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Lawmakers reconsider mandatory minimum prison terms

Lawmakers reconsider mandatory minimum prison terms

WASHINGTON – Ordered to prison on wire fraud charges, Andrea James embraced her 12-year-old daughter and five-month-old son before saying goodbye for two years.

A rude awakening and a harsh reality check awaited James, a disgraced lawyer, as prison officials escorted her to her new home: a small cell block where she'd bunk with other women of the same skin color.

"No one really told me about the injustices until I became incarcerated," said James, 49. "What I encountered as a black woman walking into prison was heartbreaking because all I saw were black women, many of whom had never even received a parking ticket before but ran into a little trouble because they made a decision, a tough decision, on how they were going to feed their babies."

 

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“Kid President” visits Capitol Hill

“Kid President” visits Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON – The office of U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) on Friday welcomed Tennessean and YouTube sensation Kid President – also known as Robby Novak, 10 – to Capitol Hill. Following a tour of the U.S. Capitol, Novak toured Corker's office and spoke with the senator by phone.

"Our office was proud to welcome Robby, a fellow Tennessean, to Capitol Hill," said Corker.

"His focus on making the world a better place has inspired children and adults all across the country, and candidly, Washington could learn a thing or two from Robby about bringing people together. I thank him for the example he is setting and wish him all the best in the future."

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Los Angeles NAACP president resigns amid Sterling scandal

Los Angeles NAACP president resigns amid Sterling scandal

The president of the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP, Leon Jenkins, resigned Thursday, amid continued fallout from a decision to award embattled LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling and a report posted on The Root chronicling a history of Jenkins' misdeeds since his days of being a judge in Detroit during the 1980s.

In a letter to the national leader of the NAACP, Jenkins wrote, "In order to separate the Los Angeles NAACP and the NAACP from the negative exposure I have caused the NAACP, I respectfully resign my position as president of the Los Angeles NAACP."

Jenkins came under intense scrutiny after it was announced that the LA chapter of the NAACP planned to present Sterling with a second "lifetime achievement award" later this month.

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‘No!’ say Senate Republicans to minimum wage

‘No!’ say Senate Republicans to minimum wage

President Obama on Wednesday sent out a written statement saying it's time for Congressional Republicans to "listen to the majority of Americans who say it's time to give America a raise."

The statement itself speaks to the fact that as a group, the Republicans are either not hearing the same thing as President Obama and his Congressional supporters. Or, they are fundamentally aligned with another thought pattern.

Meanwhile, that thud coming of the Senate chamber is the aftershock from a 54-42 vote on Wednesday that signaled the failure of a proposal linked to bumping the federal minimum wage up from $7.25 to $10.10. Sixty votes were needed to derail a filibuster against a measure pushing the increase. When the votes were counted only one Republican had chosen to let the measure go forward.

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GM’s top designer has always been career driven

GM’s top designer has always been career driven

AUSTIN, Texas (NNPA) – Though no one knew it at the time, the decision by Edward T. Welburn Jr.'s parents to take him to a local auto show in Philadelphia around the time he was learning his multiplication tables would shape the rest of his life.

"I've been drawing cars since I was 2½," he told a small group of journalists over breakfast here. "At age 8, my parents took me to the Philadelphia Auto Show and I walked in and there was this concept car and I pointed at it and said, 'When I grow up, I want to be a car designer for that company.'"

At 63 years old, Welburn has had plenty of time to grow up. And not only is he the top designer for General Motors, the company that designed the Cadillac Cyclone, the car that he fell in love with at the ripe age of 8, he is the company's vice president for global design, responsible for the entire GM brand.

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‘Snitches Get Riches!’

‘Snitches Get Riches!’

The saying that has been inculcated in the minds and lives of Blacks across this nation, "Snitches Get Stitches" came to mind as I watched a YouTube video with Yvette Carnell and Paschal Robert discussing Al Sharpton's role as a New York mob snitch. Ever since the latest, albeit, not really new revelations about Sharpton emerged, I wondered how we would receive it and what, if anything, we would do.

Since Sharpton is a highly visible, iconoclastic, activist and spokesperson for so many black folks, why not use his snitching to our advantage? Murder and violent crime are running rampant in the so-called 'hood; families are being torn apart by gun violence and left to grieve the loss of their loved ones. Our streets run red with the blood of our children as we cower in our homes, witnessing acts of murder but too scared to call Crime Stoppers, anonymously, and identify the perpetrator – and get some cash money to boot.

The gang mantra, "Snitches Get Stitches," works to our degradation and social deterioration. With Sharpton's example, we could change our mantra to "Snitches Get Riches." He has given us the model for doing the right thing when it comes to snitching; and he told on mob bosses, not neighborhood street thugs and small time hustlers. Al played in the big leagues of the snitching game, got rich and has been propelled into the stratosphere of political elitism and media visibility.

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NEW STUDY: 4 percent of people sentenced to death are likely innocent

NEW STUDY: 4 percent of people sentenced to death are likely innocent

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At least 4.1 percent of defendants sentenced to death in the United States are innocent, according to new peer-reviewed research published Monday (April 28th) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the world's most respected and cited scientific journals.

"(N)o process of removing potentially innocent defendants from the execution queue can be foolproof. With an error rate at trial over 4 percent, it is all but certain that several of the 1,320 defendants executed since 1977 were innocent," the study concludes. The article, "Rate of False Conviction of Criminal Defendants who are Sentenced to Death," is available at: http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1306417111.

"This study provides the first rigorous estimate of the rate of conviction of innocent criminal defendants in any context. It shows that the number of innocent people sentenced to death is more than twice the number of inmates actually exonerated and freed by legal action," said Bruce Levin, Ph.D., an expert in statistics who did not participate in the research but is familiar with the study. Dr. Levin is professor and past chair, Department of Biostatistics, Mailman School of Public Health Columbia University, and author of "Statistics for Lawyers" (2001, with Michael O. Finkelstein); "Statistical Methods for Rates and Proportions," 3rd Edition (2003, with Joseph L. Fleiss and Myunghee Cho Paik); and "The Biostatistics of Aging" (2014, with Gilberto Levy).

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