling, too. and when two people who want that feeling so bad meet, it's like a clash."

williams turns 32 on september 26, and is playing the best tennis of her life. in the longest women's final since 1980 - two hours and 45 minutes - williams served nine aces, including one at 126 mph, en route to improving her amazing 2013 record to 67-4. she has nine titles this year, captured four of the last six major singles titles and became the first woman to earn $50 million in career earnings.

the fashionable, intense & perfectionist black woman now has 17 major singles titles, one behind chris evert & martina navratilova. she equaled steffi graf's five us open victories, one less than evert's all-time record of six in the open era, which began in 1968. williams never won consecutive us opens, but she did on sunday. her first us open triumph came as an unheralded teenager in 1999. since her shocking first-round loss at the 2012 french open, she is 98-5 with 14 titles.

world #2 rafael nadal of spain defeated world #1 novak djokovic of serbia 6-2. 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 to win his second career us open men's singles crown. this was their 37th match against each other - the most between any two men in the open era - and nadal has won 22. it was also their third head-to-head us open final in the last four years. nadal won in 2010 and djokovic won their rematch in 2011.

nadal said afterwards, "this is probably the most emotional one in my career. i know i had to be almost perfect to win. probably nobody brings my game to the limit like novak." said djokovic," he was too good. he definitely deserved to win this match today, and this trophy. obviously disappointing to lose a match like this. thirteen grand slams for a guy who is 27 years old is incredible. whatever he achieved so far in his career, everybody should respect, no question about it."

although he missed about seven months on the tour - including the 2012 olympics and two majors - the charismatic, left-handed warrior is playing the best tennis of his career. nadal is 60-3 overall this year, including a remarkable 22-0 on hard courts. he's won 10 tournaments, among them a record eighth french open, which made him the first man in the open era to win a major singles title in nine consecutive seasons.

their hard-fought, three hour and 21 minute battle drew standing ovations in the middle of some games. most of the rallies went 15-25 shots, with one more than 50 strokes. with his thrilling victory, nadal ranks third on the all-time list with 13 major championships, behind roger federer with 17 and pete sampras with 14. in addition to his eight french open titles, he's won two wimbledon titles, two us open titles and one australian open title. 

Monday, September 09, 2013

Global AIDS mortality fell by over 20% in the last five years

the overall death rate from aids-related complications has fallen by 21% since 2006, the most recent study in the global burden of disease (gbd) series shows. however, while a number of countries with large hiv burdens have significantly reduced the pandemic's death and disability toll, there is huge disparity in progress between different regions and neighboring nations.

the report also finds in 22% of the 182 countries with documented cases of aids, aids-related mortality and hiv-related disability is still rising. in most cases this is because the countries still have very low prevalence, or in some cases, hiv has arrived very late.

yet there are several counties, most notably the democratic republic of congo (drc), ukraine and russia who have high aids mortality and large numbers of cases where there is little sign of mortality falling. similarly, there are still eight countries in the world - small, mainly pacific nations - who have never had a single recorded case of aids.

the gbd study compiles causes of death and disparity. it computes the number and proportion of disability-adjusted life years (dalys) lost to individual conditions, the proportion of dalys lost, the percentage of deaths attributable to the condition and the proportion of global death and disability due to the condition occurring in each country. from these statistics, it computes a ranking for each condition, globally and per country, in terms of the proportion of death and disability it causes.

the 2010 study found ischaemic heart disease is the number one killer worldwide, and strokes are at number three, meaning cardiovascular diseases in general cause 9.3% of all dalys lost worldwide. while overall mortality and disability rates have fallen, the proportion due to heart disease has risen by 29% and strokes by 19% since 1990.

lower respiratory infections (pneumonia) and diarrhoeal diseases are at number two and four respectively: in 1990 they were numbers one and two, and their death and disability ranking has fallen by 44% and 51% respectively.

hiv and aids are the number five condition. death and disability due to hiv increased by 354% during that time. since 1990, no other condition's disease burden increased more than the 69% rise in diabetes. the disease burden of malaria and tuberculosis, which are at number seven and 13 respectively, fell by 20% since 1990.

furthermore, hiv is responsible for 3.3% of all dalys lost worldwide, though in high-prevalence countries such as south africa it is responsible for up to 40% of dalys lost. hiv and aids are exceptional for its age profile. whereas most other conditions disproportionately affect the old and the very young, hiv is the number one cause of dalys lost for women aged 25-45 and men aged 30-45.

the gbd study revealed which countries are most affected by hiv. as such, hiv is the number one cause of death and disability in a swathe of eastern and southern african countries stretching from somalia to south africa. its also the worst health problem in the west african countries of equatorial guinea and gabon, and number two in the populous countries of cameroon, ghana and nigeria.

hiv is the number one cause of dalys lost in a cluster of caribbean countries, including the bahamas, belize, jamaica and suriname. hiv is number two in nearby guyana and panama, and in the top five in colombia and venezuela. in south-east asia, hiv is most notably the biggest cause of death and disability in thailand, but its also in the top five in nearby malaysia, myanmar and vietnam. in eastern europe, its the third and fourth most significant cause of death and disability in ukraine and russia, respectively.

india and russia, because of their size, contribute more to the global burden of disease in absolute numbers than in prevalence - they are the only two countries in the top ten in terms of numbers of dalys lost not in africa. india is number two after south africa, even though hiv is only the 15th most significant cause of death and disability there. similarly, china, where hiv is the 38th most significant cause of illness, loses as many dalys to hiv than zambia.

the proportion of dalys lost to hiv-related illnesses is generally correlated with how far up the list hiv is in terms of the country's ranking of diseases, but not entirely: it depends how the country's disease burden is distributed. thus, hiv is the number one cause of death and disability in kenya, south africa and thailand, but the proportion of total dalys lost attributable to hiv is 40% in south africa, 15% in kenya and 5.6% in thailand.

among the study's most interesting findings are how each country's hiv burden correlates with the reduction in dalys lost to hiv since aids deaths were at their peak. this peak could have happened anywhere between 1996 - when antiretroviral therapy (art) started becoming available in developing countries - and last year. 

countries who demonstrated progress in lifting their aids burden fell into two types: they were either high-income countries who controlled their hiv burden early, or low-income countries with good art programs instituted more recently. eight countries where dalys lost due to hiv fell by more than 80% from their peak are cambodia, france, haiti, japan, netherlands, new zealand, rwanda and spain.  

the united kingdom had a 63.5% fall in dalys lost to hiv. botswana, germany and the u.s. had a 75% fall in dalys lost to hiv. by contrast, ethiopia showed a 68% fall in dalys lost to hiv, compared with the countries on either side, somalia and sudan, which have seen no fall. in india, dalys have fallen by 8.6% but in south Africa, 11 billion dalys were lost to hiv (500 times as many as the uk), which is remarkable considering the daunting pandemic they face.

in vietnam, dalys lost to hiv have yet to fall, yet hiv is the sixth most significant cause of death and disability there. vietnam may be an example of a country where hiv arrived quite late and is only now going through its phase of expansion. other examples include afghanistan, china, pakistan and the philippines. most of these countries are currently seeing rapid hiv prevalence increases in gay men, men who have sex with men or in people who inject drugs.

unfortunately, some countries where there has been a significant hiv presence for some time have not succeeded in bringing down aids deaths and hiv disability. these countries include the drc with a 2.7% fall in dalys, Ukraine with a 2% fall, Russia with a 0.5% fall, and Indonesia, where there has been no fall at all.  

some countries miserably fail to address their hiv crises. publicly, they blame many reasons why, but two factors have emerged: hiv treatment unsurprisingly lags behind in countries recently torn apart by war (Liberia and sierra leone are prime examples); others where treatment does not get to high-prevalence is largely because of their highly stigmatized populations.

corruption and gross economic inequality are other factors contributing to human misery. hiv death and disability has fallen disproportionately little in the oil-rich but extremely unequal states of angola and equatorial guinea - the latter is the only country in the world where hiv is the number one cause of death and disability but which has seen no fall in dalys lost to hiv.

in Europe, economic decline may be a factor, with Greece and Portugal only seeing relatively poor 29% and 33% declines in dalys lost respectively, compared to at least twice those numbers with their european neighbors. papua new guinea, which a few years ago saw alarming rises in hiv prevalence, was being talked about as the possible site of the first hyperepidemic outside Africa. in the last few years, it has seen a 51% fall in hiv-related death and disability.     


Thursday, September 05, 2013

KKK and NAACP Representatives Hold Secret Meeting in Casper, Wyoming

a secret meeting was held on saturday between jimmy simmons, president of the casper naacp, and john abarr, a ku klux klan organizer from great falls, montana. the meeting took place at a hotel in casper, wyoming under tight security, the casper star-tribune reported.

the southern poverty law center and the united klans of america (uka) said tuesday the meeting was a first. abarr told the associated press on tuesday he filled out an naacp membership form so he could get the group's newsletters and some insight into its views. he said he paid a $30 fee to join the naacp - the nation's oldest civil rights organization - plus a $20 donation.

simmons said he asked for the meeting after receiving reports kkk literature was being distributed in gillette, about 130 miles north of casper. he also wanted to discuss race relations, including what he said were reported beatings of black men; details were not provided. abarr said he knew nothing about the hate crimes or the literature, which was distributed in a residential neighborhood of gillette in october.

gillette police lt. chuck deaton said there have been 10 hate or bias crimes reported in the past five years involving name-calling but no assaults on black people. deaton also said police were unable to speak with a young man distributing the literature, and he was chased away by neighbors. "in the 21 years that i've been here, that's the first i heard of the klan in gillette," deaton said.

eric wingerter, a spokesman for the naacp's national headquarters, told the star-tribune local chapter leaders aren't required to get permission to arrange meetings. united klans of america imperial wizard bradley jenkins of birmingham, alabama said in a telephone interview he sanctioned the meeting and called it a first between the kkk and the naacp.

abarr said, "i don't know if we accomplished too much. we're not about violence. we're about being proud to be white." mark potok, a senior fellow at the southern poverty law center, said there have been meetings between white and black groups, but nine between the kkk and the naacp.

he called the united klans of america a "copycat wannabee" group that's not the group responsible for violence during the civil rights movement  of the 1960s, including the deaths of four black girls at a baptist church in birmingham. the original uka was dismantled in the 1980s following a lawsuit by the southern poverty law center.   

potok said of the historic meeting, "i think it's outrageous and counterproductive. it gives legitimacy to the klan as an organization you can talk to." but simmons insisted the meeting was worth it. he said, "it's about opening dialogue with a group that claims they're trying to reform themselves from violence. they're trying to shed that violent skin, but it seems like they're just changing the packaging."