Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dr. Wilmer Leon’s Quick Remarks on the Possible Sale of Ebony Magazine


In this challenging time for print media, the historic jewel of African American periodicals, Ebony (like so many of our ancestors) is on the auction block. What was once a staple in so many African American homes is now struggling for its survival as many question its relevance.

During segregation Ebony and Jet magazines were key sources of information for the African American community about the community. With integration, too many of us left our communities, churches, and culture behind in order to assimilate into the dominant culture. With that, for too many, Ebony no longer reflects the community they live in; aspire to live in or a lifestyle that they see as relevant.

I have always felt that Ebony needed to incorporate more relevant political/economic/business information, analysis, and content to appeal to the growing African American middle and upper class. Life style and entertainment is great but that needs to be supplemented with the relevant information to maintain that life style. It's a difficult mix to maintain but necessary.

Selling Ebony/Jet does not mean that those magazines will cease to exist but with ownership comes control. The sale of Ebony/Jet goes back to the question of who will be left to define and interpret the issues that are relevant to the African American community and who will control its imagery. I don't know that Viacom has that mission or interest.

John H. Johnson said that Ebony was founded to "project all dimensions of the Black personality in a world saturated with stereotypes. We wanted to give Blacks a new sense of somebodiness, a new sense of self-respect. We wanted to tell them who they were and what they could do. We believed then--and we believe now--that Blacks needed positive images to fulfill their potentialities." The world continues to be saturated with those stereotypes and the community still needs positive images in order to fulfill its potential.

Dr. Wilmer Leon is the host of the Sirius/XM Satellite Show “On with Leon.”  To contact Dr. Leon for media requests or speaking engagements, please click here.

Michael is not “The Man of Steele”

Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III

Not to be outdone, in response to America electing its first African-American President, on January 30, 2009, the Republican National Committee (RNC) elected Michael Steele, the former lieutenant governor of Maryland, as its chairman. It was a long and painful process, but on the sixth and final ballot, for the first time in its history, the Republican Party elected an African-American to manage its affairs.

    During his acceptance speech, Chairman Steele said, "To Americans who believe in the future of this country. To those who stand in difference with us, it's time for something completely different, and we're gonna bring it to them. We're gonna bring this party to every corner, every boardroom, every neighborhood, every community and we're gonna say to friend and foe alike: We want you to be a part of this, we want you to work with us, and for those of you who wish to obstruct, get ready to get knocked over."

    These were very powerful and encouraging words, especially coming from an intelligent African-American man who was speaking to a political party dominated by white men who are not used to African-Americans speaking to them so forcefully and directly. To bring forth "something completely different"; to take the party to "friend and foe alike," to "knock over" decades of neoconservative ideology and racism would take a Superman. Unfortunately, these encouraging and powerful words ring hollow when compared to the reality of Chairman Steele's actions. Michael is no Superman. He's not "The Man of Steele."

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Brother Writes a Book for Ex-Cons and Starting a Business

In the first book published by her New York-based Resilience Multimedia, Sheila Rule delivers much-needed information to a segment of society that has long been ignored: the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated. In 'Think Outside The Cell: An Entrepreneur's Guide for the Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated' by Joseph Robinson, readers learn vital information, including how to overcome obstacles that convicted felons face while trying to reenter society and find work.
Rule, who worked at The New York Times for 30 years before her recent retirement, was spurred to start her publishing company after writing to the incarcerated as a volunteer for the Riverside Church Prison Ministry. With funding from the Ford Foundation, she plans to publish next year the 'Think Outside the Cell' book series featuring real-life stories by the incarcerated, formerly incarcerated and their families. Rule takes time to talk about the book with AOL Black Voices.
AOL Black Voices: How did you come up with the idea for the book?
Sheila Rule: Joe's book has been published amid renewed efforts to help the formerly incarcerated-who are disproportionately black and Latino-successfully reenter society. But Joe believes that the reentry programs being developed, while commendable, too often focus on finding jobs in a nation where, according to a Princeton University study, it is easier for a white person with a felony conviction to get a job than for a black person who has never been arrested. Joe believes that "Think Outside the Cell" presents a largely unexplored option-entrepreneurship-that can help give men and women leaving prison a realistic second chance


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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Obama Addresses the Congressional Black Caucus Convention

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, wave as ...

President BarackObama on Saturday resumed his push to overhaul the health care system, telling a Congressional Black Caucus conference that there comes a time when "the cup of endurance runs over."

"We have been waiting for health reform since the days of Teddy Roosevelt. We've been waiting since the days of Harry Truman," he said in remarks at the caucus foundation's annual dinner. "We've been waiting since Johnson and Nixon and Clinton."

"We cannot wait any longer," Obama said.

Obama spent the past week largely focused on global and economic issues in meetings with world leaders in New York and Pittsburgh.

At the G-20 economic summit that wrapped up Friday in Pennsylvania, Obama told a story about an unnamed foreign leader who privately told the president he didn't understand the at-times contentious debate over changing the health care system.

"He says, 'We don't understand it. You're trying to make sure everybody has health care and they're putting a Hitler mustache on you. That doesn't make sense to me,'" Obama said, quoting the world leader he declined to identify.


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Dr Boyce Watkins: G20 Needs Our Attention

A whole bunch of G-20 racket, but is anybody listening?

Uncle Ben from Spiderman made the most prophetic statement of the entire film series in his dying days (I almost cried, but don't tell anybody): "With great power comes great responsibility." Most of us understood what Uncle Ben was trying to say, and that includes Barack Obama.

Uncle Ben should have been the keynote speaker at the latest G-20 Summit, taking place this week in Pittsburgh,PA. The G-20 Summit is a gathering of the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of the world's 19 wealthiest countries, plus the European Union. These countries encompass 85 percent of the world's gross domestic product, so they would probably meet Uncle Ben's qualification for "great power," at least when it comes to money.

The G-20 Summit's primary objective is to achieve broad cooperation on the preservation of international financial stability. The motivations of the group, created in 1999, are seemingly noble and make perfect sense in light of the fact that the global economy has reached an unprecedented level of integration. If large nations do not work together, the world's financial system will be subject to alarming amounts of volatility.

Not everyone can see the vision behind G-20 ambitions. Usually, the gatherings of the G-20 are as out of control as a frat party, as protesters have made a game out of disrupting the meetings as much as they possibly can. To prepare for this year's economic fiesta, the city of Pittsburgh has brought in 4,000 police, 2,000 National Guard troops and 11 Coast Guard vessels.

Police, in an overwhelming show of force, declared Thursday's march illegal almost as soon as it began, firing rubber bullets and canisters of pepper spray and smoke after small bands of anarchists responded to calls to disperse by rolling huge metal trash bins, throwing rocks and breaking windows. As of Friday morning, reports said nearly 70 people had been arrested and police were bracing for scattered protests around downtown.

President Obama, being the conflicted capitalist/black man/ex-community organizer that he is, made some telling comments about the demonstrators.

Click to read more on MSNBC’s TheGrio.com.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Chris Chestnut Gives Advice on Property Insurance

Most of us know very little about the ins and outs of property insurance. Christopher Chestnut is not in that category. As a prominent attorney out of Florida, Mr. Chestnut has taken on multi-million dollar cases and handled some of the most complex lawsuits imaginable. As one of the leading young black attorneys in America, Chestnut has been recognized by President Obama for his outstanding accomplishments.

I spoke to Chris this week about Property Insurance and what it can do to make your life a little simpler. Here is what he had to say:

1) If you rent, make sure you have renter's insurance. Also, make sure your landlord has homeowner's insurance, since renter's insurance only includes the contents that are INSIDE the house

2) Check your landlord's insurance regarding injuries on your rented property. Most people are unaware of the fact that the homeowner is liable in the event that someone is injured on their property. Even if the children across the street climb the fence to get into your yard, you are liable if one of them gets hurt. Find out how your landlord's homeowner's insurance would cover you if someone has an accident.

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ACORN mounts legal challenge

 Marshell Warren, 13, uses a computer in the youth center run by Millicent Hill in Hill?s home in the Watts section of Los Angeles. ACORN helped Hill avoid being kicked out of her home.

LOS ANGELES — Millicent Hill says God put her in her stucco home on East 92nd Street, but she believes she would have lost the house without ACORN.

Hill's home is a center of after-school activity for kids in the Watts neighborhood in gritty South-Central Los Angeles. Children in her church-supported program can avoid the street, get a snack, work on a computer or get a hug.

LAST WEEK: House votes to defund ACORN

When "Mama" Hill, as she's known, faced foreclosure, ACORN members showed up at a public auction to protest, prompting the lender to cancel the sale. ACORN then found a buyer who rents it back to Hill. "I wouldn't be here without ACORN, and all of the kids would have to go somewhere else," says Hill, 69. "And they've got nowhere else to go."

Here and in other states, ACORN focuses on helping people with housing issues, supporting changes to health care and immigration policies, and registering voters.

ACORN — which has received about $53 million in federal funds since 1994 — has long been a target of conservatives because of its ties to Democrats. Attacks increased after its aggressive voter-registration and get-out-the-vote efforts for President Obama last year. Now, videos showing ACORN workers giving advice to conservative activists posing as a pimp and a prostitute are raising questions about its tactics and finances — and whether it can survive.

Click to read.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Did This Man Murder His Children?

Florida authorities were searching Sunday for a 33-year-old man after his wife and five children were found dead in their Naples home.

Mesac Damas pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor battery against Guerline Damas in June.



The bodies of Guerline Damas, 32; Michzach, 9; Marven, 6; Maven, 5; Megan, 3; and Morgan, 11 months, were discovered Saturday, Rambosk said.

Authorities have been unable to locate Mesac Damas, who possibly left the country Friday morning and may be in Haiti, Capt. Chris Roberts of the Collier County sheriff's department said Sunday at a news conference.

"We don't see at this point any indication of an individual out in the neighborhoods committing additional crimes or homicides, but certainly we will look at every opportunity," Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said at an earlier news conference.

There had been a "handful" of domestic disturbance calls to police since 2000 involving the Damas couple, with the latest resulting in the arrest of Mesac Damas in January, Roberts said. Mesac Damas pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor battery against Guerline Damas in June, and Roberts said he does not think Mesac Damas served any jail time for the crime.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

President Hits a Sunday Media Tour

Obama: Large job growth not until 2010


President Obama says that despite signs of economic recovery, the country will not see large-scale job growth until next year. In a wide-ranging interview broadcast today on CNN's "State of the Union," Obama said reversing job losses from the recession will come at the end of the recovery period, not the start. full story

Marc Lamont Hill Debates Ann Coulter

Dr. Marc Lamont Hill debates Ann Coulter on Fox News about Obama’s appearances in national media.  Click here to watch!

The Legal Implications of ACORN’s Scandal

Employees from ACORN allegedly advised people posing as prostitutes and pimps how to cheat on taxes.

by Errol Louis – New York Daily News

Employees from ACORN allegedly advised people posing as prostitutes and pimps how to cheat on taxes.


The videos shot and distributed by a pair of right-wing pranksters to discredit ACORNhad all the elements of a good political hit job: sleaze, sensationalism, sleight-of-hand.

James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles went from one ACORN community office to another posing as a pimp and his whore, pretending to seek help securing low-income housing and/or tax help to set up a brothel using underage illegal immigrants.

Not one ACORN outlet actually completed or filed illegal paperwork, but the video stunt worked like a charm anyway.

A few ACORN workers - out of a staff of 600 - gave the undercover filmmakers advice about ways to further their lurid prostitution scheme.

That is all it took. A full-scale witch hunt is underway against ACORN - and that means normal standards of proof, evidence and rationality get tossed out the window.

Biased and/or naive news producers and editors rushed one-minute excerpts of O'Keefe and Giles' heavily edited videos onto national television without a thought, even when the pair refused to release the full tapes or answer questions on the air about how they were created.

Click to read.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Judge allows Jackson estate challenge


AP Entertainment Writer

Fri Sep 18, 7:40 pm ET

LOS ANGELES – A judge has ruled that Michael Jackson's mother can challenge the men currently administering her son's estate without losing her substantial stake.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff's ruling, released Friday, clears the way for Katherine Jackson to challenge whether attorney John Branca and music executive John McClain are best-suited to handle the singer's estate, which has been estimated to be worth more than $500 million.

Attorneys for Katherine Jackson had asked Beckloff to decide whether she could challenge the administrators without invoking a "no contest" clause that would cause her to lose her 40 percent share of the singer's estate.

Beckloff ruled that such a challenge would not be a cause for Katherine Jackson to be disinherited. Most of Katherine Jackson's arguments for why the motion should be approved have been sealed, but Beckloff noted in his ruling that they raised several issues, including whether Michael Jackson was under "undue influence" when he signed his 2002 will.

Her attorneys did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on Friday. Katherine Jackson could argue that the men are unfit to serve, or that her son was under undue influence.
Attorneys for Branca and McClain did not challenge Katherine Jackson's petition for a ruling. If her attorneys opt to formally challenge the authority of one or both of the men, then Beckloff will convene a hearing and hear testimony.

Branca and McClain already have brokered several deals that have earned the singer's estate tens of millions of dollars. Katherine Jackson's attorneys have not objected to most of them, although they raised concerns about a deal involving concert promoter AEG Live for a memorabilia exhibit.

Beckloff ruled over Katherine Jackson's objections that the exhibit of her son's items — including some of his possessions from Neverland Ranch — could go forward.

It was revealed this week that Katherine Jackson is receiving more than $26,000 per month from her son's estate, as well as another $60,000 per month to care for her three grandchildren. Michael Jackson designated his mother as his choice to care for his children, who range in ages from 7 to 12.

Beckloff granted her permanent guardianship of the children in early August.
The money is being used to pay for a variety of living expenses and for staff to take care of the children.

While Jackson's music has sold briskly since his June 25 death and a movie based on his final concert rehearsals is due to be released in October, Jackson died heavily in debt. A former hairdresser and law firm filed creditor's claims against the singer's estate this week, totaling more $243,000.

Dr Wilmer Leon and Dr. Pearl Ford Discuss the Politics Behind Obama’s Healthcare Plan

Listen up as Dr. Wilmer Leon speaks with Dr. Pearl Ford about President Obama’s Healthcare Reform Plan.  Click here to listen to the latest exciting episode!

Insane Killer On the Loose: Why Was He on a Field Trip Anyway?

A legally insane killer was on the loose in the state of Washington on Saturday, two days after he escaped during a field trip to a county fair, authorities said.

Authorities are combing Washington state for Phillip Paul, who is described as a criminally insane killer.

Phillip Paul was able to elude a massive manhunt in Spokane County, Washington, after escaping on Thursday, a spokesman for the sheriff's department said.

Though Paul had been confined in a mental institution because of a murder confession, he was allowed to be part of a trip to a county fair Thursday.

Paul, 47, escaped from the fair around noon, which launched the massive manhunt and brought criticism from many, including state government officials. Sheriff's officials told CNN affiliate KREM-TV that Paul also escaped briefly in 1991 and assaulted a law enforcement officer.

A review has been launched on the incident along with the policy that allows patients to take trips, said Susan Dreyfus, secretary of the state's Department of Social and Health Services.

Dreyfus said she was concerned about Paul's escape and another recent brief escape by a patient at a different local mental facility.

"These incidents, separate and coincidental, have raised serious questions about the security readiness of our two state psychiatric hospitals," Dreyfus said.

Click to read.

Tavis Smiley Under a Microscope

Did Tavis Smiley help Wells Fargo herd black people into subprime loans? Yes, according to information contained in a lawsuit filed recently by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. The suit alleges that Smiley was the hook used to draw in potential customers for subprime mortgages.
You might be familiar with the "Wealth Building" seminars that Wells Fargo conducted beginning in the year 2000. Smiley was the headline speaker at these events, held in Baltimore; Chicago; Richmond, Va.; and San Francisco. The seminars were advertised aggressively in black media and aimed directly at black communities. They were a huge success. Often, standing room only audiences would hear Smiley speak about how he mostly disliked banks while strongly urging attendees to invest in real estate as a sound strategy to build wealth. ...

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Christopher Metzler, JD: Is the Obama Presidency in Trouble?


By Christopher Metzler

President Obama’s presidency is in peril for two primary reasons. The first, his inability to be a transformational leader to an American public hungry for it is of his own making. The second, the thinly veiled demonstration of racism unskillfully disguised as “concern for country” is both to be expected and not of his own making. 

First, President Obama came into to office promising “change that we can believe in.” However, on the signature issue of change, health care reform, he has not led; choosing instead to send a litany of mixed messages as to whether  he would turn the Byzantine labyrinth that is the American health care system on its head. A transformational leader takes bold, decisive, innovative action if he or she believes that it is right for the country. Thus far, on health care, the President has not demonstrated transformational leadership; he has pledged fidelity to the status quo.

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ObamaCare: Is it Constitutional?

Washington Post Commentary: Illegal Health Reform

By David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey

Saturday, August 22, 2009

President Obama has called for a serious and reasoned debate about his plans to overhaul the health-care system. Any such debate must include the question of whether it is constitutional for the federal government to adopt and implement the president's proposals. Consider one element known as the "individual mandate," which would require every American to have health insurance, if not through an employer then by individual purchase. This requirement would particularly affect young adults, who often choose to save the expense and go without coverage. Without the young to subsidize the old, a comprehensive national health system will not work. But can Congress require every American to buy health insurance?

In short, no. The Constitution assigns only limited, enumerated powers to Congress and none, including the power to regulate interstate commerce or to impose taxes, would support a federal mandate requiring anyone who is otherwise without health insurance to buy it.

Although the Supreme Court has interpreted Congress's commerce power expansively, this type of mandate would not pass muster even under the most aggressive commerce clause cases. In Wickard v. Filburn (1942), the court upheld a federal law regulating the national wheat markets. The law was drawn so broadly that wheat grown for consumption on individual farms also was regulated. Even though this rule reached purely local (rather than interstate) activity, the court reasoned that the consumption of homegrown wheat by individual farms would, in the aggregate, have a substantial economic effect on interstate commerce, and so was within Congress's reach.

The court reaffirmed this rationale in 2005 in Gonzales v. Raich, when it validated Congress's authority to regulate the home cultivation of marijuana for personal use. In doing so, however, the justices emphasized that -- as in the wheat case -- "the activities regulated by the [Controlled Substances Act] are quintessentially economic." That simply would not be true with regard to an individual health insurance mandate.

The otherwise uninsured would be required to buy coverage, not because they were even tangentially engaged in the "production, distribution or consumption of commodities," but for no other reason than that people without health insurance exist. The federal government does not have the power to regulate Americans simply because they are there. Significantly, in two key cases, United States v. Lopez (1995) and United States v. Morrison (2000), the Supreme Court specifically rejected the proposition that the commerce clause allowed Congress to regulate noneconomic activities merely because, through a chain of causal effects, they might have an economic impact. These decisions reflect judicial recognition that the commerce clause is not infinitely elastic and that, by enumerating its powers, the framers denied Congress the type of general police power that is freely exercised by the states.

This leaves mandate supporters with few palatable options. Congress could attempt to condition some federal benefit on the acquisition of insurance. States, for example, usually condition issuance of a car registration on proof of automobile insurance, or on a sizable payment into an uninsured motorist fund. Even this, however, cannot achieve universal health coverage. No federal program or entitlement applies to the entire population, and it is difficult to conceive of a "benefit" that some part of the population would not choose to eschew.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The President Gets Tough with Wall Street

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University 

The president recently gave an interesting address to Wall Street on the anniversary of the start of the financial crisis which began last year (and also got him elected). One year ago, the fall of Lehman Brothers left the nation scrambling to find ways to secure critical liquidity to a financial market that was on the brink of devastation.
In his speech, the president wasn't nice. He received applause from the audience only one time, so they don't like him as much as black people do. What's also clear is that he's not President Bush: Wall Street doesn't want Barack Obama to be president, but he is exactly what they need right now.Our banking system is ranked 108th in the world in terms of stability, behind Tanzania. What's even more frightening is that while being incredibly reckless, our banking system is the most powerful in the world, driving the strongest economy on earth. We can't afford to be silly or irresponsible.
The president focused his conversation around three key adjustments:

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

NFL Star Merriman Arrested for Choking Tila Tequila

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Associated Press

SAN DIEGO — San Diego Chargers star outside linebacker Shawne Merriman was arrested Sunday and accused of choking and restraining his girlfriend, reality TV star Tila Tequila, as she tried to leave his suburban home.

Tequila, 27, signed a citizen's arrest warrant, charging Merriman with battery and false imprisonment, San Diego County Sheriff's Lt. Gary Steadman said.

Both are felonies.

Deputies responded about 3:45 a.m. to Merriman's house in Poway, north of San Diego, after a woman called to say she was choked by the player and thrown to the ground when she tried to leave, Sheriff's Department spokesman Jan Caldwell said at a news conference.
Merriman's attorney, Todd Macaluso, disputed Tequila's story and said he's confident Merriman won't be charged by the District Attorney's Office.

"There was absolutely no wrongdoing on the part of Mr. Merriman," Macaluso told The Associated Press by phone. "He essentially was doing what was appropriate under the circumstances in trying to protect the safety of Miss Tequila. There were numerous eyewitnesses that will support his version of the events that transpired at his home."

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