75 Years Late…Scottsboro Boys Pardoned

This was one of the major (Mis)Trials of the last century. 9 black Boys accused of raping two white women in the segregated, Jim Crow, Alabama of 1931.Amazingly enough, despite high tensions – they didn’t get lynched. All but one of the boys was convicted and given the death penalty. None of the Boys was executed, but spent long terms in jail.

The Scottsboro Boys, with attorney Samuel Leibowitz, under guard by the state militia, 1932

   Alabama grants posthumous pardons to Scottsboro Boys

Alabama’s parole board voted Thursday to grant posthumous pardons to men known as the Scottsboro Boys from a 1931 rape case.

The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles granted full and unconditional pardons to three of the nine black boys who were falsely accused of raping two white women on a train in northeast Alabama in 1931.

The board unanimously approved the pardons for Haywood Patterson, Charlie Weems and Andy Wright after a short hearing in Montgomery. The three men were the last of the accused to have convictions from the case on their records.

“This decision will give them a final peace in their graves, wherever they are,” said Sheila Washington, director of the Scottsboro Museum and Cultural Center in Scottsboro, who helped initiate the petition.

Patterson, Weems and Wright, along with defendant Clarence Norris, were convicted on rape charges in 1937, after a six-year ordeal that included three trials, the recantation of one of the accusers and two landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions on legal representation and the racial make-up of jury pools.

The men were all convicted by all-white juries, and all but the youngest defendant was sentenced to death.

Alabama ultimately dropped rape charges against five of the accused. Norris received a pardon before his death from Alabama Gov. George Wallace in 1976.

Last spring, the Alabama Legislature unanimously passed a law to allow the parole board to issue posthumous pardons for convictions at least 75 years old. The law was specifically designed to allow the pardon of the Scottsboro Boys to go forward.

In October, a group of scholars petitioned the Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant pardons to the men. The petition was endorsed by the judges and district attorneys of the counties where the initial trials took place.

“This is a different state than it was 80 years ago, and thank God for that,” said state Sen. Arthur Orr, a Republican from Decatur where the second and third round of trials took place. “It’s an important step for our state to take.”

Under Alabama law, pardons can only be granted to those who have felony convictions on their record. The petitioners had initially hoped the board would review the status of each of the defendants.

The Board’s decision led to a round of applause Thursday morning, but many of those who worked on the pardon called the news bittersweet. Patterson died of cancer in 1952, and many of the other defendants, including Weems and Wright, felt compelled to move out of Alabama and keep a low profile after their release from prison.

University of Alabama professor John Miller, who helped prepare the petition, said at the time of his pardon, Norris was living in New York under his brother’s name.

“With some of them, we really don’t know if they died with their right name, or a different name,” Washington said. “They no longer wanted to be known.”

Weems is known to have moved to the Atlanta area after his release, but his date of death is unknown. Washington said Wright, along with his brother Roy, another one of the Scottsboro Boys, is buried in Chattanooga, Tenn.

“It’s tragic in that those young men’s live were destroyed, all by a very biased and unfair judicial process,” Orr said. “The place where you seek justice did not dispense justice for these young men. It ruined their lives, some more than others, and it affected them to their graves.”

A Long Overdue Change At U of Alabama

When Libertarians say they support private organizations making their own choices of whom to associate with…

This is what they really mean.

I really don’t see where the black women in this instance needed any validation whatsoever from a white Sorority…And my departed mother who was a lifetime AKA would be truly upset at losing these women to another Sorority (there was a major family “crisis” when one of her grand-nieces pledged Delta!)…

But, overall – in the long term…This is a good thing.

One would have hoped, however – that sans the social pressure from fellow students…The Sorors had the intelligence and morality to have figured this out on their own.

A Turnabout at Traditionally White Sororities, in Nine Days at Alabama

Nine days after the University of Alabama’s campus newspaper detailed chronic racial discrimination within the campus’s Greek system, the university’s president said on Friday that six minority students had accepted offers of admission to traditionally white sororities.

The announcement marked the first time since 2003 that those organizations said they had added minority students to their memberships. Other new minority members could follow, said the president, Judy L. Bonner.

“I am confident that we will achieve our objective of a Greek system that is inclusive, accessible and welcoming to students of all races and ethnicities,” Dr. Bonner said in a videotaped statement. “We will not tolerate anything less.”

Dr. Bonner said the sororities had extended 72 bids this week to students, including 11 black women.

By Friday afternoon, six women who are minorities had agreed to join the sororities, including Halle Lindsay, who accepted an offer of admission from the Alpha Gamma Delta chapter in Tuscaloosa.

“This is all so surreal and exciting,” Ms. Lindsay wrote on her Twitter account. “I love my sisters already and happy to be an Alpha Gam!”

The national headquarters of Alpha Gamma Delta did not respond to a request for comment.

News of the admissions capped a tumultuous week for the university, the site of a Wednesday demonstration by hundreds of students and faculty members who demanded an end to long-running racial biases on the campus.

In marching to the Rose Administration Building, the protesters recalled the actions of Gov. George Wallace, who 50 years ago tried to bar African-American students from enrolling at the university, where blacks now make up more than 12 percent of the student body.

Although segregation in Alabama’s Greek system had been the subject of periodic anger and conversations through the years, the issue resurfaced last week when The Crimson White published an interview with a woman who described the conduct inside the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority house during August’s recruitment process.

According to the woman, Melanie Gotz, the sorority’s alumnae forbade current students from offering bids to two black women, one of them the stepgranddaughter of a member of Alabama’s board of trustees.

After days of escalating pressure, Dr. Bonner, in an abrupt reversal of the university’s longstanding contention that the privately run Greek organizations should fashion their own membership standards, ordered the sororities to engage in a protracted recruitment process.

On Friday, she said that step was “already yielding positive results,” and she expected the sororities to continue to broaden their membership throughout the academic year.

Condo Remembers Denise McNair, 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing in 1963

Interesting – because prior to now, I don’t remember seeing anywhere that Condo talked about any of this. Condo’s father was not in the Civil Rights Movement, choosing instead to take a back seat. The ethics of that are up to debate…

As well as Condo’s ethics in working for the Bush Administration. While I don’t believe there is any evidence that GW is a bigot, there is more than a little evidence that some of the folks he brought to Washington were and are. The nuances of whether she could have done more not taking the job, or accomplished more by taking the job are also open to debate. Calling Condo a latter day Hattie McDaniels is unfair. Calling her a failure because of her role in a failed Presidency..isn’t.

I think this reaction is because of he Trayvon Martin murder. Like the George Zimmerman trial, initial efforts to convict the murderers were stymied, with the first conviction not coming for another 14 years, with others not being convicted until 30 years later. Justice in some parts of America moves much more slowly for some people.

American actress Hattie McDaniel (1895 – 1952) with her Academy Award of Merit for Outstanding Achievement, circa 1945. McDaniel won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role of Mammy in ‘Gone With The Wind’, making her the first African-American to win an Academy Award.

Condoleezza Rice Recalls Birmingham Bombing That Killed Childhood Friend

When a church bombing killed four young black girls on a quiet Sunday morning in 1963, life for a young Condoleezza Rice changed forever.

The racial attack on the 16th Street Baptist Church, in the former secretary of state’s hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, rocked the nation and led to sweeping changes in laws governing civil rights.

But for Rice, just 8 years old at the time, the tragedy meant the death of a little girl she used to play dolls with, and the loss of her own youthful sense of security.

“As an 8-year-old, you don’t think about terror of this kind,” said Rice, who recounted on Friday her memory of the bombing and its aftermath in remarks to a gathering of civic leaders in Birmingham as part of several days of events leading up to the 50th anniversary of the bombing on Sept. 15.

Rice’s hometown had become a place too dangerous for black children to leave their own neighborhoods, or go downtown and visit Santa Claus, or go out of the house after dark.

“There was no sanctuary. There was no place really safe,” she said.

Rice’s friend, 11-year-old Denise McNair, died in the blast along with 14-year-olds Carole Robertson, Addie Mae Collins and Cynthia Wesley. Their deaths at the hands of Ku Klux Klan members garnered national support for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Events for the 50th anniversary of the bombing will include a screening of filmmaker Spike Lee’s new documentary, “Four Little Girls,” and a memorial service on Sunday scheduled to include U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Rice has a treasured photo of her friend accepting a kindergarten certificate from Rice’s father, who was a pastor at another church. McNair had gone to preschool there. McNair’s father was the community photographer, documenting birthday parties and weddings in happier times.

“Everyone in the black community knew one of those girls,” Rice said.

Her father told her the bombing had been done by “hateful men,” she said, but it was an act that later uncovered something ultimately good.

“Out of great tragedy, people began to recognize our humanity, and it brought people together,” said Rice.

The bombing left its mark on her even as an adult, when as U.S. Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, she used the experience to understand the plight of Palestinian and Israeli victims of bombs and attacks during peace negotiations.

“I told them I know what it is like for a Palestinian mother, who has to tell her child they can’t go somewhere,” Rice said, “and how it is for an Israeli mother, who puts her child to bed and wonders if the child will be alive in the morning.”

But with all of the progress made in civil rights during the 50 years since the blast, Rice cites education as the biggest impediment to equality in modern times.

She expressed dismay at racial disparities in the quality of education for minorities and criticized the “soft bigotry of low expectations” in a system she said challenges black students less than others.

“Even racism can’t be an excuse for not educating our kids,” she said. “If a kid cannot read, that kid is done. A child in a bad school doesn’t have time for racism to be eradicated. They have to learn today.”

A Stained Glass window in the 16th Street Baptist Church after the bombing.

More Zombies!

MORE Zombies! What is going on here? Another incident of cannibalism, this one at Morgan State University in Baltimore.

zombie_attack_20120601070405_JPG

Miami “Zombie” Rudy Eugene (l), and his victim Ronald Poppo (r)

Baltimore Student: I Ate Housemate’s Heart, Brain

Alexander Kinyua Mug Shot

America’s gruesome zombie apocalypsemarches on. This time, a suburban Baltimore man lost his heart and part of his brain to his cannibal college-student roomie, according to police. Kenyan Alexander Kinyua, 21, told cops he stabbed 37-year-old Kujor Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie of Ghana, dismembered him, ate his body parts, then hid the rest of the head and hands in the basement laundry room. Investigators discovered the remains when Kinyua’s dad reported finding them in the home they all shared, reports AP. The rest of Kodie’s body was found in a trash bin outside a nearby church, said police. “I’ve been with the agency 40 years, and I would say this is the first time I can remember someone consumed the victim,” said sheriff Jesse Bane. “I’ve not encountered that in this county, and I hope we never encounter it again.”

Kinyua has been charged with first-degree murder. He was out on bail during the attack after he was charged earlier last month with savagely beating a fellow student, who survived. Kinyua was studying electrical engineering at Morgan State University in Baltimore, and was a one-time member of ROTC at the school. Fellow students told theBaltimore Sun that Kinyua appeared increasing agitated, and was odd to begin with. Police have not revealed a motive for the murder, and are consulting with behavioral experts from the FBI.

I mean – even politicians are getting in on the act! OK – he hasn’t eaten anyone (yet)… But he is showing all the signs of being brain dead!

Artur Davis, Once a Key Obama Backer, Switches to Republican Party

Artur Davis Mug Shot

A Southern Democrat defecting to the GOP is not news. A black Southern Democrat defecting to the GOP is pretty big news. A black Southern Democrat who is a member of Congress and a vocal supporter of President Barack Obama warrants a screaming headline.

Don’t look for the screaming headlines, but former Alabama Congressman Artur Davis has announced he is leaving the Democratic Party, joining the Republican Party, and says he will likely vote for Mitt Romney in November.

Davis is black, but even in Congress he didn’t toe the Black Caucus line. He was an opponent of what has become known as Obamacare, and left his U.S. seat to run for governor of Alabama…

Davis is considering changing his voting registration to Virginia, a fact not lost on Virginia’s Republican governor, Robert McDonnell, who pointed out how powerful a Black Republican running for Congress could be in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. Getting on the ballot to run against Jim Moran (D-VA) of Alexandria, or the seat in wealthy exurbs of the 11th Congressional District (now held by Democrat Rep. Gerry Connolly) in 2014 or 2016 would not be a heavy lift.

Hey.. Wait a minute! THAT’S my District! Time to head down to Dick’s Sporting Goods and see if they got any “Zombie Repellent”!

Yeah, I know Artur isn’t technically a Zombie – he hasn’t eaten anyone (yet)…

But the term Bamafied Lawn Jockey…

Just seems so dated.

Go on back home Artur – we don’t want you Uncle Tom ass in Virginia.

Song for Birmingham…

The bankruptcy of America continues. One question though… If you foreclose on a city…

Does everybody have to leave? Joking aside, this has to be frustrating as hell for the folks of Jefferson County.

Alabama county files biggest municipal bankruptcy

Alabama’s Jefferson County filed for bankruptcy court protection on Wednesday in the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Commissioners for the county, which is home to Birmingham, the state’s biggest city and economic powerhouse, voted 4-1 to declare bankruptcy after meeting behind closed doors for two days in a last ditch-attempt to restructure its debt out of court.

A tentative deal reached with creditors in September to settle $3.14 billion in red ink had been widely expected to avert bankruptcy. But the deal fell apart over what the commission described as creditors’ refusal to meet the terms of previously agreed economic concessions.

There was also frustration over the fact that the estimated savings from the September agreement had shrunk by about $140 million, commission sources said.

“In September 2011, the commission and receiver entered into a comprehensive term sheet setting forth a framework for the resolution of the sewer system crisis,” the commission said in a press release announcing the bankruptcy filing.

“Creditors ultimately were unwilling to make the economic concessions contemplated in the term sheet and the receiver made additional demands inconsistent with the term sheet that the commission was unwilling to accept.”

The commissioners, who are elected and not political appointees, are the final arbiters over much of the county’s business and day-to-day municipal affairs.

The bankruptcy filing by the southern U.S. county will add to concerns about the risks in the $3.7 trillion U.S. municipal bond market, which was hit recently by the high-profile debt crisis in Pennsylvania’s capital of Harrisburg.

In addition to Harrisburg, which filed for bankruptcy last month, just two other cities — Vallejo, California and tiny Central Falls, Rhode Island — have declared bankruptcy in recent years since the onset of the U.S. financial crisis.

 

Fred Shuttlesworth – Civil Rights Pioneer

A brave sould has passed. Fred Shuttlesworth was one of the early leaders in Birmingham, Alabama who spoke out from the pulpit – and survived beating beaten and bombed as a result.

Wish we still had some leaders around with his sort of courage.

“I went to jail 30 or 40 times, not for fighting or stealing or drugs.  I went to jail for a good thing, trying to make a difference.” –  Fred Shuttlesworth to a group of schoolchildren in 1997

Birmingham civil rights leader Fred Shuttlesworth dies

The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, who was once described by Martin Luther King Jr. as “the most courageous civil rights fighter in the South,” died in Birmingham, Alabama, on Wednesday at age 89.

Shuttlesworth, who had been in declining health, passed away at the Princeton Baptist Medical Center, hospital spokeswoman Jennifer Dodd told Reuters.

A major leader in the civil rights movement, Shuttlesworth was beaten, bombed and injured by fire hoses for his public stances against segregation in Birmingham in the 1950s and 1960s.

Though he and King worked closely together and both helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Shuttlesworth often bristled against his more contemplative counterpart.

“He was sometimes slow in doing things. Too slow for me,” Shuttlesworth said in an interview at age 85. “He’d meditate on things a lot and agonize over them. I think if things need doing, be about them.”

Shuttlesworth, who served as pastor of the Bethel Baptist Church and several other churches in Birmingham, began hammering away at that city’s hard shell of segregation in the early 1950s.

He formed the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights in May 1956 and urged its members to take a stand against segregated buses. He refused to relent even after his home was bombed on Christmas Day in 1956. He and his family escaped unharmed.

“When he came out covered in rubble, we knew he was anointed to lead the movement,” the late Rev. Abraham Woods, a fellow activist, said in a 2007 interview.

Warned by a Klansman police officer to vacate the city, Shuttlesworth said he shot back: “I wasn’t saved to run.”

The minister later was beaten by a mob with baseball bats, chains and brass knuckles as he tried to enroll his children in an all-white school and hospitalized after being sprayed by fire hoses during a demonstration against segregation.

Shuttlesworth once told Reuters he had expected to die by age 40 for his civil rights efforts. He had vowed “to kill segregation or be killed by it.”

For his own safety, he left Alabama in 1961 to lead a church in Cincinnati, Ohio. But he still marshaled forces for change in the South, including helping organize the historic march for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery in 1965.

The march ended in a bloody police attack, sparking civil rights protests.

During a commemoration of “Bloody Sunday” in March 2007, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama pushed Shuttlesworth in his wheelchair across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where the attack occurred.

“We have truly lost a great soldier, a warrior for civil rights,” Jefferson County Commission President Pro tem Sandra Little Brown said. “I am serving on the back of the changes that he was a part of for people of color.”

Alabama Governor and “Non-Believers'”

Alabama governor touches off controversy with Christian commentsHmmmmmmmm…..

Alabama governor touches off controversy with Christian comments

Alabama Republican Gov. Robert Bentley is kicking off his first term in office with a bit of controversy, telling a church audience Monday that he only considers Christians to be his “brothers and sisters.”

“Now I will have to say that, if we don’t have the same daddy, we’re not brothers and sisters,” he told parishioners at a Baptist church in Montgomery Monday shortly after being sworn in. “So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I’m telling you, you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister, and I want to be your brother.”

“There may be some people here today who do not have living within them the Holy Spirit,” Bentley also said, according to the Birmingham News. “But if you have been adopted in God’s family like I have, and like you have if you’re a Christian and if you’re saved, and the Holy Spirit lives within you just like the Holy Spirit lives within me, then you know what that makes? It makes you and me brothers. And it makes you and me brother and sister.”

Rebekah Caldwell Mason, Bentley’s communications director, was not immediately available for comment but told the Birmingham News that Bentley “is the governor of all the people, Christians, non-Christians alike.”

Bentley also celebrated the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. in his speech and said he will govern in accordance with King’s teachings.

‘I was elected as a Republican candidate. But once I became governor … I became the governor of all the people. I intend to live up to that. I am color blind,” Bentley also said.

 

The Wall Smacks Artur Davis in Alabama

What happens when a black politician votes against the interests of his constituents, rejects meeting with black civic and Civil Rights Groups…

And runs against a white politician who has worked hard to attract those groups?

He loses.

Artur Davis

Congressman Artur Davis had been running to become Alabama’s first black Governor. He decided to become a Blue Dog, voting against Health Care Reform, and notably shifting to the right.

What Happened to Artur Davis?

He led in every poll, and just got walloped (In unofficial results released early Wednesday morning, with 99 percent of precincts reporting, Sparks had 199,190 votes (62 percent) and Davis had 119,908 (38 percent).)  Early reports point to low turn-out among blacks:

While hard numbers were not yet available late Tuesday, long time observers in Davis’ camp said Sparks’ victory appears to have been achieved, at least in part, because of low voter turnout among blacks who, unlike two years ago when they showed up in big numbers to vote for Barack Obama, showed no such enthusiasm for Davis on Tuesday.
I find this framing interesting. The underlying premise seems to be that Davis was somehow entitled to black votes. This despite the fact, as Michael Tomasky points out, that Davis reps a majority black district where one in five people lack health-care, but voted against the health care bill. You don’t get to just stand in front the people and say “Hey I’m black and smart” and then wait for the torrent of civic pride.
Sparks seems to have beaten Davis by pulling a significant (perhaps 40% or more) minority of African-American voters while trouncing him among white voters. Sparks carried Jefferson County (Birmingham) handily, although Davis represents a big chunk of the county, and ran well even in majority-African-American counties in or near Davis’ district. The CW tomorrow will probably be that Davis thought far too much about positioning himself for the general election before concentrating on the primary, and that Sparks’ uncontested claim on endorsements by African-American political groups was a big deal after all. It didn’t hurt that the winner also got considerable help from the Alabama Education Association, the big dog in Alabama Democratic politics, and had a substantive issue–a state lottery–that’s always played well with Alabama Democrats, particularly black voters.
Looks to me that Davis is soon to be an ex-Congressman as well.

This is Alabama. We Speak English…

An ad by an Alabama Republican running for Governor has sparked some controversy…

Alabama Candidate Vows to Conduct Driver’s Test Only in English

As if tension over immigration weren’t high enough, Alabama (Republican) gubernatorial candidate Tim James just dialed up the volume on the debate with a new ad declaring that, if elected, he will allow the state’s driver’s license test to be conducted only in English.

As if tension over immigration weren’t high enough, Alabama gubernatorial candidate Tim James just dialed up the volume on the debate with a new ad declaring that, if elected, he will allow the state’s driver’s license test to be conducted only in English.

The brief ad shows James, son of former Alabama Gov. Fob James, taking issue with the many languages offered to administer the test.

“Why do our politicians make us give driver’s license exams in 12 languages? This is Alabama. We speak English,” James says. “If you want to live here, learn it. We’re only giving that test in English if I’m governor. Maybe it’s the businessman in me, but we’ll save money and it makes sense.”

James pauses, looks down contemplatively, and then gazes up again to ask: “Does it to you?”

One question… Does that mean and Alabama Drawl English…

Or the variants of English as spoken above the Mason Dixon Line?

Y’all…

Republican Obstructionalism – Shelby Stops The Senate

This is a massive abuse of power and position by Alabama Senator Shelby. If the chickensquat Democrats don’t censure him for this, or use the “nuclear” option –  they are fools.

Report: Shelby Blocks All Obama Nominations In The Senate Over AL Earmarks

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) has put an extraordinary “blanket hold” on at least 70 nominations President Obama has sent to the Senate, CongressDaily (sub. req.) reports. The hold means no nominations can move forward unless Senate Democrats can secure a 60-member cloture vote to break it, or until Shelby lifts the hold.

“While holds are frequent,” CongressDaily‘s Dan Friedman and Megan Scully report, “Senate aides said a blanket hold represents a far more aggressive use of the power than is normal.”

Shelby has been tight-lipped about the holds, offering only an unnamed spokesperson to reporters today to explain them. Aides to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid broke the news of the blanket hold this afternoon. Reid aides told CongressDaily the hold extends to “all executive nominations on the Senate calendar.”

According to the report, Shelby is holding Obama’s nominees hostage until a pair of lucrative programs that would send billions in taxpayer dollars to his home state get back on track. CongressDaily laid out the programs Shelby wants to move forward or else:

- A $40 billion contract to build air-to-air refueling tankers. From the report: “Northrop/EADS team would build the planes in Mobile, Ala., but has threatened to pull out of the competition unless the Air Force makes changes to a draft request for proposals.”

- An improvised explosive device testing lab for the FBI. From CongressDaily: “[Shelby] is frustrated that the Obama administration won’t build” the center, which Shelby earmarked $45 million for in 2008. The center is due to be based “at the Army’s Redstone Arsenal.”

Though a Shelby spokesperson would not confirm that these programs were behind the blanket hold, the Senator expressed his frustration about the progress on both through a spokesperson earlier in the day, the magazine reports.

Back in Alabama, the Mobile Press-Register picked up the story early this afternoon. The paper confirmed Reid’s account of the hold, and reported that a Shelby spokesperson “did not immediately respond to phone and e-mail messages seeking confirmation of the senator’s action or his reason for doing so.”

A San Diego State University professor and “Congressional expert” told the paper “he knew of no previous use of a blanket hold” in recent history.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries – Bloody Lowndes

This one is a few months old – but well worth watching . One of the interesting revelations is where the Black Panther symbolism actually came from…

Congressman Artur Davis Stabs His Constituents In the Back

Congressman Artur Davis of Alabama’s 7th District, who is running for Governor next year, was the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to vote against the Health Care Reform Act in the House Saturday – releasing this statement:

Artur Davis

“I am a supporter of health care reform who believes that the House leadership’s approach is not the best we can do. Because we risk a disaster if we get this wrong, I have voted no on the House legislation and continue to root for a final bill that fixes the holes in our health care system and contains soaring costs in both the private and public sectors.

While the Senate Finance Committee bill needs work, there are three reasons it comes closer to achieving the real reform we need. First, the Senate bill tries to roll back some of the aggressive government subsidization of the private health care industry, a trend that has made that industry much too bloated and inefficient. The Senate bill would take the savings and use them to pay for many of the reforms in the package. Second, while there is no ideal way to raise new revenues, the Senate’s proposed excise tax on insurance companies is the best of the imperfect options. It will help rein in the profit spiral in the insurance industry. Finally, while the Senate does not mandate that companies insure their workers, their bill would make companies share with the government the cost of subsidizing any of their workforce that is uninsured. In contrast, the House bill sets a mandate on businesses, but allows larger companies to walk away from it by paying a limited penalty: this will surely drive some companies to drop coverage they already provide.

These are all factors that should make even my more liberal constituents cautious about the virtues of the House bill.  By the way, its much discussed public option will actually cost more than most private insurance plans. It is also estimated by the Congressional Budget Office that fewer than 2% of Americans would end up in the public option.”

Now -Davis’ constituency is 71% black, a group disproportionally impacted by the lack of, and quality of health care in the United States – with an estimated 8,000 black children dying each year in their first year of life due to poor, substandard, or nonexistent health care resulting in mortality rates 2.5 times that of whites.

So i find it hard to understand under any circumstances, Davis’ so called “pricipled” stand.

The Democratic congressman recently received the support of Communications Workers of America Local 3902. It represents about 2,500 workers in the Birmingham area. As a former CWA member – I would hope the Union seriously considers rescinding that support.

The Black Hatfields and McCoys

The most famous American family feud was that between the Hatfield and McCoy families who lived in the mountains on either side of the Kentucky – West Virginia border. The feud spanned about a 75 year period after the Civil War, and resulted in a number of murders, shootouts, and beat downs as each family sought revenge for the wrongs, percieved or real from the other. 100 years later the feud is memorialized in frescoes along the Tug River Dam, and has become American Legend. The families have long since buried the hatchet, and at the last joint family get together over 5,000 relatives showed up.

The Hatfied-McCoy, Moore-Sayer Family Feuds - Definately Not The TV Game Show

The Hatfied-McCoy, Moore-Sawyer Family Feuds - Definately Not The TV Game Show

Probably unaware of American History, two families in Marion, Alabama – the Sawyer and Moore families seem determined to repeat it – Continue reading

Tough Times For Black American Small Businessmen

Yeah, I know… Times are tough all over. Never ceases to amaze me the dichotomy of “Home for Sale” signs, foreclosures, and boarded up houses and the folks walking out of the Mall with armloads of “bargains”.

Lobloly Pine Trees, Common to Tidewater Virginia

Lobloly Pine Trees, Common to Tidewater Virginia

Anyway, one of my Uncles on my Mother’s side was a lumber man. He owned his own portable mill, bought the land, planted the trees, and employed over a dozen men to cut, trim, load, and finish cut the timber before shipment. Some of his timber went to a pulp mill, to make paper.  Some went to make framing lumber, and some special runs went to a guy nearby who hand built wood luxury yachts cut as keel and rib strakes. I would go and visit with my Uncle, who lived in the southeastern part of Virginia several times a year, and as a small child have fond memories of the smell of fresh cut wood which seemed to follow him home from work.

So this story really sparked my interest, and the pictures aren’t much different than if they had been taken of my Uncle and his family.

Waiting for Work In the Silent Woods

CAMDEN, Ala. — Clarence “Sunnyman” Primm figures there are more than 70 people connected with the lumber industry in these parts who know how to reach him on his two-way radio. He loves the crackling sound of the thing. Because when a call comes in, when the buzzing pierces his blue shirt, when that scratchy human voice reaches out to him, it’s often a work order. And then Sunnyman circles his beefy arm in the air — as though he were twirling an invisible rodeo rope — and says, “Let’s go.” And he and his men are off, rolling through the thick woods of southwestern Alabama.
Sunnyman has known these woods since childhood, and he wants to keep clearing them.

“But the dang thing ain’t been ringing,” he says of his two-way, standing in the forest with his assembled crew of five men at the beginning of a workweek. Continue reading

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