April 28, 2012

Obama's Weekly Address: Helping our Veterans Make Informed Decisions about Higher Education

President Obama discusses a new Executive Order designed to crack down on the bad actors who prey on our veterans and service members considering higher education.
I appreciate that President Obama is doing everything that he can to make a difference despite the obstructions placed in front of him by the Republicans in Congress.

April 26, 2012

Taser Autopsy: No Drugs or Alcohol in Roger Anthony Before Pre-Judicial Electrocution

The police often try to blame their pre-judicial electrocutions on the victim being a criminal or a drug addict or a drunk. None of those things held true for 62-year old Roger Anthony when he was pumped with 50,000 volts of electricity from Scotland Neck (NC) police officer John Turner. Officer Turner didn't appreciate being ignored by an old guy on a bicycle ... so he took out his taser gun and killed Mr. Anthony.

Roger Anthony died last November after Scotland Neck police got a call about a drunk man falling from his bicycle. The officer said he called out to the 62-year-old man, turned on his lights and siren and tried to get him to stop.

The police officer thought that Turner was drunk. Anthony's toxicology tests came back clean. He had no alcohol or drugs in his system.

Methinks that a lawsuit is coming up next if the prosecutor doesn't take criminal action against Officer Turner. What say u?

April 24, 2012

Taser Death: Bruce Chrestensen (Grass Valley, CA)

It happened again! This time an unidentified Grass Valley (CA) police officer decided that the only way to respond to a disturbance was to electrocute 52-year old Bruce Chrestensen with 50,000 volts of electricity from a taser gun. [SOURCE] I imagine that the police thought that they were calming the situation ... instead they killed a man who was already in their custody.

It seems obvious that Chrestensen was experiencing some type of mental stress. When the police arrived he was standing in the middle of the street yelling at passing drivers with his pants down. The police say that he attacked a passing car and wouldn't listen to police commands. Chrestensen was a 52-year old man without a weapon ... he was *UNARMED*. Even if the police officer thought that Chrestensen was trying to steal a car ... it is worth noting that we don't have the death penalty for such a crime.

There is no indication that Chrestensen has a previous criminal history ... and it appears that his only medical condition may be high blood pressure. The police and district attorney are investigating this in-custody pre-judicial electrocution ... but, the officers involved in the taser-killing have not been removed from duty.

Noah Sherry was at work when he witnessed all the commotion.

"I looked out the window and the guy was sitting out there, or standing out there, cussing at people, and doing things" said Sherry. "I think anyone on that mindset would be on drugs."

Does drug use justify being killed by any random police officer?

April 23, 2012

Video Shows Taser Torture of Anastasio Hernandez

A couple of years ago this blog shared the story of the taser-killing of Anastasio Hernandez, an undocumented person who was caught, handcuffed, surrounded and then tortured by US Border Patrol agents. The story took another twist when a new video emerged that gave a fuller view of the torture endured by Mr. Hernandez.

Check out the video and you be the judge on whether or not this taser activity was necessary on an unarmed and handcuffed man surrounded by a dozen trained agents:

Sometimes we lose the human side of these stories. I imagine that some felt justification in this taser-torture once they learned that Mr. Hernandez was in the country illegally. However, the other side of the story is that he was a hard-working father of five who was loved by his family and respected by his neighbors. I remain convinced that something is wrong with the taser policy or training currently in place with America's law enforcement officers. Is it just me? Or do you have similiar thoughts about taser use in our nation?

April 22, 2012

Taser Death: Angel Hiraldo (Meriden, CT)

It happened again! This time we are disappointed to report that the police have electrocuted another UNARMED man with 50,000 volts of electricity from their taser guns. Unidentified officers from the Meriden (CT) Police Department arrived on the scene of a disturbance early Saturday morning. The police found 48-year old Angel Hiraldo on the porch of a home with a hammer. Hiraldo made a fatal mistake when he didn't drop the hammer. An unidentified police officer got tired of waiting ... took out his (or her) taser gun and electrocuted him to death.

Often I wonder what the hurry is for police.  Why can't they take the time necessary to talk a disturbed suspect down. Why the rush to electrocute him? I guess in this case it was because the Meriden Police Department had other people to kill that night. The police department used a taser gun later that night on another suspect ... before shooting him to death. It will be interesting to see how the police department works to demonize Mr. Hiraldo in an effort to make him the cause of his own death.

April 21, 2012

Taser Protests in Chicago Seek Justice in Death of Darrin Hanna

I don't know if Darrin Hanna was a good man or not. The police were called to his home in November 2011 for a domestic violence complaint. There is never a good reason to lay your hands on a woman. Period.

That being said, I'm uncertain when there is a good time for police officers to beat an unarmed man ... then electrocute him with 50,000 volts of electricity up to 11 times with their taser guns ... then lie about the whole thing in their police report. It is the inability of the community in Chicago to see any justice in this taser-killing that is causing the current uproar. Thousands of people marched in the streets of Chicago this past weekend. They simply want to see some justice ... which means some consequences for the police officers that killed Mr. Hanna.

Here is a video that provides some of the details in this case of police brutality against Darrin Hanna. You be the judge:

Something is wrong in this country when police feel that it is OK to kill a suspect without taking him to trial ... and feel free to lie about it on their police reports about the incident ... and there are few, if any, consequences. How do call ourselves a nation of laws if the police are allowed to flaunt them as clearly as they've done in this case?

April 18, 2012

Village Tips: Promote Your Business to Local Media

I have been self-employed since 2002. My focus is on providing online marketing support to small businesses. Many of us are amazed at the rapid growth of social networks and the ability to market one's business on the cheap. However, it is worth remembering that there are still ol' school marketing opportunities with your local media.

Media are constantly looking for new stories and information that will interest their audiences. Chances are, your town has at least one major newspaper, several smaller papers, a few TV stations, a bunch of radio stations, and at least one cable company. Here are a few things to consider:
  1. Local media like to cover local stories. You have a much better chance of getting free publicity from a reporter in your area than from national media.
  2. Local talk radio stations and programs are constantly in need of interesting guests. Watch for times when your area of expertise fits with a breaking story, holiday, or issue the media is covering.
  3. Send your local media a press release when you have something new to announce: a new product, service, public service program, or alliance with another business.
  4. Small businesses often make good feature stories. Work up a sheet of helpful tips related to your business. Make sure they are things the media audience will be interested in.
  5. Work with local charities and blow your own horn.
I hope that these small business tips are helpful to you. Feel free to contact me by email or phone (513.284-4968) if you would like to discuss additional ways to market your small business.

In the meantime, I will continue to share these Village Tips on a semi-regular basis!

April 17, 2012

Unique Building: Wooden Gangster House (Archangelsk, Russia)

Nikolai Sutyagin is a former gangster who built a home that is truly unique. The house that Sutyagin built is crumbling, incomplete and under threat of demolition from city authorities determined to end the former convict's eccentric 18-year project.

There is a great article written by Adrian Blomfield in 2007 about this building and its history:

When Sutyagin began work on his dacha in 1992, he claims he was only intending to build a two-story house - larger than those of his neighbors to reflect his position as the city's richest man, but certainly not a contender for the Guinness Book of Records.

However, convinced by a trip to see wooden houses in Japan and Norway, he concluded that he had not used roof space efficiently enough and decided to keep building.

"First I added three floors but then the house looked ungainly, like a mushroom," he said. "So I added another and it still didn't look right so I kept going. What you see today is a happy accident."
There were other motives too. Having grown up in a Soviet communal flat, Sutyagin said he felt lonely living by himself.

Not only would his house make a perfect love nest for his molls, it could also accommodate the 18 executives at his construction company.

He even built a five-story bath house in the garden, complete with rooms where he and his colleagues could have a little bit of privacy with their girlfriends. But Sutyagin was never to complete his dream. In 1998 he was handed a four-year prison sentence, his third jail term, on racketeering charges. He says he was set up.

While in prison, he claims his rivals destroyed his equipment, stole his money and threw his five cars into the Dvina river - a similar fate to that which befell many of Russia's rich in the chaotic years of the 1990s.

"When I went to prison I was a millionaire," he said. "Now I'm penniless." Sutyagin, 60, lives in four poorly heated rooms at the bottom of his wooden skyscraper with his 32-year-old wife Lena.

What is left of his fantasy is slowly decaying around him. Even so, it remains a remarkable architectural feat - especially given the fact that Sutyagin built much of it himself - that defies easy description.

A whimsical jumble of planking, from a distance it bears a resemblance to a Japanese pagoda, but draw closer and it seems more like a mix between a Brobdignagian tree house and the lair of a wicked fairytale character.

Not everyone sees it like that, though. Neighbours consider it a monstrosity and the city authorities, pointing to bylaws that say no wooden structure should be higher than two floors, warn that fire could cause the whole suburb to go up in flames. They have begun action to pull it down.

Sutyagin vows to win and has erected a roof around the second floor that he says allows him to claim that everything above is purely decorative.

Meanwhile, he spends his time taking visitors on death-defying tours that involve criss-crossing rotting planking and climbing icy ladders.

A man who thinks he has six children but cannot be sure, Sutyaging kept up a commentary on the adventures he anticipated if his skyscraper had been completed.

"This would have been a great room for making love," he said, balancing on a plank he has just thrown over a chasm in the floor.

"This one would have been even better," he said, two floors higher. "Look at that view."
I hope that the villagers that visit our blog have enjoyed the dozen or so 'unique buildings' that we've blogged about over the past year or so. We had fun with it. Do you know of any other unique buildings that we should share photos and info about on this blog?

April 16, 2012

We Are Virginia Tech

Today is the five-year anniversary of a horrendous massacre at Virginia Tech. It is a good time to remember the powerful words of Virginia Tech professor Nikki Giovanni. Our prayers are with the 32 families that lost a child on that sad and violent day.

April 14, 2012

You Know You're Black in Corporate America When...

  1. A coworker sees you and several Black colleagues at a casual lunch. Back at the office he/she later asks, "What was that meeting all about?"
  2. You arrive at work on time as usual. Your boss, making her rounds, peeks in and remarks with surprise, "Oh, you're here!"
  3. A colleague says with a broad smile, "You know, I really like you. When I see you, I don't see color. I don't think of you as Black."
  4. After a staff meeting, your boss suggests, "you need to work at making others more comfortable with you...why don't you smile more often?"
  5. You tell your manager about a problem you are having and the response you get is "You've got to be exaggerating! I find that hard to believe."
  6. You are told you are "rough around the edges" despite your completion of many professional development programs and it is suggested you emulate the behavior of a non-person of color colleague.
  7. You continually get more responsibility, but no authority.
  8. You are being recognized at a company banquet. As you approach the stage to receive your company's highest achievement award, your corporations' top executive exclaims, "Yo homeboy, congratulations".
  9. You arrive at an offsite business retreat dressed in business casual attire. Your non-persons of color peers approach and ask why you are always so dressed up?
  10. You are told you are decreasing your effectiveness with your aggressive style.
  11. You are frequently asked why you change your hairstyle so often.
  12. Your first name is arbitrarily shortened to one or two syllables without your permission.
  13. You are asked every summer if Black people tan.
  14. After a coworker returns from a weekend in the sun, they run to you on Monday morning and extend their arms to touch yours and say, "Hey I'm darker than you".
  15. Walking through the hall with colleagues, you exchange greetings with two other Blacks you pass along the way. Your colleague says in amazement, "My you know so many people."
  16. You are told your attitude is affecting others. You are asked to..."lighten up, not be so serious about the work. Smile and laugh more often, to make others more comfortable working with you".
  17. You realize that at times you must "dumb down" appearing to be dependent and unaware, so that your manager and peers feel they are helping you...
  18. You have to perform at 250% just to stay even.
  19. You have to document everything. You've learned the hard way.
  20. You assumed that all that was required of you was to work hard and get the job done.
I left Corporate America in 2002 to start my own consultancy. However this list brings back so many memories. Do any of the items on this list resonate with you? Do you have any other suggestions to add to this list?

April 10, 2012

Taser Death: Bobby Merrill, Jr. (Saginaw, MI)

It happened again! This time we learn that the Saginaw Police Department decided to electrocute another UNARMED man to death with their taser guns. Bobby Merrill Jr., 38, was headed to his mother's house when he was met by police cars on Tuesday. [SOURCE]

The Saginaw Police Department said they received a complaint of someone disrupting traffic and jumping on to vehicles and they found Merrill just a few blocks from his destination. Merrill was unarmed and he didn't show the proper level of respect for the unidentified police officers on the scene. As a result the police pumped him several times with 50,000 volts of electricity from their taser guns.

Merrill’s mother, Dorothy Anderson, said she heard about the incident and arrived to see police officers performing CPR on her son. While in police custody Merrill began to have trouble breathing ... and he died.

Anderson wonders if police “did him unjustly” and used unnecessary force during the incident, contributing to Merrill’s death.

The police quickly released information about the criminal past of the victim. Merrill was convicted of charges, ranging in date from 1992 to 2008, including possession of cocaine, assault with a deadly weapon, attempted larceny from a motor vehicle, and assault to do great bodily harm less than murder.

I'm uncertain how this information has any relevance to the actions of the police on Tuesday. The penalty for unruly behavior or resisting arrest should never be death. Yet, here we are again ... an UNARMED man is dead as a result of per-judicial electrocution. Something is simply not right...

April 7, 2012

Obama's Weekly Address: Easter Greetings From President Obama

President Obama offers his warmest greetings to all who are celebrating Easter and Passover this weekend, and reflects on the common thread of humanity that binds us all together.

April 6, 2012

Black Unemployment Trickles Down to 14.0% in March 2012

The United States added 120,000 jobs in March 2012 - making it 25 consecutive months of private sector job growth - and unemployment rate ticked down to 8.2 percent. Job growth was widespread last month in the private sector, with large employment gains in professional and business services, health care and social assistance, leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, and mining. according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There are about 12.7 million unemployed people in the country - and our nation's unemployment is near its lowest rate in almost three years. The trend of positive employment news continues to grow under the leadership of President Obama.

The news is still poor for the Black community.

The unemployment rate in the Black community dipped in March 2012 to 14.0%. This compares to previous months:
The overall message for the US economy is good. This is the 9th straight month with over 100,000 people entering the workforce. However, we are sad to report that the rate of unemployment in the Black community remains disproportionately high. That is why this blog is very happy to see proactive efforts to increase awareness of the power of Black Dollars. We have to look to ourselves to fix this problem!

What is your opinion of the unemployment data that was released today?

April 2, 2012

Video Supports Taser Lawsuit: Preston Bussey III (Rockledge, FL)

Preston Bussey was unarmed. He was at the Wuesthoff Medical Center emergency room where he voluntarily sought treatment. That didn't matter to Rockledge Police Department officers who electrocuted him at least six times in 2009. You can see the video of this unarmed man in the moments before his untimely taser-related death.

Surveillance camera footage reveals an unarmed Bussey pulling away from police officers who did not tell him they intended to take him into custody. Police enter the hospital with Tasers raised and aimed at the patient. Bussey backs away and then follows instructions to get to his knees. The video shows the officers aiming their Tasers at his back and chest and then shooting Bussey multiple times when he steps away.

The excessive force used by these police officers resulted in the death of Preston Bussey. The lawsuit filed by the family is in the judicial pipeline.

Preston Bussey III
It seems obvious that Bussey did not harm anyone, commit a crime, possess a weapon or threaten anyone with aggression. Yet, the police treated him like an armed and dangerous violent criminal, and used unjustified, unnecessary, unreasonable and excessive force to detain him.

The lawsuit indicates that Defendants Sgt. Timothy Hewitt, Cpl. Yvette Gomez, and Officers Patrick Kennedy, Timothy Herberner, Don Williams, Robert Owens and Matthew Leverich together and individually battered, tasered and suffocated unarmed Bussey with a pillow case. The medical examiner concluded that the officers shot Bussey with a stun gun six times -- more than twice the limit set by Rockledge Police Department policy.

This blog continues to track the taser-related deaths of American citizens ... the vast majority of them UNARMED.

April 1, 2012

Video of the Day: 'A Song for Trayvon' by Jasiri X

When will the Sanford Police Department arrest George Zimmerman? It's been over a month and still justice for Trayvon Martin is deferred.