December 31, 2009

(Th)ink by Keith Knight: Happy New Year

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

Glenn Beck: 2009 Misinformer of the Year

Glenn Beck named by 2009 Misinformer of the Year by Media Matters. 80 corporations can't be wrong!

What do you think of Glenn Beck's words and actions in 2009?

Taser Autopsy: Douglas Boucher (Mason OH)

Douglas Boucher, 39, died earlier this month after being approached by two Mason police officers (Daniel Fry and Sean McCormick) about his efforts to flirt with female clerk at local gas station. Boucher flirted ... clerk complained to local cops ... local cops tased Boucher ... Boucher died. Boucher was a loving father, son and musician. He had a full life ahead of him. He was not a substantial threat to the two police officers. Now he is dead. [SOURCE]

Butler County coroner said an autopsy revealed the cause of Boucher’s death was a skull fracture, which he received when he fell face forward after Officer McCormick pumped his body with 50,000 volts of electricity.

No drugs or alcohol were found in Boucher's body.

I'm curious to see what, if any, action will be taken to discipline the two police officers? They are both on paid administrative leave, pending an investigation of the incident.

December 30, 2009

Blogger Activism to Stop Taser Torture

This blog spent a good deal of energy last year to publish information about the incidents of taser torture that were taking place all around the country. For example, we joined with African American Political Pundit and others to support a day of blogging against taser torture; shared information on taser-related deaths whenever possible; supported a petition seeking congressional hearings; and updated villagers on taser autopsy results and taser lawsuits.

Our efforts helped create an atmosphere for recent appeals court ruling that police cannot use their tasers unless the suspect poses an immediate threat. No more casual taser-related killings from lazy cops!

The growing protest against taser torture has been joined by many other bloggers such as those shown below. Please let me know if we're missing a blog ... or if the linked post should be updated with one that is more current.
  1. African American Political Opinion

  2. African American Political Pundit

  3. All About Race

  4. Ancestral Energies

  5. Antoinette's Point of View

  6. A Political Season


  8. Black Women in Europe

  9. Blogger's Unite

  10. Character Corner

  11. Columbia Tribune

  12. Daily Kos

  13. Dallas South Blog

  14. Eddie Griffin (BASG)

  15. Electronic Village

  16. Electrocuted While Black

  17. Equality Central

  18. Excited Delirium

  19. From Austin to A&M

  20. From My Brown Eyed View

  21. Gangsters in Blue

  22. Independent Political Report

  23. Intersection Between Madness & Reality

  24. It All Goes Here

  25. Jack and Jill Politics

  26. Jonathan Turley

  27. LA Times Pressmen

  28. Living Life Abundantly

  29. MyDD - Direct Democracy

  30. News for Greens

  31. Now Public

  32. Observer-Reporter

  33. On the Black Hand Side

  34. Pam's House Blend

  35. Righteouschoice's Blog

  36. Sojourner's Place

  37. Tasered While Black

  38. The 'D' Spot

  39. The 'D' Spot Redeux

  40. The Duck Shoot

  41. The Seminal

  42. TNT - TRUTH ... not Tasers

  43. UltravioletUnderground

We saw taser-related deaths happening more than once per week in 2009. Will they continue at this same frequency in 2010 or will something change?

What say u?

Federal Court Ruling is Victory for Taser-Torture Opponents

Hallelujah! A federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled that police cannot zap someone with an taser gun unless the suspect poses an immediate threat. [SOURCE]

The ruling sets police standards for use of the Taser, saying stun guns must be used only when "substantial force" is needed.

Though stun guns may offer a valuable, nonlethal alternative to deadly force in defusing dangerous situations, Judge Kim Wardlaw (one of the 3 judges in this unanimous decision) said, they inflict a "painful and frightening blow" and must be used only when substantial force is necessary and other options are unavailable.
"It's a significant use of force, not like cuffing someone or using pain compliance or pepper spray," said Eugene Iredale, a lawyer for a San Diego-area man who was Tasered by a police officer who had stopped him for not wearing a seat belt. "It's not to be used promiscuously or lightly."

Officers are now prohibited from using a Taser on a person simply for acting erratically or disobeying orders, according to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

This is great news for those of us that have been beating the drums against taser-torture in America! Most of the 58 taser-related deaths in 2009 could have been avoided if this court ruling had been in effect at the beginnng of the year. I suspect that the number of taser-related deaths should slow down considerably if police abide by this court ruling.

What say u?

Wordless Wednesday: Obama on Vacation

December 29, 2009

Tune In Tuesday: Coko

Soulclap to Carla Nix for pointing me to Coko. Coko is a young R&B singer who is now focused on sharing her musical talents with gospel tunes such as 'The Winner in Me'.

Had you heard of Coko before today?

Good News Tuesday: Zeinab Eyega - The Immigrant Advocate

President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize this year. There is no question that America's standing in the world is better since Obama took over the presidency from George W. Bush. That being said ... the Obama administration has not been very visible in efforts to end the crisis in Darfur. That is one of the reasons that this blog continues to point out some powerful examples of people that are working hard to save Darfur.

Today we honor Zeinab Eyega, the founder of the Sauti Yetu Center for African Women. Born in southern Sudan, Zeinab has advocated for African women immigrants since she immigrated to the US herself. In 2008 alone, Sauti Yetu, a small organization, helped 165 women who spoke 57 African languages to successfully access and work with social services agencies in New York City. As a board member of the Save Darfur Coalition, Zeinab works to end the crisis in Darfur by organizing advocacy events and sharing her knowledge with others.

I encourage villagers to connect with a refugee assistance organization near your home or the Sudanese Diaspora group in your area. Don't see your city or state on the list? Connect with the Save Darfur Regional Organizer for your area.

What say u?

December 28, 2009

Taser Lawsuit: Brett Elder (Bay City MI)

The father of a Bay City teen who died after police used a stun gun to subdue him has filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court. Eugene E. Elder Sr. figures police killed his teenage son unjustifiably with a Taser, and he plans to fire back with a lawsuit. [SOURCE]

"I'm going after the city. I don't care," said Elder, 55, of Bay City. "There's no reason for killing my boy. He didn't do nothing wrong."

"He didn't like cops because he knows the rest of us don't, but he wasn't out to get them
," Elder said.
Brett "Dewey" Elder, 15, stood 5-foot-6 and weighed about 140 pounds ... he was no match for three Bay City Police Department officers who encountered him in Cindy Hernden's apartment.

Elder came to Ms. Herndon's apartment early Sunday morning ... he had been drinking alcohol.

"Brett's been coming to my house regularly since he's been 3 years old, and his mom (the late Jodi Elder) died in September of last year and since then Brett has been in daily contact with me," Hernden said.

"When his mother died, I was like his surrogate mother."

Cindy Hernden said six people were spending the night at her apartment, and one of them told Brett Elder to quiet down, "and at that point he kind of grabbed her and put her in a headlock."

Hernden said she then dialed 911, and believes the boyfriend of the woman also called police.

"The other people in the apartment were trying to subdue Brett and calm him down," Hernden said. "Three police officers came in the door and asked what was going on. Everybody at this point was screaming and yelling at each other, and it was getting out of hand."
Police came to the apartment to quell a reported fight. Hernden said police managed to calm Brett Elder - temporarily.

"The officers had calmed Brett down and he was sitting on a couch, and then one officer said something to him, and Brett stood up like he was maybe going to lunge at the police," Hernden said.

"And right then and there is when they put the handcuffs on him. They knocked him on the ground and that's when they Tasered him."

Hernden said Brett Elder vomited "immediately" after police used the Taser.

"I told the police 'He's not breathing, he's not breathing,' and I told them I know (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), and one of the officers told me to shut up," Hernden said.

"They told me to stand back and wait for a medical professional to arrive, so that's what I did."
Hernden said Brett Elder wasn't armed when he moved toward officers inside her apartment. Brett Elder's aunt, Dorothy A. Hendrix of Bay City, said Brett Elder was "devastated" by the death of his mother in September.

"He didn't even weigh 150 pounds," Hendrix said. "They Tasered a little kid."
In May, Bay County prosecutor Kurt Asbury said officers would not be charged in Elder’s death, citing that "there isn't evidence that officers committed any criminal act that caused or contributed to the death of Brett Elder."

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

December 27, 2009

Am I Not Human? al-Qaeda and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab

I'm about sick and tired of al-Qaeda and this continuous effort to kill Americans. What did America do to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a privileged 23-year old Nigerian, that built enough hate in his heart to attempt a suicide bombing of a plane headed to Detroit?

This young man is the son of a banker. He lived in a posh West London apartment. He studied mechanical engineering there between September 2005 and June 2008. Where does this guy have time to develop such a hatred for America?

We're told that Abdulmutallab is a member of al-Qaeda.

Al-Qaeda is an international terrorist network led by Osama bin Laden. Established around 1988 by bin Laden, al-Qaeda helped finance, recruit, transport and train thousands of fighters from dozens of countries to be part of an Afghan resistance to defeat the Soviet Union. To continue the holy war beyond Afghanistan, al-Qaeda's current goal is to establish a pan-Islamic Caliphate throughout the world by working with allied Islamic extremist groups to overthrow regimes it deems "non-Islamic" and expelling Westerners and non-Muslims from Muslim countries. [SOURCE]

In February 1998, al-Qaeda issued a statement under banner of "The World Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders" saying it was the duty of all Muslims to kill US citizens—civilian or military—and their allies everywhere.

In an al-Qaeda house in Afghanistan, New York Times reporters found a brief statement of the “Goals and Objectives of Jihad”:
  1. Establishing the rule of God on earth
  2. Attaining martyrdom in the cause of God
  3. Purification of the ranks of Islam from the elements of depravity

I'm heading to church this morning ... so I have no problems with putting God first in our lives. I just don't feel that God is looking for any of His children to bring bombs on airplanes with the intention of killing innocent men, women and children. I guess I'm saying that I think that al-Qaeda is misguided with that second goal. God (by any name that you call Him) isn't looking for one human to disregard the right to life of other humans.

Hey, Farouk (and other al-Qaeda sympathizers) ... Am I Not Human?

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?

December 26, 2009

SCLC Protest Taser-Killing of Derrick Humbert

The powers-that-be in Bradenton want us to believe that 38-year old Derrick Humbert's death was 'accidental'. One moment Humbert is riding his bicycle home from a trip to the neighborhood store. The next moment he is pounced on by two undercover police officers in an unmarked car ... they chase him ... taser him with 50,000 volts of electricity ... and he dies. Where is the accident in this scenario?

That is one of the questions raised by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) during their weekend march in downtown Bradenton to protest the Taser death of Humbert and to raise awareness of the Bradenton Police Department's "quality of life" policies.

The chairman of the SCLC Florida chapter, Arthur Rocker, met with Police Chief Michael Radzilowski to discuss Humbert's death.

"The chief of police says it's 'quality of life.' He stops people for small crimes so they don't commit bigger crimes, such as riding a bicycle without lights or walking on the wrong side of the road," Rocker said.

"We talked with him yesterday and asked, 'If a person in one of these communities was wearing a suit, would he be stopped for riding a bicycle or walking?' We believe these things are happening in low income communities and the reason that people walk and ride bicycles is because they have no other way to get around," Rocker said.
More than 60 people took part in the weekend protest march. "We all feel that it was an unfortunate situation but it gives us the opportunity to make some changes," Rocker said.

Rocker would like the Bradenton Police Department to start sensitivity training for its officers. "We must respect people's cultures and allow them the opportunity to understand them more," Rocker said.

The department of Justice is investigating Humbert's death. Rocker said there is no timetable set. "We're not in a hurry. We just want a quality and thorough investigation."

This blog joins with SCLC leadership around the country whenever they stand up to protest taser-related deaths. These deaths are happening on a weekly basis in America. More of us need to stand side-by-side with SCLC.

December 25, 2009

Taser Death: Preston Bussey III (Rockledge FL)

Rockledge (FL) police officers thought it was a good idea to use two taser guns to pump 50,000 volts EACH into 41-year old Preston Bussey III in their efforts to subdue him at Wuesthoff Hospital. Bussey died on the spot. [SOURCE]

Bussey was being involuntarily admitted to the Wuesthoff Hospital for psychological examination. He didn't want to be admitted to the hospital and expressed his displeasure to hospital officials. The hospital contacted Rockledge police for support in getting Bussey to his room.

Several police officers unsuccessfully attempted to persuade Bussey to follow a doctor’s directions. Bussey refused, and after repeated warnings to comply "two officers then deployed their electronic control devices (Tasers)."

It is not clear whether Bussey was shocked with both Tasers at the same time.

The taser-happy police officers are on administrative duty while the investigation continues.

Bussey's cousin Counselo Cotton said Bussey was a slender 6-foot-4 man who could have been subdued by two or three officers.
"Regardless of his mental state, regardless of the injuries, they didn't have to Tase him," Cotton said. "It wasn't like he could have wrestled those cops to the ground."
After being shocked with multiple taser guns, Bussey was restrained in the emergency room. He was administered medication by hospital employees and placed on a gurney, police said in a report. Shortly thereafter, personnel noticed that Bussey was not breathing. He was taken into a treatment room where he was pronounced dead.

The state of Florida felt Preston Bussey III needed their help to deal with mental illness issues. Instead of being a positive force for good ... the police killed this 41-year old man. Police don't appear to have any ability to subdue people without pulling out their taser guns. Bussey was unarmed. Why did the police need to kill him?

December 24, 2009

Taser-Cop Del Shiflett Cleared in Killing of Derrick Humbert

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Bradenton Police Department each cleared Officer Del Shiflett [shown in photo] of any wrongdoing in the taser-killing of 38-year old Derrick Humbert. [SOURCE]

Villagers may recall that Humbert was riding a bicycle when he was pulled over by the police. Humbert made the mistake of running away from the unmarked police car ... and it cost him his life.

Police say Humbert fled from officers Sept. 28 after they tried to stop him for not having a light on his bicycle. Officer Del Shiflett shot Humbert in the back with a Taser as he ran.

A medical examiner has ruled Humbert, who had cocaine in his system, coupled with heart disease, died from a heart attack stemming from the exertion of the chase. Medical Examiner Dr. Russell Vega said the Taser did not play a role in Humbert's death.

The powers-that-be seem to have pulled it off in Florida. Another man killed by a taser without any accountability or responsibility taken by anyone. We are led to believe that he died on his own accord.

What do you think about this situation?

December 23, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Kwanzaa

A Celebration of family, community and culture

Taser Lawsuit: Robert Mitchell (Warren MI)

Villagers may recall the taser-killing of Robert Mitchell. Mitchell, a Detroit Kettering High School sophomore, was killed by taser-torture in the abandoned home following a foot chase. He had fled from the car in which he was a passenger that Warren police stopped near Eight Mile and Schoenherr.

The police reports show at least three Warren and three Detroit officers were inside the house when an exhausted and unarmed Mitchell, who was sweating and breathing heavily, came down the stairs with his hands raised as officers instructed.

William Goodman, the attorney hired by the Mitchell family, claims that one of the officers grabbed Mitchell by the wrists moments before 50,000 volts of electricity were jolted into his body by a police taser gun. The officer let go of the one wrist he was still holding so his fellow officer could fire the taser at Mitchell. [SOURCE]

Goodman plans to amend a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in May -- adding details and counts of use of excessive force by specific officers based on police officers' reports about the April 10 incident.

"It's clear to us that the use of a Taser was excessive force," Goodman said. "They could have readily subdued him. There is nothing in the statements of any of these officers that suggest there was a need to Taser that kid."
Warren Police Commissioner William Dwyer has defended his officers' actions and said in June that an internal investigation exonerated the officer who fired the taser gun.

An autopsy listed the cause of Mitchell's death as "indeterminate." The report identified a heart condition that was likely aggravated by the taser torture.

I'm glad that the Mitchell family is aggressively pursuing their lawsuit. I imagine that a large settlement in favor of a person tortured with a police taser gun may help to change police abuse of the 'use of force continuum' policy. Some villagers think that I shouldn't use the term 'torture' when discussing this issue. However, in this case we have a youngster who stood 5'2" tall ... weighed 130 pounds ... unarmed ... hands raised in surrender. Doesn't the term 'torture' seem appropriate in a situation in which six police officers used a taser gun on this youngster?

What say u?

December 22, 2009

2010 Blogging While Brown Conference (June 18-19, Washington DC)

Blogging While Brown is the brainchild of Gina McCauley. I met Gina at the 1st Annual BWB Conference held in Atlanta GA. She is a powerful sister who many bloggers look to as a role model. As such, this blog is pleased to support the continued evolution of her blogging vision.

I encourage all villagers to participate in the planning for Blogging While Brown: The 3rd Annual International Conference for Bloggers of Color, scheduled for June 18-19, 2010 in Washington DC.

Blogging While Brown promotes intellectual, social, and cultural development of the blogging community by bringing bloggers of color together in one location. The purpose of the conference is to facilitate conversations that lead to collaboration and innovation among bloggers of color.

Last year's conference, held in Chicago, was attended by activists, entrepreneurs, journalists and others interested in expanding digital media content creation and distribution among people of color.

In an effort to provide conference attendees with the best experience possible, BWBC decided to modify our annual programming process. So instead of a call for workshop proposals, BWBC is having a call for ideas. What would you like to present? Who would you like to hear from ? What do you want to learn? How could you benefit the conference?

Don't limit yourself to workshops and panels. BWBC is also looking for participants who can present short case studies or shorter presentations on narrower subjects as well. Be as creative and as detailed as possible in your description of what you would like to see at the next Blogging While Brown Conference. Some ideas to get you started:
  • Continuing Blogger Education
  • Internet Advocacy
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Social Networking
  • Hyper-localism
  • Social Media Successes/Failures
  • Effective vs. Ineffective Online Activism
  • Access to Technology
  • Monetizing
  • Content Creation Tools
  • Content Distribution
  • Blogger Quality of Life
  • Legal Issues of Blogging
  • Emerging Trends
Fill Out the 'Call for Ideas' Form.

You can find some other suggested topics on the Blogging While Brown website.

Be as creative as you want to be ... work with other bloggers and blog readers. If you have any questions, email bloggingwhilebrown [at] gmail [dot] com.

Don't talk about it, be about it! Anyhow, I plan to attend the 3rd annual BWB Conference. What about you?

December 21, 2009

Taser Death: Michael Hawkins (Springfield MO)

Michael Hawkins, 39, hid in the crawl space of the Eagles Lodge Motel in Springfield MO on Sunday morning. Motel employees say that he didn't steal anything. Nobody seems to know why he was in the crawl space. We aren't able to ask Mr. Hawkins why he was in that space because the Springfield police decided to pump his body with 50,000 volts of taser gun electricity. Mr. Hawkins died shortly thereafter. [SOURCE]

A housecleaner noticed Hawkins go into a storage room. They asked him to come out ... he wouldn't.

So, staff called police.

After police arrived they found Hawkins hiding in a crawl space just above the storage room. Police attempted to talk Hawkins down, but he refused to leave the crawl space. Officers entered the crawl space, along with a police service dog. The dog bit Hawkins on the upper thigh. The dog fell through the floor and on to a balcony. However, the man was able to hang on and climbed back into a crawl space.

Police officers must have been getting impatient for their lunch break. Instead of waiting for Hawkins to come out of the crawl space on his own ... they made a command decision to pull out their taser guns and fire at the unarmed, defenseless man.

An ambulance picked up Hawkins to treat the dog bite.
"He walked over to the ambulance and got in [the vehicle]," said the victim's brother, Greg Hawkins.
Michael Hawkins died shortly after. His brother says he saw the body and the taser hit his brother near the heart. Greg Hawkins says Springfield police went too far while trying to arrest the man.
"I don't think police should have used that kind of force on him," said Michael's brother Greg. "Where was he going to go?".
It should be interesting to see the autopsy report in this taser-related death. It appears that the police use their taser guns as a weapon of convenience rather than in situations where they are in fear for their life. What is the point of having a use of force continuum policy if police in Springfield MO and elsewhere don't feel compelled to follow it?

Villagers, the penalty for refusing to come out of a crawl space in a hotel should not be death. Yet, here we are again ... for our weekly taser-related death in America.

When will the madness end?

Madison: 'We Have to Quit Apologizing for Being Black!'

Roger Madison, Jr. is the owner of I think that his commentary is powerful in a number of ways. I'm interested in your take:

Last week, the Congressional Black Caucus asked President Obama to give more consideration to the extreme crisis affecting Black communities all over the country. In a press interview Obama bluntly said that he would not propose any special initiatives for Blacks. Obama's sharp retort was in direct response to questions about how he'd solve a glaring problem and a glaring demand from the Caucus. The problem is the astronomical high unemployment rate for Blacks, especially young Black males. Latest job figures show joblessness for young Black males matches and in some parts of the country tops the unemployment rate at the height of the 1930s Great Depression.

The members of the CBC went away quietly, with a few idle threats, but no real demands to be heard. They seemed to accept the Obama administration notion that "a rising tide lifts all ships."

Who then will stand up and fight for a better outcome for Black Americans? There is a lobby and caucus for every cause in our society. Yet, when the outcomes are assessed, we are always the least of those who benefit -- from housing programs, health care initiatives, education, and jobs. Why is that?

As I listen and read about the challenges we face as Black people, I am amazed that each step we take forward is accompanied by at least one apology for Black unity. We have to quit doing that. Perhaps we are affected by post traumatic stresses of slavery, or suffering identity crises, or feeling guilty about our "affirmative action position," or feel we are the undeserving beneficiary of a set-aside program, or that we don't belong and just got over because of a handout. Whatever the case, we need to examine our situation and formulate a way to move more of us forward without apology.

Among the factors militating against our unity are the countless apologies. We don't want to seem to be too militant; we don't want to be accused of reverse discrimination, or racism; we don't want to seem ungrateful to our mainstream supporters; we don't want to appear to be separatists; we don't want to be accused of the same bias of our oppressors; we must treat others equal, even though we are treated unfairly. Often we make these apologies in subtle ways that we don't even recognize, and therefore, our progress is limited. Instead of aggressively pursuing gains, we apologize for asking for too much, and make exceptions for the high achievers. So, when Blacks make progress in corporate America, they don't aggressively seek to mentor and develop other Blacks. They view themselves as "first achievers" and as exceptions, not as pathfinders and conduits for others. That would be reverse discrimination, God forbid!

As we take stock of our progress:
  • We have a Black President.
  • We have 2 Black Governors.
  • We have 5 Black CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies.
  • The Congressional Black Caucus has 43 elected members of the U.S. Congress.
  • We have 643 Black Mayors.
  • We have hundreds more elected state and local officials.
  • Blacks make up 13% of the U.S. population, but only 1% of the entrepreneurs.
Why then haven't we leveraged these individual success for more progress?

I grew up in the sixties when James Brown ignited us with "Say it loud, I'm Black and I'm proud!" But other voices among us said, "Don't be too loud, or too proud." And the noise subsided along with our progress. Where do these apologists come from? Why do we allow them to impede our progress?

I am tired of apologizing for being Black. Once again, let's "Say it Loud. I'm Black and I'm Proud."

After the pep rally, let's engage in some real actions to change things in our self-interests. I am looking forward to 2010 with a renewed commitment to unapologetically help improve outcomes in our virtual Black community. I invite you to join me.

Roger Madison

What are your thoughts on Mr. Madison's commentary?

December 20, 2009

Fight AIDS: The Lazarus Effect

I had a client earlier this year who hosted a symposium on the impact of HIV/AIDS on women. One of the outgrowths of that effort was creation of a HIV/AIDS Awareness groupsite that is still up and running. Most of the time the statistics and the information that we share is negative. AIDS is killing folks at a rapid rate all over the world.

I'm pleased to see a good news message for once. Did you know that AIDS medicine is giving people the opportunity of a future where once there was no hope?

Treatment costs around 40 cents a day.

The results are nothing short of miraculous.

Someone on death's door can be brought back to life. In as little as 90 days.

This transformation is called the Lazarus Effect.

I encourage all villagers to send President Obama a holiday card asking him to give a gift to the world and support the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The Global Fund has already saved 4.9 million lives in just 6 years and if we can convince President Obama to take action, we can make sure that millions more of the world's poorest people survive these deadly, but treatable diseases and are able to live healthy, productive lives.

We can make a difference!

December 19, 2009

Barack Obama Meets His Half-Brother, Mark Ndesandjo, in China

I was glad to see that President Barack Obama took some time while he was in China last week to meet with his half-brother, Mark Ndesandjo. [SOURCE]

Before President Obama headed to a formal dinner with China's President Hu Jintao, he set aside time to see his half brother and Ndesandjo's wife, who had flown up from the southern boomtown of Shenzhen where they live. The two last met in January when Ndesandjo attended Obama's inauguration as a family guest.

"My big brother, you know I think he was on his way to see the president of China. ... He came directly off the plane, changed some clothes and then came down and saw us. And he just gave me a big hug. And it was so intense. I'm still over the moon on it. I am over the moon. And my wife. She is his biggest fan, and I think she is still recovering," he said with a laugh.
The two last met in January when Ndesandjo attended Obama's inauguration in Washington, D.C., as a family guest.

The two brothers and Ndesandjo's wife, a native of Henan, China, had a long chat.

"All I can say is, we talked about family, and it was very powerful because when he came in through that door, and I saw him and I hugged him, and he hugged me and hugged my wife. It was like we were continuing a conversation that had started many years ago," Ndesandjo said.
The two men did not grow up together. Ndesandjo's mother, Ruth Nidesand, was Barack Obama Sr.'s third wife. President Obama's father had been a Kenyan exchange student who met his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, a Kansas native, when they were in school in Hawaii. The two separated two years after he was born.

The senior Obama later met Ndesandjo's mother as a graduate student at Harvard University, and the two returned to live in Kenya, where Mark and his brother, David, were born and grew up. David later died in a motorcycle accident.

Obama's mother went on to marry an Indonesian man and he spent part of his young life in Jakarta. His sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, is half-Indonesian and her husband is Chinese-Canadian.

Since 2001, Ndesandjo has been living in the booming southern Chinese city of Shenzhen near Hong Kong and earns a living as a marketing consultant. For most of that time, he has maintained a low profile, with few people knowing his connection to the U.S. president.

But two weeks ago, he went public to launch a new novel, a semi-autobiographical book called "Nairobi to Shenzhen" that features a protagonist who is the son of a Jewish mother and an abusive father from Kenya.

President Obama indicated in a recent CNN interview that he hadn't read the book yet. Villagers may recall that the president also wrote about his father, who abandoned him as a child, in his best-selling memoir.

Ndesandjo's book seeks to raise awareness about domestic violence. His father beat him and his mother when they were living in Kenya, Ndesandjo said. Obama Sr. died in an automobile accident in 1982 at age 46.

"For a long time, I had serious, serious reservations about using that name (Obama) because of the hurt I experienced," he said. Though he wanted to maintain his privacy, he decided to write the novel because "there are certain things you can do and you really should do because you know it will help people."
Villagers, we are blessed to have a president with such a 'rainbow coalition' family tree. I think that it is cool that President Obama took time to visit his brother. What say u?

December 18, 2009

Joe Lieberman Sucks ... I mean Socks

It breaks my heart to see President Obama's approval ratings taking a nosedive as a result of inaction by the US Senate on health care reform bill. I keep reminding myself that Obama is a smart brother with a vision ... and that he isn't deterred by the small stuff. However, watching Sen. Joe Lieberman hold health care reform hostage is hard to stomach.

Villagers, do you think that President Obama is going to pull a rabbit out of the hat and salvage a health care reform bill?

Keeping It Real With Michael Steele

Old School Friday: The Whispers

This blog has been MIA from the Old School Friday meme over the past few weeks. I'm not certain that I'm on-topic with this week's OSF theme. However, we are entering into the final week before Christmas and I wanted to share my favorite ol' school Christmas song. Do any of y'all remember hearing this song ... originally written and performed by Donny Hathaway ... when it was sung by The Whispers?

That's my favorite Christmas song. What's yours?

December 17, 2009

Lakeesha Alert: Mitrice Richardson Case is Treated as a Homicide

Villagers may recall that we issued a Lakeesha Alert for Mitrice Richardson, 24, over three months ago. Richardson disappeared after being released from the Lost Hills sheriff's station jail for her arrest on suspicion of not paying her bill at a Malibu restaurant.

Her case is now being treated as a homicide. Sheriff Lee Baca ordered a homicide investigation into the disappearance of Mitrice Richardson although he does not necessarily believe she is dead.

"He has declared it a homicide investigation," Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for Baca. "But by opening up a homicide investigation, it does allow the sheriff's department to put some of our top investigators on the case."
Richardson's family had been campaigning for the sheriff to open up the case as a homicide investigation.

Villagers -- do you think that there is a happy ending for this missing person case in our future?

December 16, 2009

Taser Death: Linda Hicks (Toledo OH)

Toledo police officers Rebecca Kenney, 34, and Diane Chandler, 33, shot 62-year old Linda Hicks four times, twice in the head, with their taser gun. [SOURCE]

The taser gun was used in 'drive stun' mode. The taser, fired by Officer Chandler misfired, the barbs didn't shoot out, so Officer Chandler connected her taser directly to Linda Hicks ... this type of contact is known as 'drive stun' ... driving the taser gun into physical contact with the intended subject.

Linda Hicks died immediately.

One would think that this elderly woman must have been robbing a bank or running away from a bicycle traffic stop or something truly evil. One would be wrong. Linda Hicks was a mentally-ill woman laying down in bed when the police arrived. Now she's dead.

The woman who cares for mentally ill people in her home, Tanya Murphy, called 911 earlier in the evening when Mrs. Hicks became agitated. Murphy told the 911 operator that Ms. Hicks had a history of schizophrenia and was not taking her medication. Ms. Murphy had difficulty discussing the incident yesterday and would only say: "She came at me with the scissors."

Gloria Wright, who went to school with Ms. Hicks, said she believed the woman could have been subdued without lethal force. "They could have shut the door," she said. "They could have shot her in the leg."

Toledo police chief Mike Navarre shared the following description of the taser-related killing:

"They were told basically that this Linda Hicks had not been taking her medication, had been threatening people, was acting up, was agitated, and, we are told, she had this pair of scissors in her hand that she was threatening people with, so they went upstairs," the chief said.

"The bedroom door was shut; they knocked; they opened the door; Linda Hicks was laying on the bed; she had her hands under a pillow - appeared that she may have something in her hands."
Ms. Hicks refused to comply when the two female officers ordered her to show her hands. They then tried to subdue Ms. Hicks with a Taser.

The chief said Ms. Hicks then got up from the bed with the scissors in her left hand, became very agitated, and told the officers, "'I'm going to kill you or you are going to have to kill me.'"

"Officer Chandler and Officer Kenney both indicated that Linda Hicks advanced toward Officer Chandler with scissors in a raised position … and Officer Chandler fired four times," Chief Navarre said.

Both officers are off duty and will be on administrative leave. The chief said the investigation would take three to four weeks.

A mentally-ill 62-year old woman is in the morgue today. Something is seriously wrong when the police use their taser guns instead of commonsense. That is my initial thought. What say u?

December 15, 2009

Taser Autopsy: Edward Buckner (Chattanooga TN)

Sometimes I think that powers-that-be feel that we are Boo Boo the Fool. Boo Boo used to fall for all the wacky statements made by Yogi the Bear. The Hamilton County Medical Examiner's office released the autopsy for 53-year old Edward Buckner earlier today. Villagers may recall that Mr. Buckner was shocked THREE TIMES by a rogue cop the day after Thanksgiving. Buckner died moments after the third time that 50,000 volts of electricity were pumped through his body.

So, what did the coroner, Dr. F.K. King conclude in his autopsy report?

Dr. King says that Mr. Buckner died of NATURAL CAUSES: "In my opinion the taser event did not cause the death or make significant contribution to the death. At autopsy there were no significant injuries or signs of foul play."
'NATURAL CAUSES'?!? Yeah, just call me Boo Boo the Fool.

Anyhow, you can read the entire Medical Examiner's Report.

Erlanger, where the taser-killing took place, has remained largely silent on the incident, saying that out of respect to all parties involved they won't comment on an ongoing criminal investigation. This afternoon, they released the following statement:

"With full recognition that this was an unfortunate and tragic event, we now know the results of the medical examiner's report and can now move forward and complete our own review. Once we have had the opportunity to study the full report from the medical examiner, as well as the results of the CPD investigation, we will complete a thorough internal review of this incident and respond accordingly."
I hope that somebody in the powers-that-be ivory tower get a little more honest in their reviews and investigations. 'Natural Causes' ain't gonna fly ... after all, WE AIN'T Boo-Boo-the-Fool!

Taser Death: Edward Buckner (Chattanooga TN)

Edward "Eddie" Buckner, 53, was a man facing hard times. He recently lost his job, his house and he was depressed. He was being treated at Erlanger Hospital for dehydration due to diabetes. After treatment the the folks at Erlanger Hospital were releasing him to Moccasin Bend mental health facility.

When it was time to leave, his wife, Alice Buckner, says he told her he just wanted to go home. "He simply did not want to go back to Moccasin Bend," Buckner says."
Police say while they were trying to put Buckner in the van, he got combative with Erlanger Hospital and Hamilton County corrections officers. They wound up shocking him with a Taser. Once they subdued him, officers then loaded the 53-year-old into the van. But when they got to Moccasin Bend, Buckner was unresponsive. Officers drove him back to Erlanger. He was pronounced dead.

Two of the officers involved in the incident at Erlanger have checkered pasts with the Chattanooga Police Department.

Shane Webb, the same officer accused of shocking Buckner with a Taser, was fired in 2005 for using a Taser to stun two people while they were handcuffed. Leigh Noorbergen left CPD while on suspension for arresting a woman for no reason. Both wound up with new jobs as Erlanger officers.

"I told him bye, i loved him and that was the last time i talked to him," his wife says. "Y'all have to show me a camera, show my husband standing up there fighting with them before I believe them," Buckner says, fighting back tears.

African American Film Critics Association Selects 'Precious' as Top Film of 2009

Villagers will recall that this blog participated in an interview with Morgan Freeman about his role in 'Invictus'. We are proud to report that Mr. Freeman was selected as Best Actor 2009 for his role in that film!

The African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) named 'Precious' as the Best Picture of 2009. Directed by Lee Daniels, the Lionsgate release captured a majority vote by the organization, which is comprised of African American media professionals from across the nation. Founded in 2003, AAFCA announced this year’s honors at its first live event last night in Los Angeles.

Nicole Beharie earned AAFCA recognition as Best Actress 2009 for 'American Violet.' With the first unanimous vote in an acting category in the organization’s history, Mo’Nique was selected Best Supporting Actress for 'Precious.' Anthony Mackie earned Best Supporting Actor recognition for his performance in 'The Hurt Locker.' Lee Daniels was named Best Director for 'Precious,' with a tie for Best Screenplay between Ron Clements, Rob Edwards, John Musker for 'The Princess & The Frog' and Geoffrey Fletcher for 'Precious.'

In 2009, the film community produced a dazzling array of performances from African-American talent both in front of and behind the camera,” states Gil Robertson IV, AAFCA Co-Founder. “This year’s selections give a strong indication that the film community is becoming more committed to a wider range of stories that entertain and educate.”
AAFCA bestows the Special Achievement Award to Michael Jackson, whose seminal film 'This Is It' captured a lifetime of exemplary creative expression.

The organization’s Top Ten list of film honors includes “Up In The Air,” “The Hurt Locker” and “Good Hair.”

The films selected for 2009 reflect a fascinating combination of work that both entertains and addresses themes and issues of cultural importance,” remarks AAFCA President, Wilson Morales, editor of
The African American Film Critics Association’s Top Ten Films of 2009 are as follows in order of distinction:
  1. Precious
  2. The Princess and The Frog
  3. Up In The Air
  4. The Hurt Locker
  5. This Is It
  6. American Violet
  7. Goodbye Solo
  8. Medicine for Melancholy
  9. Good Hair
  10. Up
  • Best Actor - Morgan Freeman, “Invictus
  • Best Actress - Nicole Beharie, “American Violet
  • Best Supporting Actress - Mo’Nique, “Precious
  • Best Supporting Actor - Anthony Mackie, “The Hurt Locker
  • Best Director - Lee Daniels, “Precious
  • Best Screenplay (tie) - Geoffrey Fletcher, "Precious" and R. Clements, R. Edwards, J. Musker, "The Princess & The Frog"
  • Special Achievement - Michael Jackson
Villagers, I have to admit that I haven't seen vast majority of the winning films. I plan to add all of them to my Netflix queue. I am grateful that AAFCA honors excellence in cinema by creating awareness for films with universal appeal to Black communities, while emphasizing film about the Black experience and those produced, written, directed and starring performers of African descent.

Do you think that these 2009 award winners are right? Did AAFCA miss anything?

December 14, 2009

Taser Death: Douglas Boucher (Mason OH)

Douglas Boucher, 39, was killed by tasers in suburban Cincinnati after a struggle that occurred less than a mile from his home. Mason police officers Daniel Fry and Sean McCormick jolted 50,000 volts of electricity from their taser guns into Boucher after he was involved in a crash at a local gas station. The man died just minutes later. [SOURCE]

Mason officers Fry and McCormick, who stopped at the station for drinks just after 11 p.m., say Boucher started harassing the store clerk. She asked officers for help after he allegedly made several profane sexual requests. She told officers Boucher made the same advances Saturday night.

The patrol officers, Daniel Fry and Sean McCormick, ordered Boucher outside.

Once outside, police said, he became combative. When they tried to handcuff Boucher, officers said he wrestled away, hitting Fry over the head with his cuffed hand and chasing after the station attendant. Fry was treated and released for his injury.

After one unsuccessful try, McCormick stunned Boucher with his gun. He hit the pavement "hard" and stopped breathing.

Officers performed CPR before a Mason EMS squad rushed him to West Chester Medical Center. Emergency crews were unable to revive him.

Butler County Coroner Richard Burkhardt said the autopsy has not been completed. He did not issue a preliminary cause of death.

Both Fry and McCormick have been placed on paid administrative leave. They’ve been with the department three years.

The department has no plans to change its Taser policy, and the Mason police chief says that it does not appear McCormick violated department rules. Mason officers, who all have carried X26 Tasers since Spring 2007, have never had any problems or deaths after using the devices, officials said.

Boucher was a musician who played bass for a couple of local bands including Hellcat Alley. Reached at their home in Marion, Ind., Boucher’s parents declined comment, saying they were still trying to learn all the details.

"I don’t even know what happened yet,” said Ernest Boucher, 68. "I know what they say, but I don’t know what happened."
Douglas Boucher has an 8-year-old daughter, Kathryn, who lives in Mason with his former wife and her husband. The couple gently broke the news of her father’s death to the girl on Monday morning.

"Our daughter was his light and inspiration and they enjoyed their visits tremendously. Today is a sad day for her," said Sheryl Olszewski, Boucher’s former wife. He was a very passionate person – passionate about his daughter, his music and living life fully," she said.
Boucher’s ex-wife did not address the incident at the gas station but did add: "I know of no drug abuse."

Villagers, this time is different. Mr. Boucher was not a criminal. He was not on drugs. He was not in an excited state of delirium. He was just a bloke who made an inappropriate pass at the wrong time and in the wrong place. The penalty for inappropriate sexual comments (WORDS) should never be death.

Something is horribly wrong with the way that tasers are being used around the nation. Too many people are dying.

What say u?

Family Accuses Roseville Police of Excessive Force in Taser-Killing of Paul Martinez

The family of Paul Martinez publically protested his taser-related death. [VIDEO] Martinez's family held a protest outside the jail Sunday, holding signs accusing police officers of using excessive force against a man who was disabled in one arm. [SOURCE]
"We want to know, why was my ex-brother-in-law Tasered?" said Alison Watts. "He only has one arm, he's legally crippled, he had an SSI case pending. He was shot a year ago."

Martinez's family acknowledged his drug use and arrests, but said his past shouldn't turn the focus away from his death in police custody.
"He shouldn't have had meth on him, but because he had a drug problem he deserved to die?" Alison said.

Top 10 Villagers of the Year

This blog tracked the top Black blogs for a number of years. We no longer have the Black Blog Rankings ... however, soulclap to Bookerista for giving us the idea of creating another list of the top Black bloggers out there. We've opened up the process to all villagers!

Which Black online presence - activist, blogger, expert, Facebook analyst, journalist, pundit or Twitterer - do you believe stood out this year and should be on the Top 10 list? Who made a special mark? Who do you believe should get special shine as 2009 Villager Of The Year? [NOTE: the Villager himself is not eligible!]

Put your nominations in the comments thread below, or email them to