i am

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

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

2017 NFL Pro Bowl Roster

selections for the 2017 nfl pro bowl are listed below:

afc offense starters
quarterback                                 tom brady, new england patriots
running back                               leveon bell, pittsburgh steelers
fullback                                        kyle juszcyzyk, baltimore ravens
wide receiver                               antonio brown, pittsburgh steelers
                                                     amari cooper, oakland raiders
tight end                                       travis kelce, kansas city chiefs
center                                           rodney hudson, oakland raiders
guard                                           marshall yanda, baltimore ravens
                                                     kelechi osemele, oakland raiders                                               
tackle                                           joe thomas, cleveland browns
                                                    donald penn, oakland raiders

afc offense reserves
quarterback                                 derek carr, oakland raiders
                                                    ben roethlisberger, pittsburgh steelers
running back                               lesean mccoy, buffalo bills
                                                    demarco murray, tennessee titans
wide receiver                              a.j. green, cincinnati bengals
                                                    t.y. hilton, indianapolis colts
tight end                                      delanie walker, tennessee titans
center                                          maurice pouncey, pittsburgh steelers
guard                                           david decastro, pittsburgh steelers
tackle                                           taylor lewan, tennessee titans

afc defense reserves
defensive end                               khalil mack, oakland raiders
                                                     cameron wake, miami dolphins
interior lineman                           geno atkins, cincinnati bengals
                                                     ndamukong suh, miami dolphins
outside linebacker                       von miller, denver broncos
                                                     lorenzo alexander, buffalo bills
inside/middle linebacker             donta hightower, new england patriots
cornerback                                   marcus peters, kansas city chiefs
                                                     aqib talib, denver broncos
free safety                                    devin mccourty, new england patriots
strong safety                                eric berry, kansas city chiefs

afc special teams
punter                                          pat mcafee, indianapolis colts
kicker                                           justin tucker, baltimore ravens
return specialist                          tyreek hill, kansas city chiefs
special teamer                            matthew slater, new england patriots

nfc offense starters
quarterback                                matt ryan, atlanta falcons
running back                              ezekiel elliott, dallas cowboys
fullback                                      mike tolbert, carolina panthers
wide receiver                              odell beckham, jr., new york giants
                                                    julio jones, atlanta falcons
tight end                                     greg olsen, carolina panthers
center                                         travis frederick, dallas cowboys
guard                                          zack martin, dallas cowboys
                                                   brandon scherff, washington redskins
tackle                                          tyron smith, dallas cowboys
                                                    trent williams, washington redskins

nfc defense starters
defensive end                              cliff avril, seattle seahawks
                                                    everson griffen, minnesota vikings
interior lineman                          aaron donald, los angeles rams
                                                    gerald mccoy, tampa bay buccaneers
outside linebacker                       vic beasley, atlanta falcons
                                                    ryan kerrigan, washington redskins
inside/middle linebacker             bobby wagner, seattle seahawks
cornerback                                  janoris jenkins, new york giants
                                                    patrick petersen, arizona cardinals
free safety                                    harrison smith, minnesota vikings
strong safety                                landon collins, new york giants

nfc offense reserves
quarterback                                 dak prescott, dallas cowboys
                                                     aaron rogers, green bay packers
running back                                david johnson, arizona cardinals
                                                     devonta freeman, atlanta falcons
wide receiver                                mike evans, tampa bay buccaneers
                                                     larry fitzgerald, arizona cardinals
tight end                                       jordan reed, washington redskins
center                                           alex mack, atlanta falcons
guard                                            t.j. lang, green bay packers
tackle                                            jaosn peters, philadelphia eagles

nfc defense reserves
defensive end                               michael bennett, seattle seahawks
interior lineman                           fletcher cox, philadelphia eagles
outside linebacker                       thomas davis, carolina panthers
inside/middle linebacker             luke kuechly, carolina panthers
cornerback                                   xavier rhodes, minnesota vikings
                                                     richard sherman, seattle seahawks
free safety                                    ha ha clinton-dix, green bay packers

nfc special teams
punter                                          johnny hekker, los angeles rams
kicker                                           matt bryant, atlanta falcons
return specialist                           cordarrelle patterson, minnesota vikings
special teamer                             dwayne harris, new york giants                                                    

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2017

the rock & roll hall of fame announced six artists from the ballot are included in the performer category and one individual is recognized with an award for musical excellence.

performance category:
joan baez
electric light orchestra
pearl jam
tupac shakur

musical excellence:
nile rodgers

artists are eligible for inclusion in the rock & roll hall of fame 25 years after the release of their first recording. the 2017 rock & roll hall of fame performer inductees were chosen by more than 900 voters, as well as the aggregate results of the rock & roll hall of fame's online fan vote.

the top five artists from the fan vote comprised the fans' ballot that was tallied alongside the other ballots to determine the 2017 inductees. four of the winners of the fans' ballot (electric light orchestra, journey, pearl jam and yes) will be inducted as performers in 2017.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

94 State Prisons are projected to close

the sentencing project has released a new report, written by nicole d. porter, director of advocacy, entitled repurposing: new beginnings for closed prisons. porter found 22 states have eliminated or are on pace to eliminate about 48,000 prison beds in state prisons and juvenile facilities.

the opportunity to downsize prison bed space has been spurred by declines in state prison populations, as well as increasing challenges for managing older facilities. reduced capacity has created the opportunity to repurpose closed prisons for various reasons. 

the report has tracked announced closures of prisons since 2011. porter learned states have reduced their corrections costs by an estimated $333 million and have developed a wide range of ways - some profitable and others community-centered - to repurpose prison buildings and facilities.

other prison conversions taking place, include:

a medium-security state prison in new york's staten island was sold to a company investing $20 million into the creation of a movie studio. this investment is projected to create about 1,500 jobs over a five-year period.

brushy mountain state penitentiary in tennessee is becoming a distillery, restaurant and tourist facility which offers camp grounds and horse trails. the maximum security prison once held james earl ray, who assassinated rev. dr. martin luther king, jr in 1968.

city commissioners in gainesville, florida converted a close prison into a nonprofit one-stop homeless center which offers job training.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Marijuana Policy Reforms on Election Day

california, maine, massachusetts and nevada voted on election day to end marijuana prohibition. arkansas, florida and north dakota adopted medical marijuana laws. 

montana approved an initiative to re-establish patients' access to medical marijuana providers and improve its existing medical marijuana law.

the only dim spot is arizona, where the legalization initiative is currently losing 48% to 52%, albeit\ with tens of thousands of additional ballots to be counted. the measure is likely to lose when the counting ends in nine days.

the number of states where marijuana is legal for adults doubled - from four to eight - and the first two states in the south made marijuana legal.     

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Virginia registers 70,000 people with felony convictions to vote

about 70,000 people with prior felony convictions have been registered to vote in virginia. the state supreme court previously ruled governor terry mcauliffe could only restore voting rights on a case-by-case basis.

tammie hagen, a formerly incarcerated person working for the new virginia majority, was one of many advocates trying to help people with felony convictions get their rights restored through gubernatorial clemency. they sought to register people before the october 17 deadline.

hagen estimates she (alone) registered 600-800 people in virginia, and submitted "several hundred requests" for voting rights registration to the governor's office. hagen, 51, said, "nothing can stand in the way of this mission. this is about democracy." 

about 13,000 former offenders registered to vote when mcauliffe first attempted to automatically clear them. but the court disenfranchised them (again) when they ruled the governor's actions were unconstitutional. 

groups such as new virginia majority are scrambling to find suitable candidates for gubernatorial clemency. their effort is as much about overcoming weary cynicism as getting paperwork to the governor's office in a timely fashion.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Chicago Cubs Win 2016 World Series

the chicago cubs defeated the cleveland indians 8-7 in ten innings on the road to win the 2016 world series. cubs outfielder ben zobrist was named most valuable player. zobrist is the first player in history to win back-to-back mvp's on two different teams in two different leagues.

1908 was the last year the cubs won a title, breaking the longest championship drought in team sports history. the game lasted four hours and 24 minutes, not including the 18-minute rain delay which preceded the extra inning thriller.

zobrist said, "it was just an epic battle. just blow for blow, everybody playing their heart out. the indians never gave up, either, and i can't believe we're finally standing, after 108 years, finally able to hoist the trophy." zobrist batted .357 with a series-high ten hits.

cubs first baseman anthony rizzo said, "it happened. it happened. chicago, it happened. we did it. we're world champions. i tell ya, we're world champions. i can't believe it." cubs owner tom ricketts said, "i think about so many millions of people giving so much love and support to this team for so many years."

the cubs are the first team since the 1985 kansas city royals to overcome a 3-1 series deficit. they also became the first team since the 1979 pittsburgh pirates to earn a title by winning games six and seven on the road. they finished the year with a season-high 103 victories.

cubs manager joe maddon, hired before the 2015 season, led a loose clubhouse which, at times, featured multi-colored suit and ties, simon the magician and warren the pink flamingo. maddon, who managed tampa bay to the world series in 2007, was also beloved among players for his motto: "try not to suck."   

no more bartman. not more billy goat. no more black cat curses.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Afrocentric facial features, Skin Tone and Incarceration

ryan d. king and brian d. johnson's, "a punishing look: skin tone and afrocentric features in the halls of justice," examines the relationship between afrocentric facial features, incarceration and skin tone. they extend the analysis of these variables to sentence type as well as length.

published in the american journal of sociology, the unique study matched detailed sentencing records from two minnesota counties with over 850 coded bookings of black and white males.

the researchers found afrocentricity, race and skin color were not associated with any significant disparities in lengths of imprisonment. but they influenced whether individuals were sentenced to prison - as opposed to being placed on probation or having their charge adjusted to a misdemeanor. afrocentric appearances also affected white defendants, even after accounting for hispanic surnames.

there is a disproportionate number of people of color who cycle in and out of the criminal justice system. more and more americans can no longer be easily defined by a single racial group. as such, king and johnson note the importance of continuing to further examine facial features and skin tone in the study of unequal punishment.

"if perceived race is becoming amorphous, then skin tone and afrocentric facial features are likely to become even more salient concepts in the future...even subtle differences in the racial appearance of offenders can tilt the scales of justice," researchers wrote.  


Wednesday, October 05, 2016

California Governor Brown signs bill to restore voting rights for jailed inmates

despite opposition from law enforcement officials, california governor jerry brown on wednesday signed a bill into law to restore voting rights for about 50,000 people serving felony sentences in county jails. many will vote from their cells.

california's constitution denies the right to vote to anyone in prison or on parole. in 2011, the state's "realignment plan," shifted many correction program responsibilities to local governments, spurring the transfer of many low-level offenders to county-run jails and programs. the intent was to reduce overcrowded state and federal prisons - and save money. 

the bill, ab2466, also reaffirms the right for people with felony convictions on probation to vote. some republican lawmakers denounced the bill, saying it will compromise the integrity of elections, and reward people for bad behavior.

assemblywoman shirley weber (d-sd) said, "civic participation can be a critical component of re-entry and has been linked to to reduced recidivism. this bill will send a message to the nation that california will not stand for discrimination in 2016." state senator holly mitchell (d-culver city) co-authored the bill with weber. 

the bill came came in response to a successful 2014 lawsuit on behalf of low-level felons. they argued people in county programs should not be classified the same way as other felons. the law goes into effect next year.  

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

U.S. Government to pay $492 Million in Lawsuits with 17 Indigenous Tribes

the u.s. government announced on monday a settlement for lawsuits over the mismanagement of natural resources and other assets. the government will pay $492 million to 17 american indian tribes. 

the u.s. says there are over 100 lawsuits - totaling $3.3 billion - which have been brought against the federal government by indigenous peoples and tribes; some date back more than a century.

during his 2008 presidential campaign, barack obama promised to institute an indian policy. obama said the (intended) policy "starts with honoring the unique government-to-government relationship, and ensuring treaty responsibilities are met."

"settling these long-standing disputes reflects the obama administration's continued commitment to reconciliation and empowerment for indian country," said u.s. secretary of the interior sally jewel.

as part of treaty agreements going back to the 1800s, the department of interior manages 56 million acres of land on behalf of more than 250 tribes. the department also handles about 100,000 leases on land on the same land for a variety of uses, including farming, housing, gas and oil extraction.

the u.s. government, as trustees of the land, must make sure the tribes receive "just compensation" for the use of their land. melody mccoy, a staff attorney with the native american rights fund, handled 13 of the 17 settlements.

mccoy said, "the u.s. government would say it held the assets in trusts benevolently, for the protection of indian land and money. the flip side of that is that in exchange, the government was supposed to be a good trustee, and it wasn't. land was not managed well. money and resources were not managed well."

allegedly, native americans lost decades of income as a result of governmental neglect. but mccoy noted since obama took office, there have been 95 total settlements with tribes; 11 more are in active negotiation. mccoy feels this is quite an accomplishment.  

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Associated Press (AP) announces 2016 WNBA Awards

the associated press (ap) announced their 2016 women's national basketball association (wnba) awards on tuesday:

ap player of the year - nneka ogwumike, los angeles sparks
rookie of the year - breanna stewart, seattle storm
defensive player of the year - sylvia fowles, minnesota lynx
sixth woman of the year - jantel lavender, los angeles sparks
most improved player of the year - elizabeth williams, atlanta dream
coach of the year - brian agler, los angeles sparks
comeback player of the year - chiney ogwumike, connecticut sun

first team wnba
tina charles, new york liberty
elena della donne, chicago sky
maya moore, minnesota lynx
nneka ogwumike, los angeles sparks
breanna stewart, seattle storm

second team wnba
sue bird, seattle storm
sylvia fowles, minnesota lynx
angel mccoughtry, atlanta dream
candace parker, los angeles sparks
diana taurasi, phoenix mercury

all-rookie team
imani moyette, chicago sky
moriah jefferson, san antonio stars
tiffany mitchell, indiana fever
aerial powers, dallas wings
breanna stewart, seattle storm

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Virginia Supreme Court overturns Executive Order to restore voting rights

the virginia supreme court last month overturned governor terry mcauliffe's executive order to restore voting rights to about 200,000 people in the state who completed their sentences.

in a four-to-three ruling, the court agreed with state republicans: the governor exceeded his authority under the commonwealth's constitution when he restored the rights to all, not individually.

governor mcauliffe released a statement after the ruling saying he'll expeditiously sign the 13,000 individual voting rights orders for those who had their rights restored and registered to vote. the governor also said he'll signing until he has completed restoration for all virginians.

"my faith remains strong in all of our citizens to choose their leaders, and i am prepared to back up that faith with my executive pen. the struggle for civil rights has always been a long and difficult one, but the fight goes on," said the governor. 

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Obama Commutes Sentences of more than 200 Federal Inmates

president barack obama commuted the sentences of 214 federal inmates on wednesday, the largest single-day grant of commutations in american history. obama has used his clemency power to shorten the sentences of more federal inmates than any president since calvin coolidge.

most of the 214 individuals were convicted of low-level drug offenses. but the longest was given to richard l. reser of sedgwick, kansas. reser has a 40-year sentence for dealing methamphetamine and firearm possession. he'll be released december 1.  

the commander-in-chief has publicly denounced the mandatory minimum sentences of previous administrations, and this latest initiative further demonstrates his efforts to humanize our criminal justice system.

"the more we understand the human stories behind this problem, the sooner we can start making real changes that keep our streets safe, break the cycle of incarceration in this country, and save taxpayers like you money," obama said in a facebook post.

the clemency process is, historically, a laborious undertaking. each applicant is reviewed by at least three levels of lawyers at the justice department - and the white house - before their case goes to the president.  
white counsel neil eggleston said, "the individual nature of the clemency process underscores both its incredible power to change a person's life, but also its inherent shortcoming as a tool for broader sentencing reform. while we continue to work on as many clemency applications as possible, only legislation can bring about lasting change to the federal system."

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Ohio Judge sentences lawyer five days in jail for wearing Black Lives Matter pin in court

attorney andrea burton was ordered by municipal court judge robert milich on friday to remove the black lives matter pin she wore in the courtroom while representing a client at a pre-trial hearing in youngstown, ohio. burton was handcuffed by bailiffs when she refused to comply.

milich recessed the court and asked burton to join him in his chambers. when they stepped back out, he called the case she was working on and asked her to remove the pin. burton was sentenced to five days in jail, and has been released on a stay while an appeal is underway.

"there's a difference between a flag, a pin from your church or the eagles and have a pin that's on a political issue," milich told wkbn. burton argued her first amendment rights overrule the supreme case law - and milich's discretion - and refused his instructions: she didn't want to remain "neutral to injustice, to remain neutral becomes an accomplice to oppression."

burton said, "it's an act of civil disobedience, i understand that. i'm not anti-police, i work with law enforcement and i hold them in the highest regard, and just to say for the record, i do believe all lives matter. but at this point they don't all matter equally, and that's the problem in the justice system."

the local naacp chapter told wfmj they are monitoring burton's case. they also said the attorney's civil rights may have been violated. burton's sentence will be taken to an appeals court. 

the judge is white. the lawyer is black.

Friday, July 22, 2016

WNBA fines three teams and their players for violating the league's uniform guidelines

the women's national basketball association (wnba) on thursday fined the indiana fever, new york liberty and phoenix mercury and their players. the league penalized them for wearing black warm up shirts in response to recent shootings by and against police officers.

all three teams were fined $5,000 and each player was fined $500 because the shirts violated the league's uniform policy. although the shirts were made by adidas - the league's official brand - wnba rules state uniforms may not be altered in any way.

wnba president lisa borders on wednesday said, "we are proud of wnba players' engagement and passionate advocacy for non-violent solutions to difficult issues but expect them to comply with the league's uniform guidelines."

indiana fever player rep briann january said, "what's most upsetting is the way it was handled. you have a league that is 90 - if not above 90% african-american - and you have an issue that is directly affecting them and the people they know and you have a league that isn't willing to side with them. it's not a race issue, not an anti-police issue, not a black  or white issue. it's a right or wrong issue."

mistie bass of the phoenix mercury tweeted, "don't say we have a voice and then fine us because we use it." tamika catchings, fever all-star and president of the players association, said, "instead of the league taking a stance with us, where they tell us they appreciate our expressing our concerns like they did for orlando, we're fighting against each other." 

the league quickly gave every team shirts in support of the orlando tragedy in june, which the players wore. liberty guard tanisha wright said, "we were ok with that, we wanted to support that, but also they can't pick and choose what initiatives to support and what not to support just because it doesn't push their agenda. this is important to us."

new york all-star tina charles said, "after seeing the african-american male shot three times after helping an autistic person out this morning in florida, i knew i couldn't be silent. knowing the player i am representing this organization, if anybody was going to wear it, it had to be me. i have no problem wearing this shirt inside out for the rest of the season until we are able to have the wnba support us."

the player's union is preparing to file a grievance over the players' fines. in the spirit of unity, the liberty and fever chose only to speak after the game about social awareness, politely declining any questions about thursday's contest. the league undergoes a month long olympic hiatus beginning monday, but january said players will continue to actively engage in discussions about these issues.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Medical Marijuana Advocate Retires from the NFL

former baltimore ravens offensive tackle eugene monroe announced his retirement from the national football league (nfl) on thursday. monroe affirmed his long term health concerns as the primary factor in ending his sports livelihood.

monroe is an outspoken advocate for medical marijuana. he was released by the ravens in june, and believes his public efforts to have medical marijuana removed from the nfl's banned substances list fueled their decision. ravens coach jim harbaugh has denied these assertions.

in a candid essay for the players' tribune written last week, monroe shared his profound concerns about concussions - and the imminent threat of developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (cte), a degenerative brain disease linked to athletes who suffered repetitive trauma.

monroe said, "the last 18 years have been full of traumatic injuries both to my head and my body. i'm not complaining, just stating a fact. has the damage to my brain been already done? do i have cte? i hope i don't, but over 90%  of the brains of former nfl players that have been examined showed signs of the disease. i am terrified."  

monroe suffered a concussion in the ravens' season opener in 2015, and missed the next three games. he later underwent season-ending shoulder surgery and played just six games. in april, the ravens drafted notre dame's outstanding left tackle ronnie stanley, with the number six pick. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Thousands of Department of Justice Agents and U.S. Attorneys to receive implicit bias training

the department of justice announced 23,000 federal agents from agencies including the dea, fbi and u.s. marshals service will participate in implicit bias training over the next year. 5,800 u.s. attorneys will also be trained.

the goal of the training is to prevent employees' unconscious biases on characteristics including gender, race and sexual orientation from impacting their decisions. the department of homeland security employs 60,000 border patrol agents and officers; they are not required to be trained. 

deputy attorney general sally q. yates described the training as "an important step in our ongoing efforts to promote fairness, eliminate bias and build the stronger, safer, more just society that all americans deserve." 

the plan has attracted praise and criticism. law professor destiny peery cautioned, "in some ways, the discussion of implicit bias has come to the exclusion of discussion about systemic or institutional biases."

Monday, July 11, 2016

Serena Williams and Andy Murray Win 2016 Wimbledon Singles Titles

world #1 serena williams defeated world #4 angelique kerber 7-5, 6-3 on saturday to win the 2016 wimbledon singles championship. williams now has 22 major singles titles, tying steffi graf of germany for the second most in the open era. margaret court of australia holds the record with 24.

williams, 34, won her second consecutive all-england trophy - and seventh overall. hall of famer martina navratilova set a record with nine wimbledon singles titles. williams' 22 major singles wins include six australian open, six u.s. open and three french open titles.

"definitely had some sleepless nights, if i'm honest, with a lot of stuff. my goal is to win always at least a slam a year. it was getting down to the pressure. it's been incredibly difficult not to think about it. i had a couple of tries this year. but it makes the victory even sweeter to know how hard i worked for it," said williams afterwards.

williams avenged her australian open final loss to kerber earlier this year. the fourth seed and uber-competitive german lefty played solid tennis in the final, but williams' serve was unstoppable. she hit 13 aces, won 38 of 43 first serve points, and faced just one break point the whole match: at three-all in the second set, williams hit back-to-back aces of 117 and 124 mph to solidify the game.

despite her stunning loss at the french open this year to world #2 garbine muguruza of spain, williams has reached a major final in seven of the last eight tournaments. kerber said later, "i was trying everything, but she deserved it today. she really played an unbelievable match. i think we both played on a high level."    

world # 2 andy murray of great britain defeated milos raonic 6-4, 7-6, 7-6 on sunday to win the 2016 wimbledon singles championship. murray captured his third career title, and has been in the finals of the last three majors. he lost the australian and french open this year to world #1 novak djokovic - whose third round loss to american sam querrey shocked the world and opened up the draw.

murray, 29, has played in 11 career major singles finals, but this was his first against someone other than world #3 roger federer, or djokovic. as such, he was heavily favored to win against the sixth seeded raonic of canada. in 2013, murray famously ended britain's 77-year drought with no major male singles champion. the quest ultimately proved burdensome.

"it is different. i feel happier this time. i feel more content this time. i feel like this was sort of more for myself more than anything, and my team as well. last time, it was just pure relief, and i didn't really enjoy the moment as much, whereas i'm going to make sure i enjoy this one," said murray.

judy murray, andy's mother and former british fed cup captain, referred to the old phenomenon of fred perry's all-england club victory in 1936.  she called it, "the constant, 'when are you going to wimbledon? when are you going to wimbledon? when are you going to wimbledon?" 

ivan lendl coached murray when he captured his first two major singles trophies, including at the 2012 u.s. open. despite their quick success, they split up, before reuniting last month. as he sat on the sideline wiping away tears, murray would conclude, "to do it twice here...an event where there is a lot of pressure on me to perform well, i'm very proud with how i've handled that over the years."   


Wednesday, July 06, 2016

2016 AL & NL All-Star Teams

listed below are the 2016 major league baseball american league and national league all-star teams, and their reserves:

the chicago cubs are the first team since the st. louis cardinals in 1936 to have their entire infield voted into the all-star starting lineup... 

american league
c -   salvador perez, kansas city royals
1b - eric hosmer, kansas city royals
2b - jose altuve, houston astros
3b - manny machado, baltimore orioles
ss - xander bogaerts, boston red sox
of - mike trout, los angeles angels
of - jackie bradley, jr., boston red sox
of - mookie betts, boston red sox
dh - david ortiz, boston red sox

c -  matt wieters, baltimore orioles                
c -   stephen vogt, oakland athletics
1b - miguel cabrera, detroit tigers                 
2b - robinson cano, seattle mariners
3b - josh donaldson, toronto blue jays           
ss - francisco lindor, cleveland indians
ss - eduardo nunez, minnesota twins              
of - carlos beltran, new york yankees
of - ian desmond, texas rangers                     
of - mark trumbo, baltimore orioles
dh - edwin encarnacion, toronto blue jays

sp - marco estrada, toronto blue jays             
sp - cole hamels, texas rangers
sp - danny salazar, cleveland indians             
sp - chris sale, chicago white sox
sp - steven wright, boston red sox                  
rp - dellin betances, new york yankees           
rp - brad brach, baltimore orioles                 
rp - zach britton, baltimore orioles
rp - alex colome, tampa bay rays                   
rp - wade davis, kansas city royals*
rp - will harris, houston astros                       
rp - kelvin herrera, kansas city royals
rp - craig kimbrel, boston red sox                  
rp - andrew miller, new york yankees

national league
c -   buster posey, san francisco giants
1b - anthony rizzo, chicago cubs
2b - ben zobrist, chicago cubs
3b - kris bryant, chicago cubs
ss - addison russell, chicago cubs
of - dexter fowler - chicago cubs
of - bryce harper, washington nationals
of - yoenis cespedes, new york mets

c -   johnathan lucroy, milwaukee brewers         
c  -  wilson ramos, washington nationals
1b - paul goldschmidt, arizona diamondbacks  
1b - will myers, san diego padres
2b - daniel murphy, washington nationals         
ss - corey seager, los angeles dodgers
3b - nolan arenado, colorado rockies                
3b - matt carpenter, st. louis cardinals
of - adam duvall, cincinnati reds                        
of - carlos gonzalez, colorado rockies 
of - odubel herrera, philadelphia phillies           
of - marcell ozuna, miami marlins

sp - jake arrieta, chicago cubs                            
sp - madison bumgarner, san francisco giants
sp - johnny cueto, san francisco giants               
sp - jose fernandez, miami marlins
sp - clayton kershaw, los angeles dodgers*         
sp - jon lester, chicago cubs
sp - stephen strasburg, washington nationals     
sp - noah syndergaard, new york mets
sp- julio teheran, atlants braves                          
rp - jeurys familia, new york mets
rp - kenley jansen, los angeles dodgers               
rp - mark melancon, pittsburgh pirates
rp - a.j. ramos, miami marlins                             
rp - fernando rodney, miami marlins   

* davis and kershaw are injured and will not pitch.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Rent Freeze in New York City

on sunday june 27, the new york city rent guidelines board voted for a zero percent increase on one-year lease renewals for rent-stabilized apartments. the board also approved an increase of two percent on two-year leases, providing more stability for long time renters.

these changes will go into effect for all rent-stabilized leases signed after october 1. last year's rent freeze was the first in 50 years. this year's rent freeze offers security for hundreds of thousands of working families.

the rent guidelines board bases its decisions on months of research into the costs and pressures facing owners and tenants alike. they also consider the voices of new yorkers who engage in the rent guidelines board's public process.

there are 1.6 million new yorkers who currently live in a rent stabilized apartment. each of their leases are coming up for renewal between october 1, 2016 and september 30, 2017. this rent freeze affects them all.  

Monday, June 20, 2016

Cavs make history, and beat Warriors for 2016 NBA Title, first in franchise history

the cleveland cavaliers beat the golden state warriors on sunday 93-89, in game seven on the road to win the 2016 nba championship. this is the cavs' first nba title in franchise history. they are the first team in nba history to overcome a 3-1 series deficit; the previous 32 teams down 3-1 all lost.

lebron james was named finals mvp for the third time in his stellar 13-year career. james played 47 minutes and finished with 27 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists and three blocks. james became the first nba player in finals history to lead both teams in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals.

"i don't know why the man above gave me the hardest road, but...the man above don't put you in situations that you can't handle...i just kept that same positive attitude. instead of saying, why me? i said, this what he wants me to do. and cleveland, this is for you," said james afterwards.

the cavs' improbable and miraculous championship ended a 52-year major title drought for the city. for over five decades, cleveland has collectively suffered 1) the fumble (browns); 2) the drive (browns); 3) the shot (cavaliers); 4) the single (indians); and 5) the decision (james). 

in 1964, the cleveland browns defeated the baltimore colts to win the super bowl. and, they were the last major professional sports team in cleveland to win a title. the browns were led by hall-of-fame running back jim brown, who sent james a congratulatory tweet after the cavs' incredible win.

james was deemed the golden child after being drafted straight out of high school by the cavs in 2003 for their #1 pick. kyrie irving was also drafted #1 by the cavs in 2011 despite injuries limiting his freshman year at duke to 11 games. irving had 26 points and six assists in game seven - and outplayed unanimous regular season mvp stephen curry the entire series. 

with just 53 seconds left in the fourth quarter of an 89-89 game, irving's three-pointer over curry's outstretched hands silenced a raucous crowd. james blocked andre iguodala's breakaway layup with about 90 seconds left to break the spirit of a team who set a regular season record with 73 wins. golden state opened the season 24-0, but finished the season 0-3.  

early last year, cleveland' forward james jones developed an idea to unify their postseason run. the cavs would create a puzzle with 16 pieces - one for each win needed to win a title. when put together, it would form the larry o'brien championship trophy. jones said, "we needed something to bring us together. we assembled this team. so we had to assemble the puzzle."

the final piece of the puzzle was in the shape of the state of ohio. it was placed by rookie coach tyronn lue as the cavs poured champagne over each other in the visitors locker room at oracle arena in oakland, california. lue, their assistant head coach, became head coach after david blatt was unceremoniously fired halfway through the season, despite the cavs leading the eastern conference.

throughout the seven-game series, tristan thompson, richard jefferson and j.r. smith each played integral roles in the cavs' unlikely success. their collective defense, rebounding and scoring complimented the outstanding play of james and irving. also, the injured, maligned and under-achieving kevin love finished with a game-high 14 rebounds, four offensively.   

Friday, June 17, 2016

Washington, D.C. Board of Elections assists voters in jail

various staff from the washington, d.c. board of elections went to the d.c. jail and to the correctional treatment facility. their efforts helped allow eligible individuals cast absentee ballots during the june 14 primary there.

washington, d.c. is one of only a handful of jurisdictions to facilitate voting in jail. the program was started in 2004 primarily due to the efforts of charles sullivan of citizens united for rehabilitation of errants (cure), who advocated for onsite absentee voting programs.

the board of elections also distributes voter guides with information on the candidates prior to voting day. "the vast majority of the 700,000 people in local jails are eligible to vote since they are either awaiting trial or serving time on a misdemeanor conviction, but not a felony," said marc mauer, executive director of the sentencing project.

mauer also said, "but there are only a handful of jails in the country where there's any ongoing effort to make the voting process accessible to this group of people, so the district of columbia is a leader in this regard." 

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.  




Saturday, June 11, 2016

Former Corrections Officer convicted of various assault charges on Rikers Island

a former new york corrections captain was convicted on friday of beating an inmate and attempting to cover up the incident at rikers island jail. two subordinate officers were convicted of lesser charges tied to the crime.

the 12-week trial was the latest in a string of prosecutions targeting rikers employees over the last four years. officials seek to end corruption and violence which continues to plague new york city's main jail complex.  

department of corrections captain gerald vaughn was convicted at the bronx supreme court of first-degree attempted gang assault, second-degree assault and other charges in the beating of inmate jahmal lightfoot in 2012. vaughn faces a maximum 15-year prison sentence on the top count.

corrections officers harmon frierson and dwayne maynard were convicted of official misconduct, a misdemeanor carrying up to a year in jail. vaughn, frierson and maynard are scheduled to be sentenced on september 6.

"these convictions close a chapter in rikers island's sad, brutal history...they send a clear message that a uniform and a badge do not absolve anyone from committing a crime, and that even an inmate deserves to be treated like a human being," said district attorney darcel clark.

prosecutors accused ten guards in the vicious assault. lightfoot was left by these officers to endure a broken nose and fractured eye sockets. five other correction officials were convicted on tuesday in the brutal incident. 

rikers island is one of the country's largest jail complexes, housing about 10,000 people. nyc mayor bill de blasio's administration has instituted a comprehensive plan to reduce violence there - by inmates and officials - including better training, more cameras and updated use-of-force policies.  

Monday, June 06, 2016

Garbine Muguruza and Novak Djokovic win 2016 French Open Singles Titles

garbine muguruza of spain defeated serena williams of the u.s. 7-5, 6-4 on saturday to capture the french open singles championship. muguruza, 22, won her first major singles title and will become the #2 player on tour when the new rankings come out monday.

the fourth-seeded muguruza used her powerful groundstrokes to keep williams off balance for most of the highly-competitive match. muguruza broke williams' serve four times - including three in a row. this was her second major final; she lost to williams last year at wimbledon.

muguruza overcame early jitters, serving nine double faults. but she was aggressive from the baseline and had just 21 unforced errors. afterwards, muguruza said, "i can't explain with words what this day means to me. i have grown up playing on clay, so for spain, and for me, this is amazing."  

williams, the #1 player and defending champion, was seeking her 22nd major singles title, remarkably, at age 34. steffi graf of germany holds the open era record with 22. margaret court of australia has the all-time record of 24. williams said, "she has a bright future, obviously...she knows how to play on the big stage...and i think she played the big points really well."

novak djokovic of serbia defeated andy murray of great britain 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 on sunday to capture the french open singles championship. world #1 djokovic has won 28 major singles matches in a row, beginning with his victory last year at wimbledon.

djokovic, 29, now has 12 major singles titles. only roger federer (17), rafael nadal (14) and pete sampras (14) have more. this was his first victory (in four finals) at paris. he joins don budge and rod laver as the only men to hold the australian, french, wimbldeon and u.s. open simultaneously.

after the match, djokovic said, "it's really a very special moment...perhaps the greatest moment of my career. i felt today something that i never felt before at roland garros. i felt the love of the crowd, i drew the heart on the court, like guga (gustavo kuerten), which he gave me permission to do. my heart will always be with you on this court."

murray, now 2-8 in major singles finals, said, "it's so rare in tennis, and for me personally, it sucks to lose the match, but i'm proud to have been part of today. it's going to take a long time for it to happen again." murray was trying to become england's first male champion in paris since 1935. 


Thursday, June 02, 2016

Mitsubishi Materials Corporation reaches settlement with Chinese laborers from WWII

mitsubishi materials corp., one of dozens of japanese companies to use chinese forced laborers during world war two, reached a settlement on wednesday covering thousands of people. the landmark agreement includes compensation, and an apology.

the historic deal was signed in beijing, tokyo with three former workers representing over 3,000 oppressed laborers. nearly 40,000 chinese were brought to japan in the early 1940's to make up for a domestic labor shortage. many were treated harshly by the japanese and died of malnutrition and violence.

under the settlement, mitsubishi materials will pay100,000 yuan ($15,000) to each of the workers and their families. laborers were forced to work at 10 coal mines operated by mitsubishi mining corporation, as it was formerly known. the corporation said it would try and locate all workers. payments would total 370 million yuan ($56 million) if everyone came forward.

one of the workers, yan yucheng, 87, said, "world war two ended 70 years ago. our forced labor case today has finally come to a resolution. we have won this case. this is a big victory that merits celebration."

"the company did it not for reconciliation, but to try to relieve the pressure on the japanese government," said kang jian, a lawyer representing 60 former workers who filed a case against mitsubishi materials in a chinese court. last year, the corporation apologized for its harsh treatment of u.s. prisoners of war, also used as forced laborers.

chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman hua chunying remarked beijing would pay close attention to how japan deals with such matters. chunying said, "china urges japan to adopt a responsible attitude and properly handle the relevant issue of history." 

in a statement at the signing ceremony, the corporation "expressed its sincere apologies regarding its historical responsibility to the former laborers and the apologies were accepted by the three former laborers...we promise to continue to seek a comprehensive and permanent solution with all of its former laborers and their families."

mitsubishi materials also said it would construct memorials at the sites where the company's mines were located, and organize memorial ceremonies. several groups - representing workers and their families - sued the corporation two years ago. but one of the groups, representing 37 plaintiffs, rejected the settlement.


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

2016 All-NBA Teams

the following players were selected to the all-nba teams for 2015-16:

first team
forward: lebron james, cleveland cavaliers
forward: kawhi leonard, san antonio spurs
center: deandre jordan. los angeles clippers
guard: stephen curry, golden state warriors
guard: russell westbrook, oklahoma city thunder

second team
forward: kevin durant, oklahoma city thunder
forward: draymond green, golden state warriors
center: demarcus cousins, sacramento kings
guard: chris paul, los angeles clippers
guard: damian lillard, portland trailblazers

third team
forward: paul george, indiana pacers
forward: lamarcus aldridge, san antonio spurs
center: andre drummond, detroit pistons
guard: klay thompson, golden state warriors
guard: kyle lowry, toronto raptors 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Baltimore Police Officer Acquitted in Freddie Gray Case

baltimore police officer edward nero on monday was found not guilty of all four misdemeanor charges he faced in connection with the arrest of freddie gray. on april 19, 2015, gray died shockingly and tragically after suffering injuries while in police custody.

after the ruling, baltimore mayor stephanie rawlings-blake said, "this is our american system of justice and police officers must be afforded the same justice system as every other citizen in the city, state and country."

reverend westley west, a prominent activist in baltimore, said, "baltimore should be upset. they should also let their voice be heard. take to the streets. how much longer are we gonna lay down and let the same thing to keep happening?"

nero, 30, was not charged directly with the gray's death. nero faced charges of misconduct in office, reckless endangerment and second-degree assault. the high-profile case drew national attention and polarized folks around the country along racial lines: nero is white. gray is black.

multiple police officers face charges in connection with gray's death, including charges of manslaughter and murder. nero is the second of the officers to be brought to court; the first trial, of officer william porter, ended in a hung jury. 

nero was accused of negligence - he failed to buckle gray into a seat in the police van. gray's neck was broken during transport while handcuffed and shackled, yet not safely buckled in. nero was also accused of assaulting gray, 25, by arresting him without probable cause.

as nero entered a parking garage with other police officers surrounding him, one of the protesters outside the courthouse was overcome with emotion. tina thompson, 29, doubled over near the sidewalk and cried. later, thompson screamed, "he's just walking around, looking like he's ok. you killed somebody! you killed somebody's child!    


Monday, May 23, 2016

Former NBA Player handles racial incident on public transportation with dignity

former nba player etan thomas endured a typically racialized encounter while looking for a seat on a crowded train. thomas, a 6'10, 260 pound black male, asked a white female if he could sit next to her, and later posted her response (and the unfolding incident) on facebook:

"i ask this lady if i could sit next to her (very politely and i soften my voice as to not frighten her) and she says someone is sitting here. so i go to the next seat. now, less than 2 mins later a man (who happens to be white) asks if he can sit there and she says why sure let me move my stuff." 

"i ask ummmmm did you just not want me to sit next to you? were you scared? not comfortable with a black man sitting next to you? and she says lol smh don't pull the race card stuff with me i dated a black guy in college."

at that point, the white man she obliged the empty seat to offered to get up, but thomas was unwilling to accept his gesture. in fact, thomas decided to take a picture of her, despite the obvious discomfort on the faces of both of the white folks.

thomas said, "i said no need i'mma just take this pic and make a facebook post about it. so then she says did you just take a pic of me? well i'm going to tell the conductor that you're over here illegally taking pics of ppl without their consent."

"so the conductor came up and said hey etan thomas love what you're doing in the community loved you with the wizards big 'cuse fan man the knicks sure could use you...and i said was there something you wanted to tell my man? and she rolled her eyes smh some people i tell ya."

thomas retired after the 2011 nba season. he spent most of his career with the washington wizards, and played at syracuse university. thomas is married with three children. he's an activist, author and poet whose outspoken about issues of manhood, race and the environment.

Monday, May 16, 2016

NBA 2016 KIA Awards

listed below are the nba 2016 kia award winners:

mvp - stephen curry, golden state warriors
coach of the year - steve kerr, golden state warriors
defensive player of the year - kawhi leonard, san antonio spurs
sixth man of the year - jamal crawford, los angeles clippers
rookie of the year - karl-anthony towns, minnesota timberwolves
most improved player - c.j. mccollum, portland trailblazers
executive of the year - r.c. buford, san antonio spurs

Monday, May 09, 2016

Pennsylvania becomes 24th State to Legalize Medical Marijuana

today, pennsylvania governor tom wolf signed the medical marijuana act (sb3) into law. pennsylvania is now the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana. this victory was made possible by the tireless devotion of advocates, families and lawmakers.

sb3 allows patients with qualifying conditions to use and safely access medical marijuana. once applications are available from the department of health, eligible patients whose doctors recommend cannabis can obtain identification cards. the law allows for up to 150 dispensaries in the state.

when dispensaries open, medical marijuana will be available as creams, gels, liquids, oils, ointments, pills and tinctures. vaporization is allowed but smoking is initially prohibited. dispensaries cannot sell edibles, but medical cannabis products can be mixed into drinks or food. 

dry leaf/flower will not be allowed immediately, however the department of health can change those conditions following an advisory board report two years after its enactment. 

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Challenging Racially Homogenous Juries in Kentucky and Tennessee

louisville, kentucky circuit judge olu stevens was suspended last month for misconduct charges after dismissing a nearly all-white panel of prospective jurors. days later, the west louisville urban coalition held a rally to support the judge and highlight the lack of cultural diversity on state juries.

the courier-journal reported information on race is collected voluntarily, and at only some steps of the jury selection process. judge stevens, a black male, agreed to dismiss the panel of 41 - of which 38 are white - after a black defendant's lawyers argued they don't represent the cultural demographics of the community.

prosecutors objected and brought the case to the state court of appeals. the court ruled kentucky's lack of racial data from which jury pools are drawn "while unfortunate, does not amount to a deliberate attempt to exclude any particular group," and ordered judge stevens to stop dismissing juries. a related case is pending in the kentucky supreme court.

in nashville, tennessee, a trial in early april was delayed after a black juror stood up and told the judge he "did not think it was right to for two black men to face a jury with no black members on it." the jury panel included non-whites, but no blacks.

judge cheryl blackburn dismissed the jury because their lunchtime dialogue about the absence of blacks violated her instructions. the assistant district attorney said the judge told the jury not to discuss the case before hearing all the proof and arguments. judge blackburn earlier rejected the defense's claim of the prosecutors illegally striking jurors based on their race.

in 1986, the u.s. supreme court case of batson v. kentucky deemed excusing jurors based on race is unconstitutional.  the court ruled: 1) lawyers cannot strike - or remove - a person from a jury based on race; 2) defendants aren't entitled to a jury completely or partially composed of people of their own race; 3) if any lawyer seems prejudiced during jury selection, they must provide reasons why a person was removed.   

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Virginia Governor restores voting rights to about 200,000 people

democratic governor of virginia terry mcauliffe issued an unprecedented executive order to immediately restore voting rights to an estimated 200,000 people. each of these individuals have completed their felony prison, probation and parole sentences.

virginia is one of four u.s. states, along with florida, iowa and kentucky, to disenfranchise all people with felony convictions for life, unless they can secure a pardon from their governor. mcauliffe's decision will remain in effect until at least the end of his term in 2018.

this order does not cover people who are released in the future. according to his aides, mcauliffe intends to issue similar executive orders each month to continue to restore voting rights to people as they complete their sentences.

mcauliffe said, "there's no question that we've had a horrible history in voting rights as relates to african-americans; we should remedy it." virginia previously had the fourth highest rate of felony disenfranchisement in the nation - and the third highest for black people.

marc mauer, executive director of the sentencing project said, "this will be the single most significant action on disenfranchisement that we've ever seen from a governor. it's noteworthy that it's coming in the middle of the term, not the day before he leaves office. so there may be some political heat but clearly he's willing to take that on, which is quite admirable."


Friday, April 15, 2016

NBA 2016 Regular Season Leaders

listed below are the nba regular season leaders for 2016:


points - stephen curry, golden state warriors: 30.1
assists - rajon rondo, sacramento kings: 11.7
rebounds - andre drummond, detroit pistons: 14.8
steals - stephen curry, golden state warriors: 2.14
blocks - hassan whiteside, miami heat: 3.68
field goal % - deandre jordan, los angeles clippers: .703
free throw % - stephen curry, golden state warriors: .908
three-point % - j.j. reddick, los angeles clippers: .475  


points - golden state warriors: 114.9
assists - golden state warriors: 28.9
rebounds - oklahoma city thunder: 48.6
steals - houston rockets: 10.0
blocks - miami heat: 6.5
field goal % - golden state warriors: 48.7
free throw % - new york knicks: .805
three-point % - golden state warriors: .416
turnovers - charlotte hornets: 11.9

Golden State Warriors' 73rd Win Sets All-Time NBA Record

On a Wednesday night in raucous Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, the inspired Golden State Warriors beat the wounded Memphis Grizzlies 125-104, to win their 73rd game of the year. Their magnanimous victory came on the final regular season contest, and the defending world champions surpassed the Chicago Bulls' all-time record of 72-10 in 1996.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr, a key role player for the Bulls championship team in '96 said, "I thought (72 wins) was like (Joe) DiMaggio's hit streak, and I was wrong. I will say the same thing now that I said 20 years ago. I don't think this one will ever be broken. Somebody's got to go 74-8 and I don't see it. I hope our fans aren't expecting that next year."

GS All-Star guard and 2015 MVP Stephen Curry had 46 points, including 10 three-pointers (six in the first quarter). Curry finished 2016 with 402 threes, breaking his own record of 286 last year. He won the scoring title for the second consecutive year - increasing his average by 6.3 points, another record, surpassing Larry Bird, who upped his previous year's scoring title by 3.8 points per game.

When asked to compare the '96 Bulls and his current team. Curry said, "The game has evolved a lot and we have our certain identity of how we play. Shooting at a high level, moving the ball, everybody has a role. We have fun doing it. I don't know specifically any differences, but one similarity is we love winning, we love to compete and we love to push ourselves. That's what pushed us to the opportunity we had tonight."

After the history-making triumph, Warriors All-Star forward Draymond Green snatched the game ball at center court. Green said, "73 wins means I'm a part of the best team ever. Not many people can say that. 15 guys can say that, and that's amazing." But he also said, "relief doesn't happen until you win a championship." 

In a congratulatory statement Wednesday night, Bulls legend Michael Jordan said, "The game of basketball is always evolving and records are made to be broken. The Warriors have been a lot of fun to watch and I look forward to seeing what they do in the playoffs." Earlier in the month, Green said Jordan told him he hopes Golden State breaks the Bulls record.


Thursday, April 07, 2016

U.S. Supreme Court Unanimously Affirms One Person, One Vote Doctrine

the u.s. supreme court on monday decided, unanimously, in evenwel v. abbott, a case out of texas which challenges the court's interpretation of the 'one person, one vote' doctrine. the court disagreed with the plaintiffs charge to only count 'eligible' voters.

congressional districts are created for each district to have an equal number of people. officials use population numbers drawn from the u.s. census bureau, which attempts to count all of the people residing in the u.s. every 10 years.

the case questioned the fairness of non-eligible voters - including children, incarcerated people and non-citizens - to be counted in the population numbers shaping each district. texas state republican executive committee member sue evenwel and her co-plaintiffs argued the spirit of the doctrine is to count only eligible voters.     

justice ruth bader ginsburg wrote, "as the framers of the constitution and the 14th amendment comprehended, representatives serve all residents, not just those eligible to vote. nonvoters have an important stake in many policy debates and in receiving constituent services."

ginsburg said, "by ensuring that each representative is subject to requests and suggestions from the same number of constituents, total-population apportionment promotes equitable and effective representation."

the surprisingly unanimous decision sparks debates around demographics and power. some groups are more likely to be eligible to vote than others. nearly 80% of white people in america are citizens over the age of 18. but fewer than half of hispanics in america fit the same description.

carving up congressional districts based on eligible voters would result in fewer representatives for heavily asian and hispanic parts of the country. moreover, the seats they would have replaced are mostly democratic.

the court hasn't issued a ruling on the other 'one person, one vote' case it heard last december. in harris v. arizona independent redistricting commission, a group of arizona voters argued the commission created legislative maps to bolster the population and violate the principle in the state's republican-leaning districts.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

2016 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class

in houston, texas on monday, before the ncaa men's championship game between north carolina and villanova, the following people were inducted into the 2016 naismith basketball hall of fame:

* allen iverson - played 14 seasons; 11 all-star games; four scoring titles; averaged 26.7 points and 6.2 assists; 2001 mvp.

* tom izzo - current head coach (since 1985) at michigan state; 2000 ncaa title; seven final four appearances.

* yao ming - played eight seasons; houston rockets #1 pick in the 2002 draft; eight-time all-star. 

* shaquille o'neal - played 19 seasons; 15 all-star games; 1993 rookie of the year; 2000 mvp; four-time champion; three-time finals mvp; two scoring titles; averaged 23.7 points and 10.9 rebounds.

* jerry reinsdorf - chicago bulls owner since 1985; led bulls to six titles, 1991-93 and 1996-98.

* sheryl swoopes - first player signed by the wnba in 1996; four-time champion; six all-star games; three-time defensive player of the year; three-time mvp; three olympic gold medals.

additionally, listed below are people who were inducted posthumously:

* zelmo beatty - two-time nba all-star; three-time aba all-star; 1971 aba champion; 1971 aba finals mvp; averaged 17.1 points and 10.9 rebounds. 

* darell garretson - nba referee for 27 years; nba supervisor of officials for 17 years; officiated more than 2,000 games.

* john mclendon - high school and college coach from 1941-1968; three-time naia coach of the year; three consecutive titles at tennessee state, 1957-59; first black head coach in professional sports, cleveland pipers, 1962; pioneered four corners offense and full court press. 

* cumberland posey - played basketball from the early 1900s through the mid-1920s; four-time colored basketball world champiomship titles; baseball player, manager and owner in the negro leagues.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Obama Commutes Sentences of 61 Federal Inmates with drug offenses

president barack obama commuted the sentences of 61 federal inmates on wednesday, all of whom were held on drug charges. the progressive actions demonstrate the administrations' ongoing commitment to grant clemency to people with unforgiving convictions during the so-called war on drugs era.

the announcement came one day after the commander-in-chief vehemently criticized the previous american policy of engaging in a "war on drugs." during a national drug abuse and heroin summit on wednesday, obama said, "for too long we've viewed drug addiction through the lens of criminal justice...drug abuse is a health problem, not a criminal one."

over 33% of the people granted early release yesterday would have otherwise served life sentences. none of them, however, were serving life sentences for marijuana-only crimes. the commutation makes those sentences expire on march 30, 2017, and would remit the unpaid balance of the fine.

each of the 61 individuals were primarily charged with distribution of drugs. they were sentenced when the government prided itself on ruthlessly prosecuting folks with drug charges - an oppressive tactic which disproportionately warehoused men of african descent. 

"i am gratified that president obama continues to use his powers to release individuals who deserve a second chance at life," said anthony papa, the drug policy alliance's media relations manager. papa was granted clemency in new york after serving 12 years for a first-time nonviolent drug offense. he was sentenced to 300 months imprisonment with five years supervised release.

"with so many people waking up each day with the hope that they too will find mercy and redemption, i hope that today's grants portend even more grants over the remaining ten months left in president obama's term," said cynthia w. roseberry, project manager for clemency project.  pro bono legal project clemency project 2014 helped process clemency applications for 25 of the prisoners.

obama has reduced more sentences than all (!) of the last six presidents - combined. these were the first clemency grants he issued since december, when he granted the largest set of commutations in his presidency: 95 federal prisoners, and two pardons. obama has now commuted the sentences of almost 250 people.

norman l. reimer, executive director of the national association of criminal defense lawyers, and a partner in the project to process inmate applications said, "the 61 grants today add to an increasingly impressive total, but we urge the president and his team to vastly increase the pace, and continue granting commutations on a regular basis throughout the remainder of his term."

deputy attorney general sally yates said, "through cooperative bipartisan efforts with congress, the u.s. sentencing commission and reform advocacy groups, we hope to soon realize systemic change in the length of prison sentences for these low-level drug offenders and to provide better tools for a safe and successful reentry into the community."  


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Overrepresentation of Native Americans in the Criminal Justice System

the overrepresentation of native americans in the criminal justice system is a nationally underreported story, according to a feb 11 article in nieman reports. the national council on crime and deliquency revealed native americans were admitted to prison at over four times the rate for whites.

a 2014 report by the centers for disease control (cdc) showed police kill native americans at almost the same rate as black folks. researcher christopher josey said, "news media are communicating that native americans are not a vital part of the national conversation on race."

earlier this month, a report by the council of state governments justice center stated native americans make up seven percent of the population in montana. yet, they account for nearly 20% of the state's arrests.

montana's commission on sentencing will reconvene in june and september to analyze successful prison diversion efforts recently undertaken in new mexico and washington. some of their goals include reducing both racial disparities and the overall prison population. 

jim taylor, legal director at the aclu of montana, said the state's department of corrections has more than three decades of documented native american oppression. 

taylor said, "there's really been no interest in drilling down and seeing what's going on. we think there needs to be more study done by the state and more training throughout the system on cultural differences and the effects of historical trauma."

Monday, March 28, 2016

Women's basketball coach fired after sexual orientation discrimination charges from assistant coach and player

prairie view a&m basketball coach dawn brown was fired this week amidst controversy. earlier this season, brown suspended an assistant coach and player after she learned they were dating each other.

the university told brown she was removed because she violated title ix by discriminating against the players. brown says the school's own title ix administrator approved the players' suspension. "clearly, i feel betrayed and unjustly penalized by this action," brown said.

brown said the ladies' relationship broke a team rule she implemented before this season. the rule states, "players may not have nonprofessional relationships with other players, coaches, managers, trainers, or any other persons affiliated with the program." brown also said she "collaborated with my title ix office in drafting" the new rule.

brown further stated both former players were suspended indefinitely but retained their scholarships and remained at the school. moreover, brown said the players were punished for breaking other team principles - which she declined to specify.

the former players filed a complaint alleging their dismissal was due to their sexual orientation, and the resulting action violated title ix. the 1972 landmark case prohibits sexual discrimination in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

but according to the houston press, title ix wasn't applied to sexual orientation until three months ago. in december 2015, u.s. district judge dean pregerson in california ruled a case - involving two pepperdine university women's basketball players targeted by the coach for an intimate partnership - deserved legal protection. 

garry rosenfield, brown's agent, said prairie view a&m gave his client a choice to resign or be terminated for cause. rosenfield said, "we definitely think this is a case of scapegoating." dennis cordell, president of coaches, inc., a sports marketing agency, said brown will appeal. "we feel she's been wrongfully terminated," cordell said.

brown led the panthers to the 2014 swac championship, and a number 16 seed in the ncaa tournament this year. prairie view a&m lost to connecticut 87-44 in the first round. brown was 41-51 in three seasons, including a 13-15 record this season.  

Friday, March 11, 2016

Joe's Crab Shack apologizes for a lynching photo on a dining table in Minnesota

on wednesday night, a black couple were dining at a joe's crab shack restaurant in roseville, minnesota. chauntyll allen and tyrone williams noticed a photo embedded inside their table top of a large group of white people watching at least one black person being lynched.

on the bottom of the picture it reads, "hanging at groesbeck, texas on april 12th 1985." at the top of the caption it says, "all i said was that i didn't like the gumbo."

the couple immediately spoke to a manager. "although the manager was apologetic about the lynching depiction, that does not change the fact that this sickening image of black men being lynched was intentionally embedded inside of a table," said williams.

allen said, "seeing a picture of two black men being lynched was the last thing that i expected to see at what was supposed to be a family-friendly restaurant. as you can imagine, seeing that imagine ruined my appetite and my pre-birthday dinner. it is hard to believe that this type of racism is still going on in 2016."

"this disturbing incident that occurred at joe's crab shack, demonstrates that racism is still alive and well in this country. it is sickening to know that someone would make a mockery of black men being savagely lynched and then use that imagery for decorative purposes," said nekima levy-pounds, minneapolis naacp president.

the minneapolis naacp is demanding an immediate public apology by the corporate offices of joe's crab shack. they want: 1) prompt removal "of any and all lynching or otherwise racially-offensive imagery," from its restaurants; and 2) a donation to a local community-based organization serving african-american youths and teenagers.

david catalano, coo ignite restaurant group, joe's crab shack parent company said,"we understand one of the photos used in our table decor at joe's crab shack restaurant in roseville, minnesota was offensive. we take this matter very seriously, and the photo in question was immediately removed. we sincerely apologize to our guests who were disturbed by the image and we look forward to continuing to serve the roseville community."     

the city of roseville issued its own statement friday, calling on the restaurant chain to make sure this type of imagery is not displayed anywhere else. they stated, "the city of roseville was shocked and saddened to learn of the racist imagery being openly displayed at the roseville location of national restaurant joe's crab shack."

their statement also said, "the city condemns this type of display in the strongest possible terms and calls on joe's crab shack to remove any and all racist imagery not only from its roseville location, but all of its restaurants nationwide immediately. this type of display is wholly unacceptable and unwelcome in the city of roseville."  

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Federal Judge Approves $940 Million Settlement between Native American Tribes and Obama Administration

a federal judge in albuquerque, new mexico on wednesday approved a $940 million settlement between native american tribes and the obama administration. the class-action lawsuit claims the government shorted tribes for decades on contract costs to manage education, law enforcement and other federal services.

the judge's recommendation begins a process to release payments to the tribes attorneys said could take several months. michael gross, a lawyer for the tribes said, "the end result was there were no objections to the settlement and no objection to the fee request. this showed a unity among indian tribes that is absolutely astounding."

the ruling also authorized a $1.2 million reimbursement for lead plaintiff's costs, and an agreement for attorneys to receive 8.5% of the final settlement amount. nearly 700 tribes, or tribal agencies, are expected to claim compensation, with amounts ranging from an estimated $8,000 for some alaska native villages and communities elsewhere to $58 million for the navajo nation.

val panteah, governor of zuni pueblo, described "a financial death spiral." he said it came as his government tried to offset losses from the contracts in new mexico. other tribal leaders described trying to stem losses from the underfunded contracts with painful budget costs as they tried to meet critical needs in their communities.

the case was originally filed in 1990 by the ramah navajo chapter, a community of about 4,000 people. they became the case's lead plaintiff, along with the oglala sioux tribe in south dakota and zuni pueblo.

in 2012, the case went before the u.s. supreme court. the court sided with the tribes and sent the case back to the lower courts before the interior department announced a proposed settlement last fall. since the supreme court ruling, congress has appropriated hundreds of millions of dollars to fully fund contract support costs for tribes.

the settlement is the latest in a recent string of major agreements between the interior department and native tribes to resolve legal disputes which languished for years. in the largest agreement, the government agreed to pay $3.4 billion to resolve claims over royalties owed to generations of individual landowners.

kevin washburn, former interior department assistant secretary for indian affairs said, "it just shows the obama administration has been working throughout two terms to stop litigating with tribes. now, even in the last year of the administration, they're getting this lengthy case settled."

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Florida's seatbelt violators are Racially Profiled

black motorists in florida are stopped and ticketed for seatbelt violations nearly twice as often as white residents statewide. in certain counties, blacks are stopped up to four times as often as whites, according to a new report from the american civil liberties union (aclu).

the study is based on data produced since the 2005 florida safety belt law was enacted. the aclu says black motorists tend to wear seatbelts less often than whites, yet this fact doesn't explain the large difference in racial disparity with seatbelt ticketing. 

additionally, black motorists' higher rate of stops and tickets expose them to a disproportionate financial burden - and risk of police force: unlike white motorists with similar citations. the alarming report was featured in the january 27 issue of the guardian. 

in response to these disturbing findings, the aclu is asking for an investigation by the florida attorney general's office of civil rights. the organization is also calling for the promotion of fair and bias-free policing, and for legislation to penalize agencies failing to collect and report data.  

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Maryland Legislature Expands Voting Rights for People with Felony Convictions

maryland lawmakers on tuesday expanded voting rights for people with felony convictions by overriding governor larry hogan's veto of house bill 980. the action restores voting rights to about 40,000 people on felony parole or probation. maryland was one of 35 states who disenfranchised people on parole or probation: individuals living in the community but unable to vote.

marc mauer, executive director of the sentencing project said, "maryland lawmakers have taken an important step in expanding the vote to people with felony convictions living in the community. restricting voting rights is deeply problematic for a democratic society and compounds the social isolation of formerly incarcerated persons from their communities."

nationally, 5.85 million americans are prohibited from voting due to laws disenfranchising citizens convicted of felony offenses. these policies vary by state, and arbitrarily oppress people in prison, on parole, probation, or with past convictions. maryland now joins connecticut and rhode island as states to recently expand voting rights to such people.

felony disenfranchisement has produced broad racial disparities in its impact as well. in america, one in every 13 black adults cannot vote as a result of a felony conviction. moreover, in two states in particular - florida and virginia - more than 20% of black adults suffer disenfranchisement.

civic participation has been linked to lower recidivism rates. in one study, among individuals who had been previously arrested, 27% of nonvoters were re-arrested, compared with 12% of voters. although the limitations of the data available preclude undeniable proof of direct causation, its clear voting appears to compliment pro-social behavior, which might impact lower crime rates.

nicole d. porter, director of advocacy of the sentencing project said, "we are encouraged by state officials who are reconsidering unfair disenfranchisement policies. 23 states have enacted reforms since 1997. this reform offers an opportunity to strengthen the democratic process and we hope this will be followed by a commitment to notify impacted persons their voting rights have been restored."


Sunday, February 07, 2016

Denver Broncos Win Super Bowl 50

the denver broncos defeated the carolina panthers 24-10 to win super bowl 50 at levi's stadium in santa clara, california. denver linebacker von miller was named most valuable player. miller had six tackles, two and a half sacks and two forced fumbles.

denver (15-4) sacked carolina (17-2) qb cam newton seven times - a super bowl record for sacks by one team. broncos defensive lineman demarcus ware also had two sacks. one of miller's forced fumbles resulted in a touchdown early in the first quarter, and they never lost the lead.

broncos' peyton manning, 39, became the oldest qb to win a super bowl, and first starting qb to win on two different teams. he now has 200 career regular and playoff wins: most all-time. asked about his future plans, he said, "i'll take some time to reflect. i got a couple priorities first. i'm going to kiss my wife and kids. i'm going to drink a lot of budweiser tonight." 

carolina's potent offense, number one during the regular season with 500 points, was held to its fewest points of the year. denver allowed just 194 yards, another super bowl record for the least amount given up by a vince lombardi trophy winner. league mvp newton completed 18 of 41 passes for 265 yards and no touchdowns.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

2016 NFL Honors and 2016 Hall of Fame Class

listed below are the winners of the 2016 nfl honors:

air player of the year - carson palmer, qb, arizona cardinals
ground player of the year - todd gurley, rb, st. louis rams
offensive rookie of the year - todd gurley, rb, st. louis rams 
offensive player of the year - cam newton, qb, carolina panthers

salute to service award - vincent jackson, wr, tampa bay buccaneers
clutch performer of the year - drew brees, qb, new orleans saints

coach of the year - ron rivera, carolina panthers
art rooney award - charles woodson, s, oakland raiders
defensive rookie of the year - marcus peters, cb, kansas city chiefs
assistant coach of the year - wade phillips, denver broncos
greatness on the road award - antonio brown, wr, pittsburgh steelers

defensive player of the year - j.j. watt, de, houston texans
most valuable player - cam newton, qb, carolina panthers
rookie of the year - jameis winston, qb, tampa bay buccaneers
comeback player of the year - eric berry, s, kansas city chiefs

fantasy player of the year - antonio brown, wr, pittsburgh steelers
deacon jones award - j.j. watt, de, houston texans
walter payton man of the year - anquan boldin, wr, san francisco 49ers
performance play of the year - aaron rodgers, qb, green bay packers

2016 hall of fame class
eddie debartolo, owner
tony dungy, coach
brett favre, qb
kevin greene, lb
marvin harrison, wr
orlando pace, ol
ken stabler, qb
dick stanfel, ol