June 30, 2009

Justice for Basire Farrell Rally (Video)

Basire Farrell died while in the custody of the Newark police department. I'm not sure if a taser was involved in his death yet. However, the community continues to agitate for answers.

The video gives highlights of the Peoples Organization for Progress rally for Basire Farrell at 5th Precinct in Newark, NJ. POP Chairman Lawrence Hamm is the primary speaker at this May 2009 rally.

Can anyone point us to further details on the Basire Farrell death?

Another Taser Death in America - Shawn Iinuma (California)

Fontana (CA) family of 37-year old Shawn Iinuma called '911' at 1:15 am this morning to get him some medical attention. Fire personnel treated him for an apparent methamphetamine overdose.

At some point during his medical treatment the police decided to unleash 50,000 volts of electrocity into Shawn Iinuma's body with their taser gun. Police say he turned violent and so they felt justified in killing him with their taser guns.

"While being treated..., Iinuma became violent with those assisting him. During a lengthy struggle, a taser was used by police. Thereafter, Iinuma was restrained and, after being restrained, stopped breathing."
He later died at Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Fontana.

The early stages of this story are typical of the 24 taser-related deaths in America this year. The dead person is always villified by the police. Time will tell if the facts and circumstances match this initial statement by the police. In my view, Shawn Iinuma was a human being who did not deserve to be killed. His two children are now without a father.

I just keep wondering why people continue to die from these taser deaths without someone in congress taking notice?

June 29, 2009

(Th)ink by Keith Knight: Revolution

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

June 28, 2009

Military Coup in Honduras

I wonder what Americans would have done if George W. Bush tried to stay in the White House beyond the 8-year term limits established by the Constitution? The folks down in Honduras didn't have any patience with their president when he tried to extend his stay in the palace.

Military troops arrested President Manuel Zelaya before a proposed referendum on presidential term limits. President Zelaya wanted to seek a second term next year. By law, the Honduran leader, elected in 2005, is limited to one term in office.

Honduran lawmakers appointed a provisional president Sunday following the arrest and deportation of Zelaya. Roberto Micheletti, the head of the Honduran Congress, was installed as the country's new leader hours after soldiers detained Zelaya, placed him on a plane and flew him to Costa Rica.

The apparent coup prompted criticism by Human Rights Watch, which called Zelaya's ousting a "breach of democracy in Honduras" and called for the Organization of American States to act quickly to push for the re-establishment of democracy in Honduras.

"The OAS has a key role to play now. It must rapidly find a multilateral solution to this breach of democracy in Honduras," said Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas director for the international rights group. "To allow this coup to stand would be a huge step back from the progress that the region has made toward democracy in recent decades."
America is not recognizing the new leadership.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement saying the action taken against Zelaya "violates the precepts of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and thus should be condemned by all."

"We call on all parties in Honduras to respect the constitutional order and the rule of law, to reaffirm their democratic vocation, and to commit themselves to resolve political disputes peacefully and through dialogue
," Clinton said. "Honduras must embrace the very principles of democracy we reaffirmed at the OAS meeting it hosted less than one month ago."
Iran elections ... Honduras coup ... the world is a very difficult and dangerous place. What are your thoughts about this international development?

June 27, 2009

Am I Not Human? Darfur: Time to Turn Words Into Action

We support the 'Am I Not Human?' blogging campaign that lights up the 27th of each month. I encourage all villagers to find a way to support this effort to shine a light on human rights abuses taking place all over the world.

My focus this month is the continuing crisis in Darfur. Darfur has been a consistent topic on this blog. Villagers know that the conflict in Darfur that has taken some 300,000 lives and displaced 2.5 million. During the Bush years this was a passionate, rallying cause for liberal activists, some of whom now are well-placed in the Obama administration. The need to resolve it remains.

The following update on Obama's Sudan policy can be found on the White House website:

Ending the crisis in Darfur and ensuring Sudan’s long-term stability through the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is a top priority for the Obama Administration. The humanitarian crisis there makes our task all the more urgent. The President has appointed a Special Envoy for Sudan as a strong signal of his commitment to support the people of Sudan. We are committed to working with the international community to end the suffering, seek a lasting settlement to the violence, and ensure a stable and secure future for the region.
More than two months ago, President Obama reminded us of his commitment and obligation to end the atrocities in Darfur. Since then, we've been anxiously waiting for him to turn his words into action with a PUBLIC plan for peace.

I realize that Obama has been quite busy ... but, all of us recognize that Obama moves as fast as a speeding bullet ... he has the ability to multitask. We need for him to PUBLICALLY release his plan for peace in Darfur.

By publicly releasing his plan, President Obama can rally other nations to do everything they can to support peace as well. We're waiting, the people of Darfur are waiting, and time is running out.

The people of Darfur cannot wait any longer. Every day, millions struggle to get by in makeshift refugee camps, and the coming rainy season will present even more hardships. Sudanese President Bashir's expulsion of 13 humanitarian aid groups means the people in these camps have even more limited access to vital services as the rainy season rolls in. Right now, President Bashir is betting that there will be no consequences for his actions, and he is growing bolder every day.

Please join me and send a message to President Obama urging him to announce his plan for Sudan NOW.

The people of Darfur are asking the question -- Am I Not Human?

President's Weekly Address: 'Opening the Door to a Clean Energy Economy'

President Obama is focused on three things this year -- economy, energy and education. He passed another obstacle yesterday when the House of Representatives passed legislation intended to address global warming and transform the way the nation produces and uses energy.

The legislation, which passed 219-212, with eight Democrats voting against it, could lead to profound changes in many sectors of the economy, including electric power generation, agriculture, manufacturing and construction.

At the heart of the legislation is a cap-and-trade system that sets a limit on emissions of heat-trapping gases while allowing utilities, manufacturers and others to trade pollution permits, or allowances. The cap would grow tighter over the years, pushing up the price of emissions and driving industry to find cleaner ways of producing energy.

The President praised this historic energy legislation in his weekly address:

The battle for this energy legislation now moves to the US Senate. I hope that it passes because I think that America needs to find a way to create jobs and become a world-class leader in the so-called 'green' economy.

What say u?

June 26, 2009

Jena 6 are Free

My blog is a mere cog in the afrosphere ... however, my blog was part of the online mobilization in support of the Jena Six that led to today's deal allowing five of the young men to plead 'no contest' to greatly reduced charges.

This is a just resolution to the racially-charged case. These young men were initially charged with attempted murder and conspiracy, they ultimately pleaded no contest to simple battery, and will serve a sentence of just 7 days of probation.

In addition, a civil suit filed by the family of Justin Barker was settled when the Jena 6 defendants (including Mychal Bell) agreed to pay the Barker family an undisclosed settlement. Attorneys are not allowed to reveal the details of the settlement but a reliable source has disclosed that the payment was approximately $24,000.

ColorOfChange.org said that the plea deal marked an acknowledgement by officials that the Louisiana justice system initially treated the then-teenage boys too harshly, privileging white students' accounts of a schoolyard fight over those of Black students in the largely segregated town of Jena.
"Today's plea deal shows that the original charges in the case were unfair and vastly overblown," said James Rucker, ColorOfChange.org's executive director. "The story of the Jena 6 was an extreme example of what can happen when a justice system biased against Black boys operates unchecked. But it's also an example of what can happen when hundreds of thousands of people across the country stand up to challenge unequal justice. Together, we drew the country's attention to this case and raised the money necessary to fund a strong legal defense."
The Jena 6 are now free to move ahead with their lives. Mychal Bell served his time under an earlier agreement. Each of the five remaining defendants in this case pleaded 'no contest' to the misdemeanor charge of simple battery. Each will be placed on non-supervised probation for one week and must pay a $500 fine and in most cases an additional $500 in court costs.

Pictured (left to right) are Corwin Jones, 20, Jesse Ray Beard, 18, Bryant Purvis (20), Robert Bailey (19) and Theo Shaw (20) and attorney Alan Bean. Judge Thomas Yeager was clearly impressed that all five of the defendants who appeared before him today are enrolled in college.

In a week of tragic news ... it is nice to end it with a victory. The Jena 6 are free!

June 25, 2009

Found: Dead Body of 2-Year Old Jada Justice; Her Killers in Custody

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcchicago.com/video.

The body was found just off U.S. 421 and Snyder Road, near Otis, Indiana. Police said the investigation has shifted to a murder investigation. They expect to file charges against two people in custody soon.

Jada Justice disappeared June 16, when she was reported missing by her babysitter and cousin, Engelica Castillo. Police said Castillo, 18, seemed to be under the influence of some substance when she talked with police. Police have also said Castillo and her boyfriend Tim Tkachik have not been cooperative in the investigation.

Authorities believe Tkachik burned his face when he tried to burn Jada's dead body, a source close to the investigation said. Mug shots released by authorities clearly show blistered and burn-damaged skin on Tkachik's face.

The source said Jada did not die of those burns, and authorities believe Jada may have died two weeks ago Saturday -- several days before Castillo reported the toddler's disappearance.

Our prayers go to Jada's family with this sad news. Our special hope is that the people who caused her death burn slowly in hell.

Jena 6 Plea Deal

Drumbeats from Color of Change tell us that the remaining five Jena 6 defendants will likely be entering into a plea deal where they plead guilty to greatly reduced charges. Villagers may recall that the local district attorney originally wanted to put each of these youngsters in jail for up to 22 years for the schoolyard fight.

This American tragedy may be coming to an end in the next few days.

What are you lasting memories of the Jena 6 saga?

Autopsy Report: Taser Victim Rodolfo Lepe Dead as Result of Police Homicide

Rodolfo Lepe is 31-year old man killed by six (6) Bakersfield police officers in January. He is one of the 23 people to die after being zapped with 50,000 volts of electricity from police taser gun this year in America. Lepe was tased twice on Jan 11. Once in custody, the six (6) police officers noticed Lepe wasn't breathing and rushed him to Mercy Hospital, where he died.

Lepe was in his own home. No drugs. No weapons. His sister thought he was acting strangely so she called 911. Lepe hid in his closet when the police arrived.

Lepe reportedly refused to come out of a bedroom closet and fought with officers as they tried to take him into custody. Officers twice used a Taser, but Lepe pulled the darts out of his skin and continued to fight, according to police.

Now he's dead and the Kern County Coroner's office confirms that he died in police custody, as a result of homicide, from asphyxia and blunt force injuries during restraint. No mention of the Taser. [SOURCE]

An autopsy and toxicology and microscopic studies have since been completed. Since there is no mention of cocaine or drugs by the 'powers-that-be' it is safe to assume that none were found.

Something is wrong when a 31-year old man who is "acting strangely" dies. He needed medical assistance. Instead, he was killed by police action. He is zapped by taser fire, not once ... but twice. Six (6) trained officers were unable to get control of the situation without beating, choking and tasing the mentally unstable victim. As a result, Rodolfo Lepe is dead.

The involved officers are identified as: Officer Brian Holcombe, Officer David Brooks, Officer Jess Beagley, Officer Raelynn Aguayo, Officer Gilbert Rodriguez and Officer Adam Ketchum.

I guess now we wait to see if criminal action will be taken against any, or all, of these six police officers.

Old School Friday: Michael Jackson

Originally posted 2/20/2009

The theme for this week's Old School Friday meme is 'The Jackson Family'. Of course, the most famous (and talented) member of the the Jackson Family is Michael. His life has morphed into a sad parody over time ... but, there was a time when he was the alpha and omega of the music industry.

My favorite Michael Jackson songs have changed over time. Today, my favorite song from Michael's collection is 'Man in the Mirror'. I don't think that villagers of this generation fully appreciated the international superstar that was Michael Jackson. Check out this video to get a hint:

Lakeesha Alert

Originally posted in May 2008
Villagers, please take a moment and hug, call or think about your child.

How much would it tear you up if your child was missing? Two of my colleagues in The AfroSpear have made the commitment to use their online resources to highlight the disparity of coverage for missing children of color in favor of missing white children. HustleKnockin' and Black & Missing But Not Forgotten each do remarkable work to inform us when children of color are missing.

KTHustle feels that the Amber Alert only works for the Ambers of the world. As such, he created the Lakeesha Alert with the following operating instructions:

"Upon being pushed your Lakeesha Alert button will send
hyper-sonic signals to urban radio stations, online communities, urban newspapers, bloggers, street gang members ... and on the outside chance that they’re not too busy and might display a casual interest ... the police and mainstream media."

The idea is tongue-in-cheek. The topic and the need for our continued awareness and support is very real! Villagers, what say u about the idea?

June 24, 2009

Political Suicide by Mark Sanford (R-SC) Sealed by Emails w/ Maria the Argentine Booty Call

Villagers have seen this blog target South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford in the past for his wacky decisions on stimulus funding and state education.

All the chickens came home to roost today when he arrived at the Atlanta airport from his Buenos Aires flight today to be confronted by a reporter about the lies told by his staff earlier in the week ('Hiking the Appalachian Trail?'‎). Is it so hard to find politicians that make us proud?

The truth of the matter is that Sanford spent the last five days with Maria, his Argentine girlfriend. The two met a year ago and the relationship moved swiftly from innocent to romantic. Maria has two sons, one a teenager of driving age and the other younger.

Click here to see romantic emails between Mark Sanford and his Argentine girlfriend.

Sanford held a press conference earlier today to apologize for his extra-marital affair. He explained that his wife Jenny has been aware of the other woman for about five months now. They are not legally separated, but are apparently estranged. He indicates that he would like to work things out with her. The couple have four sons. Mark Sanford was 'hiking the Appalacian Trail' instead of talking with his four sons on Father's Day. That alone is reason to think that Sanford must have 'mad cow disease'?

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

In an effort to appease those who may want to call for his resignation, he has resigned as Chairman of the Republican Governors Association. Personally, I think that Mark Sanford needs to resign as governor.

What are your thoughts on this growing scandal?

Autopsy Report: Tucson Police User Taser, Fists and Baton to Kill Unarmed, Naked 50-Year Old Gary Decker

Tucson police officers admit to electrocuting 50-year old Gary Decker numerous times during their confrontation in his hotel room earlier this year. They also beat him with closed fists and police batons. Gary Decker was buck-naked and unarmed.

Despite these facts it appears that nothing will happen to the three police officers involved in this taser-related death.

The Pima County Attorney's office has released their investigation results that excuses the multiple taser shots and beat-down because the officers were in fear of their lives. Evidently, Gary Decker was "reaching" for a non-existent weapon under the hotel mattress.

The autopsy report conducted by Dr. Veena Singh from the Office of the Medical Examiner concludes that Gary Decker died from while in police custody from the "combined effects of restraint, acute cocaine intoxication and multiple blunt force injuries."

DOCUMENT - Click here to read the official 4-page investigation report.

The report concludes, "The officers' fear for their safety was justified, and the force they used to negate the perceived deadly threat was not so unreasonable as to constitute a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable police officer would observe faced with a similar situation."

Lakeesha Alert: 2-Year Old Jada Justice is Missing

The Amber Alert system isn't working for our nubian toddler, Jada Justice. It is time to see if the Lakeesha Alert system can make a difference.

The search for a missing northwestern Indiana toddler has entered its second week as the FBI and police continue to investigate her disappearance.

Authorities say 2-year-old Jada Justice of Portage was apparently abducted from a car June 16 while her 18-year-old cousin who was baby sitting her went into a convenience store in Gary. The cousin was briefly held as a person of interest but has since been released.

Melissa Swiontek, Justice's mother, said, "I don't know. I don't know what to feel. I don't know. I feel there are so many speculations, there's so many things. I feel like I'm going to find her. I mean, I do feel like she can't be gone ... like this is not even happening."

Clothes worn at time of abduction: Jada was wearing an orange skirt, a white tank top with orange and green stripes, white sandals and purple underwear.

Circumstances: She was last seen on June 16, 2009. Jada may be with an adult companion. She was last seen wearing an orange skirt and a striped shirt.

Gary police are searching for a young girl who disappeared when a cousin who was taking care of her left the toddler alone in a car to get milk at a gas station.

Jada Justice, who turns three in August disappeared from the car at a gas station near the intersection of East Ridge Road and Louisiana Street in Gary about 9:30 p.m.

Jada was in the back seat of the car when her cousin stopped at the gas station about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 16. When the cousin returned to the car, Jada's car seat was still there, but Jada was missing.

Jada had been staying with her cousin temporarily, but was due to return to her mother on Saturday. No family member is involved in a custody dispute with the mother over Jada, and there's no reason to believe a family member may have taken her.
Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-CALL-FBI, or Gary police Cmdr. Anthony Titus at (219) 881-1237, (219) 881-1229, (219) 881-1209 or (219) 881-1210.

Rev. Wiley Drake Prays for Obama's Death

Republican Alan Keyes once called Barack Obama an 'abomination'. So, it shouldn't surprise us that Keyes' one-time presidential running mate, Rev. Wiley Drake is now publically praying for President Obama to die. [SOURCE]

Drake, a former second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, told Fox News Radio earlier this month that he was practicing 'imprecatory prayer' (Imprecatory prayers basically are curses. They ask God to visit all sorts of bad things upon one's enemies. You find them in the Psalms, which is where Drake found the justification for his prayers) that would cause the president to die.

"If he does not turn to God and does not turn his life around, I am asking God to enforce imprecatory prayers that are throughout the Scripture that would cause him death," Drake said in an interview with Fox’s Alan Colmes.

I wonder if this is the official position of other Baptist preachers in America? Is civility and goodwill so far lost in our nation that a so-called 'Man of God' can publically pray for the death of our president?

I encourage all villagers to join The Presidential Prayer Team if you want to focus your energy in a more positive direction.

Wordless Wednesday: Lord of War

June 23, 2009

Buy Black. Empowerment Experiment. One Family. OUR Movement.

There is over $1 trillion flowing into the Black community. Less than 5% of it stays in our community because rarely do we spend OUR money in OUR community. The Anderson Family made a public pledge to buy from Black-owned businesses in 2009.

Isn't it time for the rest of us to support this effort? What say u?

Black Bloggers Urge Congressional Hearings on Taser Torture

The AfroSpear, a 2-year old coalition of Black bloggers recently conducted a Day of Blogging for Justice: Standing Up Against Pre-Trial Electrocution event.

The Afrospear encouraged supporters to sign online petition calling on Senate Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and members of the Congressional Black Caucus to speak out and organize public hearings on the systemic human rights violations occurring against Black, Latino, Native American and others in America.

Group member Eddie Griffin (Eddie Griffin-BASG), said, "While there continues to be considerable media and congressional attention to torture in Guantanamo, there is comparatively little attention to the mounting evidence of human rights violations in the streets of America by a number of police departments across America, including torture and killings of Black children, women and men through-out the United States through the use and abuse of Tasers."

LN Rock (African American Political Pundit and Tasered While Black), a 2008 DNC Convention Blogger, said, "We want Congress to stand up with us against the police pre-trial electrocution of Black children, women and men - by taser. He went on to say, "We believe that few Americans support spending our tax dollars on torture, which violates our moral, religious and legal traditions. Most Americans expect an American policing policy that ensures the rights of all individuals regardless of race, greed, color, national origin, sex, disability or political or religious affiliation."

Wayne Hicks (Electronic Village) said, "We believe most Americans would favor Congressional hearings as to whether our own law enforcement officials, policing policies and actions violate human rights laws. Evidence of widespread police abuse of tasers is more than enough to warrant our concern and justify a congressional inquiry." He went on to say, "We propose that Congress undertake serious oversight into the extent to which our taxes are funding human rights violations through taser torure. Perhaps Congress can provide an alternative roadmap to the restoration of our democratic values while putting a stop to police pre-trial electrocution of Black children, women and men."
The bloggers are asking for:

  1. The U.S. Attorney General and the Justice Department to aggressively fulfill its most basic mandate of enforcing the law. Torture by tasing is a crime, and the Justice Department is the right place to initiate an independent top-to-bottom investigation of the torturing of Black children men, women and children by local police jurisdictions throughout the United States. It's important that the general public understand the 'use of force continuum' used by law enforcement officials, and how it is abused by many in the law enforcement community. Although there is a Justice Department Review of TASER-related Deaths the on-the-spot pre-trial electrocutions continue.
  2. Congress should investigate whether US police tasing policies violate Federal or international civil and human right laws, including the U.N. Convention against Torture, and international covenants against cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of citizens even in cases of so-called "state emergencies".
  3. Congress should require the effective regulation of Taser use and require police/citizen review panels by Federal, state and local police and security agencies, including strict adherence to international human rights standards, or act to defund all such Federal, State and local police and security agencies who violate taser use regulations that would be established by Congress. No Federal stimulus dollars should be used to purchase tasers.

The bloggers point out UN's Committee Against Torture has declared that Taser use can constitute a form of torture. Amnesty International has a longstanding concern about the use of tasers on American citizens.

There is much angst in the mainstream media about the Bush torture memos and torture in the United States ... perhaps it is time for u to look at taser torture of Black people right here in our nation.

Here is a sampling of what Black bloggers are saying about the tasing of so many Blacks in the United States:
  1. LN Rock - African American Political Pundit Report

  2. LN Rock- African American Political Pundit Blog

  3. Asabagna - Afrospear Think Tank

  4. Antoinette - Antoinette's Point of View

  5. Zhana - Ancestral Energies

  6. The U - Anyway I Have To

  7. April Davis - Around Harlem

  8. Assata Shukur - Assata Shukur Forum

  9. Yobachi Boswell - Black Perspective.net

  10. Scotty - Black Talk Radio

  11. Carmen Dixon - Black Voices

  12. LN Rock - Chicago Cop Watch

  13. Kathy - Daily Kos: Do White People Care About Tasing?

  14. Shawn Williams - Dallas South Blog

  15. Eddie Griffin - Eddie Griffin, BASG

  16. LN Rock - Electrocuted While Black

  17. Wayne Hicks - Electronic Village

  18. Mr. E-D - Excited-Delirium

  19. Francis Holland - Francis L. Holland Blog

  20. Deborah Maiden - From my Brown Eyed View

  21. Various - Independent Bloggers Alliance

  22. Rev. Sequoyah Kofi bin-Tomas - Inteligentaindigena Novajoservo

  23. Cherie S. - Lessons in Transition

  24. Nate - Nateo Blog

  25. Vanessa Byers - On The Black Hand Side

  26. The Kid - Pirate Satellite

  27. Plez Joyner - PlezWorld

  28. Wayne Hicks - Proud Black Blogger

  29. Sojourner - Sojourners Place

  30. LN Rock - Post Racial Blog

  31. Rover - Rover's Morning Glory

  32. Super Spade - The SuperSpade

  33. RiPPa - The Intersection between Madness and Reality

  34. Lola - Whatever Lola Wants

  35. Purple Zoe - UltraVioletUnderground

The AfroSpear petition to request Congressional hearings on the taser torture of Americans will also let you send personalized message to your congessional represenatives.

Share this post with others so that they are aware of our efforts. What other steps would you suggest?

June 22, 2009

Another Taser Death in America -- Derrek Kairney (Connecticut)

Derrek Kairney is a 36-year old man who died after been shocked with 50,000 volts of electricity from a police officer on June 20, 2009. The powers-to-be completed an autopsy in less than 48 hours over the weekend. When is the last time you've seen an autopsy report issued so quickly?

Anyhow, the autopsy report claims that the man died in a suicide. Apparently, the man stabbed himself with a knife ... and after he died, the police shot him with a taser gun. What the heck caused the police to use a taser gun on this guy? Doesn't it seem that the police are pulling out the taser gun for recreational target shooting more than for its intended purpose?

Police call this an 'untimely death'. They say Kairney confronted them when they responded to a call to a home on Birch Road. They ordered him to drop the knife, but he refused and police electrocuted him with a Taser.

There is something not-quite-right about this taser-related death. What say u?

June 21, 2009

Blog Safari #33

Have you been on our blog safari before? If not, you should know that our rhino-guide (she still needs a name!) is looking forward to taking you through the cyber-jungle to see some talented bloggers and creative blog posts. Enjoy the flow!!
Let us know if you come across any remarkable posts that should be shared in our next Blog Safari!

Maybe Supplier Diversity Isn't Worth It

In this month's Diverse Business Dialogue, Dr. Gravely wonders if supplier diversity is worth enough to really commit to it.

I am still hearing comments I used to hear 20 years ago. "We can't find them", "What is the ROI", "We are not willing to sacrifice quality". On the surface it sounds like organizations are saying they don't know how-to. In most cases (of course not all) what organizations are really saying is they don't know how-to with the level of investment they are willing to make. It's like saying you don't know how-to eat healthy or you can't figure out how to lose weight. Are you kidding; with all of the health information available today? My problem with eating more healthy and losing a few pounds is not that I don't know how, I just keep looking for a way that requires less commitment. The reality is the route of less effort doesn't exist. To lose weight and be healthier I have to understand the basic "best practices", be intentional with my efforts to change my behavior and stay at it until I get the results I want.

Read the rest of the article here.

What are your views on supplier diversity? Is it worth it?
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June 20, 2009

Congressional Black Caucus Issues Bi-Annual Report

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) issued an 8-page bi-annual report detailing their efforts between Jan-Jun 2009 to deal with the longterm, systemic inequities in the Black community.

More than 24% of African Americans live below the poverty line and African Americans are 55% more likely to be unemployed than other Americans. The CBC wants to be viewed as the 'Conscience of Congress'. It is up to us to be the judge. I encourage all villagers to download/read their 8-page report.

It appears that the CBC wants to use legislation to create a pathway out of poverty through economic opportunities, job training, livable wages, education, mental health services, affordable housing, health care, child nutrition and a responsible foreign policy.

Let's talk about the CBC. What are your thoughts on this report?

June 19, 2009

Taser Death of Jamaal Valentine May Be Blamed on 'Excited Delirium'

Jamaal Valentine is the 27-year old man who's life was cut short when LaMarque (TX) police officers fired 50,000 volts of electricity into his body with a taser gun.

Jamaal Valentine was unarmed. He was in physical distress. One of the witnesses at the scene thought that he was having a heart attack and needed medical attention. The police arrived and decided that it would be better to electrocute this man rather than call an ambulance on the scene to provide medical attention.

Result? Jamaal Valentine is dead. His children won't be celebrating Father's Day with him this weekend.

The Powers-That-Be in Texas are desperate to keep the attention on this death with the young father. There is no evidence of drug use. He was unarmed. Yet, it appears that the Galveston District Attorney is leaning towards blaming Valentine's death on 'excited delirium'. Excited delirium is a manic state in which a person appears frantic while adrenaline pumps into the body at a high rate.

Valentine’s family and the eyewitness who called police in the first place claim the officers used excessive force in handling Valentine.

La Marque police records show an ambulance was not called for until after officers had gotten into the scuffle and shocked Valentine. EMS only was called to the scene to treat Valentine for cuts he suffered during the struggle with the three officers.

It was while in the ambulance that Valentine went into cardiac arrest.

We continue to wait for the decision from the Galveston District Attorney on whether or not criminal charges will be filed against the police officers who contributed to the death of this young man.

In the meantime, I encourage all villagers to sign our online petition asking for congressional hearings on the escalating incidents of taser torture in America this year.

June 18, 2009

(Th)ink by Keith Knight: General Motors

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

911 Tape: Police Officer Ken Thompson Taser-Kills Brian Cardall Within 42 Seconds of Arrival on Scene

Hurricane police officer Ken Thompson must be having nightmares. Thompson is the officer that made the decision to electrocute Brian Cardall last week out on the side of a southern Utah highway earlier this month. The nightmare for Officer Thompson is that his actions are documented on audio tape.

Thompson was one of the multiple officers called to the scene by a 911 call placed by Brian Cardall's wife. Anna Cardall tells a dispatcher that her husband didn't have weapons on him. She states he hadn't been drinking and wasn't under the influence of drugs, outside of his Seroquel (prescribed to deal with his bipolar disorder).

Thompson took all of 42 seconds to fatally shoot an unarmed Cardall with his taser gun. 42 seconds. Listen the the police audio tape and judge for yourself.

Thompson arrives on the scene at 1:17 pm and begins to yell, "Get down on the ground! Get down on the ground!" Brian Cardall responds twice in what sounds as a panicked voice, "Is this a standoff! Don't shoot."

About 42 seconds after arriving on scene the officer deployed his Taser yelling, "Taser deployed! Stay on the ground! Stay on the ground!"
Thompson is heard on the tape to say, "He went down, he tried to get up and I told him to stay down. I tased him again and then after the second time..." You can hear Brian Cardall moaning and screaming for about five seconds after Thompson first deploys a Taser on him. Following a two-second pause, Thompson deploys the Taser on Cardall again. He says in the recordings Cardall had tried to get up.

Officers struggle to get Brian Cardall into handcuffs. You can also hear Brian Cardall's wife yelling at him to comply. Almost immediately, they notice something wrong.

"He's not breathing," an officer said on the tape. They also notice he is pale. More than three minutes after the Taser was deployed, someone can be heard saying, "no pulse."
The officers and paramedics on the scene know immediately Thompson messed up as they realize he shot Cardall twice with a Taser, once when Cardall -- in the midst of a psychotic episode -- was already on the ground.

"Did he come after you?" an officer whispered at taser-happy officer Ken Thompson.

"Huh?" Thompson replies on police and 911 dispatch recordings.

"He went right at you?" another officer asks Thompson again, later.

"Yeah," Thompson flatly replies.
Brian Cardall died at the scene. Hurricane police have declined to comment as to why the Thompson chose to use a Taser instead of attempting to subdue Cardall with other methods. Multiple officers were on the scene. Yet, they could only afford 42 seconds to assess the situation before getting busy with their so-called 'non-lethal' taser on a confused man.

What is your take on this taser-related death?

June 17, 2009

911 Tape Recording of Brian Cardall's Taser Death

Less than a week ago a family lost their husband, father and son ... Brian Cardall ... because a Hurricane police officer was too trigger-happy with his taser gun. Brian Cardall was working toward his PhD at Northern Arizona University in molecular ecology. He was driving with his wife and daughter back to Arizona last Tuesday when he became disoriented.

Brian Cardall was bi-polar. In the middle of a desert road his mind began playing tricks on him. He was unarmed. He needed help. Instead of help ... he was killed because a police officer was too lazy to use commonsense and too quick to use his shiny new taser gun.

Instead of patiently getting Cardall under control to help him ... this Hurricane police officer (does any villager know his name yet?) electrocuted Cardall with 50,000 volts of electricity. Cardall dropped. Cardall died. Now a 2-year old baby and his unborn sibling will grow up without a Daddy.

Was it justified? You can judge for yourself. The Cardall family released the following 911 recordings on the death that occurred last Tuesday.

The recordings reveal Cardall’s wife’s pleas for help from authorities ... and the preoccupation with the authorities for painting Cardall as a druggie posing a danger to the 2-year old child.

Duane Cardall, Brian's father, said the family has listened to the tapes released by the Washington County Critical Task Force to the family. But even after that, they don't feel there is any way a taser should have been used.

In a press release late Friday afternoon, Hurricane City attorney Peter Stirba stated that, "Ms. Cardall reports to dispatch that Mr. Cardall has taken all his clothes off and is naked, she is afraid he is going to jump in front of a car, and that he is chasing after cars that have pulled over to help, and she is afraid he will 'freak out' on one of them."

The Cardall family today says they stand by their earlier statement and that,
"While Mr. Stirba may have provided his interpretation of the recordings in his Friday afternoon news release, we feel he has omitted numerous highly significant facts, which we feel the public should know."
I remain convinced that we need to push for congressional hearings on the 22 taser deaths in America so far this year.

You've heard the 911 tape from Cardall's wife. What say u?

Autopsy Report: Taser Contributed to Death of Robert Mitchell

We had some movement in the death-by-Taser case of 16-year old Robert Mitchell. Villagers may recall that this was the 5'2" teenager chased into a vacant house by Warren (MI) police officers a couple of months ago. The youngster was unarmed. The police decided to pump Robert Mitchell with 50,000 volts of pure electricity instead of following the 'Use of Force Continuum' policy to gain custody of this diminutive teenager.

The medical examiner says that a heart condition most likely aggravated by the use of a Taser caused Mitchell's death. Mitchell is one of 22 people dead-by-Taser so far this year in America.

The manner of death for 110-pound Robert Mitchell is listed as "indeterminate" in a 10-page autopsy report completed by forensic pathologist Cheryl L. Loewe and signed May 28 by Macomb County Chief Medical Examiner Daniel Spitz. [SOURCE]

"The heart condition is the immediate cause of death," said Loewe. "Certainly, we cannot ignore the time relationship when Robert was Tasered and then found unresponsive and went into arrhythmia, coupled with the fact that Taser probes were applied over the chest.

"In a healthy adult, it's unlikely an arrhythmia may have been precipitated by a Taser. This is a unique case because of the underlying heart disease
Of course the Warren Police Department has already moved on. The taser-wielding officer had a 3-day weekend after the killing. There is no further effort to punish the man who killed this young Black child.

Warren Police Commissioner William Dwyer said "We do support the officer that used the Taser. It was justified, there had been an internal investigation conducted," Dwyer said. "The (Macomb County) prosecutor's office also ruled he's exonerated. The prosecutor agrees with us -- it was justified."
Mitchell's mother, Cora Renea Mitchell, who also picked up the autopsy report, said she's hoping the information will bring answers and closure to her family.

"Today is a new day," she said. "I want to go over it and really see what I find."
The autopsy said Mitchell suffered two Taser probe-related injuries -- above and below the nipple -- on the left side of his chest. The autopsy didn't reveal any other signs of injury to Mitchell's body.

"We know the Taser contributed to his demise. We want justice," Mitchell's grandmother, Charlotte McGlory, said this morning. "We want them (police) charged with first-degree murder and prosecuted."
The police had this child under control. They were patting him down. The youngster is small (5'2") and doesn't weigh much (110 pounds). These are factors that the district attorney will need to consider as decision to file charges against the Warren police officer are made. What possible justification can there be to kill this kid with a taser?

Wordless Wednesday: Family Tree

June 16, 2009

Health Care Facts vs. John McCain's Fiction

The United States ranked last in terms of efficiency among five other nations with universal health care, according to a Common Wealth study. The government-run health care system in Great Britain ranked first.

Compared with five other nations — Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom — the U.S. health care system ranks last or next-to-last on five dimensions of a high performance health system: quality, access, efficiency, equity, and healthy lives.

Efficiency: On indicators of efficiency, the U.S. ranks last among the six countries, with the U.K. and New Zealand ranking first and second, respectively. The U.S. has poor performance on measures of national health expenditures and administrative costs as well as on measures of the use of information technology and multidisciplinary teams. Also, of sicker respondents who visited the emergency room, those in Germany and New Zealand are less likely to have done so for a condition that could have been treated by a regular doctor, had one been available.

John McCain never did let the facts get in the way of his arguments. Am I the only villager who feels blessed that McCain is not currently living in the White House? Check him out as he talks nonsense about health care reform in the United States:

I'm looking for feedback. Share your village voice with us on the issue of health care reform. What are you thinking as you listen to McCain, Obama and others?

Obama on Health Care Reform (Video)

Villagers, one of the most important political fights of our lifetime will take place this summer --- health care reform. President Barack Obama made another strong pitch for overhauling the U.S. health care system, calling it "a ticking bomb for the federal budget." It is important that villagers make their own decision on this political debate.

Obama went before the American Medical Association yesterday to declare that the existing system leaves too many uninsured and forces "excessive defensive medicine" by doctors worried about malpractice suits.

Obama told his audience he is open to requiring all Americans to have health insurance. But he emphasized that the plan he envisions would permit continuing help for those who cannot afford it on their own. Obama said a "health care exchange" would be set up for the uninsured to choose a plan.

Without such change, Obama said the U.S. economy could end up in the same shape as the failed General Motors Corporation and Chrysler.

You've seen clips of his speech on the news. Here is his full speech ... unfiltered. You be the judge!

What are your thoughts on the health care reform debate taking place in America today?

June 15, 2009

Manic Monday: Shower (or Stop Black AIDS)

This week's theme for Manic Monday meme is shower. Have you seen the movies where folks are rushed into a shower to cleanse themselves of hazardous materials. We've seen these hot HazMat showers in atomic labs or emergency rooms or government offices.

I often wish that folks with HIV/AIDS could simply take a special shower to remove the disease from their body. My wish is not coming true. We'll need to do something else if we hope to eliminate HIV/AIDS in our community.

The incidence of HIV/AIDS has reached alarming rates among African Americans, and young Blacks are being hit hardest. To address the crisis, our blog is supporting efforts by TheLoop21.com and Magic Johnson Foundation, a recognized leader in HIV/AIDS prevention efforts, for an online awareness campaign this summer.

We will participate in the national conversations about the crisis during the weeks of June 21-27 and July 19-25. The whole idea is to call attention to an epidemic often ignored by the mainstream media and to search for a way to begin addressing a problem that's deeply affected our community and is only getting worse.

Get involved by reading about why a campaign like this is needed. Read about why HIV/AIDS has become a crisis or how Congress can get involved, find some books on the subject, sign our petition or become one of our partner organizations or bloggers and check back often for more of the kind of stories about this issue you won't find anywhere else.

What you can do right now?
  1. Add the logo to the right to your blog or Facebook page (Here's how: right click, or control-click on a Mac, and "save image as" to your computer)
  2. Start an online discussion about AIDS on your blog or Facebook page
  3. Subscribe to our HIV/AIDS Awareness groupsite.
  4. Join in the first national online discussion June 21-27
  5. Sign our petition and encourage others to do the same.

Please take a moment to share your thoughts on this effort to stop AIDS in the Black community.

June 14, 2009

President's Weekly Address: 'Health Care Reform as the Key to Our Fiscal Future'

The President has long noted that skyrocketing health care costs will be disastrous in terms of our long term national debt unless we pass real reform. In this Weekly Address, the President also explains how he will cover the upfront costs of reform by eliminating overpayments from Medicaid and Medicare and driving down costs contributing to government’s health care expenditures across the board.

I agree that health care reform is critical for our nation. I'm a self-employed entrepreneur operating without health insurance. I wonder how many others that read this blog are living without health insurance? What is your take on the health care reform issue?

Dwight Madison is Military Veteran Killed by Taser While in Police Custody

Harford County authorities are investigating the death of an inmate at the county detention center. The county sheriff's office says 48-year-old Dwight Madison was arrested Thursday for trespassing in Bel Air (MD). Officials say he became uncooperative on Friday when deputies tried to fingerprint him, fighting with two correctional deputies and one civilian employee. [SOURCE]

Since when do we give the death penalty to someone that is 'uncooperative'? Police have been dealing with uncooperative prisoners who resisted fingerprinting for decades. I don't recall any of the suspects being killed before. Now that the police have such easy access to a tool that they feel is 'non-lethal' they appear ready to use it at a moment's notice.

Dwight Madison is the 22nd person in America to be killed this year as a result of taser fire from the police. Doesn't it seem that something is wrong with a weapon that is unintentionally killing folks on a weekly basis?

Perhaps it is time for you to join us in asking for congressional hearings on the increasing incidents of taser torture in America!

June 13, 2009

Mary Frances Berry’s 'And Justice For All' Calls For Change

I was on a conference call with Dr. Mary Frances Berry the other day. She is an American legend who currently serves as the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches history and law.

Many villagers know Berry from her years as chair of the US Commision on Civil Rights. She now thinks that the Civil Rights Commission is outdated and needs to be blown up and re-started. She doesn't think that the current commission can deal effectively with issues like Torture, Immigration, Police misconduct, Marriage inequality, Educational achievement gap, Racial profiling and Hate crimes.

These tough and thorny issues populate a civil and human rights landscape that demands federal action, says Mary Frances Berry. Drawing upon a tenure on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights that traversed five administrations, Berry maintains that the Eisenhower-era panel established as a federal watchdog is sorely out of step with today’s challenges.

Berry calls for abolishing the existing Commission and beginning anew with a more muscular body that can effectively respond to the clamoring for justice. In her recently released book, And Justice For All, The United States Commission on Civil Rights and the Continuing Struggle for Freedom in America (Knopf, 2009), Berry offers lessons for the Obama administration and Congress.

"There’s a whole new set of realities that need to be addressed, our conversation has to be about race, but also about gender, immigration, sexual orientation, disability, national origin and religious affiliation," says Berry, "We need a Commission that will vigorously fight for everyone’s right to be treated fairly because of their humanity."
New Vision for Commission - Berry’s vision is of a Human and Civil Rights Commission with greater independent power to investigate rights violations and demand corrective action.

"One of the Commission’s historic strengths has been that we’ve been an equal opportunity annoyance," declares Berry, of the independent panel. "We’ve angered Democratic and Republican administrations alike for exposing problems they wanted kept hidden and for giving a voice to the most vulnerable among us. A robust Commission needs to be able to enforce subpoenas without the president’s permission, regardless of who sits in the Oval Office."
Individuals and private organizations will have the power to file suit if an enforcement agency refuses to act on CRC findings within a specified time under Berry’s reimagining of the Commission. Berry also proposes clarifying the length of Commissioners’ terms and requiring Senate confirmation for those appointed by the president. Bitter legal battles erupted in the past when Commissioners (including Berry) and the White House fought over term expirations.

The current public outrage over torture demonstrates why we need a Human and Civil Rights Commission to scrutinize compliance with international human rights covenants, Berry insists. The existence of an independent and forceful Human Rights Commission to act as a watchdog on U.S. compliance can lessen complaints about the U.S. holding other nations to human rights standards that America does not observe.

The Last Five Years - Berry calls the present Commission virtually invisible and points to its silence on explosive issues including the police shooting of Sean Bell, the lack of funding for No Child Left Behind, the U.S. Attorney firings scandal, and the racially disparate treatment of Katrina victims.

By 2006, Berry argues, the Commission had even lost influence among their conservative congressional allies who ignored the CRC’s advice by overwhelmingly voting to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act. Many observers noted that the enormous turnout of African American and Latino voters in 2008 that led to the election of the nation’s first African American president would not have been possible without the Voting Rights Act.

Race in the Age of Obama - Berry offers a ringing dissent to the notion that the election of President Obama means we have become a post-racial society, and argues that his election makes a more universal and revitalized Human and Civil Rights Commission more possible.

"Obama’s success could inspire a renewed determination to end denials of opportunity in our society," she says. "Or it could also result in self-satisfied stagnation if people choose to tell themselves that the successes of Oprah Winfrey and President Obama prove that discrimination no longer exists."
A reinvigorated Commission with a bold mandate could also repair some of the damage to civil rights inflicted by recent Supreme Court decisions.

Race and the Roberts Supreme Court - The Supreme Court term that ends in June may radically transform our racial landscape. The Court heard three cases that are integral to civil rights: on affirmative action, mortgage discrimination, and Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

"A reversal of Section 5 could be a potentially devastating blow for the protection of minority voting rights. If the Court hands down an adverse ruling we will need a revitalized and independent Human and Civil Rights Commission more than ever," Berry opines.
I enjoyed listening to Dr. Berry during the 1-hour conference call. Her deep commitment to issues of civil and human rights was self-evident throughout the call. During our conference call she suggested that the Obama Administration should appoint an envoy to deal specifically with the crisis in Darfur.

I plan to read her book. How about you?