Wonder
Michael Dunn Trial
Date: 02/15/2014
Michael Dunn Trial: Mistrial Declared

Michael Dunn Trial

Date: 02/15/2014

A Florida jury found Michael Dunn guilty on four of the five charges in a case in which he was accused of shooting a teenager to death over loud music, but they could not come to a decision on the murder charge and a mistrial was declared on that count. Dunn, 47, had faced a first degree murder charge for the shooting death of Jordan Davis, 17, in a Jacksonville convenience store parking lot on Nov. 23, 2012. The judge had instructed the jury that they could consider lesser charges, including second degree murder, manslaughter, justifiable homicide or excusable homicide, but they said the could not come to an agreement on any of those charges. Dunn was found guilty of three counts of attempted second degree murder for shooting at other teens in car and one count of firing a gun into a car. Prosecutors alleged that Dunn fatally shot Davis after he asked the teen and his friends to turn down their music. Dunn testified that he feared for his life and thought Davis was going to kill him, prompting Dunn to pull out his gun and fire nine times at the car that the teenagers were sitting in. Assistant State Attorney Erin Wolfson told jurors that Dunn "fired round after round after round" at Davis and his friends as they sat in their car. She said Davis was inside the SUV when he was killed. Dunn claims the teen had gotten out of the vehicle. In his closing argument, Dunn's attorney Cory Strolla said that his client had a right to "meet force with force." He said the state has the burden to prove that Davis didn't brandish a gun at Dunn, as Dunn has claimed.

Dave Gamache, Skeleton Creator

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Marcus Smart
Date: 02/15/2014
Coaches use Marcus Smart as lesson

Marcus Smart shoves fan

Date: 02/15/2014
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College coaches like to remind us that they're also teachers, which is why many are using what happened to Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart as a teachable lesson to their players. Smart was suspended three games by the Big 12 after exchanging words and shoving a Texas Tech fan in the final seconds of Sunday's game in Lubbock. The fan denied using a racial slur, but he did admit to calling Smart a "piece of crap.".

Florida's Billy Donovan, who coached Smart for USA Basketball over the past two summers, is using the incident as an educational tool for the No. 3 Gators, who will visit a hostile environment when they take on No. 14 Kentucky on Saturday. "I tell our guys all the time: When you're going on the road, there's always going to be situations and things that can distract you from doing your job," Donovan told reporters on Monday. "There's enough to deal with in between the lines with who you're playing against, never mind trying to deal with what's going on outside the lines. "For us, it's the same things, same message all the time. We've got to do our jobs, be connected and focused on doing our jobs." That same message of not getting involved in altercations with fans, be they verbal or physical, is being re-emphasized by coaches around the country this week. "We talk to them all the time about that, but everyone in the country is talking about it a little bit more," Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. "It's just the idea of keeping it between the lines and hopefully everyone learns something, not just those who are involved but everyone in the country."

WonderSaid Kentucky's John Calipari: "There are hostile environments everywhere we go, and I tell the guys, 'You can't deal with all that.' We get it the same way and hopefully we've taught them." Michigan State coach Tom Izzo thinks the lesson goes beyond the basketball court as well. Izzo told ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike" on Monday that social media is another domain where players must be wary of pitfalls. "It doesn't matter what you tweet. It's what you read. That's what I keep telling my guys," Izzo said. "We can control what they tweet, to a certain extent. They're going to get frustrated sometimes and probably say something stupid. But it's what they read. "We all get frustrated, and I think [Smart] is getting grilled on that. We have no way of getting away from it. When you're in the gym, two hours, they're yelling at you, you get away, go back to your dorm and life becomes normal. Not anymore. Those same people at that arena are now yelling at you on Twitter. You can say, 'Don't read it,' but I don't think it's the way our kids are brought up." While players should be accountable for their actions, Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings believes fans should be, too. "I think that fans more and more are of the opinion that they can say whatever they want without regard and without ramification,'' Stallings said. "And probably because at times you can do so anonymously, whether it's talk radio or Internet-type things, and then all of a sudden you get into a public setting and maybe there is some carryover. "But I get the feeling fans feel like they can say kind of whatever they want to, that that comes with the price of admission and sometimes there might be a ramification for something that you say if it's out of line. I just think that the fans need to be responsible like the coaches and the athletes are supposed to be responsible. ... I get the passion and all that. I do. And I appreciate it very much. But there's a difference between cheering hard for your team and yelling obscenities at an opposing player.''

Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart shoved a fan in the final seconds of the No. 19 Cowboys' 65-61 loss to Texas Tech. Smart stumbled out of bounds on a play and appeared to exchange words with a fan in the front row before lunging for the fan and pushing him.Smart was pulled away and was assessed a technical foul but was not ejected. Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford declined to discuss the incident in his postgame news conference, saying he didn't see the incident and didn't want to comment without seeing video of it. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby will review the incident Sunday.

Author: ESPN.com news services
Wonder
'12 Years a Slave'
Date: 30/08/2013
Academy Award 2013 Best Picture

'12 Years a Slave'

Date: 17/10/2013

The opening scenes of "12 Years a Slave," Steve McQueen's searing adaptation of the true-life account of a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War South, tell you all you need to know about the cinematic experience you're about to have. A lush, unnerving tableau of a group of black men being taught to cut sugar cane reminds viewers of McQueen's gift for evoking atmosphere and stark, highly charged emotion, whereas a scene that follows — in which the protagonist, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), attempts to write a letter home with the juice of a few berries — brings viewers into intimate contact with a place and time too often rendered as distant and abstract.

Intense, unflinching, bold in its simplicity and radical in its use of image, sound and staging, "12 Years a Slave" in many ways is the defining epic so many have longed for to examine — if not cauterize — America's primal wound. But it's also a crowning achievement of a filmmaker whose command of the medium extends beyond mere narrative and its reductive, sentimental snares to encompass the full depth and breadth of its most expressive and transforming properties. "12 Years a Slave" isn't just a cathartic experience that happens to be an astonishing formal achievement: It works its emotional power precisely because it's so elegantly constructed, from the inside out.

Dave Gamache, Skeleton Creator

From those unsettling initial scenes, "12 Years a Slave" flashes back to 1841, when Northup, a relatively prosperous musician, is living with his wife and children in Saratoga, N.Y. While his family is out of town, Northup is introduced to two self-described talent scouts, who assure him he can get good work as a fiddler with a traveling circus. After a trip to Washington and a night of wine and dining, Northup wakes up in a holding cell, shackled by chains and enshrouded in heavy, unremitting silence.

What follows is a journey of unimaginable suffering and horror, a sort of anti-picaresque during which Northup is beaten for insisting that he's a free man, then bought and sold and bought again, finally landing at a plantation owned by the merciless Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender). Much of "12 Years a Slave" centers on Northup's relationship with Epps, who is smart enough to know he should be threatened by his enslaved servant's superior intellect and sense of culture — and who processes those conflicting feelings the same way he accommodates his sexual attraction to a field worker named Patsey (Lupita Nyong'o): with escalating and increasingly psychotic violence. (Epps's methods of annihilation extend to the subtle as well, such as when he casually leans on his servants, as if they're pieces of furniture or wooden fence posts.)

But "12 Years a Slave," which McQueen directed from a courtly, admirably economical script by John Ridley, isn't content simply to be an index of human cruelty. Rather, the film offers a panorama, not just of the African American experience in the antebellum South — from the inconsolable wailing of a woman separated from her children to a former slave contentedly ensconced as the wife of her former owner — but of the varieties of racist pa­thol­ogy. White audience members may find it impossible to identify with the sadistically extreme abuse perpetrated by Epps and his own desperate and cruel wife, played in a chillingly good performance by Sarah Paulson. But what of William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch), one of Northup's more benevolent owners, and his passive paternalism?

The challenge in presenting oppression within the traditional grammar of feature films is that the director winds up aestheticizing violence, or keeping it at a safe, deniable distance. McQueen solves this problem by refusing to blink, or at least knowing precisely when to allow his audience to do so.

As he did in the films "Hunger" and "Shame" (also starring Fassbender), McQueen doesn't go in for a lot of flash edits or self-conscious visual flourishes to put viewers at ease; rather, he invites the audience to sit with him as he gazes, amazed, at man's inhumanity to man, an unnerving encounter that in this case is heightened by a percussive, adamantly non-period musical score by Hans Zimmer. Whether the filmmaker is holding his camera on Northup as he struggles on his tiptoes, his neck caught in a lynching noose, while the life of the plantation deliberately goes on behind him, or an excruciatingly protracted whipping scene, the net effect is less an indictment of slavery than a far more nuanced portrait of the violence, intimacy, obsession and constant psychological contortions that defined its most toxic enmeshments.

At it most profound, though, "12 Years a Slave" is a captivating study in humanity at its most troubled and implacable, as Ejiofor masterfully portrays Northup's fight to retain his dignity and identity within an ever-widening nightmare. As such, McQueen's film deserves pride of place alongside "Gravity," "Captain Phillips" and the upcoming "All Is Lost" as a breathtaking, ambitious essay on physical and existential isolation. Arguably, the stakes here are higher, not just for Northup, but for the viewers who find themselves caught up in his wrenching journey. It's improbable that anyone will feel lighter after watching "12 Years a Slave," but they're likely to find that their moral imaginations have been newly liberated.

Author: By Ann Hornaday, Published: October 17 E-mail the writer
Wonder
"Charcoal Donut"
Date: 09/08/2013
a woman with bright pink lips in blackface makeup holding a doughnut

"Charcoal Donut"

Date: 09/08/2013

A human rights group blasted an ad for Dunkin' Donuts chocolate doughnuts in Thailand, branding as racist the spot that features a smiling woman with bright pink lips and a face painted black.

On Friday, the company apologized and said it was working with its franchise in Thailand to pull the ad campaign.

The head of the chain's Thai franchise, which operates independently from the U.S.-based Dunkin' Donuts, had dismissed the criticism as "paranoid American thinking."

The franchise in Thailand launched a campaign this month for its new "Charcoal Donut" featuring the image, which is reminiscent of 19th and early 20th century American stereotypes for black people that are now considered offensive.

In posters and TV commercials, the campaign shows the woman with a shiny jet black, 1950s-style beehive hairdo, holding a bitten black doughnut alongside the slogan: "Break every rule of deliciousness."

Human Rights Watch said it was shocked to see an American brand name running an advertising campaign that would draw "howls of outrage" if released in the United States.

"It's both bizarre and racist that Dunkin' Donuts thinks that it must color a woman's skin black and accentuate her lips with bright pink lipstick to sell a chocolate doughnut," said Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch.

"Dunkin' Donuts should immediately withdraw this ad, publicly apologize to those it's offended and ensure this never happens again."

The campaign hasn't ruffled many in Thailand, where it's common for advertisements to use racial stereotypes. A Thai brand of household mops and dustpans called "Black Man" uses a logo with a smiling black man in a tuxedo and bow tie. One Thai skin whitening cream runs TV commercials that say white-skinned people have better job prospects than those with dark skin. An herbal Thai toothpaste says its dark-colored product "is black, but it's good."

In New York, a spokeswoman for the Dunkin' Donuts said the company "recognizes the insensitivity of this spot and on behalf of our Thailand franchisee and our company, we apologize for any offense it caused.

"We are working with our franchisee to immediately pull the television spot and to change the campaign," Karen Raskopf, Chief Communications Officer for Dunkin' Brands, said in a statement e-mailed to NBCNews.com.

Earlier, however, the man behind the campaign in Thailand dismissed the criticism as "paranoid American thinking."

"It's absolutely ridiculous," said Nadim Salhani. CEO of the local Dunkin' Donuts franchise. "We're not allowed to use black to promote our doughnuts? I don't get it. What's the big fuss? What if the product was white and I painted someone white, would that be racist?"

Salhani said the Thai franchise of Dunkin' Donuts operates independently from the U.S. operation and that doughnut sales have increased about 50 percent since the campaign was launched about two weeks ago, which he attributed to curiosity about the new advertisements.

"Not everybody in the world is paranoid about racism," said Salhani, a Lebanese expatriate in Thailand who said his teenage daughter was the model featured in the campaign. "I'm sorry, but this is a marketing campaign, and it's working very well for us."

First published August 30th 2013, 11:49 am

Author: JOCELYN GECKER
Wonder
Black Astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson
Date: 03/01/2012
Brings Science Back

Black Astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson

Date: 03/01/2012

Astrophysicist, Neil Degrasse Tyson has been doing the media circuit recently bringing attention to the need for our country to focus on the sciences.

Tyson has recently appeared on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart and "Real Time" with Bill Mahr, NPR, CBS this morning and MSNBC to promote his book, "Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier."

The Washington Post reports:

But it probably also has something to do with how Tyson talks about science and space exploration. He is not just a child prodigy with a lot of media appearances and a penchant for wearing celestial-themed ties and vests without a trace of irony.

He is a gifted communicator who displays qualities of leadership that seem lacking in so many public officials. For one, he makes the reasons for space exploration accessible, putting its importance into simple and often humorous terms. "Venus has a runaway greenhouse effect—I kind of want to know what happened there," he said in an NPR interview Monday. "Mars once had running water—it's bone dry today; something bad happened there as well. Asteroids have us in [their] sights. Dinosaurs didn't have a space program, so they're not here to talk about this problem. We are and we have the power to do something."

He also has a genuine passion and child-like fascination with what he does, and isn't afraid to wrap the space program up in grand talk of bold adventure and big ideas. His enthusiasm is infectious—and credible—even for those who couldn't care less about space and see it as a nice-to-have at a time of bloated deficits and economic pain. He thinks President Obama should be talking about upping NASA's budget because "not only is it the grandest epic adventure a human being can undertake" but such an increase would "create a shift in the state of mind of people where they will say hey, 'we are dreaming about tomorrow again.' "

Author: Casey Gane-McCalla
Wonder
Angelou's Tribute to Mandela
Date: 06/02/2014
to be Soon Published as Book

Angelou's Tribute to Mandela

Date: 06/02/2014

Maya Angelou's moving tribute to fallen South African leader Nelson Mandela, called "His Day Is Done," will be preserved in book format just in time for Black History Month.

"I'm delighted, honored, pleased and just over the moon," Angelou told the AFRO of Random House's decision to publish the slim tome.

When news of Mandela's declining health first made headlines nearly two years ago, Angelou said she was contacted by the U.S. State Department and asked to write a tribute to the beloved African leader on behalf of the American people. They wanted to be prepared for his possible death, they said, and asked her to keep the request and the poem secret until at least 48 hours after his passing.

"I knew President Mandela; we had met 50 years ago in Egypt [and] over the years we had developed a close friendship [and] we had great respect and affection for each other," the acclaimed poet recalled. "It was very hard to write about this person who I liked and adored as if he were dead."

But she set herself to the task—pouring the thoughts, memories and feelings in her heart and head onto the page before snipping and tucking them into poetic form.

As the wife of South African freedom fighter Vusumzi L. Make of the Pan African Congress, Angelou was often present at gatherings of Mandela and other activists—who were a rowdy lot, she said.

"But among those loud, boisterous voices he [Mandela] was as gentle…and he was generous," she said. "He spoke to everybody; he had time and a kind word for everybody from the doorman to the housekeeper."

She hailed his strength, writing in the poem that Mandela was the world's "David armed with a mere stone, facing down the mighty Goliath" of apartheid. And, after 27 years of imprisonment on Robben Island, this "hope of Africa" burst through the prison doors with "His stupendous heart intact, his gargantuan will hale and hearty."

She honored his grace, which he demonstrated when he gave his former jailers seats of distinction at his inauguration.

"I think that was one of his great gifts to us—he taught us how to forgive," Angelou said. "He was a great friend to the world."

Author: Zenitha Prince
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Why Inequality Matters — or Why Joseph Stiglitz Hits It and Paul Krugman Misses
Date: 02/12/2014
or Why Joseph Stiglitz Hits It and Paul Krugman Misses

Why Inequality Matters

Date: 02/12/2014

With the Super Bowl over, the fantasy football season has ended. But it turns out there is a fantasy league for economists. So, sorry to those of you with Paul Krugman on your team, but I am siding with Joseph Stiglitz in his argument that income inequality is slowing the recovery.

Both Stiglitz and Krugman are Nobel laureates in economics. Both agree that inequality hurts the economy in the long run, because in a market-based economy, high levels of income inequality lead to too many talented and smart poor children being prevented by low income from investments in schooling, enriching life experiences and opportunities to become the leaders we need to grow as a nation.

Where Stiglitz and Krugman disagree is on how inequality shapes the market in the present. Krugman argues against the idea that income growth that favors the rich hurts the demand for goods and services that make employers hire more people, because the rich save rather than consume. Krugman points to the evidence showing that despite rising income inequality, aggregate consumption has been quite healthy.

But, while consumption by the rich is helping the sale of goods and services and keeping the Gross Domestic Product (the value of all goods and services produced in the country) growing, a rich person spending means a poor person is not spending. Stiglitz believes that inequality is slowing the current recovery.

Economists Steven Fazzari and Barry Cynamon point out that consumption by the top 1 percent has grown by 17 percent since 2009 when the "recovery" began, but just 1 percent for the bottom 95 percent. Businesses know that spending patterns are different, as a New York Times article explained this week. Darden, a chain of sit-down restaurants, grew thanks to its middle-class restaurants, Olive Garden and Red Lobster.

Those brands now sag in sales, while their upscale brand, The Capital Grille, is growing fast. But it is more than restaurants that differ. If more is spent at The Capital Grille than Red Lobster, Kruger argues, then presumably the wages and number of workers Darden would allocate to Red Lobster would fall but rise at The Capital Grille, so employment and income for the bottom 95 percent also would grow.

But something else happens with inequality: a rising share of all consumption takes place at the top. There are two problems when a high share of consumption is concentrated at the top.

First, for things like housing and education, where the rich consume the bulk of private consumption, that trend tilts prices toward their income levels. Just as Darden chases the dollars by changing its mix of restaurants, home builders will chase the dollars and tastes of the rich in building homes.

Elite institutions favored by the rich, like Harvard and Stanford, will raise tuition to capture the ability and willingness to pay of the rich, and in turn use those resources to bid for the best faculties in business and engineering. That ups the ante for those in the middle who want to become homeowners or send their children to college.

Fazzari and Cynamon document that indeed the middle class kept up with those rising prices by borrowing heavily—too heavily, as it led to a collapse in middle-class demand when debt levels rose too high. The housing collapse froze middle-class homeowners, but families have continued to chase quality education and increase student loan debt.

Also, middle-class incomes lead to purchases of things that lead to more jobs, including automobiles. Increase income at the top instead leads to production of items with higher profit margins and prices—luxury automobiles and high-end appliances, not more cars and more appliances. The collapse of incomes in the middle mean that consumption isn't translating into more people being hired, just higher profits and higher prices for luxury items.

William Spriggs serves as Chief Economist to the AFL-CIO, and is a professor and former Chair of the Department of Economics at Howard University.

Author: William Spriggs
Wonder
Black psychiatrist Dr. Frances Cress Welsing
Date: 15/02/2014
White America is the problem, not 'arrogant' black men

Dr. Frances Cress Welsing

Date: 15/02/2014

Dr. Frances Cress Welsing is a well-known black American psychiatrist who specializes in child psychiatry. She has practices in Washington, D.C.

However, Welsing, 78, is best known for her Cress Theory of Color Confrontation, which examines and exposes the 500-year-old practice of global white supremacy. She is the author of several academic papers and books, principal among them being "The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors."

Welsing argues that white supremacy is not something that just happens or that grew naturally or out of any historical accident. It is, she says, a means to an end purposely promulgated and practiced by the global white minority, on both conscious and unconscious levels. Its purpose is to ensure the white minority's genetic survival at all costs and by any means necessary.

According to Welsing, this system operates against all people of color, but particularly people of African descent, because black people represent the greatest threat of genetic annihilation to white people. The ceaseless and ever-increasing intensity of this attack occurs in every major area and aspect of human behavior: Economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex and war.

Welsing sees it as her mission to educate people of color as to the history and reality of this system so they may understand precisely how and why the system works. This education will allow blacks to begin to dismantle white supremacy and bring real peace and justice to the whole earth.

In "The Isis Papers," Welsing outlines what she calls the melanin theory. Not surprisingly, it has been labeled racist, pseudoscientific and black supremacist by most white people who've bothered to read her.

Her key point is that white people are the genetically defective descendants of albino mutants. Because the gene for white skin is recessive, it is lost genetically in interracial relationships. This is why, she argues, predominately light-skinned peoples of Europe originally led worldwide and always violent forays across whole oceans to subdue and dominate other supposedly inferior, but always darker, societies.

Military domination ensured and preserved this light-skinned purity.

At the behavioral level, Welsing ascribes what she calls certain inherent differences between black and white people to a "melanin deficiency." She offers her "functional definition of racism":

Racism (white supremacy) is the local and global power system dynamic, structured and maintained by persons who classify themselves as white, whether consciously or subconsciously determined; which consists of patterns of perception, logic, symbol formation, thought, speech, action, and emotional response, as conducted, simultaneously in all areas of people activity ... for the ultimate purpose of white genetic survival and to prevent white genetic annihilation on planet Earth -- a planet upon which the vast and overwhelming majority of people are classified as nonwhite (black, brown, red and yellow) by white-skinned people, and all of the nonwhite people are genetically dominant (in terms of skin coloration) compared to the genetic recessive white skin people.

Welsing's "Unified Field Theory of Psychiatry" is placed in a larger psychological/psychiatric milieu and includes biology, psychology and physics. These disciplines must be studied to get at the etiology of a unified field of "behavior-energy" which undergirds racial conflict.

As a psychiatrist and student of Sigmund Freud, Welsing freely acknowledges that much of her work is built on Freudian theory – especially her analysis of the meanings of various symbols. Symbolic objects – guns and weapons, Christ and the Holy Cross, ball games, boxing, smoking objects, paper money and gold – all have psychological and racial undertones and meanings, not for people of color, but for white people.

She says the systematic genocide and Holocaust perpetrated against European Jewry was caused by white fear of genetic annihilation by "non-Aryan" peoples.

As a "chosen people," Jews, therefore, demonstrate to all non-white ethnics that their lives are always in jeopardy. She writes:

No matter how much you may shrink the size of your nose, no matter how many doctors, lawyers, judges, professors, scholars you may produce, no matter how many Einsteins, Freuds, Marxs, or Rubensteins you produce, no matter how much money, diamonds, and gold you may obtain, if you are classified as "non-white" under the conditions of white supremacy domination, when the hammer of white supremacy falls, you will be under that hammer.

And, according to Welsing, various cultural markers and practices express and define white peoples' consciousness and sense of

their own inferiority. Just one example should suffice here:

Is it not also curious that when white males are young and vigorous, they attempt to master the large brown balls, but as they become older and wiser, they psychologically resign themselves to their inability to master the large brown balls? Their focus then shifts masochistically to hitting the tiny white golf balls in disgust and resignation—in full final realization of white genetic recessiveness.

Finally, she zeroes in on white male chauvinism. It originates in envy of the black male's genetic power to completely eradicate whiteness altogether – "because black is always genetically dominant to white":

I have said all of the above to state that, yes, there is envy in the white supremacy culture, but it began with the white male's envy of the genetic power residing in the black male's testicles and phallus. Perhaps there was also envy of the comparatively longer length of the black phallus. The sense of his relative genetic weakness and inferiority compared to black males (because black is always genetically dominant to white) caused the white male to attempt to project "inferiority" on white females as well.

References:

"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frances_Cress_Welsing"

Frances Cress Welsing, "The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors." Chicago: Third World Press, 1992 (third printing).

Herbert Dyer, Jr. is based in Chicago, Illinois, United States of America, and is an Anchor for Allvoices

Author: Herbert Dyer, Jr.