January 31, 2013

President Obama's Uncle May be Deported to Kenya After 50 Years in America

I think that President Obama's uncle may be in some hot water this time. Turns out that he was ordered to go back to Kenya many years ago ... but, he never did. Onyango Obama has been in America as an undocumented worker for 50 years ... but, he has a court date set for later this year to determine whether or not he should be deported.

Obama manages a liquor store and came to America in 1963 to attend an school at Cambridge. Immigration documents show that Obama was first ordered to leave in 1986, and again in 1989. Somehow Obama slipped through the cracks all those years, but given his high profile nephew, it is doubtful that that will happen again.

You wonder why they couldn't get a better picture of the dude for this article?!

January 29, 2013

$2 Million Dollar Settlement in Taser-Killing of Everette Howard Jr.

The family of Everette Howard Jr. has settled its claims with the University of Cincinnati and UC police officer Richard Haas. Howard was electrocuted-to-death on the UC campus` on August 6, 2011. After his death, the UC police withdrew all of their Tasers from service.

Three of the elements in the settlement include:
  1. Compensation. The University will pay two million dollars plus provide an undergraduate education free of tuition and instructional fees for the two siblings of Everette Jr.
  2. Taser Policy. Before Tasers are reissued to officers in the UC Police Department, the public and the Howard family will be notified and UC will receive suggestions from them on Taster training and use.
  3. Memorial. UC will install a memorial bench and plaque at the site where Everette Howard Jr. died.
The settlement was made as part of mediation process between the family and the University. I'm glad that tasers have been taken off the hips of University police officers. The fact that they killed this *UNARMED* teenager is reason enough for a change.

January 28, 2013

Taser-Killing of Macadam Mason is 'Justified'

Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell says a state trooper was justified in using a stun gun against 39-year old Macadam Mason who died after he was electrocuted by 50,000 volts of taser energy back in June 2012. [SOURCE]

Sorrell declined to bring charges against Trooper David Shaffer who acted as judge, jury and executioner when he electrocuted an UNARMED Mason ... who was reported to be suicidal.

It troubles me that so many UNARMED people are being killed by over-eager use of taser guns around the nation. Am I the only one who is bothered by this trend?

January 27, 2013

Obama's Weekly Address: Two Nominees Who Will Fight for the American People

President Obama nominated Mary Jo White for head of the Securities and Exchange Commission and called for Richard Cordray to continue as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Both can play pivotal roles in the financial sector as White will be asked to keep Wall Street and banks accountable, while Cordray will oversee the laws that protect everyday Americans.
These are people with proven track records,” said President Obama. “They are going to look out for the American people, for American consumers, and make sure that our marketplace works better -- more transparently, more efficiently, more effectively.”

I'm very glad to see that our president is re-doubling his efforts to implement his vision during his second term. Don't you agree?

January 26, 2013

Scholarship America

Scholarship America® is a national organization that helps students get into and graduate from college through three core programs: Dollars for Scholars®, DreamkeepersSM®, and Scholarship Management Services®. More than $2.7 billion in scholarships and education assistance has been awarded to more than 1.8 million students since 1958. Their scholarship administration expertise has helped nearly 1,100 communities and more than 1,100 corporations develop and implement scholarship programs for local students.

Got a question? E-mail them or follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

January 25, 2013

GOP Carpetbagger Artur Davis Considers Bid for Virginia State Senate

Artur Davis is truly a lost soul. In 2008 he was a Democratic congressman from Alabama who fully supported the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama. Davis tried to parlay his political publicity at the time into a campaign to become the governor of Alabama. He was beaten in the Democratic primary. That pissed him off ... so he decided to switch parties and move to Virginia. As a Virginia republican he became one of the few African Americans to support the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney.

It seems that Davis is now lost and confused. He must not have the will to hold down a job in the private sector. Instead he is exploring another run for political office. This time he wants to be a Republican in either the Virginia state legislature or a republican candidate for congress from some community in Virginia. He currently lives in a heavily-Democratic district ... so he is willing to move his family to another district that is gerrymandered in favor of Republicans.

Isn't that the description of a Civil War carpetbagger? Artur Davis has not shown himself to be a good politician. He is simply a publicity-whore and I can't believe that the voters of Virginia would reward his carpetbagging ways. What is your take on the Artur Davis story?

January 22, 2013

Buick Achievers Scholarship Program (Deadline: 2/28/2013)

Soulclap to Dr. Craig Brown for sharing this information about the Buick Achievers Scholarship Program. I encourage all villagers to ask themselves a simple question:


It starts with good grades. But goes beyond. A dedicated student. A leader in school. A volunteer worker. A college-bound and community-minded individual. The Buick Achievers Scholarship Program wants to reward students who have succeeded both inside and outside of the classroom—and who may not be able to attend college without financial assistance.

REWARDING ACHIEVEMENT, EXPERIENCE & COMMITMENT Scholarship recipients are selected based on the following factors:
  • Academic achievement and financial need.  
  • Participation and leadership in community and school activities.
  • Work experience.
  •  Interest in pursuing a career in the automotive or related industry.
Please note special consideration will be given to the following applicants: first-generation college, female, minority, military veteran or a dependent of military personnel. The majority of the scholarships will be awarded to students majoring in Engineering/Technology fields. Selection of recipients is made by Scholarship Management Services.

Full Details and Application

January 21, 2013

Beyonce Sings the National Anthem at the 2013 Inauguration of Barack Obama

I've told you on this blog that my favorite rendition of the National Anthem was done by Marvin Gaye ... and I've enjoyed the unique twist on the anthem given in the past by Jill Scott. But, I've never been more proud of my national anthem than today when Beyonce sang it before an international audience at the 2013 Inaugural of Barack Obama!

It was cold ... she had equipment issues with her ear piece ... but, she nailed it!

Beyonce sealed the deal as being one of the best singers of all time!

2013 Inaugural Poem, 'One Today' by Richard Blanco (Text / Video)

Today, the Inaugural Poet, Richard Blanco, read his poem “One Today” at the ceremonial swearing-in ceremony of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

Full text of the poem as written is available below:

One Today

One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.

My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper—
bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives—
to teach geometry, or ring-up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.

All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches
as mothers watch children slide into the day.

One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father’s cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.

The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind—our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.

Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across café tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,
buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me—in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.

One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.

One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn’t give what you wanted.

We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always—home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country—all of us—
facing the stars
hope—a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it—together.

Barack Obama 2013 Inaugural Address (Full Text / Video)

Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice, Members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:

Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.

For more than two hundred years, we have.

Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.

Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our workers.

Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.

Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.

Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone. Our celebration of initiative and enterprise; our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, are constants in our character.

But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action. For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.

This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together.

For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class. We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship. We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.

We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher. But while the means will change, our purpose endures: a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American. That is what this moment requires. That is what will give real meaning to our creed.

We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future. For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn. We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other – through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security – these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war. Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage. Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty. The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm. But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war, who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends, and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.

We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law. We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully – not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear. America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe; and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom. And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice – not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.

That is our generation’s task – to make these words, these rights, these values – of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time – but it does require us to act in our time.

For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect. We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial, and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years, and forty years, and four hundred years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.

My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction – and we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service. But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty, or an immigrant realizes her dream. My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride.

They are the words of citizens, and they represent our greatest hope.

You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course.

You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time – not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals.

Let each of us now embrace, with solemn duty and awesome joy, what is our lasting birthright. With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.

Thank you, God Bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America.

January 13, 2013

Taser Death: Andrew Layton (Mankato, MN)

Andrew Layton
It happened again! This time a 26-year old man, Andrew Layton, was unconscious in a Hy-Vee store entrance early on New Year's morning when Mankato police officers Daniel Best, Kenneth Baker, Kyley Groby, Audrey Burgess and Cmdr. Craig Frericks arrived on the scene. [SOURCE]

Layton was unconscious and unarmed.

At this point the story gets murky. The police indicate that Layton was arrested because he became combative. There was no mention of electrocution by taser when the story was first released by the police. However, now we understand that Layton was pumped with 50,000 volts of electricity at least twice from a taser gun coming off the hip of one of the above-named police officers.

A few days later he was dead. We tend to call that extra-judicial electrocution. The penalty for being unconscious on the morning after New Year's Eve should never be death ... not even in Butt-Phuque, Minnesota.

The Layton family is angry and confused.
We just learned there’s some discrepancies between the police report and the BCA investigation,” Layton's uncle Brad Hanson said. “At first they didn’t say there was a taser. Now they’re saying a taser was used.”
The initial Department of Public Safety news release also said an ambulance responded to Hy-Vee and Layton was taken to the Blue Earth County Jail in the ambulance. Layton’s family also had questions about why, if an ambulance was necessary, Layton was taken to jail and not the hospital. Layton’s heart stopped at some point on his way to the jail and he wasn’t taken to the hospital until after he was revived.

As we often see in these taser-related killings ... the police don't waste any time telling the press that drugs may have been involved. However, Hanson said, as far as he knows, Layton had quit using drugs recently. He also said hospital staff told his mother there were no drugs in Layton’s system, but there was a “little bit” of alcohol.

The family has been able to figure out where Layton was up until about two hours before the Hy-Vee incident. Hanson said Layton was at his girlfriend’s house with other people until about 2:30 a.m.
He borrowed her phone and wasn’t seen after that,” Hanson said. “The next thing anyone knew he was at Hy-Vee. We don’t know why he was at Hy-Vee. Was he ill? Was he injured? I really don’t think we’re going to know for awhile.”

January 12, 2013

Obama's Weekly Address: Ending the War in Afghanistan and Rebuilding America

President Obama hosted Afghan President Hamid Karzai this week at the White House for talks on the partnership between our two nations and the role of U.S. troops in that country. In this week's address, President Obama discusses how we will end the war in Afghanistan and how our goal of ensuring that al Qaeda never again uses Afghanistan to launch attacks against America is within reach. [Transcript / Video]

I hope that President Obama is able to get us completely out of the war in Afghanistan sooner than the end of 2014. Don't you?

January 5, 2013

Obama's Weekly Address: Working Together in the New Year to Grow Our Economy and Shrink Our Deficits

In this week’s address, President Obama talks about the bipartisan agreement that Congress reached this week which prevented a middle-class tax hike, congratulates the newly sworn-in members of Congress, and looks forward to working with the new Congress in the new year to continue to grow our economy and shrink our deficits in a balanced way. [Transcript / Video]

January 2, 2013

Taser Lawsuit: Douglas Boucher vs. City of Mason (Ohio)

Mason (OH) police officers Daniel Fry and Sean McCormick are being sued by the family of the 39-year old man they killed in December 2009. The family's lawsuit claims the officers tased their son, Douglas Boucher a total of six times in less than a minute and hit him and kicked him after he was down. Boucher was in a gas station market acting like a jerk with the female cashier. Being a jerk isn't usually punishable by death.

The City of Mason disagrees. They filed a motion to have the family's lawsuit ... currently scheduled for February 19, 2013 ... dismissed.

This blog is more than a little interested in this particular lawsuit and taser-related killing ... the gas station where it all took place is less than a mile from my local public library!

January 1, 2013

Wishing All 'Villagers' a Truly Marvelous New Year

Our blog is very grateful to all you for your support over the past years. We all now enter into a new year ... 2013 ... with an opportunity to do better and be better. My wishes to yo for a glorious new year!