Thursday, June 28, 2012

Supreme Court Upholds President Obama's Healthcare Mandate

Washington, DC AP reported, today -- The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the vast majority of President Barack Obama's historic health care overhaul, including the hotly debated core requirement that virtually all Americans have health insurance.

The 5-4 decision means the huge overhaul, still taking effect, will proceed and pick up momentum over the next several years, affecting the way that countless Americans receive and pay for their personal medical care.

The ruling hands Obama a campaign-season victory in rejecting arguments that Congress went too far in approving the plan. However, Republicans quickly indicated they will try to use the decision to rally their supporters against what they call "Obamacare."

Stocks of hospital companies rose sharply, and insurance companies fell immediately after the decision was announced that Americans must carry health insurance or pay a penalty.

Breaking with the court's other conservative justices, Chief Justice John Roberts announced the judgment that allows the law to go forward with its aim of covering more than 30 million uninsured Americans.

The justices rejected two of the administration's three arguments in support of the insurance requirement. But the court said the mandate can be construed as a tax. "Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness," Roberts said.

The court found problems with the law's expansion of Medicaid, but even there said the expansion could proceed as long as the federal government does not threaten to withhold states' entire Medicaid allotment if they don't take part in the law's extension.

The court's four liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, joined Roberts in the outcome.

Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

"The act before us here exceeds federal power both in mandating the purchase of health insurance and in denying non-consenting states all Medicaid funding," the dissenters said in a joint statement.

Kennedy summarized the dissent in court. "In our view, the act before us is invalid in its entirety," he said.

The legislation passed Congress in early 2010 after a monumental struggle in which all Republicans voted against it. House Republicans announced in advance of the ruling they would vote to wipe out whatever was left standing by the justices, and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has joined in calls for its complete repeal.

After the ruling, Republican campaign strategists said Romney will use it to continue campaigning against "Obamacare" and attacking the president's signature health care program as a tax increase.

"Obama might have his law, but the GOP has a cause," said veteran campaign adviser Terry Holt. "This promises to galvanize Republican support around a repeal of what could well be called the largest tax increase in American history."

Democrats said Romney, who backed an individual health insurance mandate when he was Massachusetts governor, will have a hard time exploiting the ruling.

"Mitt Romney is the intellectual godfather of Obamacare," said Democratic consultant Jim Manley. "The bigger issue is the rising cost of health care, and this bill is designed to deal with it."

Justice Ginsburg said the court should have upheld the entire law as written without forcing any changes in the Medicaid provision. She said Congress' constitutional authority to regulate interstate commerce supports the individual mandate. She warned that the legal reasoning, even though the law was upheld, could cause trouble in future cases.

"So in the end, the Affordable Health Care Act survives largely unscathed. But the court's commerce clause and spending clause jurisprudence has been set awry. My expectation is that the setbacks will be temporary blips, not permanent obstructions," Ginsburg said in a statement she, too, read from the bench.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Gay Pride Oreo causes controversy

Kraft Foods recently posted a picture of a Gay Pride Oreo on its Facebook page.

It shows an Oreo stuffed with rainbow-colored layers of frosting, with the caption "Proudly Support Love."

Since Monday night, nearly 200,000 people have liked the post, 60,000 have shared it, and 30,000 have commented on it.

Most of the comments were positive, but some people threatened to boycott Oreo because of the post.
The rainbow-colored cookie will not be sold in stores.

It was just created for an advertising campaign during Gay Pride month.

Kraft said it has a proud history of celebrating diversity and inclusiveness. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Navy Official Reassigned After He Fails to Deal With Gay Hazing

Navy official Charles Berry was removed because of what he did after a sailor reported an attempted rape. 

The Associated Press reported today - Navy official Charles Berry was removed from his post aboard the U.S.S. Florida because he failed to take action against gay hazing, according to a recently-released military report.
Before being reassigned in the spring, Berry served as Master Chief Machinist's Mate and Chief of Boat aboard the Navy nuclear submarine. Berry was removed from the ship because he failed to take action against the hazing of a sailor, who was harassed after he reported an attempted rape. The sailor reported that a man held him at knifepoint at the port of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Other sailors on the U.S.S. Florida discovered the incident and hounded the sailor viciously, hurling gay slurs and jokes at him.
"Among other things, he was called a derogatory term for a gay person and referred to as 'Brokeback,'" the Associated Press reports, "a reference to the gay-themed movie Brokeback Mountain. In addition, someone posted a drawing of a stick figure being sexually assaulted." The aggrieved sailor also  endured taunting when sailors underwent training for the end of "don't ask, don't tell."
According to the report, the U.S.S. Florida has a culture of antigay harassment and hazing. Berry, who wasn't accused of hazing but simply not doing anything about it, was reassigned, while the accused sailors were reprimanded, and counseling and training was ordered for all on the ship.
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network executive director Aubrey Sarvis released the following statement:
"At SLDN, we are disappointed by what happened aboard the USS Florida, but it appears that this command took swift and appropriate action once the incidents were disclosed . This unfortunate and unprofessional conduct underscores that we must continue to be vigilant as implementation continues, by and large, without major challenges."
 Read more:

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Adele song wakes 7-year-old from coma reports - It’s hard to imagine having to say goodbye to a 7-year-old, but that is exactly what doctors told Leila Neve, 31, to do as her daughter, Charlotte, lay comatose in a UK hospital. Charlotte suffered from a brain hemorrhage in her sleep on April 13th. She was rushed to their local hospital where she underwent two surgeries, according to, and suffered from a series of strokes. After being in a coma for a week, doctors recommended that the family start saying their goodbyes.

Charlotte’s mother, Leila, climbed into her daughter’s hospital bed to say goodbye, as Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”, her daughter’s favorite song, came on the radio. Leila started to sing the song to her daughter, and Charlotte started smiling. Her mother and nurses were in disbelief.

Australian Women’s Weekly reported Leila’s initial response: “Charlotte started smiling and I couldn’t believe it. It was the first time she had reacted to anything since the hemorrhage. The nurses were astounded and told me to keep singing, and she smiled again.”

Just a few days after smiling, Charlotte began talking and learning to walk again. Charlotte returned to school and dance class just two months after the initial incident, although she now suffers from memory loss and partial blindness, reports Ace Showbiz. Her recovery is considered a miracle.

Food for thought:


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Rodney King, Key Figure in LA Riots, Found Dead

AP reports: Los Angeles, CA (June 17, 2012) -- Rodney King, the black motorist whose 1991 videotaped beating by Los Angeles police officers was the touchstone for one of the most destructive race riots in the nation's history, died Sunday. He was 47.

King's fiancé called 911 at 5:25 a.m. to report she found him at the bottom of the swimming pool at their home in Rialto, Calif., police Lt. Dean Hardin.

Officers arrived to find King unresponsive in the water, Hardin said. He was transported to Arrowhead Regional Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 6:11 a.m.

There were no signs of foul play, Hardin said.  He was transported to Arrowhead Regional Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 6:11 a.m.

There were no signs of foul play, Hardin said. The San Bernardino County coroner will perform an autopsy within 48 hours.

The 1992 riots, which were set off by the acquittals of the officers who beat King, lasted three days and left 55 people dead, more than 2,000 injured and swaths of Los Angeles on fire. At the height of the violence, King pleaded on television: "Can we all get along?"

King was stopped for speeding on a darkened street on March 3, 1991. Four Los Angeles police officers hit him more than 50 times with their batons, kicked him and shot him with stun guns.

A man who had quietly stepped outside his home to observe the commotion videotaped most of it and turned a copy over to a TV station. It was played over and over for the following year, inflaming racial tensions across the country.

It seemed that the videotape would be the key evidence to a guilty verdict against the officers, whose trial was moved to the predominantly white suburb of Simi Valley, Calif. Instead, on April 29, 1992, a jury with no black members acquitted three of the officers; a mistrial was declared for a fourth.

Violence erupted immediately, starting in South Los Angeles.

Police, seemingly caught off-guard, were quickly outnumbered by rioters and retreated. As the uprising spread to the city's Koreatown area, shop owners armed themselves and engaged in running gun battles with looters.

During the riots, a white truck driver named Reginald Denny was pulled by several black men from his cab and beaten almost to death. He required surgery to repair his shattered skull, reset his jaw and put one eye back into its socket.

The police chief, Daryl Gates, came under intense criticism from city officials who said officers were slow to respond to the riots. He was forced to retire. Gates died of cancer in 2010.

In the two decades after he became the central figure in the riots, King was arrested several times, mostly for alcohol-related crimes. He later became a record company executive and a reality TV star, appearing on shows such as "Celebrity Rehab."

In an interview earlier this year with The Associated Press, King said he was a happy man.

"America's been good to me after I paid the price and stayed alive through it all," he says. "This part of my life is the easy part now.

Happy Father's Day, Dad

Coming Full Circle
(Dedicated to the memory of my father Richard)
Syneeda Penland ©2012

         Does death immortally bond us,
            or does our love fade away?
            Will thoughts of you always be with us,
            with each passing day?

            Death is a strange thing.
            Oftentimes you don't know how to feel,
            a feeling of numbness is first felt,
            while accepting the truth
            everything around you seems surreal.

            What’s left are the memories of your smile,
            the words that you have spoken,
            the many ways you touched our hearts,
            your memories become a token.

            Your generosity and your kindness
            always showing that you care,
            those who truly knew you
            could count on you
            to always be there.

            No matter how you chose to live your life,
            experiencing many trials and tribulations,
            you maintained your faith in God,
            in the end,
            receiving his affirmation.

            Through your life’s journey,
            finally “Coming Full Circle”,
            you remained grounded in your beliefs.
            With each passing word you spoke,
            you never showed discern of disbelief.

            It was your wish
            we celebrate this occasion,
            to always remember you
            at your very best.
            Now you say farewell, to all of us,
            as we lay you down to rest.

                I stand here today
            to proudly accept the torch
            of your legacy,
            the memories of your kind spirit
            and caring ways
            will forever remain inside of me.

            If I may speak on behalf of my siblings
            as we proudly say:
            “I am my Father’s Daughter!
            “I am my Father's Son!”

            Dear Father,
            it is your legacy,
            We will continue to carry on.

            We love you,
            and may you Rest in Peace!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Peek at Pentagon Pork: A Taxpayers’ Guide

Time's Battlefield blog recently reported - 
The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) and the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee (sometimes called the HAC-D) have reported their separate defense bills to the House of Representatives (both bills purport to address both spending and policy). The House has already debated and passed the HASC’s “National Defense Authorization Act” (NDAA); it will soon debate the defense appropriations bill. Let’s check out what they’ve drafted and try to figure out which panel is the House’s reigning Pentagon pork king.
The press has covered both bills with multiple daily articles; the House debate, while truncated, got into all sorts of nuts and bolts, including amendments on labor practices in DOD contracting, military depot policy, and protection of sea otters in navy exercise areas, among many other things. In all, there were 141 amendments allowed for debate. That level of legislative and journalistic activity would suggest that the bill and its accompanying “committee report” were thoroughly scrubbed to make sure there were no slimy invertebrates hiding under rocks in the depths of the bill or its report.
Think no such thing.
The sea otters and other minutia addressed in amendments, for example, reflect the energy and thoroughness of lobbyists, not of congressional staff or others. Otherwise, some particularly odious elements of the HASC bill would hopefully have been challenged by one of the very few existing guardians of ethics and governance in the House. Had they or their staffs combed thoroughly through the bill and report they would have uncovered and, I hope, exposed that everlasting object of interest by Members of Congress: pork.
Surely, that’s impossible. Even if reluctantly, Congress reformed itself on pork. Right? Indeed, it says so right here on page 530:
 If you think that Congress has rid itself of all its mechanisms to push pork, you don’t understand Congress. In going over the two committee’s reports, which are not exactly user-friendly documents, I found what looks to me like a pork slush fund in the HASC bill. I should know, as a congressional staffer over three decades I pushed more than my share of pork for the senators I worked for (from both parties).
At the end of my congressional career—while working for Senator Pete V. Domenici, R-N.M., at both the Senate Budget Committee and the SAC-D—I pushed earmarks for one of Capitol Hill’s uber porkers. Domenici was known, and loved, in New Mexico as “Saint Pete” for his singular success in bringing home tons of bacon, year after year, in every way imaginable.
The HASC and HAC-D reports contain sections addressing spending for “operation and maintenance” (O&M). This spending is generally known to be for training, facilities upkeep, military exercises, repair and maintenance, and more—the essential spending that keeps our military going and competent. Hardly a place for pork, one would think—unless you know Congress.
I got suspicious when I found a lot of entries in the tables for O&M spending in the HASC report labeled “Restoration & Modernization of Facilities.” There were dollar amounts sprinkled through the O&M table, many of them large, added for each military service and the Reserves and National Guards, but there was no explanation what the money was really for. The explanatory material in the text didn’t explain diddley, except for one vague assertion that there was a “substantial increase for facility restoration and modernization” for the Air Force.
I found nothing even at that level of vagueness for any of the other services, but I did find explanations for other adds in the O&M money tables for other things, like keeping aircraft in the inventory that the Obama administration wants to retire. In short, the money being added for “Restoration & Modernization of Facilities” was being added without any meaningful guidance, none whatsoever.
Don’t bother thinking long and hard where that guidance might actually be coming from.
This money has the distinct odor of being a slush fund not for the bureaucrats but for Members of Congress. When the legislation is signed into law, DOD will get some letters and phone calls. Fort Huachuca needs a new gate; Camp Pendleton’s Marine Memorial Golf Course needs alteration; the commanding officer’s house needs a porch redo at Langley Air Force Base: these hypothetical examples are the sorts of things that military base commanders lobby Congress to fix; they do it out of the usual budget chain of command, where impertinent questions—like “why?”—don’t get asked.
The Members of the HASC—at least the ones who know about the slush fund—probably already have a list; when the bill is law and the money is available for use, the letters and phone calls will start coming in at the Pentagon’s congressional liaison offices. This entire gambit is very reminiscent of a slushy pork fund the HASC set up last year for private enterprise initiatives in R&D spending—except that this new one is buried in the bill’s report.
The dollar amounts are not peanuts. The Army will be getting $193.6 million for unspecified “Restoration and Modernization of Facilities.” The Air Force: $215.5 million; the Army National Guard $49.4 million. In all, I count $594.7 million in the HASC report (details here).
The report from the House Appropriations Committee contains an interesting difference. The HAC-D spending tables for O&M money contain the same sort of title for this item (“Facilities Sustainment, Restoration, & Modernization”), but the text adds an actual explanation. It says that in the previous year, the Committee expressed its concern over just how real the Pentagon’s proposed efficiency savings would be:

While unspecific, this guidance does obtusely but significantly limit how the appropriators want to see this money spent. What the HASC set up as a general pot of money with no instruction, the HAC-D had guidance for. Nor was it a question of economy of words; the HASC report is a mind-bending 583 pages, in two volumes; the HAC-D report is a somewhat less-numbing 340 pages.
It is depressing indeed: the House Appropriations Committee—renowned for its porkiness—is significantly less aggressive about setting up a slush fund for itself than the HASC.
Of course, I could have this wrong. The members of the House Appropriations Committee could easily turn out to be every bit as aggressive about instructing DOD on how to spend this extra facility-maintenance money as the HASC members. There may even be reason to think so; the HAC-D proposes much more money for the purpose. The HAC-D total for this category comes to $722.3 million: a fulsome $127.6 million more than the HASC. Perhaps, the Members and staff at the HAC-D have a few extra loose ends they want to tighten up at those facilities.
Moreover, there appears to be at least one other slush fund—again in the HASC report. On page 278, it sets up a $500 million equipment fund for the National Guard, in addition to the $3.1 billion already requested by the president for National Guard equipment:

I know this game and have played it many times: during the executive branch’s budget process, the National Guard adjutants general in the states lobby the Defense Department for new equipment purchases, with the able assistance of the manufacturers.
When that process is over, they lobby Capitol Hill for whatever additional equipment that didn’t make it through the executive branch process. Each year, in Senator Domenici’s office, we would get letters from the governor and his National Guard adjutant general about more Patriot missiles, upgraded F-16s and a lot else.
Not coincidently, these letters were usually followed up by a visit from the manufacturers’ lobbyists. The process was as porky as it gets. The HASC’s $500 million slush fund for the National Guard is a part of all that. The letters and phone calls to DOD on just how to spend that money will be pouring in from Members of Congress.
I focused mostly on the O&M sections of the HASC and HAC-D reports. There are probably other slush funds buried in the combined 923 pages of those documents; they need a thorough scrubbing by someone other than myself to capture all the creatures hiding under rocks in these two bills. The same goes for the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), which is also finishing up its version of the 2013 defense authorization. Always the paragon of pomposity for pretending solicitude for the soldier while slathering itself with pork, the SASC’s reports always make amusing reading.
So who is this year’s king of defense pork on the Hill? The HASC would seem to have a palpable edge. It’s always a close-run thing, and there are hot contenders to be checked out, but for now they must, by a snout, get the nod.
Winslow T. Wheeler is the Director of the Straus Military Reform Project of the Center for Defense Information at the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) in Washington. He is also the editor of the anthology “The Pentagon Labyrinth: 10 Short Essays to Help You Through It”.

Read more:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

An Article by the National Organization for Women

The Origins of Affirmative Action
by Marquita Sykes
Affirmative action, the set of public policies and initiatives designed to help eliminate past and present discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, is under attack.
  • Originally, civil rights programs were enacted to help African Americans become full citizens of the United States. The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution made slavery illegal; the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law; the Fifteenth Amendment forbids racial discrimination in access to voting. The 1866 Civil Rights Act guarantees every citizen "the same right to make and enforce contracts ... as is enjoyed by white citizens ... "
  • In 1896, the Supreme Court's decision in Plessy v. Ferguson upheld a "separate, but equal" doctrine that proved to be anything but equal for African Americans. The decision marked the end of the post-Civil War reconstruction era as Jim Crow laws spread across the South.
  • In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802 which outlawed segregationist hiring policies by defense-related industries which held federal contracts. Roosevelt's signing of this order was a direct result of efforts by Black trade union leader, A. Philip Randolph.
  • During 1953 President Harry S. Truman's Committee on Government Contract Compliance urged the Bureau of Employment Security "to act positively and affirmatively to implement the policy of nondiscrimination . . . ."
  • The 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education overturned Plessy v. Ferguson.
  • The actual phrase "affirmative action" was first used in President John F. Kennedy's 1961 Executive Order 10925 which requires federal contractors to "take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin." The same language was later used in Lyndon Johnson's 1965 Executive Order 11246.
  • In 1967, Johnson expanded the Executive Order to include affirmative action requirements to benefit women.
  • Other equal protection laws passed to make discrimination illegal were the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Title II and VII of which forbid racial discrimination in "public accommodations" and race and sex discrimination in employment, respectively; and the1965 Voting Rights Act adopted after Congress found "that racial discrimination in voting was an insidious and pervasive evil which had been perpetuated in certain parts of the country through unremitting and ingenious defiance of the Constitution."
Much of the opposition to affirmative action is framed on the grounds of so-called "reverse discrimination and unwarranted preferences." In fact, less than 2 percent of the 91,000 employment discrimination cases pending before the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission are reverse discrimination cases. Under the law as written in Executive Orders and interpreted by the courts, anyone benefiting from affirmative action must have relevant and valid job or educational qualifications.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fired Navy Commanding Officer confessed to committing Adultery

"Investigation" Report details CO’s affair with captain’s wife
 Capt. Robert Marin confessed to having an affair with another captain's wife
and was relieved from his position as cruiser Cowpens' commanding officer. 
Navy Times article recently reported:
Capt. Robert Marin returned to the investigator’s office in Yokosuka, Japan, at 1:15 p.m. on Feb. 9. He had come to make a statement. The day before, Marin, commanding officer of the cruiser Cowpens, had heard the charges leveled against him: that he’d had an affair with a fellow captain’s wife.
Under pressure from mounting evidence, Marin, a 47-year-old married officer, confessed. He acknowledged they had set up email accounts under pseudonyms to set up liaisons in Yokosuka and in Hong Kong, when his ship stopped there in November.
“I deeply regret my actions,” he told the investigating officer in a written statement, obtained by Navy Times via an open records request. The investigator was looking into violations of three Uniform Code of Military Justice articles, including adultery. Marin denied that the affair had ever clouded his judgment and after answering the investigator’s questions, had one of his own: “Will this be a UCMJ charge?”
The answer came the following day when Rear Adm. John Haley, commander of the George Washington Carrier Strike Group, fired Marin as Cowpens’ CO. The second of the 10 COs fired this year, Marin’s case is the latest evidence that a small but significant number of the Navy’s best officers continue to engage in improper relationships.
At least seven other COs have been relieved for adultery and inappropriate personal relationships since 2010.
“The adulterous relationship is discrediting to the U.S. Navy,” the strike group’s investigating officer concluded, “and if knowledge of the affair becomes public, it will further tarnish the reputation of the Navy’s commanding officers.”
Marin’s departure marks more turmoil for the Cowpens. Marin was in the middle of a turnover two years ago when his predecessor, Capt. Holly Graf, was fired for cruelty toward her crew in a widely publicized case.
Through his attorney, Marin, who has been reassigned to Military Sealift Command, declined to comment on his relief.
The affair began in September. Marin and his wife lived three or four houses down the block from another Navy captain and his wife in Yokosuka. Names were redacted from the command investigation, obtained by Navy Times via the Freedom of Information Act. The couples met to socialize. Marin and the other captain’s spouse, who was then in an increasingly rocky marriage, became friends — a relationship that later crossed the line, the investigation concluded.
Under the pretense of a trip with a master chief’s wife, the spouse travelled alone to Hong Kong in November; Cowpens anchored off Hong Kong for five days. She checked into the Langham Hotel. Late at night, after the executive officer had gone to bed, Marin took a cab from his hotel to the Langham, he later told the investigator.
The relationship continued after Hong Kong. They shared music, suggested a trip to the Maldives, and even started to dream of a future together where their children became step-siblings.
“They acted like two teenagers with newfound romance that their parents would disapprove, rather than responsible parents with families involved,” the investigator concluded.
Still, while a very public setback, it may not be an end for Marin’s career. Marin, a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, has served aboard six ships over his 26-year career and has been awarded the Legion of Merit, two Meritorious Service Medals and a Combat Action Ribbon, among other decorations.
Noting this “impeccable” record, the investigating officer said Marin’s admission of guilt and remorse “will allow him to put this episode behind him and be able to continue to serve the Navy.”

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sheriff: Father kills man sexually abusing his daughter

(CNN) Reports -- A Texas father caught a man sexually assaulting his 4-year-old daughter and punched him in the head repeatedly, killing him, authorities said.

The father was casually acquainted with the alleged abuser, said Lavaca County Sheriff Micah Harmon.

Neither has been publicly identified.

The girl was left inside the family's house during the social gathering, while other members of her family were tending to horses, the sheriff said.

The alleged abuser was known for his horse-grooming abilities, Harmon said.
The father returned to the house, caught the man in the act, and stopped him by striking him in the head several times, Harmon said.

The man was pronounced dead on the scene, while the daughter was taken to a local hospital in Victoria, Texas, for examinations before being released.

The incident took place Saturday.

Harmon described the girl as "OK besides the obvious mental trauma."

Asked whether they would press charges against the father, the sheriff responded, "You have a right to defend your daughter. He acted in defense of his third person. Once the investigation is completed we will submit it to the district attorney who then submits it to the grand jury, who will decide if they will indict him."

Harmon described the dad as "very remorseful," adding that he didn't know the man was going to die.

Authorities were withholding the deceased man's name while they notified next of kin. Officials did not know immediately if he has a prior criminal history.

Lavaca County Precinct Judge Alene Lyons, who is coordinating information in the case including autopsy results, said Monday that a preliminary autopsy report indicated the victim "died from blunt-force head and neck injuries."

"It will take six weeks to get the full report back because they also did a toxicology report," Lyons said.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Gays unite with blacks to fight ‘stop-and-frisk’

Reported by the
Contrary to the conventional wisdom, gays and blacks are working together.
This week in Jackson Heights, Queens in New York City, gay rights groups protested the NYPD’s “stop-and-frisk” policy, which targets mostly black and Latino men.  Civil rights and civil liberties groups such as the NYCLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights claim the practice is racially discriminatory.  Last year, New York’s finest targeted nearly 700,000 people for the stop-and-frisk policy, resulting in no arrests for 80 percent of those subjected to the practice.  And the LGBT community is concerned that transgender Latinos and others are targeted as well.
Despite some complaints among blacks over the years regarding the lack of support they received from the LGBT community, the Jackson Heights protest is proof to the contrary.  And at a time when black homophobia and the rift between gays and African-Americans has received much attention — and much has been made of the disconnect between the two groups on civil rights issues — this provides a blueprint for future collaborations.
As for the LGBT community, this latest move against heavy-handed police tactics makes sense, particularly if you take a look at the history of their movement.  The Stonewall rebellion marked the birth of the LGBT movement, 43 years ago.  On June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village, Manhattan.
The routine raid, in which transvestites were arrested and customers harassed, erupted in violence ascustomers decided to fight back. The NYPD officers responded by beating and arresting patrons.  Throughout the city, protests continued for days.  Stonewall was a turning point because it enabled gay and lesbian groups to organize around their rights.  After all, like black demonstrators who had faced water hoses, police dogs and batons throughout that decade, they were being targeted as a group by the legal system and by the majority society because of what they were.
But like any social movement, the LGBT movement has experienced conflicts along race, class and gender lines, with domination by privileged white gay men.  Meanwhile, black gays and lesbians were left feeling as if their multi-issue concerns over racism, economic injustice and sexual exploitation were not welcome in the movement because they were not “gay” issues.  Meanwhile, members of the gay community have felt as if straight groups have done little to fight homophobia, which strains community and family relationships, and makes it more difficult to fight the HIV/AIDS crisis.  Further, the black church has come under fire for its perceived homophobia and failure to address sexuality head on, even as black LGBT churchgoers sit in the pews or sing in the choir, and anti-gay clergy are accused of living in the closet.
However, there are hopeful signs of progress between traditional African-American civil rights groups and gay rights organizations.  As Steven Thrasher writes in the Village Voice, a new alliance between black and LGBT rights groups around stop and frisk is a smart political move for the gay rights establishment.  Stop and frisk is an important issue to New York’s communities of color, as it implicates marijuana arrests and the war on drugs.  Aside from the reality that gay young men are affected by heavy-handed police tactics, focusing on police abuse challenges the image of gay men living a wealthy, white Will and Grace existence.

Telling the "Truth", even if it hurts!

            Our Black is Beautiful
                              Syneeda Penland ©2012

                                    Our black is beautiful,
                                    More beautiful than
                                    The most precious black rose.

                                    Our black is beautiful,
                                    Despite all the false stories
                                    We’ve been told.

                                    Our black is so beautiful,
                                    Just look in the mirror,
                                    Tell me what you see…
                                    An African King!?
                                    A Prince!?
                                    A Princess!?
                                    Maybe an African Queen!?

                                    You’re black is beautiful,
                                    Despite all the false stories
                                    You’ve been told.

                                    After years of being denied
                                    Access to our history,
                                    Tales of how our ancestors
                                    Were kidnapped,
                                    Bought and sold.

                                    Tales of how our ancestors
                                    Were bred like cattle,
                                    Tales of how our ancestors were
                                    Whipped, hung or killed;
                                    If they should ever gather
                                    Together to battle.

                                    Battle slave masters  -
                                    Who’d gotten rich off
                                    Our ancestors
                                    Blood, sweat and tears.

                                    Who for centuries,
                                    Violated our ancestors human rights,
                                    Instilling in their minds fear.

                                    Who for centuries,
                                    Oppressed the minds
                                    Of the next generations to come.

                                    Who for centuries,
                                    Hung and killed black men
                                    And brutally raped black women.

                                    Despite all that…
                                    Our black is beautiful!
                                    Just look in the mirror,
                                    Tell me what you see.

                                    A Warrior!
                                    A King!
                                    A Queen!
                                    Throne rulers of our destiny!

                                    My black is beautiful!
                                    Despite what they say,
                                    Your black is beautiful!
                                    Our black is beautiful!

                                    Remind yourself of this fact,
                                    Each and every day!