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, December 31, 2015

The U.S. Police killed almost 1200 people in 2015

u.s police killed more people in 2015 than in 2014. while exact numbers have various sources, the website killedbypolice.net stated almost 1200 people died because of police shootings in america.

their data shows white people are the largest group killed by the police. but collectively, asians, blacks, indigenous people and latinos surpass the number of people killed by the police. 

thinkprogress noted black men are 21 times more likely to be killed by cops than young white men, according to a propublica analysis. in 14 cities this year, every victim of a police killing was black. 

the centers for disease control and prevention also compiled similar data. they reported california, florida and texas lead the u.s. in terms of deadly police encounters. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Will there be mercy or justice for Sandra Bland?

on december 21, the grand jury said it will bring no charges in the death of black lives matter activist sandra bland. she died in jail last july, three days after a traffic stop in waller county, texas. two videos of the stop went viral. the medical examiner said she hanged herself with a trash bag.

her family doubts it was suicide. jail officials did not think she was depressed, even after she told them she tried to take her life last year after a miscarriage. they did not put her on suicide watch.

"in prisons, it is not at all uncommon to find a prisoner hanged or burned to death in his cell. no matter how suspicious the circumstances, these deaths are always ruled "suicides." they are usually black inmates, considered to be a "threat to the orderly running of the prison." they are usually among the most politically aware and socially conscious inmates in the prison." - assata shakur.

the u.s. department of homeland security (dhs) admits they keep an eye on black matter lives through the internet for "situational awareness purposes" to ensure that critical information reaches appropriate decision-makers in federal, state, local, tribal and territorial governments," but denies it keeps files on anyone in the movement. 

the fbi behaved similarly with the black power movement in the 60's and 70's under cointelpro.

the grand jury heard nine hours of evidence. the hearing was in secret, there was no judge present, and no lawyer to question the evidence and witnesses presented by the prosecutor. these dynamics are common with grand juries.

the grand jury decision was presumably based mainly on the autopsy. yet, that same autopsy says bland had high levels of marijuana in her blood - levels so high she would have had to have smoked marijuana in jail.

the grand jury will meet again in january to decide "other issues." one such issue is whether the arresting officer, brian encinia, broke any laws during the traffic stop. encinia, a white male, is currently on paid leave. 

the bland family has brought a wrongful-death civil lawsuit against the following: encinia, jail officers elsa magnus and oscar prudente, the sheriff's office, the texas department of public safety, and waller county. 

there are key parts of the autopsy which are missing, and this has profoundly impacted their own independent autopsy. sadly enough, the bland family does not have the report on bland's arrest or her death. after the grand jury meeting in january, they hope more answers will be forthcoming.


When A Child Dies by Mumia Abu-Jamal

newsbreak: cleveland officials announce no charges to be filed in the police killing of 12 year-old tamir rice.

there is something shattering about the death, the killing, of a child. 

when a child dies the natural order is torn, the stars weep and the earth quakes. we have become so accustomed to this system we suppose it is natural, instead of a human imposition. 

politicians in the pocket of so called police unions bow before bags of silver and blink away the death of a child - especially if a black child.

what man-made institution is more precious than a child? what job? what so called profession? what office? what state? when a child dies, adults don't deserve to breathe their stolen air. 

when a child dies, the living must not rest until they have purged the poison that dared harm such a one. when a child dies, time runs backward and attempts to right such a wrong.

this should inspire movements worldwide to fight like never before. for something vile has happened. a child has been killed, and in america, because it's a black child - it means next to nothing.

from imprisoned nation, this is mumia abu-jamal  

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

2016 NFL Pro Bowl Team

the carolina panthers (14-0) have 10 players selected to the 2016 nfl pro bowl. the arizona cardinals, new england patriots and seattle seahawks each have seven pro bowl players.

patriots quarterback tom brady received the most votes. panthers qb cam newton was second. three rookies were selected: kansas city chiefs cornerback marcus peters, seahawks return man tyler lockett and st. louis rams running back todd gurley.

offensive players

quarterbacks: brady; newton; carson palmer, arizona cardinals; aaron rodgers, green bay packers; ben roethlisberger, pittsburgh steelers; russell wilson, seahawks.

running backs: devonta freeman, atlanta falcons; gurley; doug martin, tampa bay buccaneers; lesean mccoy, buffalo bills; adrian peterson, minnesota vikings.

fullbacks: marcel reese, oakland raiders; mike tolbert, panthers.

wide receivers: odell beckham jr., new york giants; antonio brown, steelers; larry fitzgerald, cardinals; a.j. green, cincinnati bengals; deandre hopkins, houston texans; calvin johnson, detroit lions; julio jones, falcons; brandon marshall, new york jets.

tight ends: tyler eifert, bengals; rob gronkowski, patriots; travis kelce, chiefs; greg olsen, panthers.

centers: travis frederick, dallas cowboys; ryan kalil, panthers; alex mack, cleveland browns; mike pouncey, miami dolphins. 

guards: david decastro, steelers; mike iupati, cardinals; zack martin, cowboys; josh sitton, packers; trai turner, panthers; marshal yanda, baltimore ravens.

tackles: jason peters, philadelphia eagles; tyron smith, cowboys; joe staley, san francisco 49ers; joe thomas, browns; andrew whitworth, bengals; trent williams, washington redskins.

defensive players

ends: ezekiel ansah, lions; michael bennett, seahawks; chandler jones, patriots; khalil mack, oakland raiders; j.j. watt, texans; muhammed wilkerson, jets.

interior lineman: geno atkins, bengals; calais campbell, cardinals; fletcher cox, eagles; aaron donald, rams; gerald mccoy, buccanneers; kawann short, panthers.

inside/middle linebackers: navorro bowman, 49ers; luke keuchly, panthers; clay matthews, packers; bobby wagner, seahawks. 

outside linebackers: jamie collins, panthers; thomas davis, jr., panthers; tamba hali, chiefs; justin houston, chiefs; von miller, denver broncos; demarcus ware, broncos.

cornerbacks: malcolm butler, patriots; chris harris, broncos; josh norman, panthers; marcus peters, chiefs; patrick peterson, cardinals; darrelle revis, jets; richard sherman, panthers; aqib talib, broncos.

free safeties: tyrann mathieu, cardinals; reggie nelson, bengals; earl thomas, seahawks.

strong safeties: eric berry, chiefs; kam chancellor, seahawks; charles woodson, raiders.

special teams players

placekickers: stephen gostkowski, patriots; dan bailey, cowboys.
punters: sam koch, ravens; johnny hekker, rams.
return specialists: darren spoles, eagles; tyler lockett, seahawks.
special teamers: matthew slater, patriots; justin bethel, cardinals. 


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Race and Bail in America

the bail system for people of african descent in america is criminal. richard pryor once said, "there is no justice for black people - just us." listed below are statistics recently cited by the pretrial racial justice initiative (prji).

* african-americans are 2.5 times more likely to be arrested than white americans.

for non-violent drug arrests:

* african-americans are 2 times more likely to be detained than whites. 
* hispanics are 2.5 times more likely to be detained than whites.
* 1 in 15 african-american males are incarcerated.
* 1 in 36 hispanic males are incarcerated.
* 1 in 106 white males are incarcerated. 

race and bond amounts are significantly correlated:

* african-american men - 35% higher bond than white men.
* hispanic men - 19% higher bond than white men.

drivers of racial discrimination:

* implicit biases of system actors.
* jurisdictions that allow non-lawyers to make bail decisions.
* lack of adequate information to make informed decisions.
* monetary bail system.
* no oversight of discretionary decision-making.

short periods of pretrial detention increases the likelihood of:

* failure to appear in court.
* new criminal activity while awaiting trial.
* post-disposition recidivism.

defendants held for the entire trial period faced:

* four times greater likelihood of being sentenced to jail.
* three times greater likelihood of being sentenced to prison.
* three times longer jail sentences.
* two times prison sentence.

pretrial risk assessment can help to level these disparities through:

* education of implicit biases.
* move from monetary to risk-based system.
* multiple stages of release.
* oversight and accountability.
* require articulation of bail decisions.
* review of bail determinations.  

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Chicago Police Superintendent Fired after video of slain black teen surfaces 13 months later

chicago police superintendent garry mccarthy was fired tuesday by chicago mayor rahm emanuel amid disturbing racial issues within the department. after the video of 17 year-old laquan mcdonald being executed by a police officer last year surfaced just last month, community outrage and national protests led to his dismissal.

in the shocking dashboard camera video, mcdonald is seen walking away from a line of police cruisers. just six seconds after getting out of his car, officer jason van dyke shoots mcdonald. he spins around, writhing on the ground, and van dyke continues to shoot: 16 times. mcdonald had a three-inch blade knife, but didn't threaten the officer.

several patrol cars responded, yet only van dyke fired his weapon. the cook county medical examiner conducted an autopsy on mcdonald. the examiner lists the 16 wounds one by one: arms, back, chest, elbow, hand, left scalp, legs and neck. nine of the gunshots entered from the back.  

van dyke is white. mcdonald is black.

jay darshane, district manager for a burger king where mcdonald was seen running in the video, said shortly after the teenager was fatally shot, four chicago police officers demanded to see the security film. darshane also said 86 minutes of the film was deleted by the police department.

a spokesperson for the independent police review authority said, "we have no credible evidence at this time that would cause to believe cpd purged or erased any surveillance video." but darshane says the cameras were up and running all night. he said, "we had no idea they were going to sit there and delete files. i mean, we were just trying to help the police officers."

jeff neslund, an attorney for the mcdonald family said, "our first time down at the burger king restaurant when we started talking to employees, watching the burger king video, when we realized video had been deleted, or is missing, absolutely we knew something was up."  van dyke was charged with first-degree murder - a first in chicago for a cop.

chicago's black caucus and the chicago sun-times called for mccarthy's immediate ouster. under his tenure, the city has suffered with recurring street violence and controversial police-related shootings. last month, nine year-old tyshawn lee was shot and killed in an alley on the south side of the city. his tragic death was reportedly gang-related. 

in 2012, rekia boyd was shot by detective dante servin. a week after servin was acquitted in boyd's death, mccarthy defended the detective. he said dervin shouldn't have been indicted on involuntary manslaughter charges because he "hit the individual who he was aiming at," and only "happened to hit" boyd.

servin is white. boyd is black.

emanuel said (of mccarthy), "he has become an issue, rather than dealing with the issue, and a distraction." the mayor also said mccarthy was fired because of "the undeniable fact that the public trust in the leadership of the department has been shaken and eroded."    

last year, chicago surpassed new york as the nation's murder capital. additionally, the city has spent millions of dollars trying to defend racist police misconduct. undaunted, the black and brown people disproportionately impacted by their oppressive dehumanization continue to demand justice. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Kentucky Governor Restores Voting Rights to 100,000 People

kentucky governor steve beshear issued an executive action today. his progressive order will automatically restore voting rights to about 100,000 people with nonviolent felony convictions who completed their sentences. 

kentucky, florida, iowa and virginia are the only states which disenfranchise people with felony convictions after completing their sentences. voting rights in these states can only be restored through a governor's action or pardons board. about 243,000 felons in kentucky lost their voting rights, including 180,000 who completed their sentence.

almost six million americans can't vote because of the legal disenfranchisement with their felony convictions. policies vary from state to state. the most extreme states restrict voting rights even after people serve their sentences, and are no longer on parole or probation: individuals in these states make up about 45% of the entire disenfranchised population.

felony disenfranchisement has produced broad racial disparities in its impact. nationwide, one in every 13 black adults have been stripped of their right to vote. in florida and virginia, over 20% of black adults experience disenfranchisement.

marc mauer, executive director of the sentencing project said, "in issuing this executive action, governor beshear has demonstrated bold and necessary leadership. denying the right to vote to an entire class of citizens is deeply problematic for a democratic society and counterproductive to effective reentry."

nicole d. porter, director of advocacy at the sentencing project said, "we are encouraged by state officials who are reconsidering archaic disenfranchisement policies, with 23 states having enacted reforms since 1997. yet, there is much more work to do, both in kentucky and other states, to allow the full democratic participation of all citizens."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

2015 Major League Baseball Awards

here are the major league baseball post-season award winners for 2015:

most valuable player, american league - josh donaldson, toronto blue jays
most valuable player, national league - bryce harper, washington nationals

cy young award, american league - dallas keuchel, houston astros
cy young award, national league - jake arrieta, chicago cubs

manager of the year, american league - jeff banister, texas rangers
manager of the year, national league - joe maddon, chicago cubs

rookie of the year, american league - carlos correa, houston astros
rookie of the year, national league - kris bryant, chicago cubs

hank aaron award, american league - josh donaldson, toronto blue jays
hank aaron award, national league - bryce harper, washington nationals  

relief man award, american league - andrew miller, new york yankees
relief man award, national league - mark melancon, pittsburgh pirates

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015

the sentencing reform and corrections act is a bipartisan, bicameral reform bill introduced in early october in congress. the legislation would take a number of steps forward to reduce harsh penalties which are costly to families and taxpayers. 

among other initiatives, the bill intends to expand the existing safety valve, and give judges enhanced discretion to exempt a substantial number of individuals convicted of non-violent drug offenses from harsh mandatory sentences.

the bill also seeks to make the fair sentencing act of 2010 - which scaled back the unfair sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine - retroactive to allow nearly 6,000 current prisoners to petition for sentence reductions; and provide sentence reduction incentives for prisoners who take part in rehabilitative programming. 

marc mauer, executive director of the sentencing project, calls the bill, "the most substantial criminal  justice reform legislation introduced since the inception of the 'touch on crime' movement." the sentencing project works for a fair and effective u.s. justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing policy, addressing unjust racial disparities and practices, and advocating for alternatives to incarceration.   

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

2015 AL & NL Gold Glove Winners

the 2015 rawlings american league and national  league gold glove award winners were announced on tuesday night. the players are listed below:

american league
pitcher: dallas keuchel, houston astros
catcher: salvador perez, kansas city royals
first baseman: eric hosmer, kansas city royals
second baseman: jose altuve, houston astros
third baseman: manny machado, baltimore orioles
shortstop: alcides escobar, kansas city royals
left field: yoenis cespedes, detroit tigers
center field: kevin kiermaier, tampa bay rays
right field: kole calhoun, los angeles angels

national league
pitcher: zack greinke, los angeles dodgers
catcher: yadier molina, st. louis cardinals
first baseman: paul goldschmidt, arizona diamondbacks
second baseman: dee gordon, florida marlins
third baseman: nolan arenado, colorado rockies
shortstop: brandon crawford, san francisco giants
left field: starling marte, pittsburgh pirates
center field: a.j. pollock, arizona diamondbacks
right field: jason heyward, st. louis cardinals

Monday, November 02, 2015

Kansas City Royals Win 2015 World Series

the kansas city royals captured their first world series championship in 30 years with an impressive five-game victory over the new york mets. they won 7-2 in a dramatic 12th inning flurry on a chilly sunday night at citi field in new york.

royals catcher salvador perez, who hit .364 during the series, was named most valuable player. the humble all-star led the majors in games and innings caught in each of the last two seasons. perez is the first catcher to win world series mvp since pat borders of toronto in 1992.

kc scored five runs in the decisive 12th inning. the go-ahead rbi came from reserve infielder christian colon - who singled in his only at bat during the series. it was their eighth comeback win of the postseason, and the sixth time they overcame a deficit of least two runs: both world series records. kc scored 41 runs in the eighth inning or later, another world series record.

before the game, royals manager ned yost said, "i felt from the beginning this group, after what they accomplished last year and saw the heartbreak in their eyes after game seven, that we had unfinished business to do. and yeah, i sit there sometimes and think this is just the way it's supposed to be." 

kc third baseman mike moustakas also said before the game, "we knew the only way to get rid of last year's feeling is to go out there and finish the deal." royals first baseman eric hosmer said, "we all realize that these opportunities don't come often. and i think that's one thing that we all really focused in on in spring training was the fact that we came so close to winning a world series."

royals pitcher edinson volquez started game five and threw six innings of two-hit baseball - just three days after burying his 63 year-old father, who died in his native dominican republic. volquez later said, "my mom told me before i got here, go over there and enjoy the game like you always do and be proud. we are proud of you. and be proud, and make people proud, more proud than they are."

Thursday, October 22, 2015

FCC Caps Predatory Prison Phone Rates

today the federal communications commission (fcc) is voting to cap the costs of predatory prison phone calls. their decision will make all calls from prisons and detention centers around the country more affordable for families and their loved ones.

the vote is a major victory for black families and communities of african descent, who already cope with disproportionate incarceration rates, racially oppressive policing, and overly priced phone companies. 

for over a decade advocates have fought to end the phone industry monopolization. families are often forced to choose between food and communication. prison phone companies like global tel link have made billions of dollars charging outrageous prices for inadequate services.

in 2013, over 25,000 color of change members called on the fcc to end predatory prison phone prices for people calling across state boundaries. earlier this month, they hand delivered 65,000 signatures from their members to the fcc to lower those prices.

commissioner mignon clyburn, chairman tom wheeler and commissioner jessica rosenworcel have shown tremendous leadership in holding the fcc accountable. as such, the fcc is now poised to fix what clyburn says is, "the clearest, most egregious case of market failure ever."

nearly three million children in the u.s. have a parent in prison. one of every nine of these kids are black. consistent communication plays a critical role in maintaining family unity, reducing inmate recidivism and working to cultivate successful productive members of society.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Minnesota Lynx Win 2015 WNBA Title

the minnesota lynx defeated the indiana fever 69-52 in game five to win the 2015 wnba championship. the lynx captured their third crown in five years. center sylvia fowles, acquired from the chicago sky on july 27, was named the finals mvp. she had 20 points and 10 rebounds.

the last five game series was in 2009. in 2011, the lynx captured their first franchise crown. they lost the following year to the indiana pacers, and beat the atlanta dream in 2013. minnesota now join the houston comets, detroit shock and phoenix mercury as the only teams to win three wnba finals. the comets won the league's first four titles.  

this was the first championship minnesota clinched at home. the raucous crowd at the target center inspired a defensive masterpiece: indiana scored just four points in the second quarter. the lynx forced 21 turnovers and held the fever to 36% field goal shooting. 

lynx coach cheryl reeve later praised veteran all-stars seimone augustus, rebekkah brunson and lindsey whalen for their leadership, resiliency and toughness in overcoming injuries all year. augustus finished with 16 points, and brunson had 10 points and 14 rebounds. 

augustus said, "the way we grinded together, a lot of things happen throughout the season that people don't even know. we kept grinding and working despite everything that we've been through." coach reeve was asked how they persevered. before shedding tears, reeve sarcastically remarked, "it was a piece of cake. i'm just proud." 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Texas Court halts execution of death row inmate

the texas court of criminal appeals on monday halted the execution of an inmate on death row. his lawyers argued he was sentenced based on false testimony from major witnesses. the court stayed the november 3 execution of julius murphy without elaborating on its decision.

murphy, 36, was convicted in 1988 of fatally shooting jason erie in the head during a 1997 robbery. lawyers for murphy asked the court in september to put the execution on hold. they said they have new evidence which shows prosecutors coerced dishonest testimony.

"mr. murphy's conviction and death sentence were procured through prosecutorial misconduct," said catherine stetson, a lawyer for murphy. the office of the texas attorney general was not immediately available for comment. it previously said murphy was properly convicted.

murphy's lawyers said prosecutors relied heavily on the testimony of two witnesses, christina davis and javarrow young. the lawyers said they had sworn statements which show both witnesses were unduly coerced into testimony - and lied about the evidence.

in his new statement, young said one of murphy's co-defendants was the actual shooter. murphy's lawyers said young was threatened with a murder charge if he did not testify against their client. they also said davis was threatened with a conspiracy to commit murder charge if she did not testify.

lawyers for murphy have tried unsuccessfully to halt the execution by arguing he was mentally disabled, and putting him to death would be unlawful. since the u.s. supreme court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, texas has executed 529 inmates - the most of any state in the nation. 

in recent years, texas has instituted various reforms in the judicial process. although some activists believe these measures are woefully inadequate, the initiatives are designed to increase funding for public defenders, and provide greater oversight of prosecutors.  

Saturday, October 10, 2015

NBA Player Thabo Sefolosha Found Not Guilty in April 2015 NYPD Incident

atlanta hawks guard thabo sefolosha was found not guilty on all charges against him relating to an incident outside of a manhattan night club in april of this year. sefolosha was visibly relieved, but has not decided on whether to file a civil lawsuit against the nypd.

police claimed sefolosha and hawks teammate pero antic were slow to leave the area where they investigated the stabbing of indiana pacers forward chris copeland. sefolosha's lawyers argued he was falsely apprehended. he suffered a broken bone in his right leg - after his arrest.

sefolosha said after the decision on thursday, "i want to assure (jury) this was the right verdict. they were on the right side of truth and justice." nba players association director michele roberts tweeted, "thabo acquitted! justice prevails! thabo had the courage to fight the charges. we are so proud! #notguilty."

the swiss-born defensive specialist has returned to practice. however, sefolosha did experience leg pain late last month. the team is unclear when he'll be ready to play at 100% capacity. the eastern conference finalists' hawks open the regular season against the detroit pistons october 27.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Family of Black Man killed by White Cop reaches $6.5 million settlement with North Charleston

the family of the late walter scott has reached a settlement with the city of north charleston, south carolina for $6.5 million. the north charleston city council approved the decision on thursday night.

scott was fatally shot by former north charleston police officer michael slager on april 4 this year. the unarmed 50-year old scott was reportedly pulled over for a broken brake light, and later was struck in the back after running from the police.

scott is black. slager is white.

slager was charged with murder in the high profile case. state circuit judge clifton newman denied him bond last month. newman said his possible release "would constitute an unreasonable danger to the community."

the city of north charleston faced the possibility of a tedious, polarizing and expensive legal battle with the scott family. but after the announcement of this rare financial agreement - involving a black male and white cop - the lawsuit is now over.

"i'm glad the city and the family were able to reach a settlement without the necessity of a lawsuit," said north charleston mayor keith summey. the mayor praised scott's family amidst their pleas for calm immediately after the national outrage scott's tragic death spurred.

scott's mother, judy scott, told cnn's anderson cooper she "felt forgiveness in my heart, even for the guy that shot and killed my son." anthony scott, walter's brother, said his family will donate portions of the settlement to the ongoing red cross disaster relief efforts. parts of south carolina have recently succumbed to deadly flooding and torrential rains.

scott publicly thanked the small-town city for their big-time compromise on behalf of his brother. scott said, "the city of charleston's actions have ensured that walter did not die in vain. the city sent a message, loud and clear, that this type of reckless behavior will not be tolerated."     

Saturday, October 03, 2015

WNBA 2015 Year-End Awards

the wnba year-end awards highlight the outstanding achievements of players, coaches and executives in 2015. listed below are the winners:

most valuable player - elena delle donne, chicago sky
rookie of the year - jewell loyd, seattle storm
defensive player of the year - brittney griner, phoenix mercury
sixth woman of the year - allie quigley, chicago sky
most improved player - kelsey bone, connecticut sun

coach of the year - bill laimbeer, new york liberty
kim perrot sportsmanship - delisha milton-jones, los angeles sparks 

peak performers
scoring - elena delle donne, chicago sky, 23.4 points per game
rebounds - courtney paris - tulsa shock, 9.3 rebounds per game
assists - courtney vandersloot, chicago sky, 5.8 assists per game

all-wnba first team
forward - elena delle donne, chicago sky
forward - maya moore, minnesota lynx
center - tina charles, new york liberty
guard - dewana bonner, phoenix mercury
guard - angel mccoughtry, atlanta dream

all-defensive team
center - brittney griner, phoenix mercury
forward - tamika catchings, indiana fever
forward - nneka ogwumike, los angeles sparks
guard - briann january, indiana fever
guard- angel mccoughtry, atlanta dream

all-rookie team 
jewell loyd, seattle storm
ramu tokashiki, seattle storm
brittany boyd, new york liberty
kiah stokes, new york liberty
natalie achonwa, indiana fever
ana dabovic, los angeles sparks

Monday, September 14, 2015

Flavia Pennetta and Novak Djokovic Win 2015 US Open Singles Titles

flavia pennetta of italy defeated (her best friend and countrywoman) roberta vinci, 7-6, 6-2, to win the 2015 us open singles championship on saturday in new york city. pennetta, seeded #26, captured the first major singles title of her 15-year career. 

pennetta recorded straight-set wins over stosur, kvitova and halep - all ranked ahead of her - to reach the final. "i just tried to play every match i can from the first, tried not to think of the draw and go match by match. i tried to focus on what i had to do when i go on court, and here i am, so i'm really happy," pennetta said afterwards.    

she received a $3.3 million paycheck for her unexpected, yet proudly successful efforts. during her acceptance speech with espn's robin roberts, in a surprising move, pennetta humbly announced her retirement from the sport. she later admitted to making the decision a month ago. pennetta said, "it's the way i'd like to say goodbye to tennis. i couldn't think to finish in a better way."

pennetta, 33, and vinci, 32, are the oldest women to play in a major singles final in the open era. pennetta is the oldest woman to become a major champion for the first time. this was also the first major singles final for each participant, and the first time since 1975 two us open finalists were out of the top 20. ironically, both women were opponents and doubles partners as kids.

world #1 novak djokovic of serbia defeated world #2 roger federer of switzerland 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 to win the 2015 us open singles championship on sunday in new york city. djokovic became the eighth man in history to hold 10 major singles crowns. 

his career record against federer is now 21-21, and they are now the only men to win three majors in one year - multiple times. djokovic reached the finals of all four majors this year, losing the french open to stan warwinka, federer's countryman and doubles partner. "it's been an incredible year. next to 2011. all those results and achievements are motivation for me to win more," djokovic said.

djokovic, 28, currently holds a 63-5 record for the year, which is the best on tour. he's been the number one player for most of the last four years. djokovic recently married and became a proud father. but the raucous, pro-federer crowd of nearly 23,000 in arthur ashe stadium clearly wanted his opponent to win his elusive 18th major title.  

but djokovic saved 19 of 23 break points during the rain-delayed and highly-competitive match. he's one major behind bjorn borg and rod laver, and only two behind roy emerson. djokovic is coached by multiple-slam winner boris becker of germany. he cites a gluten-free diet, regular meditation and yoga as keys to his success. he fluently speaks eight languages and is working on two more.   


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Michael Jordan awarded $8.9 million for unethical Dominick's ad

a federal judge on friday ordered the owners of dominick's to pay michael jordan $8.9 million for using his identity without his permission in an advertisement. 

in 2009, the now defunct supermarket chain used jordan's identity for its rancher's reserve steaks in a special issue of sports illustrated. the ad commemorated his elevation to the nba hall of fame.

lawyers for dominick's owner, safeway, argued they should pay $126, 900. but after deliberating for more than six hours at the end of a week-long trial, the jury decided on an amount closer to what jordan wanted - $10 million.

during the five-year court battle, a judge previously assigned to the case described jordan's demands as "greedy." however before the case went into trial, the court said dominick's was liable for running the ad: the jurors'  lone decision was how much should they pay.

jordan said, "it is my name, and i've worked hard for it for 30-something years, and i'm not just going to let someone take it. it's not the type of court i like to win at, but unfortunately we ended up in this court, and i'm very happy with the result."

Monday, August 17, 2015

Julian Bond Makes Transition at 75

julian bond made his transition saturday night. bond was 75 years old, and he died in fort walton, florida, after a brief illness. he was an activist, educator, humanitarian, organizer, politician and writer. 

bond was a nashville, tennessee native who attended morehouse college. while in school, bond co-founded the student non-violent coordinating committee (sncc). he became their communications director and was a prominent figure in the civil rights movement.

bond served 20 years in the georgia legislature. his anti-war protests were not supported by some of his political colleagues when america fought in vietnam. he was elected to the georgia house of representatives in 1965, but some angry white members - and seven black members - accused him of disloyalty and refused to let him take his seat. 

a unanimous u.s. supreme court ruling in favor of bond confirmed his seat in office. the court said denying him his seat would be a violation of his freedom of speech. generally well-liked and respected, he was not a polarizing figure, but the u.s. role in the war divided americans from all walks of life. 

in 1986, bond ran to represent georgia in the house of representatives. he was defeated by john lewis, a fellow activist and sncc co-founder. later, bond served as the board chairman for the 500,000 member national association for the advancement of colored people (naacp) for 10 years. bond declined to run for (another) one-year term in 2010.

bond would often appear as a commentator on various programs like nbc's today show, or the news hour with jim lehrer on pbs, and the tavis smiley show. bond was an adjunct professor at american university, and was a professor of history at the university of virginia.  

after his death, lewis said their congressional race created "a little schism for awhile" between them, but nothing could weaken their lasting friendship. lewis said bond was "a wonderful writer, a poet. he had a great sense of humor. he could make you laugh until you wanted to cry. but he worked very hard. he was just smart. just smart. brilliant."  

southern poverty law center co-founder morris dees said, "with julian's passing, the country has lost one of its most passionate and eloquent voices for the cause of justice. he advocated not just for african-americans, but for every group, indeed every person subject to oppression and discrimination, because he recognized the common humanity in us all." 

president barack obama said, "julian bond was a hero and, i'm privileged to say, a friend. justice and equality was the mission that spanned his life. julian bond helped change this country for the better. and what better way to be remembered than that."

Sunday, August 09, 2015

NYC Taxi Driver Fined $25K for not picking up black family

a yellow taxi driver in new york city must pay $25,000 in fines and compensation for discrimination against a black family. the driver, baqir raza, refused to pick up cynthia jordan and her two daughters outside macy's in midtown, but let two white females into his cab instead.

raza told jordan he was off-duty, locked the doors and then drove 25 feet to pick up the white consumers. office of administrative trials and hearing (oath) judge raymond kramer ruled last week raza must pay $10,000 in compensation to jordan, and a $15,000 civil fine.

jordan, 57, a queens resident and vice president at a stock transfer firm, said, "i'm happy for the judgment. hopefully, someone will hear about this, and it will affect the way taxi drivers pick up fares in new york."

jordan says she routinely faces discrimination when trying to hail a cab. jordan said, "i'm always out with my young daughter trying to grab a cab. there is nothing threatening about us, and you should see how many people drive right past us."

on october 19, 2013, jordan's daughter, chiley holder, saw raza pull his taxi over to let a passenger exit. his on-duty light was on, but raza locked the door when holder tried to open it. raza said he was taking a break and switched his off-duty light on. but he then picked up the white females.

jordan ran up to his cab exclaiming, "are you kidding me? you picked up these two white bitches...instead of me and my family...i'm going to report you. jordan said raza wasn't fazed by her threat. "he said, yeah, go ahead and report me," she recalled.

holder works for the city's 311 system and urged her mother to file a complaint with the taxi and limousine commission (tlc), and the human rights commission. raza paid a $200 fine to the tlc in november, 2013. he plead guilty to a violation for refusing to pick up the jordan family.

however, the city's commission on human rights brought charges against raza at the oath hearing overseen by judge kramer. the commission must still approve kramer's recommendation for the $25,000 in penalties. 

jordan says she hopes the obstinate fines will teach raza a lesson. jordan said, "you don't have impunity to do whatever you do. if you drive a cab, then drive a cab and pick up all fares. that's what you're supposed to do."



Saturday, August 08, 2015

2015 NFL Football Hall of Fame Class

the 53rd class of the national football league hall-of-fame will be honored saturday night in canton, ohio. the celebrated men are jerome bettis, tim brown, charles haley, bill polian, junior seau, will shields, mick tinglehoff and ron wolf.

bettis played 13 seasons with the los angeles/st.louis rams and pittsburgh steelers. he ranks fifth all-time in rushing with 13,662 yards. a six-time pro bowl selection, bettis ("the bus") rushed for 100 yards or more 61 times. 

brown played 16 years with the los angeles/oakland raiders, and one (his final) season with the tampa bay buccaneers. he caught 1,094 career receptions for 14,934 yards and 100 touchdowns. brown also totaled 4,555 yards and four touchdowns and kickoff and punt returns.

haley is the only nfl player to win five super bowl titles. he racked up 100.5 sacks in his 12-year career with the dallas cowboys and san francisco 49ers. haley posted double-digit sack totals in six different seasons.   

polian helped build the 1990s buffalo bills, and launched the expansion carolina panthers in 1995. he led the indianapolis colts to unprecedented success in the 2000s. the colts won super bowl 41 following the 2006 season. he was nfl's executive of the year by the sporting news six times.

seau played 20 nfl seasons with the san diego chargers, miami dolphins and new england patriots. he's regarded as one of the best linebackers in history. seau made first-team all-pro eight teams, was selected to the pro bowl 12 times, and was named defensive player of the year in 1992.

shields played 224 games during his 14-year career with the kansas city chiefs. he never missed a game. shields was named to the all-decade team of the 2000s, selected first-team all-pro three tines, and played in 12 straight pro bowls.  

tinglehoff was signed as a free agent by the minnesota vikings. he earned a starting role as center - as a rookie - and never missed a game during his 17-year career. tinglehoff was a seven-time all-league selection, and was named to six consecutive pro bowls. 

wolf spent 23 years with the los angeles/oakland raiders. those gritty and rugged teams had 17 winning seasons under his budding leadership. wolf later transformed the green bay packers into super bowl champions.  
the hall currently limits the number of inductees to eight per year. they adjusted its bylaws in 2014 to give added consideration to contributors like polian and wolf. both men were architects of numerous super bowl teams during their years as general managers.

this year the hall is making an exception to its ceremonial rules, which do not allow for live speeches on behalf of deceased honorees. but sydney seau will speak about her father, who committed suicide in 2012. she and her three brothers will unveil his bust at the enshrinement ceremony.

"our goal is to maintain our policy regarding enshrinement speeches, but also show compassion and understanding," said hall of fame president david baker, in a statement. next year's hall-of-fame class will be determined in february prior to super bowl 50. brett favre and terrell owens are among those eligible in 2016.



Friday, July 17, 2015

Eric Garner Family Receives $5.9 Million Settlement from NYC

almost one year after he died at the hands of new york city police officers, the family of eric garner accepted a pretrial settlement from the city on monday. garner's estate, which filed a claim against the city in october, 2014 for damages related to his untimely demise, will be paid $5.9 million.

new york city comptroller scott springer's office is charged with settling claims against the city. springer said, "following a judicious review of the claim and facts of this case, my office was able to reach a settlement with the estate of eric garner that is in the best interest of all parties."

cell phone video of garner's death in july, 2014 emerged, fueling conflicts between the nypd and the community. garner, an unarmed 41 year-old black man, was put in an illegal chokehold by a white cop who hasn't been charged with a crime. officers alleged garner was selling loose cigarettes before his fatal encounter.  

"we are all familiar with the events that led to the death of eric garner and the extraordinary impact his passing has had on our city and our nation. it forced us to examine the state of race relations, and the relationship between our police force and the people they serve." and, while the settlement "acknowledges the tragic nature of mr. garner's death, the city has not admitted liability," said springer.

new york city mayor bill de blasio said the anniversary of his death was on his mind, as it was for many other new yorkers. but the mayor said, "i think the important thing is to stay focused on the work of the reform. i think we've come a long way, even in the last year, in terms of bringing police and community together." 


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

President Obama Commutes Prior Sentences of 46 Drug Offenders

president barack obama on monday commuted the prison sentences of 46 drug offenders. the commander-in-chief said the move was part of his larger attempt to reform the criminal justice system, including reducing punishments for non-violent crimes and reviewing sentencing laws.

obama has commuted about 90 sentences - more than any president since lyndon b. johnson. most have been for federal prisoners incarcerated for drug offenses with long sentences mandated under guidelines set in the 1980's. under current sentencing guidelines, most of these individuals would have served their time.

of the 46 people commuted on monday, 13 were serving life sentences. most of these commuted sentences will now end in november, 2015. this is a several month transition period officials said allowed for arrangements to be made in halfway homes and other related facilities.

after they're released, the former prisoners will be supervised by probation officers and subject to conditions set during their original sentencing, which for some includes drug testing. earlier this year, 22 prisoners convicted of drug crimes were granted release. in late 2014, eight criminals were also given commutations.

unlike a presidential pardon, a commutation does not erase a criminal conviction, it only reduces a sentence. obama has granted 64 pardons in his presidency. the white house on monday posted a letter written by obama to each of the 46 men and women granted commutations.

obama wrote, "i am granting your application because you have demonstrated the potential to turn your life around. now it is up to you to make the most of this opportunity. it will not be easy, and you will confront many who doubt people with criminal records can change. perhaps even you are unsure of how you will adjust to your new circumstances. but remember that you have the capacity to make good choices."

later this week, obama is expected to discuss his plans for more criminal justice reform. on tuesday he travels to philadelphia to speak at the annual naacp convention. on thursday obama will become the first president ever to visit a federal prison, when he tours the el reno facility in oklahoma. "i believe that at its heart, america is a nation for second chances, and i believe these folks deserve their second chance," obama said.


Monday, July 13, 2015

Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic Win 2015 Wimbledon Singles Titles

serena williams of the united states defeated garbine muguruza of spain 6-4, 6-4 to win the 2015 wimbledon singles championship. williams now has six career singles titles at the all-england club in london. the historic win on saturday improved her majors finals record to 21-4.

williams became the first player to win four consecutive majors twice; the first time in 2002-03. her unique feat is known as the "serena slam." at 33, she's the oldest to win a major title in the open era - 16 years after her first championship at the u.s. open. the world #1 is one major victory away from tying steffi graf of germany, who has 22 grand slam trophies.

"i've been trying to win four in a row for 12 years, and it hasn't happened. i've had a couple of injuries. you know, it's been an up and down process. i honestly can't say that last year or two years ago or even five years ago i would have thought that i would have won four in a row," williams said.

williams has six titles at the australian open, wimbledon and the u.s. open, and three at the french open. muguruza, 21, upset williams in the second round at roland garros last year. the hard-hitting woman reached her first major final, and will enter the top 10 for the first time in her bright and promising young career.

novak djokovic of serbia beat roger federer of switzerland 7-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 to win the 2015 wimbledon singles title. the world #1 now has nine major singles victories in his career, including three at the all-england club in london. he defeated federer in five thrilling sets last year.

djokovic won the australian open in january, lost the french open final to stan warwinka of switzerland, and defended his wimbledon title against federer on sunday. djokovic has reached 15 of the last 20 major singles finals - winning eight. his major finals record is 9-8, but he's never won at roland garros.

djokovic later praised coach boris becker, whom he hired in december, 2013. becker has six majors, including three at wimbledon. "it's definitely been a long run since we started working together. it took a while to understand each other. he is german. i'm serbian, so there are significant differences! we managed to find common ground and the right chemistry. this is his trophy as much as mine, he said."   
the 28 year-old serb now has a 20-20 career record against federer. last year, federer held serve in 88 of 89 games through the semifinals, but was broken four times by djokovic - the greatest returner in history. this year, federer held serve in 89 of 90 matches before the semis, and was broken by djokovic four times (again) in the finals.



Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Virginia Governor Removes Barriers to Voters with Felony Convictions

virginia governor terry mcauliffe recently announced individuals with felony convictions no longer have to pay outstanding court costs before they're eligible to have their voting rights restored. mcauliffe also said they will now be able to include that information on their official police record.

"these men and women will still be required to pay their costs and fees, but their court debts will no longer serve as a financial barrier to voting, just as poll taxes did for many years in virginia," said governor mcauliffe.

historically, virginia has been one of the most oppressive states restoring voting rights to felons. their colonial polices disproportionately impact black residents: in 2010, over 20% of the voting-age black population could not vote due to felonies. civil rights history scholar helen gibson says virginia's felony disenfranchisement laws can be "traced back to 19th century attempts to undercut the voting strengths of african-americans."

mcauliffe's administration took steps to streamline the voter restoration process. those steps include reducing the waiting period before applying for people convicted of violent crimes from five years to three. and, removing drug crimes from the list of felony offenses requiring a waiting period.

in his first 17 months in office, governor mcauliffe restored voting rights to over 8,000 people - more than any previous governor in their four-year term. 71% of those people have already registered to vote. the aclu of virginia says they're working hard to place a constitutional amendment for automatic restoration on the 2018 ballot.





Monday, June 29, 2015

2015 Rent Guidelines Board Increase

on monday june 29, the new york city rent guidelines board (rgb) voted for a zero percent increase on one-year lease renewals for rent-stabilized apartments. this vote is the first time in 50 years the rgb has approved a rent freeze for one-year lease renewals. 

there are over 1.2 million new yorkers who live in rent-stabilized units. most of these residents' leases will end sometime this year, and they share deep concerns about their future. tonight's historic vote means the following: 

1) if you sign a one-year lease renewal between 10/1/2015 and 9/30/2016, your rent won't increase; 2) if you sign a two-year lease renewal lease between 10/1/2015 and 9/30/2016, your rent will increase two percent; 3) if you're facing harassment from your landlord, call 311 and report it now. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Warriors Beat Cavs To Win 2015 NBA Title

the golden state warriors on tuesday beat the cleveland cavaliers 105-97 in game six on the road to become the 2015 nba champions. the warriors' first title in franchise history was 40 years ago. golden state forward andre iguodala was named nba finals most valuable player - the first such honored after not starting a regular season game.

iguodala, an 11-year veteran, was taken out of the starting lineup at the beginning of the season in order for harrison barnes to start. although he didn't approve of the decision, iguodala neither privately nor publicly questioned the bold move of warriors' rookie coach steve kerr. moreover, iguodala is known as the team's resident sage.

kerr said, "he had never come off the bench once in his entire career, and he sacrificed to make harrison better, to make our bench better, and that set the tone for our entire season. an all-star, an olympian saying, 'ok, i'll come off the bench? it set the tone for everything we were able to accomplish, so it feels like full-circle to me that andre received the award. couldn't happen to a better person."

the warriors' draymond green finished the game with a triple-double: 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. but he also remembers the naysayers who doubted his pro ability. "i was a second-round pick, and a lot of people said i could never play in this league. too slow, too small, can't shoot well enough, can't defend anybody. what does he do well? he doesn't have a skill. i've got heart, and that's what stands out," green said.     

nba mvp stephen curry was asked what he learned about his first nba finals as the series progressed. curry said, "to block out the noise, that's the biggest thing." about his teammates, iguodala said, "we have a lot of different personalities. draymond's loud. klay's quiet. then we've got everything in between. but the common denominator is guys were like really hungry to show what they could do individually, and then we believed in our team as a group."

golden state fought back from a two-to-one deficit against cleveland. they showed the mental fortitude and physical toughness critics accused them of lacking during the regular season, after their 67-15 league-best record. but they were also down two games to one against memphis and houston in this year's playoffs; they persevered in each series - clinching game six on the road each time. 

despite their youth, the warriors are the first team since the 1991 chicago bulls to win an nba championship without a single player with nba finals experience. golden state matured in front of the entire world. iguodala said, "the first three games, they were bringing the fight to us. we were just reacting. i felt like games 4, 5 and 6, we were proactive. we brought the fight to them."





Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Chicago Blackhawks Win 2015 NHL Stanley Cup

the chicago blackhawks defeated the tampa bay lightning 2-0 in game six to win the 2015 nhl stanley cup title in front of a raucous crowd of 22,424 fans in chicago's united center. the blackhawks' sixth championship in franchise history is their third in the last six years. the emerging dynasty was also victorious in 2010 and 2013.

the hawks' duncan keith was unanimously given the conn smythe trophy as most valuable player. keith scored once and led a dominant defense against a high-powered offense. "it feels so great. you want to keep being a part of these things. you don't get these awards without being on great teams with great players and like i said, i'm just proud to be a part of this group of guys who cares so much and do whatever it takes, keith said."   

chicago's all-star center and captain jonathan toews raised the stanley cup over his head after the thrilling game. toews said, "we won it for each other, for the city. in so many ways, winning a championship like this in our home city, i think it really transcends the sport. everyone wants to be a part of it. it's amazing."

the hawks' all-star left wing patrick kane scored his first (and only) goal of the final in the second period. he also added an assist, helping his team clinch the cup on home ice for the first time since 1938. kane said, "just wanted to play my best game and control the puck as much as possible and try to step up for my team." 

chicago goalie corey crawford, who was pulled from their first-round series against nashville, had 25 saves in his fifth career playoff shutout. this was the first stanley cup for kimmo timonen, who plans to retire. the 40 year-old defenseman was acquired in a trade from philadelphia - after he missed the start of the season due to blood clots in his legs and lungs. the hawks' record in game sixes is 13-1 since the 2009 playoffs.


Wednesday, June 03, 2015

40 Reasons American Jails and Prisons are full of Black and Poor People

the united states department of justice (doj) reports 2.2 million people are currently in our nation's jails and prisons. 4.5 million people are on parole or probation. one of every 35 u.s. adults is in jail, prison, parole or probation. 

most people behind bars are black or poor. here are 40 reasons why...

1)   crime rates have risen and fallen independently of our growing incarceration rates.

2)   black and poor people are targeted by the police, who discriminate against both.

3)   police traffic stops racially target people in cars.

4)   black and latino motorists are likelier to get tickets than white drivers.

5)   once stopped, black and latino drivers are likelier to get searched than white drivers.

6)   traffic tickets are big business.

7)   unpaid traffic tickets lead to jail time.

8)   in schools, black kids are likelier to be referred to the police than other kids.

9)   black kids account for 28% of total juvenile arrests.

10) despite using at the same rate, blacks are 3.7 times likelier to be arrested for possession of marijuana than whites.

11) the u.s. has much tougher drug laws and significantly longer sentences for drug offenses than most other countries.       

12) the bail system penalizes poor people, who remain in jail, presumed to be innocent, awaiting trial, unable to pay to get out of jail.

13) the prison industrial system provides jobs to local, state and federal officials.

14) about 75% of people in jail are for non-violent offenses.

15) criminal bonds take in about $14 billion annually.

16) the rate of mental illness is four to six times higher inside jails than outside.

17) most of the people who need drug treatment in jail don't get it.

18) people who are chemically dependent, mentally ill and/or poor usually remain locked up until their trial dates.

19) poor people normally rely on public defenders, and many facing misdemeanor charges never see a lawyer at all.

20) public defenders are overworked and underfunded when they represent poor people with felony charges.

21) poor people plead guilty not knowing their legal rights.

22) guilty pleas are often coerced by police, leading to wrongful convictions.

23) over 95% of criminal cases are finished by plea bargains.

24) poor people are four times likelier to receive a prison sentence than those who got out on bail.

25) 75% of people imprisoned for drug offenses are black and latino.

26) in new york city, blacks are jailed about 12 times the rate of whites.

27) black males are imprisoned five times the rate of white males.

28) prisons are a lucrative private business.

29) blacks account for almost half of the people serving life sentences.

30) some telephone calls are as high as $12.95 for 15 minutes.

31) 3.9 million people are on probation.

32) 850,000 people are on parole.

33) as many as 100 million people have a criminal record, and over 94 million of those records are online.

34) arrest records and court records are easily accessible online, and 87% of employers conduct background checks.

35) employers are likelier to check the criminal history of black male applicants than white male applicants.

36) 180,000 women are subject to lifetime bans from temporary assistance to needy families because of felony drug convictions.

37) more than 60% of formerly incarcerated people are unemployed one year after being released.

38) the u.s. spends $80 billion on the corrections system annually.

39) jail creates poverty.

40) a criminal record serves as both a direct cause and consequence for poverty.   


Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Reparations for Slave Owners in America

according to the national archives and records administration, the district of columbia emancipation act paved the way to compensate slave owners. they were paid handsomely for their "loyalty to the union," and for the loss of income they incurred by freeing enslaved africans.

on april 16, 1862, president abraham lincoln signed a bill ending slavery in the district of columbia. passage of this historic law came eight and a half months before the commander-in-chief issued his provocative emancipation proclamation.

the act ended what anti-slavery advocates called the "national shame" of slavery in the nation's capitol. it provided for immediate emancipation, compensation to former owners loyal to the union up to $300 for each freed enslaved african, voluntary colonization of former enslaved africans to locations outside the u.s., and payments up to $100 for each person choosing emigration.

over the next nine months, the board of commissioners appointed to administer the act would approve 930 petitions - completely or in part - from former slave owners for the freedom of 2,989 formerly enslaved africans.    


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Republican Maryland Governor Vetoes Bill to Restore Voting Rights to about 40,000 people

maryland republican governor larry hogan vetoed a bill to restore voting rights to people immediately after prison, rather than waiting until they've completed parole or probation. the bill would have an impacted an estimated 40,000 disenfranchised people.

the senate passed the measure with the minimum votes needed to override a veto, but the house was just two votes short of an override. governor hogan wrote a provocative letter to legislative leaders expressing his views about the bill.

hogan said restoring voting rights to people after they have completed parole or probation, "achieves the proper balance between repayment of obligations to society for a felony conviction and the restoration of the various restricted rights."  

communities united, a social justice advocacy group supporting the progressive measure, criticized the veto. the group said, "governor hogan has learned nothing from the uprising in baltimore and what the city and state residents needs. freddie gray's west baltimore neighborhood has the highest rate of disenfranchisement in the state. former felons need a voice and the ability to influence what happens in their communities and lives."

democratic senator joan carter conway says she needs to gather just a handful of votes in each chamber to override the veto when the general assembly convenes next january.


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Senate Passes Historic Bipartisan Medical Marijuana Bill for Veterans

the senate appropriations committee passed a bipartisan amendment yesterday. the historic measure allows veterans administration (va) doctors to recommend medical marijuana to their patients in states where medical marijuana is legal. the vote was 18-12.

"veterans in medical marijuana states should be treated the same as any other resident, and should be able to discuss marijuana with their doctor and use it if it's medically necessary. they have served this country valiantly, so the least we can do is allow them to have full and open discussions with their doctors," said michael collins, drug policy alliance policy manager.

the veterans equal access amendment was sponsored by senator steve daines (r-mont) and senator jeff merkley (d-ore). it was added in committee to a must-pass military construction and veterans affairs spending bill. the bill is expected to pass on the senate floor.

t.j. thompson, a disabled navy veteran said, "veterans see this victory as a major step forward in restoring our first amendment rights within the va. this will allow for a safe, open dialogue between providers and patients, and allows veterans to be treated the same as any patient."

in 2002, the ninth circuit court of appeals affirmed in conant v. walters the right of physicians to recommend medical marijuana, regardless of its illegality under federal law, as well as the right of patients to receive accurate information. 

currently, the department of veterans affairs specifically prohibits its medical providers from completing forms brought by their patients seeking recommendations or opinions regarding participation in a state medical marijuana program.

there are numerous federal health care programs besides the va, such as medicaid, medicare and chip - but only the va prohibits physicians from discussing and recommending medical marijuana to their patients. a medicare patient may freely discuss medical marijuana use with their doctor, but a returning veteran is denied the same right.

studies show medical marijuana helps treat post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, two illnesses typically suffered by veterans. last year, a study (by the new mexico medical cannibas program) of people with ptsd showed a greater than 75% reduction in severity of symptoms when patients were using marijuana to treat their illness, compared to when they were not.

in 2014, the u.s. house voted five times in favor of letting states set their own marijuana policies. one of the amendments, prohibiting the justice department from spending any money in fiscal year 2015 undermining state medical marijuana laws, made it into the final spending bill signed into law by president obama.    


Thursday, May 21, 2015

2015 All-NBA and All-NBA Defensive Teams

2015 all-nba first team

guard - stephen curry, golden state warriors.
guard - james harden, houston rockets.
forward - lebron james, cleveland cavaliers.
forward - anthony davis, new orleans pelicans.

center - marc gasol. memphis grizzlies.

2015 all-nba second team
guard - russell westbrook, oklahoma city thunder.
guard - chris paul, los angeles clippers.
forward - lamarcus aldridge, portland trailblazers.
forward- demarcus cousins, sacramento kings.
center - pau gasol, chicago bulls.

2015 all-nba third team
guard - kyrie irving, cleveland cavaliers.
guard - klay thompson, golden state warriors.
forward - blake griffin, los angeles clippers.
forward - tim duncan, san antonio spurs.
center - deandre jordan, los angeles clippers.

2015 nba all-defensive first team
guard - chris paul, los angeles clippers.
guard - tony allen, memphis grizzlies.
forward - kawhi leonard, san antonio spurs.
forward - draymond green, golden state warriors.
center - deandre jordan, los angeles clippers.

2015 nba all-defensive second team
guard - jimmy butler, chicago bulls.
guard - john wall, washington wizards.
forward - anthony davis, new orleans pelicans.
forward - tim duncan, san antonio spurs.
center - andrew bogut, golden state warriors. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Population at Youth Facilities Cut 50% Since 1999

new figures were released from the office of juvenile justice and delinquency prevention (ojjdp). the united states experienced a 50% decline in youth placed in residential facilities since 1999, totaling 54,148 in 2013. the data proves lower youth crime rates reduce states' institutional populations.

despite the encouraging news, racial disparities persist. black youth comprise 40% of detained youth. the decades-long trend of disproportionate detention for black youth is troubling and underscores the need to reauthorize the juvenile justice and delinquency prevention act (jjdpa).

senators charles grassley (r-iowa) and shedlon whitehouse (d-rhode island) have introduced sb 1169 to reauthorize the jjdpa. the grassley-whitehouse bill intends to strengthen an important requirement of the jjdpa by mandating states to identify and reduce ethnic and racial inequities at various points of contact with the justice system.     


Thursday, May 07, 2015

2015 KIA NBA Performance Awards

the 2015 kia nba performance award winners are listed below:

most valuable player - stephen curry, golden state warriors.
rookie of the year - andrew wiggins, minnesota timberwolves.

defensive player of the year - kawhi leonard, san antonio spurs.

most improved player of the year - jimmy butler, chicago bulls.

sixth man of the year - lou williams, toronto raptors.

coach of the year - mike budenholzer, atlanta hawks.

executive of the year - bob myers, golden state warriors.

sportsman of the year - kyle korver, atlanta hawks.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Mayweather defeats Pacquiao in 12 rounds by unanimous decision

floyd mayweather on saturday emerged victorious after 12 rounds in a hard-fought, competitive and technically sound win over manny pacquiao in "the fight of the century." judge dave moretti scored the bout 118-110, while both burt clements and glenn feldman had it 116-112.

the mgm grand garden arena in las vegas, nevada was jam packed and sold out with athletes, celebrities and musicians from around the world in the house. the commentary was shared by hbo and showtime on the second ever joint pay-per-view (ppv) telecast between the networks, as were the ring announcing duties.

the event is expected to shatter every revenue and ppv buy rate record, with upward of $300 million and 3 million buys in play. the welterweight battle cost a record $99.99 in high definition. ringside tickets were sold for $10,000 - none of the seats were open to the general public.

mayweather's (48-0, 26 KOs) previous 13 opponents connected on an average of 19% of their punches against him. pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 KOs) connected on 19% of his punches against him last night. afterwards, mayweather said, "when the history books are written, this fight will have been worth the wait."

hbo ringside analyst roy jones, jr. said pacquiao looked about 10 mph slower than mayweather. pacquiao's hall of fame trainer freddie roach thought his charge fought too flatfooted most of the night. george foreman calls mayweather a defensive genius. but pacquiao, 36, felt he moved around too much. pacquiao said, "if he would've stayed in one place i could've thrown more punches."

mayweather, 38, picked up a fifth title belt against pacquiao. he's won championships in five weight classes spanning his impeccable career (130 pounds, 135, 140, 147 and 154). mayweather beat victor ortiz in september, 2011, miguel cotto in may, 2012, canelo alvarez in september, 2013 and marcos maidano in may, 2014.

at a press conference on sunday, mayweather vowed to relinquish all of his belts on monday. he said, "i want to give other fighters a chance. i'm not greedy. i'm fortunate to be a champion in two weight classes right now. i'm the undisputed welterweight champion. i have the wbc and wba belt at super welterweight. i have the wbo, wba and wbc at 147. it's time to let other fighters fight for the belts."

mayweather says his final fight will take place in september. in addition to creating an opportunity for young boxers, he will avoid the sanctioning fees which accompany a title defense. the fight will be 12 rounds. if he wins, mayweather intends to retire with a 49-0 career record - tying rocky marciano, internationally respected one of the greatest boxers in history.   


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

WNBA All-Star Britney Griner Pleads Guilty to Disorderly Conduct

wnba all-star britney griner accepted a plea deal following her arrest on april 22 for disorderly conduct and suspicion of assault. griner, who plays center for the phoenix mercury, will enter a diversion program, said her attorney david michael cantor on tuesday.

griner, 24, plead guilty to disorderly conduct. she will attend 26 weeks of domestic violence counseling - and upon completion all charges will be dropped. griner voluntarily began counseling the day after her arrest, and is cooperating with the league's investigation into the matter.

a verbal argument between griner and her fiancee, glory johnson, turned physical. the incident led to minor injuries in their goodyear, arizona home. both were seen "throwing things at each other, and several people inside the home tried to break up the fight," before authorities were called, the police report noted.

griner and johnson were both arrested on assault and disorderly conduct allegations. yet, neither of the women desired prosecution. the popular basketball couple were subsequently booked into the maricopa county jail in downtown phoenix, and later released.

"it is never ok for an argument to turn physical. this will never happen again, and i take my relationship and my responsibility as a role model seriously. i am committed to making positive changes and i plan to use what i have learned to set a good example and help make a difference in the world around me," griner said. 

last year, in addition to leading her squad to a title and being named the starting center on the western all-star team (despite nagging injuries), griner was named the wnba defensive player of the year. johnson, 24, was a forward with the much improved tulsa shock in 2014. the pair announced their engagement last summer.     


Friday, April 24, 2015

Loretta Lynch confirmed as first black female U.S. Attorney General

the u.s. senate on thursday voted to approve loretta lynch as the next u.s. attorney general. lynch becomes the nation's first black female top law enforcement official. the historic confirmation took five months - longer than the last seven attorney generals combined.

lynch, 55, was approved by a 56-43 vote. ten republicans cast their ballots for lynch, including senate majority leader mitch mcconnell. she expects to begin serving as head of the u.s. justice department on monday, replacing eric holder, the first black attorney general.

many republicans who voted against lynch vehemently disliked her support of president obama's executive order issued in november. the controversial order was meant to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation. 

republican senator jeff sessions, an outspoken critic of the order, said, "we do not have to confirm someone to the highest law enforcement position in america if that someone is publicly committed to denigrating congress, violating law."    

senate democratic leader harry reid chided republicans for delaying the vote. reid said lynch was "as qualified a candidate" as he'd seen in almost 30 years in the senate. lynch has awaited confirmation since last november when obama, a fellow harvard law school graduate, nominated her.

lynch will likely handle some civil rights cases involving recent fatal incidents between white male police officers and unarmed black males in several cities. the justice department said it will assess possible civil rights charges against cops in maryland. freddie gray, 25, died on sunday in baltimore after sustaining a spinal cord injury while in police custody. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

John Legend announces campaign to end mass incarceration in america

grammy-winning singer john legend wants to end mass incarceration. legend announced on monday the multi-year initiative, free america. he'll visit and perform at a correctional facility on thursday in austin, texas; where he'll also take part in a press conference with state legislators to discuss texas' criminal justice system.

legend said, "we have a serious problem with incarceration in this country. it's destroying families, it's destroying communities and we're the most incarcerated country in the world, and when you look deeper and look at the reasons we go to this place, we as a society made some choices politically and legislatively, culturally to deal with poverty, deal with mental illness in a certain way, and that way usually involves using incarceration."

legend, 36, will also visit a california state prison and co-host a criminal justice event with politico in washington, d.c. later this month. the campaign will include participation from other artists - to be announced - and various organizations committed to ending mass incarceration.

legend's speech at the oscars this year resonated with people who share his views. he won best original song for "glory" from the film selma, with actor/rapper common. "i'm just trying to create some more awareness on this issue and trying to make some real change legislatively. and we're not the only ones. there are senators that are looking at this, like rand paul and cory booker, there are other nonprofits that are looking at this, and i just wanted to add my voice to that," legend said.

the singer/songwriter feels an early victory for his campaign was the approval of proposition 47 in california in november. the progressive initiative calls for treating shoplifting, forgery, fraud, petty theft and possession of small amounts of drugs - including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine - as misdemeanors, instead of felonies.      

"once you have that tag of a felony on your name, it's hard for you to do anything. getting those reduced to mmisdemeanors really impacted a lot of lives and we hope to launch more initiatives like that around the country," legend said.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Aaron Hernandez: Professional Timeline and Personal Tragedy

june 8, 2010 - aaron hernandez, a superb tight end from the university of florida, is drafted and signed to a four-year contract with the new england patriots.

july 16, 2012 - two men, daniel de abreu and safiro furtado, are shot to death in their car as they wait at a red light in boston's south end neighborhood.

august 27, 2012 - hernandez signs a five-year, $40 million contract with the patriots.

february, 2013 - alexander bradley, an associate of hernandez, is shot in the face in florida. bradley files a lawsuit alleging hernandez shot him after they argued at a strip club.

june 17, 2013 - the body of odin lloyd, a semi-professional football player, is found about a mile from hernandez's mansion in north attleborough, massachusetts. lloyd was dating the sister of hernandez's fiancee.

june 26, 2013 - hernandez is arrested on a murder charge in lloyd's death, and taken from his home in handcuffs. the patriots release him hours after his arrest. he later pleads not guilty.

may 15, 2014 - hernandez is indicted on two counts of first-degree murder - and other charges - in connection with the shootings of de abreu and furtado. his lawyers say he is innocent. 

may 28, 2014 - hernandez pleads not guilty to seven charges in connection with the deaths of de abreu and furtado. a prosecutor says hernandez was angry because de abreu accidentally bumped into him at a nightclub while dancing, spilling his drink.

january 9, 2015 - hernandez goes on trial for murder in lloyd's killing.

april 7, 2015 - prosecutors and hernandez's lawyers present their closing statements and the high profile case goes to the jury.

april 15, 2015 - hernandez is convicted of first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without parole.



2015 NBA Official League Player Leaders

Points Per Game
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder       28.1
James Harden, Houston Rockets                      27.4
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers                   25.3
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans               24.4
DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings              24.1

Rebounds Per Game
Deandre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers              15.0
Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons                     13.5
DeMarcus Cousins, SAC                                 12.7
Pau Gasol, Chicago Bulls                               11.8
Tyson Chandler, Dallas Mavericks                    11.5

Assists Per Game
Chris Paul, LAC                                                10.2
John Wall, Washington Wizards                        10.0
Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets                               9.6
Russell Westbrook, OKC                                  8.6
Rajan Rondo, DAL                                           7.9

Steals Per Game
Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs                    2.3
Russell Westbrook, OKC                                 2.1
Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies                          2.1
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors               2.0
Chris Paul, LAC                                              1.9

Field Goal %
Deandre Jordan, LAC                                         71.0%
Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors                    57.2% 
Marcin Gortat, WAS                                           56.6%
Timofey Mozgov, CLE                                         55.5%
Tyler Zeller, Boston Celtics                                 54.9%

Free Throw %
Stephen Curry, GSW                                            91.4%
Jodie Meeks, DET                                               90.6%
JJ Redick, LAC                                                   90.1%
Jamal Crawford, LAC                                           90.1%
Chris Paul, LAC                                                  90.0% 

Three Point %
Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks                                 49.2%
Eric Gordon, NOP                                              44.8%
Stephen Curry, GSW                                          44.2%
JJ Redick, LAC                                                 43.7%
Klay Thompson, GSW                                       43.5%

Blocks Per Game
Anthony Davis, NOP                                            2.9
Serge Ibaka, OKC                                               2.4
Rudy Gobert, UTA                                               2.3
Deandre Jordan, LAC                                           2.2
John Henson, Milwaukee Bucks                           2.0

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Stop and Frisk Practice in Chicago has Higher Rates than New York City

the american civil liberties union (aclu) of illinois completed a study in march of this year. the aclu found the chicago police department (cpd) is unlawfully stopping a "shocking number of people," and they single out (racially profile) black and brown people.  

the aclu's compelling report showed "chicagoans were stopped more than four times as often as new yorkers at the height of new york city's stop and frisk practice." last summer, the cpd made over 250,000 stops - none led to arrests. black people constitute about 33% of the city's population, yet they accounted for nearly 75% of all stops. 

the cpd has increased pedestrian stops under the eye of police superintendent garry mccarthy. he spent much of his career in the new york police department and was the former police chief in newark, new jersey. both cities received court challenges. the cpd does not collect systematic data on all frisks or stops resulting in an arrest or ordinance violation.

the aclu made some recommendations, in order to cultivate trust in the black and brown community. they suggest the cpd: 1) collect data on all stops and frisks, and make them public; 2) provide regular training on legal requirements for stops and frisks; 3) require officers to issue a detailed receipt for every pedestrian stop.  

Friday, April 10, 2015

Two Congressmen Introduce Bill To Restore Voting Rights After Prison

u.s. senator ben cardin (d-md) and u.s. representative john conyers (d-mi) recently introduced the democracy restoration act. the bill intends to give every citizen the right to vote in federal elections, unless they are incarcerated for a felony at the time the election takes place.

according to information in the socially progressive bill, the variation in state disenfranchisement laws "leads to an unfair disparity and unequal participation in federal elections based solely on where a person lives." 

the bill also states about one in every 40 adults in the u.s. presently cannot vote as a result of their felony convictions. of the 5.8 million people are barred from voting due to a felony conviction. only 25% are in prison. 

marc mauer, executive director of the sentencing project says," you've done your time in prison, now you're living in the community. you're expected to abide by the rules of society, pay your taxes, get a job...it's counter-productive to the community-at-large for us to be essentially treating people like second-class citizens."

the bill also notes state disenfranchisement policies disproportionately impact people of african descent. currently, one in 13 blacks in the u.s. are barred from voting - a rate four times greater than non-black people.

senator barbara mikulski (d-md) said, "from suffragettes through civil rights, expanding access to the ballot box in america has always been a move in the right direction. disenfranchising former offenders does a disservice to the very idea of democracy. if an american citizen has paid their debt to society after committing a crime, our focus must be on the rehabilitation and full reintegration into society - voting rights and all."

conversely, last month, u.s. senator rand paul (r-ky) and u.s. senate minority leader harry reid (d-nv) introduced the bipartisan civil rights voting restoration act. this bill would restore voting rights only for people convicted of non-federal crimes.


Wednesday, April 08, 2015

2015 NBA Hall-of-Fame Class

the 2015 naismith memorial basketball hall-of-fame inductees are:

dick bavetta. john calipari. louie dampier. lindsay gaze. 
spencer haywood. tom heinsohn. john isaac. lisa leslie. 
dikembe mutombo. george raveling. jo jo white.

the induction ceremony is september 11 in springfield, massachusetts. 

UConn Women Wins 2015 NCAA Championship

uconn (38-1) beat notre dame 63-53 on tuesday to win the 2015 ncaa championship. the hard-fought victory was their third consecutive title, and tenth overall for the teams' storied franchise. they've never lost a title game, and dominated notre dame (36-3) by 20 points in last year's finals.

huskies coach geno auriemma tied ucla legend john wooden with 10 ncaa titles. "obviously it's a very significant number because that's the number that's been out there and people want to talk about it. i'll be the first to say i'm not john wooden and i got a bunch of friends who'd tell you i'm right, i'm not. as i said the other day i just think what we've done here in the last 20 years is pretty remarkable in it's own right," auriemma said.

uconn forward breanna stewart was named most outstanding player for the third straight year. the two-time ap player of the year became the first women to achieve that distinction. she finished with 15 rebounds, eight points and four blocks. "we had to work hard for this one. this is one of the hardest things we've had to do since i've been here," stewart said. her goal is to win four championships.

kaleena mosqueda-lewis and moriah jefferson led the huskies with 15 points each. both players earned all-american honors this year. the senior mosqueda-lewis set an all-time ncaa record with 392 three-point field goals in uconn's final four victory against maryland on saturday.

notre dame all-american jewell lloyd shot poorly and scored just 12 points. coach muffet mcgraw led the irish to the championship game two straight years, and four of the last five seasons: but they lost each one. notre dame won it's lone title in 2001. mcgraw said, "it was a great accomplishment to get here. it was disappointing we weren't able to play our game."    

the connecticut-notre dame matchup was just the second time in the history of the tournament the same teams played in two consecutive finals. uconn beat tennessee in 2003 and 2004. it was also the 55th meeting between the top two teams in the ap poll - the #1 team holds a 34-21 edge. notre dame beat uconn by 18 points earlier this season, but not last night, when it mattered most.