Saturday, November 29, 2008

Your Black World: The Case Of Jamie & Gladys Scott: Justice Denied

The State of Mississippi versus Jamie Scott and Gladys Scott: My First Encounter with Justice Denied

By: Nancy R. Lockhart, M.J.

http://www.freewebs.com/nlockha/index.htm

Originally Appeared In Black Commentator

While driving the moving truck from South Carolina to Chicago, Illinois in July of 2005, many things ran across my mind as I took the solo trip. I pondered receiving the Master of Jurisprudence degree from Loyola University School of Law and later a career as a governmental regulatory compliance manager. It never dawned on me that I would receive a brutal education in social justice; an education that would prove to be more valuable than sheepskin from any institution. This would become an education that re-directed every thought flowing as I drove that big truck from South Carolina. I left Chicago with the Master of Jurisprudence and absolutely no desire to follow my original dreams.

I secured a position as a Community Services Consultant with Rainbow/PUSH Coalition while completing my studies. I will never forget the frigid, Chicago morning when I opened a letter from Mrs. Evelyn Rasco, a mother and widow. She told the story of her daughters, and said she had written Rainbow/PUSH for 11 years, without a response. She redirected her strategy this time and wrote Congressman Jackson in a plea to get the letter to his father’s (Rev. Jackson) office. The letter was hand delivered. I called Mrs. Rasco and promised to get back in touch. Her approach is consistently that of a persistent mother – determined to secure help for her two daughters, who are serving double life terms each, in the state of Mississippi, for armed robbery.

Allegedly, 9, 10, or 11 dollars was stolen. No one was injured, murdered or taken to the hospital. Though often discouraged, I’ve found out, through my interactions with Mrs. Rasco, that she is rich in perseverance and her belief in God.

The following months would comprise of in-depth research efforts, on my part, on behalf of the Scott sisters. After reading the transcripts, as well as other documents, many times, I spoke with various legal experts – one of whom passed away before completely assisting with the case. Subsequently, I was convinced that a grave injustice had been wrought from the judicial bench. This injustice has proven to be the misrepresentation of poor Black women seeking justice in Mississippi’s legal system. Justice was denied. I left Chicago with a commitment to somehow free Jamie and Gladys Scott.

The parents of Jamie and Gladys Scott had felt that life for the family would be better in Mississippi than in Chicago. They had left the Chicago South Side and moved to Mississippi. Instead of finding a more peaceful, safe environment, they found a racist town where the white man’s spoken word is the law and justice for poor Black people, absent.

On December 24, 1993, Scott County Sheriff’s Department arrested the sisters for armed robbery. In October of 1994, Jamie and Gladys Scott were sentenced to double life terms in prison. That’s double sentences each! Neither sister had prior convictions. Three young Black men confessed to the robbery, but implicated Jamie and Gladys in the crime. The three young men, all related and ranging from ages 14 to 18, confessed to committing the crime. Coercions, threats and promises later led these men to turn state’s evidence on the Scott Sisters. The 14-year-old testified that he signed a written statement without an attorney present. He was told that he would be sent up to Parchman Farm – the notorious Mississippi Penitentiary/Plantation – if he did not cooperate. In addition, he was told that he would be “made out of a woman” (raped by men) at Parchman. The 14-year-old witness had spent 10 months in jail and was, at this point, ready to get out. His confession was a condition of entering a plea agreement for strong-armed robbery, which does not carry a life sentence. The 14-year-old never read the statement. He only signed it.

In 1998, one of the Patrick Men wrote an affidavit telling the truth – that Jamie and Gladys were not involved. The court never heard the affidavit. There are presently three affidavits which state that Gladys and Jamie had nothing to do with this robbery.

According to the Request for Commutation of Sentence and/or Pardon prepared by attorney Chokwe Lumumba, the Scott Sisters challenged their convictions on direct appeal; arguing that there was insufficient evidence to convict them, and the guilty verdict was against the overwhelming weight of evidence, which should exonerate them. The court of appeals found no error and affirmed the convictions on December 17, 1996. As a result, they filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the Supreme Court, which was denied on May 15, 1997. They consequently filed an Application for Leave to File Motion to Vacate Conviction pursuant to the Mississippi Post Conviction Collateral Relief Act. The Supreme Court also denied that application.

The attorneys from the lower court failed to interview and subpoena witnesses for the hearing. The jury never heard the testimony from the victims. Their attorney only called one witness, when there were several. The sisters did not testify on their own behalf, because both their attorneys advised them not to. The attorneys failed to interview and subpoena the witnesses.

The affidavits of 3 witnesses were newly discovered evidence, and were unknown during the lower court trial. Attorney Chokwe Lumumba submitted a request for commutation of sentence and pardon to the governor. It was denied.

Gladys and Jamie’s older brother is presently serving in Iraq for the US Army, while Americans have wrongfully placed his sisters in prison on double life terms. No one was murdered, injured or taken to the hospital.

Their children have suffered the most from justice denied.

To assist with the struggle for exoneration of the Scott sisters, please visit:

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/Free-Jamie-Gladys/index.html

http://www.freewebs.com/nlockha/index.htm

http://www.squidoo.com/WRONGFUL-CONVICTION-OF-JAMIE-AND-GLADYS-SCOTT

http://www.scribd.com/doc/5974654/The-Wrongful-Conviction-of-Jamie-and-Gladys-Scott

Should The Government Be Trusted With Our Money



By Dr. Boyce Watkins
www.BoyceWatkins.com

Media reports show that many Americans are not quite sure of what to do with their money. Watching banks fail left and right, people are logically afraid of what might happen to their savings. This fear is justified, as we are seeing our accounts beaten and stomped by the global financial meltdown.

This grave concern is magnified by the fact that those we’ve trusted are the ones who’ve left us vulnerable. Our most cherished financial experts handled our retirement accounts like flashy vehicles on a Nascar speedway. Our elected officials allowed executives in the banking industry to run rampant like 3-year olds with dirty diapers. Then, when the crash came, a massive bailout package was created for those most responsible for the damage, while the rest of us were left holding the tax bill.

This begs the question: Why in the hell should we trust the government?

I recall that during the failure of Enron, one of the most respected companies in America at the time, the firm made several statements designed to create confidence in the company’s financial condition. Like captains of the Titanic, company leaders explained that there was nothing to worry about, even as they themselves were preparing their lifeboats. When the company failed, those who did not protect themselves reminded us of one grim and fundamental truth: when the “you know what” hits the fan, it’s every man for himself….and every woman too, in case you’re wondering.

In response to such sentiment, the American consumer has been working overtime to protect his/her resources: people have (against my advice) moved their money away from the frightening stock market, they are diversifying money into different banks, and some are taking their money out of banks altogether. All of these actions are occurring in spite of government calls for calm in a world on the verge of financial panic.

The honest to goodness truth is that I don’t blame Americans for being afraid. I don’t blame them for not trusting the government right now. Trust must be earned in any relationship, whether it is a tough marriage of the relationship between a government and its citizens. Our government must work to regain that trust through sound and efficient financial management. It will NOT regenerate the public trust through excessive spending on meaningless wars, selfish pork-filled bills being passed through Congress and budget deficits that strain the resources of Americans everywhere.

I can’t tell you if the government is lying to you, but I can tell you this: There was a time when government guarantees such as FDIC insurance were as pure as the driven snow. There was a time when the United States Federal Government had pockets and resources so deep that even God himself could be bailed out with our cash. The sad truth, however, is that no empire lasts forever, and there is destined to be a day in the future when we are no longer the unquestionable economic super power that we once were. A country that can’t even afford its social security obligations is hardly a nation that has risen beyond economic risk.

Another sad truth is that if the financial world really were coming to an end, the citizens would be the last to find out about any such crisis. We would, simultaneously, be the first ones asked to suffer the burden of irresponsible behavior by our leaders. If that doesn’t justify a bit of skepticism, I am not sure what does.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University. He does regular commentary in national media, including CNN, ESPN, CBS and BET. For more information, please visit www.BoyceWatkins.com.

Friday, November 28, 2008

New Singer Angela Arnolds Voice Inspired By Billy Holiday


This 25 year old Louisville, Kentucky native has been singing since age 4 and is excited about the upcoming release of her first album, Asa: Loves Experience, A Steve Wallis Project.

Where do you currently live?

I’m in East Orange, but I claim Louisville. I’m a native of Louisville, Kentucky. I love New Jersey but my sound– a lot of people you will see talking about me will tell you that it’s a Louisville sound.

Did you go to school, what was your major?

My major was Theatre Arts with a concentration in music. Rather than just having a God given talent, I have studied music. I’m definitely an actor as well.

College was much harder for me at one point. But I made it through!

Who influences you?

Anywhere from Billie Holiday to Tina Marie, Dinah Washington…

I could name a lot of folks, and that will definitely reflect on my album. The greatest of the influences that I’ve had when it comes to my music has been those greats of the 1930s.

If I took your iPod, what music would I find?

Tina Marie, she is one of the ultimate artists to me; Stevie Wonder, a lot of older cats. (Laughs). One of the newer cats: John Legend.

Ne-Yo, I think he’s a genius. Billie Holiday. And Jill Scott of course, Jill is all over the place in my iPod.

I tell you what; if I ever got the chance to work with Prince I’d be done. He’s probably one of the only artists I admire no matter what he does.

Does your album have a release date? What was some of your motivation for the album?

It doesn’t have a release date at this time, either at the end of December or early January. Steve Wallis is the producer of this project; we wanted it to be very exclusive. He really brought out what I wanted to do with the album.

I wrote all of the lyrics on the album except for two, and two of those were collaborations with Steve. I’m very proud of this album.

In February I lost a really good friend of mine and a good friend of a lot of people in the industry, Static Major. I started thinking to myself, “What is my purpose here? What did I come to the east coast to do and why am I not doing it? “ I feel there was some kind of force leading me there, whether it has been the spirit of my father or static’s spirit or even reminiscing on my father.

What do you do for fun?

A lot of times I just hang out with my friends, we might go see a theatre show, I might take in a film or support fellow artists. I make jewelry. That might be the next thing on the list to bring to the forefront.

Any advice for aspiring artists?

Have a plan. Educate yourself about the industry and don’t give up. It’s a lot of work but in the end, as long as you’re true to the art and as long as you stay true to the message that you’re trying to send to others, you will succeed.

View Asa’s blog here.

Greetings.

As people of color, we should make ourselves aware of the continued exploitation of college athletes and their families, many of whom are African Americans. The article below is out of USA Today, which cites the clustering of majors and serious violations of academic integrity taking place for the sake of excessive commercialization in collegiate athletics. The money is serious - ad revenue for March Madness exceeds that for the Super Bowl and the World Series COMBINED. This is a major wealth extraction out of the Black community (since coaches earn millions while many star athletes have families in poverty), and athletes are not even getting the educations they are promised.

I am working intensely on this issue with Richard Southall at The College Sport Research Institute at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (where I am a faculty affiliate). I would also like to invite all of you to join our Coalition for the Fair Treatment of Athletes, where our long-term goal is to a) establish a network of faculty across the nation who agree to mentor athletes toward true academic achievement and b) Work with a growing coalition of attorneys, journalists, parents, coaches and former athletes to convince Congress to review the non-profit, tax exempt status of the NCAA, as well as their anti-trust exemption, which appears to constitute a serious violation of labor rights for the families of college athletes. The article is below if you'd like to read it.


Sincerely,
Boyce Watkins

www.BoyceWatkins.com

Please visit our sponsor, GreatBlackSpeakers.com to find high quality Black speakers for your next event.
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Athletes Guided to "Beat the System"

By Jill Lieber Steeg, Jodi Upton, Patrick Bohn and Steve Berkowitz, USA TODAY

Steven Cline left Kansas State University last spring with memories of two years as a starting defensive lineman for a major-college football team. He left with a diploma, credits toward a master's degree and a place on the 2007 Big 12 Conference all-academic team.

He also left with regrets about accomplishing all of this by majoring in social sciences — a program that drew 34% of the football team's juniors and seniors last season, compared with about 4% of all juniors and seniors at Kansas State. Cline says he found not-so-demanding courses that helped him have success in the classroom and on the field but did little for his dream of becoming a veterinarian.

"I realize I just wasted all my efforts in high school and college to get a social science degree," says Cline, who adds he did poorly in biology as a freshman, then chose what an athletics academic adviser told him would be an easier path.
His experience reflects how the NCAA's toughening of academic requirements for athletes has helped create an environment in which they are more likely to graduate than other students — but also more likely to be clustered in programs without the academic demands most students face.

Some athletes say they have pursued — or have been steered to — degree programs that helped keep them eligible for sports but didn't prepare them for post-sports careers.

"A major in eligibility, with a minor in beating the system," says C. Keith Harrison, an associate professor at the University of Central Florida, where he is associate director of the Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sports.

A USA TODAY study of the majors of juniors and seniors in five prominent sports at 142 of the NCAA's top-level schools shows athletes at many institutions clustering in certain majors, in some cases at rates highly disproportionate to those of all students.

The study involved the fall 2007 student rolls and the 2007-08 rosters for Division I teams in five sports — football, men's basketball, women's basketball, baseball and softball.
All 120 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) were included, as were 22 other Division I schools with standout men's or women's basketball teams. Nearly 9,300 athletes across 654 teams were covered by the study. Among the findings:

  • 83% of the schools (118 of 142) had at least one team in which at least 25% of the juniors and seniors majored in the same thing. For example, seven of the 19 players on Stanford's baseball team majored in sociology.
  • 34% of the teams (222 of 654) had at least one such cluster of student-athletes.
  • More than half of the clusters are what some analysts refer to as "extreme," in which at least 40% of athletes on a team are in the same major (125 of 235). All seven of the juniors and seniors on Texas-El Paso's men's basketball team majored in multidisciplinary studies, for example.
  • Education specialists say such clustering raises a range of potential problems, including academic fraud; certain majors and classes having dubious academic requirements; and coaches and athletics academic advisers inappropriately influencing students' decisions on majors and classes.

Clustering in relatively easy areas of study is one way athletes cope with the time demands they face from participating in sports, Cline and other athletes say. It also appears to be an unintended consequence of NCAA schools' decisions to make it easier for athletes to become eligible to play as freshmen but harder for them to remain eligible in later years.

"Clustering by itself is replicated in many parts of the university. It's not necessarily bad," NCAA President Myles Brand says.

"But when you have extreme clustering … you really do have to ask some hard questions: Is there an adviser who's pushing students into this? Are there some faculty members who are too friendly with student-athletes? I'm not saying that's the case. But I think you have to ask those questions."

Brand adds that it's up to each school to do so. "There are limits to what the national office can, and should, do," he says. "Anything to do with the academic programs really falls entirely within the purview of the individual institutions."

Questions about clustering get at the basic social contract of college sports.

Instead of being paid, scholarship athletes get a free education. And, according to University of Hartford President Walter Harrison, who chairs the NCAA Division I Committee on Academic Performance: "There are many values of a college education, but among them is majoring in something that will prepare you for a satisfying career."

Cline believes that now. He arrived at Kansas State from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., in 2003 and intended to pursue a pre-veterinary program.

"The athletics academic advisers emphasized it was going to be really difficult," he says. "But I tried it anyway."

When the biology class went badly, he and his advisers discussed options, including retaking the class. Homesick and wanting to finish college as soon as possible, he says, he "dropped down" to social sciences, a program Kansas State's website says is one of four interdisciplinary majors in the College of Arts and Sciences that "provide options for those who have not chosen a specialized major."

"The athletics academic advisers said, 'This is what everybody is doing. It's the easiest major,' " recalls Cline, who emphasizes that ultimately he — not his advisers — chose his degree program.

Cline completed his degree in four academic years. Afterward, with one season of athletic eligibility left, he stayed at Kansas State and spent the 2007-08 school year in a master's program in college student personnel.

The program is designed to prepare candidates for work at college "student affairs agencies," according to the university's website. Cline says he didn't complete it and doesn't intend to "because it wasn't what I wanted to do."

He now is working in construction so he can save money and try to return to school as a pre-vet student.


"The whole time I was at Kansas State, I felt stuck — stuck in football, stuck in my major. … It was a stupid effort on my part. I wouldn't advise any other athlete to do that. I'd tell them to choose a career — a real career for their life after football and work toward it. Don't let anybody or anything take you off that path. Don't fool yourselves into thinking (you're) going to play (sports) professionally.

"Now I look back and say, 'Well, what did I really go to college for? Crap classes you won't use the rest of your life?' Social science is really nothing specific. … I was majoring in football."

Kansas State provost M. Duane Nellis says the university tries "to be supportive of athletes to be able to pursue what they dream to have as their degree path.

"We've had starting athletes in basketball who went on to … get into veterinary medicine. Any student can get out of sequence if they're in a prescribed curriculum … and if they get out of sequence, it leads them down a different path. They also have to realize, when they decide to pursue athletics, there are time commitments and parameters around that."

'A mixed message being sent'


Cline's situation provides a window on the day-to-day machinery of big-time college sports, which can be a physical and psychological grind on student-athletes.

Basketball games, and a few football games, are played on weeknights. Sometimes games are played close to exams. It's not unusual for baseball teams to play five days a week, with games in three different towns.

"There's a mixed message being sent out here" about the importance of academics in college sports, Georgia Tech men's basketball coach Paul Hewitt said in June before the Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.

Several athletes echo Hewitt's sentiments.

Former Boise State safety Marty Tadman was among the 48% of the football team's juniors and seniors majoring in communication during the 2007-08 academic year. Boise State's communication program also drew 50% of the juniors and seniors on the men's basketball and women's basketball teams.

"You hear which majors, and which classes, are the easiest and you take them," Tadman says. "You're going to school so you can stay in sports. You're not going for a degree. … It's a joke."

Like other students, athletes are influenced by their peers. Former Southern California offensive lineman Drew Radovich majored in sociology, putting him among the 58% of the football team's juniors and seniors — and 19% of USC's — in that major. "If I went back and did it all over again, I wouldn't have picked" sociology, says Radovich, now with the Minnesota Vikings. "A lot of other offensive linemen were picking sociology, so I picked it."

Under NCAA rules, schools are required to make academic counseling and tutoring available to athletes.

These services can be provided and paid for by athletics departments, which have been making them — and the facilities in which they are based — increasingly elaborate in recent years.

And because of the NCAA's complex requirements, which often differ from those of a university or individual academic department, academic advisers are involved in many athletes' course selections.

'Perfect storm' for problems

With Division I athletes, that involvement usually stems from what's known as The 40-60-80 Rule, which took effect for athletes entering school after Aug. 1, 2003.

To stay eligible to play, athletes must complete 40% of their degree work by the end of their second year of enrollment, 60% by the end of their third year and 80% by the end of their fourth year. Under previous rules, those percentages were 25, 50 and 75.

The increased demands for progress toward a degree have been accompanied by reduced requirements for incoming athletes to be eligible to play as freshmen.

Until recently, incoming athletes had to have at least an 820 SAT score or 68 ACT sum score. Now, if they have a sufficient grade-point average in a set of core academic classes, they can be eligible as freshmen with any standardized score.

"It's a perfect storm formula" for pressure on advisers, says Gerald Gurney, senior associate athletics director for academics and student life at the University of Oklahoma. "A population of weaker students with higher (academic) demands," layered upon a national trend of academic departments raising requirements for entry into certain majors.

There also is a new NCAA rule that threatens penalties for teams with too many players who become academically ineligible or fail to graduate. Based on their annually published Academic Progress Rate (APR), teams can lose scholarships and eventually become ineligible for postseason play, either of which can embarrass a school and affect a team's ability to win.

Hewitt, the Georgia Tech men's basketball coach, bluntly articulated many coaches' view of the "unintended consequences" of the APR system at the Knight Commission meeting in June. He said then that when an NCAA official came to the Atlantic Coast Conference meetings four years ago to discuss the APR system, "almost every coach said: 'You understand what you're basically telling us. We're going to encourage our kids to take the easiest path to eligibility.'

"So if I'm at a Georgia Tech, I'm not going to tell a young man he can't major in engineering," Hewitt said. "But I certainly will counsel him before he takes that first class that … if you decide to go down this road and for some reason you find it harder than you expected and you decide to change your major, you're probably more than likely going to end up being ineligible" for sports.

At Georgia Tech last year, 63% of the juniors and seniors on the men's basketball team majored in management. So did 83% of those on the baseball team and 82% of those on the football team. A little more than 11% of all juniors and seniors at the school were in the major.

Isma'il Muhammad, a basketball player who earned a management degree from Georgia Tech in 2005, said he considered majoring in international affairs, but "it just didn't make sense. I would have had to stop playing basketball," which he has been doing professionally outside the USA since graduating.

Asked why management is so popular among athletes, he said, "They want to own their own business or have other big aspirations. Also, we're not crazy. … Was management easier than engineering? Of course, but Georgia Tech doesn't offer any easy classes or easy majors. It's not like I was a basketball player majoring in pottery."

Muhammad also says he has leads for post-basketball jobs. "Finding a job is not an issue even in this economy we have right now," he says. "A lot of people are affiliated with Tech and (are) fans of basketball and Coach Hewitt."

Bob Vomhof, a former Colorado State football player also still pursuing his sport in a lower level of the pro ranks, has similar confidence in his future prospects — but with a retrospective different from Muhammad's.

Vomhof graduated with a degree in liberal arts, a program that last year had 65% of the junior and senior football players and about 2% of all juniors and seniors at the school. As a junior he wanted to change his major to construction management, he says, but decided that with the time he had to spend on football he couldn't make the move.

Speaking from his hometown of Gillette, Wyo., after spending part of the past Arena Football League season on the San Jose SaberCats practice squad, he says of his outlook: "I think I'll be OK. No matter how bad the job market gets everywhere else, you can always get jobs up here."

A Dysfunctional Families Value

By Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III


In today’s political lexicon the term family values has been hijacked by the Christian political right as a way to define an ambiguous set of moral beliefs and standards that they use to further a morally defenseless political agenda. In the early 1980’s individuals such as Ralph Reed and Pat Robertson through The Christian Coalition, began to target the Republican Party as the vehicle through which they could promote their conservative religious agenda and inject that religious agenda into mainstream American politics. They successfully combined their moral conservatism with political conservatism resulting in a politics that is neither morally nor ethically based.

The agenda of The Christian Coalition of America is to, “… offer people of faith the vehicle to be actively involved in shaping their government - from the County Courthouse to the halls of Congress… Today, Christians need to play an active role in government again like never before… we continuously work to identify, educate and mobilize Christians for effective political action” The late Rev. D. James Kennedy focused his attention on members of Congress and their staffers by founding the Center for Christian Statesmanship. This Center was a Capitol Hill outreach group that offered Bible studies to members of Congress and their staffers. Rev. Kennedy believed, “Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost... we are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors -- in short, over every aspect and institution of human society.”

There are two problems with the injection of ideological Christianity into mainstream American politics. First, the “establishment” clause was written into the First Amendment of the Constitution to prevent the United States government from establishing an official religion for the country as had been done by the Church of England. The “free exercise” clause was written into the First Amendment to allow each American to practice religion as they see fit. It prohibits Congress from preferring one religion over another. What the late Rev. Kennedy worked to accomplish, the reclamation of America for Christ, actually violates what Thomas Jefferson called the separation of church and state. This time tested and accepted political and legal doctrine states that government and religious institutions are to be kept separate and independent of one another.

The second problem with the injection of ideological Christianity into mainstream American politics is the hypocrisy that is exhibited by many of its proponents. Too many of these “holier than thou” Christian conservatives just don’t practice what they preach. As the Republican Party has anointed itself as the party of ethics, morality, and family values, these so-called “family values” demonstrate a very dysfunctional family. Take for example the following:

  • Ralph Reed, former head of The Christian Coalition has been implicated in the ongoing Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.
    Lest we forget the seventh Commandment, thou shalt not steal and the eighth commandment, thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor


  • According to Florida authorities, state representative and Republican Bob Allen was arrested this past July outside the men's restroom at a Titusville park after offering to perform a sex act on a plainclothes police officer. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Allen sponsored the "Sexual Predator Elimination Act," legislation that toughened penalties for lewd or lascivious conduct and created a new provision that allows some sexual predators to receive life prison sentences for their offenses. Before his 2006 re-election, Allen had received a 92 percent rating from the Christian Coalition of Florida. Bob Allen is married.
    Lest we forget the seventh Commandment, thou shalt not commit adultery.


  • Washington state lawmaker and Republican, Richard Curtis, resigned October 31, days after he was quoted in police reports as saying a man he had sex with after they met at an erotic video store was trying to blackmail him. Elected to the state House of Representatives in 2004, Curtis has voted against bills that would grant civil rights protections to gays and lesbians. Curtis like Allen is married.


    Lest we forget the seventh Commandment, thou shalt not commit adultery.



  • Former Republican Congressman Mark Foley, once known as a crusader against child abuse and exploitation resigned from Congress on September 29, 2006 after allegations surfaced that he had sent suggestive emails and sexually explicit instant messages to teenaged boys who had formerly served and were at that time serving as Congressional pages.
    As this self-righteous crusader Foley should reflect upon John 8:7 “… He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone…”


  • Republican Senator Larry Craig was arrested at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on suspicion of lewd conduct. Craig pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. He voted to ban same-sex marriage, voted against adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes, and voted no on prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation.


    As Craig has relied on Idaho’s “value voters” for his support, he should reflect upon Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.


  • We should never forget that Pat Robertson, host of The 700 Club and founder of the Christian Coalition of America, called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. According to the San Francisco Chronicle and other sources, President Bush told two high-ranking Palestinian officials that he had been told by God to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. What God calls for assassinations of world leaders and invasions of sovereign countries that are posing no threat you?
    Those self-righteous moralistic bible thumpers should remember the fifth Commandment, thou shalt not kill.


To the rest of the world America looks like a morally bankrupt country that will use any pretext and its military power to impose its will upon the unwilling. By allowing ideological Christianity to control American politics and policy, we have compromised the values, concepts, and traditions that formed the foundation of our democracy. Those family values are now the values of a dysfunctional family.

Dr. Wilmer Leon is the Producer/ Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program “On With Leon” on XM Satellite Radio Channel 169, regular guest on CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight, Producer/Host of the television program “Inside The Issues With Wilmer Leon” and a Teaching Associate in the Department of Political Science at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Go to www.wilmerleon.com or email: wjl3us@yahoo.com. © 2007 InfoWave Commuications, LLC.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Black Finance Professor Boyce Watkins on Consumer confidence


Dr. Boyce Watkins
www.Boycewatkins.com

If you wish to see a video explaining consumer confidence, which is one of the driving issues behind the recent moves in the stock market, please click here.

This has been an interesting week, with auto execs showing up on private jets to request a bailout from the government and the Dow moving to below 8,000 points for the first time in 5 years. I still hold to the fact that this is a great time to get into the stock market if one has never done so before, especially if you are under the age of 50. By the way - please visit our sponsor, GreatBlackSpeakers.com if you are interested in hiring a top notch African American speaker or seeking to become one.

Take care!
Boyce Watkins
http://www.blogger.com/www.boycewatkins.com
Click here to join our money advice list.

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If you listen carefully to the words of Treasury Secretary Henry “Hank” Paulson and Ben “Big Ben” Bernanke (chairman of the Federal Reserve) you might notice a trend in their language. The word “confidence” is used a lot when they speak. Many of their monetary proposals are not necessarily valuable for their financial power, but also for their psychological power.

Some of you may wonder what confidence has to do with anything. After all, if you’re broke, confidence doesn’t exactly put money in your pocket. If you’re 100 pounds overweight, confidence won’t help you win the Olympic 100 meter dash. When you are flying on a crashing plane, confidence doesn’t keep the plane from slamming into the ground. But confidence is important to an economy, and one of the most significant drivers of economic growth. In fact, over confidence has driven US economic growth for the past 10 years. Here are some reasons that confidence matters in the minds of Hank and Big Ben:

1) Confident consumers spend money

If you think you might lose your job next year, are you going to max out your credit cards? I certainly hope not. If you are worried about being able to make ends meet, are you going to buy that big screen TV? Not unless you want your wife to leave you. So, even if it doesn’t hold any truth, the mere forecast of a weak economy is enough to make many Americans hold off on consumer spending, one of the great driving forces of the American financial system.

2) Confident companies invest money and hire workers

Investments involve risk. Your hunch may work out, and it may not. If you don’t believe the economy is getting better, you are not going to consider taking that risk. No one plans to go to the beach if the weather man says that it’s going to rain. When economic rain is in the forecast, companies pull out their umbrellas and hold off on new projects. This reduces the number of jobs in the economy, because nearly every job created in America is the result of someone making an investment.

3) Confident Americans do not take their money out of banks

In case you didn’t know, your bank does not have your money. Your money is part of a large base of financial capital that is loaned out to individuals and consumers seeking to get a good return on their investment. So, without investing, your bank would have no interest in paying you any interest at all. So if, say, 30% of all customers of the same bank decide to get their money out at the same time, the bank would have serious financial problems. It is a lack of confidence that could cause customers to “run” on their bank and take out their money.

4) Confident investors keep their money in the stock market

The stock market is a place where fortunes are made and lost. Some part of that fortune is psychological, given that no asset can have a value which exceeds that which someone is willing to pay for it. When investors lose confidence, they take their money out of the stock market, and reductions in demand for stocks lead to massive paper losses in the market. Additionally, most Americans are “momentum traders”, meaning that when the market goes up, they tend to buy more, and when it goes down, they tend to sell. History shows that it is actually the opposite approach that tends to work best.

5) Confident banks make loans

Banks have to keep a certain portion of their funds on hand at all times to meet federal requirements. If they are fearful that their customers might come and demand their cash, they hold onto their capital to ensure that it is available. If they are afraid that their borrowing customers will not be able to repay loans due to a weak economy, they also hold back on issuing new loans. The truth is that when economic forecasts are grim, conservative bankers become even more fearful than the rest of us.

The bottom line of this article is that confidence matters. So, the next time you hear Ben Bernanke give a speech, you can be confident that he is going to use language that makes you feel more secure. Whether you choose to believe those words is up to you.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University. He does regular commentary in national media, including CNN, BET, ESPN and CBS. For more information, please visit http://www.blogger.com/www.boycewatkins.com. To join our money list, please click here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Government - Can it Be Trusted? Black Scholar Boyce Watkins

Why the Government Does Not Want You To Panic During Financial Crisis




by Dr. Boyce Watkins
http://www.boycewatkins.com/


If you listen carefully to the words of Treasury Secretary Henry “Hank” Paulson and Ben “Big Ben” Bernanke (chairman of the Federal Reserve) you might notice a trend in their language. The word “confidence” is used a lot when they speak. Many of their monetary proposals are not necessarily valuable for their financial power, but also for their psychological power.


Some of you may wonder what confidence has to do with anything. After all, if you’re broke, confidence doesn’t exactly put money in your pocket. If you’re 100 pounds overweight, confidence won’t help you win the Olympic 100 meter dash. When you are flying on a crashing plane, confidence doesn’t keep the plane from slamming into the ground. But confidence is important to an economy, and one of the most significant drivers of economic growth. In fact, over confidence has driven US economic growth for the past 10 years. Here are some reasons that confidence matters in the minds of Hank and Big Ben:


1) Confident consumers spend money
If you think you might lose your job next year, are you going to max out your credit cards? I certainly hope not. If you are worried about being able to make ends meet, are you going to buy that big screen TV? Not unless you want your wife to leave you. So, even if it doesn’t hold any truth, the mere forecast of a weak economy is enough to make many Americans hold off on consumer spending, one of the great driving forces of the American financial system.

2) Confident companies invest money and hire workers
Investments involve risk. Your hunch may work out, and it may not. If you don’t believe the economy is getting better, you are not going to consider taking that risk. No one plans to go to the beach if the weather man says that it’s going to rain. When economic rain is in the forecast, companies pull out their umbrellas and hold off on new projects. This reduces the number of jobs in the economy, because nearly every job created in America is the result of someone making an investment.

3) Confident Americans do not take their money out of banks
In case you didn’t know, your bank does not have your money. Your money is part of a large base of financial capital that is loaned out to individuals and consumers seeking to get a good return on their investment. So, without investing, your bank would have no interest in paying you any interest at all. So if, say, 30% of all customers of the same bank decide to get their money out at the same time, the bank would have serious financial problems. It is a lack of confidence that could cause customers to “run” on their bank and take out their money.

4) Confident investors keep their money in the stock market
The stock market is a place where fortunes are made and lost. Some part of that fortune is psychological, given that no asset can have a value which exceeds that which someone is willing to pay for it. When investors lose confidence, they take their money out of the stock market, and reductions in demand for stocks lead to massive paper losses in the market. Additionally, most Americans are “momentum traders”, meaning that when the market goes up, they tend to buy more, and when it goes down, they tend to sell. History shows that it is actually the opposite approach that tends to work best.

5) Confident banks make loans
Banks have to keep a certain portion of their funds on hand at all times to meet federal requirements. If they are fearful that their customers might come and demand their cash, they hold onto their capital to ensure that it is available. If they are afraid that their borrowing customers will not be able to repay loans due to a weak economy, they also hold back on issuing new loans. The truth is that when economic forecasts are grim, conservative bankers become even more fearful than the rest of us.

The bottom line of this article is that confidence matters. So, the next time you hear Ben Bernanke give a speech, you can be confident that he is going to use language that makes you feel more secure. Whether you choose to believe those words is up to you.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of “Financial Lovemaking 101: Merging Assets with Your Partner in Ways that Feel Good”. For more information, please visit http://boycewatikns.com/

Monday, November 17, 2008

Will Swap The Black President For These Things


by Dr. Boyce Watkins


Barack Obama’s voice booms high into the clouds as our nation’s president. But it is also a voice that is sometimes muted by policy, distorted by conflicting agendas and distracted by the complexities of the world in which we live. I find myself mildly disturbed by the excessive celebration within our community, as if winning this political popularity contest has somehow finally validated us as a people. It is scary when the measure of a Black person's success is captured by the degree of favor he has obtained with his historical oppressors. I will never believe that winning the White House is the greatest achievement in Black History, nor was it the greatest sacrifice. The greatest achievements were made by those who worked for us to be truly empowered and the sacrifice was made by those who died to clear President Obama’s path. Achieving prominence on the plantation is not nearly as meaningful as achieving independence.


Before we conclude that we live in a post-racial America, we must remember that many of the men and women who voted for Barack Obama would not be happy to see your Black sons dating their daughters. While we see that the White House has a Black face, we must remember that the majority of our nation’s most esteemed universities still only bring in Black people to dribble basketballs (if you went to college, count the number of Black Professors you had during your 4 years who were not in an African American studies Department). Most of the media outlets you watch on TV are controlled by people who are not Black, yet they consistently impact the self-perception of Black children by bombarding them with negative Black imagery (i.e. DL Hughley's new show on CNN). Most of our nation's wealth is controlled by the descendants of slave masters, with poverty being inherited by descendants of slaves. There is a lot of work to do, we can’t forget that.


So, while having a Black President is a wonderful thing, it’s not the most wonderful thing I can think of. I would GLADLY trade a Black President for any of the following:


Another Malcolm X – Malcolm is likely the most under-appreciated American in our nation’s history, since his legacy is not as amenable to the excessive commercialization and mainstream comfort of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King achieved political gains and Barack gave us the White House, both of which can be taken away in an instant. Malcolm gave us something far more permanent – our self-respect and desire for economic independence. Since America will never give Malcolm much respect, it is up to us to remember that he is every bit as significant as Barack Obama and Martin Luther King, Jr. We should all memorize Malcolm's birthday right now.


10 Black Warren Buffets – my good friend and wildly successful money manager, Bill Thomason, brought up an undeniable point: if we as African Americans do not get ourselves together financially, we will never have true power. America is a capitalist democracy, and we cannot forget that money makes this world go round. Rather than teaching our children to get jobs, we need to teach them how to CREATE jobs. Rather than trying to wiggle our way up the corporate ladder, we should be creating the buildings that the ladders lean against. Wealth is more powerful than racism any day of the week.


An era of enlightened and educated professional and college athletes – The Black male athlete possesses many keys to the economic and social liberation of Black America. Many HBCUs can’t pay the light bill, but Black Athletes earn at least $2 Billion dollars per year for universities that don’t hire Black coaches or Black Professors (March Madness, for which athletes are not paid, earns more ad revenue than the Super Bowl and the World Series COMBINED). The powers that be know the potential influence and reach of an educated and empowered Black athlete, which is why they work overtime to keep them uneducated: when many athletes come to college, coaches pick their classes for them and some can’t even read at graduation. They keep them focused on the bling so they will take their eyes off the prize. These young men are taught like sheep to embrace intellectual mediocrity so their handlers can earn fortunes at their expense. They are granted the greatest power in our society as long as they prove that they are unwilling to use it. If these men were to ever wake up and fight for something bigger than themselves (as Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown once did), it would be absolutely earth shattering.


A Quality Public Education System – Rather than declaring a War on Terror, we should declare War on inferior inner city education. Instead of bailing out the rich guys on Wall Street, we should be bailing out our children who are stuck in the preschool to prison pipeline. Hundreds of thousands of potential Barack Obamas are being tossed in an educational landfill every year, as Black boys are 5 times more likely to be placed in Special Education as White kids (I was one of those boys). This is a damn shame.


Complete Overhaul of the Prison System – If you ever want to see slavery in the 21st century, one only need look as far as our nation’s prisons. There is little effort to rehabilitate, and the impact on the physical health and socio-economic stability of the Black family has been devastating. President Obama and others should confront the prison industrial complex immediately and stop the human rights abuses taking place in our nation's prisons.


Now that people are saying that President Obama’s success implies that there is no more racism, our job becomes much more difficult. President Obama and others must be consistently asked to pull their weight so that we can get a return on our investment in the Presidential popularity contest. But while we expect President Obama to lead us, we must also remember that it is important to lead him as well. The fight is just beginning.


Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of “What if George Bush were a Black Man?” For more information, please visit www.BoyceWatkins.com. To join the Dr. Boyce Money list, please click here.