Friday, November 26, 2010

Ugly Betty Actor Michael Brea: “I Killed the Demons Inside My Mom”

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

"Ugly Betty" actor Michael Brea did an interesting interview with the New York Daily News this week, after being sent to jail for allegedly murdering his mother with a samarai sword. The actor argues that he was "doing the work of God" when he continuously chopped at his mother's body. He also says that he believes there was a demon inside her.

"I was slashing my mom and I heard the police knocking on the door yelling, 'Michael, open up, Michael, open up,' but I knew they wouldn't open the door and stop me because the spirits were protecting me ... I just kept cutting her. No one could stop me. I was doing the work of God," he said.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Why is the Congressional Black Caucus Being Scrutinized so Heavily?

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

Last week, I found myself speaking about Rep. Charlie Rangel more than ever before. In case you haven't noticed, the future of the seasoned lawmaker has come into question in light of investigations alleging him to be involved in a slew of ethical violations. Sunday, I had a conversation with Rev. Jesse Jackson on the air regarding exactly what's going on with Rangel and his political career. Then Monday, Rev. Al Sharpton and I talked about the broader scenario as it relates to black lawmakers. Just when I thought we were done speaking about investigations against black people in Congress, the conversation turned toward Maxine Waters and the slew of other CBC members currently being investigated.

Defending (or not defending) one black lawmaker after another led me to a moment of pause, where I asked the question that's been asked before, but perhaps not vocally enough: Why are so many black lawmakers being targeted for investigations anyway? According to the late Ron Walters, the most respected black political scientist in the country, "it is curious ... that in over 30 of the probes the new Office of Congressional Ethics was considering, the only active investigations were on black Congresspersons."


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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ugly Betty Star Allegedly Murders Mother With a Sword

Ugly Betty's Michael L. Brea Allegedly Murdered Mom with Sword

'Ugly Betty' and 'Step Up 3D' actor Michael L. Brea allegedly butchered his mother to death with a Samurai sword as he chased her around his Brooklyn, New Yorkapartment while reciting biblical passages in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.

Reportedly, neighbors called NYPD when they heard bloodcurdling screams coming from Brea's apartment. "I hear the brother chasing her [his mother] through the house and he's just saying a bunch of [Bible] passages like, 'Repent, Repent, Repent,'" neighbor Gregory Clare told local WPIX, a local television news outlet. "I heard him chasing her through the house and I hear a loud scream and so I have my father call the cops, call 911."

When police arrived at murder scene, they found Yannick, the small-time actor's 55-year-old World Trade Center survivor mother, in a blood-splattered bathroom, decapitated and in a kneeling position, her body had been mutilated by multiple stabbings. Investigators describe the residence as pure bloody gore.

Brea was found sitting on a bed with the three-foot ceremonial sword he had removed only one day before without permission from a Masonic lodge after a meeting. The 31-year-old low level mason was still spouting gibberish and talking about repentance when police tasered, then removed him from the apartment on a stretcher. Brea, who is a twin, Haitian-American and who also starred in a campaign for the energy drink Full Throttle was taken to nearby Kings County Hospital for psychiatric observation.


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Congressional Black Caucus Gains Power After Mid-term Defeats

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

While the mid-term elections were a blood bath for the Democrats, one group that came out surprisingly unscathed was the Congressional Black Caucus. Members of the CBC and the Hispanic Caucus will hold roughly one-third of all Democratic seats in Congress (61 out of 190), increasing their power within government. They also plan to use this influence to focus on job creation.
The Democrats who took the greatest drubbing during mid-terms tended to be the centrists of the party. The Black and Hispanic caucuses, however, only lost four out of 60 bids for re-election. Silvestre Reyes of Texas, a member of the Hispanic caucus is now the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, and Maxine Waters will be the second leading Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. Their increases in power came largely because of the defeats of other Democrats.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Bishop Eddie Long Trial Date Set for Next Summer

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

Bishop Eddie Long appeared in a courtroom Friday to deal with accusations of sexual coercion being brought by four young men who were once members of his church. The judge decided that the trial should begin by next summer, unless the case is settled via mediation before that time.
Attorneys in the DeKalb County courtroom gathered for both sides to determine the status of the case. A tentative trial date has been set for July 11, 2011. There will be mediation before that time, set to take place in February.
Anthony Flagg, Maurice Robinson, Jamal Parris, and Spenser LaGrande are arguing that Bishop Long used his influence over them to coerce them into sexual relationships. They claim that the relationships took place during their teen years, and that inappropriate contact occurred during some of their trips together. Long's church, the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, hasn't argued for Long's innocence or guilt. Instead, they've simply acknowledged that Long did share hotel rooms with some of the young men and that they did take trips together.


Click to read.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What Black Folks Can Learn from the Arrest of the DC County Executive, Jack Johnson

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

I was saddened to hear about the recent arrest of Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson and his wife Leslie. Both Jack and his wife are well-respected in the DC area. Both have served their communities for decades, and both of them represent the essence of Prince George's County, the most affluent county in the United States with an African-American majority population.
Johnson was once an important ethical and legal protector of the county, serving as its lead Prosecutor. His wife has served the community for over 30 years in numerous capacities. He was also the first African American to become County Executive in the DC area. So, why are Johnson and his wife facing up to 20 years in prison for evidence tampering and destruction of evidence, among other charges? In fact, the story is quite bizarre, with reports of the FBI allegedly recording Johnson telling his wife to put nearly $80,000 in her underwear.


Click to read.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tax Implications of the Increasing Welfare State

By Syreeta L. McNeal, CPA, JD

Recently, I prepared one of my clients’ tax returns for 2009. The individual received a significant amount of unemployment benefits and no income from employment. Unfortunately, the person had to pay the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) a large tax liability because the withholdings for unemployment benefits is significantly lower than if he/she would receive if employed in the private industry. In previous years, this individual received federal refunds because his/her withholdings were higher when the private industry employed the person.

This is a recent trend I am seeing in our great nation. The increasing dependence of American citizens on unemployment benefits is creating a welfare state where the IRS can force you to pay taxes for each respective tax year you receive a significant amount of unemployment benefits. Now, if you think you are not required to file taxes on unemployment benefits, you are vastly mistaken. Also, if you do not file and pay your taxes to the IRS in a timely fashion, the IRS can create a lien and levy taxes from you on any of your personal assets.

So, if you are receiving unemployment benefits, get ready to pay the IRS for the 2010 tax year.

Legal Disclaimer: This site provides information about the law designed to keep readers informed of pertinent legal matters affecting the African-American community. But legal information is not the same as legal advice -- the application of law to an individual's specific circumstances. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a lawyer in your specific location if you want professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Newly-Elected Rep. Allen West Talks To Reporters

"We need more people like him running our great country." - Syreeta L. McNeal, CPA, JD

Friday, November 12, 2010

AP: High court rejects plea to block gay military ban

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court is refusing to block enforcement of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military while a federal appeals court considers the issue.

The court on Friday denied a request from the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights group, to step into the ongoing federal court review of "don't ask, don't tell." The Obama administration urged the high court not to get involved at this point.

Last month, a federal judge ruled that the policy violates the civil rights of gay Americans and she issued an injunction barring the Pentagon from applying it. But the San Francisco-based appeals court said the policy could remain in effect while it considers the administration's appeal.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Hill: Black Caucus mum on Tea Party Republican who wants to join

By Mike Lillis - 11/08/10 12:16 PM ET

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) is staying silent about a Tea Party Republican's bid to join the group.

Rep.-elect Allen West (R-Fla.) indicated last week he intends to join the CBC to challenge the group's "monolithic voice."

"I plan on joining, I'm not gonna ask for permission or whatever, I'm gonna find out when they meet and I will be a member of the Congressional Black Caucus," West, one of two black Republicans elected to Congress last Tuesday, told WOR radio. "I meet all of the criteria, and it's so important that we break down this monolithic voice that continues to talk about victimization and dependency in the black community.

"We've got to turn this thing around, and I think it's time for some different voices to be in that body politic."

A CBC spokesperson on Monday declined to comment on West's bid.

The CBC is currently made up of 41 House members and outgoing Sen. Roland Burris (Ill.) — all Democrats.

West and Congressman-elect Tim Scott (R-S.C.) are the first black Republicans to win House seats since Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.) retired in 2003.

The New York Times has reported that Scott hasn't yet decided whether he'll join the CBC.


Friday, November 5, 2010

FoxNews: Black Republicans Win First Congress Seats Since 2003

by L.A. Holmes November 03, 2010

Two black Republican victories tonight mark the first time African-Americans will represent the GOP in Congress in seven years.

Retired Lt. Colonel Allen West’s win in Florida’s 22nd District and South Carolina State Rep. Tim Scott’s victory in that state’s 1st Congressional District is also the first time two black GOP members will serve in Congress since 1996.

Scott defeated Democrat Ben Frasier in an open contest to replace retiring Republican Rep. Henry Brown to the first black GOP in Congress since former Oklahoma Congressman J.C. Watts retired in 2003.

West defeated incumbent Democratic Rep. Ron Klein shortly after Scott’s victory Tuesday. It was West’s second contest against Klein, losing to the incumbent in 2008.

Watts, elected to office in 1994’s sweeping GOP congressional gains, became the lone black Republican Member when former Congressman Gary Franks of Connecticut lost reelection in 1996, and Watts held the helm for three more terms before deciding not to seek reelection in 2002.

Watts notably did not join the Congressional Black Caucus given its overly Democratic leanings, and he balked at the suggestion among racial peers that he sold out his race. In 1997 the congressman famously denounced black leaders with archaic agendas, dismissing them as “race-hustling poverty pimps” on Fox News’s “Hannity and Colmes.”

An Atlanta native, West served in the Army for 22 years, including tours of duty in both Iraq wars and in Afghanistan. His campaign platform, “Restoring American Exceptionalism,” echoed this election cycle’s popular conservative sentiments of limited government, creating a business-friendly tax environment, and extending the Bush era tax cuts.

Scott hails from South Carolina and served the state in local office for 15 years. Scott’s agenda reflects many of the same views, including strengthening the borders against illegal immigration and focusing our military efforts to defeat violent Jihad.

Both men won tonight despite historically low black participation in the GOP and constant efforts by the left to discredit conservative movements like the Tea Party as racist. But the Republican Party had 14 viable candidates in House races this cycle, and the party intensified its outreach efforts to the black community this cycle.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010 Iowans dismiss three justices

By GRANT SCHULTE • • November 3, 2010

Three Iowa Supreme Court justices lost their seats Tuesday in a historic upset fueled by their 2009 decision that allowed same-sex couples to marry.

Vote totals from 96 percent of Iowa's 1,774 precincts showed Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and Justices David Baker and Michael Streit with less than the simple majority needed to stay on the bench.

Their removal marked the first time an Iowa Supreme Court justice has not been retained since 1962, when the merit selection and retention system for judges was adopted.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bishop Eddie Long Files Response to Sex Abuse Allegations

Bishop Eddie Long, Bishop Eddie Long Scandal

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

It took quite a while to get there, but Bishop Eddie Long has finally responded to the allegations of sexual assault being thrust upon him. The pastor of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church just responded legally to the accusations of four young men who've stated that Long coerced them in to sexual relationships while simultaneously serving as their mentor.

Click to read.

Monday, November 1, 2010

AP: Megachurch pastor (Bishop Eddie Long) denies abuse allegations

By GREG BLUESTEIN, Associated Press Greg Bluestein, Associated Press – 53 mins ago
ATLANTA – The megachurch pastor accused of luring four young men into sexual relationships categorically denied the allegations for the first time in a court filing Monday, saying he was only a mentor to the men who filed civil lawsuits against him.

Bishop Eddie Long has for weeks vowed he would fight the lawsuits in court, and promised in church sermons he would not let the legal troubles prevent him from doing its work. While his attorney has denied the allegations on his behalf, Long had not refuted them publicly until he filed his legal response. He said in the filing that each of the "claims of sexual misconduct are not true."

The men, who were 17 and 18 at the time, say Long abused his spiritual authority to lure them into trysts with cars, jewelry and cash. Their attorney B.J. Bernstein said she doesn't have much physical evidence backing up the complaints, but that she plans to subpoena records from Long that will show he traveled with the young men to New Zealand and elsewhere.

Bernstein declined to comment because she had not yet received the response.

Long, though, said in the four separate documents that he often encouraged his New Birth Missionary Church members to call him "daddy" and that some even called him "grandaddy," but that the term was a sign of respect.

The bishop also said in the documents that he has long shared rooms with some of his church members, and that his parishioners often hug him. And while he admitted to giving the plaintiffs gifts, he said he often provided many members of his church with financial assistance.


"Question: What grown man would share lodging quarters with some members of his church especially if he is married?" - Syreeta L. McNeal, CPA, JD

"I smell trouble brewing...."- Syreeta L. McNeal, CPA, JD

2010 Black Republican Candidates