Sunday, October 30, 2005
Hurricane Katrina made visible for American that the social
and racial divide were one in the same. From all perspectives
it was visible that what is considered the American dream for
many selected folks is more of a nightmare to others. It
doesn’t seem as if things will change the way the reconstruction
effort has been imitated.
In September 2005, the Wall Street Journal reported, that
FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers awarded six contracts
for as much as $100 million, for recovery and rebuilding work
in the Gulf area. The Shaw Group landed two of these $100
million deals and other lucky folk included Bechtel, Fluor, and
CH2M Hill. Halliburton in the immediate aftermath of the
hurricane recived $29.8 million in Pentagon contracts to
rebuild Navy bases along the Louisiana and Mississippi coast.
Halliburton hits it big also in Iraq, grossing more than $10
billion in Iraq-war related income
The lessons learned abroad by big corporations are being
transferred here state side. Just as in Iraq, no-bid reconstruction
contracts have been given to corporations. This has been
common since the White House created the Office of the
Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization in August
2004. Headed by former US Ambassador to Ukraine Carlos Pascual,
since then, it appears as if the Defense Department and FEMA have
been able to successfully drop mega loot in the laps of the rich while
at the same time encourage and foster an atmosphere supportive
privatization. Most of which involve situations of rebuilding
communities after major disaters in which only big corporations
seem to benefit.
This strict focus on reconstruction, and using the private sector
to rebuild areas after wars and disasters, has been labeled by
some as disaster capitalism while a Bangalore-based
researcher named Shalmali Guttal, has described this as
“sophisticated colonialism.” For the government it make sense,
given in many respects, it was difficult to discern what we saw in
the gulf as being any different from Iraq and Africa. Clocking dough
is cool, but not ifnone of the folks indigenous to the problem areas
cannot make any of that money. It just lets me know to be leery of government
in general; maybe that’s their plan afterall.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
I just like to think and presuppose and offer the conditionals,
could, should and what if? The Bush administration has announced
that starting in October 2006; all U.S. passports will be implanted
with remotely-readable computer chips.
That’s Machine Readable Passports that make use of radio
frequency ID (RFID) chips that can transmit personal
information. About one-third of a millimeter across, these
chips act as transponders (transmitters/responders), that
search for radio signals sent by transceivers or RFID readers.
They transmit data by bringing it into range of a receiver.
Invented in 1969 and patented in 1973, they require no battery
meaning they are much smaller and can be placed, even permanently
in difficult locations. They can be found in everything from
credit cards, clothes and even pets. Hitachi's has developed
a new chip, which carries its own built-in antenna, that is
smaller a flake of pepper.
To me, as I indicated earlier (REF), it’s just some more martial law police
state shit proffered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
It will allow them to identify people in crowds and be able to
hold information including name, date of birth, place of birth,
digitized photographs, medical records and/or iris scans.
This just means cheaper (about 5 cents each) and smaller
surveillance. No matter what ones does the chip can't be
demagnetize. Maybe one could remove the chip, but they
would have to be able to locate it given its microscopic size.
Hitachi is talking with the European Central Bank on a project
to embed RFID chips in euro bank notes. While it is evident
that the government, under the guise of homeland security in
these United States of America, keep chipping away literally,
at our civil liberties. Another concern is that identity thieves
could snatch personal information out of the air easy by
directing an antenna at a person or a vehicle carrying a
passport or any other RFID containing item. Maybe the
Congress should require that all people be notified about
products with embedded RFID tags. But such is doubtful,
they don’t work anyway.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Alfred Hitchcok did it 1st Mr. President
One of the best horror flicks I ever saw coming up was
Alfred Hitchcocks – The Birds. In the movie, Birds was (im country)
rolling like crips wreaking havoc on a small lily white, coastal
town. A few weeks ago, your boy G.W. got on the television set,
read a few tele-prompted words that he likely didn’t write
and played the role of contentious national leader. The speech
was on the war with Iraq, fighting AIDS, and guarding against
new health threats, namely the Avian Influenza virus.
Just a few weeks after the President did this, we began to see
a few more situations manifest. First the British government
said a strain of bird flu that killed a parrot in quarantine is has
made it to Europe. The bird died from the same strain that killed
61 people in Asia over the past few years. It has also been observed
in avian species in Russia, Turkey, Sweden and Montenegro.
In Russia, The latest incident of bird flu was in Tambov,
about 250 miles southeast of Moscow
Meanwhile back on the home front, the president actually
requested from congress, the power to use the military if
a bird flu pandemic ever occurs. He has also met with major
pharmaceutical company big wigs including GlaxoSmithKline
and Merck & Co., asking them to develop a vaccine against
bird. For some reason I feel that the President may have
already dropped a few vials of the H5N1 in the hands of
some of his cronies.
I hope I am just being far-fetched, cynical and conspiratorial
but it is very ironic, that almost two-weeks after The
President gave his speech talking about the threats of
at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, we
begin to see first: 1) news coverage outlining the risk and
scaring the general public, 2) news releases that
pharmaceutical companies will begin mass production of a vaccine
that we don’t or won’t know will work, and 3) outbreaks of the
virus in countries across Europe. I don’t know how much risk
we are to the bird flu, frankly I feel a greater risk of being
beaten to death by a cop or crashing on I-285. I wonder
what will be the next thing the government uses to scare
us into denying our civil liberties and moving us closer to
martial law and a police state. If it is a remake of an
Alfred Hitchcock classis – I ain’t buying it.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
some land and loot...... more.
and they pundits hate - now its Spike Lee
Thursday, October 20, 2005
I have always traveled back and forth to Africa rather
frequently over the last 12 years. Each time I learn something
new about African cultures as well as my own, being an
African American. My most recent trip brought to the fore
an experience that I never would have dreamed of
occurring – meeting a fellow African American, whom for
me it was obvious was his first time in Africa, who did
not acknowledge another fellow countryman. Now
when I’m there, I stay in houses or five star hotels.
This time I was in one of my regular habitats in
Johannesburg – the Hyatt Rosebank in Sandton. For the
purpose of anonymity, I will try to tell the story in an old
fashion way as to not give out too much information on
the person I am speaking about.
Once upon a time, an expatriate returned to South Africa
on one of his usual business trips. He stayed in a luxurious
five star hotel where he often occupied the Bill Clinton
Suite. The floor of this hotel, where this suite was located
also contained all of the other suites in the hotel. One
morning by chance he woke up and exited his room.
At the same time, a fellow African American was coming
out of his room also. He spoke to the young man. He could
recognize his face but did not know where he had seen him
before. Being the courteous person he was, he started small
talk and introduced himself. The young man seemed to be
brash, and not interested in the fact that there were other
African Americans staying in the hotel with him. Before
He could say have a nice day, the rather diminutive man
hurriedly walked away to the elevator, putting the head
phones to his mp3 player on his head, trying not to make
eye contact with the man. He was also very surprised to
see how short this person was, and If he would not have
know better, he may have though of him as being a black
mini-me of the Austin Powers variety.
The expatriate found the entire situation strange, especially
when it dawned on him who this person was. He was an actor,
a very popular actor. Although he had not seen any of his
movies, he knew that he had played several major roles
opposite some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. In one movie
adapted from a major novel, he played opposite Whoopi
Goldberg and Angela Bassett. In another, he has also
played opposite of Omar Epps, Mos Def and Sanaa Lathan. The end.
I was very troubled by his actions and at first thought it
was just bad timing or an aberration. But we meet again,
and as I was saying hello again, he quickly jumped on the
elevator trying not to notice or make eye contact with me.
I say all of this just to instruct folks on how expatriates behave
when they are abroad. All Americans, especially African
Americans usually meet, greet and speak to each other
when in Africa. I have been with other notable celebrities in
a host of African countries, and even in flight, they are cordial
and seem to recognize the importance of acknowledging ones own
kind in a foreign country. So people please, when ever you are in
Africa, and you see a person who looks American, or hear a
distinctly unique American voice, common protocol is to
speak and be courteous, for you never may know who you
will run into. And please, what ever you do, don’t act like
a, well since I cant say what I would like to, a female dog
gluteus maximus Negro. I will not hold this against him,
hopefully he will learn from his mistakes and use this as
a growing experience. Besides I would never reduce myself
to such pettiness – not speaking when spoken too. I have
too much home training for that.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Hurricane Katrina. For me, it will begin with redefining and
rearranging old concepts into new ones. In particular is the
concept of ethnic cleansing. I have followed the recent
natural disaster that tore up the gulf coast, especially
New Orleans rather closely.
Ethnic cleansing refers to policies of forcibly removing
people of one ethnic group through actions man made
that can range to cover forced emigration, mass population
transfer and/or genocide. For most historians and
politicians it mainly refers to as the forced expulsion
of an unattractive and unwelcome group of people
from a given area (New Orleans) as a function of racial
discrimination. It was first used exclusively during
the conflict between Serbia and Croatia. Now, given
the recent comments by politicians and other
associated with the New Orleans community,
ethnic cleansing takes on a new meaning.
First, there is House Speaker Dennis Hastert
statement he made to a Chicago newspaper
that it was senseless saying that large areas of
New Orleans look as if they could be bulldozed.
Then there is Mark Drennen, who president of
Greater New Orleans Inc., who has referred to
residents of the damaged area as being a minority
group when in fact African Americans in the city
are the clear majority. Next there is former First
Lady Barbara Bush who stated that by loosing
their homes and being forcibly removed, that
the” underprivileged” were in a situation that
was” working very well for them.”
It will be some time before or if New Orleans as
will resemble its old self. Not only is the estimate of
nearly 200,000 homeless residents is high, President
Bush has proposed the “Urban Homesteading Act”
which really doesn’t do anything about the problem.
The concern is that the minority or approximately 25
percent white community will likely be allowed to
slowly return to the areas that were least damaged
(the French Quarter and the garden District) while
African Americans from the hardest hit areas will
have a more difficult task of retuning given they have
been bussed and transported to places as far away as
Minnesota and Utah. Maybe this is what was meant when
Republican Congressman Richard Baker of Baton said that
that the housing projects were finally cleaned
up--we couldn’t do it, but God did.
What has occurred in the city of New Orleans is a
deliberate and systematic destruction of the urban
African American community. More than 200,000
individuals, mostly African Americans have been removed,
transported and relocated to other parts of the country
under the guise of protection. But then again, that’s the
excuse the Serbs, the Croat’s and the Rwandans used also.
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Billboard this week. Ill stop by the spot this week
Mook-B. more specifically it said "
This week's top debut was Alicia
which bowed at No. 61. Also new to the list
...... D4L's "Laffy Taffy" (No. 98).
Thursday, October 13, 2005
If somebody is missing, you know the procedural manual
suggests blaming a man, preferably one of a darker shade.
Just ask Jennifer Wilbanks whose April wedding was
supposedly interrupted by a Latino man. Or, let’s go way
back to Charles Stuart in Boston, Massachusetts,
who said a black man shot his pregnant wife –when
actually, he was the assailant. Then there was Susan Smith,
who in 1994 stated that an African American man
kidnapped her sons, but authorities later discovered
that she drowned them herself.
This time, police in Aruba detained Mickey
John and Abraham Jones in connection with Natalee Holloway’s
disappearance. They were eventually released, but
they meet the standard of being males of African descent.
Why they were held so quickly and considered prime suspects
from jump street is not the issue. The issue is that history, replete
with incessant examples of allegations against men such
as myself, tends to repeat itself.
It appears that there has not been much change at all from
the days of law enforcement opening the jails and allowing
groups of white men to freely have their way with us without
due process. Now true, the justice system in Aruba is very
different from ours in the U.S. But the quickness with
which these men were held and condemned as being guilty,
was a continuation of past acts.
The men and women out there who happen to be mothers
and fathers, myself included, must always reinforce to their
daughters that they are valuable and that they will be
looked for if they’re ever missing, regardless of media
coverage. And for our sons, we must remind them that
things are not as they seem and that they too,
instantaneously and without due process can be considered
the typical assailant.--torrance stephens
organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
or PETA. Just to set the record straight, there is no
legitimate substitute or alternative for meat; not even
vegetable sushi or grilled tofu.
PETA is harping some new foolishness regarding fish
consumption by humans. This deception is called the
Fish Empathy Project. First, I cannot figure out why
PETA desires to behave as an oppressor and tell me
as an individual what I can and cannot consume. Second,
it is perceptible that they are picking solely on humans,
unless they are marketing this project to sharks and
other fish-eating fish, too.
It is beyond my mental faculties to consider that fish
require empathy when all I can think of is grilled salmon,
fried tilapia and tuna fish; and don’t forget to mention
crab, shrimp, oysters and clams.
No organization, not even the government, has the
authority to tell any person what to eat and/or place in
their body, for that matter. This is by all accounts an
inalienable right. By definition, inalienable rights are
rights that only God can allot. Not to mention, I eat
PETA’s – stuffed with meat and vegetables. PETA needs
to have empathy for soybeans and stop the spread of the
wind-borne soybean rust spore that is presently devastating
crops before their members find themselves eating
fish also. -torrance stephens
resident of the United States. The dollar is not as powerful as it
used to be. Currency exchange rates and our penchant to
borrow from abroad have lead to these concerns. As things
stand, the picture does not appear to be improving anytime
soon. There is an increase in requests for unemployment
benefits and the U.S. has not engendered any new development
of economic capital within its borders to create employment
for an already large and ever expanding populace,
although the president just signed a $388 billion pork-filled
bill to keep the government up and running for another fiscal year.
As we continue to borrow and increase our national deficit,
China—where the current value of the Chinese yuan is
8.3 to one U.S. dollar—is sitting pretty and set up to
make an appealing penny, as well as create a strong
boost for their own economy by flooding the U.S. with cheap
Other countries may be in dire economic times, but we, as
our forefathers might say, are up a creek without a paddle.
Surely, we can recover, but how long will this take? Add to
the aforementioned the open-ended cost of occupying Iraq,
and unstable energy prices at the consumer level. We should
all expect a deluge of pink slips in our communities. This is
because the world, especially the folks from whom we borrow,
are weary of us forcing our views on other countries and no longer
want to accept U.S currency bearing minute pictures of American
presidents for their services and products, because the dollar
has no value. –torrance stephens
spending practices of political parties. This is no longer the case.
However, money is still running all things politically related
to campaigns and legislation.
Organizations that are set up to raise money for political
activities, including voter mobilization efforts, are called 527s.
They represent the Swift Boats veterans and the Moveon.orgs
of the world. They are special interest groups that purchase
television and radio advertisement to promote their political
agendas. This enhanced political freedom has resulted in a
dramatic change in the manner in which political elections
are run. They have more freedom than political parties to
raise funds and may use it as they please.
It was initially believed that once the McCain-Fiengold Bill
(the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act) was passed, this type
of soft money spending would be significantly affected.
Since it was not, politicians seemed to make more trouble
for themselves, since anyone has the ability to control
the messages they put out.
Last year, these so-called 527s spent approximately
400 million on their political agendas and advertising to
promote their beliefs and their political candidates. These
organizations are independent, more so than political action
committees—and have the ability to make politicians address
issues that they would otherwise have avoided. Since most
politicians use the focus group methodology to decide what
they will use for talking points and selecting sounds bites,
527s have the capacity to force the issue from outside of
the political process. Thanks to Capitol Hill, for this is another
fine mess you have gotten us into. --torrance stephens
It specifically targets our children and young adults.
No, I am not speaking of a new strain of HIV/AIDS or
violence, but rather something more heinous and without
a viral etiological connection. I am speaking specifically
of our ability to read as well as our desire to read.
This is not an issue of having a skill deficit, but rather,
the failure of seeing reading as being important and
essential. I was taught that it was my duty to read all I
could get my hands on, and this was not just limited to
the sports page, horoscopes or my particular interests.
I often remind my son that more than 150 years ago,
during the period of American slavery, it was illegal for
slaves to learn to read and that if they were discovered
to have acquired such a skill, they were punished by
being blinded, having their tongue cut out or killed.
Now I am not going to place blame on the school system,
since the foundation for reading should be established in
the home, nor will I attach this reduction to external
elements of the environment such as television, cable and
the New Age culture of music videos and playstations.
If we truly concerned ourselves with this issue, then we would
elevate reading over other pastimes, particularly in
environments where reading should flourish such as in the car.
I don’t claim to have all of the answers but I do know that
if we were concerned with this, we would have books and
newspapers in the backseats of our cars and trucks instead
of video screens and DVDs.
than others to spend our money on nothing and then attempt
to secure additional money via high interest rate loans.
If you are unaware, African Americans are more apt
to be swindled in this fashion than any other ethnic group.
According to a recent report published by The
National Community Reinvestment Coalition of 15 large
mortgage lenders for the year 2004, African Americans
were almost three times more likely than whites to be
required to secure a more expensive sub-prime home
mortgage loan. The data, collected via the
Home Mortgage Disclosure Act—which requires that lenders
release information on loans and loan pricing—revealed that
African Americans were awarded almost 30 percent sub-prime
loans compared to just 10 percent for whites.
It was also observed that there was a disparity in lending
for African Americans who purchased manufactured
homes—homes built entirely in the factory under
The Federal Manufactured Home Construction and
Safety Standards of HUD—suggesting that African
Americans who purchased these homes were more
likely to get a sub prime loan when compared to
other ethnic groups.
Sub-prime loans usually have an interest rate that
is 0.1 to 0.6 percent higher than the prime rate. Although
on the surface this seems like a small fee, in the long-term
it can end up being thousands of dollars of interest. Swindlers,
I mean mortgage brokers, suggest that these loans are for
persons with blemished credit histories and serve to
compensate for an increased credit risk. This is why some
suggest that minority populations have more than their
share of these type of loans. However, I cannot believe
this, since as a population, we have been disenfranchised
historically from an economic standpoint. This is just an
extension of bad habits that have not died, even after
the end of slavery 140 years ago.
However, making money on the suffering of others that
can do irreversible harm to our community is problematic.
I just had the chance to look at a video that is being distributed
by Fall Thru Entertainment. It is a video series
which features the self-explanatory titles “Ghetto Fights”
and “Wildest Street Brawls.”
These videos in simple terms show common fights that
occur everyday around the world but mainly in urban areas.
The level of violence is not only real, but often over the
edge and outright disgusting. New DVDs in the series
hit the market on May 31, 2005, “Ghetto Fights 2”
nd “Wildest Street Brawls 3” and both deliver more of
the horrors of the streets showcasing pimp beatings,
gang warfare and backyard brawls caught on tape.
To make it worse, it is rumored that hip-hop artist
50 Cent is interested in purchasing the rights to the
video series. He and fellow rapper Ice-T have cameo
appearances on some of the videos. I would expect
this type of behavior from 50 Cent who suggests in his lyrics
that money is the most important thing to him—next to being
shot a slew of times and women. I just wonder how much
thought is given to thinking about what benefits the public
and the community versus one’s pockets.
Moreover, it is not an issue of whether or not it is acceptable
for this type of material to be sold, but if it is a good thing to
promote. I cannot discern any productive value from viewing
people fighting, without payment or a championship belt
on the line. I cannot see looking at human suffering in such
a raw and uncut form as being equivalent to entertainment.
Why not look at videos of beheadings in Iraq, or gassing
of Holocaust victims, if this passes muster as
some of yall nigaz bitchs too"
Bushwick Bill - Geto Boys
Where I come from, we have certain words to describe the
behavior of men that is less than manly. Today, I would
like to discuss two such people: U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss
(R-Ga.) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.).
Using only a voice vote, the Senate passed a resolution without
opposition, expressing its regrets on failing to pass anti-lynching
legislation to the thousands of black males recorded as being
lynched in the United States from 1880 to 1960. Although
no lawmaker opposed the resolution, 20 of the 100 senators
had not signed a statement of support before a vote was taken,
which occurred while the Senate was basically empty. Not only
was the action similar to sending a card to someone after a
death in the family, it was not sincere. Bill Frist vetoed having
a roll call vote on the lynching resolution, and refused to have
it brought to the floor during the day when the media would
be aware of it and more senators would have been present.
Chambliss, being the soapsuds softy he is, nutted up and didn’t
even sign the measure until after it was adopted. If this is the
leadership that we intend to lead us to a world that lauds equality
and liberty for all, then we may as well be up a creek without a
paddle. I never knew it was required for the U.S. Senate to
apologize for murder—as if it was acceptable in the first place.
Lynching and murder perpetrated by a group of people so weak
they need the entire community to assist them, is the same
This was nothing more than a b@#ch move by the
Senate. And for the record, Messrs. Frist and Chambliss,
y’all are b@#ches too. Apology not accepted, for if it was
sincere, the lynching would have stopped by now. So go
on and chop off my foot if you want to, my name isn’t
Toby. --torrance stephens
are not in any kind of chronological order folk
I have been informed that liberty is now just for the wealthy.
Actually, I was always aware of this since the Constitution of this
Republic dictates that landowners are the only folks who can make
political decisions. This past week, the U.S. Supreme Court decided
that private property can be seized to create jobs and taxes. Moreover,
the ruling suggests that the government does not violate the
U.S. Constitution when they seize or demolish homes, churches
and businesses to make room for private developments.
You know things have to be horrific when Clarence Thomas
writes a dissent. Specifically, Justice Thomas indicated that
the court’s actions would make things even worse in
African American communities. He wrote, “Urban renewal
projects have long been associated with the displacement of
blacks,” and also indicated that urban renewal was once
known as “Negro removal.”
Also in dissent, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor noted that
the ruling could have negative outcomes for owners of
homes and other properties. She wrote that “Under the
banner of economic development, all private property is
now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another
private owner, so long as it might be upgraded.”
As usual, the benefactors are going to be individuals like
corporate executives and politicians who maintain
unbalanced influence and supremacy in the political process.
The 5-4 ruling makes it easy for New London, Conn.,
to condemn private houses for new office-and-retail complexes.
I have always felt that the court was inconsistent. This is
certainly visible with this decision. No longer is the little man
considered equal to the big wheels. I guess once upon a time
this was called eminent domain; now, it’s eminent
domination. --torrance stephens
heard a radio personality reference a couple of movies—A Time to Kill
and Mississippi Burning—as being uncomfortable
to “Southerners like myself.”
I ruminated on this and tried to figure by definition,
who Southerners like me were, considering I am indeed a
Southerner. The first movie showed a man of African
descent killing another man for raping his daughter.
The second had the audacity to portray the FBI and
J. Edgar Hoover as trying to get African Americans
the right to vote in Mississippi. I won’t digress on my
personal disdain for providing false history lessons via
movies, but I will avail that I still did not see a difference.
Surely this radio personality would do the same for his
daughter—if he had one—or push for the rights of all to vote.
I couldn’t figure it out, until a few weeks later, when
the same commentator, asserted that Tupac Shakur
should not have been celebrated in any form or fashion,
because he (allegedly) shot at cops and sold drugs. If
I recall correctly, the Kennedy clan made loot from
bootlegging, which illegal at the time; and the Black Panthers
reportedly shot at cops (I admire the Black Panther Party for
Self Defense, regardless of allegations against them).
I concluded that the radio personality was playing the
race card. Sorry, we can vote now if we so choose, and are no
longer slaves. If you don’t like me and mine, then say it, and
don’t try to use logic for personal assault. For you are not a
Southerner like me. --torrance stephens
at like the cut suspposed to be. see below as a point of order.
I have been living in Atlanta for some time now, ever
since I matriculated at Morehouse College eons ago.
However, I am originally from Memphis. To this day,
I claim Memphis as home because it was where I was raised.
Everything from Payne’s BBQ to Jack Pirtle’s chicken, hot
Tamale men and everything else the city has to offer,
defines as well as describes me. I still call folk ‘Jones’ and
use man (pronounced main) after every sentence as if
it were punctuation.
Now to the point. I had the chance to listen to the
Hustle & Flow soundtrack the other day. It was cool,
but it was not what I was expecting. Sure, it had
songs by 8-Ball and MJG and Al Kapone, but in my eyes,
it did a disservice to the movie. Now there is nothing wrong
with the tracks by T.I., Juvenile, Mike Jones, Paul Wall, or
Boyz N Da Hood, but none of these folks are from the
crib—flip town, one-town, the bluff city.
Memphis music cannot be replaced by music from
other places because there are no other places with that
sound. This is consistent from my side of town (South Parkway)
to East and North Memphis. And I am not talking about
music made by tender jones from New York who uses
the city as a billing to his rap name.
I love Memphis to death, and I don’t understand why
a movie about hustling in the streets of Memphis did
not have all Memphis artists. Why aren’t Three 6 Mafia,
Play Fly, Gangsta Blac, Tom Skeemask, Project Pat, Yo Gotti,
Skinny Pimp or the Taylor Boys on the soundtrack? Then there
is Lil Emmit and Carlito, II tone, Criminal mane, DJ Squeeky,
Mr. Litt and Tela. Where are they?
Although I haven’t seen the movie yet, I know I will appreciate
seeing the cut on the big screen. I just wish they had put
more of my homeboys on the soundtrack.--torrance stephens
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
This past spring, on April 20, Travis Parker was murdered
by his camp counselors. Unlike the Missing 18-year-old
woman in Aruba, he was not female, nor did he have
blond hair or light-hued eyes. He was just a 13-year-old
boy attending therapeutic summer camp. The camp,
which is called the Appalachian Wilderness Camp was
run by the Georgia Department of Human Resources.
According to eyewitnesses, participants and the
Georgia Bureau of Investigation, he was physically
restrained by camp counselors and denied medications
that he regularly took for asthma. It was reported that
Parker stopped breathing while being restrained for
more than an hour and a half. The counselors held
him for this lengthy period of time facedown according
to the GBI autopsy, which was the main cause of death.
The six counselors involved were charged with felony
murder, child cruelty and involuntary manslaughter.
Although one of the suspects indicated that they were
only doing what they were trained to do, the five
counselors who were fired withheld an inhaler, kept
him from eating at a scheduled meal time and when
queried about the incident, refused to take polygraph
tests. The strange thing is that after he started having
breathing problems, they called 911. He was still
being restrained during this time and eventually
stopped breathing before the emergency medical
team could revive him. He died the next day at
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston Children’s Hospital.
It is difficult for me to see how such an event
could happen in 2005, especially given that 50
years ago on August 27, 1955, Emmett Till was
beaten and shot to death by two white men who
dumped his 14-year-old body into the Tallahatchie
River in Mississippi. To me, what happened to Till
was the same as what happened to Parker, since
keeping medication from an asthmatic is a violation
of their rights in accordance to the Americans with
Disabilities Act. Neither one of these children deserved
to die while on vacation. --torrance stephens
hated each and every day. From Europe to Africa,
and especially parts of Asia from China to the
Middle-East, we can see a back lash against the
historical practices of our government. Most folks
around the world consider us to be a selfish,
spoiled and arrogant folks that tend to be
pompous and unfriendly to other cultures.
This sort of overt behavior directed toward the
US has resulted in a wave of anti American
sentiments which not only places us individual
citizens at risk but also our economy. The Anholt-GMI
Brand Index has recently reported that American
companies are suffering from anti American sentiment
from countries abroad. The Index is an analytical
ranking of the world's nation brands. Based on
their findings, Australia has replaced Sweden
as the world’s strongest nation brand followed
by Canada at number two.
The United States received high marks related
to overall investment and quality of products,
but was ranked eleventh overall, behind countries
the likes of New Zealand and France. The report
went on to suggest that the reason for this is
due to U.S. foreign policy that seems to foster
hostility towards the United States. The report
also noted that the United States received high
scores for popular culture but came in last
in when the countries overall “intelligence
and integrity.” We need to adjust our selves
in this country. Not only are we no longer
saving and investing, we are also less well-read
and academically sound compared to other nations.
If we don’t tackle this problem of anti-American
hatred while at the same time working on improving
our personal intellectual and fiscal capital, we
will be continue this downward trend and end up
lower than the rank we have now.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
or maybe even quietly recommended that Secretary of
State Colin Powell resign from office. He will be replaced
by the new appointee, Condoleeza Rice. Powell was the
most stable and diplomatic member of the president’s
first-term cabinet. Now, with him out of the picture,
Bush seemingly has an easier path ahead if he plans
to continue using preemptive military measures globally.
For the record, Bush is hawkish and has managed
to surround himself with similarly-minded people.
Unlike Rice, Powell was a free thinker and was able
to view U.S. foreign policy and domestic needs from
an international perspective. This means that through
such practical thinking, he operated unintentionally
in a position antagonistic to the president and U.S.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Powell, being articulate and polite, was able to point
out the incessant blunders of the likes of Rumsfeld
and the former U.S. administrator in Iraq, Paul Brimmer
—who outlawed unions, closed newspapers and disbanded
the Iraqi military, not to mention went in without
the required military power, and entered without a
plan for keeping the peace after occupation.
in the cabinet willing to point out the president’s mistakes and
provide an alternative position to some of the views that he
has. Rice will be less likely to challenge the president. After
all, she was a close confidante of the president while he was
running for office. In addition, she had the advantage of being
a close friend as well, something that Powell was not.
So in the future, when you see the new Secretary of
State on television or quoted in the news, you better
believe it will be her lips that will be moving; however, the
words will be those of Donald Rumsfeld. --torrance stephens
It has been two years since we invaded Iraq. Now, I think
I hear the fat lady singing. By the time this article is published,
the elections or so-called elections will have taken place in
Iraq. And, the person with the best chance of winning is
likely to be the existing U.S.-backed Iraqi Prime
Minister Iyad Allawi.
Dr. Allawi first left Iraq in 1971 and did not return until
after the U.S.-led invasion. Many of his own countrymen
see him as just a U.S.-government appointed puppet.
He was one of the sources the U.S. used to obtain
intelligence on the country to justify its invasion. And, yes,
he was officially on the U.S. payroll, and worked directly
with the CIA in an attempt to overthrow Saddam Hussein in 1996.
advantages that many of his opponents do not have. For
example, as the interim Prime Minster, he controls the
newly-formed television station and can run commercials,
when others cannot.
And, most of his campaign methods are unethical. For
example, he recently presented 5,000 food baskets—containing
his campaign literature—to poor Iraqis living in Baghdad’s
slums. It is also reported and documented that he has
distributed tape recorders and $100 bills to reporters and
teachers across the country. Allawi is using money to buy
votes and gather political favor from journalists.>
Once upon a time, Allawi was a Baathist along with Saddam.
What makes the present administration think he will
be any different from the last dictator we removed from
leadership in the country? Inquiring minds
would like to know.
According to President George Bush, it is the
“cornerstone” of his administration. In theory,
it was designed to improve the quality of education
offered by the public school system. However, the real
question is, has it made a positive impact on the educational
process in the country?
I would suggest that it hasn’t—for several reasons. The first
is fiscal; since the President signed NCLB, the funding has
not been there, at least not at the level required to implement
and make a significant impact on improving basic skills required
by students to perform successfully in the real world, as well
as in academia. The fact is, it remains an unfunded mandate.
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (Dem.www.-CA), indicated that
the 2004 budget submitted by President Bush fell $9 billion short
of the amount authorized for 2004 approved funding. In addition,
his efforts fail to consider the magnitude of Title I funding, which
is the main federal apparatus for funding education for poor
children at the state and local level.The President seems to be
all over the place with his approach to education. Although he
says it is the central focus of his platform, in 2002 he fought for
the repeal of an initiative to modernize America’s schools, which
would go a long way in making schools more equitable and
provide a safer environments for learning. I do agree with the
premise that “no child should be left behind.” My concern is that
failing to fund the program may cause more children to be left
behind educationally, particularly those who are poor
and African American. --torrance stephens