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December 2006

Dreamgirls the Movie

I'm not sure how I feel about the new movie, "Dreamgirls." I've read favorable reviews but I've also a read one that mentioned the movie is good but perhaps over-hyped. That I can believe; it would be typical Hollywood big budget marketing.

I am a bit disappointed that the screen adaption varies from the broadway show in that the focus is on Deena [Beyonce' Knowles] rather than Effie [Jennifer Hudson]. Most of the reviews also indicate that Jennifer Hudson and Eddie Murphy steal the movie.

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

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Prayer for the Homeless

As we commemorate the season of the birth of Jesus Christ, let us be mindful of those less fortunate. And as the new year arrives, let us remember to be grateful each and everyday. Peace.
Vanessa
O God, as Naomi and Ruth journeyed from one land to another seeking a home, we ask your blessing upon all who are homeless in this world. You promised to your chosen people a land flowing with milk and honey; so inspire us to desire the accomplishment of your will that we may work for the settlement of those who are homeless in a place of peace, protection, and nurture, flowing with opportunity, blessing, and hope. Amen.
- Vienna Cobb Anderson


© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
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CELEBRITY DEATHMATCH: Rosie O'Donnell vs. Donald Trump

The smackdown has begun. Rosie O’Donnell and Donald Trump are having a verbal spat and I don’t quite know how I feel about the whole thing. Wait, yes I do! Go Rosie! Go Rosie, Go! First of all, I applaud Rosie for having the guts to speak the truth about the Miss USA debacle. The Trump spin at work on this situation won’t hide the fact that Tara Conner has tarnished the Miss USA organization as well as Miss Teen USA and Miss Universe, their parent organization.

The dog and pony show with former Miss USA winners on CNN and The Larry King Show was nauseating to say the least. Those women sounded as if they’d been freshly plucked from the set of The Stepford Wives. They repeated their nonsensical lines in the same mindless fashion. Give me a break!

Another hilarious moment was Trump calling Rosie a bully. Is that the pot calling the kettle black or what? The Donald has met his match with Rosie. She is smart and thinks quickly on her feet. That’s what makes a successful comedian.

The Donald said he would sue her for lying about his financial situation but Rosie has already posted source info regarding Trump’s bankruptcy issues on her website. So I guess the next move is on Trump.

With the all the hoopla about Donald Trump and Rosie O’Donnell’s feud, don’t sleep on Trump’s racist actions. He proved himself so with Randal Pinkett in Season 4 of The Apprentice and now by preventing Tamiko Nash from rightfully assuming the Miss USA crown.

Now, back to the fight…..



Links:
Rosie Slams Trump, The Donald Fires Back

Rosie O’Donnell’s Blog

Donald Trump is Racist

Trump Shows True Colors in Apprentice Finale

Is Donald Trump Prejudiced?

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

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Words of Wisdom from Joel Osteen: Find Strength Through Adversity

When you face adversity, you need to remind yourself that whatever is trying to defeat you could very well be what God will use to promote you. If you will handle adversity in the right way, God has promised that He will turn your challenges into stepping-stones for promotion. God wants to do new and unusual things in our lives. He’s looking for people who will trust Him with their whole hearts. He’s looking for people who won’t limit Him with their small-minded thinking.

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

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Kwanzaa or Christmas?

It's been forty-one years and for some reason a debate between celebrating Christmas and Kwanzaa continues. Why? For the betterment of our community, we should follow the Nugzo Saba (Seven Principles of Kwanzaa) anyway.
Black people are not monolithic. Blacks follow various religious practices. Kwanzaa is a means of unifying Blacks, without using traditional religion and political beliefs, to celebrate family, community and businesses. True, Kwanzaa founder, Maulana Ron Karenga, is of a questionable background but he does not detract from the positivity and progress that Kwanzaa promotes.
My organization, the Miami-Dade Chapter of the Florida A&M University National Alumni Association is in its 17th year of celebrating Kwanzaa. Over the years the event grew from a small, private celebration to the largest community celebration in Miami. It is a labor of love (Isn't that what Kwanzaa is all about?) as it is free to all in the community. The building and technical staff are provided by the county, food is provided by our organization and performers participate at no charge. I wish that I had the words to explain the beauty of the evening. My wish is that the evening could be captured and repeated throuhout the year.

There is no need to choose between Kwanzaa or Christmas. Inarguably, the principles of Kwanzaa - unity, self-determination, collective work & responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith should be practiced by all.
If you will be in South Florida on Friday, December 29, 2006, you are invited to attend this year's celebration. Feel free to bring your family and friends. Habari gani!

[Click on picture above to enlarge event flyer!]
© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

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Donald Trump is Racist

Miss USA in rehab? Come on, forget this second chance line of crap; that’s so lame. I can’t believe Donald Trump thinks the American public will actually buy that. This is so embarrassing. It’s just a beauty pageant but this woman represents this country. No wonder other countries no longer respect us, we don’t respect ourselves.

All of this talk about Tara Conner being so young is laughable also. She met the qualifications to enter the pageant so what’s the problem? Does this mean the minimum age will be increased?

So many questions…so many excuses! Let me just point out the 300 pound gorilla in the room. Donald Trump is a racist. Yeah, he is. The pageant is his to do as he pleases but the American public needs to recognize the man for what he is.

The first runner-up to Miss USA is Black. Trump was not about to have her wear the crown. Let’s be real. Forget that politically correct garbage. Remember when The Donald tried to name two apprentices during Season 4 of the Apprentice when Randal Pinkett won? He didn’t make the same offer when Kwame Jackson, a Black man, was runner-up to Bill Rancic, a white man. Donald Trump is a racist.

Miss USA in rehab? That’s just not right and you know it.


Links:
Trump Shows True Colors in Apprentice Finale
Is Donald Trump Prejudiced?



© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
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God Fixes Things

I just had to share this message from Jewel Diamond Taylor...

"Whether you are feeling overwhelmed, worried or sad about your life right now --- I pray that you have enough faith and strength to hold on. If you cannot cope with fear and change, you can find yourself feeling insecure lacking trust in yourself and lacking trust in our Lord. The following poem by Helen Steiner Rice has brought comfort and peace to many." ~ Jewel Diamond Taylor

"When you feel that we have nothing left to give and we are sure that the song has ended --- when our day seems over and the shadows fall --- where can we go to find the strength to valiantly keep trying? Where can we find the hand that will dry the tears that the heart is crying?

There's but one place to go and that is God. Dropping all pretense and pride we can pour out our problems without restraint and gain strength with Him at our side. And together we stand at life's crossroads and view what we think is the end. God has a much bigger vision and He tells us --- it's only a bend.

So rest and relax and grow stronger. Let go and let God share your load. Your work is not finished or ended. You've just come to a bend in the road." ~ Helen Steiner Rice read this link about inner peace

To book Women's Ministry Speaker Jewel Diamond Taylor ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ e-mail: jewelmotivates@aol.com phone: 323-964-1736 web: http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=wss669bab.0.exvrsnbab.wmoesnbab.16654&ts=S0219&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.DoNotGiveUp.net ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

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Wasting Time on the Web

Time. We never have enough of it. We spend way too much of it on the internet, right? Here's a fabulous article from PC World magazine on the 15 Best time Wasters. You may not agree with all of them but the list is quite interesting.

The 15 Best Places to Waste Time on the Web - Naysayers claim that the Internet can be one big waste of time. Here's to proving them right.

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

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Miscarriage of Justice: a Mother's Perspective

Dear Friends,

I'd been away for awhile a few weeks back. Here's what I was doing and why I needed my space at that time. Some of you were already aware of the situation and have sent me your prayers. Thank you. Your prayers sustained me and still do. Don't stop. We need each other.

I am not a holier-than-thou pious Christian as is obvious from some of my posts. I do, however, maintain a strong faith in God and have much to be grateful for in spite of my loss. It was through this episode that I came to truly know God's grace and mercy. I'm not trying to get my preach on because that's not really me but my close-up and personal experience with the criminal justice system was much more painful from the collective than my individual perspective.

I saw young people, let me be more accurate, children far too young to be incarcerated wearing little orange Corrections Department jumpsuits and little handcuffs and little shackles. Shackled together like slaves in a horrible scene from "Roots." That may not be a big deal for some of you and perhaps I've been sheltered way more than I realized, but our babies shouldn't be in that situation.

We have relinquished control of our children to BET...MTV... XBOX... PlayStation... Nike... Phat Farm... etc., etc., etc. It's time to reclaim our children and return to our positive family values --- By Any Means Necessary.

Peace & Love,

Vanessa

Here's an op-ed piece I wrote for Tallahassee's Capital Outlook after the trial of Ryan Hubbard. Thank you again.

TOP STORY

A mother's perspective

Published 12/14/06

By Vanessa Woodard Byers

Special to the Outlook

On Thursday afternoon, December 7, 2006 in Courtroom 3A of the Leon County Courthouse, 12 jurors declared Ryan Hubbard not guilty in the first-degree murder of my daughter, Jamila Byers and Bryan Dyson.


A first-degree murder conviction would have resulted in the death penalty.

I, like many others, expected him to be found guilty of second-degree murder, which would have carried a life sentence.

I was stunned by the verdict —- somewhat.

That day would end the 11 grueling days my parents and I spent in Tallahassee for the trial. Those days were unlike any other in all my years on this Earth. I cannot tell you that I was hurt when I heard the verdict because I wasn’t.

I’d already experienced the worst pain on September 14, 2004 when I had to describe any of my daughter’s identifying marks to the police. That was a pain like no other.

When the jury did not reach a verdict on Wednesday evening, I began to doubt the verdict would be guilty. The evidence in the case, as we already knew, was largely circumstantial because there was no weapon.

Between the cell phone records, cell tower pinging information, GPS information, testimony and fingerprint information, would the jurors get it? This was a jury of mostly middle-aged, white women. If they didn’t get it by Wednesday evening, I didn’t think they would get it at all, and I was correct.

Unless you were actually in the courtroom everyday from jury selection through verdict, you did not get the true flavor of the trial. The snippets on broadcast media and coverage in print captured some but not all of the important testimony and attorneys’ discussions.

There were moments when I thought I was caught in a bad composite episode of “The Wire,” “Law & Order” and “The Jerry Springer Show.”

How did the jurors miss this evidence?

Although largely circumstantial, I did, however, believe the evidence to be strong enough for a jury to arrive at a guilty verdict and here’s why:

1. Hours before the murders, several witnesses indicated that Bryan Dyson received phone calls from someone obviously anxious for a meeting. Cell phone call records indicate that Ryan Hubbard called Bryan Dyson several times that day.

Not a big deal when considered in isolation, right? How about if you knew that Ryan Hubbard called Bryan Dyson five times in the last 20 minutes of Bryan’s life?

Cell phone records indicate that Ryan Hubbard does not call Bryan Dyson after he has been killed. The cell phone numbers of others looking for Jamila or Bryan register on cell phone records after their time of death. Others continued to try to reach Bryan and/or Jamila by calling their cell phones, Ryan Hubbard, considered Bryan’s friend, does not. Why? Because Ryan Hubbard knows he’s already killed Bryan Dyson and he can’t answer.

2. Ryan Hubbard was a truck driver for Dollar General Stores. The GPS tracking system on the truck he drove does not register between the time of death of Jamila and Bryan but suddenly shows Hubbard in the Gainesville area. Hubbard’s cell phone is pinging off towers in Tallahassee while he was supposed to be in Gainesville? I don’t think so.

3. Linden Williams, brother of Ryan Hubbard’s girlfriend Deandrea, called his then-girlfriend, Kevonya Cooper, to have her lie to give Hubbard an alibi. That conversation was retrieved from a recorded conversation as Cooper was incarcerated.

4. Linden Williams and sister Deandrea also gave conflicting testimony about times dropped off and picked up. They even described different cars driven by Linden Williams to pick-up Deandrea Williams from Ryan Hubbard’s truck.

5. Hubbard’s fingerprint was found on the concave of the interior door handle of Jamila’s car. Antwan Robinson sat in the back seat a few minutes before the murders. That was no secret, as others knew he was given a ride home. Robinson’s fingerprints were not found on the door handle but Hubbard’s were because he was the last person in the back seat of that car.

6. The front passenger seat was pushed forward to make room for a large person. Ryan Hubbard is a large person.

7. State’s witness Marcus Gould perjured himself. Marcus Gould initiated contact with the Tallahassee Police Department not vice versa as he testified. In recorded questioning, Gould initially told Tallahassee Police that Ryan Hubbard confessed.

8. Ryan Hubbard’s fingerprints were on a note to inmate Michael Williams to kill Marcus Gould for $15,000. Williams, a convicted felon, was found truthful in a similar incident while incarcerated in Miami. Why would he not be truthful in this incident also?

Individually, these facts may not appear to rise to the level of believable beyond a reasonable doubt, but collectively they clearly indicate that Ryan Hubbard is guilty.

Some may say that I am prejudiced in my assertions but I’m not. Those who know me well will attest that to a fault, I can separate personal feelings and compartmentalize facts.

What the jurors didn’t know

What is most unfortunate is that this jury was not privy to background information on Ryan Hubbard as was the Grand Jury. Also, Hubbard was not required to testify in his own defense.

There was much the jurors didn’t know about this case. For example, not only did Ryan Hubbard confess to Marcus Gould and Michael Williams, he also confessed to wife, Venus.

Possible marital privilege not to testify against a spouse kept her off the witness stand.

Marcus Gould eluded law enforcement for several weeks for fear that he would be killed. After he was found and agreed to testify, he practically ran out of the State Attorney’s Office when he found out television cameras were in the courtroom.

While the jury was excused from the courtroom, Gould also attempted to assert privilege from testifying because he is a “spiritual leader or adviser.” For what reason would a person seek that privilege unless one has knowledge of crucial information?

Pain and suffering

I was constantly concerned about my parents during this ordeal. Both have their health challenges, yet they insisted on being with me and show their support for Jamila. Sitting there while the defense assassinated my daughter’s character and injected doubt about other possible actors was sometimes more than I could bear.

After the medical examiner testified there were no drugs in Jamila’s system, the defense abandoned that line of attack.

The relationships and circle of friends Bryan Dyson and Ryan Hubbard shared are interesting to say the least.

The anger and betrayal that Bryan’s mother, Edna Lynn Dyson, internalized surfaced as we waited on Wednesday morning.

Most of the witnesses were thought to be her close friends. She, like many others in that circle, is a convicted felon. This was not a movie or television show; these are real people with real feelings and families. Lynn Dyson is an intelligent woman far too young for her life experiences.

Less than a week out of incarceration, she was burying her only child. Suddenly, my pain did not seem as significant to me. She left the courtroom as the first verdict was read.

What next?

Right now, Ryan Hubbard probably thinks he’s bigger than God. No doubt his street cred has been elevated because of the trial. That’s the unfortunate reality of the society we live in. Just because that jury found him not guilty doesn’t mean that he didn’t do it.

As I think of the perjured testimony, the defense attorney’s attacks on the state’s witnesses who were not Ryan Hubbard’s friends, attempts to assassinate my daughter’s character and the verdict, I think what a mockery of justice.

I am reminded and I believe that God works in his own way and in his own time not ours. Ryan Hubbard is not incarcerated but he is not free.

###

P.S. Imagine my anger and pain to hear this testimony from Michael Williams, an inmate that Ryan Hubbard confessed to: "I asked him why he did the girl. What did she have to do with it? Why'd you cap her? He said, "Nothing. She ain't have nothing to do with it. She wouldn't stop screaming." (I had to escort my mother from the courtroom at that point.)

A lot of people are afraid of Ryan Hubbard. He is a very bad guy. Three witnesses have been placed in protective custody. Some of the potential witnesses, such as Antwan Robinson, have never been located.

Photo: Courtesy of my "niece" Caitlin Garcia


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Words of Wisdom from Joel Osteen: Find Strength Through Adversity

I am convinced that one day we will look

back at what we considered to be the

worst thing that could happen to us, and

we'll realize that God used even that

time of adversity to refine us, mold us,

shape us, and prepare us for good things

to come. Interesting, isn't it? Adversity

often pushes us into our divine destiny.

And sometimes we need a push!

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

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