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Posts from the ‘Justice’ Category

11
Sep
Bridget Esposito "Big heart"

eleven tears – in memoriam to AMEX 911 victims

Update: September 11, 2013

Can it be 13 12 years?  I cannot fathom the passing of so much time, but time does march on, doesn’t it?  I decided to re-post this entry to honor the families of the American Express victims, as well as all who suffered losses unimaginable.

Original Post:

For me, September often makes for a rough landing.

There is the heartbreaking reminder of 9/11; today being one of the most poignant reminders due to the passage of ten years.

It hardly seems possible that 10 years have passed.  The memories are so vivid it seems like it was yesterday our world was shattered.

September is also the month we see an increased number of hurricanes  here in South Florida.

And, September is my birthday month, which I won’t talk about, even though I just did.  Getting older means I have to remember a new number (I often forget how old I am).

World Headquarters of American Express – The Aftermath of 911


September 11, 2001

Eleven Tears Memorial at American Express World Headquarters

It was a Tuesday.

Monday night I stayed very late at work.  It was already September 11th (after midnight) when I left work at the American Express Service Center building in Plantation, Florida.

I was working late with Wayne, an Instructional Design colleague of  mine in Operations Training, at American Express. Wayne and I were putting the finishing touches on our Diversity Appreciation Display, which was to be situated in the huge open atrium space, at the center of the building. (Note about Diversity at American Express:  The company didn’t just “talk” about the importance of diversity, it “walked the walk” in a way that I have yet to see in any other company I’ve since worked for.  They supported diverse employee networks; WIN (Women’s Industry Network, BEN (Black Employee Network), SALT &  CHAI (Christian and Jewish employee networks), and quite a few more.)

Every year, the Diversity Team would dedicate one week to spotlight the importance of diversity at American Express.  The 2001 event, however, was going to be a scaled down version of our usual diversity celebration.

This year we were going to have four smaller events (not one big yearly event).  The four small events were to focus on different sections of the globe, and the impact that American Express had on that part of the world.

The kick-off of our celebration of the Middle East region of the globe was slated to open at 11:00 a.m., on the morning of September 11, 2001.

Because I had worked so late the night before, ensuring that everything was ready for our Middle Eastern celebration, I did not plan on getting to work until 10:00 a.m.

At about 9:00 a.m. that morning, Wayne called my home and I could tell something was very wrong, but I didn’t know what.  He asked if we were going to cancel our celebration.  I didn’t understand what he meant – what he was talking about.  Then he asked if I had television or radio on.  I didn’t.  “Turn the TV on,” he urged.  I did.

American Express World Headquarters

The first plane had just hit and I watched the aftermath.  I knew American Express had a huge office in NYC, with thousands of employees.  I wasn’t certain if our Headquarters was located in one or both of the World Trade Center buildings.  Later I realized that the American Express building was a building adjacent to the towers, and every employee was accounted for.  Sadly, that turned out not to be true.

Although the American Express building stood very near the towers, it suffered damages that looked like bite marks in the side of the building, resulting from the explosions.   The building was structurally sound and could be saved.

When the first plane hit, a few American Express employees were out in the street, just getting to work and suffered serious injuries as a result of the falling debris.  These employees nearly lost their lives, but by the grace of God, survived.

There were American Express employees in one of the towers.   

September 11, 2001 is seared in my memory.  I will never forget how I felt, where I was, or how so many of us cried together as we saw the second plane hit.

The American Express company, which I worked for nearly seven years, handled the horrendous event and aftermath with incredible class.  They have done such a good job to remember the employees who were victims.

Pictured below is the stunning tribute that stands in the lobby of the Headquarters building.  I have never seen it, but have read the countless comments describing how remarkable it is.  The architect’s name is Ken Smith.

Here are additional photos of the memorial.  http://www.flickr.com/photos/rejuvesite/sets/72157603291655578/

I was not able to find pictures of all the eleven victims, instead I used a picture of their memorial stone.

I would have loved to include all the victims who died that day.  Instead, I am honoring the 11 employees who perished that day, as well as the family members they left behind.

There were more than 4,000 American Express employees working at the corporate headquarters in NYC, these 11 worked for the American Express Corporate Travel office, located on the 94th floor of the World Trade Center’s north tower.

The Eleven Tears – American Express Employees:

  1. Paul Zois
  2. Sigrid Wiswe
  3. Lorretta Vero
  4. Benito Valentin
  5. Karen Renda
  6. Anne Ransom
  7. Lisa Kearney-Griffin
  8. Bridget Esposito
  9. Lucy Crifasi
  10. Gennady Boyarsky
  11. Yvonne Bonomo

The Diversity celebration that was to start on September 11, 2011, was not “celebrated.”  We kept a movie that the created, available for employees, and some photos were left up, that was about it.

It was too emotionally draining to think about a celebration.  But, we also didn’t want to discount what we’d planned –  it was hardly a celebration of a culture.

We knew the terrorists were of Middle Eastern descent, as were some of our employees.  We could not very well show any distaste for that part of the world  – that was not a reasonable thing to do, obviously.  In the end, it didn’t matter, the sadness and our mourning was not about hating a counrty of people, it was about trying to understand how a small group of human beings could / would attack us as they did.

I think every American felt like they were collectively  kicked behind the knees that day.  It’s difficult to get up from the floor, though we will and we have.

Prokopios “Paul” Zois “Sense of humor”

Sigrid Wiswe “Loved NY Harbor”

Loretta Vero “Fiercely loyal” Credit: Blatherfrombrooklyn

Benito Valentin “Osito” (Little Bear)

Karen Renda “An Angel”

Ann Ransom “The heart”

Lisa Kearney-Griffin “Boisterous & friendly”

Bridget Esposito “Big heart” credit: blatherfrombrooklyn

Lucy Crifasi “Exceptionally Nurturing”

Gennady Boyarsky “No Problem” was too big

Yvonne Bonomo – “Endless Energy”

27
Aug
Photo by Getty, courtesy Huffington Post.

“off with his (cracked) head?”

Update:  August 27th, 2013.

A great deal has happened in my part of the world since the terribly sad outcome of the George Zimmerman trial. Read more

2
Apr

“off with his (cracked) head?”

Update:  August 27th, 2013.

A great deal has happened in my part of the world since the terribly sad outcome of the George Zimmerman trial.

I wrote about Zimmerman in the past, the article below I wrote in April, 2012.   I wanted to write about the Zimmerman case, as I had written about the Casey Anthony trial, but couldn’t bring myself to do it – knowing that once I started, I wouldn’t be able to stop.

That may sound odd, but the truth is, the horribleness of this case, and now its outcome, is terribly depressing.  Life is hard enough, I thought then, why go down that road of despair?  How could I write everything that needs to be said about the case and the verdict?

It’s too important to be taken lightly or to simply “blog” about.

I feel that writing about this moment in history is so serious and would take such devotion on my part, that I’d need to give it my full, undivided, attention – to do it justice.

So, instead of writing about it, I let it simmer in me.

The simmer – what I feel is not exactly “rage”, but its cousin.

I think of this case and its outcome every single day and now, today, Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s lead defense attorney, is asking the state of Florida to cover Zimmerman’s bill! Yes, a million would cover it, thank-you-very-much-Florida.

So, I’m outraged more.  Paying Zimmerman’s legal bill????

Really?!!

It’s UNFAIR.  At least on moral ground.  As for legal ground, I don’t know, I’m not a lawyer. It must be legal for O’Mara to ask, and I don’t blame him for asking – that’s what lawyers do.  But, shouldn’t O’Mara at least try to walk on a higher ground?  Couldn’t he let the people of Florida get over this before pouring salt into this still bleeding wound?  Haven’t we suffered enough over this terrible tragedy?

Makes me angry. Really angry.

Zimmerman never apologized, as far as I know. And during the trial, he never showed one ounce of remorse for the murder (it will always be murder no matter what the verdict of 6 people.) of a defenseless young teenager.

A child with loving parents. Strong parents. Good parents.

The jury didn’t see Trayvon the child.  They didn’t see him for the child he was; they saw him as a young hoodie-wearing-soon-to-be-hoodlum-because-they-knew-that’s-what-all-young-black-men-are.

Had the jury thought of Trayvon as THEIR son, as THEIR child, I don’t think they could have let Zimmerman walk away, get away, with murder.

No. The jury didn’t see their child.  They didn’t see their duty to protect this child – their child.

The jury saw a young black man, probably up to no good, and a good, upstanding man with a license to kill, doing what good white men do – stand their ground because they have a gun to do it with.

What does this say to young men today? It says: Beware – you are targets in Florida.  Don’t drink your Arizona Ice Tea or your Skittles while black.

I have friends who, over the years, have referred to their status as a citizen behind the wheel of an automobile (especially an expensive car), as “Driving While Black.”  They have to be hyper-vigilant and it’s incredibly sad – beyond the beyond of disgusting.

It’s a given that young black men are racially targeted; it’s a given they are profiled; it’s a given they are increasingly disadvantaged economically and socially, but must we pour more money to the Gun-toting Southern white man’s sense of superiority?

Let’s give more money to the cracker-ass white men like Zimmerman who think nothing of starving their beast.

But, don’t get me started.

April 2, 2012: In Richard III, one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies, the character of Richard – who will do anything to be King of England – accuses Lord Hastings of all things foul, and thus Hastings is murdered.

In a video revealed today by ABC News, George Zimmerman’s head (as he’s being led out of a police car), appears injured and red.  Does the fact that Zimmerman appears to have an injured head make any difference?

No. No. A thousand times, no.

Photo by Getty, courtesy Huffington Post.

However, it IS important insofar as it supports Zimmerman’s claim to have acted in self-defense, claiming he’d been  attacked by Trayvon Martin.

Yeah. And, so what?

As we know, Zimmerman claims he shot Trayvon Martin in self defense, stating that the young man, armed with a very dangerous bag of Skittles, pounded his head into the ground and bloodied his nose……

Wait.  Back up.  We don’t know if that is true or not!  And even if it is true, so what?!

Like the sign the guy in the above photo is holding – “They never stop & frisk old white guys like me.”  (I love that he’s wearing a blindfold like Lady Justice in the photo.)

It’s true.  We live in the land of the free, where people, no matter who they are, should be able to walk down any street while eating candy as it rains.

Just My Opinion:

Here’s what I think may have happened that night:

  1. Zimmerman sees a young man in his neighborhood that he does not recognize and calls the police.  Why?  Because Zimmerman realizes that the boy is black.  Strike one against Trayvon, he’s walking while black.  Clearly in Zimmerman’s mind that spells trouble.
  2. While Zimmerman is talking to the police operator, during his first call, it sounds like he’s walking.  Was he following Trayvon?  (Oh, he’s following in self-defense – that’s right, I forgot that detail.)
  3. Trayvon surely must sense that he’s being followed, or stalked by a man he doesn’t recognize.
  4. Does Trayvon fear Zimmerman because he’s white?  Possibly.  But more likely, he’s afraid because he’s being watched and followed.  I would be terrified.
  5. Zimmerman hangs up with the dispatch, talks to the Police who tell him NOT to take action.
  6. Does Zimmerman continue to stalk / follow Trayvon?  Does Zimmerman get too close?  Does he purposely appear threatening?  Does he brandish his gun?
  7. If Zimmerman brandished his gun, Trayvon may have, in a fight for his life, attempted to disable Zimmerman – separate him from his gun, to save his young life.
  8. Did Zimmerman lay hands on Trayvon maybe to question him?  Why?  He’s not a police-person.
  9. Common sense tells me Zimmerman was likely holding his gun.  People who carry guns do so because they want to use them. That’s just common sense, right?
  10. Did Trayvon see that gun and try to save his life by jumping on Zimmerman to try to disarm him?
  11. Was Zimmerman too strong for Trayvon?
  12. Did Trayvon, realizing he is no match against Zimmerman, now try to run away to save his life?  Or did he fall, screaming out and afraid of the man and the gun?

These things we may never really know, but we do know that Trayvon was crying out, afraid that he was going to be shot.  Who shoots to kill someone who’s unarmed and crying?

I will not go so far as to say Zimmerman murdered the young Trayvon because I do not know what really happened.  I only know there is something very wrong and a young man with an Ice Tea and a bag of candy should not be gunned down.

Florida and it’s NRA – written, Jeb Bush backed “Stand Your Ground” law is horrifying, senseless, and unconstitutional as far as I am concerned. The Second Amendment to the Constitution did not want a bunch of Zimmerman’s running around, in my opinion.

So, I won’t say “Off with his head,” about Zimmerman.  If he’s guilty of manslaughter or murder, he’ll have his day in court.  He’ll face Florida laws, which is what I’m afraid of.

16
Jan

Dr. King’s Dream – Let it Ring Some More!

English: Dr. Martin Luther King giving his &qu...

Image via Wikipedia

If collectively we didn’t have a group to hate, we’d have to invent one (to hate).

I can’t remember who said that, but sadly, I believe it’s true.

When I was born, in 1957, segregation still prevailed. There were “colored” bathrooms, beaches, water fountains and many other indignities.

Through the years, and again today, my mother said that, when I was two, I could read and I knew what the “colored only” sign over the water fountain meant, but not what it stood for.

She told me that I thought the “colored” fountain had pretty colored water, like Kool-Aid.   (Children will see things as they are, without filters or ugly meanings.)

“Did you allow me to drink from that fountain?” I asked my mom, today.  “You couldn’t have reached it. You were only two,” she explained.  “Well,” I asked her, “Could you have held me up to drink from it?”

As she thought about it, I pressed on, “Was it because of the times?”

“No, you were too little and didn’t know how to drink from a fountain,” she told me.

It was a different time; and my parents were not the type to rock the boat.

I don’t remember being told I could not drink that colored water.  I wonder if my two-year old self would have felt let-down, or maybe kind of deprived?

Little did I know that an entire population of Black Americans were deprived of much more than colored water.

We have come a long way since then, but not far enough.  I think that either we haven’t come far enough, or we’re regressing.  Personally, I think we are regressing.

We have a long way to go in regards to Human Rights, Equal Rights, and certainly with the right to marry, and Gender/Transgender Equality.

People who today will deny immigrants a place in our country have forgotten that Dr. King’s dream was for ALL rights.  Human rights, Equal rights, Equal treatment, and basic human decency towards all people.

The leaders here in Florida, in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia and elsewhere, need to abolish their bigotry towards immigrants and towards anyone who happens to be different.  If the inhumane treatment of immigrants (and the torture of our enemies), continues, it will destroy the rich history of “for and by the people democracy” that continues to make this country appealing to people from other countries who simply want to come here for a better life.

We have to have compassion all people or hate will prevail in earnest across the other States in this united land of ours, destroying the fabric that keeps our country good and strong.

The Dalai Lama talks about compassion a lot.  In his book, “Ethics for the New Millennium,” he says that without compassion for the sufferings of others, a person will not be truly happy.  He talks about how we must continue to cultivate our inner goodness.  If we do, our actions become conducive to the creation of continuous compassion for others  Things like patience, tolerance, forgiveness, humility, and so on, are the building blocks of compassion, says the Dali Lama.

The inability to have inner restraint will deny the ability to know compassion, thus happiness, he says.

With the bankruptcy of America, which was put into motion by the wealthy one percent, and by the banks who are not taking responsibility for their actions, we need Dr. King’s words now more than ever:

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”   ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I think it’s good that a dialogue about living Dr. King’s dream by engaging in service to others, is happening in my community.

If we lead by Dr. King’s example, our children will grow into people who are world’s better than the people of the 20th century.  Better than those who would erect signs to keep fellow human beings off of “white” beaches, out of “white” bathrooms, and unable to use “white” drinking fountains.

If Dr. King were alive, don’t you think he would tell the haters that the only way to heaven is to have compassion for all people, regardless of race, religion, gender?

Wouldn’t Dr. King tell us that God doesn’t care what your religion is, or how pretty your church is?  I think so.  I also think Dr. King would say something like this:  It doesn’t matter who you pray to, what matters to God is, did you do the right thing?    I think what matters is to have compassion for others; to stand for something, and to deny the haters an audience.

I think he’d say something like that.  I know we’d listen.  But, would the haters listen?

We can dream, right?

4
Jan
Judge Stan Strickland

an interview with the Honorable Stan Strickland

Read more »

28
Dec

looking back

English: Casey Anthony has been booked into th...

Image via Wikipedia

2011 is coming to an end.  The year has flown by.  Every year don’t we all say, “My, this year has really flown by?!”  And the years do go by pretty quickly, especially as we age.

Time seemed to crawl when I was young.  Was it like that for you, too?

This year flew, though it seemed to stand still, too, at times.

I wrote a blog post every single day in 2011.  To date, I have 608 posts. This one will make 609.

I never thought I’d actually write something every day for an entire year, but I did.  In fact, I wrote a post every day in December 2010 so this is month 13 of my Post-a-day challenge.

It was pretty easy, really.   The Casey Anthony saga gave me so much material!  There were the lawyers on the defense team – how bizarre they were.  The defense attorney’s gave me a lot of colorful content.  And, the Anthony family, Cindy and George and their antics, provided all kinds of fanciful copy as well.

I was very critical of the Anthony defense team, especially Jose Baez, because he deserved it. His courtroom antics were gross and demeaned the legal profession, at least in my opinion.  However, as far as George and Cindy Anthony go – I was too hard on them, at times.  Most bloggers were.

The mainstream media helped sensationalize the situation, as did the overflow of documentation made possible by Florida’s Sunshine law.  Still, bloggers had a field day with the Anthony’s.  I did too.

I am sorry I jumped on the bandwagon and made hay out of the George and Cindy stories – the discovery that was released in the case.  I feel badly, looking back at the last three years of this case, that I judged and criticized them too often, as I know I did.

I think, in hindsight, that I forgot they were real people.  They are hardly perfect and as capable of making stupid mistakes as I am.  I think that comes from being human.

I have never lived under a microscope, I have never had a daughter or a granddaughter, I have never known anyone who either committed or was a victim of murder, not to mention a murder as heinous as Caylee’s was.

During the trial, I felt sorry for both Anthony’s.  In hindsight I realize they only ever wanted to do the right thing for a daughter they doted on.  As despicable as her acts were, the Anthony’s loved her.  She is their daughter.  She destroyed them and they allowed it to happen because they thought that was love.  They thought they were loving and perfect parents.  I think all parents believe they are.

I did some research and reading about how parents – whose children were murderers, behaved and learned that the Anthony’s were not so unusual after all.

Some parents will protect their children no matter what the cost.  Even the most law-abiding people will convince themselves their son/daughter couldn’t possibly be guilty, despite solid evidence that says otherwise. Parents will usually ride a ship called denial across the Nile river for the rest of their lives, if that’s what it takes to maintain their sanity and their love for their child.

It’s easy to believe I’d be different from the Anthony’s, but until I’ve walked in their shoes, how can I know?

Having seen George brought to his knees by his own daughter during the trial makes me feel badly that I judged him.  Watching Cindy Anthony literally crumble on the stand as she relived the pain of loosing both her daughter and Caylee, makes me feel very badly to have judged her at all.

Weren’t the Anthony’s just ordinary people who were thrown into an extraordinary Orlando firestorm?    I think so.

All the crazy proselytizing Cindy did in the media to make Casey into a saint and a good mother helped to make the Anthony’s seem all the more dysfunctional.   Little did they know they were inadvertently putting themselves in front of their own daughter’s version of a firing squad.

The video tapes we saw of the Anthony’s were of them at their most vulnerable.   George and Cindy Anthony seemed to take a wrong turn and make the wrong decision constantly, and we saw it unfold, moment to moment.

I’d like to think I would have acted totally differently in every regard.  But then again, I’ve never been in the lion’s den for three years, let alone three minutes.

The Anthony’s were living their lives as best they could.

7
Dec

Hillary Clinton – A role model for all

Hillary is speaking from Geneva in this wonderful talk about Human Rights and the GLBT community.

3
Dec

What is marriage and what is hate?

Marriage is a symbol of love between two human beings, usually.  Well, unless those two human beings are the same gender.   If two human beings are the same gender, such a symbol is not available for them to own – well, only in a few states.

But, in the US, marriage is the union of two persons.  Simple, right?  Not for the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual and Transgender (GLBT) people.  Such a union is mostly outlawed, like in the wild-wild-west.

It’s difficult for me to understand what is the problem with same-sex marriage?

If Tom and Teresa can own the symbol, why can’t Tom and Terry?   Ahhhh, it’s how we perceive Tom and Terry or Sue and Karen – they are not like us therefore they are beneath us therefore they are not deserving of the basic human rights you and I enjoy.

To deny persons who are part of a GLBT community the right to marry, or to deny them anything at all based on sexual identity, is so obviously absurdly wrong! Well, to me it is.  Well, to most of us it is.

The people in power, those with religious power especially, cannot allow people who are hated as a group, any benefit that might encourage them to be happy.   Marriage would make people in the GLBT community happy.  That’s not good.  No no no no no.

If the GLBTs were happy the religious leaders would hate the political leaders for allowing that to happen.  That would be bad for the political leaders – they’d not get re-elected.   Then the religious leaders would put someone with more hate into power and everyone would be worse off.   If society got anymore hateful, a fertilized egg after a one-night-stand would have rights.   In fact, if the really hateful religious leaders had their way, a fertilized egg would have more rights than the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgendered person.

It’s bully-ism on a large-scale.  (Not sure bully-ism is a word, but you know what I mean, right?!)  I think hate is synonymous with Bullying.   GLBT (and too many others, namely immigrants), are the prime targets of school bullying.

We sit aghast at the stories coming from elementary and high schools about bullying and the resulting suicides.  But, do we realize that children, when they terrorize other children, are mirroring what they know adults and flaky pastors hate?

By the way, I don’t hate religion – I don’t hate anything, other than inequality.  I hate only hate.

I hate the hate of a Religious Right kind of hate because I see it becoming systemic in America.

What am I talking about?

I’m referring to the Religious Right who are not really religious but who thump the Christian bible because they think it will translate into political power.  I’m talking about the “Christians” who think God tells them to hate and to deny the rights of people they don’t even know.  I’m talking about the people who claim they take the bible literally but when push comes to shove they can’t but are loath to admit it.  I’m talking about the hate that is, religiously speaking, ironic because it promotes separation and racism.   I’m talking about the hate that denies equality to large  segments of society who are as deserving as you and I.

When two consenting adults wish to symbolize or honor their partnership, just as heterosexuals do, it should be a non issue.  It goes without saying that divorce trumps the statistics of those who stay married, that’s a non-starter though.  The issue is really not about that – that’s adding a negative to a the positiveness of love between the partnership of two people of the same-sex.

How in the world can people hate who they don’t know?  Why would anyone deny persons they don’t know the chance to experience happiness?  Who gives Sam – who has never left the state of Texas – the right to tell Joe, in Florida – a stranger to him, that he cannot have this or that piece of happiness?

So, what is marriage to the haters?  What is marriage to the GBLTs?   It’s the same thing – or will be when the GLBTs have the right to it.  The real difference between the GLBT marriage and the Hetero marriage is that one is more often made up of a love that is lasting.

This video explains it so much better than I ever could.

Two Lesbians Raised A Baby And This Is What They Got.

28
Nov

so much for your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free

I have written about the hedonistic immigration laws in Alabama in the recent past.  What prompted me to write about this again was the Op-Ed I read today in the New York Times titled The Price of Intolerance that examines the economic and social toll the immigration law has taken on the state.

Even though Alabama’s Immigration Law is fairly new – less than 6 months old – and is modeled after Arizona’s aggressive law, its problems are becoming increasing painful for Alabamians.  Whether or not Alabama will revoke the laws because of the economic issues, is another thing altogether.

Regardless, this law is doing damage to nearly all sectors of Alabama’s economic and social stratosphere.

Few words are more famous or more evocative than these from Emma Lazarus's "The New Colussus": "Give me your tired, your poor,/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." Inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty, they have come to represent America's promise. Institution: American Jewish Historical Societquite a while to come.

Let’s hope the fallout in Alabama will be a critical warning sign to other states, like Florida and California, hoping to pass a similar law.  Florida, where I live, is one of the few states considering a similar law to Arizona and Alabama’s.   Florida is also building its own Immigration prison slash detention center.  They don’t like to call it a prison, though we all know that is precisely what it is.  It’s a prison for immigrants who are CAUGHT without papers.  SLAM goes the door to the cell that will hold mothers and fathers of children who did nothing to deserve having their life destroyed  other than being born in the USA.

Apparently illegal immigrants are being held in Florida’s criminal jails.  Maybe I’ve been under a rock, but I didn’t think this was happening.   I know that immigration facilities existed, but I was under that impression that people held there were also criminals.  WRONG, Ms. Ostrich.

In a recent article by Laura Wides-Munoz of the Associated Press, the plans are laid out:

The proposed facility is part of the federal government’s new plan to move immigrants from jails to detention centers it says are better for holding people with no criminal background. The centers are also supposed to be easier to reach for detainees’ relatives and lawyers  (Arizona Republic, Nov. 19, 2011).

I find it difficult to wrap my head around this.  It makes me sick to my stomach to think that the Immigration Detention center will jail people without any criminal record.  They will be criminals just as soon as they’re caught without paperwork.   I have also learned this Florida Detention center will be privately run – i.e. not run by the government. That is scary in itself.

As far as the impact to Alabamians, the damage is just now coming to light, according to the New York Times.   For instance, workers who’d normally work on farms are largely, if not all, immigrants. Americans don’t want these jobs.

In Alabama, workers are fleeing for fear of being jailed.  This means the farmer’s crops are dying on the vine, work is not getting done in other businesses supported by an immigrant population.

The New York Times Op Ed asks, how will Alabama deal with the extra police needed to handle the immigration dragnets?  Alabama is not exactly a wealthy state -far from it.

Who will step into the jobs held by the immigrant populations?

Undocumented immigrants make up about 4.2 percent of Alabama’s work force, or 95,000 people in a state of 4.8 million. For all the talk about clearing the way for unemployed Americans, there is no evidence that Alabamians in any significant numbers are rushing to fill the gap left by missing farm laborers and other low-wage immigrant workers (New York Times, The Price of Intolerance ).

Recently in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a manager from the Mercedes-Benz company was visiting the local work site.  The manager was found driving without a driver’s license or any legal identification documents and he was taken to jail since he was potentially an illegal immigrant.

Now, that’s a cautionary tale.   We are America, the land of the free?

“Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” wrote Emma Lazarus in her sonnet, The New Colossus, written at the base of the Statue of Liberty.

Not so much.  Not anymore.

27
Nov

when justice isn’t

When criminal trials are only about winning or losing like in a sporting event, the outcome will not always be justice.   The best team doesn’t always win.  The Police and State Attorneys are not always as honest as the fine men and women who worked in the Casey Anthony case, in Orlando.

Orlando had exceptional people working on the Casey Anthony case – with the exception of Deputy Cain, that is.  (In case you don’t recall, Cain was the Officer who responded to Roy Kronk’s August 2008 call to police about seeing, in the swamp off of Suburban Drive, what appeared to be a human skull.   Cain was summarily fired for not following through on the investigation of the area that Kronk identified.  Afterwards, to make matters worse, Cain told lie after lie.  His long lies did him in and he was fired from the Orlando sheriff’s Office.)

But, this whole idea of justice can be a slippery slope when one side or the other (Prosecution or Defense), throws their scruples out the window in favor of winning at any cost.  It begs the question then, what is justice anyway? Like in football, or any sport, the best team may not win. Flukes happen, people have bad days, we’re only human….  That’s why the bar is high when it comes to the Government proving its case “beyond and to the exclusion of any reasonable doubt.”   That’s a high burden.  It’s a high-stakes game in the courtroom.

The stakes couldn’t be higher when an innocent person is charged with a crime by a relentless prosecutor who refuses to admit a mistake.  That is the worst possible outcome because there is truly no justice.  I guess you could say it’s anti-justice.  Is there anything worse than an innocent person being jailed for a crime they did not commit?

Likewise, when all roads lead to the ultimate conclusion that one perpetrator of a crime is the one sitting at the defendant’s table but a jury, realizing they will be in the spotlight, wish to err on the side of caution and let a murderer go, there is no justice, either.   However, it is a far better thing that Casey Anthony walked free than for an innocent person to be convicted. 

Was there justice for Caylee Anthony?  Hardly.

I still do not believe the Casey Anthony Not Guilty verdict was the result of the Prosecution’s case being weak.  I cannot accept that.  I honestly believe the jurors cared more about themselves than they did holding Casey Anthony liable for murder.

Life is not fair but the justice system should always be.  And it usually is fair, but not always as you’ll see in the sad case of little Holly Staker who, in 1992 was raped and murdered as she baby-sat for neighborhood children.  Holly was only 11 years old, and the person charged with the crime was 19-year-old Juan Rivera.

This story in today’s New York Times Magazine, is about winning and losing and the fact that justice took a holiday for Rivera just as it had for the People of Orlando, Florida in the trial of Casey Anthony.

The facts in the Rivera case have to do with Rivera being arrested, tried, and convicted of the rape and murder of 11-year-old Holly despite there being scant evidence of such crime.  The only “evidence” is the four-day police interrogation of Rivera in which, on the fourth day, he confessed.  He finally confessed to the crime and that is what convicted him.    Despite overwhelming evidence that Rivera is innocent, a confession was beaten out of him and it was that evidence alone that nailed him to the cross.

Murder/rape victim Holly Staker. Photo credit: New York Times

As a result of DNA testing, Rivera was excluded as a source of the semen found in the victim.  It didn’t matter. The Prosecutors made up scenarios that the jury believed. Namely, that the victim was sexually active. A ludicrous suggestion that the jury bought.

There was no physical evidence connecting Rivera to the crime scene.  It didn’t matter.  Rivera confessed so he must be guilty.    The prosecution’s argument (one of them) said that 11-year-old victim was sexually active which explains why Rivera’s DNA was not present.

The outcome of this trial, the life sentence of Juan Rivera, is far more heinous than the not guilty verdict in the Anthony case.

The story is somewhat long, but very good.  The link is below for your reference.

The Prosecution’s Case Against DNA, by reporter Andrew Martin, New York Times.

26
Oct

the dreyfuss initiative

Credit: The Dreyfuss Initiative

I had the wonderful opportunity to listen to Richard Dreyfuss tonight!   He spoke to a full house of students at Nova Southeastern University.

Dreyfuss is dedicating the rest of his life to pursue his passion for educating young Americans about civics.  (Sadly, only 3% of the schools in this country are teaching civics.)

I didn’t realize this.  Did you?

He described the seriousness of this issue if nothing is done to equip our children (who are our future), with an education around civics.  They need to know how the government and the laws work in this country.  If they grow up ignorant on these issues, it’s akin to national suicide.  It’s a serious, serious problem.

If our children are not up to the challenge of leading America into the future, another entity will.

Kids have not been learning about the Bill of Rights, the Constitution or its amendments; most have no idea why or how the three branches of government work; they do not appreciate the basics of how the legal system operates, and so much more.

I have so much to say on this topic! Unfortunately, it’s much too late for me to write coherently on tonight’s program.  I will be doing a post about this issue.  I do hope to start a conversation about this serious problem.

In the meantime, the Dreyfus Initiative website is below.  Check it out!

http://www.thedreyfussinitiative.org

19
Oct

civil lawsuit news in the anthony case

The Florida vs. Casey Anthony murder trial is long over, but I am still very interested in the legal ramifications, and the civil case fallout, which continues to fall out.

Now, that Anthony has civil lawsuits to contend with, this interesting but bizarre story will continue to draw a media audience.

It was reported in the media just today that a Orlando Judge refused to throw out the lawsuit filed by Tim Miller of Texas EquuSearch.  As you know, Tim Miller is trying to recoup thousands of dollars worth of time and resources that were poured into finding Caylee.

Tim Miller should have his day in court, especially since Baez admitted in his opening statement that  Caylee was never missing but drowned on July 16th.  And since Anthony was found not guilty, she has to answer for her  fraudulent claims.

She’s got Baez to thank for that.  Since, as a result of Baez’ telling the jury that Caylee was “never missing,” and because Anthony was found not guilty, Baez has essentially confirmed that Casey Anthony fraudulently duped the public and the public servants into believing that Caylee was alive.

Not for a moment do I believe that Baez thought Anthony would be cleared of the murder charges.   If he actually thought he had a chance to win the case, I doubt he’d ever admit that Anthony knew all along that Caylee drowned.

I wonder if this story and the George and Lee Anthony abuse allegations were just a last-ditch Hail Mary?  I can’t imagine that Baez would go out on a limb with such stories had he known there would be financial consequences, or perhaps those impacts never entered his mind.

If Anthony had been found guilty, she’d not be responsible these tremendous costs that will continue to pile up.  That’s one reason I honestly don’t believe Baez thought he’d prevail in this case.

The State Attorney had more than enough evidence to convict – everyone believed it, too.  No one in their right mind thought Baez could or would win this case!  But then, no one counted on his ability to connect so well with the jurors, who to the defense’s benefit, turned out to be spineless followers only interested in getting out of Dodge.

Everyone was sure Casey was going to spend many years behind bars.

Until the perfect storm blew in from Clearwater, Florida.

On another note, Charles Greene, Anthony’s Civil Attorney, has a motion on the table to stop the release of the Morgan and Morgan recent video deposition of Anthony.   Greene filed an emergency motion to seal the video.  A Judge will hear arguments tomorrow.

Let’s face it, if the video is released, and I’m sure it will be, it will only serve to rekindle the public’s  anger toward Anthony.

It’s time to end the hate – that does not mean forget, it means public vitriol against Anthony is uncivilized.  Just my opinion.

11
Oct

will it be belly up to the bar for Jose Baez?

It has come to pass that Jose Baez, Lead Defense Attorney for the acquitted  Casey Anthony, is in the cross-hairs of the Florida Bar.  The Orlando Sentinel reported just today that there are two separate Florida Bar complaints against Mr. Baez.

Two complaints!  We don’t know the seriousness or the purpose of the complaints.  We don’t know who filed them.

What Led Up to the Current Bar Complaints? 

Jose Baez has been the subject of a lot of criticism.  His personal and professional life has been extensively reported on by the media.

Mr. Baez’ past is marked by behaviors that delayed his acceptance into the Florida Bar as a lawyer for a few years.  The Florida Bar took its time before it granting Mr. Baez his license to practice.   It was only in 2006 that he was admitted by the Bar.  He became involved in the Casey Anthony case in July of 2008.  Hardly time for the water to dry behind his ears, though that didn’t stop him.

It didn’t matter to Jose Baez that his experience was minimal at best in criminal cases, and he had NO experience with Capital Murder cases.   And, boy did it show.  He was like the court jester; but no one was laughing with him, they were laughing at him.

To be (somewhat) fair, Mr. Baez did improve as the months and the years wore on.  Oh, but his rogue-dog attitude never left him.

In my opinion, having closely watched his performance, I thought he was completely lacking ethics.  He was, in my opinion, a total sell-out to the truth.  Granted, Defense Attorneys have to be zealous advocates for their clients and ensure the government can prove the charges beyond any reasonable doubt, the goal should be to seek the truth, or am I being naive?

Both sides of the attorney aisle are adversarial by design.  They have tricks under their sleeves, but they usually don’t sell their soul to the devil to win a case.  Right?

Jose Baez in court. Photo credit: Red Huber, the Orlando Sentinel June 21, 2011

Jose Baez put his entire career on the line with this case; but he won it.  He won the case of a lifetime.

Was it a fair win?  I don’t think so, personally, but I accept the verdict because it is final and it is binding.  No one will be able to investigate Casey Anthony’s involvement into Caylee’s murder again.  It’s over and Casey Anthony should be left alone to live out the rest of her life.

If, like OJ Simpson’s foray into crime after his acquittal, she should engage in another criminal act, and get caught, she may see those grimy jail bars again, just like OJ did.  Time will tell if she can be rehabilitated.

Perhaps someday Casey Anthony will have an anonymous and happy life.   It’s debatable – the deck is stacked against her.

Who Filed the Complaints, and What is the Cause?

Of course, I am only guessing about this, but I have an idea of a couple of individuals who may have filed the complaints.

Judge Belvin Perry?

At the end of the trial, Judge Belvin Perry planned on having a hearing with regards to what sanctions to bring against Jose Baez.  However, when the defense won the case, nothing further was publicly addressed about this issue.  It was left on the table.  I thought at the time that it would seem like sour grapes, or prejudicial, to bring the sanctions up so soon after the verdict was announced.

I tend to think that Judge Perry took up the issue with the Bar in the form of a complaint rather than address it publicly in the Orlando Court.

I wrote an article about the violations that plagued the trial; it’s titled, Yet Again, Judge Perry says Legal Violation by Baez.

The fact is, Judge Perry and the State of Florida, particularly Jeff Ashton, had constant run-ins and legal battles regarding Discovery rule violations by Mr. Baez, who pretended he was unaware of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure which details EXACTLY how lawyers are to obey the rules of Discovery.

Was it Jeff Ashton?

Did one of the complaints come from Jeff Ashton?  Mr. Ashton was constantly thrown under the bus by Mr. Baez’ deliberate refusals to turn over evidence or expert reports.  (Perhaps it was  another attorney in the State Attorney’s Office, though I can’t see Linda Drane-Burdick filing a complaint, it’s certainly possible.)

There was a big issue about expert reports that were not filed.  Mr. Ashton wrote a motion that requested the Court hold Jose Baez in contempt.  I wrote an article about this, titled:  Show Cause or Else Be In Contempt.   This motion required Mr. Baez to argue why he should not be held in contempt.   As it turned out, he was not held in contempt, he was sanctioned – I believe the total was approximately $500.00.

Was it Stogskill Court Reporting?

Then there was the Court Reporting Fiasco in which a firm outside the state of Florida was used by the defense.  The issue here was the defense wanted to pay Stogskill Court Reporting Services, (after the work had been done) a rate that was lower than what the firm charges.  The owner of the firm wrote a letter of complaint to Judge Perry, stating he was lied to.  It is possible this firm could have written to the Bar.  The story is titled, More Defense Woes? 

Could it Be Brad Conway?

Maybe Brad Conway filed a complaint?   Was Mr. Baez aware that Laura Buchanan was going to falsify Texas EquuSearch (TES)  documents?  Brad Conway was inadvertently put in the middle of the TES fiasco.  Here’s a story about that issue, titled: Big Trouble for Baez?          

How a Bar Complaint Works 

According to the Anthony Colarossi, Orlando Sentinel Reporter, the two Bar complaints are concerning professional conduct during the Casey Anthony trial.   There are different levels a Bar complaint has to wind its way through.  The first level is a staff review.  Apparently, if the complaint ends at the Staff Review, it will go no further.  The other complaint against Mr. Baez stopped at this level.  In this instance, however, both complaints are headed to a grievance committee.  Below is how Anthony Colarossi explains it:

The Florida Bar confirmed Tuesday that two complaints over professional conduct filed against Casey Anthony attorney Jose Baez have progressed to a grievance committee.  This means the complaints have not closed without discipline and moved from staff level to the next point in the process.  The volunteer grievance committee is the rough equivalent of a grand jury. The nine-member panel will ultimately help determine whether to bring charges against Baez under Florida Bar rules of conduct.  It is not exactly clear what the two complaints involve, but they do cover Baez’s representation of Casey Anthony, according to Francine Walker with the Bar.

I’m told that Bar complaints take a while to process through the review phase.  It will continue to be a waiting game for Mr. Baez.  Something tells me he’s not worried; he’s beat these complaints once already….

I wonder if his Teflon will hold up?

8
Oct
Photo Credit:  The Elders.org

desmond tutu takes on child marriage

Yesterday (October 6th) was Desmond Tutu’s birthday.  He just turned 80.  With his birthday comes a new resolve – to begin the hard work on a very serious and heartbreaking issue.  Child Marriage.

Desmond Tutu.  I love this man.   I applaud everything he stands for, what he says, thinks and writes.  I had the good fortune to see him in person, and what a delight that was.  I wrote a blog post about seeing him in person in February, 2010.   Here’s a link to that February 2010 post:   blessings, warnings, and love from Archbishop Desmond Tutu

The work they do on the global stage, is inspiring.  And, whether we know it or not, we are all part of the global community.  The Internet has made our world flat, as Thomas Friedman observes in his interesting book, “The World is Flat.  (A good read!)

When I visited the Elders site yesterday, I learned that one of the more recent trips Tutu took was to Ethiopia where he learned how vast the problem of Child Marriage really is.

Desmond Tutu recently wrote:

I have to confess that I was simply not aware of the scale and impact of child marriage. 10 million girls a year, 25,000 girls a day, are married without any say in the matter, to men who are often older than they are. These girls almost always drop out of school to attend to household chores, and when they become young mothers themselves face serious dangers of injury and even death in pregnancy and childbirth. Child marriage robs girls of their childhood, of their basic rights to education, security and health.

I thought I had a pretty good idea of the human rights landscape on this precious earth we share. What I have realised is that these girls are invisible and voiceless, making them some of the most vulnerable, disempowered people on our planet.  (Desmond Tutu, 9/20/2011)   http://www.theelders.org/article/message-men-and-boys-about-child-marriage

I will be following this issue, and will write more in coming days.  For now?  Well.  I must jump into the weekend, (though it is and will continue to be, an incredibly rainy and windy weekend, it’s not gonna wash out my fun!

Related articles

6
Oct

occupy wall street – will it have sticking power?

2011 02 26 - Save the American Dream Rally (Ol...

Image by seiuhealthcare775nw via Flickr

There’s a great deal more I would like to learn about this movement called Occupy Wall Street.  

It’s gaining momentum and gaining protestors in other parts of the country, especially at universities.

It is making the uber wealthy of America nervous even if they are loath to admit it.

Poster for Occupy Wall Street - The movement that is gaining momentum

People are talking about it, some are laughing about it, as if it’s just a passing fancy.  Others are taking it seriously.

It’s a movement, and it has a lot of people excited.  Others, nervous.  Very nervous.

Occupy Wall Street, to hit the banks where it hurts, are calling for a Buy Nothing Day in November, usually reserved as Black Friday.  In December, Occupy Wall-street is calling for a Buy Nothing Christmas.  If it works, there could be no better way to kick consumerism in the groin.

Ouch!

Could this movement be the beginning of something important?

The GOP refuses to accept what’s happening.  In my opinion, the wealthy and the GOP simply prefer that people stay complacent somnambulists, as if drugged to never wake up.

The Academics are supporting Occupy Wall Street.  According to Will Oremus, writing for Slate, Princeton Professor Cornel West is applauding the protestors because they are raging against “the greed of Wall Street oligarchs and corporate plutocrats who squeeze the democratic juices out of this country.”

And, the Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University, writes Will Oremus, surprised protestors by appearing with them in support of what they are trying to do.   Stiglitz told the protestors:

You are right to be indignant. The fact is the system is not working right. It is not right that we have so many people without jobs when we have so many needs that we have to fulfill. It’s not right that we are throwing people out of their houses when we have so many homeless people.

Our financial markets have an important role to play. They’re supposed to allocate capital, manage risks. But they misallocated capital, and they created risk. We are bearing the cost of their misdeeds. There’s a system where we’ve socialized losses and privatized gains. That’s not capitalism; that’s not a market economy. That’s a distorted economy, and if we continue with that, we won’t succeed in growing, and we won’t succeed in creating a just society.

And then Lawerence Lessig, of Harvard University, joined the protestors and urged them to continue to move forward.   He said:

The arrest of hundreds of tired and unwashed kids, denied the freedom of a bullhorn, and the right to protest on public streets, may well be the first real green-shoots of this, the American spring. And if nurtured right, it could well begin real change.

Will the American people, who have been so complacent for the last half century, rise up and demand change?   People are desperate.  No jobs, no money, no home, no food.  Poverty is everywhere.  And yet, a GOP presidential hopeful is calling it “Class warfare.”  Jonathon Alter, in a recent column in Bloomberg Business Week, writes that Mitt Romney, when asked about the movement, had this to say:  “I think it’s dangerous, this class warfare.”
Jonathon Alter goes on to write about the movement to say:

With the help of unions and social networking, the movement has at least some chance of re-energizing Democrats in 2012 and pushing back against the phenomenal progress Republicans have made in suppressing voter turnout in several states.

Why? Because the tectonic plates of U.S. politics are shifting in ways we don’t yet fully understand. We don’t know whether Occupy Wall Street is a carnival party — a piece of left-wing street theater that gets old fast — or a nascent political party that revives a long-dormant tradition of class- based politics.

It’s possible that these demonstrations, which have now spread to about 150 cities and campuses, will be hijacked by extremists or dissipated by obnoxiousness; the American left has practice in committing suicide. The whole thing could fade as young people find a better way of hanging out offline.

Will this movement be the magic potion for real change in America?   What do you think?

Reference article:  Academics Help Wall Street Protests Gain Credibility. by Will Oremus.  The Slatest, Oct. 5, 2011
Reference article:  Why Occupy Wall Street Should Scare Republicans: Jonathan Alter by Jonathan Alter, writing for Bloomberg Business Week, Oct. 6, 2011
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