February 28, 2011

American Workers vs. Multi-Billionaires (Jasiri X)

Jasiri X
Soulclap to Jill Tubman for pointing us to the latest Jasiri X video, "American Workers Vs Multi-Billionaires". The video was filmed on location in Madison, Wisconsin, where thousands of hard working Americans came together in unity to fight back against Governor Scott Walker. It is apparent to many of us that the Wisconsin governor is bought and paid for by billionaires like the Koch brothers. Walker and his GOP cronies seek to break up unions and deny workers collective bargaining and a living wage.

Rap music can be a positive force in the political discourse.
I think that Jasiri X got it right with this video and this song. Please take a moment to check it out:

Scott Walker works for multi billionaires
John Boehner works for multi billionaires
while corporations get billions in welfare
and millions in this country been out of work for years

Sarah Palin works for multi billionaires
American workers vs multi billionaires
they wanna end social security and medicare
while millions in this country don't have a dime to spare

Can main street get a bailout
Tell the president our checks weren't mailed out
Tell the house of representatives and senate
And whatever business got the stimulus and spent it
Now they getting record profit that's tripling with no limits
But they cutting jobs and unemployment benefits have ended
How we gone live with no income coming in
And the little help we get is cut from the budget then
What's the role of government
Do workers stand a chance if multi billionaires are running it
Oh now you worried bout the deficit and cutting it
But when them banks needed billions you had enough for them.
Them car companies you had bucks for them
2 wars rebuilding 2 countries guess we stuck with them
the average citizen just ain't lucky then
cause we be getting pimped so I guess we getting fucked again

Rush Limbaugh works for multi billionaires
Bill O'Reilly works for multi billionaires
while corporations get billions in welfare
and millions in this country been out of work for years

Sean Hannity works for multi billionaires
Crazy Glenn Beck works for multi billionaires
they wanna end social security and medicare
while millions in this country don't have a dime to spare

When did the American worker become the enemy
Why is wanting a living wage such a penalty
What happened to justice and liberty
These billionaire haters wanna crush us literally
On the box is Murdoch and his foxes
And if you watch it you might as well be an ostrich
They terrorists cause they hold facts hostage
24 hours straight of we hate what Barack did
If you want to unionize your a communist
But if you buy a congressman they just call you a lobbyist
It's so obvious but here's where the problem is
they act like regular Americans but they sloppy rich
Why you think they wanna cut taxes
cause every single one of them in the higher brackets
This ain't white or black it's class warfare time for action
Just look at wide the gap is

American workers vs multi billionaires
The middle class vs multi billionaires
while corporations get billions in welfare
and millions in this country been out of work for years

Rupert Murdoch is multi billionaires
the Koch brothers are multi Billionaire
they wanna end social security and medicare
while millions in this country don't have a dime to spare

February 27, 2011

Am I Not Human? Honor Public Workers' Bargaining Rights

Soulclap to Human Rights Watch for making the connection between human rights and the attack on the American Dream being made by a number of Republican governors around the nation.

Proposals in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and other states to strip public workers of collective bargaining rights violate international labor rights standards, Human Rights Watch said today.
"There are real financial constraints on states, but that is no excuse to seek to eliminate fundamental rights," said Alison Parker, US Program director at Human Rights Watch. "State governments can negotiate cost savings with workers without violating their rights in the process."
International law on the right to bargain collectively applies in both private and public workplaces. The United States championed the International Labor Organization's 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, under which the US pledged "to promote and to realize ... fundamental rights" defined in the declaration, the first of which is "freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining."

The United States is also a party to and bound by its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees everyone the right to protect his or her interests through trade union activity. As the Human Rights Committee has made clear on multiple occasions, that includes collective bargaining. Denying the right to collective bargaining would violate this international treaty, Human Rights Watch said.

Most major advanced democratic countries honor collective bargaining rights of public employees. For example, all EU countries allow public sector workers to bargain collectively. In a 2008 case, the European Court of Human Rights found that Turkey's restrictions on public employee bargaining rights violated the European Convention on Human Rights. In 2007 the Supreme Court of Canada ordered the province of British Columbia to restore collective bargaining agreements nullified by legislation.

By contrast, many undemocratic countries restrict or prohibit collective bargaining by public employees. For example, the Egyptian government has prohibited public sector collective bargaining. It allowed public employee unions to exist, but in name only, favoring government-controlled unions and quashing any attempt to bargain collectively.

Under federal law in the United States, public employees' right to organize is respected, compliant with international standards. However, federal law severely restricts subjects of bargaining in ways that run afoul of international standards - federal employees cannot bargain over economic issues such as pay and benefits, for example.

At the US state level, many states respect the right to organize and bargain collectively and allow wide scope for subjects of bargaining, consistent with international standards. Other states, like North Carolina, prohibit collective bargaining altogether, in violation of international human rights norms.

Wisconsin historically has been called a "laboratory of democracy" in the American system with a strong record of honoring workers' rights of association, organizing, and bargaining. It was one of the first states to grant public employees the right to bargain collectively, but is now on the verge of violating those basic rights, Human Rights Watch said.

Having the right to bargain collectively does not guarantee outcomes sought by workers and their unions. Nor does it mean that cost savings cannot be achieved. Rather workers' representatives and representatives of employers, whether public or private, have a right to bargain hard for their interests. The reason why collective bargaining is recognized as an international human right is that the compromises resulting from a process in which workers have an autonomous voice reflect principles of dignity, equality, and democracy consistent with human rights principles.
"Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and other states threatening to impose harsh new restrictions on public employees' collective bargaining rights should step back from the brink," Parker said. "They should honor public employees' right to bargain collectively."
Roots of Humanity feels that each of us can fight against human rights abuses in the world. We simply need to do something. Protest. Meditate. Pray. In the case of bloggers ... we want you to blog on the 27th of each month. Just share information on behalf of our human siblings in all suffering areas who are either barred from communication by their governments, or lacking in technology to ask: Am I Not Human?

February 26, 2011

Black Faces in White Places: Becoming a Game Changer in a Competitive World

Dr. Randal Pinkett
Location: OSI-New York
Event Date: February 28, 2011
Event Time: 5:30 - 8:00 p.m.
Click Here to RSVP

Join Randal D. Pinkett, PhD, MBA, and leaders in philanthropy, education, community building, and social entrepreneurship as they discuss strategies for Black men and boys to "redefine the game" at work, at home, and in their communities. The event is hosted by the Open Society Campaign for Black Male Achievement, in partnership with the Association of Black Foundation Executives, the 21st Century Foundation and the Schott Foundation for Public Education Black Male Donor Collaborative.

In their book Black Faces in White Places, authors Randal D. Pinkett and Jeffrey Robinson seek to answer the question "What happens once you break past the glass ceiling?" Based on interviews with dozens of prominent African Americans and the authors' considerable experiences in business, in the public eye, and in the minority, the book offers 10 "game-changing strategies" for learning, playing, mastering, and redefining the game for the current generation. Ultimately, it is about changing the very concept of success itself.


February 25, 2011

Show Solidarity with Wisconsin; Rally in All 50 States on Saturday, February 26

Tens of thousands of protesters have gathered in Wisconsin and Ohio over the past week to protest over attacks being made on the American Dream. The call is being made for concerned citizens in all 50 states to join the protests on Saturday, February 26 @ noon in front of your state's capital building.

Many villagers will recall that the Republicans won the mid-term elections last November with a battle cry of "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs". Instead of creating much needed jobs, it appears that these right-wing wackos are giving tax breaks to corporations and the very rich all while cutting funding for education, police, emergency response, and vital human services.

We learned during in November 2010 that elections have consequences. It is time that we wake up and realize that the effort by Wisconsin governor Scott Walker is only the first battle in the right wing’s attempts to destroy the American Dream. We must stop it before it spreads to other states.

Show Solidarity with Wisconsin! Join the Saturday rally to save the American Dream.

February 24, 2011

Our Alkebulan Journey: Tunisia

Originally Posted: 2/24/2008

Villagers, we continue our journey to learn more about Alkebulan. I promised to share some basic information on all 49 African countries. If you have insights or experiences or knowledge to share on this journey ... please do so!

Tunisia is the third country in our online journey. Earlier our journey took us to Morocco and Algeria.
Modern Tunisians are the descendents of indigenous Berbers and of people from numerous civilizations that have invaded, migrated to, and been assimilated into the population over the millennia. The Romans ruled and settled in North Africa until the 5th century, when the Roman Empire fell and Tunisia was invaded by European tribes, including the Vandals. The Muslim conquest in the 7th century transformed Tunisia and the make-up of its population, with subsequent waves of migration from around the Arab and Ottoman world, including significant numbers of Spanish Muslims and Jews at the end of the 15th century. Tunisia became a center of Arab culture and learning and was assimilated into the Turkish Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. It was a French protectorate from 1881 until independence in 1956, and retains close political, economic, and cultural ties with France.

Nearly all Tunisians (98% of the population) are Muslim.

Tunisia is the smallest nation in North Africa. Tunisia is a republic with a strong presidential system dominated by a single political party. President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has been in office since 1987, when he deposed Habib Bourguiba in a bloodless coup. Bourguiba had been president since Tunisia's independence from France in 1956. The ruling party, the Democratic Constitutional Rally (RCD), was the sole legal party for 25 years--including when it was known as the Socialist Destourian Party (PSD)--and still dominates political life. The president is elected to 5-year terms--with virtually no opposition--and appoints a prime minister and cabinet, who play a strong role in the execution of policy. The military is professional and does not play a role in politics.

Tunisia's independence from France in 1956 ended a protectorate established in 1881. President Bourguiba, who had been the leader of the independence movement, declared Tunisia a republic in 1957, ending the nominal rule of the Ottoman Beys. In June 1959, Tunisia adopted a constitution modeled on the French system, which established the basic outline of the highly centralized presidential system that continues today. The military was given a defined defensive role, which excluded participation in politics.

Starting from independence, President Bourguiba placed strong emphasis on economic and social development, especially education, the status of women, and the creation of jobs, policies that continued under the Ben Ali administration. The result was strong social progress--high literacy and school attendance rates, low population growth rates, and relatively low poverty rates--and generally steady economic growth. These pragmatic policies have contributed to social and political stability.

When President Ben Ali came to power in 1987, he promised greater democratic openness and respect for human rights, signing a "national pact" with opposition parties. He oversaw constitutional and legal changes, including abolishing the concept of President for life, the establishment of presidential term limits, and provision for greater opposition party participation in political life. A May 2002 referendum approved constitutional changes proposed by Ben Ali that allowed him to run for a fourth term in 2004 (and a fifth, his final, because of age limits on presidential candidates, in 2009), and provided judicial immunity during and after his presidency. The referendum also created a second parliamentary chamber, the Chamber of Advisors, and provided for other changes.

Despite the Government of Tunisia's stated committed to making progress toward a democratic system, citizens do not enjoy political freedom. The government imposes restrictions on freedom of association and speech and does not allow a free press. Many critics have called for clearer, effective distinctions between executive, legislative, and judicial powers. Foreign media, including foreign-based satellite television channels, have criticized the Tunisian Government for the lack of press freedom. Tunisia ranked number 145 out of 169 countries in the 2007 Reporters Without Borders list of World Press Freedom rankings. As reflected in the State Department's annual human rights report, there are frequent reports of widespread torture and abuse of prisoners, especially political prisoners.

Tunisia is a leader in the Arab world in promoting the legal and social status of women. A 'Personal Status Code' was adopted shortly after independence in 1956, which, among other things, gave women full legal status (allowing them to run and own businesses, have bank accounts, and seek passports under their own authority). It also, for the first time in the Arab world, outlawed polygamy. The government required parents to send girls to school, and today more than 50% of university students are women. Rights of women and children were further enhanced by 1993 reforms, which included a provision to allow Tunisian women to transmit citizenship even if they are married to a foreigner and living abroad. The government has supported a remarkably successful family planning program that has reduced the population growth rate to just over 1% per annum, contributing to Tunisia's economic and social stability.

Tunisia Fact Sheet

  • Language: The overwhelming majority speak Arabic and French. English is taught in all schools and is increasingly spoken especially by younger people. Some German and Italian are also spoken.

  • Population: 10.7 million

  • Area: 63,170 square miles

  • Capital City: Tunis

  • Currency: 1 US Dollar = 1.2285 Tunisian Dinar (as of 2/24/08)

  • Entry Requirements: A passport is required. For U.S. passport holders, a visa is not necessary for stays of up to four months; however, a residence permit is needed for longer stays.

    • Well, Villagers, I still hope to receive some feedback. We have 46 more countries in Alkebulan to go. What can I add, delete or change in future posts to make this more useful for you? In the meantime, what say u about Tunisia?

      February 23, 2011

      Our Alkebulan Journey: Libya

      Originally Posted: 3/16/2008
      Our journey to learn more about Alkebulan continues with an exploration of Al-Jamahiriya Al-Arabiya Al-Libiyah Ash-Shabiya Al-Ishtrakia ... more commonly known as Libya. Earlier this year, I promised to share some basic information on all 49 African countries. If you have insights or experiences or knowledge to share on this journey ... please do so!

      Libya is the fourth country in our online journey with a remarkable history based on its location on the continent. Earlier our journey took us to Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.

      Libya is a country that many in America are familiar with as a result of our government's action. I recall when President Ronald Reagan unloaded missiles on Qadhafi's residence ... and I see where President George W. Bush embraced Muammar Qaddafi as an ally because of their mutual support of the so-called 'war on terrorism'. As such, I was curious to learn more abut the country.
      Throughout most of its history the territory that constitutes modern Libya has been held by foreign powers. The Ottomans gained control of most of northern Africa in the 16th century. In 1711 Ahmad Karamanli became the Libyan leader. The country's leadership remained in the Karamanli family until 1835. During the Italian-Turkish War of 1912, Italy conquered Tripoli and occupied much of the country. Under Italo Balbo, who was governor-general during the 1930s, the country's infrastucture was developed as roads, civic buildings, schools, and hospitals were constructed. About 40,000 colonists were sent from Italy to the plateau regions of Libya at the end of the 1930s. Libya was made an integral part of Italy in 1939, and the Muslim population was granted a limited form of citizenship.

      Libya became one of the main battlegrounds of North Africa after Italy entered World War II in June, 1940. After the Allied victory over the Axis in N Africa (1943), Libya was placed under an Anglo-French military government. The United Nations was given (1949) jurisdiction and decided that Libya should become independent, which it did on Dec. 24, 1951, as the United Kingdom of Libya. It was ruled by King Idris I, head of the Sanusi brotherhood. Libya joined the Arab League, and in 1955 it was admitted into the United Nations.

      The 1950s in Libya were characterized by great poverty. In 1958, petroleum was discovered in the country, and by the early 1960s Libya was taking in growing revenues from the exploitation of that resource. In Sept., 1969, a group of army officers led by 27-year-old Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi ousted King Idris in a coup. The 1951 constitution was abrogated, and government was placed in the hands of a 12-member Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) headed by Qaddafi, who became prime minister. In mid-1972, Qaddafi turned the post of prime minister over to Abdul Salam Jallud, but he remained the RCC's president, the country's most important political and military office.

      One of the most interesting things about Qaddafi is the multiple ways that folks tend to spell his name. Anyhow, Qaddafi's regime pursued a policy of Arab nationalism and strict adherence to Islamic law. He was particularly concerned with reducing Western influences; as part of that effort, the British were forced (1970) to evacuate their remaining bases in Libya, and the United States was required to abandon Wheelus Field, a U.S. air force base located near Tripoli. Libya's foreign policy was generally reoriented away from Northern Africa and toward the heart of the Middle East. Close ties were established with Egypt, and in 1971 Libya joined with Egypt and Syria to form a loose alliance called the Federation of Arab Republics. A "cultural revolution" launched in 1973 sought to make life in the country more closely approximate Qaddafi's socialist and Muslim principles.

      An implacable foe of Israel, Libya contributed men and aircraft to the Arab side in the Arab-Israeli war of Oct 1973. After the war, Libya was a strong advocate of reducing sales of petroleum to nations that had supported Israel and was also a leading force in increasing the price of crude petroleum. Qaddafi was severely critical of Egypt for negotiating a cease-fire with Israel, and relations between the two countries declined steadily after 1973 when Qaddafi failed to push through a merger with Egypt.

      By the mid-1970s, Qaddafi had survived numerous coup attempts, and in 1980 he began ordering the assassination of Libyan dissidents who were living in exile in Europe. In 1981, two Libyan fighter planes attacked U.S. forces on maneuvers in the Gulf of Sidra (which Libya claims as national waters) and were shot down. Libya's relations with the United States became even more hostile when it began to support international terrorist organizations. The United States placed a ban on Libyan oil imports in 1982. In 1986, in an apparent attempt to kill Qaddafi, U.S. President Ronald Reagan ordered air strikes against Tripoli and Benghazi in retaliation for the Libyan-sponsored terrorist attack in West Berlin that had killed two American servicemen. Libya's attempts in the mid-1980s to form a union with Algeria and Tunisia, while not successful, resulted (1989) in the Arab Maghreb Union.

      Beginning in the late 1990s Libya embarked on a series of moves designed to end its estrangement from Western nations. In Dec., 1999, Qaddafi pledged not to aid or protect terrorists. In 2003, after negotiations with the United States and Great Britain, the government renounced the production and use of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons and agreed to submit to unannounced international inspections. In March 2004, the United States lifted most sanctions and resumed diplomatic relations with Libya, although it continued to list Libya as a state sponsor of terrorism until mid-2006.

      I found this post about Qaddafi to be very enlightening.

      Libya Fact Sheet

    • Language: Arabic

    • Population: 5.9 million

    • Area: 685,520 square miles, over 90% of which is desert.

    • Capital City: Tripoli

    • Currency: 1 US Dollar = 1.23 Libyan Dinar (as of 3/15/08)

    • Entry Requirements: A passport is required. The Libyan government imposes other requirements, such as having the passport translated into Arabic and need for travelor to have at least $1,000 when they enter Libya.

      • Well, Villagers, I still hope to receive some feedback. Please let me know if there are Libyan bloggers out there that we can reach out to for more information. Anyhow, we have 45 more countries in Alkebulan to go. What can I add, delete or change in future posts to make this more useful for you? In the meantime, what say u about Libya?

        February 22, 2011

        Good News Tuesday: NASA's Donya Douglas

        Jeff Norman is a writer for the Guide to Online Schools.

        Attracting quite a bit of much deserved attention these days is Donya Douglas, who is serving NASA to the best of her ability at the Goddard Flight Space Center as a thermal engineer. Working as an associate Branch Head in Instrument Systems, not necessarily a top-flight position, has not at all clouded the respect and pride she has engendered throughout the African American community. Technology is a field that continues to suffer a dearth in the presence of noteworthy Black individuals who are truly making a difference. All the more credit, then, is delivered to Ms. Douglas, whose work for NASA represents a quiet yet authoritative vanguard for both women and African Americans doing excellently in the realm of science.

        Douglas' penchant for the sciences was rooted in her childhood. She has said that both science and math impassioned her during her beginning years of schooling, and that her knowledge that she would be an engineer was something she had at the age of ten. NASA was her number-one dream upon graduating from high school, and she took full advantage of an internship from NASA that was offered to her. That experience let her know that she was not alone in her zeal for technology; there was a visible presence of both women and minorities at NASA, and the sight of them let her know that she had a place there.

        Douglas has been acclaimed seemingly to no end for her contribution to the technology community. Tennessee State University requested her permission to cite her example in a forthcoming textbook for elementary schools; she was also blessed with the Richard H. Goddard Award for Engineering and has found her career celebrated in "Space Place," an animated, science-based program for kids produced by NASA.

        Her achievements have lent her a great deal of understanding as to the matter of the lack of African Americans in her field. She reasons the issue stems from insufficient preparation of young Black students, early in their education careers, on the joy and possibility of science and math. Frequently, those subjects in particular can be improperly framed as difficult, a challenge for students to surmount, instead of as a field of open knowledge and progress that is open to all who are willing to learn their rhyme and reason. Douglas has successfully insured that her own three children greet the sciences and technology with open arms -- one of them is already on the path to securing a degree in electrical engineering.

        Douglas also cites the positive influence of teachers in launching her passion. For her, science and math were never subjects merely relegated to an hour-long, daily class. She participated in myriad after-school activities that showed the amusement possible in the fields.

        Douglas commends her company, NASA, for their historically energetic endeavors to rouse an appreciation for the sciences in the Black community. NASA has been known to collaborate with several institutions that host a primarily African American community of students, and Douglas has done her own part to raise science's profile in the community with numerous public speaking ventures and offering mentorship to students seeking it.

        On Douglas' mind at the moment is an urge to increase the visibility of NASA's efforts in robotic missions. The moon, Mars, and more are all locations that are prime for serious scientific inquiry. She's been in the field for nearly two decades now, and has a body of published work to rival those of even the most seasoned academics.

        A big thank you goes out to Ms. Douglas; she's proven that African Americans in science can take flight today better than ever before.

        NOTE: Information derived from interviews given by Ms. Douglas to Sister Mentors and Black Enterprise.

        February 21, 2011

        Why Are Republicans Playing the Race Card in Southern States?

        You have to wonder if the Republican Party in the southern part of the United States is making a conscious effort to piss off African Americans so that they can gain support from bigoted white folks? Has the GOP decided that the best way to beat President Obama in 2012 is to play the race card over and over again?

        Can there be any other explanation for the recent actions of Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) or Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS)?

        Gov. Scott had a Gov. Rick Scott welcomed Black legislators to lunch earlier this week at the Governor’s Mansion. His intentions may have been good. However, during his welcoming remarks, Scott implied that all Black lawmakers grew up poor and lived in the projects. [SOURCE]
        I grew up probably in the same situation as you guys,” Scott said to the group of 20 Democrats. “I started school in public housing. My dad had a sixth-grade education.”
        Rep. Betty Reed, D-Tampa, said she was offended by the remark, but did not protest at the time because she said it was more important to have a productive dialogue with the new governor.
        Afterward, she said, “He assumed that everyone [in the room] was poor and that can only be because you’re Black.”
        It is much worse over in Mississippi where the state is considering a proposal to issue specialty license plates honoring Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

        The Mississippi Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans wants to sponsor a series of state-issued license plates to mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, which it calls the "War Between the States." The group proposes a different design each year between now and 2015, with Forrest slated for 2014. [SOURCE]

        I wonder if these wingnuts realize that the Confederates lost that war?

        For those villagers who may not know -- Forrest, a Tennessee native, is revered by some as a military genius and reviled by others for leading an 1864 massacre of Black Union troops at Fort Pillow, Tenn. If it happened today, we would call it a 'war crime'.

        Forrest was a Klan grand wizard in Tennessee after the war.

        Gov. Barbour hasn't stepped in to end this discussion about honoring a war criminal and racist KKK grand wizard with his own license plate. Is Barbour being a racist? Or is he just ignorant about the way that African Americans would react to seeing a KKK grand wizard honored on the back of every car in Mississippi?

        It appears more and more that the Republican Party is willing to play the race card to try to regain the White House in 2012. What say u?

        February 20, 2011

        Birth of the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce

        I lived in Detroit for eight (8) years. In many respects it is my favorite American city. As such, I have been very frustrated with the continual bad news that has been coming from the city in recent years. The tide may be turning.

        I was smiling from ear-to-ear when I saw the Super Bowl commercial that starred the city of Detroit.

        The good news continues this week with an announcement that Black business leaders in Michigan have come together to combat the challenged Michigan economy for African American businesses by establishing the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce (MBCC).

        MBCC's new board was sworn-in on February 9th by the Honorable Craig Strong, Judge of Wayne County 3rd District Court. The new board members are William Brooks (Chairman), Charlie Beckham (Chairman Elect), Ken Harris (President/CEO), Pamela Rodgers (Vice President), Wayne Phillips (Treasurer), Reuben Munday (Secretary), Louis Green (State Advisor), Rod Rickman (National Advisor), Douglass Diggs, Natalie King, Mark Douglas, Dennis Archer, Jr., Dr. Geneva Williams, Cheryl Richardson, Hiram Jackson, Robert Chavis, Andrew G. McLemore, Jr., T. A. El Amin, Rumia Burbank, Eric Hardy and David Burnley.

        The MBCC is Michigan's first statewide Black chamber of commerce. The Black chamber's creation is the culmination of efforts by a network of business organizations called the African American Business Alliance. In 2010, the Alliance refocused its advocacy efforts to establish and transition into the first African American statewide business organization – the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce.

        According to Ken Harris, the chamber's president and CEO, "The Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce will aggressively advocate for the economic gardening, growth and capacity building of Michigan Black-owned businesses. As a mission-based member driven organization, the Black chamber will provide quality resources, benefits, services and access needed to help stimulate economic viability throughout Michigan. Our efforts will nurture an environment of economic parity helping Black businesses to expand and create jobs, jobs, jobs in the community."

        February 19, 2011

        Weekly Address: Winning the Future at Intel

        The President speaks from the Intel campus in Oregon about educating our kids for the jobs of tomorrow so we can make sure America wins the future.

        Villager is in the suit!
        I agree with President Obama about our nation's future. I look at the young people that I come into contact with via the BDPA Education and Technology Foundation (BETF) and I recognize that we have the ability and talent in our own community to create the positive future of our dreams. I'm trying to raise college scholarship money for these young people.

        What are your thoughts on this week's message from our president?

        February 18, 2011

        Trial Date Set in Lawsuit About Taser-Killing of Michigan Teenager Brett Elder

        Brett Elder
        Villagers my recall that the father of 15-year old Brett Elder filed a lawsuit a couple of years ago seeking damages from Bay City (MI) officials because of his son's unwarranted electrocution-by-taser.

        The lawsuit will go to trial on October 4, if the city refuses to come to an agreement with the family of Brett Elder. [SOURCE]

        Prosecutors claim the teen was intoxicated and combative, however, they declined to press charges. On the other hand, witnesses claim Elder was already handcuffed when police pumped 50,000 volts of deadly electricity into his body with their taser guns.

        An autopsy performed by Dr. Kanu Virani, a forensic pathologist, found a two-part cause of death for Elder: "alcohol-induced excited delirium" and "application of an electromuscular disruption device."

        I suspect that law enforcement officials won't figure out a different way to use their near-lethal tasers until a few of these lawsuits go against them.

        February 17, 2011

        Twitter Thursday! - What Is Your Twitter Name?

        Drumbeats from Vincent Wright gave us the idea to see if there are any villagers who want to Twitter with us?

        Tell us your Twitter name!

        To get things started, here are mine:

        Personal Twitter name: twitter.com/Villager
        My Non-Profit Twitter name: twitter.com/BDPA

        For those of you that don't know ...Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read other users' updates (otherwise known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length.

        Updates are displayed on the user's profile page and delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them. The sender can restrict delivery to those in his or her circle of friends (delivery to everyone being the default). Users can receive updates via the Twitter website, instant messaging, SMS, RSS, email or through an application such as Twitterrific or Facebook. For SMS, four gateway numbers are currently available: short codes for the United States, Canada, and India, as well as a United Kingdom number for international use. Several third parties offer posting and receiving updates via email.

        There are millions of registered Twitter users. Do you have one of them?

        February 15, 2011

        Herman Cain Wants to be the Next Black President

        Herman Cain is a business man who wants to be the next President of the United States. He is exploring a run for the presidency as a Republican in the 2012 election cycle. He was a speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).   One blogger infamously noted that Herman Cain appeared to be playing the Race Minstrel for CPAC.

        Here is what Cain had to say to CPAC folks:

        What are your thoughts about Herman Cain's presidential ambitions?

        February 13, 2011

        Coroner's Inquest Scheduled for Taser-Killing of Ryan Bain in Montana

        Prosecutors have set a date to examine the death of a Billings man who died after a dramatic physical struggle with police. [SOURCE]

        Ryan Bain, age 31, died in October of 2010, two days after authorities tased him at least four times. Police said he was resisting arrest. It's unclear if the tasing led to Bain's death.

        County attorneys originally thought that the coroner's inquest would be late January.   However, we now learn that it won't take place until March 16th.  You have to wonder why it is taking so long for the coroner's inquest to be taking place.  I suspect that the powers-that-be in Billings, Montana are not anxious to learn the official cause of death and the taser's role in the incident. The trial-like proceeding is expected to take several days as more than a dozen witnesses take the stand.

        February 12, 2011

        Weekly Address: "It's Time Washington Acted as Responsibly as Our Families Do"

        The President previews his budget, explaining that it will help the government live within its means, while still investing to make sure America wins the future.

        February 9, 2011

        Can a White Southerner Like Haley Barbour Beat President Obama in 2012?

        Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) has shown himself to be a good ol' boy from the deep South. Gov. Barbour was interviewed this weekend about his presidential aspirations.
        "Our new majority only gives us one half of one third of the government. We can't put America on the right track until we elect a Republican president next year. I'm thinking about running for president and I'll make a decision in April," he said. "And I'm serious when I say that I haven't made a decision, but I'm trying to test the waters."

        Do you think that Haley Barbour will become a candidate for the presidency?

        February 8, 2011

        Ohio Police Settle Lawsuit and Agree to Stop Using Tasers on Pregnant Women

        Valreca Redden must be pleased. Villagers will recall that Valreca Redden was the young pregnant woman who went into an Ohio police station for help and ended up being tasered. Of course, police all over the nation have gone taser-happy in recent years. That trend may begin to turn around in Ohio where police agreed to curtail their wanton use of taser guns. [SOURCE]

        The lawsuit was brought on behalf of Ohio prisoners, however, its implications may impact the rest of the citizens as well. The settlement says that deputies will not use Tasers against anyone who is not "resisting by use of physical force" or is "displaying active aggression" against them, or is posing a threat to the deputy or others.

        The settlement grew out of a federal class-action lawsuit filed by the Ohio Legal Rights Service, an independent state agency that supports the rights of people with disabilities.

        The Justice Department asked to intervene to keep the sheriff's office from "engaging in a pattern and practice of gratuitous, excessive and unconstitutional use of Tasers against arrestees, pretrial detainees and other prisoners, including pregnant women, incapacitated individuals and those with mental illness."

        Please read or download the complete settlement agreement so that you can see for yourself the results of the lawsuit

        This blog is hopeful that police departments across the state of Ohio will see the handwriting on the wall ... it is time for much more reasoned and responsible use of tasers!

        February 7, 2011

        Taser Death: Robert Ricks (Alexandria LA)

        It happened again. This time a young, unarmed Black man was tasered-to-death by the Alexandria (LA) police department. The young man, 23-year old Robert Ricks, was in police custody at the time of his death on Saturday, February 5, 2011.

        His family had called 911 earlier in the evening to get medical assistance for Ricks. The ambulance arrived ... however, they refused to treat Ricks. The police came and they arrested Ricks. At some point the police acknowledge that a taser was used on Ricks. He was found dead while in a police jail cell.

        Here is a video of the taser-death from local newscasters.  It is obvious that this town isn't a fan of Black civil rights organizations as they mistakenly refer to the NAACP as "the NCAA" in their reporting of the incident. 

        The young man's family is very upset


        February 6, 2011

        Weekly Address: Winning the Future Through American Innovation

        President Barack Obama continues on a roll since the mid-term elections. Unemployment is down ... his approval ratings have sky-rocketed. The President took some time yesterday to discuss the labs at Penn State as an example of how American innovation, particularly in infrastructure and energy, can create jobs and win the future for America.

        You can read the full transcript of the President's remarks.  Any thoughts on his message this week?

        February 4, 2011

        Old School Friday: Oscar Brown, Jr.

        Originally Posted: 3/28/2008

        The only decent thing that came out the Hot Ghetto Mess controversy brought to us by BET in 2007 was the re-introduction of an American legend, Oscar Brown, Jr. to a new audience of young people. Do y'all remember the Bid 'Em In song?

        I have a dozen or songs from Oscar Brown, Jr. on my I-Pod. Dat Dere ... Signifyin' Monkey ... The Work Song and others. He was a talented brother. Check out these clips from a documentary done on his life.

        Oscar Brown, Jr. was rooted in jazz. He was a singer, poet, and activist. At the end of the day it was impossible to put a musical categorization on his long and eclectic career -- a forerunner of the political consciousness that would become predominant in soul, funk, and hip-hop in the decades to follow, his efforts to exact social change spread across the arts and even into government, spurring two unsuccessful but memorable campaigns for office.

        Oscar Brown, Jr. appeared on Def Poetry Jam at least three times before he died in 2005. Check out his jazzy poem called, 'I Apologize'.

        February 3, 2011

        Blog Safari #46

        Join our rhino guide, Nyabingi, as she takes you through the afrosphere to find some truly creative Black bloggers. We use this semi-regular blog safari to expose you to some Black bloggers that you might otherwise overlook. Visit the links below to enjoy these suggested blog posts!
        Let us know if you come across any remarkable posts that should be shared in our next Blog Safari!

        February 2, 2011

        Black Unemployment Drops to 15.7% in January 2011

        The economic news that flowed from Washington DC was mixed today ... however, it still is a disappointing metric for the Black community harder.  A new employment report released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows us that the unemployment rate for African Americans dipped slightly from 16.1% in September 2010 to 15.7% in January 2011.

        Overall, the number of unemployed persons, at 13.9 million, down 600,000 in January.  The overall national unemployment rate ... now at 9.0% ... is at its lowest level since April 2009.

        What do these numbers mean to you?