January 29, 2011

We All Shall Be Free! (Jasiri X)

LYRICS by Jasiri X

Revolution's not an act it's an actual fact
an idea that burns until it turns blacker than black
the truth bearer new era like the back of ya hat
the true terror who'll scare ya without packing a gat
through the barrier one carrier then it spreads like malaria
bury us with no fear of oppression every tear is a weapon
When God hears it a blessin

Every tyrant is destined to die that's connected to violent aggression
if arrested remain silent when questioned the wisest lesson
Freedom's the highest expression of life in the present
that's why worldwide the riots are spreading
A righteous message like God set the fires from heaven
Uprising we done crying the young riding
when people get the power dictators go run hiding
we just trying to live like human beings
when we protest in peace police shoot up the scene
look at your computer screen you can see it right through the stream
Let our forming be a warning to every brutal regime

It's a simple math equation it's scientific OK
you put the power in the hands of the people its liberation
and even if you take it away its multiplication
repression breeds resistance and this is our situation
I'm an expert on exploitation mater of ghetto misery
a miracle of modern enslavement given our history
the fire through the wire bullets bombs and the liars
the snitches he counterinsurgency mad vicious
they kill us the freedom fighters but can't kill the revolution
they put crack in our community laughing like it's amusing
but I don't see nothing funny the crackers that's on the money
they only wanna keep us mis-educated like Sonny

They see how we never give up and wonder just how we do it
f#ck a roach we're the scarabs the beetle up out the ruins
you can hear it in our music is resilience part of our experience
you can call it the freedom experiment
you hear it but do you feel it
either join with it or fear it
but I want it in my lifetime period.

January 28, 2011

Our Alkebulan Journey: Algeria

Originally Posted: 1/23/2008
Villagers, we continue our journey to learn more about Alkebulan. I promised to share some basic information on all 49 African countries. If you have insights or experiences or knowledge to share on this journey ... please do so!

Algeria is the second country in our online journey.

Algeria is situated along the North African coast, bordered to the east by Tunisia and Libya, to the southeast by Niger, to the southwest by Mali, and to the west by Mauritania and Morocco. It is Africa’s second-largest country, with 750 miles of coastline.

Along the coastal strip are the main towns, fertile land, good food, beach resorts and 90% of the population. Further south lies the area of the Hauts Plateaux, mountains of up to 6,600 feet covered in cedar, pine and cypress forests with broad arable plains dividing the plateau. The remaining 85% of the country is the Sahara Desert in its various forms, sustaining only 500,000 people, many of whom are nomadic tribes with goat and camel herds.

There are folks from Singapore, America and the 'moor next door' living and working in Algeria. A large country, Algeria was originally inhabited by the Berbers until the Arabs conquered North Africa in the seventh century. Staying mainly in the mountainous regions, the Berbers resisted the spreading Arab influence, managing to preserve much of their language and culture until the present day. Today, Berbers make up some 20 per cent of the total population.

The history of Algeria is remarkable. Part of the Turkish Ottoman empire from the 16th century, Algeria was conquered by the French in 1830. The struggle for independence began in 1954 headed by the National Liberation Front, which came to power on independence in 1962. In the 1990s, Algerian politics was dominated by the struggle involving the military and Islamic militants.

In 1992, a general election won by an Islamic party (Islamic Salvation Front) was annulled, marking the beginning of a bloody campaign which saw the slaughter of more than 150,000 people. An amnesty in 1999 led many rebels to lay down their arms. Violence has largely abated, although a state of emergency remains in place. In 2001, the Government agreed to a series of demands by the minority Berber community, after months of unrest involving Berber youths pressing for greater cultural and political recognition.

Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem has been the head of government since 2006. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been the head of state since 1999.

Algeria Fact Sheet contains some good information such as:
  • Language: Arabic & Berber, however French is used quite often as well.
  • Capital City: Algiers (El Djezaïr)
  • Population: 34 million
  • Area: 919,595 square miles
  • Currency: 1 US Dollar = 67.19560 Algerian Dinar (as of 1/22/08)
  • Entry Requirements: Passports and visas are required for U.S. citizens traveling to Algeria.
Well, Villagers, I still hope to receive some feedback. I tried to include more photos with people this time based on feedback from the last Alkebulan Journey. We have 47 more countries in Alkebulan to go. What can I add, delete or change in future posts to make this more useful for you? In the meantime, what say u about Algeria?

January 27, 2011

Lakeesha Alert: Where is Phylicia Barnes?

We issued the Lakeesha Alert earlier this month. Baltimore Police are baffled by the lack of clues leading them to the safe return of Phylicia Barnes. The 17-year-old honor student’s birthday came and went while she has been missing.

Phylicia, who turned 17 on January 12, went missing on December 28, while visiting her college-age half-sister, 28, in Baltimore for the holidays. According to police, she had gone out at around 1:30 p.m. to grab a bite to eat and possibly get a hair cut. Authorities have stated they believe she was abducted.

Phylicia’s cell phone is off, she hasn’t used her debit card, and she has not updated her Facebook page, since her disappearance.  Phylicia is an honor student at a charter school and was set to graduate a year early due to her stellar academic record.

Police focus on 12 people who were of the last to see the young beauty, but so far no one has been named a suspect or person of interest.

Tipline: 1-855-223-0033
Reward: $10,000
Missing Since: 12/28/10
Missing From: Baltimore, MD
Classification: Endangered Missing
Age at Disappearance: 16
Height: 5’8”
Weight: 120 lbs
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Brown
Identifying marks: Tattoo of a rose on lower right leg
-Navy blue hooded pea coat
-Turquoise thermal shirt
-Blue jeans & white slippers/boots
-Carrying a caramel-colored purse

January 25, 2011

Lakeesha Alert: Chioma Gray Spotted in Mexico

Chioma Gray has been missing for over three years. Federal authorities have told her family that a woman's body found charred beyond recognition in Tijuana was Chioma.

The family doesn't believe that Chioma is dead. In fact, they think that she may be alive and living in Mexico. The family believes that the man who abducted Chioma may be getting help from his parents. [SOURCE]

Villagers recall that Chioma was last seen being hustled into a stolen car in December 2007. According to witnesses, the car was driven by Andrew Joshua Tafoya, 20, who had been released from jail the night before. Tafoya, a former football player at St. Bonaventure High School and Ventura College, had just finished serving a seven-month sentence for having unlawful sex with a minor, Chioma, who was 14 at the time.

The last trace of the two was caught on a screening camera at the Mexican border, which showed the license plate of the stolen car.

Private investigator Chuck Hookstra, a former Oxnard assistant police chief, says that he found the stolen car parked in a compound with flat tires near Acapulco, a resort city in southern Mexico.
It looked like it’d been there for three years,” said Hookstra.
He also found where the two lived. They apparently worked at a small vacation spot — he taught snorkeling, and she was a waitress. Hookstra said he talked to neighbors and uncovered information that Tafoya received help from his family.

This week, Chioma’s mother filed a federal lawsuit against Tafoya, his father and other members of his family. Hookstra found leads that suggest Chioma and Tafoya are either still in Mexico near the town of Ixtapa or perhaps in Nevada or Texas. Hookstra said there are also indications they stayed in San Antonio, with a relative of Tafoya.
None of the family members were forthcoming with any information,” Hookstra said in a sworn declaration. “Based on my 30-year career of law enforcement and investigation, I believe that the family members of (Tafoya) do in fact, know where (he) is and have been providing him money to assist him in concealing Chioma Gray from authorities.
This was one of the first cases of a missing young Black child that we tracked on this blog. I hope it has a happy ending. If Chioma is alive ... and voluntarily staying with Tafoya ... I hope she lets contacts her Mom.

As for Tafoya? I hope he burns in hell.

January 24, 2011

Taser Lawsuit: Patrick Burns (Sangamon County, IL)

Sometimes it takes a financial jolt to get folks to change behavior. That is what the family of Patrick Burns hopes will happen to the Sangamon County Sheriff's Office. It is one of the reasons that the family has sued Sheriff Neil Williamson and several deputies, claiming that excessive force by the police led to Burns' death.
My brother is dead, and we believe as a result of flaws that exist in the system,” Richard Burns said in an interview. “If there wasn’t a wrongful death or excessive force, then 12 people can decide that — not me, not a judge.
The lawsuit seeks damages totaling more than $75,000.

Villagers may recall that Patrick Burns was tased 21 times last year when he was caught breaking into a woman's home.

Clad in underwear, Burns was outside the woman’s home sitting in a ditch when deputies arrived. Burns, an accountant for the state, had no criminal record, but he did have a history of bipolar disorder and he had cocaine in his system.

It is obvious to any reasonable person that pumping 50,000 volts of electricity 21 times will result in their death. Sangamon County coroner Susan Boone is not a 'reasonable person' as she feels that the tasers didn't kill him.

Boone ruled that Burns, 50, died from excited delirium, but his family says that she conducted an improper investigation. They are suing the coroner in an effort to get the manner of death on Burns’ death certificate changed from “undetermined” to “accidental.”

This blog thinks that the family has a strong lawsuit.
I wish that they had asked for more in damages than just $75,000. Sangamon County will end up settling this case out of court so that they don't have embarrassment of a legal loss.

January 23, 2011

Cop Who Taser-Killed Javon Rakestrau Goes Back to Work in Louisiana

Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Deputy Chris Guidry killed Javon Rakestrau on October 4 when he electrocuted him with his taser. Guidry had been on paid administrative leave while the killing was being investigated.

The Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office has completed its investigation and Deputy Chris Guidry was found to have followed all procedures properly and he is now back on his regular duties. [SOURCE]

Sheriff's officials have previously said that Rakestrau resisted the deputy and tried to run away, forcing Guidry to use his stun gun to control the situation. The police claim that the following video of the incident supports the Sheriff's Office's account.

Meanwhile, a final autopsy report on Rakestrau is not yet complete. The investigation includes a full autopsy, toxicology and microbiology tests to determine whether Rakestrau died from the effects of the Taser or from another cause.

January 22, 2011

MSNBC Cancels Countdown with Keith Olbermann

Keith Olbermann gave his final comment as the host of "Countdown With Keith Olbermann" tonight. It appears that Olbermann and MSNBC "have ended their contract". My understanding is that the two parties agreed to end the current 4-year contract. I guess the fact that MSNBC suspended Olbermann a few months ago should have been a clue that everything wasn't hunky-dory on the "Countdown" set.

I enjoyed Keith Olbermann's show. More accurately, I used to enjoy the first 20 minutes of the show. I thought that he gave some insightful looks at the political shenanigans of the day. The last 40 minutes of the show seemed to be more political humor than political analysis ... so I didn't care for that portion of the show as much.

What will be your lasting memory of Keith Olbermann and his MSNBC show?

January 21, 2011

Old School Friday * Rick James

The theme for this week's Old School Friday meme is It's Cold Outside. I can relate to that theme ... especially today. The entire city of Cincinnati shut down today as a result of a snowstorm. I stayed in the crib with my centralized heat for the entire day! However, I couldn't really come up with a non-Christmas song that reflects the temperature outside. So, I went in a different direction.

How many of you remember Rick James and his tribute to a cold-blooded woman? Evidently, Rick James wrote the song in memory of his former girlfriend Linda Blair ... famous for her role in the Exorcist movie.

Dave Chapelle used the song's title in his recurring comedy sketch about Rick James.

January 20, 2011

Sasha Obama Respects the Power of Diversity More Than Ohio Gov. John Kasich

It's good to be the king ... and it ain't bad being the First Daughter either! I see that 9-year old Sasha Obama was able to practice her fledgling Chinese with China president Hu Jintao during his visit to the White House earlier this week.

Chinese isn't a language that we had available on the school menu back in the day when I was in school ... and I don't think that my young 'uns here in the Ohio public school system have that as an option either...

...of course, our highest elected officer in Ohio doesn't go in much for diversity when it comes to languages or the people he works with. Newly-elected Governor John Kasich has managed to pick almost two-dozen people to his cabinet ... and he only wanted to work with other white folks. He hasn't selected any people of color to serve in his cabinet. You have to go back to the pre-Civil Rights days of the 1950s to find an Ohio governor who was that afraid of Black or Brown people.

Elections have consequences ... and Black people are about to learn what it means when people like Kasich and Speaker John Boehner get into office. These are folks who don't seem to want to be associated with African Americans in their workplace.

We need to keep a close eye on these folks over the next couple of years ... and I need to learn a few words of Chinese in case I ever run into young Sasha!

January 18, 2011

Good News Tuesday: Nana Yaa Kwansa - Future Face of Technology

BDPA Education and Technology Foundation (BETF) is wrote a check worth more than $10,000 from the Bemley Scholarship Fund for the first time in its 18-year history! Nana Yaa Kwansa is a truly remarkable young woman. I believe that she is the second person in the 25-year history of the BDPA high school computer competition (HSCC) who has been a member of the national HSCC championship team in four (4) different years. Yaa was a national HSCC champion in 2007-2010.

Yaa is currently a freshman at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Prior to college, Yaa attended Schaeffer Academy, a high school in Rochester Minnesota, and graduated in May 2010. Yaa joined BDPA Southern Minnesota chapter in 2005 and enrolled in their Youth Computer Training Program (YCTP) which is a subset of the Student Information Technology Education and Scholarship (SITES) program that exists nationwide. Yaa was an alternate on the silver-medal HSCC team in 2006.  However, she never earned less than a gold medal once she was selected to participate on the national HSCC team from Rochester MN.

Here is Yaa's story in her own words:

When I joined the BDPA Southern Minnesota chapter and enrolled in Youth Computer Training Program (YCTP) in fall 2005, little did I know what was ahead of me. A number of high school students meet in a rigorous computer programming class for 3 hours each Saturday for about 8 months throughout the year. The top 5 are selected to represent the chapter in a national competition.

In my first year participating in YCTP, I did not excel in class, but I quickly learned every web technology that was taught, including HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP, MySQL relational databases and others. By the end of the second year, I could create full-fledged database driven web applications. I was a little nervous in class because most of the students were older than my age. However, I was proud to be among the 5 students selected each year for four consecutive years to represent the chapter.

In 2007, not only did I return to class, but I personally recruited a diverse group of new students to join the YCTP.
I approached the YCTP class that year with a new resolve, committed not only to earning a spot on the competition team, but also helping my fellow classmates to succeed. 2007 was my first year on the HSCC team, and I was given the opportunity to learn various roles for the competition, serving as the database administrator, technical writer, and lead tester. To prepare for the national competition, we had a boot camp. My fellow teammates and I worked several weeks throughout the summer, practicing computer programming, project management, presentation and teamwork. The coordinators and the volunteers were excellent and usually kept the training interesting and alive.

The National HSCC Championship was held in Washington DC that year, (and other years) we competed against over 20 other chapters from much larger cities including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Throughout a 2-day national competition, culminating in a 7-hour web programming project, our hard work (usually) paid off and the Southern Minnesota team earned the 1st place award. It was a great experience for me. With that experience, the competitions in Atlanta, Raleigh and Philadelphia were not different, and we maintained the 1st position.

I started YCTP as an unskilled ‘computer programmer’ making appearances and putting in a few hours weekly. However, I have to say that I ended up a different person with leadership skills, human relations skills, passion for making a difference, having the sense of satisfaction, and other virtues. With the kind of commitment the coordinators and volunteers demonstrated in training and supporting the class, I have also come to understand the value and the importance of giving back to the community. The impact of feeling just a little bit more positive about life, and the spirit of generosity – giving back unconditionally to others, even to strangers as well.

I hope that you will share your thoughts in the COMMENTS area for Nana Yaa!  More importantly, I hope that you see the value in helping us grow the Dr. Jesse Bemley Scholarship Fund ... we can only keep these scholarships going out in the future if you make an online donation today!

Oh yeah -- for those BDPA historians out there -- Brittany Middleton was a member of the HSCC teams trained by BDPA Memphis who won national HSCC championships in four different years (2001-2004).  Brittany graduated from University of Tennessee Knoxville and she now has a job teaching.   Our understanding is that only Brittany and Nana Yaa have the distinction of being 4-time national HSCC champions!

January 17, 2011

BDPA | Decade in Review (2001-2010)

I have been a member of BDPA since the late 1980s.  BDPA is a national professional association that seeks to advance the careers of African Americans in the information technology industry from the classroom to the boardroom.  As such I was very pleased to see that  Perry Carter and the folks at bdpatoday took time to create this slideshow commemorating the efforts of BDPA over the past decade. The slideshow features photos taken at local, regional and national events over the past decade. It pays tribute to BDPA corporate sponsors and shows the impact that the organization is having in a wide range of information technology industry niches.

Please share your thoughts as you watched this video montage of the past decade!

January 16, 2011

Have You Seen 'The Heart Specialist' with Wood Harris, Zoe Saldana and Brian White?

There is a new movie out in the theaters that features a number of African American actors and actresses. It's called, The Heart Specialist. It is a comedy about the personal lives of two young African American doctors in South Florida. The movie was made in 2006 ... however, it didn't get aired until 2011. I suspect that the fact that one of the actresses in the movie is Avatar's Zoe Saldana is a big reason that the movie is getting some play now.

The movie centers around the portrayal of two very different Black characters, one from the street and one from the elite, who are both shown to be completely credible professionals. One of them is a graduate of Harvard, played by Brian White. The other character is from the street, had to go to Mexico to get his degree, and is played Wood Harris, who is best known for being the drug dealer Avon Barksdale on THE WIRE.

This blog and others argue for the need to have more movies written and focused on the African American experience on the big screen. Not every movie is going to be destined for the Academy Awards ... but, that is a'ight. We still need to have more opportunities for Black folks in the movies. For that reason ... I want to ensure that all 'villagers' are aware of this particular movie!

January 15, 2011

John Boehner Doesn't Like People of Color

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us to judge a man by his actions ("content of his character"). I'm applying that logic to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and the judgment is a simple one -- Boehner doesn't like people of color. He appears to go out of his way to avoid any prolonged interaction with anyone that isn't Caucasian.

I began to notice the lack of racial comfort in Boehner last week when he turned down the offer to ride in Air Force One with the President, First Lady and others to the memorial being held to honor the fallen from the tragedy in Tucson. It didn't make sense to me that Boehner wouldn't go with President Obama to represent the nation at this seminal event of the new year.

In Tucson we witnessed a remarkable event:
A Republican, Catholic judge was killed going to the meeting of a Democratic Jewish Congresswoman who was saved by a Mexican-American intern and successfully operated on by a Korean-American surgeon. The dead were later eulogized by an African American President.
Where was Boehner at the time? He was hobnobbing with some white Republican leaders at some cocktail party. Boehner doesn't have a problem spending quality time with white folks ... especially if there is a cocktail included!

It is worth noting that the cocktail party was being held as part of an effort to unseat GOP chairman Michael Steele ... a Black man ... from the office he held over the past two years.

Today, we learn that Boehner is turning down an invitation to a state dinner being hosted in honor of Chinese president Hu Jintao and his wife. Boehner is second-in-succession for the presidency ... and he doesn't think it important to participate in this private dinner with the leader of the largest nation on the planet?

I thought perhaps Boehner just doesn't like to wear a tuxedo ... but, then I see that he didn't have any problem going to black-tie state dinner hosted by former president George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush a few years ago in honor of Queen Elizabeth II.

Boehner may joke about 'Being Black' ... but, the reality is that Boehner's rebuke of the African American family in the White House and our nation's guests from China shows a disturbing trend.

I think it is fair to say that Speaker John Boehner doesn't like people of color.   What say u?

January 14, 2011

What Was Your Favorite Car in a Television Series?

It is that time of year when awards are bestowed upon movie and television stars. Golden Globes. Academy Awards. Emmy Awards. The one category that never seems to be recognized is 'Best Performance by an Automobile in a Television Series'. We have decided to rectify that oversight in this blog post!
  1. 1986 Ferrari Testarossa (Miami Vice) - I was a big fan of Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs when the cop show first aired in 1984. I went so far as to wear a white suit, teal shirt, and loafers without socks when I went out to the club with my friends. Didn't everybody? Anyhow, the one thing I could never replicate was the car that Sonny Crockett (played by Don Johnson) used to cruise around town whenever he went undercover. Of course, the first two years of the television series the car was a 'fake' Ferrari. But, Ferrari sales increased so much over those first two years that the company provided the television series with two real ones! Tubbs used to rock a blue Cadillac in the show ... but, it never had the panache of the Ferrari.
  2. 1980 Ferrari 308 GTS (Magnum P.I.) - Magnum was a private investigator in Hawaii who seemed to truly live the good life. He was able to stay in a private estate owned by some mysterious rich guy named 'Robin'. He walked around in shorts and hung out with two of his Vietnam war buddies. The best aspect of his remarkable life on the island was his unlimited access to Robin's red Ferrari. Magnum could be seen all over the island in this convertible sports car ... and I used to wonder what it would be like to have one myself back in the day!
  3. 1978 Pontiac Firebird Espirit (Rockford Files - This was a realistic show in my view. After all, I tend to own a car for up to 10 years ... and private investigator Jim Rockford (played by James Garner) seemed to have the same Firebird for the entire run of the series (1974-1980). It used to amaze me that Rockford could fit into the front seat of that car. He was a tall guy and the Firebird always seemed so low to the ground. But, if you are living in a trailer out on a beach parking lot ... I guess that you don't have many options when it comes to the car you drive.
  4. 1976 Ford Gran Torino (Starsky & Hutch) - Do you remember the red and white muscle car used by in the 1975-1979 television series, Starsky & Hutch? The car would be used at least once in every episode powering down some back-alley in an effort to catch the bad guys. The only other character seen more in the show as I recall was their snitch, Huggy Bear.
  5. 1959 Jaguar Mark II (Inspector Morse) - My favorite car in a television series isn't known by most villagers. This red luxury car was the pride of Inspector Morse (played by John Thaw) in the BBC television series that ran from 1897 to 2000. Morse is a sullen detective in Oxford who solves crimes while having a drink and solving difficult crossword puzzles. I have absolutely nothing in common with this upper-class white guy who listens to classical music at home ... but, I do enjoy his Jaguar ride!
What were your favorite cars on television?

January 13, 2011

Our Alkebulan Journey: Morocco

Originally Posted: 1/14/2008

Villagers, my blog is dedicated to providing information that is uplifting for people of African descent. However, many of us here in America know very little about the land of our ancestors. I promised to share some basic information on all 49 African countries. Let's all learn some things together. If you have insights or experiences or knowledge to share on this journey ... please do so!

Our first country is Morocco.

The Kingdom of Morocco is a country of 386,000 square miles in northwest Africa. It has a long coastline on the Atlantic Ocean that reaches past the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea. It borders Algeria to the east, though the Algerian border is closed, Western Sahara to the south and Mauritania, and the Atlantic Ocean to its north and west. Morocco claims ownership of Western Sahara and has administered most of the territory since 1975. The status of Western Sahara is disputed, pending a United Nations referendum.

The full Arabic name of the country translates to The Western Kingdom. Al-Maghreb (meaning The West) is commonly used in Arabic. The name Morocco in most other languages originates from the name of the former capital, Marrakech (meaning "Country of God" in the Berber language).

Morocco became a French protectorate by the signing of the Treaty of Fez on March 30, 1912. It remained a Kingdom until it achieved independence in 1956. It then recovered Tangier, formerly an international city. The northern area of Morocco was under a Spanish protectorate concurrently.

The relatively new capital of Morocco is Rabat. The official language is Arabic. The official currency is the Morocco Dirhams (1 Dirham = $0.13 US as of 1/15/2008). You can learn more from the Morocco Fact Sheet.

I've never been to Africa, however I was pleased to learn that Morocco does not require visas for citizens of the United States. A valid passport is sufficient for a three-month stay. It turns out that Morocco was the first nation to recognize the fledging United States in 1777 and has the oldest non-broken friendship treaty with the country, the Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship, which has been in effect since 1783. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were the American signatories. The United States legation (consulate) in Tangier, is the first property the U.S. owned abroad. It now houses the Tangier American Legation Museum. Morocco was granted Major Non-NATO ally status in June 2004 and signed with the United States and the European Union free trade agreements.

Well Villagers, I need some feedback. There are 48 more countries in Alkebulan to go. What can I add, delete or change in future posts to make this more useful for you? In the meantime, what say u about Morocco?

January 12, 2011

What The Heck is RSS?

And why should I care?

Good questions. First, here's why you should care.

Unlike getting website updates or ezines by email, RSS feeds give you absolute, 100% complete control over the situation.

You don't have to reveal your email address. If you want to stop receiving content, you don't have to request to be taken off the list.

One click, and poof the subscription is gone.

Plus, since there's no email address involved, there's no way a publisher can sell, rent or give away the means to contact you.

That's right no more spam, viruses, phishing, or identity theft. And best of all, no reason to put yourself at the mercy of the publisher's intentions.

You won't need to suffer through the legalese in the privacy policy (if there is one) looking for loopholes that will send you deeper into inbox hell. No more setting up dummy GMail accounts "just in case."

Again, if you don't like the content, you can make it disappear as fast as you can change a TV channel. With just one click.

Pretty cool, huh?

That is cool! Umm What the heck is RSS?

Alright! Now we're ready to get to that part.

RSS is a simply an Internet technology standard that allows busy people to receive updates to web-based content of interest.

You might have figured that much out by now. But basically, that's the essence of an RSS feed ... you subscribe and then receive new content automatically in your feed reader.

If you actually want to know how RSS works, click here.

What the heck is a feed reader?

You may already be using a form of feed reader, and not even realize it. If you use personalized home page services like My Yahoo or My MSN, you've got RSS capabilities built in. That's how syndicated content like news, weather and stock quotes appears on your personal page. You can also add content from any blog or other site that uses RSS to provide updates.

Other web-based tools are primarily dedicated to feed reading only. One of the most popular web-based feed readers at this point is Bloglines, and it's also free and easy to get started with.

If you use the Firefox browser, you can also receive RSS feeds from your tool bar by using the Live Bookmarks function. The next version of Internet Explorer will add this feature as well.

Finally, there are desktop-based feed readers. These function somewhat like an email program for feeds. Examples include Newsgator and Feed Demon.

If it sounds complicated, it s really not. And things will get even easier when the next version of Outlook integrates feed-reading capabilities. So, you'll have the same convenience that email subscriptions offered in the old days, without any of the terrible consequences of giving out your email address to potentially unscrupulous characters.

Sounds good. So how do I subscribe to a Feed?

First of all, look for the subscription or feed options (some bloggers make this difficult for some odd reason). You might see a variety of buttons (amusingly called chicklets).

If the site you want to subscribe to uses FeedBurner to aid in the subscription process (like Electronic Village and many other popular sites), you'll likely see the standard RSS icon, which takes you to a page that will give you an array of the most popular feed readers so you can select yours, and you'll go from there. This is the new standard RSS icon:

Sometimes there will be a chicklet for your particular reader right on the blog that will take you to the appropriate subscription page. You may see these (among others):

Add to Google

Subscribe in Bloglines

Finally, you may also see little orange buttons that say XML or RSS. Often these chicklets will take you to a page that looks like code gibberish. In this case, you simply cut and paste the page URL from your browser window and manually paste it into your feed reader subscription function.

Hopefully this last method will soon disappear, never to be seen again.

In summary: RSS solves BIG problems.

So there you have it RSS is being adopted at a phenomenal rate, because it's a good thing for everyone.

The benefit to readers is obvious. And it's good for publishers too, because we want to make sure that people feel comfortable subscribing, and that our message is not nuked by an overzealous spam filter.

If there's anything here that is confusing, or you have a question, please contact me and I'll be happy to help!

Thanks to Copyblogger for a helping hand with this tutorial.

January 10, 2011

Can Quilting Heal the Political Divisions in Washington DC?

Many people are looking for ways to tone down the rhetoric in Washington DC. Our nation needs to return to a time when people could argue passionately about their positions without demonizing their opponents.

My sister is a world-renowned quilter. She suggests that the time might be right for President Obama to call on both Democrats and Republicans to participate in a good ol' fashioned Quilting Bee. She imagines that the announcement of such a quilting bee might best be made on the Larry King Show.

Of course, my sister, Kyra Hicks, has more traditional information to share about quilting.  I encourage you to check out her other books -- Black Threads, Martha Ann's Quilt for Queen Victoria, The Liberian Flag Story & Love of Liberty Quilt or 'This I Accomplish: Harriet Powers' Bible Quilt and Others Pieces'.

January 8, 2011

Was the Taser-Killing of Ryan Bain a Homicide?

There is still no word yet on the official cause of death for Ryan Bain. It appears that the Montana State Crime Lab has completed its report on Bain's death, which occurred in October 2010, while in the custody of who died while in police custody. [SOURCE]

Bain, 31, was tased four times by police when they detained him. The police spin on the story is that Bain was resisting arrest. They don't mention that he was buck-naked and unarmed. They also don't mentioned that he was a loving father of four children.  Finally, they don't seem to understand that the penalty for resisting arrest in America should never be extra-judicial electrocution to the death.

Anyhow, the coroner plans to give the autopsy findings and toxicology results from the crime lab to County Attorney Scott Twito. Twito said he expects an inquest to be held later in January or early February at which point they'll determine an official cause of death.

The powers-that-be in Billings, Montana appear to be dragging their feet on this investigation. That is usually a sign that something ain't quite right.

January 7, 2011

Scott Sisters on Release From Mississippi Prison (VIDEO)

Jamie and Gladys Scott were physically released from Mississippi prison today. It took 16 years, but the state of Mississippi has freed the Scott sisters.

The sisters did the time for robbing a man of $11 in 1993. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour pardoned them both, with the questionable stipulation that Gladys donate her kidney to Jamie, who has needed dialysis for many years.

The Scott Sisters are moving to Pensacola, Florida, to be with their mother and children. The sisters hold no bitterness against Gov. Haley Barbour or the corrupt judicial system that put them in prison for 16 years.

"They have to pay for their actions in putting me and my sister in prison for a crime we did not commit," Jamie said.

Now, with their life sentences for armed robbery suspended, their future is uncertain. How will the Scott sisters pay for their medical care and the kidney transplant? Are the sisters even a compatible match for the kidney transplant? If not, will Gladys' conditional release be revoked by Gov. Barbour?

But, today is not a day for question. Today is a day to rejoice for the Scott Sisters, their family and all of the online activists who have been fighting this fight over the years.

Our blog didn't do as much as we could ... but, it feels good to know that we did something!

January 6, 2011

Lakeesha Alert: Phylicia Barnes, North Carolina Teenager Goes Missing in Baltimore

We are issuing a Lakeesha Alert for Phylicia Simone Barnes, a star high school student from North Carolina who went missing in Baltimore last week. The 16-year-old honor student from Monroe, N.C., was visiting her half-sister when she disappeared three days after Christmas. 

Most villagers know that we live in a world where missing teenage girls are not national news unless they have blue eyes and blonde hair. As such, we've learned not to depend on the Amber Alert system. We go straight to the Lakeesha Alert ... and we ask all of our blogging kinfolk to do what they can to spread the word.

Phylicia was last heard from December 28 when she posted a note on Facebook. She is 5'8" tall ... and a straight-A student. In fact, she finished her high school studies ahead of schedule and planned to attend college in Baltimore. 

We need to pray for Phylicia BarnesWe also need to find Phylicia Barnes.  Here is an interview conducted with Phylicia's mother.

The FBI and Baltimore police are conducting the investigation.  Police say that they obtained additional security video from the area surrounding the apartment, but it has yet to shed new light on the case. FBI helicopters have scoured the area for three days without finding any clues.
"If there's any good news, we haven't found anything yet," Baltimore Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.
Police say several people who visited the apartment are considered persons of interest, and the two likely scenarios proposed by investigators are abduction or murder.
"At this point, you hope it's an abduction," Guglielmi said.
We need to shine the spotlight on this case to ensure that all available resources in Baltimore and around the nation are galvanized to help locate this missing teenage girl. The Lakeesha Alert has been issued. Help us get the word out.

Barnes was last seen wearing a navy blue pea coat with a hood, a turquoise shirt and blue jeans, white slipper-boots and was carrying a caramel-colored purse.

Anyone with information in the case is urged to contact Baltimore Police at 443-984-7385.

January 5, 2011

Rodney Brown Lost His Cool ... and Then He Lost His Life to Taser-Happy Cleveland Police Officer

Something went horribly wrong on New Year's eve when unidentified Cleveland police officers pulled over 40-year old Rodney Brown for a routine traffic stop. A witness indicates that Brown was cooperating with police and had his hands on the back of the car. It was then the witness indicates that Brown turned and cursed at the officer asking why he stopped him.
"And the cop didn't like what he said and he walked up behind him and punched him in the back," Brown's mother Shirley recalled the man telling her.

"Rodney's the type of person, he's my son and I know him, that he's not going to take a lick from cops or no one else and he doesn't carry any weapons so that's what started the melee," she said.

"He turned around and pushed the cop and the cop tasered him in the chest," said Shirley of Rodney the youngest of her seven children.

It appears that Brown made a fatal mistake by being disrespectful to the unidentified police officer. He gave the officer an excuse to electrocute him with 50,000 volts of electricity from the taser gun.

Disrespectful words should never result in a taser gun being used. Disrespectful words should never result in a death. Something went horribly wrong in Cleveland on New Year's Eve.

January 4, 2011

NAACP Support of Scott Sisters: Damned If They Do, Damned If They Don't

The NAACP continues to struggle to regain its relevance in the Black community. Somewhere along the line the organization lost its voice. NAACP president Ben Jealous works hard to find ways to get the NAACP back in the discussion. The organization is large and has ability to get visibility from the mainstream media on occasion. Of course, because the organization is large ... it is difficult for it to be quick or nimble. As a result, the NAACP often seems to chime in towards the end of the life cycle of a problem.

The NAACP was late to the story of the Jena 6. They were late to the story of Troy Davis. And last month, the NAACP was late to the story of the Scott Sisters.

Some online activists have damned the NAACP for being glory-hounds who simply cherry-pick on issues that are already close to resolution. For example, the Scott Sisters have been imprisoned for over 16 years, yet the NAACP didn't get engaged until September 2010 in spite of a call for their support much earlier.  Evelyn Rasco, the mother of the two sisters, indicates in this radio interview with Nordette Adams that she has not heard from Ben Jealous or anyone else from the NAACP until this past week.

On the other hand, African American Pundit reports that the true hero in the Scott Sisters case is a Black freedom fighter named Nancy Lockhart. Ms. Lockhart has been suing the Internet, and her Free the Scott Sisters Blog, along with radio shows began a grassroots effort to free the Scott sisters.

I suspect that Jamie Scott and Gladys Scott are grateful to the NAACP and anyone else ... late tot he party or not ... who advocated for their release.   At the end of the day ... isn't that the point?   The publicity-hound nature of the NAACP on a national basis is self-evident.  However, would we rather have a publicity-hound NAACP advocating for good causes *or* would we rather that they be silent on those same good causes?

Is the NAACP in a case of being damned if they do and damned if they don't?

January 3, 2011

Was Frederick Jermaine Carter Lynched in Mississippi?

Frederick James Carter
America is not a post-racial nation yet. That fact is especially true in Mississippi.

Soulclap to JuJuBe for letting me know about the controversial case of Frederick Jermaine Carter.  Last month 26-year old Frederick Jermaine Carter was found hanging from an oak tree in Greenwood, Mississippi. Prior to his death, Carter’s stepfather, a painter, said he and Carter were working in Greenwood and that Carter wandered off after he was instructed to go and get some tools.

The county sheriff ruled the death a suicide and most white folks in Mississippi agreed with him. These folks note that Carter had spent eight months in the state mental hospital in 2008, and tried to kill himself by drug overdose and cutting himself.

County Coroner Debra Sanders said that the autopsy’s preliminary finding of suicide is consistent with what was observed at the scene: that “Carter dragged the frame of an old table from one side of the tree to the other, propped it against the tree trunk, and then tied himself to the lowest limb.” In addition, there were no other footprints by the tree.

Most Black folks in Mississippi disagree. After all, Greenwood is about 12 miles from Money, Miss., the place where 14-year old Emmett Till was lynched after he allegedly made remarks to a white woman. The Black community has a long memory of the horror known as lynching in America.

The NAACP and others feel that Carter was lynched. State Rep. Willie Perkins, president of the Leflore County branch of the NAACP, says that group also "will keep a high scrutiny and watch on any investigative report regarding what was the cause of death."
"There are a lot of concerns there, No. 1 that this individual could not have (hanged) himself without the assistance of someone, if it’s being declared a suicide," he says. "Why would someone from Sunflower County come to North Greenwood, the predominantly white housing area of Greenwood? Why would someone that far away come and hang themselves in North Greenwood by a river? That does not pass the smell test to me."
Another local elected official, state Sen. David Jordan, says the African American community in Greenwood is “very much concerned.”
"This is in a white wealthy area, and Black people just don’t go over there," he says. "There’s not a single Black that’s talked to us who believes that he hanged himself."
I suspect that we will never know the full story of this man's death. However, I do know that America is not yet post-racial.

What are your thoughts on the Frederick Jermaine Carter case? Was it a lynching or a suicide?

January 2, 2011

Taser Death: Rodney Brown (Cleveland, OH)

Rodney Brown, a 40-year old man was stopped by police officers on New Year's Eve in Cleveland OH. For some reason the routine traffic stop turned into an effort by the police to arrest the man. Brown resisted arrest. The unidentified police officers pumped Brown with 50,000 volts of electricity from their tasers. He went into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead at nearby University Hospital.

His mother, Shirley Brown, indicates that her youngest son was a mild-mannered guy who rarely left the house.  She indicates that he suffered in 2005 when he was diagnosed as bi-polar and schizophrenic.   The diagnosis came after two of his older brothers died just months apart, one in a motorcycle accident and the other from a ruptured aorta.

There is obviously much more information to come on this taser-related death. My point of view is clear ... the death penalty is inappropriate for a charge of resisting arrest. Something is clearly wrong when a 40-year old man is killed by the police for simply being disrespectful.


Is Anyone Better Than Denzel Washington?

I saw a Denzel Washington interview earlier today. It dawned on me that this is a truly talented man who has a tremendous legacy in the movie business. He has acted or directed over 40 movies. I suspect that most villagers are familiar with his work over the years.

Who doesn't remember the Harlem speech in Malcolm X where Denzel says,
Oh, I say and I say it again, ya been had! Ya been took! Ya been hoodwinked! Bamboozled! Led astray! Run amok!

Of course, Denzel didn't win the Oscar for his powerful role in Malcolm X. Instead he was honored for one of his most evil characters from movie called 'Training Day'.

In recent years Denzel began to direct as well as act. One of my favorite Denzel movies of all time is 'The Great Debaters'.

Do you have a favorite Denzel Washington movie?

January 1, 2011

Happy New Year Villagers!

We all wake up this morning to a new year and a new decade. We enter into 2011 with an opportunity to make all things new again. I enter into yet another year with this blog, Electronic Village, and wonder what the new year will bring in terms of content, comments and viability.

It is hard to keep up the consistency with a blog in today's world with the movement that many have made to other social networks like Facebook or Twitter. However, I will continue to try to keep this blog up and running. My hope is that we find our voice in 2011 to such an extent that more of you begin to share your insights with us.

I suspect that we will continue to share information about taser deaths in America. However, we will also up the ante on our discussions about politics, Black culture, economics and such.

In any case, at this point in the brand new year and brand new decade ... we simply want to wish all of you a glorious New Year!