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‘Hurricane’ Carter went to the mat for the wrongfully accused

hurricanecarter 600With the death of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, we have lost a great fighter in the ring and a powerful advocate for the wrongfully convicted. In many ways, he helped open the eyes of many to the injustices of a system that far too often throws innocent people behind bars.

Carter knew firsthand about the plight of the wrongly accused because he had spent 19 years behind bars for crimes he did not commit. He and co-defendant John Artis were charged with a triple murder at the Lafayette Grill in Paterson, New Jersey in 1966. There was little physical evidence in the case, and the so-called eyewitnesses who testified against them were two convicted felons. And Carter and Artis maintained their innocence and passed a lie detector test. However, an all-white jury found them guilty. Carter was sentenced to three life sentences.

A victim of an unfair trial with corrupt prosecutors who originally sought the death penalty, Hurricane Carter was released after two decades in prison, including time in solitary confinement. A federal judge found that the prosecution of his case was "predicated upon an appeal to racism rather than reason, and concealment rather than disclosure." Specifically, "the jury was permitted to draw inferences of guilt based solely upon the race" of the defendants, according to the judge.

 

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Ole Miss frat chapter closed in wake of Noose incident

olmissfrat 600The parent organization of a University of Mississippi fraternity has closed the campus' chapter, nearly two months after expelling three members charged with hanging a noose around the neck of the statue of the school's first African-American student, the Associated Press reports.

The university announced Thursday that the national office of Sigma Phi Epsilon, based in Richmond, Va., had closed the chapter, the AP says.

The three students, all from Georgia, are accused of looping a noose around the neck of a statue of James Meredith and draping its face with a Confederate flag. In 1962, Meredith's enrollment at the university sparked a vociferous outcry from anti-integration protesters.

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Looking beyond the bull market

moneymatter 600When the latest bull market for U.S. stocks reached the five-year mark on March 10, 2014, only five bulls had lasted longer. The Standard & Poor's 500 index posted a gain of 177 percent for the five-year period.

The current bull followed on the heels of the Great Recession and the worst stock market decline since the 1929 stock market crash. The most recent bear market began in October 2007; the S&P 500 fell 57 percent before hitting the bottom on March 9, 2009.

In typical fashion, investors who sold stocks during the downturn may not have participated fully in some of the subsequent bull market gains. A recent Morningstar study found that emotional trading practices had a negative effect on investment returns over the last decade. For the 10-year period ending December 31, 2013, investor dollars returned an average of 2.5 percentage points per year less than the average mutual fund's performance, largely because people have a tendency to buy high and sell low.

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Prince ends 17-year war with Warner Bros.

prince 600Who can forget Prince's highly publicized split from his record label Warner Bros. in 1996?

The "When Doves Cry" singer scrawled the word "slave" on his face and even changed his name to a symbol as a form of retaliation against the record label which released his most popular albums in the 1980s and early '90s.

Now, some 17 years later, Prince has returned to Warner Bros. and is regaining complete ownership of his entire catalog.

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Harlem’s ‘Gang of Four is no more’

GangOf4 600New York City lost one of its most powerful progressive forces Wednesday with the passing of Basil Paterson.

As a member of the influential "Gang of Four," Paterson – along with former Mayor David Dinkins, late civil rights activist Percy Sutton, and Congressman Charles Rangel – helped to develop the economic and political capital of the city's black community.

With Paterson and Sutton both now deceased, many are now looking back on the legacy of the Gang of Four and wondering if there is a void in New York City's black political leadership.

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