January 31, 2009

President's Weekly Address: Moving Forward

In the weekly address, President Barack Obama addressed the latest economic news and urged the passing of an America Recovery and Reinvestment Plan.

He also announced that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is preparing a new strategy for reviving our financial system -- which will not only ensure that CEOs aren't abusing taxpayer dollars, but also get credit flowing and lower mortgage costs.

Watch the address:

It will be interesting to see if the Republican Party continues to shake a fist at the extended hand of bipartisanship from President Obama. What do you think? Will the President get chance to sign a stimulus bill by mid-February?

January 30, 2009

Sen. Claire McCaskill Calls for Executive Salary Caps

I like Claire McCaskill (D-MO). She was an early endorser of Obama's presidential candidacy. My admiration for her grew today when she gave voice to many angry villagers with her speech on the Senate floor today in which she said an average of $2.6 million dollars had been paid in bonuses to executives from the first 116 banks that got money from the TARP rescue plan.

"I am mad," she said. "We have bunch of idiots on Wall Street that are kicking sand in the face of the American taxpayer. ... They don't get it!"

Her office said the $400,000 compensation cap she was proposing would include salary, bonuses and stock options.

"We should have done it in the first place," McCaskill said of the proposed salary cap, "but I don't think any of us thought these guys were this stupid."

I like the idea of this proposed legislation. How about you?

Michael Steele is the New Face of Republican Party

The Republican Party has a new face. Gone are the faces of old white guys. The new leader of the Republican Party is Michael Steele.

We talked about him earlier this month when he was one of five candidates for the office. He won the GOP chair on the 6th ballot today against the South Carolina GOP chair (Katon Dawson). Dawson was a member for 10 years at a whites-only country club. Jim Geraghty sums up the fears of some in the room when the final vote was taken:

there are already murmurs of, "Can you imagine how the MSM's coverage will be if the guy who was in the country club with a whites-only charter beats an African American on the final ballot?"
What are your thoughts about this selection of the first African American to chair the Republican Party?

Venus and Serena Williams Win Australian Open Doubles Championship

Serena and Venus Williams teamed to win their eighth Grand Slam doubles title in the Australian Open, a day before Serena's bid for a 10th major singles crown. They beat Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia and Japan's Ai Sugiyama 6-3, 6-3 for their third doubles championship in Australia.

Blog Safari #27

There are some truly talented writers in the afrosphere. I don't always have the ability to share referrals or posts on these talented bloggers on my blog. That is why I use this 'Blog Safari' format to provide villagers with links to these talented bloggers and creative blog posts. My Rhino-Guide (she needs a name!) will join you on a journey thru the cyber-jungle to read and enjoy these posts. Enjoy the flow!!
Let us know if you come across any remarkable posts that should be shared in our next Blog Safari!

Tell Gordon Brown to Include Africa in G20 Summit

ONE continues to ask our leaders to do more to fight the emergency of global AIDS and extreme poverty. ONE believes that allocating more of the U.S. budget toward providing basic needs like health, education, clean water and food would transform the futures and hopes of an entire generation in the world's poorest countries.

This spring, leaders from 20 of the world's largest economies will come together for the G20 summit in the United Kingdom. They'll be discussing the global financial system, and working on setting a course for the world to get out of the financial crisis. It is crucial that a representative from the African Union be present at those meeting to represent many of the world's poorest nations, and give voice to their concerns.

As host of the upcoming G20 summit, Prime Minister Gordon Brown can invite a representative of the African Union to participate.

I encourage all villagers interested in Africa having a greater voice in these issues to sign the online petition and share your input directly with Prime Minister Gordon Brown!

January 29, 2009

Dunbar Village Rapists Prepare for Trial

Did you see where a trial date has been set for three of the youngsters that gang-raped and tortured a 35-year old woman and her 12-year-old son back in June 2007? The incident took place in the Dunbar Village complex down in Palm Beach, Florida. Justice is slow. The trial date for Tommy Lee Poindexter, 20, Nathan Walker Jr., 18, and Avion Lawson, 15, is set for May 6, 2009.

Over a year ago, Jakaris Taylor, 18, pleaded guilty and received a 20-year sentence in exchange for his testimony.

There are still 6 of the original ten Dunbar Village suspects operating out in the streets. Hopefully karma will slapt the other six upside their heads if the criminal justice system can't get to them.

January 28, 2009

Kentucky Will Not Indict Men who Hung Obama in Effigy

A grand jury in Lexington refused to indict two men who hung an effigy of Barack Obama on the University of Kentucky campus last fall, their lawyer told the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The two men — Joe Fischer, who was then a senior at the university and has since graduated, and Hunter Bush, a former student at Bluegrass Community and Technical College — were arrested in October after authorities found the effigy hanging from a tree outside the university’s Mines and Minerals Building. They were charged with second-degree burglary, theft by unlawful taking, and disorderly conduct. The grand jury dismissed those charges.

The best revenge is massive success. These two jerks will see Barack Obama every day for the next four years. Who's hangin' now?

A Post-Inauguration Poem

A Post-Inauguration Poem
by Geoffrey Philp

All the lies have been laid to rest
The insults from childhood that would trigger
Bile in your stomach, rage that would linger

In your knuckles, creep up into your chest,
And made you think you couldn't hold on any longer...
All the lies have been laid to rest

But in your heart you always knew you were blessed
It gave you strength not to strike back in anger
At the screams, "You're nothing but a no count nigger!"
All the lies have been laid to rest

Wordless Wednesday: National Park Suicide Attempt

January 27, 2009

Global President

He's been in office for a week. How do you think the rest of the world is seeing him now?

Am I Not Human? Torture on the Dark Side

The Electronic Village is pledged to post about human rights abuses as part of the 'Am I Not Human?' blog campaign on the 27th of each month. We want all concerned bloggers and blog readers to support this effort.

President Obama signed executive order to close Guantánamo Bay prison. This is a major victory in restoring our values and rehabilitating America’s image worldwide. However, there are many who think that much more needs to be done — so many wrongs that still need to be righted.

Alex Gibney’s Academy Award-winning documentary Taxi to the Dark Side showed in stark terms the impact of human rights abuse ... even if done in the name of the 'war on terror'. Perhaps it is time to demand accountability for all abuses committed by the Bush-Cheney administration in the 'war on terror.'

What say u? Have you watched the full documentary yet?

January 26, 2009

Are Black Women the Most Affected by STDs?

Soulclap to Daryl C. Hannah (DiversityInc.com) for writing on a topic that is rarely discussed in polite company within the African American community. Sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and AIDS are issues that our women and girls need to focus on more in 2009 and beyond.

While Blacks only make up 12 percent of the U.S. population, they account for about 70 percent of gonorrhea cases and almost half of all Chlamydia and syphilis cases in 2007, according to an annual Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report. Even more alarming are the statistics surrounding Black teenage women, a demographic that now represents the highest rates of both Chlamydia and gonorrhea of any group.

The report, the " Sexually Transmitted Diseases Surveillance, 2007," showed that of the 1.1 million Chlamydia cases reported in 2007, infection rates among women were three times that of men and Black women, ages 15 to 19, accounting for 9,646 per 100,000 people. Gonorrhea rates, also higher among women, were flat when comparing 2006 to 2007 but were very high for Black teenage women, at 2,956 per 100,000 people.

"The racial disparities in rates of STDs are among the worst health disparities in the nation for any condition," says Dr. John M. Douglass Jr., director of the CDC's Division of STD Prevention. "The widespread occurrence of these diseases should serve as a stark reminder that STDs remain a serious health threat in the United States, especially for women and racial and ethnic minorities."

The study also highlighted the health disparities associated with socioeconomic status, which limits many Black Americans' access to quality healthcare, forcing them to forgo much-needed treatment--a move that often leads to infertility.

"We must intensify effort to reach these communities with needed screening and treatment services," the study reveals. "Testing and the knowledge of infection is a critical first step toward reducing the continued consequences of these diseases."

"Left untreated, Chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause infertility, affecting a woman's chance to bear children later in life," Douglass says. "Such a severe consequence is entirely avoidable if as a nation we work together to increase the use of proven prevention tools and make them widely available to those who need them."

I encourage all villagers to share information about the upcoming National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Those of you in the greater Cincinnati area should make plans to attend an Awareness Day event called, Healthy Relationships for Mothers, Daughters and Grandmothers, Too!

Obama 2.0 * WhiteHouse.gov is More Interactive

The Obama administration relaunched the White House Website adding a blog and several new features to make it more interactive.

Macon Phillips, director of new media for the White House, posted the first entry for the new blog at http://www.whitehouse.gov/. Villagers may now sign up for an RSS feed, e-mail updates, and can provide feedback to the White House by filling out a form on their updated Web site.

The White House also plans to post non-emergency legislation online for five days so the public can review and comment before the president signs it into law. Phillips stated the site is intended to deepen the administration's engagement with the American people, and it will play a major role in delivering on President Obama's promise of transparency in government.
Have you checked it out yet?

January 25, 2009

Police, Tasers and Another Dead Black man

Drumbeats from Tasered While Black Blog inform us that another Black man is dead after being confronted by a police officer using a taser, followed by a gun. It didn't take long for the local media to demonize and place the blame on Terrance Kennedy for his own death.

Some of the bystanders, who were still outside the home Saturday afternoon, said officers first used pepper spray on Kennedy, then deployed a taser. Some witness statements indicate that they saw an officer hit Kennedy with a police baton, and they heard one officer tell the other, “shoot him,” before he was shot.

We will follow this story to see how it turns out. All I know is that serving a warrant should not result in death penalty.

From Stokely to Obama: Organizing for America

I saw Stokely Carmichael speak when I was in college. His message was that it was critical for people of African descent to ORGANIZE. Barack Obama worked for many years in Chicago as a community organizer. In fact, Sarah Palin criticized him for that organizing work.

What Stokely and Barack knew then ... and Mama Grizzley Palin learned later ... is that the key to success is the ability to ORGANIZE. In fact, Obama continues to ORGANIZE. His peeps created Organizing for America in an effort to work towards those things he promised in his campaign.

I signed up today. I encourage all villagers to visit the OFA website and sign up as a volunteer. It's time for us to ORGANIZE!

Sunday Inspirations: Turn Me On (Norah Jones)

I heard this Norah Jones song for the first time recently while watching movie called Love Actually. What are your thoughts as you listen to this tune?

January 24, 2009

(Th)ink by Keith Knight: Obama Silver Dollar

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

January 23, 2009

First Day of School ... 5 Years From Now

Old School Friday: The Jones Girls

Ms Grapevine and MarvalusOne created a weekly meme that we call, Old School Friday. The idea is to share music from the 20th century with our blog readers. The theme this week is 'Too Hot for Radio'.

Not many people know that I was a DJ on my college radio station back in the day. I played soul music at KUCR 88.1 FM. My radio personality was known as 'The Wizard of Soul & Mind'. We had freedom to play anything we wanted ... no programmed musical selections at our radio station.

One of my favorite groups during that time was three young ladies known as The Jones Girls. They never got much radio-play on the major stations ... but I loved listening to them. One of my favorite songs from them was a simple tune called, 'Nights Over Egypt'. Check it out...

Another song that I would play on my show from this crew was 'I Just Love The Man'. I tend to think that some of the women in my life would think of me when this song was playing. Sad, but true. Listen closely...

January 22, 2009

Blog Safari #26

It is difficult to keep track of the great flow of information that flows from the many blogs in the afrosphere. I like to share some of the more interesting ones with our villagers via this 'Blog Safari' concept. I hope you will join our Rhino-Guide (she needs a name!) on a journey thru the cyber-jungle to read and enjoy these posts as you have time or inclination. Enjoy the flow!!
Let us know if you come across any remarkable posts that should be shared in our next Blog Safari!

January 21, 2009

Obama's Inauguration Speech (Digest Version)

"We as a nation have defeated the British, beaten back fascism and communism, gone through Civil War, and faced down innumerable other daunting challenges. So, if we set our mind to it and work hard, I believe we are capable even of the seemingly impossible task of fixing everything that George W. Bush fucked up."

Marion Thorpe (R-Fl), Candidate for US Senate

Drumbeats from Black Politics on the Web let us know that history is being made in Florida. It turns out that Dr. Marion Thorpe is the first African American Republican to run for statewide office in Florida. He plans to run for the US Senate.

Thorpe is a longtime political player in Florida who has toured the state for his work in the Health Care field. In 1998, then Gov. Jeb Bush appointed him to spearhead the State of Florida’s Comprehensive Health Information Systems panel and in 2005 named him Chief Medical Officer for Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration.

"Florida has vibrant agricultural economic potential. It also has the technology and the ability to lead the nation in the development of domestically produced energy sources", said Thorpe. "There is simply no excuse for the double digit unemployment levels that have plagued many parts of the state and I’m committed to fighting for a solution to this pervasive problem."

Villagers, wouldn't it be remarkable if the two leading candidates for the US Senate seat in Florida are both African Americans? Kendrick Meek announced his candidacy to run in the Democratic primaries for this seat. Now Marion Thorpe steps up to the challenge as well.

I imagine that Marion Thorpe will do better in his run than Alan Keyes did in his 2004 election beat-down from Barack Obama.

Alan Keyes was unable to blunt the enthusiasm for Obama. Will Thorpe blunt the enthusiasm that is bound to grow for Kendrick Meek?

Wordless Wednesday: Barack, Eat Up This Economic Recession the Same Way!

January 20, 2009

Detroit Produces New Presidential Limousine

The Secret Service unveiled the new presidential limousine during Inauguration Day.

Although many of the vehicles’ security enhancements cannot be discussed, it is safe to say that this car’s security and coded communications systems make it the most technologically advanced protection vehicle in the world,” said Nicholas Trotta, Assistant Director for the Office of Protective Operations.

Perhaps this is the beginning of a rebound in fortunes for General Motors!

Our Prayers are with Ted Kennedy

Our Prayers are with Senator Kennedy! [re-published from 5/21/2008]

Elizabeth Alexander: Inauguration Poem (Text)

Villagers, I have to admit that I wasn't feelin' this poem when I watched Elizabeth Alexander deliver it live during the Inauguration. I do feel better about it when I re-read the text. I offer it here for posterity.

Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others' eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin."

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know there's something better down the road."

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.

What are your thoughts about the inaugural poem?

Barack Obama: Inauguration Speech (Full Text)

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Thank you, God bless you and God bless the United States of America.

The Final Destination on the Freedom Road...

The inauguration of our 44th president takes place today. What are your thoughts on this historical milestone?

US Presidents - George Washington to Barack Obama

44 US Presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama
morphed to the music Boléro by Ravel.

Day One

Historical Irony of Abraham Lincoln's Bible

Most of you know by now that Abraham Lincoln's Bible will be used at the inauguration of Barack Obama. The swearing in is the responsibility of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts.

But do you know the name of the Chief Justice who held this bible and swore in Abraham Lincoln?

He was Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, most remembered for the Dred Scott decision in Dred Scott v. Sanford. In this infamous decision by our highest court, Taney stated that Blacks were "a subordinate and inferior class of beings" who have "none of the rights and privileges" of citizens of the United States. "Slaves were property". This famous decision outraged and polarized Americans and is considered a major cause of the Civil War.

Taney thus held this Bible as he passed on the power of the President to Lincoln who ultimately freed the slaves. It is pretty interesting that this same Bible will be used to inaugurate our first African American President.

January 19, 2009

Blog Safari #25

One of our regular features on this blob is our 'Blog Safari'. We use this vehicle to share some outstanding blog posts that caught our eye over the past week. We ask our Rhino-Guide (she needs a name!) to lead you thru the afrosphere to read and enjoy these posts as you have time or inclination. Enjoy the flow from these talented bloggers!
Let us know if you come across any remarkable posts that should be shared in our next Blog Safari!

Inauguration Seating Chart

Well, we are being a little silly with this seating chart ... however, the inauguration is truly a milestone in US History. What are your thoughts on this historic day?

Facebook Milestone: 800 Friends

I noticed today that I now have 800 'friends' on Facebook. Friend #800 is Shae Shae, a powerful blogger in the afrosphere.

I joined Facebook a few months ago with the intention of identifying alumni from High School Computer Competition (HSCC) held annually by BDPA. I figured that these young people would be on Facebook. I was surprised by the number of adults on this social network. I have found family, college classmates, business colleagues and a handful of celebrities via Facebook. Even my 70-year old mom opened up an account last month!

Facebook is a fun place. I don't use it to conduct business, although I am using it to promote the Electronic Village!

What is your experience with Facebook?

January 18, 2009

Barack Obama: Letter to My Daughters

Parade Magazine is publishing a touching letter where Barack Obama reveals his hopes and dreams for daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7.

Dear Malia and Sasha,
I know that you've both had a lot of fun these last two years on the campaign trail, going to picnics and parades and state fairs, eating all sorts of junk food your mother and I probably shouldn't have let you have. But I also know that it hasn't always been easy for you and Mom, and that as excited as you both are about that new puppy, it doesn't make up for all the time we've been apart. I know how much I've missed these past two years, and today I want to tell you a little more about why I decided to take our family on this journey.

When I was a young man, I thought life was all about me-about how I'd make my way in the world, become successful, and get the things I want. But then the two of you came into my world with all your curiosity and mischief and those smiles that never fail to fill my heart and light up my day. And suddenly, all my big plans for myself didn't seem so important anymore. I soon found that the greatest joy in my life was the joy I saw in yours. And I realized that my own life wouldn't count for much unless I was able to ensure that you had every opportunity for happiness and fulfillment in yours. In the end, girls, that's why I ran for President: because of what I want for you and for every child in this nation.

I want all our children to go to schools worthy of their potential-schools that challenge them, inspire them, and instill in them a sense of wonder about the world around them. I want them to have the chance to go to college-even if their parents aren't rich. And I want them to get good jobs: jobs that pay well and give them benefits like health care, jobs that let them spend time with their own kids and retire with dignity.

I want us to push the boundaries of discovery so that you'll live to see new technologies and inventions that improve our lives and make our planet cleaner and safer. And I want us to push our own human boundaries to reach beyond the divides of race and region, gender and religion that keep us from seeing the best in each other.

Sometimes we have to send our young men and women into war and other dangerous situations to protect our country-but when we do, I want to make sure that it is only for a very good reason, that we try our best to settle our differences with others peacefully, and that we do everything possible to keep our servicemen and women safe. And I want every child to understand that the blessings these brave Americans fight for are not free-that with the great privilege of being a citizen of this nation comes great responsibility.

That was the lesson your grandmother tried to teach me when I was your age, reading me the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence and telling me about the men and women who marched for equality because they believed those words put to paper two centuries ago should mean something.

She helped me understand that America is great not because it is perfect but because it can always be made better-and that the unfinished work of perfecting our union falls to each of us. It's a charge we pass on to our children, coming closer with each new generation to what we know America should be.

I hope both of you will take up that work, righting the wrongs that you see and working to give others the chances you've had. Not just because you have an obligation to give something back to this country that has given our family so much-although you do have that obligation. But because you have an obligation to yourself. Because it is only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will realize your true potential.

These are the things I want for you-to grow up in a world with no limits on your dreams and no achievements beyond your reach, and to grow into compassionate, committed women who will help build that world. And I want every child to have the same chances to learn and dream and grow and thrive that you girls have. That's why I've taken our family on this great adventure.

I am so proud of both of you. I love you more than you can ever know. And I am grateful every day for your patience, poise, grace, and humor as we prepare to start our new life together in the White House.

Love, Dad

Beyond the content ... imagine the positive example that Barack Obama sets by taking time to write out his thoughts for his children. He didn't send them a text message. He didn't record his thoughts on YouTube. He didn't write them an email.

He went ol' school. He wrote them a letter. They won't understand the full significance of his words for many years ... but, they will have this letter to give them context for what he is getting ready to do.

Villagers, especially the Dads ... when is the last time that we WROTE A LETTER to our children? Not a Hallmark card. A real letter? That is the positive example that Obama gives each of us.

I'm going to learn from this example. I'm going to write an ol' school letter to my children. How about you?

I Want My Bailout Money (Video)

Some things need no explanation!

January 17, 2009

NAACP Challenges Prop 8 in California Supreme Court

I see that the NAACP continues showing signs of relevance. I must admit that I have been very pleased with the activities of the organization since Ben Jealous took over last year.

Earlier this week the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund(LDF) filed a friend of the court brief challenging California's Proposition 8 on the grounds that the basic rights of a minority group cannot be taken away by a simple majority. LDF joined other civil rights groups, the Asian American Pacific Legal Center, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Equal Justice Society, and the California NAACP in calling for the invalidation of Prop 8.

"It is imperative that the Supreme Court of California recognize that by allowing Prop 8 to take effect, it is setting a dangerous precedent that allows a bare majority to strip minority groups of their fundamental rights. We are joining this challenge to ensure that the rights of all minority groups are being protected," said John Payton, LDF President and Director-Counsel.

The California Supreme Court recognized marriage as a fundamental right. To take away that right a constitutional revision requiring a two-thirds vote by the state legislature - and not just a simple majority vote - would be needed in order to bar same-sex marriage. If Prop 8 is allowed to stand the fundamental rights of all minority groups will be placed in jeopardy.

"Proposition 8 effects more than just the LGBT community. This decision will ultimately affect how the rights of all minority groups are treated in the state of California," said Anurima Bhargava, Director of LDF's Education Practice.

We haven't blogged much about the Prop 8 results in California. Do you have any thoughts or insights on the issue that you care to share?

Kendrick Meek (D-Fl), Candidate for US Senate

I see where Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) has become the first candidate to officially declare for the seat being vacated by Republican Mel Martinez. I imagine that Rep. Meek is disappointed that Hillary Clinton isn't going to be our president.

Meek is a former state legislator and former captain in the Florida Highway Patrol. He won a House seat in 2002 that had long been held by his mother, Carrie Meek, and is starting his fourth term in Congress.

"Public service and a commitment to make a better life for the people of Florida has been my mission. I've given Florida a strong voice on the powerful House and Ways Means Committee and was appointed by the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives to the House Leadership," said U.S. Senate candidate Kendrick Meek. "But never in my lifetime, have the people of Florida been faced with so many big problems. Our state needs bold leadership at every level, and it is why I've made the decision to run as a candidate for the United States Senate. This race is not about me--it is about Floridians. I am running for Florida, and I am asking Floridians to run with us in this race."

Although Meek rode the wrong pony in the Democratic presidential primary ... he appears to have found partnership with the incoming president as evidenced by the fact that Steve Hildebrand, Barack Obama's deputy national campaign manager will be Meek's top strategist for the U.S. Senate campaign.

I wish the young brother well in his campaign. It will be nice to see another African American face in the US Senate.

January 16, 2009

Michael Steele, Candidate for GOP Chair

I must admit that I couldn't name the last Republican Party chair. However, it is interesting to see the competition taking place to become the next RNC chair. It turns out that there are two African American candidates for the vacancy. Ken Blackwell and Michael Steele both want the job.

Michael Steele doesn’t think Republicans take Black voters seriously. In a November interview with the Washington Times, the chairman of the 31-year-old Republican training outfit GOPAC claimed that Republican leaders “don’t give a damn” about Blacks. At last week’s debate between Steele and five other candidates for Republican National Committee chairman, Steele, almost unbidden, accused his party of “rolling out” Black members as tokens, for media consumption.

We’ve had this conversation for 15 years,” Steele said after the debate, “about bringing black folks out. Well, do it. Don’t just talk about it. Do it.”

Justice for Oscar Grant: The Fight Continues

We were glad to see Johannes Mehserle, the police officer who killed Oscar Grant on New Year's Eve, has finally been arrested and charged with murder.

Even the District Attorney admitted it was only because of massive public pressure that he moved when he did. The Electronic Village joins with ColorOfChange.org in efforts to keep the pressure on.

As the Mehserle case moves forward, we need to be ready to act to make sure the authorities do their job. It's also time to seek systemic changes that will increase accountability and transparency for police in California and across the country.

I encourage all villagers to sign on for the battle ahead.

30 Day Challenge: Day 5, Getting Some Content

My journey into the 30 Day Challenge continues. I used the first four days to identify my keyword phrase, affiliate product, and initial ad copy.

The focus of today's lesson was on finding content. Ed Dale makes the point that content is the engine that drives the Internet. People go online to find information about a particular topic or to be entertained. Content is what they seek ... and content is what the search engines use to find our site when we are in position to provide relevant, unique information to our site visitors.

Anyhow, we learn how to create content (300-500 word mini-articles) without having to be writing superstars.

There are two videos (30 minutes) in Lesson 5:
  1. FINDING ARTICLE CONTENT - GuruBob shows us how to use the Find Content module of Market Samurai to find content relevant to our target keyword. This is a very good tool that provides analysis on the strength of that content for our purposes. For example, we can see when the article was written, how many back links to it, what the Page Rank is for the article's spot in the Internet and how many times are keyword phrase is embedded in the article. This is a worthy feature of Market Samurai and gives me another reason to consider purchasing the upgrade at the end of the 40-day trial period.

  2. MAKE YOUR OWN CONTENT - In this video, Ed uses Google Reader to show us other ways to collect news relevant to our target keyword and turn it into content that is uniquely ours. Ed also explains the Attribution Method for creating content fast.

Our homework for today is to create 5-10 mini-articles based on our keyword phrase. I haven't completed the homework as I type this blog post ... but, I plan to get it done before the end of the day! Wish me luck...

Old School Friday: Star Trek Theme Music

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 Television Show Theme Music. I have enjoyed science fiction for most of my life. As such, I have been a fan of Star Trek on television. I actually went to Castle Heights Elementary School back in the day with William Shatner's daughter. My favorite ST character was Captain Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks). I liked him best when he cut his hair and looked more like 'Hawk'. The sexiest ST character was Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan).

Here are the combined theme songs for Star Trek (the original series), Star Trek (animated series), ST:The Next Generation, ST:Deep Space Nine, ST:Voyager and ST:Enterprise.

Who was your favorite Star Trek character? Which was your favorite Star Trek television show?

January 15, 2009

30 Day Challenge: Day 4, Finding Stuff to Test & Sell

My journey thru the 30 Day Challenge continues into Lesson 4. I have settled in on my keyword phrase at this point. I crunched the traffic numbers in Lesson 2. I analyzed the competition in Lesson 3. Today I'll work out if there are villagers or others in the marketplace that will reach into their pockets and make a purchase of my product over the Internet!

Today is all about finding products to test selling to my target market.

There are four videos about 50 minutes in length for Lesson 4:
  1. FINDING AN AFFILIATE PROGRAM - Ed Dale introduces affiliate programs.
    He shows you how to find the many products and services available to test our market to see if the buyers are biting. Two examples that he shared were ClickBank.com and Amazon.com. I hadn't heard of ClickBank.com before today. However, I have been an Amazon.com affiliate for a number of years. I recently saw a post from Paula Mooney that excited me about opportunities to monetize my blog with Amazon.com. In my own research I saw other affiliate opportunities that I hope to explore in the coming weeks.

  2. WRITING YOUR FIRST COPY - Dan tackles copywriting, and showed us how to take an existing piece of copy and turn it into a short "slippery" summary. This was the favorite part of the lesson for me. Writing blog posts and other web-based copy is an obstacle for me. Dan provided me with a specific example on how to be disciplined enought to create short (30-50 words) copy for my test product. I'm looking forward to getting my product up & in the universe now!

  3. CREATING AMAZON LINKS - Here Dan gives a brief tutorial on how to create a unique affiliate link for any of the thousands of products available on the Amazon site. This section needs to be updated as Amazon truly improved the process for its affiliates in recent weeks.

  4. MANIPULATING IMAGES - In the last video, Dan walks us through how to use a free web service to resize images to upload online.

I am very excited about today's lesson. I've identified the product that I plan to test market. Frankly, I feel mo' betta about the 30 Day Challenge today than I have at any point since the beginning of this journey. I look forward to tomorrow's lesson.

Any other villagers thinking about taking the 30 Day Challenge?

Farai Chideya speaks with Villager on NPR Blogger Roundtable

I was a guest this week on NPR’s News and Notes with host Farai Chideya. Amani Channel and Lenny McAllister were the other two bloggers at our roundtable. We talked about Congressional Black Caucus, Sarah Obama and increased incidents of racism on the Internet. It was a fairly low-key discussion.

Click here to listen to the roundtable broadcast.