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30
Sep

Weekly Photo Challenge: Spoonbill Sunset

There was a beautiful sunset last evening in Ft. Lauderdale.  So many different shades of pink and orange and brown filled the horizon as if painted there….and, I didn’t have my camera!

But, when a Roseate Spoonbill came to visit me one afternoon, I shot pictures until the light faded to near nothingness.

Can you see how the sunset seems to tease the water as it moves in with its colors?

29
Sep

judge perry considers the jail video

It’s been a while since I’ve written about the Casey Anthony case – I haven’t been reading very much about it lately.  That’s not to say the case has disappeared from the media!  Nope, the story is still generating interest despite the dearth of information to report.

Yesterday (Wednesday) there was a hearing about the previously sealed jail video of Casey Anthony’s reaction to learning that her daughter’s remains had been located.  Inquiring media-minds want to publish this video for the  obvious ratings bonanza.

The media will have a field day with this.   They will likely remind us about when, early in the case, searchers thought they’d found Caylee’s remains at Blanchard Park, in Orlando, Casey had no reaction versus her extremely emotional reaction when she learned that remains of a small child were located near her home.  In a swamp.

Judge Belvin Perry, Jr., heard arguments from the media about why the video should be released; and Jose Baez, Anthony’s defense attorney, argued that the video should not be released because it would violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), which protects unauthorized access to medial records, ensuring privacy.   Baez contends that, at the time of the video taping, Casey was administered medication.  This, argues Baez, would compromise Casey’s right to privacy via HIPPA.

The HIPPA argument may give Judge Perry something tangible to hang his ruling on, providing him good cause to deny the video release.

It would be interesting to see, sure, but it should be kept sealed.   Why must we bring back more of the Casey Anthony drama?  The video is likely to incense people anew, giving them greater reason to issue their horrible messages of hate.  Casey Anthony is not enjoying the good life, though she is free and that is what sticks in our collective craws.

There is no good reason to release this video now.  Can we move on and let this old dog lie?   Releasing it will benefit TV ratings, but is it news worthy?  I don’t think so.

How will releasing this video benefit the public?  It’s likely to anger us to see it!  And, what good will that do – it will not change anything.

 

28
Sep

the future of our children

The NAACP sends email that is always interesting.  The email I received today concerned the work they are planning to battle childhood obesity.  It’s an epidemic and a serious problem, especially among the African-American population, who are at risk at a much higher rate than white American children.  (There may be similar numbers and the same breakdown for the adult population, though I don’t have any numbers.)

At a recent board meeting of the YMCA, this issue was addressed, and we plan to focus with great gusto on ways to combat the problem.   Our three main focus areas are 1) Healthy Living, 2) Youth Development, and 3) Social Responsibility.   Each area will have a committee attached to it; the committee I chose to work on is Social Responsibility.

When I  read the NAACP message, it reminded me that far too many children face socio-economic barriers impacting what they eat.  In some of the lower-income communities, I recently learned, there are generally no grocery stores, and people resort to cheap fast food, or what ever they can find at the local 7-Eleven.

I think this is an important issue and thought it was important to share. The first line in the below email, about younger people not outliving their parents lifespan, is frightening.  We must strengthen and educate our young people.

Below is the important email from Shavon L. Arline-Bradley, Director, NAACP Health Programs:

For the first time in history, younger generations will not outlive their parents.

The cause? Childhood obesity. What’s more, the disease is plaguing African American populations at a rate that is disproportionately higher than the rest of the country.

Childhood obesity is a product of our environment, of our socio-economic statuses, and our geography. But, no matter the cause, we are the only ones with the power to fix it.

The NAACP is addressing this problem head on. Today, we released our brand new Childhood Obesity Advocacy Manual. Our local units are working to implement awareness, educate parents and children, and advocate for policy change – so that support can be found in the communities where it’s needed most.

You can be part of the solution by helping us better understand the problem and answering a few short questions about your community today:

http://action.naacp.org/childhood-obesity-manual

It’s impossible to deny the role that our schools and state and local governments play in the epidemic of childhood obesity in our communities, but if we want to change policy it has to start at the ground level.

So, the NAACP is empowering you, Andrea, with the chance to make a real difference.

There are three major policy areas we’re focusing on: built environment, food environment, and school-based policies. Over the coming months, the NAACP will be assembling a task force of activists who we can work with fight for real change in these areas and start reducing the occurrence of childhood obesity in communities across America.

As always, we’d love to have you join us for the fight. Get started now:

http://action.naacp.org/childhood-obesity-manual

I hope you will reach out a helping hand to the younger generation and American families of all colors to implement healthier lifestyles.

Thank you,

Shavon L. Arline-Bradley
Director
NAACP Health Programs

The first link, above, has a manual and ideas on how to advocate for change.

It’s a worthy goal, and it’s all about children and their future, which is our future, too.

27
Sep

random vacation stuff

Vacation feels like what heaven must be made of.

I enjoy doing nothing so much as spreading out on the couch with my dog under one arm, and my Nook cradled in the other. That’s what I plan to do most of the day tomorrow, too.

I’m not one to spend much time in shopping malls, though some of them are fun to visit, malls are not my thing.  But, I do love to find bargains.  I have a friend who knows every thrift and consignment shop in Broward County, Florida, and I love tagging along with her to find treasures.

We have a Talbot’s clearance store nearby that has amazing bargains.  My Mom and I went there today, after I took her to the eye doctor and to Sears to get a new battery for her watch, we tackled Talbots.

And what bargains we got!  I purchased a lovely salmon colored light sweater that was originally $55.00, marked down twice, and then the cashier took 60 percent off, and the final price was $7.98!  I purchased two lovely sweaters and a blouse for less than forty dollars!

Mom did even better than me.  She got six items for less than fifty dollars!

Shopping is exhausting…. The best part of shopping is when it’s over.

I’m thinking of taking a little trip to Naples, which is on the other coast, or I may just enjoy my vacation at home!

Jeff Ashton and Linda Drane-Burdick Photo credit: WESH.com

I finally caught up with the Casey Anthony case this evening.  I was curious to see what the news of late happened to be, and I saw some interesting tidbits that I will write about tomorrow, but there is one quick story to tell you…  Assistant State Attorney Jeff Ashton, it is rumored, is running for Orlando State Attorney!  Well, it’s still a rumor, but I kinda think it’s true.  And, what a great idea!  I hope he makes Linda Drane-Burdick his right hand person, what ever that role would be…. What a pair they’d be!

I would surely vote for him!

I found this picture on the WESH website – click on the picture above to read the accompanying story.

26
Sep

Xenophobia

Merriam-Webster’s definition of Xenophobia:  “Fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.”

I am on vacation this week, so my mom and I went to see the movie Sarah’s Key this afternoon.  We’d both read the book by Tatiana De Rosnay, and were both anxious and hesitant to see the movie, knowing the Holocaust is disturbing  subject matter.

I never knew about France’s role in the genocide of Jewish people, during WWII, until I read Sarah’s Key.  I’ve read many books on WWII and yet never heard of the Vel’d’Hiv Roundup.

The movie follows a young victim of the genocide in France.  In the Roundup, (Paris, 1942), the police and government set about to ensure the extinction of Jewish families.  During the Vel’d’Hiv Roundup, Jewish families were herded into the Velodrome, a large bicycling arena, where they were kept for days without anything to eat, no restrooms, or medical care.

And then, families were separated.  Husbands and wives separated, young babies torn from mothers, then older children dragged away from mothers desperate to keep them.

The events in France – the extinction of thousands and thousands of French Jews – was something, as I mentioned earlier, I’d never studied.  I was under the impression that France was of a different mind during the war.  As it turns out, they were as ruthless as the Germans.  (I’m reading some historians who say the French finally found their conscience and the genocide did end and was never repeated.)

The reason I am writing about this tonight?  I cannot get out of my head the reality – the harsh and brutal facts that people could be herded off to their deaths en masse.  French citizens allowed it to happen.  In the movie, some cheered as victims were herded out of their homes and into the streets, then removed.

How does society, or a community, allow this to happen?   It is mind boggling to think of the reality – the flesh and the blood, the fathers, mothers, sons and daughters purposely slaughtered.  Human beings like you and me, taken like they were property from their homes!

I’m a complete idealist, and have trouble accepting how prejudice can fester, like a cancer, in the hearts of  people.

Anne Frank wrote, in The Diary of a Young Girl, ” In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart… “

It was not long ago that the horror of the holocaust happened.   The United States condoned slavery, the interment of thousands of Japanese Americans in 1942, and similar atrocities.  What would we do if such atrocities happened today?

I thought of Troy Davis.  I thought of the death penalty, and how our state governments murder people on death row.  And I thought, if a government will kill one bad person, what prevents them from killing masses of people perceived by them to have no value?

The Holocaust happened not that long ago.  The Spanish Inquisition (1492), and the Holocaust, (1939-1945), were made from the same religious fervor and  hate, only they were centuries apart.

I wonder if hate, prejudice, racism, or  sexism, etc., results from ignorance.  If that is true, I’d like to think that education is the cure.   Ignorance, lack of education and socio-economic disparities harm our communities, too.  The education our children recieve in our Public Schools (in Florida) is horribly burdened from the top down and bottom up.  This is the very reason I agreed to be on the Board of the YMCA in Broward County, Florida.  Our children don’t have the resources they need to succeed, especially in the inner cities.  Not to mention the problems with parental support, homelessness, hunger, and so much more.

People are in trouble today in our communities.  The fact that people are going hungry in the United States of America is something I never thought possible.  My fear is the longer our middle class is allowed to shrink and morph into the depths of severe poverty, the more we are in danger of increased crime and unrest.

And, the Death Penalty is not the answer!  The Death Penalty has no bearing on crime. It is not a deterrent, say the experts, and it’s far more expensive to carry out than are life sentences.

One of the characters in the film, while in the filthy, crowded and pestilent train-car that was taking the Jewish victims to the work camps, shows young Sarah the large ring on his finger.  He tells her there is poison under the false facade of the stone on the ring.   He says,  “No one, no government – nor anyone but I – have the right to tell me when it’s time for me to die.”

25
Sep

I am Troy Davis

I am struggling with the murder of Troy Davis by the state of Georgia.

“I am Troy Davis,” cried the throngs of supporters who battled to turn his death sentence around.  Indeed, we are all Troy Davis – we could be charged with something in the blink of an eye simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

For a black American male, the reality of “I am Troy Davis” is quadrupled.   Black men have been stopped by police because they drive a nice car.  Sadly referred to in South Florida as, “Driving while Black.”   The stereotypical scenario that an expensive car and a black man, in some areas, is a red flag.  The first suspicion?  The car was stolen.

How can a racist nation; a nation that murders people, be thought of as civilized?  It can’t.

It seems the criminal  justice systems of the deep south have three versions of criminal law – separated by the classes.   The very poor black man is guilty until proven innocent; the same is nearly true in the sluggish criminal justice system for the middle class; and there’s the rich person’s justice where fat-cats play and money is made via pay offs.

As an idealist, I am loathe to see this divide.   But when a white man is given clemency by the Georgia Parole Board the very next night as Troy Davis’ murder, there is clearly something wrong!  Read the Reuters story about Samuel David Crowe’s clemency. 

We know the original United States Constitution denied black persons the same rights as white persons.  That sacred set of rules by which we live was originally littered with racism.   There is no denying that America, at one time, judged people by the color of their skin.  Throughout history white persons were afforded privileges well above and beyond the meager allowances of black citizens.

I remember, as a little girl growing up in South Florida, there were “colored” beaches, and beaches for everyone else.  My mother has told me for years that as a child I wanted to drink from the “colored” water fountain because I thought it would be colored water, like fruit punch.  I thought “colored” people were made of primary colors.  I suppose I associated it with my colored crayons.

Fortunately, I had an advantage over other kids my age.  My father was a teacher in a black school, in the sixties, and I grew up knowing his students, and fellow teachers.  He and my mom made sure I went to segregated schools.  I never knew how racist the United States really was until I entered college.   Well, I knew about slavery before college, but had a difficult time believing it until the television mini-series “Roots,” aired and I learned how I saw the world and how it really was, were very divergent.

I wasn’t a very good student in high-school; I only cared about singing, dancing and acting.  What was on my mind back then was practicing how to write my signature when people wanted my autograph, coming up with different stage names, creating scenarios for when I met Barbra Streisand and what I’d talk to her about.  (I had pages and pages of things to talk to her about – and I’d practice the conversations, too.)    She was my obsession and I was so sure I was going to meet her as soon as I was famous.

Sorry, I was talking about Troy Davis.

I don’t know that Troy Davis was innocent.  I don’t know enough about the crime itself (yet) to really pass judgement on “innocence” though many people are making that leap of faith.  What is bothersome to me is all the doubt that people are saying existed in this case.

The murder weapon was never found and seven of the “eye” witnesses recanted their testimony.  There was no DNA, Troy Davis has denied being the trigger-man, and is insisting he is innocent.   (A lot of criminals go to their grave denying they committed the crime – look at Casey Anthony.)   Just because a defendant maintains their innocence means nothing in the big picture – criminals will lie.

In the Troy Davis case, because enough doubt has been raised over the years should have at least raised the white flag of surrender to clemency for Davis, don’t you think?

The fact that Georgia and the Supreme Court did not err on the side of life for Troy Davis makes a statement.  The statement, in my estimation, is one that informs us that Georgia is callous as it concerns race relations.   I was sure the Georgia Politicians would be sensitive about race, and therefore do the right thing – so as to not suffer the consequences of political suicide.   The fact that Georgia lawmakers and politicians did not take a stand on this issue is alarming.

The politicians must believe that the populace prefers a lynching rather than what Spike Lee called, “Doing the Right Thing.”

The cartoon by Chan Lowe was published September 23, 2011, by the Sun-Sentinel, a Tribune Company.

24
Sep

weekly photo challenge: Fall

It was the first day of fall, at about noon in South Florida, and the temperature dipped to a cool 84 degrees!  A cool front came in with the rain causing the temperature outside to dip from about 95 degrees to 84 degrees.  It was nice.  And for a minute it seemed as if Fall was on its way!

It was short-lived though.  About an hour later the temperature was back up to the mid 90’s.

My Fall in South Florida was nice while it lasted.

23
Sep

guilty of being black in Georgia

Racism.  It is a horrible reality in our country.  I know we don’t like to discuss it, but it’s there, it’s pervasive, it’s sickening.

What is racism anyway?   If we break it down, what does it imply at its heart?  I think it boils down to two things:  Superiority and skin color.

My skin is pale white and I have freckles that I hate, they cover my arms, legs and chest.  The skin on my face is also pale, not pasty, just pale with some freckles.   Growing up near the beach in South Florida, I loved the ocean and the sun.  I’m paying for my sun-worshiping days now.  No skin cancer – yet – but the way I baked my skin when I was young, doctors always have an eye on my freckles.

I’ve always loved dark skin.  And the darker the better.   (I’d like all my freckles to merge into a rich mahogany color.)

Unfortunately, we can’t pick our skin color, it’s a gift we’re born with.   If Troy Davis’ skin was a pale color would he have gotten clemency, too?

The man pictured below, is the color of his skin dictate how deserving he is of pardon?  Yes, says the Parole Board of Georgia.

The man below is a murderer but was not murdered last night.  Before Troy’s casket was sealed, the Parole Board of the State of Georgia gave this man clemency.

Samuel David Crowe

Wouldn’t you think that the death penalty in Troy Davis’ case would give people pause, or prompt them to consider the consequences of killing an innocent?  There was too much doubt to kill Troy Davis!  But he was black….. Guilty of being black in Georgia.

Georgia murders more black men on death row than white.

There are Southerners and Skin Heads who hate a person’s skin color with such a passion.  it must be something that’s inbred – inherited from childhood, I think.

When I read that just last night this white man was given clemency in Georgia the night after Troy was murdered, it proved to me that the application of murder in Troy’s case was  racially motivated.  Why else would they put him to death and save this man?

They put him to death because good ole boys and girls in Georgia are not expected to have a conscious when it comes to a black person, particularly a black man who is believed to have murdered a white cop.

Troy Davis’ murder was, in my opinion, as much of a hate crime as the recently murdered Texas man who hitched a black man to his truck and dragged him to his death.

Troy Davis is guilty of being black in Georgia.

22
Sep

the death of justice

Troy Davis

Not the face of a murderer!

As you know, Troy Davis lost the battle against the Machine last evening.

I am mad, emotional and exhausted as a result of this terrible outcome.

It seemed certain the U.S. Supreme Court (the Supremes), would take more than four hours to consider the life of Troy Davis, human being.  But they didn’t.

When the Supremes granted the stay before 7:00 last evening, such a sense of euphoria collectively wafted around all of us standing sentinel.  The stay, however, was soon replaced with horror as barely four hours later, the Supremes rendered a devastating decision.

Our system of justice is not that at all.  It’s a system, yes, but where is the justice?  Why must we murder?  How is this civilized?  Why did the Supremes only consider Troy’s life for four hours?

I thought for sure the Supremes would do something.  It is understandable why President Obama could not get involved in this fight, it would be unprecedented and would smack of something akin to dictatorship had he stepped in.  Obama could not usurp the power of the State of Georgia.  I understand that.  What I do not understand is Georgia’s refusal to listen to their own son, President Jimmy Carter.

I am not sure if this issue was about politics, racism, or both.  In my gut I think it’s both.

The State of Georgia said the “excuses” made in defense of Troy Davis was smoke and mirrors.   I don’t want to believe the State of Georgia would lie outright….. but, something is very wrong when so many thousands of people stand up for justice only to have their pleadings fall on deaf ears.

Can all the thousands of citizens, judges, lawyers, and law enforcement officials, be under the influence of smoke and mirrors?

Clearly someone has it wrong.  I don’t have the answer, obviously.  Hopefully someone will offer a history of this case – I’d like a better understanding of the facts and of the purported smoke and mirrors.

The Color of Change

The email below is from the Color of Change organization.  I’ve included their website, too.

I hope you find some solace in their message.  I did.

I have a new sense of resolve about this issue.  It has to be our mission.   If a fight has to happen before change can happen, then I’m ready.

I don’t have any idea how change can happen, but a dialog must happen sooner rather than later.   People need to be educated about the issue of murdering human beings as retribution.

The best place to learn more about these issues is to visit and support organizations like The Color of Change, The NAACP, Amnesty International, The Innocence Project, and others.

The fight is over due. As a society we cannot continue to condone barbaric murders in the false name of justice.  No more.

Check out the Color of Change website for important messages:  http://www.colorofchange.org/

Dear Andrea,

At 11:08 pm Wednesday, the state of Georgia killed Troy Davis. Just before he was executed, Troy maintained his innocence, urged people to dig deeper into the case to find the truth, and said “For those about to take my life, may God have mercy on your souls, may God bless your souls.” It’s a tragic day for Troy, for his family, and for equality, fairness, and justice.

It’s hard to know what to say at a time like this. In this moment, and in the days and weeks before Troy’s execution, we’ve felt all kinds of things — anger, sadness, inspiration, hope and hopelessness. This is a time to mourn and remember Troy, to contemplate the profound loss we’re facing, to send love and support to Troy’s family and friends. It’s incredibly important to take the time to spiritually and emotionally care for Troy’s family and the amazing community that has arisen to support Troy — and it feels hard to muster the energy to do much more than that.

But before he died, Troy told us that this was about more than him — and he called on those of us who have fought against his execution to continue fighting for justice, even if we weren’t successful in saving his life. Now is also an important moment to take stock of what’s brought us to this point — the criminal justice system that allowed this to happen, and the movement we’ve built to fight for Troy and others facing injustice and oppression at the hands of that system.

Race, the criminal justice system, and the death penalty

At every stage of the criminal justice system, Black people and other minorities face inequality and discrimination. We all know about people who’ve been treated unfairly by police or by the courts. When the entire system treats Black people unequally, it means that the death penalty is applied unequally too. Troy Davis’ case underscores the way in which this systemic inequality can lead to a tragic miscarriage of justice.

In most cases, people who’ve been treated unfairly or wrongly convicted have some chance to correct the injustice. People who have been mistreated by the police can sue them. People who are wrongly serving time can be granted new trials, can be released from prison, and are sometimes entitled to compensation. As we all know, the safeguards that can correct abuse by the criminal justice system often fail, and rampant inequality persists. Usually, people can at least keep trying.

But there’s no way to correct a death sentence. If Troy Davis were serving a sentence of life in prison without parole, he could continue to press the legal system to grant him a fair trial — but because the death penalty exists, he will not have that opportunity.

Troy Davis’ case has sparked a national conversation about the death penalty. In the past, much of the debate around the death penalty has focused on the morality of killing people as a legal punishment — a very important question that brings out a lot of strong opinions. But even if we completely leave aside the question whether or not it can ever be right for the government to punish a murderer by killing them, there’s an entirely different debate to be had — whether or not we can have the death penalty and actually avoid the possibility of killing innocent people. In a criminal justice system that routinely misidentifies Black suspects and disproportionately punishes Black people, Black folks are more likely to be wrongfully executed.

There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that the death penalty has been used to kill innocent people many times. Since 1973, more than 130 people have been released from death row because of evidence that they were wrongly convicted. Troy Davis is one of many people who were executed despite serious questions about their guilt, and he’s called on his supporters to continue working to end the death penalty.

A group of NAACP organizers went to visit Troy in prison yesterday, and NAACP’s Robert Rooks said this about the visit:

For someone that was facing death the very next day, he was just full of life and wanted to spend time talking to the younger staff, the interns, giving them direction and hope and asking them to hold onto God. And he challenged them. He challenged them by saying, “You have a choice. You can either fold up your bags after tomorrow and go home, or you can stand and continue this fight.” He said it doesn’t—it didn’t begin with Troy Davis, and this won’t end if he is executed today. He just asked us all just to continue to fight to end the death penalty, if in fact he’s executed.

A powerful movement

For years, ColorOfChange members have been an important part of a growing movement to stop Troy Davis’ execution. Hundreds of phone calls from ColorOfChange members to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole helped delay Davis’ execution twice. Over the past year, there’s been a huge outpouring of support for Davis from ColorOfChange members — more than 100,000 of us have signed petitions, and we raised more than $30,000 to run radio ads in Georgia calling for justice for Troy.

And we’ve been part of an even bigger movement — NAACP, Amnesty International, National Action Network, Change.org, and others have all been a major part of the fight for Troy Davis, and there are now over close to a million petition signatures overall. Prominent people from all across the political spectrum have spoken out: members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Desmond Tutu, former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI, former FBI Director William Sessions, former Georgia Republican congressman Bob Barr, and former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher.

This movement couldn’t stop Davis’ execution — but it’s a movement that won’t die with Troy Davis. There’s no better way to honor Troy’s memory than to keep fighting for justice.

Thanks and Peace,

– Rashad, James, Gabriel, William, Dani, Matt, Natasha and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
September 21st, 2011

21
Sep

a stay for Troy Davis’ execution is only temporary

Supporters of Troy Davis, who was scheduled for execution this evening at 7:00pm, erupted in joy at the news that a stay had been granted at the eleventh hour for Troy.

Unfortunately, it is a temporary stay so the Supreme Court has an opportunity to review additional issues brought forth by Troy Davis’ defense attorneys

The “warrant” for Troy’s death is still valid until September 28, 2011.  Until then, there is still hope.

The torture of waiting to die

All in all, Troy has gotten a total of 4 stays since being on Death Row.  Three times before, Troy has had to ready himself emotionally and psychologically,  to die.

Ed Pilkington, writing for The Guardian, reflects upon what this “torture” does to a person in his article for The Guardian.  The article lists 10 reasons why Troy should not be executed, below is reason number ten:

Even if you set aside the issue of Davis’s innocence or guilt, the manner of his execution tonight is cruel and unnatural. If the execution goes ahead as expected, it would be the fourth scheduled execution date for this prisoner. In 2008 he was given a stay just 90 minutes before he was set to die. Experts in death row say such multiple experiences with imminent death is tantamount to torture.

ReadTroy Davis: 10 reasons why he should not be executed

Texas kills – again

Tonight, Texas murdered another prisoner.  It happened at 6:21 Texas time.  Lawrence Russell Brewer, 44, was on death row for the racially charged murder of James Byrd, Jr.

The murder of Mr. Byrd is so heinous that I don’t wish to discuss it.

Suffice it to say that someone like Lawrence Russell Brewer is no better than an animal – no, most animals behave better.  This murderer is the worst of the worst, but not worthy of state sponsored murder.

No one should be willfully executed – ever.   It is barbaric and the United States is, or should be, better than this.

Civil societies do not murder their people, therefore the US states that sponsor the death penalty are uncivilized, barbaric and clearly mad.

A comment left today by Colleen on another of my posts about the death penalty, reminded me that in order to put the practice of the death penalty into focus, you should consider this:  There are four other countries that impose the death penalty on its people:  Iran, Yeman, North Korea, and the United States.  That’s the company we keep.   Update: there are quite a few other countries that allow the death penalty.  According to Amnesty International, this list reflects areas where the death penalty is in place:   See http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0777460.html

Those of us who want to act and change how laws are applied in this country need to speak out about it. Protest. Get involved. Stop the death penalty!  It has proved over and over again that it is NOT a deterrent for criminal behavior, and it costs millions of dollars to impose.  The costs are much extensive than keeping a prisoner locked up for life.

I joined the NAACP and Amnesty International because I am sick of allowing state governments to trample on our basic human rights.  I think now is the time to speak loud about the death penalty.

With every execution that is allowed to occur in our country, we chip away at the civil rights that others fought or died for.  Individuals such as  Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, Rosa Parks, The Little Rock Nine, Thurgood Marshall, and the example of the famous case, Brown v. The Board of Education, must not be forgotten.   We are doomed to repeat history if the lessons from it are forgotten.

For those who cannot appreciate the struggle for equality that some groups face, I would say:  Who will stop that hate-train when your rights are trampled on?  Trouble for one is trouble for all when it comes to freedom, equality and choice.

Speak out!

20
Sep

Troy Davis – Denied Clemency

The unthinkable is going to occur tomorrow night unless something miraculous happens.  (I have trouble thinking about this without shaking inside.)

I got word that Troy Davis was denied clemency in the middle of teaching class.  I didn’t do a very good job of hiding my feelings when I saw the text message.  My class wanted to know what was going on.  I told them, and they all knew about the case, and all but one person was very upset.  One woman in my class told us that if we’d had someone in our family die a horrendous death, as she had, we’d feel differently about the death penalty.

I wanted to argue with her, but couldn’t – I didn’t want to diminish what she went through, certainly.   And I wanted to tell her that despite this, I would never ask that someone be murdered, but I didn’t.  I just listened and felt her incredible pain.  Her beautiful fourteen year old niece was raped by five animals (I cannot call them “men” they are animals),  and then shot to death.

In this case, twenty years ago, a white police officer, Officer Mark MacPhail, was killed – shot twice in the course of duty.  The Savannah Georgia authorities were frantic to hold someone responsible and placed the gun that was never found, in the hands of Troy Davis.

Save Troy Davis Image credit: NAACP

No physical evidence of any kind was found.  No DNA, no finger prints, soiled clothes, etc.  Nothing was found other than eye witnesses.

This case was solely about eye-witness accounts – the WORST evidence in a trial.  Why is it the worst?   Because people are people and they make mistakes.   People like you and me always want to be seen in the best light; we want to be as honest as we can, and we try our best to do the right thing.  That can be problematic when Police are under enormous pressure to close a case.

The police in the Casey Anthony case were, in my opinion, the best of the best.  But, not all police are on the side of finding the truth. And, some reports I have read indicated the police were not honest.

Police can get eye witnesses to agree to anything simply by how they position a photo lay-out, or how they use their body language to suggest one suspects picture over another.

Sadly, there have been stories of police misconduct – how they will use any trick in the book to nail a suspect.  They lie, they use coercion, or use suggestions to try to close the case.   But, it’s not only because of shady police involvement in what eye witnesses say, it’s also because we humans are fickle and our memory changes as time passes.   In this case, as many as seven people recanted, saying they were mistaken when they initially identified Troy Davis as the shooter.

I don’t know one way or another what the truth is in the Troy Davis case.   BUT, I have enough faith in the people involved in this case to believe that if this execution happens tomorrow, it will be an enormous travesty of justice.  The fact that many thousands of people across this country believe there is enough doubt that Troy Davis is responsible for the murder, could give the justice system more than a black eye, in the long run.

Is our justice system breaking or broken?  The Casey Anthony case is fresh in the minds of millions of Americans.  Clearly she had culpability in the murder of her daughter, but was found not guilty.  We like to say, “The jury system worked as it should in the Anthony case.”   But, that’s not true.  If it worked as it should, Casey would be held  responsible.

I have accepted the finding of the Anthony jury.  I don’t agree with it, but I accept it.  And, frankly, I would rather she be found not guilty than die by lethal injection.  I would rather the guilty go free than the innocent punished or killed.

If Troy Davis is murdered tomorrow night, at 7 pm, there will be consequences that the justice system will have to face.  People in this country, and all over the world, will view the United States as a barbaric nation.  A statement by Amnesty International says it best:

“It is unconscionable that the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has denied relief to Troy Davis. Allowing a man to be sent to death under an enormous cloud of doubt about his guilt is an outrageous affront to justice.” – Amnesty International in a statement Tuesday about Davis being denied clemency; he’s slated to be executed Wednesday.

I wanted to find a place to go and protest tonight; I want to protest tomorrow until time is up and it happens.

I don’t understand how can we kill someone when there is doubt about their involvement in the crime.  How can we murder our citizens and still call ourselves civilized?  How?  How did we become such an ugly nation of murderers?

I can’t find the words to fully express my sadness, anger and disappointment.

Doesn’t it say something about this case when The Innocence Project, the NAACP, the ACLU, Amnesty International, President Jimmy Carter, the former head of the FBI, William Sessions,  and all the other Human Rights groups are fighting for the life of Troy Davis?

The Justice system in Georgia should be fighting, too!  Fighting for life!  How can anyone be against abortion but for the death penalty?   For political reasons maybe?  Ah, and this is a political season, after all.   Politicians must be bold and appear courageous for their constituents when an election year is on the horizon.   “Tough on crime” is the battle cry.  What about tough on truth?

This is exactly why defense attorneys are so important.

Troy Davis will refuse his last meal tomorrow night.  In solidarity with him, those of us chilled to the bone will fast tomorrow. too.

I am wearing black.

19
Sep

no regrets?

Some nights I can’t think of anything I want to talk about.  Well, that’s not entirely true, there are nights that I just want to bemoan about how tired I am after working a full day teaching.  Teaching kids would be so much easier.  I teach adults which is more difficult; especially when adults act like children.  That’s when it gets really problematic.    I teach a new hire class of new employees at the university.  It’s a two-week intensive training that wipes me out.  I wrote all the training I teach, and I conduct the training, too.  Usually one person creates the training and another person delivers it.  I prefer to create the curriculum and not train it.

I have been a one-person training department for nearly five years; now I have a boss to split the work with, and that’s nice!  But, it’s going to take her another year to get up to speed on the curriculum, so the training is all on my shoulders, still.  My boss helps, though.  She puts all the participant guides together for me – and that’s a crummy job.  She also assigns which project I need to develop next, and does all the preliminary setting up for me.

She’s like my agent setting up “gigs” for me.  I hope that pretty soon the work will even out and I won’t have to be in the classroom as much going forward.  It’s exhausting to orchestrate the learning activities of a whole classroom of adults for seven hours a day.  The funny thing is, when I’m in the classroom and working with my students, I love it.  I completely enjoy seeing people learn.  I enjoy the fun we have in the classroom, too.  Fun, you may wonder?  Yes.  Adult learners need to enjoy the experience of learning and it is my job to make them laugh and enjoy themselves because it enables their learning.

So, I enjoy the moment to moment interactions with the participants, and they respond well to me, which is really helpful.  What I have trouble with is waking up in the morning and starting the day.  I would rather be doing so many other things.  I’d rather be writing.  I need to start listening more to what I want to do, I’ve realized now.  My passion does not involve being in the classroom. My “work” passion involves writing training programs; it’s fun and creative, but it’s also not what I really want to do with my life, for the rest of my life.

I want to write stories, a book, and try play-writing, and photography, too.  But it would mean quitting my job, most likely.

I want to read more.  I have so many books lined up to read.  I’m reading Wendy and the Lost Boys, by Julie Salamon, right now.  It’s wonderful and I’d like to be reading right now, but there is this blog to write.

Will the earth open up and swallow me if I don’t write my blog post every night?  No.   It’s become a habit now. But a good and nice habit – usually.

I get hooked on things, and I’m hooked on blogging.  I used to be hooked on smoking – about ten years ago.  I’d come home from work, sit in my comfortable chair and smoke and read and drink soda until midnight.  For a while it was difficult to read because I really wanted a cigarette to go with my book.

I am really conflicted right now.  I am overcome with “shoulds.”

I should find another job (I like my boss, but the office environment I work in is toxic).  I find it sad how unhappy the employees are who work in the office, and yet, at least 25 percent of the employees have worked there over 10 years.  Why would you work in a place for so long and be miserable?

I don’t want to live in a state of  long-term misery, that would be an awful way to live.

People think it’s prestigious to work for a university, and I suppose it is.  And, it’s wonderful to be a part of the excitement that goes on at a university.  On that level, it’s really great.

So, I’m torn.  I could continue to work at the university, get a Ph.D., and be well-educated but would that make me happy?  A Ph.D in my pocket would allow me to teach at a university level, but I don’t want to do that, so I guess the Ph.D., wouldn’t be the best thing for me.  Well, I could do research articles and publish with a Ph.D., and I like research writing a lot, but I like creative writing more.

I love the law.  At least three times a week I think about throwing everything to the wind and try to get into law school.  But, then I come to my senses.

My real passion has always been the theatre and writing.  I am a pretty good actor, but I wasn’t sure if I could write.   The last couple of years, especially since beginning this blog, has helped me realize I can write, but need so much more practice.

I think I’ve figured out what I need to do.  Well, I know what I need to do, but do I have the courage to do it?  That’s the sticking point.  (The bottom line is, I am full of too many doubts; and my ego needs a kick in the pants.)

Should I throw caution to the wind and follow my dreams?  How will I pay the bills?

Maybe I am where I should be right now and I shouldn’t try to ruin a good thing.  And here’s the rub: If I did quit my job and go out on my own, would I have the same kind of regrets as when I left the theatre?

I tell people I had a great career as an actor – and it’s true, I loved every minute of the work.  But, I do have regrets.  I do.  The regret is that I didn’t stick with the theatre longer.  If I’d just given it five more years, moved to NYC, things may have been different.  My friends were making it, the only reason I couldn’t?  Self doubt.  I took the safe way out, quit while I was ahead and got the things that many theatre people don’t have: A nice car and a mortgage.

But, did I leave the theatre so I could have a nice car and a mortgage?  Yes, I did.  And I left the theatre because I was tired of working as a waitress after a show ended and before the next one began.  The time in between theatre jobs could sometimes be months. And I couldn’t stand waiting tables. I really despised the work with every ounce of my being.  I still have nightmares about being forced to wait on tables again.

So now I’m asking myself, what the hell am I doing and where the hell am I going??

The only answer I really have right now is I need to get off this computer and sit down with my book and relax.

I’ll figure out my future tomorrow – perhaps.

18
Sep

show your love

It was not a very good day for the Miami Dolphins football team; they lost.  I’m not a football fan, but my brother and sister-in-law are Dolphins season ticket holders.   They went to today’s game and my mom and I got to babysit for my niece! She’s 6.

We had such fun, as usual.  She held class (loves being the teacher).  First she tested my reading skills.  I did pretty good, she said.

Then I fell in line behind her (my dog behind me), and I followed her upstairs.   “NO TALKING IN LINE”, she screamed.  I obeyed from then on.

I then attended Jewelry Club and Dance class.    I did very well in jewelry making, she said, and gave me an A+ (probably because I made her a necklace of plastic, colorful beads).  In dance, however, I only got a B.

For the dance class, she had me sit and wait in the “classroom” (one of the bedrooms), while she went out and prepared herself to teach the class.  In a few minutes, she came in with hot-pink gloves to her elbows, glasses, high-heels, and a pink dance bag.  Before she came in, she stood at the open doorway and pretended to talk to other students.  She said her goodbyes to them and reminded them to practice their steps!

Then she came in, closed the door, and marched to “her desk” (the bed), looking very important and official.  She ceremoniously pulled on each finger of the hot-pink gloves until they were both neatly set aside; and took out her notebook which held her choreography and dance notes.  The  dance notes consisted of lines and arrows drawn with blue and red crayon.

Before we danced we had to practice a little bit and so we did our ballet positions:  First position – feet apart.  Second position – feet together at the heels.  Third position – one foot points left, the other foot points right with about a foot of space in between.  Fourth position – you bring the heel of one foot to rest on the middle arch of the other foot.  Fifth position – both feet are held tightly together, but toes on one foot face North, and the toes of the other foot face South.  Oh, and then we did our plea-a’s, and our spins and leaps and turns, and on and on until I couldn’t go any more!

So, now I’m home, and exhausted and ready for dreamland.  But, before I go, I want to share the “Family Rules” she created and which my sister-in-law framed.

I love every rule but my favorite is number 6.

17
Sep

nightmares

The stuff of nightmares:

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/09/16-8

17
Sep

STOP the MURDER of Troy Davis

The Troy Davis story is yet another reason to rage against the death penalty. 

Save Troy Davis Image credit: NAACP

It is inconceivable to me that a single person should die for a crime they did not commit, or could not have committed due to evidence corruption.

When there are countless executions of the wrong perpetrator, shouldn’t that tell us something?  Shouldn’t that be reason enough to STOP this practice of killing people?

The possible execution of Troy Davis is yet another travesty resulting from the clearly arcane Death Penalty sentence.

Despite no physical evidence, and countless “eye witnesses” recanting their original testimony that Mr. Davis committed the murder, he is nonetheless scheduled to die on Georgia’s Death Row on September 21, 2001 for the 1989 murder of Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail.

When a police officer dies, it is a horribly tragic event, there is no denying this truth.  Likewise, if there are countless witnesses saying they were wrong about Mr. Davis being the killer, and name another subject as the killer, it is also wrong.  Sadly, this is the scenario with the Troy Davis case.

The fact is, no physical evidence connected Davis to the murder. Seven of the original nine witnesses have recanted, with many saying their testimony was a result of law enforcement pressure. Of the remaining witnesses, one is highly suspect and the other could be the actual culprit in the officer’s murder.

Now, despite these and other facts, the state of Georgia has taken the final steps toward Davis’ execution — and only the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole stands between Davis and the lethal injection chamber. ~The Color of Change.org

Troy Davis, was at the scene of the crime, and is an accessory to the murder – but too many new witnesses have come forward and implicated the person Troy was with, Sylvester Coles, as the shooter.  EVERY witness BUT Sylvestor Coles now puts the murder weapon in Coles’ hands.  Not surprisingly, Coles is the only witness who has not changed his story.

This is a case in which the meaning of Reasonable Doubt is turned on its proverbial head to mean any doubt will do. 

The application of Reasonable Doubt is the cornerstone or our criminal justice system, but when it goes awry and innocent people die because of it, there is nothing more heinous. 

This dangerous game of Russian Roulette with the life of a fellow human being should never happen.  But it is happening.  It is wrong, wrong, wrong in every sense of the word.

This is the Huffington Post story I read this morning that got my blood boiling hot: The Execution of Troy Davis – – A Mother’s Story, by Martina Davis-Correia, as told to Jen Marlowe and Monifa Bandele.

Ever since  reading about the fight for Troy’s life by his sister and nephew, I have tried to do what I can to get the word out about this case.

If you have a moment, I hope you will, too.

Feel free to reblog, tweet or share this post on Facebook, or MySpace, etc.

Better yet, go to the multiple sites (listed below) who are bringing attention and support to Troy Davis.

Visit these sites for further direction on how you may take action:

The uncertain fate of Georgia Death Row inmate, Troy Davis, is plain wrong.   Please help to educate your friends and family regarding this case, and the Death Penalty.

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