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September 2007

No Electricity and Daunte’s Inferno

The electricity at my home has gone off and on as the rain and thunder and lightning continue. The only respite was during the shellacking that the Raiders gave the Dolphins and Daunte Culpepper exacted revenge.

I am not a Dolfan so I don't usually pay any attention to their games unless they're playing a team that I really like. I didn't like the way the Dolphin management got rid of Culpepper. No faith in Daunte's knees, huh? I'm sure they are rather embarrassed about leeting him go. My dislike for the Dolphins management actually goes back to the way they got rid of Coach Don Shula; it was not cool not matter how they tried to dress it up.

Professional sports is a business but it's still a business that functions because of people. I'd swear that the Dolphins have some kind of curse on them since unceremoniously dumped Shula.

Anyhoo, more important to me than the football game is the fact that the electricity flow is so inconsistent in my neighborhood I counted seven outages today. I'll call FPL on Monday to speak with a supervisor. The electricity poles in the area could be weak or the lights could go out for any number of reasons. Whatever the deal is, FPL won't be able to say it wasn't reported.


Girl in Sex Videotape Found Safe; Help Find Her Attacker --- Chester Arthur Stiles

There is a nationwide alert for Chester Arthur Stiles for the rape of a minor. A videotape shows the attack on the child four years ago when she was just four or five years old. The little girl has since been found safe with family members.

How someone can commit such a horrible act is beyond belief. Please be on the lookout for this guy and report his whereabouts to police. Hopefully he'll end up confined with a bunch of guys that hate child molesters.

Nailah Franklin Update #2

The remains of Nailah Oliani Franklin were identified today. There was obviously trauma in her transition from the physical world. I am so deeply saddened by this loss of life that there are no words to convey the myriad of feelings I am experiencing.

Nailah's death is yet another reminder of how sacred life is and how we must cherish each moment and each other. As her family prepares to celebrate her life, let's keep them in prayer.

More information will likely be released as the homicide investigation progresses. I pray that her killer is caught. Ashe'

Mychal Bell is Released, What Next?

Oh, snap! Mychal Bell was released on bail? I've been out-of-pocket most of the day and watched the Republican debate on PBS before I popped on the internet to find out the great news. Now, I'm thrilled that Mychal is no longer locked up but let's not forget that he'll be tried as a juvenile.

Although elated as I read Howard Witt's coverage of the latest development, the first thing that came to mind was not the indescribable joy the young man and his family must have felt at his release, my concern is for the quality of life for the Jena 6 and the other blacks in that very small and very racist town of Jena, Louisiana.

Do the Jena 6 attend school or are they home-schooled? How are blacks treated in Jena after the world now knows how racist the folks are there? Are there any measures in place to protect the Jena 6 and other blacks in the area?

I would hope Gov. Blanco and Pres. Bush would do the right thing and make sure the people of Jena, Louisiana are provided the type of leadership that will allow the town to overcome its challenges to racial tolerance and allow the community to heal.

The folks currently in leadership positions, especially regarding law enforcement, have exacerbated the racial divide to the point that it is doubtful they could lawfully carry out their appointed or elected duties. If Pres. Bush and Gov. Blanco don't get Jena, Louisiana in order then I respectfully submit that Kanye West was right.

Have you been overcharged? Always check your receipt!

I've spent at least $5,000 a year at Office Depot for the last five to seven years. A recent headline about price scanner overcharges in California gives me much cause for concern. I can't tell you I check each and every item I purchase. I do check the larger purchases such as equipment and office furniture.

I will check every item from now on. If this problem occurred in California, it can occur anywhere.

Office Depot settles $2.3M suit

All-American Presidential Forum Successful Despite Absent Republican Candidates

The top four Republican candidates for president of the United States, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson, declined to particpate in tonight's national debate presented on PBS and hosted by Tavis Smiley. The debate was staged on the historic campus of Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland.

There's been a lot of discussion about the snub of the Republican candidates and quite frankly I don't understand all the fuss. Some analysts assert that it is more beneficial for the candidates to focus on fundraising efforts rather than participate in a debate focused on issues of concern to blacks because blacks don't vote Republican. Others assert that the candidates would be subjected to hostility from the majority black audience. The latter reason, while probably the most real, is in itself an example of how far we still need to go to truly be a country of equality for all of its citizens. Why anyone would believe that blacks would not have the same basic concerns as whites is both sad and laughable. For those same individuals to aspire and campaign to be the leader of this nation is disrespectful and insulting.

Whatever the reason, I take issue with blacks and whites who put any energy in encouraging…persuading…i.e. begging McCain, Romney, Giuliani and Thompson to participate in tonight's debate. Regardless the reason, I prefer the snub to let me know your true feelings as opposed to less than genuine concern.

What I do want to know is, after the snub of tonight's debate, how could any Black Republican support any of the absent candidates?

Racism and the Jena 6: The Real Deal

There's been far too much mis-information, missing information and spin when it comes to the Jena 6 and several other recent race-related incidents in the United States. If you want accurate, objective and complete reporting, I suggest you read the work of the Chicago Tribune's Howard Witt.

I became aware of Mr. Witt through the Shaquanda Cotton case in Paris, TX. He's one of the few in the media that gets it right. I was reminded of his article by Will Jones. Thanks, for the nudge, Will. Check it out for the complete story of the Jena 6. Please share it with your friends. It's time for the whole truth to be told.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Racial demons rear heads

After months of unrest between blacks and whites in Louisiana town, some see racism and uneven justice

By Howard Witt | Tribune senior correspondent

May 20, 2007


The trouble in Jena started with the nooses. Then it rumbled along the town's jagged racial fault lines. Finally, it exploded into months of violence between blacks and whites.

Now the 3,000 residents of this small lumber and oil town deep in the heart of central Louisiana are confronting Old South racial demons many thought had long ago been put to rest.One morning last September, students arrived at the local high school to find three hangman's nooses dangling from a tree in the courtyard.

The tree was on the side of the campus that, by long-standing tradition, had always been claimed by white students, who make up more than 80 percent of the 460 students. But a few of the school's 85 black students had decided to challenge the accepted state of things and asked school administrators if they, too, could sit beneath the tree's cooling shade.

"Sit wherever you want," school officials told them. The next day, the nooses were hanging from the branches.

African-American students and their parents were outraged and intimidated by the display, which instantly summoned memories of the mob lynchings that once terrorized blacks across the American South. Three white students were quickly identified as being responsible, and the high school principal recommended that they be expelled.

"Hanging those nooses was a hate crime, plain and simple," said Tracy Bowens, a black mother of two students at the high school who protested the incident at a school board meeting.

But Jena's white school superintendent, Roy Breithaupt, ruled that the nooses were just a youthful stunt and suspended the students for three days, angering blacks who felt harsher punishments were justified.

"Adolescents play pranks," said Breithaupt, the superintendent of the LaSalle Parish school system. "I don't think it was a threat against anybody."

Yet it was after the noose incident that the violent, racially charged events that are still convulsing Jena began.

First, a series of fights between black and white students erupted at the high school over the nooses. Then, in late November, unknown arsonists set fire to the central wing of the school, which still sits in ruins. Off campus, a white youth beat up a black student who showed up at an all-white party. A few days later, another young white man pulled a shotgun on three black students at a convenience store.

Finally, on Dec. 4, a group of black students at the high school allegedly jumped a white student on his way out of the gym, knocked him unconscious and kicked him after he hit the floor. The victim -- allegedly targeted because he was a friend of the students who hung the nooses and had been taunting blacks -- was not seriously injured and spent only a few hours in the hospital.

But the LaSalle Parish district attorney, Reed Walters, opted to charge six black students with attempted second-degree murder and other offenses, for which they could face a maximum of 100 years in prison if convicted. All six were expelled from school.

To the defendants, their families and civil rights groups that have examined the events, the attempted murder charges brought by a white prosecutor are excessive and part of a pattern of uneven justice in the town.

The critics note, for example, that the white youth who beat the black student at the party was charged only with simple battery, while the white man who pulled the shotgun at the convenience store wasn't charged with any crime at all. But the three black youths in that incident were arrested and accused of aggravated battery and theft after they wrestled the weapon from the man -- in self-defense, they said.

"There's been obvious racial discrimination in this case," said Joe Cook, executive director of the Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, who described Jena as a "racial powder keg" primed to ignite. "It appears the black students were singled out and targeted in this case for some unusually harsh treatment."

That's how the mother of one of the defendants sees things as well.

"They are sending a message to the white kids, 'You have committed this hate crime, you were taunting these black children, and we are going to allow you to continue doing what you are doing,'" said Caseptla Bailey, mother of Robert Bailey Jr.

Bailey, 17, is caught up in several of the Jena incidents, as both a victim and alleged perpetrator. He was the black student who was beaten at the party, and he was among the students arrested for allegedly grabbing the shotgun from the man at the convenience store. And he's one of the six students charged with attempted murder for the Dec. 4 attack.

The district attorney declined repeated requests to be interviewed for this story. But other white leaders insist there are no racial tensions in the community, which is 85 percent white and 12 percent black.

"Jena is a place that's moving in the right direction," said Mayor Murphy McMillan. "Race is not a major local issue. It's not a factor in the local people's lives."

Still others, however, acknowledge troubling racial undercurrents in a town where only 16 years ago white voters cast most of their ballots for David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader who ran unsuccessfully for Louisiana governor.

"I've lived here most of my life, and the one thing I can state with absolutely no fear of contradiction is that LaSalle Parish is awash in racism -- true racism," a white Pentecostal preacher, Eddie Thompson, wrote in an essay he posted on the Internet. "Here in the piney woods of central Louisiana ... racism and bigotry are such a part of life that most of the citizens do not even recognize it."

The lone black member of the school board agrees.

"There's no doubt about it -- whites and blacks are treated differently here," said Melvin Worthington, who was the only school board member to vote against expelling the six black students charged in the beating case. "The white kids should have gotten more punishment for hanging those nooses. If they had, all the stuff that followed could have been avoided."

And the troubles at the high school are not over yet.

On May 10, police arrested Justin Barker, 17, the white victim of the Dec. 4 beating. He was alleged to have a rifle loaded with 13 bullets stashed behind the seat of his pickup truck parked in the school lot. Barker told police he had forgotten it was there and had no intention of using it.

Would You Swap Your Ride?

My friend, William "DC" Clark is featured in the new Ford "Swap Swap_3 Your Ride" campaign. It's so cool to see he and his family on television with him talking about the Ford Expedition.

With the new campaign, Ford went undercover to find out what would happen if people who own other brands of vehicles were to get behind the wheel of a Ford. Clark and his family thought they were attending a party. Little did they know, they would become a part of a national marketing campaign.

In all, 90 competitive vehicle owners from New York, Dallas, Miami and Los Angeles agreed to evaluate one of 11 Ford vehicles, including a Ford Fusion, Focus, Mustang, Taurus, Edge, Escape, Escape Hybrid, Expedition, Expedition EL, F-150 or F-Series Super Duty during a week-long test drive.

The subsequent "Swap Your Ride" television commercials, which take their inspiration from the reality TV phenomenon, feature candid feedback from people who thought they were test-driving vehicles for market research.

"When consumers experience a new Ford vehicle for themselves -- especially when they haven't driven one of our products lately -- it's almost always an eye-opening experience," said Barry Engle, general manager, Ford Marketing. "In 'Swap Your Ride,' real people tell this story in their own words."

"Swap Your Ride" participants were asked before and after their test-drive experience whether they would be open to purchasing or leasing a Ford vehicle in the future. The results: Purchase consideration following consumers' week-long product evaluation doubled to nearly 80 percent.

Since the debut of the Fusion Challenge campaign with the help of Car and Driver in January, Ford broadcast, print and digital ads have emphasized the strength of its products versus the competition. "Swap Your Ride" is the latest to embrace that third party marketing approach.

"It really takes the credibility of a third party, in this case having actual people share their experiences, that we believe makes 'Swap' so effective," said Kim Cape, communications manager for Ford Division marketing and sales. "We're letting consumers speak candidly about our products."

The campaign is backed by an offer of up to $1,000 "Swap Bonus Cash" through Oct. 1 on most 2007 and 2008 model year vehicles in addition to all existing retail and lease offers.

The first of 28 "Swap Your Ride" television commercials, including Spanish-language ads, began airing last week. Print executions in USA Today and in major Top 25 market newspapers debuted Friday, Sept. 7.

Digital advertising for "Swap Your Ride" also will appear on a variety of sites including Google, Yahoo!, MSN and other automotive research sites. In addition, features additional behind-the-scenes footage compiled during the clinics.

Click here for DC's commercial.

Click here for the "Behind the Scenes" video.

Of Mychal Bell, Nooses and Two Americas

Presidential candidate John Edwards has spoken of two Americas. Perhaps America is in need of a remix of that speech. Not since the 1950’s has the United States’ ugly secret of racism been flaunted so blatantly. The day after the march in support of the Jena 6, racist white Americans in Louisiana continue to moon the rest of America by not releasing Mychal Bell.

Some people say that Justin Barker, the white student beaten by blacks, is being overlooked. Those same folks fail to consider that Justin attended an event only hours after leaving the hospital for his injuries. Those same folks are either unaware or choose to ignore the fact that Jena 6 defendant Robert Bailey was attacked by whites at an all-white party only days before the Barker incident. A white convenience store clerk also pulled a weapon on black youths. Is the media talking about that? I don’t think so.

It’s time for the federal government to step in and do what Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco has failed to do --- investigate the Louisiana judicial and educational systems. What is most disturbing about the Jena 6 case is how quickly law enforcement and education officials dismiss the display of nooses by whites as pranks yet feel justified in charging black teens with attempted murder for attacking a white teen and not filing any charges when a black teen was assaulted by whites. Come on, people, completely ignoring the ethnicity of the folks involved --- that’s just wrong.

This is the America that dictators like Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez like to talk about. This is the America that Al-Qaeda cites as examples of the hypocrisy of democracy. If you didn’t know it before, you know it now: blacks are still terror victims in America today.

Don’t get it twisted; the America in which we live is the same America in which Republican candidates for president feel comfortable in alienating not just blacks, but Latinos also.

Undeniably there has been progress in the U.S. regarding race relations but when folks charged with meting out justice, flagrantly deny the rights of American citizens without any recourse, America has lost its way.

Have You Seen Nailah Franklin? Update #1

Nailah Franklin's company car and some of her personal belongings were found yesterday near an abandoned warehouse in Hammond, Indiana. Still no sign of Nailah. Police authorities also searched a pond at a nearby golf course.

Noticeably, law enforcement has not released the name of the man that recently threatened Nailah. That man apparently has a history of threatening women.

Nailah's family remains positive in this situation.


Here's the latest from The Chicago Tribune:

Missing woman's car found; vigil held

By Emma Graves Fitzsimmons | Tribune staff reporter

10:04 PM CDT, September 22, 2007

The family of a Chicago woman who disappeared five days ago held out hope Saturday that she is still alive even after police found her car in Hammond.

Police found Nailah Franklin's vehicle near an abandoned building and recovered some of her personal belongings there. The information led them to a nearby pond at a golf course, but they did not find anything there, authorities said.

Franklin, 28, an Eli Lilly and Co. pharmaceutical representative, has been missing since Tuesday.


Related Link:

Have You Seen Nailah Franklin?