October 31, 2009

President's Weekly Address: Milestones on the Economy and the Recovery Act

While there is nothing to celebrate until job numbers turn around, the President cites the recent dramatic turnaround in gross domestic product as a sign of better things to come. He also applauds the fact that the Recovery Act has now created or saved more than a million jobs.

Was the $800 billion stimulus package worth the effort? What say u?

October 30, 2009

Ed Markey (D-MA) Discusses Net Neutrality with Black Bloggers

I was pleased to receive invitation to join a conference call today with Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) regarding his Internet Freedom Preservation Act (H.R. 3458) bill. The Internet Freedom Preservation Act would protect Network Neutrality under the Communications Act, safeguard the future of the open Internet, and protect Internet users from discrimination online.

Rep. Markey is best known for his work in Congress on the global warming issue. However, he made it evident during the conference call that he feels the time for net neutrality legislation is now.

Rep. Markey is one of seven congressional leaders to co-sponsor HR 3458. He asked that bloggers and other online activists encourage other members of congress to co-sign this legislation. You can find online petition that allows you to write your congressional representative in the 'Take Action for Net Neutrality' section of this website.

Rep. Markey also suggested that villagers participate in the debate currently taking place within the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The conference call helped me to better understand the importance of supporting Net Neutrality. I appreciate Rep. Markey, Garlin Gilchrist II (The SuperSpade) and Timothy Karr (Free Press) for providing this open forum of discussion by Black bloggers!

What are your thoughts on the Net Neutrality movement?

Perp Walk Update: Larry Langford Convicted on Bribery and Fraud Charges

We have an update to the Perp Walk post we shared with you last year about Birmingham, Ala. mayor Larry Langford. He was convicted in federal court on 60 counts of bribery and fraud during his term on the Jefferson County Commission. The Democratic mayor faces a sentence of up to 805 years in prison. Federal prosecutors said that Langford accepted money and gifts totaling more than $230,000 from a banker in exchange for $7 million in business on county bond deals. [SOURCE]

Langford and several supporters questioned the jury’s verdict, some blaming the conviction on race.
"In Alabama, Black people will never get a fair trial," wife Melva Langford said. "There should be a total investigation of the Justice Department."
Prosecutor George Martin said calling for such an investigation was "ridiculous," and he denied that race played a role in Langford's prosecution or the trial's outcome. "It was a diverse jury. It was because of the evidence, not the jury," he said. One of Langford's attorneys, Glennon Threatt, who is Black, said he has done previous corruption cases with white defendants, and race was not a factor. The jury had both Blacks and whites on it. The case was tried in Tuscaloosa, 60 miles away, after Langford requested a change because of publicity.

Carole Smitherman, the president of the City Council, will serve as interim mayor until an election is held within three months.

Defense Contractors and Republicans Take Side of Rapists and Sex Abusers

I removed photo of Pfc. LaVena Johnson from my blog's sidebar earlier this month. There didn't see to be much activity online or in Congress to deal with the issue of rape and sexual abuse in the military.

As such, I was glad to learn about Sen. Al Franken's (D-MN) anti-rape amendment in the defense appropriations bill. The amendment would withhold defense funding from companies barring their employees from taking sexual abuse cases to court. Franken's amendment passed the Senate on October 21, 2009 by a voting margin of 68 to 30. All 30 of the votes against the amendment came from Senate Republicans.

I guess it is no surprise that defense contractors are lobbying Sen. Dan Inouye (D-HI) to strip the amendment out of the bill. "The defense contractors have been storming [Inouye's] office," said one source.

October 29, 2009

Black Woman Faces 15 Years in Prison for Cutting Line at Walmart; KKK Threatens Her Family

Soulclap to Dr. Boyce Watkins for bringing us the story of Heather Ellis, a young college student out of Kennett, MO. This woman is now facing 15 years in prison if she is sentenced after being accused of cutting line at a local Walmart.

Heather was in a Walmart store 3 years ago with her cousin. The two split up to find the shortest line. Since her cousin was in the shorter line, Heather joined him. That’s when the clerk accused Heather of cutting in front of the other customers. An argument ensued, leading to the manager and security guard being called, and finally the police.

The incident left Ellis, an honor student on her way to medical school, charged with disturbing the peace, trespassing and two counts of assaulting a police officer. After Heather refused to sign a plea agreement, Stephen Sokoloff, the town’s prosecutor, filed felony charges against Heather.

Read the full story here.

I wonder if this case will be settled prior to the November 15th trial date?

October 28, 2009

Taser Death: Jeffry Woodward (Gallatin, TN)

I wonder what goes through the head of a police officer involved in these taser-related killings? Does their adrenaline get flowing so much that they lose control of their senses? Police are killing citizens at a rate of once per week in America with these taser guns.

The police in Gallatin, Tennessee decided to jump on the taser abuse band wagon. They used a taser and a police dog to take down 33-year old Jeffry Woodward after he 'filed a false police report'. [VIDEO]

The police are engaged in damage control right now.
"This person did not immediately die as a result of being Tased," said Sgt. Bill Storment, public information officer for Gallatin police. "He died a short time later."
Three unidentified Gallatin police officers responded to a home invasion call. En route to the scene, police encountered Woodward. According to police, Woodward was walking down the street carrying a knife. After surrendering the knife, Woodward reportedly told officers that someone was holding his mother in her house against her will.

Upon investigation, Woodward’s mother was found to be OK, resulting in police arresting Woodward for filing a false report.

As officers attempted to arrest Woodward, police say, he began to fight with officers. This gave the police all of the excuse that they needed to jolt Woodward with 50,000 volts of electricity from their taser guns. The police brought Woodward to the ground and handcuffed him.

It was soon after that that police believed Woodward was suffering from a medical problem and called for an ambulance. Woodward was transported from the scene to Sumner Regional Medical Center, where he died soon after.

The three police officers involved in the killing of this citizen are not being placed on suspension or administrative leave during the investigation.
"They will be back at work on their next tour of duty," Storment said.
The police may have a hard time slipping this taser-related death under the rug. There was a witness to the killing this time. [SOURCE]
Shawn Hill, 22, of Gallatin, said he was trying to get a little extra sleep Tuesday night before going to work, hitting the snooze button on his alarm clock when he heard a struggle outside.

Stepping out of his home, Hill said he witnessed the struggle between Woodward and police.

Hill said he watched as Woodward ran from the police and dove onto the hood of a police car.
"All I could hear was tick tick tick tick tick (the sound made by the Taser). That was when he was on the ground."

Hill said Woodward’s mother pleaded with officers not to kill him. He said Woodward himself was also yelling.

"He was yelling, ‘Help me, help me,’" Hill said. "I won’t ever forget that."

Hill said that police deployed the K-9 unit against Woodward after he jumped onto the hood of the patrol car and was taken to the ground by several officers.

"While he was on the ground, they let the dog out to get on top of him," Hill said.

Storment said a K-9 was there, but as of Wednesday afternoon, Storment was unsure whether a K-9 dog made contact with Woodward.

While police are investigating what happened, Storment said he doesn’t believe any charges will stem from the investigation and that they have no reason to believe the officers used excessive force.

Hill, however, disagrees.

"For somebody to die, you did too much," he said.
We have raised awareness of the continued taser torture in America. It is time that we take our protests and concerns to a new level. There are two upcoming events that I encourage all villagers to support and publicize.
  1. November 7 - March for Dignity in Ft. Worth, TX. The SCLC is calling for 10,000 people to join them in a march to protest the aftermath of the taser-related death of Michael Jacobs.
  2. December 4 - The AfroSpear is asking all bloggers to support a Day of Blogging for Justice: Stop Taser Torture.
What say u?

Why Would Scholastic Book Fairs Ban Books With Same-Sex Parents in Them?

I was disappointed to learn that Scholastic, one of the largest education publishers in the world with broad influence over the reading materials of children everywhere, began down a path of homophobic censorship.

The publisher is censoring a book that depicts a girl character with two moms because they consider it inappropriate for children, preventing it from appearing in its Scholastic Book Fairs. By censoring the book, Scholastic is sending the discriminatory and harmful message to children everywhere that same-sex relationships and gay/lesbian parents are wrong and should be hidden from sight.

This is exactly the opposite of the message of tolerance we should be sending to children.

I encourage villagers to offer a hand in fighting prejudice, let Scholastic know that you think they should stop censoring gay-friendly books immediately.

Wordless Wednesday: Halloween in the White House

October 27, 2009

Am I Not Human? World Hunger

An estimated 1.02 billion people in the world go hungry. [SOURCE]

Each year, 3 million under-five children die because they are undernourished. Far more children live with undernutrition than die from it. For infants and young children, the effects of chronic malnutrition in the early years of life are largely irreversible.

In the United States, 11.7 million children live in households where people have to skip meals or eat less to make ends meet. That means one in ten households in the U.S. are living with hunger or are at risk of hunger.

But we CAN end hunger.

We have the means. The financial costs to end hunger are relatively slight. The United Nations Development Program estimates that the basic health and nutrition needs of the world's poorest people could be met for an additional $13 billion a year. Animal lovers in the United States and Europe spend more than that on pet food each year.

What makes the difference between millions of hungry people and a world where all are fed?
Only a change in priorities. Only the WILL to end hunger. For now, I encourage all Villagers, to write a letter to your member of Congress.

Roots of Humanity feels that each of us can fight against human rights abuses in the world. We simply need to do something. Protest. Meditate. Pray. In the case of bloggers ... we want you to blog on the 27th of each month. Just share information on behalf of our human siblings in all suffering areas who are either barred from communication by their governments, or lacking in technology to ask: Am I Not Human?

October 26, 2009

SCLC Protests Taser Death of Michael Jacobs (Ft. Worth)

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) is calling for a march of 10,000 people or more to denounce the decision not to discipline the Stephanie Phillips, the Fort Worth police officer who murdered Michael Patrick Jacobs by Mayor Mike Moncrief and the City of Fort Worth.

"It is time for the nation to come together and denounce this kind of terrorist taser torture on American citizens by home grown terrorist who are supposed to protect and serve," says the Reverend Kyev Tatum, Fort Worth Chapter President of the SCLC. "We have had enough of this foolishness."
The March for Dignity is scheduled for Saturday, November 7, 2009 at 12 noon, starting at the Fort Worth City Hall and will end at the Tarrant County Courthouse on Main and Belknap Street.

"We are tired of the torture abuse by the police."
Founded by the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1957, the SCLC first asked for a ban on taser electronic torture devices in 2005.

For more information contact (817) 966-7625 or sclctarrantcounty@yahoo.com

October 25, 2009

(Th)ink by Keith Knight: Halloween Study

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

Sunday Inspirations: Steve Harvey's Tearful Testimony (Proverbs 22:6)

I don't have a chance to watch Steve Harvey very much nowadays. However, I must admit that his tearful testimony to God moved me very much. I encourage all villagers to take a moment to watch this moving video.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. - Proverbs 22:6 -

October 24, 2009

No Public Option; No Re-Election; No Kidding

I'm self-employed. I don't have health insurance. I haven't had health insurance since I started my company back in 2002. It is important to me that the Democratic Party take advantage of their recent election success by passing health insurance reform ... that includes a robust public option. I am hopeful that Harry Reid (D-NV) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) are tough enough to get this done.

Do you think that a robust public option will be in the final bill that goes to President Obama for his signature later this year?

President's Weekly Address: 'Working with Small Business to Drive Recovery'

The President restates his commitment to small business as key to economic recovery -- from the Recovery Act to Financial Stability to Health Reform -- and pledges more to come.

I ran a small business incubator in Cincinnati for five (5) years. As such, I saw small business owners struggling on a day-to-day basis to be successful. It is nice to see some attention being paid by the president on these folks.

What are your thoughts about small business? Do you have any personal stories to tell about the efforts of small business owners or entrepreneurs in your life?

October 23, 2009

Police, Racial Profiling and Taser Torture in America

Soulclap to Julius Clark for pointing out a recent USA Today article about police and racial profiling. One part of the article discussed recent efforts in Houston TX. Researchers are studying taser gun use after a 2008 city audit found that Black suspects are disproportionately involved in taser gun incidents. About 25% of Houston's population is Black.

The audit of 1,417 taser gun uses from 2004 to 2007 also found that white and Hispanic officers were more likely than Black officers to fire their taser guns when suspects were Black.

The same thing is happening all over America. Over 60% of the taser-related deaths in America this year are Black or Brown people.

It is time that we get united, organized and determined. We need to raise the profile of these taser-related killings. I'm glad to see that the Southern Christian Leadership Conference branch in Ft. Worth is taking a strong stand on a case in their city.

I've been advocating for congressional hearnings on taser-torture. However, the online petition simply hasn't gained necessary traction. Perhaps there simply isn't a fire in the belly of our community to address this issue. Many of the men killed by police-wielding tasers weren't good guys. That might be why we don't see public indignation when these killings occur on a weekly basis.

What do you think we need to do next to raise awareness about taser-torture in America?

October 22, 2009

Dona Nobis Pacem: BlogBlast for Peace

This blog supports the 2009 BlogBlast for Peace scheduled to take place on November 5, 2009. I hope that others will join this cause as well. Kudos to Vinny for my globe!

Will you support this online activism effort?

Megan Williams Says She Lied About West Virginia Rape and Torture Case

It hurts my heart to learn that Megan Williams lied about the torture she experienced at the hands of seven hillbillies from West Virginia. This blog took up her cause in a major way two years ago.

Villagers will recall that Williams told authorities in 2007 that she had been beaten, raped, forced to eat animal feces and taunted with racial slurs for days. She was supported in the process by her mom ... who has since passed away.

Seven white men and women were convicted in the case, and most are serving long prison terms.

We learned this week from Williams' attorney that his client fabricated the story to get back at a boyfriend who had beaten her up. The attorney, Byron Potts, said that Williams came forward because she no longer wants to live a lie. I guess Megan wanted to get out in front of the story in light of the backlash coming down on Balloon Boy's family for his hoax.

Potts encouraged West Virginia authorities to re-evaluate the case. Prosecutors in West Virginia have dismissed Williams' new claim, and lawyers for the defendants aren't discussing their plans.

This story is depressing for me. What are your thoughts?

October 21, 2009

Track Meet: Heather Graham Supports Public Option

Heather Graham stars as the Public Option in this funny ad, showing how she'll force the lazy, bloated private insurance companies to get back in the game and compete. After all, competition is as American as apple pie.

Wordless Wednesday: Gil Scott-Heron

October 20, 2009

Tune In Tuesday: Rose Royce

I'm at a point when there are fewer years in front of me than behind me. As such, there are moments when I look back on my deeds and behaviors in the past with disappointment.

There are some songs from back in the day that resonate with me. Rose Royce had two songs which are speaking to me today:

Love Don't Live Here Anymore (1978)

In the game of love ... you reap what you sow. I wonder if I will have the opportunity to sow anymore. I suspect that I'm like many people ... just waking up each morning and seeking a way to achieve the goals and dreams that still remain with us.

Wishing on a Star (1978)

My hope is that it is never too late to wish on a star!

Good News Tuesday: 17-Year Old Entrepeneur Kalief Rollins

It is Good News Tuesday! Today, we bring the focus to 17-year-old Kalief Rollins is president of Phree Kountry Clothing. The shirts have positive messages ranging from ending gang violence to embracing education.

The young brother took home a $10,000 grand prize from the National Youth Entrepreneurship Competition for his business selling custom T-shirts with inspirational designs. Rollins competed against 27 finalists and 24,000 initial high school entrants for the award, given by the nonprofit Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship.

Another serendipity of the contest for Rollins was an all-expense paid trip to the White House to meet President Obama. Check out this video of the meeting:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Rollins says Phree Kountry Clothing's first big seller depicted President Obama. The shirts, designed by his brother Anthony, 22, "have leadership themes and positive messages."

Rollins offers catalogs through phreekountry@yahoo.com and in the next year, he says, "we plan to get our shirts into events like fairs, swap meets and farmers markets. ... We want to get our shirts into different stores that they can be sold at as well. We want to get someone famous to endorse it."

The young brother has the endorsement of this blog. Does he have your endorsement as well?

Taser Death: Christopher John Belknap (Ukiah CA)

It happened again. This time the police tasered a man three times during a struggle on October 12. The man died. We continue to watch the police kill people with tasers at a rate of more than once per week.

Christopher John Belknap, 36, a transient from Ukiah, died following the confrontation with a Mendocino County Sheriff's sergeant and a sergeant with the Ukiah Police Department. [SOURCE]

The police response to this story is very similiar to what we've seen in 43 other taser-related deaths this year --- demonize the victim. The police want the public to think that these deaths are justified because the victim is a bad person or on drugs.

My response is that being a bad person or on drugs is not a valid excuse for these extra-judicial electrocutions. The death penalty isn't supposed to occur when a person disrespects a police officer.

Lt. Rusty Noe of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office reported that Belknap was released from San Quentin State Prison recently [NOTE: therefore, the victim is a bad person].

Here is what the police say happened:

Belknap attacked a Mendocino County Sheriff's Sergeant as he was parked using his cell phone. While defending himself the sergeant deployed his taser and Belknap was stunned twice before he was able to disengage the taser probes. Noe said Belknap resumed his attack and was punching the sergeant when a Ukiah Police Sergeant arrived to assist.

The Ukiah Police sergeant deployed his taser and Belknap was restrained. Noe said officers were still struggling with Belknap placing him in leg restraints. Belknap became unresponsive and paramedics were called.

Belknap was transported to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead. Tests done at the hospital prior to Belknap's death showed positive for the use of methamphetamine.

Belknap had a long history of drug abuse and assault including several incidents of resisting arrest, according to police. In April of 2009 Belknap was contacted by sheriff's deputies and arrested for resisting arrest and breaking out a window in a patrol car. Charges were referred to state parole and he was sent to state prison for six months on a violation.
The investigation is continuing with the Mendocino County District Attorney working with the sheriff's office and Ukiah Police. The cause of death is still pending toxicology testing. Results of an autopsy conducted last week are also pending.

What are your thoughts as you become aware of these continued taser-related deaths?

October 19, 2009

Taser Lawsuit: Michael Jones (Iberia, LA)

The family of 43-year old Michael Jones -- who died on February 13 in the Iberia Parish jail after being tasered and beaten to death by prison guards. Jones was arrested a few hours earlier for disturbing the peace and battery on a police officer. He is one of over 40 people involved in taser-related deaths this year in America.

Abbeville Police denied that they killed Jones. They say Jones died AFTER being arrested, examined at Abbeville General Hospital and then transported to the Iberia Parish jail. The police claim that he died in a holding cell at the jail.

The suit, filed in state 16th Judicial District Court, names a variety of individuals from the Sheriff’s Department. The lawsuit gives the following account of what allegedly happened to Jones after he was booked into the Iberia Parish jail:

Warden Frank Ellis had noticed Jones “exposing himself, dancing around, pulling off his underwear, yelling, screaming and making strange sounds.”

When Ellis, Deputy Wesley “Kool Aid” Hayes and nurse Stephanie Celestine opened Jones’ cell to speak with him, Jones began screaming and ran out of the cell.

Ellis and Hayes wrestled and slammed Jones onto the concrete floor; Jones then bit Ellis, and then Hayes began choking Jones.

Ellis smashed his large body over Jones’ lower body while Hayes, who weighed more than 300 pounds, continued choking Jones as he pressed his knees into Jones’ back and neck.

Hayes’ brother, Deputy Jesse Hayes, jumped on Jones and began punching him.

Jones was then handcuffed and shackled while the beating continued.

After several more minutes, Wesley Hayes released Jones, who remained motionless on the concrete floor.

Celestine checked Jones’ pulse, but no one attempted to administer first aid. Instead, Wesley Hayes and Jesse Hayes dragged Jones “dead, naked, handcuffed and shackled” into another cell and left him there.

Acadian Ambulance responded at some point and found that Jones was dead.

Several inmates allegedly witnessed the attack and offered statements for the suit.

A state autopsy indicated a wide array of injuries, including abrasions, neck compressions, blunt force trauma to the head, torso and upper and lower extremities, the suit alleges, and the autopsy confirmed that Jones was strangled.
Meanwhile, Assistant District Attorney Bobby Odinet said they determined that no criminal charges are warranted and there are no plans to bring the case before a grand jury. He declined to comment on the civil lawsuit.

The Jones family understands that the civil courts may be the only way to bring justice against the powers-that-be in this case.

October 18, 2009

Sunday Inspirations: Des'ree and Eminem

Often music can inspire us to reach higher. One song that I encourage all villagers to have in their iPod rotation is 'You Gotta Be' by Des'ree. Enjoy!

Of course, my tastes are eclectic. Another song that serves as an inspirational reminder comes from an unlikely source -- Eminem. He hits this one hard and is on point. There are times when I think I let my one shot slip by ... but, I have to believe that if I 'Loose Myself' then I will reach my remaining life goals. Enjoy!

Taser Death: Frank Cleo Sutphin (San Bernardino, CA)

It happened again. Another taser-related killing by a police officer. This time the deed was done in San Bernardino, CA. Police say that a 19-year-old Frank Cleo Sutphin died after officers used a Taser to subdue him at a board-and-care facility. The death occurred on Saturday, October 17.

The police officers arrived at the facility to investigate a fight involving three people. Officers separated the trio but "one of the subjects became combative and a Taser was deployed to control him."

Sutphin was having trouble breathing, and police called paramedics. Sutphin was pronounced dead at a hospital about an hour later.

Tasers are called non-lethal, however, this is the 43rd taser-related death in America over the first 43 weeks of the year. Doesn't that seem too often an occurrence to be acceptable? Have you signed our online petition asking for congressional hearings into taser torture?

Taser Grand Jury: Jamaal Valentine (LaMarque TX)

The LaMarque Police Department officers who killed 27-year old Jamaal Valentine with a Taser gun aren't responsible for his death, according to a Galveston County Grand Jury. [SOURCE]

Police officers fired their taser guns at Valentine on the night of May 17 after they found him rolling in a ditch. Valentine was arrested but immediately fell ill, so he was transported to a hospital, where he died of heart failure, according to a police statement. But an autopsy performed on his body detected the presence of a controlled substance in his system.

"The applicable law in any criminal case, is that a person is criminally responsible for a result, if the result would not have occurred but for the actors conduct, operating either alone or concurrently with another cause, unless the concurrent cause was clearly sufficient to produce the result and the conduct of the actor clearly insufficient," according to the statement.
Villager's Voice: I had to read the paragraph above a number of times. My take is that the powers-that-be are telling us that this young brother died because of the "controlled substance in his system" and the fact that 50,000 volts of electricity was pumped through his body by the police taser gun was "clearly insufficent". These taser-related deaths won't stop until police are held accountable. These LaMarque police officers are home-free. None of them are facing grand jury charges of murder, manslaughter, criminal negligent homicide or official oppression. When will the powers-that-be do something about these taser-related deaths?

October 17, 2009

President's Weekly Address: 'Taking the Insurance Companies on Down the Stretch'

As the health insurance reform debate enters into its final stages in Congress, the President denounces the desperate and deceptive last-ditch efforts of the health insurance companies to derail it.

What do you think about the message from the President this week?

(Th)ink by Keith Knight: East Cleveland Mayor Eric Brewer

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

October 16, 2009

Officer Stephanie Phillips Not Disciplined by Police Chief for Taser-Killing of Michael Jacobs

You begin to wonder what it will take to hold a police officer responsible for involvment in the taser-killing of a citizen. The medical examiner in Fort Worth ruled that the death of Michael Jacobs was due to homicide. However, police officer Stephanie Phillips, who used a taser on the mentally ill man twice while i his family's front yard, will not be disciplined and remains on patrol. [SOURCE]

Police Chief Jeff Halstead said the administrative investigation into the April 18 death of Jacobs is closed but declined to comment on it. He said he turned it over to the district attorney and expects a grand jury to review the case next month.

If Officer Stephanie A. Phillips were to be indicted or convicted, the 17-year police veteran would face disciplinary action, Halstead said.

Jacobs' family had called police that day to report a disturbance because he had not been taking his medication for bipolar disorder, relatives have said. Officers said he became combative.

In August the medical examiner ruled that Jacobs' death was a homicide. Phillips stunned the 24-year-old with her taser gun twice — the first time for 49 seconds and the second time for 5 seconds, with a 1-second interval between the shocks. Tasers issue a 50,000-volt shock that over-stimulates the nervous system and causes muscles to lock up, temporarily immobilizing a person. Jacobs died an hour after police used the taser gun.

Jacobs' family believes that not disciplining the officer is a "true miscarriage of justice," said the Rev. Kyev Tatum, a family spokesman.

"We're saddened, disappointed, disheartened, angry, upset, insulted and offended," Tatum said Friday after hearing about the police chief's comments.

"Michael Jacobs was not a criminal. He was a young man who needed mental help," he said.
I guess that the next step is to hear from the grand jury. Will they do the right thing?

History of the Villager's Black Blog Rankings

This post provides an archival record of the growth and evolution of the Black Blog Rankings. Currently, we have 1,766 blogs listed as of October 3, 2009 (read/download).

This listing is the last one scheduled to be published. We are closing down the Villager's Black Blog Rankings today.

The downloadable version of the Villager's Black Blog Rankings is in .pdf format. You can leave a COMMENT below (with your email address) if you want a Word version that has clickable links embedded in it.

History of the Black Blog Rankings

  1. Sep 2009 - 1747 blogs (#1, Pam's House Blend)
  2. Aug 2009 - 1766 blogs (#1, Pam's House Blend)
  3. Jun 2009 - 1704 blogs (#1, Pam's House Blend)
  4. May 2009 - 1,659 blogs (#1, Pam's House Blend)
  5. Apr 2009 - 1,629 blogs (#1, Pam's House Blend)
  6. Feb 2009 - 1,593 blogs (#1, Pam's House Blend)
  7. Jan 2009 - 1,575 blogs (#1, Pam's House Blend)
  8. Dec 2008 - 1,500 blogs (#1, Pam's House Blend)
  9. Nov 2008 - 1,440 blogs (#1, Pam's House Blend)
  10. Oct 2008 - 1,440 blogs (#1, Pam's House Blend)
  11. Sep 2008 - 1,400 blogs (#1, Pam's House Blend)
  12. Aug 2008 - 1,329 blogs (#1, Pam's House Blend)
  13. Jul 2008 - 1,269 blogs (#1, Pam's House Blend)
  14. Jun 2008 - 1,239 blogs (#1, Bossip.com)
  15. May 2008 - 1,173 blogs (#1, Bossip.com)
  16. Apr 2008 - 1,045 blogs (#1, Pam's House Blend)
  17. Mar 2008 - 850 blogs (#1, Bossip.com)
  18. Feb 2008 - 751 blogs (#1, Bossip.com)
  19. Jan 2008 - 602 blogs (#1, Concrete Loop)
  20. Dec 2007 - 516 blogs (#1, Pam's House Blend)
  21. Nov 2007 - 430 blogs (#1, Pam's House Blend)
  22. Oct 2007 - 300 blogs (#1, Pam's House Blend)
  23. Sep 2007 - 75 blogs (#1, Paula Mooney's Tips)

Random Spotlight on Black Bloggers

We began putting the spotlight on new blogs being added to the Black Blog Rankings in February 2008. Here are the blogs highlighted since that time:

I had no idea what I was getting into when this journey began back in September 2007. I hope that you enjoyed the Villager's Black Blog Rankings while it lasted!

October 15, 2009

National Latino HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Today is National Latino HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD).

Visit the National Latino HIV/AIDS Awareness Day website for resources, fact sheets, video, and other media. One of the most powerful aspects of this website is the testimonials of Latinos living with HIV/AIDS.

Another resource available to you is the Department of Health and Human Services website.

Finally, I encourage all villagers to join our HIV/AIDS Awareness Groupsite to stay informed year-round.

Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga) Apologizes for his Racist 'Ghetto Grandmother' Comment

It gets tiring to hear these old white politicians apologize for their racist comments. Wouldn't it be easier to simply find a way to live in this nation and serve as a national leader in harmony with one another ... instead of playing to the fears and hatred hidden in our national conscience?

Evidently, that is too much to ask of Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga). Deal is running for governor of the state of Georgia. Here he is using the term 'ghetto grandmother' in a private fundraiser earlier this month:

Once a videotape of Deal delivering the “ghetto grandmothers” comment hit the airwaves, Deal quickly issued a statement of apology.

I regret my choice of words and in no way meant to offend anyone,” he said.
How can we address racism in a positive manner if we keep electing racists?

Villager's Black Blog Rankings is Casualty of Technorati Upgrades

It saddens me to announce that the Villager's Black Blog Rankings (BBR) is officially closing down. The recent changes announced by Technorati make it impossible for me to continue with this volunteer ranking effort. I think that the changes Technorati made are good and needed. However, they have eliminated my ability to continue researching the talented blogs owned and operated by people of African descent.

BBR was based on Technorati Authority numbers. Technorati changed the process used to determine this metric. Technorati's intention is to measure the influence and attention received on an ongoing basis ... as such they stopped counting static blogroll links, and these links have now aged out of the authority calculations.

Due to the vast number of blogging platforms and custom installations out there (and some bloggers who felt they were using too much of their data), Technorati Authority now rely more heavily on RSS and Atom feeds than in the past. Bloggers can control how much of their content they wish to syndicate via feeds. Many blogs only provide partial feeds ... Technorati is not always able to get link data from them. Thus, links from these blogs may no longer contribute to your authority.

Finally, it is important that bloggers ensure that Technorati knows about your blog updates by using the new Ping Page, or learn about configuring your system to ping Technorati automatically on their Help Page. Many blogging services and platforms have a preconfigured option for pinging Technorati and other services.

If you find links to your blog that don't appear on Technorati, you may want to check that the other blog:
  • is claimed on Technorati
  • has a full-content feed
  • is pinging us with updates

Anyhow, it has been a joy learning about talented Black bloggers and reading insightful posts on wide variety of topics. I hope that we're able to continue to find ways to support one another.

For now ... it would be wonderful to hear from those of you that have followed the Black Blog Rankings over the past months. What are your final thoughts on the BBR?

(Th)ink by Keith Knight: Not Feeling the Rush

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

October 14, 2009

Rush Limbaugh Kicked Out of NFL Ownership Bid

Professional sports has always served to unite Americans across class, creed and race. On the other hand, Rush Limbaugh has built his career by dividing Americans precisely along those lines. Frankly, Limbaugh is a racist and a chauvinist. Limbaugh's values are diametrically opposed to the traditions the NFL and he would poison professional football as he has poisoned the culture of American political discourse.

This blog stood with former and current NFL players who urged the league to reject Limbaugh's ownership bid.

It turns out that public pressure was enough to do the job ... Limbaugh has been dropped from the ownership group. Limbaugh was to be a limited partner in a group headed by St. Louis Blues chairman Dave Checketts. Checketts said that Limbaugh's participation had become a complication in the group's efforts and the bid will move forward without him.

Are you glad that Rush was banned from NFL ownership?

Village Blog Safari #35

Have you ever joined with our villagers on a blog safari? If not, perhaps now is the time. Our rhino-guide (she still needs a name!) wants to take 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!

Wordless Wednesday: Malia and Sasha

October 13, 2009

Tune In Tuesday: Solomon Burke (None of Us Are Free)

I first heard of Solomon Burke this past weekend. This song of his was playing in the background of an episode of 'Cold Case'. It touched my heart. The lyrics and the soulful rendition appeal to me very much. In fact, this tune is now the official anthem of the Electronic Village. I hope you enjoy the vibe as well.

Well you better listen my sister's and brothers,
'cause if you do you can hear
there are voices still calling across the years.
And they're all crying across the ocean,
and they're cryin across the land,
and they will till we all come to understand.

None of us are free.
None of us are free.
None of us are free, one of us are chained.
None of us are free.

And there are people still in darkness,
and they just can't see the light.
If you don't say it's wrong then that says it right.
We got try to feel for each other, let our brother's know that we care.
Got to get the message, send it out loud and clear.


It's a simple truth we all need, just to hear and to see.
None of us are free, one of us is chained.
None of us are free.
now I swear your salvation isn't too hard too find,
None of us can find it on our own.
We've got to join together in sprirt, heart and mind.
So that every soul who's suffering will know they're not alone.


If you just look around you,
your gonna see what I say.
Cause the world is getting smaller each passing day.
Now it's time to start making changes,
and it's time for us all to realize,
that the truth is shining real bright right before our eyes.

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) Should Resign

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), who has represented Harlem residents in congress since 1971, waited for many years to become chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. He finally achieved that remarkable career goal ... only to find himself embroiled in a heated ethical debate about his personal financial dealings.

Currently, the House ethics committee is conducting a wide-ranging investigation into Rangel's finances. The investigation, which began last year, was expanded to include amendments that Rangel made to his House financial disclosure statements in August. The amendments indicated that he had failed to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in income and assets from 2002 through 2006.

Assets and sources of income that he omitted include a Merrill Lynch Global account valued at between $250,000 and $500,000, tens of thousands of dollars in municipal bonds and $30,000 to $100,000 in rent from a multi-family brownstone he owned.

He subsequently disclosed that he owed more than $10,000 in back taxes because he had failed to report more than $70,000 in rental income from a villa in the Dominican Republic.

Rangel claims that the entire financial mess can be attributed to "sloppy bookkeeping".

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) weighed in this week. They wrote a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in support of Rangle -- who is a founding member of the CBC. Part of the letter reads:

“Regrettably, the minority has repeatedly attempted to make an end-run around the bipartisan procedures for investigating possible ethics issues. These Republican attempts to presume guilt before an investigation has been completed violate the core American principle of the presumption of innocence. These attempts also will discourage members in the future from self-reporting any potential ethics issues, and will distract from the important work of the House to fix the economy, put Americans back to work, and improve access to health care.”
If that wasn’t clear enough, the group, chaired by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) added:

“Charlie Rangel’s work on these issues is critically important, and we are proud of the thoughtful leadership he provides to the House. He has our full support for his work as chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means while a bipartisan ethics review is pending.”
My grandfather once told me that I should never try to get away with the same things that white folks get away with. Rep. Rangel is probably no worse than past chairs of the House and Ways Committee. At least one of them is serving time in a federal penitentiary. However, we expect more from our Black leaders.

Charles Rangel's "sloppy bookkeeping" makes him unsuitable for leadership of a committee responsible for national tax and financial policy. Rangel should stop depending on cronyism and friends in high places to stay in office.

Rangel should do the right thing. He should resign the chairmanship of the House and Ways Committee.

Glenn Beck Compares Fox News to Jews During the Holocaust

I have not been shy about the fact that I think Glenn Beck is a racist. I'm glad that major corporations are pulling their funding from his television show on Fox News.

Even so, I was surprised to learn that Beck feels no shame about diminishing the impact of the Holocaust by comparing the death of over 6 million Jews with criticism of Fox News [SOURCE].

Check out what he said on his radio show earlier today:

BECK: When they're done with Fox, and you decide to speak out on something. The old, "first they came for the Jews, and I wasn't Jewish." When you have a question, and you believe that something should be asked, they're a -- totally fine with you right now; they have no problem with you.

When they're done with Fox and talk radio, do you really think they're going to leave you alone if you want to ask a tough question? Do you really think that a man who has never had to stand against tough questions and has as much power as he does -- do you really believe after he takes out the number one news network, do you really think that this man is then not going to turn on you? That you and your little organization is going to cause him any hesitation at all not to take you out?

If you believe that, you should open up a history book, because you've missed the point of many brutal dictators. You missed the point on how they always start.
What are your thoughts as you listen to Glenn Beck's latest rantings?

Good News Tuesday: Fisher's Celebrate World-Record 84th Anniversary

Soulclap to NAACP Wichita Blog for sharing this Liz Bowles/Sun Journal article with us!

A Craven County couple are in the Guinness World Records book. The two did nothing outlandish such as sky-diving upside down, dancing for days, taking the longest lawn mower ride or having the most tattoos. No, Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher of the Brownsville community have been married for more than 84 years. That is a feat in itself. They have the world record of the longest marriage for a living couple.

They can thank their granddaughter Iris Godette for getting the recognition. She submitted the information to the Guinness Book of Records. The information was apparently checked by Guinness and a certificate was given to the couple.

Herbert was born June 10, 1905. His hearing is going but his mind is sharp. Zelmyra was born Dec. 10, 1907. She uses a walker to get around the house and yard. The two of them can still give their reasons for marrying on May 13, 1924.

“He was not mean; he was not a fighter,” Zelmrya said. “He was quiet and kind. He was not much to look at but he was sweet.”

Livin' on the Wrong Side of the Tracks!

This is one of those photos that makes you go 'hmmmmmm' if you look at it closely. Use the COMMENTS (or 'Village Voices') link below to create your own caption for this photo!

October 12, 2009

Pam Spaulding is an Ultimate Game Changer in Politics

HuffPost's Game Changers celebrates 100 innovators, visionaries, and leaders in 10 categories who are harnessing the power of new media to reshape their fields and change the world. Huffington Post is the top-ranked blog in the world. As such, it is truly an honor to be selected by them for these categories.

Our village is very happy to announce that one of our AfroSpear kinfolk, Pam Spaulding (Pam's House Blend) has been selected as one of the 10 people who are changing the game in Politics.

Villagers are encouraged to take a moment to cast an online vote for Pam as the Ultimate Politics Game Changer. HuffPost will reveal the Ultimate 10 in November.

October 11, 2009

Police Don't Let Taser-Killing of Derrick Jones Change Taser Policy

17-year old Derrick Jones was the first person killed by taser-wielding police officer R.L. Wray in 2009. His death took place on January 8 at the hands of the Martinsville (VA) police. The taser-deaths have continued at a rate of one-per-week ever since.

Martinsville City Manager Clarence Monday received a "very brief" report filed in the Virginia State Police investigation into the taser-death. The report stated that the taser could not be definitively excluded “as a causative or contributive factor” in Jones’ death. [SOURCE]

No charges would be filed against R.L. Wray, the police officer who deployed the taser gun, and the 9-month investigation of the incident was concluded. In fact, city officials determined no changes were needed to the current policy on police use of tasers.

Basically, as far as we’re concerned, the case is closed,” Clarence Monday said. Police Officer Wray is back on full duty and “has been for some time. We feel our taser policy is in accordance with guidelines” governing the use of tasers. “We have examined our policy to make sure it’s up to date, and we feel no changes are needed at this point,” Monday added.
Previously, Martinsville Police Chief Mike Rogers said those policies conform to guidelines prescribed by the state and outlined in the Standards for Law Enforcement Officers.

The Rev. William Avon Keen of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) said, "our position remains the same. We’re still calling for a moratorium until we find out whether or not tasers are causing deaths."
Villager's Voice: It is apparent that the SCLC is taking an aggressive role in these taser-related deaths. That is a good thing. Perhaps it will lead to congressional hearings. Too many people are dying. In this case a young 17-year old who was not the subject of the original police action died outside of his own home. And the powers-that-be in his city say ... 'Oops, my bad' ... no change to our policy. The young brother wasn't important enough for us to make a change in a policy that kills.