December 31, 2008

Top 50 Best Blogs of 2008 Award

We were surprised and honored to be included on Marenda's list of the Top 50 Best Blogs of 2008. Her blog, Living Life Abundantly, has risen on the Villager's Black Blog Rankings from BBR #96 to BBR #19 over the past year because of the excellent information she provides to her readers.

This is our second year in a row being on Marenda's list. We will do all that we can possibly do to earn her respect again in 2009.

We'd like to beat the drums for other AfroSpear bloggers that made her list this year: Eddie Griffin (BASG) (BBR #178), Field Negro (BBR #9), From My Brown Eyed View (BBR #241), Raw Dawg Buffalo (BBR #16), Science Education & Society (BBR #457), and Vanessa Unplugged (BBR #311).

Wordless Wednesday: Happy New Year

Learn the secret to Rhino Success!

December 30, 2008

All Men Are Created Equal

Less than a month until Barack Obama formally takes oath of office as our 44th President of the United States. Am I the only one who remains floating on the high from the November 4th election results?!?

Blagojevich Appoints Roland Burris to Replace Barack Obama in US Senate

Only three African Americans ... Ed Brooke, Carol Moseley-Braun and Barack Obama ... have served as a United States senator since the end of Reconstruction era. It appears that Gov. Blagojevich wants to add a fourth nubian to the list.

Blagojevich will name former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to replace President-elect Barack Obama in the Senate later today.

Born in Centralia, Illinois, Roland Burris received his bachelor's degree in political science from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1959. He then studied at the University of Hamburg, Germany, for a year before entering law school at Howard University.

Burris began his career in 1963 as a national bank examiner for the U.S. Treasury Department. This gave him the honor of being the first African American to examine banks in the United States. From 1964 to 1973, he served as vice president of Continental Illinois National Bank, making significant contacts in both the corporate and African American communities. Burris began his government career in 1973 as director of the Illinois Department of General Services. In 1978, with his election to the first of three terms as state comptroller, he made history as the first African American elected to state office.

On November 6, 1990, Roland W. Burris was elected attorney general for the state of Illinois. At that time, the only African American ranking higher in state office was Douglas Wilder, the governor of Virginia. He served as Illinois attorney general from 1991 to 1995.

Burris is now an attorney with the Peters law firm in Chicago, where he specializes in environmental, consumer affairs and estate law. Previously he was managing partner of the Chicago-based law firm of Jones, Ware & Grenard, one of the largest minority law firms in the country. Burris previously ran and lost bids for the U.S. senate and governor.

If Burris makes it to Washington DC, he would be the only African American in the U.S. Senate.

Politics makes for strange bedfellows. I've never heard of Roland Burris before today. What are your thoughts about this appointment?

Mychal Bell, Jena 6 Student, Shoots Himself

Mychal Bell was arrested for shoplifting on Christmas Eve. He was realeased on $1,300 bail. Today we learn that the troubled youngster shot himself in the shoulder.

Mychal Bell was cleaning a gun when it accidentally discharged, shooting him in the shoulder, his attorney, Carol Powell-Lexing, told CNN. He had surgery Monday night at a hospital in Monroe, Louisiana, and has not yet been able to talk, she said.

I encourage visitors to read the post on What About Our Daughters for some very insightful comments and analysis of this latest incident by a Jena 6 student.

The Obama Song

Drumbeats from the Electronic Drum clued us in to this groove from Michael Franti and Spearhead. Without question the most remarkable memory of 2008 will be the election of Barack Obama as our 44th President of the United States. This song captures the spirit of his election better than anything else I've heard this year.


I wonder what will become our most remarkable memory of the new year?

Mychal Bell, Jena 6 Student, Arrested for Shoplifting

Prison reform wouldn't be necessary if our young men would simply do right in the first place. Drumbeats from Dallas South Blog informed us that Mychel Bell ... one of the Jena 6 youth ... was arrested for shoplifting $370 worth of merchandise from Dillard’s in Pecanland Mall in Monroe LA.

Bell's arrest comes less than less than a month after he completed a sentence for his role in a fight with classmate, Justin Barker, at Jena High School in 2006.

The national uprising about the racially-biased prosecution by Louisiana criminal justice system during the Jena 6 trials last year were on point. Unfortunately, a number of the Jena 6 youth appear to have misread the point of the protest.

We were not giving them carte-blanche to act a fool. We were giving them a second chance to make their families and community proud.

It appears that Mychal Bell turned down his second chance.

December 29, 2008

Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) Wants Prison Reform

There are a number of domestic issues that need to be dealt with in the coming years. A few weeks ago I suggested that America's prison system needed to be overhauled. Today's (December 29) Washington Post has an article that Senator James Webb is going to take on prison reform.

My understanding is that Webb (D-Va.) plans to introduce legislation on reforming the U.S. prison system. Jails teem with young Black men who later struggle to rejoin society, he says. Drug addicts and the mentally ill take up cells that would be better used for violent criminals. And politicians have failed to address this costly problem for fear of being labeled 'soft on crime.'

You can find a great blog article on this matter here on Firedoglake.
Would you support efforts to reform our nation's prison system?

December 28, 2008

2009 BDPA Technology Conference (Raleigh, NC)

More details can be found here.

Will Congressional Black Caucus Be Relevant Next Year?

A number of villagers have been talking about the relevance and potency of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) in 2009 and beyond. I think that everyone recognizes that they have not been relevant for many years. Whether it was because of the Republican dominance of congress and the White House or simply a dearth of energy and ideas ... it seems unlikely that much would be different over the past generation if the CBC never existed.

For those that don't know, the original purpose of the CBC was ' promote the public welfare through legislation designed to meet the needs of millions of neglected citizens'.

The CBC agenda in 2008 focused on:
  1. Empower and Mobilize America's Youth
  2. Build an International Internet Communications Portal
  3. CBC Outreach Program
  4. Impact the Alternative Energy Discussion
Now we enter into a new year ... Democratic dominance of the Senate and the House of Representatives ... Black man serving as our president ... and new leadership for the CBC. Will the CBC be relevant in the 111th Congress?

CBC Members elected to leadership posts include:
Chairwoman-elect Barbara Lee remarked, “The 111th Congress will not only present unique and difficult challenges, but also historic opportunities for our caucus. I look forward to working with all of our CBC members to craft and implement a unified and bold agenda for the 111th Congress.”

I suppose what villagers want to know at this point ... what is that bold agenda for 2009-2010? Will the CBC avoid getting into a battle with Obama? Do you have any thoughts on the CBC agenda?

December 27, 2008

Barack Obama Named 'Father of the Year'

Did you see where Barack Obama was named 'Father of the Year' by the Fatherhood Educational Institute (FEI)? FEI educates the public on the importance of patriarchal involvement in children's lives.

The group is based in Chicago. They have some strong programs to help fathers that are poor or incarcerated.

Barack Obama said, "I think we got to do a real good job trying to reintroduce males who have been involved in the criminal justice system as ex-offenders -- giving them the opportunity so that they are able to support their families, find work, get on the right path -- but ultimately there's a lot of personal responsibility that's involved in this. And one of the things I want to do as president is to use the bully pulpit to say to men, You have to get involved in your child's life. It will make a difference not only in their lives but in yours."

Fatherhood issues need to be addressed by all races and cultures. However, there is no question that Obama serves as a powerful role model for African American fathers. At the end of the day it is up to each of us to take personal responsibility to do the right thing. It will be nice to see a positive and powerful Blackman who does right by his children.

December 26, 2008

This Week in Blackness: Hillary Clinton & Sarah Palin

Elon James White shares Part 2-of-4 in his satirical review of 2008. In this installment he spends some time talking about two white women that dominated the political landscape in 2008 ... Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin.

Bro. White brings it strong. I think that my favorite part is when he de-mystifies the myth about Bill Clinton being the first Black president. What was your favorite part in this video?

December 25, 2008

Could You 'Buy Black' For a Year?

Our country is in the midst of an economic crisis. One response ... demonstrated by the debate over the auto industry bailout ... is that we should 'Buy American'. Nothing radical about the idea. The concept is simple and effective. Spend discretionary funds in your own community in order to climb out of an economic downturn.

Can we do the same thing in the Black community? Can we recognize that the 20% unemployment in our community is a symptom of an economic crisis? Do we have the strength of mind and purpose to focus the 'Buy American' response into a more targeted 'Buy Black' campaign?

We have plenty of income in the Black community ... but, our inability to keep more than 5% of our spending with Black-owned businesses means that we have very little wealth in the Black community. Not surprising. If I give you 95 cents out of every dollar that I earn ... I'll be poor and you will be rich. The Black community gives 95 cents of every dollar to white-owned businesses. We are poor. They are rich.

One family in Chicago ... the Andersons ... plans to flip the script. For the Ebony Experiment, the Anderson Family publicly commits to exclusively ‘Buy Black’ for one year. They will live their lives as they normally do, except that each time they make an expenditure – from consumer goods to professional services to real estate and travel – they will make an exhaustive attempt to utilize Black businesses and Black professionals. In addition to actual new purchases, the Andersons will endeavor to convert any standing contracts (e.g. loans, bills, subscriptions, etc.) to adhere to their 'Buy Black' pledge.

Are you willing to support this effort? Can you find ways to 'Buy Black' in the coming weeks and months? Ken Bridges advocated for internal reparations ... and the Andersons appear to be doing it on a family level.

Please share your village voice on the 'Buy Black' concept. Will it work?

December 24, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: The Great Escape (Panda Version)

Justice for the Angola 3

Our friends over at ColorOfChange have been seeking justice for Albert Woodfox and the other two people referred to as the 'Angola 3'. Angola is a prison located deep in Louisiana about 30 miles from the nearest town.

A 23-year old prison guard, Brent Miller, was stabbed to death with a lawnmower blade in 1972. Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace were convicted of murder. They served the past 36 years in solitary confinement -- It's the longest any inmate has spent in isolation in modern U.S. history. Now, all these years later, the murder seems even more unsettled and elusive than it did then, and there are questions about their guilt.

Despite increasing evidence of Woodfox's innocence, the State of Louisiana is digging in its heels. They've pushed back against a federal judge who has overturned Woodfox's conviction and ordered his release. Many believe that the government is upset with the 'Angola 3' because they were organizing within the prison for better conditions, an end to sexual abuses, and the fair treatment of inmates.

Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal is not saying anything. Petitions have been delivered to him asking for him to take action in this case ... however, he hasn't said a word yet.

Have you been following the story of the Angola 3 over the past weeks and months? If so, what is your take on the situation?

December 23, 2008

This Week in Blackness: Barack Obama, Alan Keyes and the End of Racism

Elon James White has been offline for awhile. Actually, he's been online here and here ... but, he hasn't produced an episode of 'This Week in Blackness' for about a month or so. The brother is back ... and he is producing a 4-part review of the entire year in Blackness.

Elon correctly tells us that the key player in 2008 is Barack Obama. No surprise. After all, if Obama was Time Magazine Man of the Year ... so why not continue his role with the folks at TWIB.

Check out TWIB Episode #14 for yourself:

I'm not gonna go stalk the jackal otherwise known as Alan Keyes ... but, if he ever comes to Cincinnati then I might kick him in the gonads just to get on Elon's show! Anyhow, what was your favorite part of the show?

December 22, 2008

New AfroSpear Member: Notes of This Native Son

Cedric Shine created his progressive Black-owned & operated blog, Notes of This Native Son (BBR #591) in March 2008. Less than a month later he sought membership into The AfroSpear. However, AfroSpear guidelines call for a blog to exist for at least six months before we can consider it for membership.

Bro. Shine kept moving forward with his blog ... the six months passed ... and we're proud to welcome him as one of the newest members of The AfroSpear

Cedric wrote, "I think the purpose of the Afrospear is to network bloggers of color together to support a collective dialogue on issues that affect people of color. I also see it as way to cultivate leadership and ideas through online conversations about the state of our people. I feel that I will do that by not only contributing to my blog but being the voice that I have been on other blogs within the AfroSpear. I will continue to encourage our people to think objectively about our impact on society.

I blog every day and post several posts a day dealing with spirituality, music, politics and literary pieces that speak to the struggle and victories of people of color. I look forward to being a part of the AfroSpear."

Please take a moment to share your village voice with Cedric Shine. What are your thoughts about his blog ... or about the AfroSpear?

December 20, 2008

Village Jackal: Jesse Lee Peterson

I don't watch Fox News very much. So forgive me if I missed the minstrel show known as Jesse Lee Peterson. I truly didn't know about him until Dr. Boyce Watkins sent me the video below. In this video, Jesse thanks America for slavery and the fact that his ancestors were brought over in chains. He compares the Middle Passage to "an uncomfortable trip", that was "like a crowded airplane flight". Check it out:

Where does America find these human jackals? Anyhow, he jumps immediately into the list of village jackals ... joining folks like Ward Connerly and Alan Keyes.

December 19, 2008

Old School Friday: Kurtis Blow

I invite you to enjoy some 'grown-folks music'! Ms Grapevine and MarvalusOne have teamed up to create a weekly meme that we call, Old School Friday. It is our effort to post some music from the last millennium to relive some memories and to educate or just entertain each other.

The theme this week is 'holiday songs'. Nat King Cole, The Whispers, Luther Vandross and others made beautiful music. I'm sure they will be featured by many OSF posts today. I decided to go in a different direction. How many of y'all remember Kurtis Blow? He was one of the original rappers back in the day and he had a very unique Christmas Rapping song that I used to enjoy. I thought I would share it with you today.

Did you sing along? Merry Christmas y'all!

December 18, 2008

(Th)ink by Keith Knight: Bush & Iraqi Shoes

(Th)ink is an editorial cartoon written and drawn
by cartoonist Keith Knight (the K Chronicles).

December 17, 2008

Will You Join Barack Obama in Second Life?

I entered the Second Life virtual world last year. My time in that virtual world has been limited over the past year. I missed the fact that Obama extended his campaign into Second Life. I need to head back in and see whether his transition team is using Second Life as well.

Are there any villagers active in Second Life? What do you like about it? If you are not in Second Life ... do you plan to visit that virtual world in the near future?

December 16, 2008

Ready to Rejoin the World?

Will America's image in the world be improved under an Obama presidency?

December 15, 2008

Can Anh Cao Gain Membership Into Congressional Black Caucus?

There are over 400 members of the United States House of Representatives. Most of us only focus on our local congressional representative. However, there are a handful of congressmen with national reputations. Jesse Jackson, Jr. has a national reputation today. Unfortunately for him it is defined mostly by his father and the current governor of his state.

I imagine that Anh 'Joseph' Cao will be a member of congress that is watched beyond the boundaries of his Louisiana district. Cao became the first Vietnamese-American person in Congress when he defeated 10-term incumbent William Jefferson last month.

Cao represents a district that is 64% Black and he wants to join the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).

The CBC has never admitted a non-Black member ... they barely admit Black republicans! It is likely that Cao will not apply for CBC membership, however, it is interesting that he continues to make a national splash. I imagine that he is the most famous Vietnamese-born citizen in the country right now.

New AfroSpear Member: Black Women, Blow The Trumpet

The AfroSpear is finding more and more voices from powerful women of color. Recently, Lisa Vasquez, owner of the 'Black Women, Blow the Trumpet' blog (BBR #107) joined the AfroSpear. Lisa's vision is to create more than a blog ... she wants an online think tank that serves as a cyber-roundtable where Black women identify, organize and strategize solutions for societal issues that impact the empowerment of Black women.

Lisa began blogging in March 2008. When seeking admission to the AfroSpear, Lisa wrote, "I think the purpose of AfroSpear is to support and encourage the literary work of bloggers of the African disapora. I would contribute to the purpose by making valued contributions to fostering community and supporting the literary work of my brothers and sisters."

It is difficult to describe the wealth of information, role models, spiritual praise and other dialogue that uplifts the souls of Black women to be found on this blog. Frankly, I'm honored that this sister applied for membership into the AfroSpear.

Share your thoughts on this new AfroSpear blogger. Have you checked out her blog yet?

December 14, 2008

Blog Safari #22

Our Rhino-Guide invites you to join him & Kimba on travels thru cyberspace to check out some powerful cultural, personal and political posts in this week's 'Blog Safari'.

Enjoy the flow from these talented bloggers!
Let us know via the COMMENTS link below if you come across any remarkable posts that should be shared in our next Blog Safari!

December 13, 2008

(Th)ink by Keith Knight: Chocolate 'Milk'

(Th)ink is an editorial cartoon written and drawn
by cartoonist Keith Knight (the K Chronicles).

December 12, 2008

Two Charged with Murder in Brandon McClelland Dragging Death

A grand jury in the racially-troubled northeast Texas town of Paris returned first-degree murder indictments Thursday against two white men accused in the September dragging death of a Black man, and the prosecutor in the case said he is investigating whether to add hate-crime charges. [SOURCE]

Shannon Finley and Charles Ryan Crostley, both 27, face up to life in prison if convicted of charges that they murdered 24-year-old Brandon McClelland by running him over and dragging him beneath a pickup truck after the three went on a late-night beer run.

McClelland's mutilated and partially-dismembered body was found lying in the middle of a remote county highway. Local police initially dismissed the case as an ordinary hit-and-run.

The victim's mother said she was relieved to learn of the murder indictments.

"I'm glad to know that they won't sweep this under the rug," said Jacqueline McClelland. "Now I know that justice will get served and this family can get some rest and ease."

NPR Cancels 'News & Notes' Program Hosted by Farai Chideya

It saddened me to learn that the 'News & Notes' show is being cancelled by National Public Radio (NPR). News & Notes covered a wide range of issues from an African American perspective.

The one-hour daily program hosted by well-known broadcast and digital media journalist Farai Chideya was a wonderful opportunity for Black bloggers. Farai hosted a Blogger Roundtable each Wednesday as part of her program. I had pleasure of being a panelist in Nov 2007, Apr 2008, Jun 2008 and Aug 2008.

NPR claims that the show is being eliminated because of a $23 million budget shortfall. NPR, which has a staff of 889, said it will cut 85 jobs, including 21 unfilled positions. Dennis Haarsager, NPR's CEO, says that the show failed to attract “sufficient levels of audience or national underwriting necessary to sustain continued production under these tough financial circumstances.”

Here is what other Black bloggers are saying about this sad news:
  1. African American Political Pundit

  2. Can't Stop Won't Stop


  4. Jack and Jill Politics

  5. Jasmyne Cannick

  6. Maynard Institute

  7. My Urban Report

  8. Pam's House Blend

  9. Rod 2.0 Beta

  10. SES: Science, Education & Society

I'm not certain what can be done at this point. Please share any ideas that you might have in the COMMENTS section below.

Blog Safari #21

There are some powerful cultural, personal and political posts in our 'Blog Safari' this week. Follow our guide-rhino as you leave our village to check out the work of these talented bloggers!
Let us know if you come across any remarkable posts that should be shared in our next Blog Safari!

December 11, 2008

New AfroSpear Member: Womanist Musings

I was pleased to see that one of the most powerful Black female bloggers, Renee Martin, added her top-ranked blog, Womanist Musings (BBR #16) recently joined the AfroSpear. Sis. Martin began her blogging career in April 2008 with the issuance of her 'Womanist Manifesto'.

This blog is dedicated to critiquing current events and pop culture from a womanist perspective. Its sole purpose is to give voice to those that have historically been marginalized and silenced.

When asked why she wants to join the AfroSpear, Renee wrote, "I think the purpose and the goal of AfroSpear is to help build a Black community online. Even though we speak with different voices, it is important to hear a Black perspective on daily life. The AfroSpear brings attention to Black issues and the work of Black bloggers.

Though my blog is new I am dedicated to raising awareness. I post almost daily. My blog is entitled womanist-musings because I focus on issues that are important to Black women. I also offer a womanist analysis of current events. I think that my blog is important because Black women are often disregarded by mainstream news."

I encourage all villagers to share their thoughts on this new AfroSpear member ... and visit her blog as well!

December 9, 2008

Could Al Gore be the Next Secretary of Energy?

I understand that President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden plan to meet with former Vice President Al Gore today.

In a statement, Obama spokesman Nick Shapiro said the three men would “discuss energy and climate change and how policies in this area can stimulate the economy and create jobs.”

Gore is a political superstar in the Democratic Party. He served for two terms as vice-president; earned more votes in presidential loss to George Bush in 2000; won Nobel Prize for his work on climate change in 2007; won an Academy Award for his about global warming film, 'An Inconvenient Truth'; and he is now a rich man as a result of his various tech-based partnerships.

Obama pledges to create millions of 'green jobs' over the coming years. How cool would it be for Obama to offer the job of Energy Secretary in his cabinet to Al Gore?

Obama is building a cabinet of stars. Do you think he can get Al Gore to join the mix?

December 8, 2008

The Content of His Character

The dream shared by Martin Luther King, Jr. moves closer to reality. Do you think race relations in America will improve as a result of Obama's presidency?

December 7, 2008

New AfroSpear Member: daddyBstrong

We are pleased to let you know that Mac 'MacDaddy' Walton is a new member of The AfroSpear. His blog, daddyBstrong (BBR #1402), came online in April 2008. MacDaddy said, "I think I would contribute by bringing to the Black blogosphere a clear Black perspective and progressive viewpoint with respect politics and what we call race."

Walton continued, "I've been blogging, not only on current issues, but also issues that connect us to our history. I want to be a part of the AfroSpear because I don't just want to write on my own. I want to be a part of a network or alliance that welcomes my work ... I don't want to be a person who goes to other bloggers to argue or complain. I want to be supportive ... or just to say a few words just to let them know I'm reading them and they're not alone."

I encourage folks to check out daddyBstrong and welcome him to the AfroSpear!

December 6, 2008

Mr. Anh Cao Goes to Washington

America seems like a more just place this morning. I woke up to the news that the voters of Louisiana finally realized that they were represented in Congress by an indicted bribe-taking jerk. Among other evidence, Jefferson was videotaped by the FBI receiving $100,000 worth of $100 bills in a leather briefcase at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Arlington, Virginia.

I asked William Jefferson to go away ... and the voters of Louisiana 'made it so'.

Jefferson was defeated by Anh 'Joseph' Cao, a little-known Republican lawyer ... the very first Vietnamese-American Congressman ever. Cao is an immigration lawyer and community activist who once pursued the priesthood with the Jesuits.

Hailing from New Orleans’s Versailles — the area of almost 100% Vietnamese, best known to outsiders as an area heavily damaged by Katrina — Cao is said to be affiliated with Boat People S.O.S., a refugee rights advocacy group based in Washington DC.

William Jefferson had been Louisiana’s first Black Congress member since Reconstruction. However, Black folks all over America are seeking quality in our public officials. Once you go Obama ... you NEVER GO BACK! Jefferson cynically counted on a loyal base to return him to Congress for a 10th term.

I join with other villagers in wishing Mr. Cao much success as he goes to Washington DC. I don't have much love for Republicans because of their policies ... but, I appreciate the historical significance of breaking another cultural barrier in our national politics.

How did you feel about these election results from Louisiana?

December 5, 2008

Old School Friday: Eddie Murphy

I invite you to enjoy some 'grown-folks music'! Ms Grapevine and MarvalusOne have teamed up to create a weekly meme that we call, Old School Friday. It is our effort to post some music from the last millennium to relive some memories and to educate or just entertain each other.

The theme this week is 'Actor-Turned-Singer' or 'Singer-Turned-Actor'. There were actually a lot of good options. I'm old enough to remember that Janet Jackson was Penny on 'Good Times' before she brought us 'Rhythm Nation'. I remember Mos Def at age 14, in the TV movie 'God Bless the Child'. I also enjoyed him in The Cosby Mysteries, before he started his rap career. Other talented people that came to mind were Ice T, Queen Latifah and Will Smith.

However, my mind immediately went to Eddie Murphy. Eddie was a successful comic and movie star when he decided to try out his musical chops with Rick James. Did you 'Party All The Time' back in the day?

December 4, 2008

DC Likely to Gain Voting Member of Congress

by Nick Juliano

Eleanor Holmes Norton's schedule is likely going to become a lot more crowded in the next year. [SOURCE]

With Barack Obama's election, along with Democratic gains in the Senate, Norton -- the District of Columbia's non-voting delegate to the House of Representatives -- is poised to become a full-fledged Representative, giving DC a voting member of Congress for the first time in the nation's history.

Senate Democrats have added at least seven members to their caucus this year, with two races yet to be decided. While a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority remains elusive, the gains should be enough to move forward a DC voting-rights bill, among other measures that are supported by moderate Republicans, the Washington Post notes Monday.

Under a measure that passed the House by a wide margin last year, Norton would receive a vote in the House on behalf of the District's nearly 600,000 residents. The bill also would give Utah an additional House member, bringing the total in the House to 437.

The bill fell to a Republican-led filibuster in the Senate on a 57-42 vote, but this year's Democratic pick-ups seem likely to assure its passage if it returns to the floor. All seven Republicans who were replaced by Democrats voted against the measure.

President-elect Barack Obama co-sponsored the Senate bill and would be expected to sign the measure into law.

Norton, who co-sponsored last year's measure, says she will reintroduce it sometime in the next session of Congress, although the timing has yet to be decided.

After 209 years, District residents will have not only a president who has already changed America, and the president that our residents most wanted, but they will have a Democratic president, who, as senator, co-sponsored the District of Columbia Voting Rights Act, and has told me he will sign our bill,” Norton said in a statement, released after Obama's victory. 

Congress fixed the number of House seats at 435 in 1911. The body temporarily increased to 437 members in 1959 to give Alaska and Hawaii one member each, then returned back to 435 members after the next census.

December 2, 2008

Perp Walk: Larry Langford (Birmingham Mayor)

Did you see where the feds arrested the mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, yesterday? It turns out that Mayor Larry Langford for his part in a corruption probe surrounding a massive sewer bond debt that has forced Jefferson County to the brink of bankruptcy.

The US Attorney indicted Mayor Langford on 60 counts including bribery, conspiracy and filing false tax returns. Langford's friends involved in this scheme are investment banker William Blount and lobbyist Al LaPierre. The government said it was also seeking $7.6 million in forfeiture from the three men.

Blount’s company profited from collecting fees recommended by Langford in the sewer bond transactions.

One of the consequences from the Mayor's criminal activities is that Alabama’s Jefferson County — of which Birmingham is the main city — is fighting to stave off what would be the largest bankruptcy in U.S. municipal history over its sewer debt.

He sold out his public office to his friends Blount and LaPierre for about $235,000 in expensive clothes, watches and cash to pay his growing personal debt. All the while, Blount was paid fees topping $7 million,” said US Attorney Alice Martin.

Ms. Martin continued, “Through a web of financing agreements Langford required many institutions to use Blount as a consultant so Blount would make fees and in turn pay off Langford. It was a classic pay-to-play scheme.”

In May the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a lawsuit accusing Langford of receiving and not disclosing a $156,000 illegal payment.
Langford sat on Jefferson’s county commission from 2002 to 2006 and was its president. He became Birmingham mayor in 2006.

Do any villagers have any thoughts on this mayor-gone-bad? When will our public leaders recognize that they are not above the law?

December 1, 2008

World AIDS Day: Statistics & Solutions

Yobachi asked Black bloggers to support the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day. We asked our villagers last year to support efforts to end AIDS.

This year I tried to look at AIDS from a personal point of view. It dawned on me that I don't have personal knowledge of anyone with HIV or AIDS. I suppose that the stigma from this disease is such that people still don't bring it up in polite company. However, I wonder if my experience is atypical?

According to estimates from the UNAIDS 2008 Report on the global AIDS epidemic, around 30.8 million adults and 2 million children were living with HIV at the end of 2007. During 2007, some 2.7 million people became infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS.

Have you ever wondered how people get HIV or AIDS? It turns out that 11% of HIV infections are among babies who acquire the virus from their mothers; 10% result from injecting drug use; 5-10% are due to sex between men; and 5-10% occur in healthcare settings. Sex between men and women accounts for the remaining proportion – around two thirds of new infections.

Around half of the people who acquire HIV become infected before they turn 25 and typically die of the life-threatening illnesses called AIDS before their 35th birthday.

The area in Africa south of the Sahara desert, known as sub-Saharan Africa, is by far the worst-affected in the world by the AIDS epidemic. The region has just over 10% of the world's population, but is home to 67% of all people living with HIV. An estimated 1.9 million adults and children became infected with HIV during 2007. This brought the total number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the region to 22 million by the end of the year. HIV prevalence varies considerably across this region - ranging from less than 1% in Madagascar to over 25% in Swaziland.

AIDS is one of the top 10 leading causes of death on our earth. Here are some suggestions for dealing with the impact of HIV in America and around the world:
  1. People need to challenge the myths and misconceptions about human sexuality that translate into dangerous sexual practices.

  2. Work and legislation is needed to reduce prejudice felt by HIV+ people around the world and the discrimination that prevents people from "coming out" as being HIV positive.

  3. HIV prevention initiatives need to be increased, people across the world need to be made aware of the dangers, the risks, and the ways they can protect themselves.

  4. Condom promotion and supply needs to be increased, and the appropriate sexual health education needs to be provided to young people before they reach an age where they become sexually active.

  5. Medication and support needs to be provided to people who are already HIV+, so that they can live longer and more productive lives, support their families, and avoid transmitting the virus onwards.

  6. Support and care needs to be provided for those children who have already been orphaned by AIDS, so that they can grow up safely, without experiencing poverty, exploitation, and themselves falling prey to HIV.

What are your thoughts on the HIV/AIDS epidemic? Any personal experiences that influence how you look at the six alternative solutions?