HENRY LEE STOKES

HENRY LEE STOKES

HENRY LEE STOKES

Mr. Henry Lee Stokes was born in Sumter County, Georgia on July 17, 1952, the third child of Ms. Lillie Bell Stokes Harris.  After contracting spinal meningitis as an infant, Henry though parlayed on one side was graced with longevity of life for sixty-two years. “Bro” or “Due”, as he was affectionately known by family and friends leaves a legacy of love, laughter and fond memories.

           In addition to his loving mother, Ms. Lillie Bell Stokes Harris, Desoto, GA, he is survived by his siblings, Mrs. Mae Belle (Paige) Thomas, Leslie, GA, Mr. Bobby Stokes, Sanford, FL, Mrs. Katie (Thurman) Brigham, Atlanta, GA, Mrs. Leola (Tony) Wynn, Deland, FL, Mrs. Elizabeth (Kevin) Eberhardt, Americus, GA and Mr. Joseph Harris, Desoto, GA; one aunt, Ms. Mattie Jones, Buffalo, NY; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins other relatives and friends also survive.

MARCUS “SHO-TYME” HARPER

MARCUS “SHO-TYME” HARPER

MARCUS “SHO-TYME” HARPER

Mr. Marcus Antonio Harper, affectionately called “Sho-Tyme” was born in Sumter County, Georgia on December 25, 1981 to the parentage of the late Mr. Willie Harper and Mrs. Nina Kate Searcy Harper. He received his education in the public schools of Sumter County. He was employed at Hickory Springs for 11 years and Burger King for 18 years. He attended Breath of Life under the leadership of Elder Bennie Clark. In addition to his father, he is preceded in death by his grandmother, Ms. Lillie Pearl Searcy, grandfathers, Mr. M.S. Searcy and Mr. Ike Harris and an uncle, Mr. Willie Brown Searcy.

           He leaves to cherish his memory his mother, Mrs. Nina Kate Harper, Americus, GA; a daughter, Ms. Tequila Harper; his fiancé’, Ms. Yukeitha Hicks, Americus, GA; step-daughter, Ms. KeAsia Hicks, Atlanta, GA; step-sons, Mr. Desie Williams, Jr. and Mr. DeEron Hicks, Americus, GA; his grandmothers, Ms. Eula Bell Harper and Ms. Velma Harris both of Americus, GA; four aunts, Ms. Carolyn Harper, Ms. Linda Harper, Ms. Deborah (Tim) Wilkerson and Ms. Peggy Harris; four uncles, Mr. Ulysses Harper, Mr. Glen (Veronica) Harper, Mr. Dwight (Victoria) Harris and Mr. Kip Harris; and a host of cousins, including devoted cousins, Mr. Terrance Harper, Mr. Dennis Young, Americus, GA and Mr. Travis Tyson of Florida, friends, including devoted friends, Mr. JaWanza (Kandis) Terry, Columbus, GA, Mr. Brian Summerlin, Americus, GA, Mr. Galvin McCoy, Atlanta, GA, Mr. Jonah “Looni” Wilbon, Atlanta, GA and Ms. Jessica Mumford, Florida also survive.

ROOSEVELT SHOOTS, JR.

ROOSEVELT SHOOTS, JR.

ROOSEVELT SHOOTS, JR.

Mr. Roosevelt Shoots, Jr. was born in Sumter County, Georgia on November 9, 1950 to the parents of Mr. Roosevelt Shoots and Mrs. Ella Shields Houser, both whom survives. He received his education in the public schools of Sumter County. He served in the United States Army. He was married to the late Mrs. Candace Shoots.

In addition to his parents, Mr. Roosevelt Shoots of Miami, FL and Mrs. Ella Shields Houser, Americus, GA, he leaves to cherish his memories, a son, Mr. Derrick Shields, Americus, GA; a daughter, Ms. Stacey Walker, Durham, NC; four grandchildren; one great grandchild; his aunts, Ms. Jennie Fuller, Bridgeport, CT, Ms. Emma Minter, Ellaville, GA, cousins, including devoted cousins, Ms. Pam Shields, Mr. Derrick Shields, Mr. Eric Shields, Ms. Cassandra Shields, Ms. Pattie Shields and Ms. Linda Caldwell, Americus, GA, Ms. Ann Fuller, Bridgeport, CT; and a host of other relatives and friends also survive.

DEACON SYLVESTER JONES

DEACON SYLVESTER JONES

DEACON SYLVESTER JONES

Deacon Sylvester Jones was born in Sumter County, Georgia on December 20, 1955, to the parentage of the late Mr. Charlie Jones and the late Mrs. Rassie Lewis Jones. He received his education in the public schools of Sumter County. He also did general studies at Brewton Parker College. At an early age, he joined the Union Grove Baptist Church. Years later he moved his membership to the New Jerusalem Baptist Church, where he was ordained as a deacon and president of the senior choir. He is preceded in death by his brothers: Jessie Lee Lewis, Charles James Jones, Johnny Jones, Sr., 1st Sgt. Earnest Jones, Sr. and Willie C. Jones.

           He leaves to cherish his memories: his wife, Mrs. Katherine Griffin Jones, Americus, GA; two step daughters, Ms. Tawanda Faye Wilbon and Ms. Beverly Wilbon and friend Ralph, Americus, GA; a god-daughter, Ms. Destiny Robinson, Americus, GA; one brother, Mr. Otis (Elfleta) Jones, Summerville, GA; three sisters: Ms. Ellistine Jones, Milwaukee, WI, Mrs. Helen (George) Perry, Americus, GA and Ms. Minnie Johnson, Albany, GA; his mother-in-law, Ms. Frankie Griffin, Americus, GA; his brothers and sisters-in-law: Mr. Eugene (Frances) Griffin, Mr. Kelvin Griffin, Mrs. Martha (Mack) Alford, Mrs. Freddie (Johnny) Thomas, Mrs. Mandy (Fred) Jones, Ms. Vivian Grover, Ms. Vivian P. Griffin, all of Americus, GA, Ms. Mary S. Jones, Riviera Beach, FL, Ms. Annie L. Jones, Atlanta, GA, Ms. Mamie Jackson, Ft. Myers, FL, Ms. Annie Wright, Cobb, GA and Mrs. Peggy (Melvin) Chever, Cordele, GA; seven grandchildren: Kedrick Wilbon, Ashley Wilbon, Caldonia Wilbon, Sierra Cook, Deandra Bryant, Jonathan Lester and Brandon Brown; eighteen great grandchildren; his caretakers, Willie Jones, Conetta Dunning; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends, including devoted friends, the Kimbrough, Hurley, Green, Mercer and Ferguson families, Willie Lewis, Jessie Thornton and Jerry Dennard also survive.  

ANGELA RENEE TYNER

Ms. Angela Renee Tyner was born in Sumter County, Georgia on July 22, 1968 to the parents of the late Mrs. Francis Merritt Tyner and Mr. Clyde Jackson, Jr. who survives. She received her education in the public schools of Sumter County. At an early age, she joined the Union Tabernacle Baptist Church.

ANGELA RENEE TYNER

ANGELA RENEE TYNER

In addition to her fathers, Mr. Clyde Jackson, Jr., Plains, GA and Mr. James Tyner, Americus, GA, she is survived by her son, Mr. Codarius “Trell” Lewis, Americus, GA; her daughter, Ms. Coretta Davis, Albany, GA; two brothers, Mr. Courtney Jackson, Americus, GA and Mr. Emanuel Merritt, Atlanta, GA; four sisters, Ms. Tesa Tyner, Ms. Kelly Tyner, Americus, GA, Ms. Sharon “Lisa” Tyner and Ms. Natalie Tyner of Albany, GA; two grandchildren, Kwantavius “Keshawn” Hurley and Kenyon “Ken-ken” Stewart; her grandparents, Mr. James (Frances) Merritt, Plains, GA; and a host of aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins other relatives and friends also survive.

PASTOR CARLTON BURTON

PASTOR CARLTON BURTON

PASTOR CARLTON BURTON

Today we pause to celebrate the life of one we loved dearly; a righteous man who often said, “for God I’ll live and for God I’ll die. Carlton made the transition from labor to resting, Friday, December 19, 2014. He was born on July 9, 1960 to the late Mr. Cephas Wilson and Mrs. Lue Rea Burton Boone, who survives. He received his education in the public schools of Sumter Country and Georgia Southwestern State University. He was a farmer and later decided to rent his farm and seek employment in the public society. His employment included working at Magnolia Manor Nursing Home in the dietary department and Woodgrain Molding. At an early age he became a member of the New Corinth Baptist Church and later expressed that he had be called into the ministry to carry God’s word to and fro. He preached his first public sermon in the fall of 1985. He worked relentlessly preaching and teaching the word of God. He and his family moved to Oklahoma in 2000. There he continued to spread the Good News. He also served as senior pastor on ZOE Church Ministries until the Lord called him home. He was joined in Holy Matrimony to Mrs. Emily Stone Burton on January 25, 1986. To this union they were abundantly blessed with six children and three adopted children. He is also preceded in death by his grandparents, Chester and narcissus Pitts, Rev. J. L. and Rosa Wilson, his great grandmother and father by whom he was reared Henry and Ricoe Burton, his mother-in-law, Daisy Stone, a brother-in-law, Michael Stone and a son, Anthony Hulsey.

In addition to his mother, Mrs. Lue Rea Boone and step-mother, Ms. Minnie Wilson, he leaves to cherish his memories, his devoted wife of 28 years, Mrs. Emily S. Burton, Enid, OK; his children, Jeremiah (Kayleen) Burton, Riscoe Burton, Hannah Burton of Oklahoma City, OK, John Adam Burton, Jonathan Burton, Talynn Burton, Egypt Burton, Zianna Burton and Camalle (Timberly) Stone all of Enid, OK; his siblings, Tammie (Leroy) Butler, Albany, GA, Larry Jordan, Byron, GA, Janeen Jordan and Diana Murphy, Atlanta, GA, Margaret Jordan and Alonza (Paula) Jordan, Americus, GA, Rodney (Angie) Wilson, Virginia and Dwight (Barbara) Wilson, New Jersey      ;his grandchildren, Danielle, Kennedy, Tamalle, Gabriel, Christian, Jada and Jessiah all of OK; his father-in-law, Deacon Sammie Stone, Sr., Americus, GA; his brothers and sisters-in-law, Patsy Stone, Albany, GA, Sandra Stone, Elaine Stone, Barbara (Walter) Wiggins, Sammie (Sherralyn) Stone, Jr. and Rev. David (Michelle) Stone, Americus, GA; his aunts & uncles, Alice Leonard, Vivian P. Griffin, Marrietta Walker, Gloria Glaze, Walter (Lillie Bell) Pitts, Lora Major, Connette Pitts, Cornelius Pitts, Willie Nee Pitts, Frances Reliford, Samuel (Marion) Wilson, Gloria Hawkins and Bobby (Jeanette) Wilson; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, including a devoted cousin, Rev. Adrian Pitts other relatives and friends also survive.

Mrs. Rosie Lee Sims Patrick

ROSIE LEE PATRICK

ROSIE LEE PATRICK

Mrs. Rosie Lee Sims Patrick was born on October 22, 1920 to the parentage of the late Mr. Elias Sims and the late Mrs. Matilda Solomon Sims in Plains, Georgia. At an early age, she accepted Christ as her savior and was baptized and joined the Bethlehem Baptist Church, Plains, Georgia. She spent her entire spiritual life serving as a dedicated member. Mrs. Patrick received her education in the public school system of Sumter County. She received training to be a midwife from the Sumter County Health Department and the late Mrs. Gussie Jackson. Under the supervision of the late Dr. Thomas Schley Gatewood, Sr., she delivered several babies for relatives and community families. During her lifetime she was employed at the Basket Factory, Simplex Nails and Davidson Rubber Companies in Americus, Georgia.  In 2013, she was crowned Ms. Magnolia Manor and she wore it faithfully. She was joined in Holy Matrimony to the late Mr. Mathis Patrick on December 23, 1969. Mrs. Patrick is also preceded in death by her siblings, Ms. Bertha Gooden, Ms. Jennie Mae Tullis, Ms. Cornelius Sims, Ms. Katie Berryhill, Mr. Eli Sims and Mr. Walter Sims; a granddaughter, Mrs. Elaine Woodham, an adopted daughter, Mrs. Lillie Pearl Wright and adopted son, Mr. Wallace Sims. She departed this life on Sunday, December 14, 2014 in the Phoebe Sumter Medical Center.

Mrs. Patrick leaves to cherish her legacy, one daughter, Mrs. Reather Mae Sims Stewart, Americus, GA; an adopted daughter, Mrs. Mozell Jackson Bishop, Americus, GA; two sisters, Ms. Minnie Everett, Americus, GA and Ms. Hattie Mae Proctor, Albany, GA; a son-in-law, Mr. Lynwood Stewart, Americus, GA; her grandchildren, Mrs. Gloria (Herbert) Baker, Mrs. Malinda (Donnie) Nicholson, Ms. Carolyn Wilson, Mr. Lynwood (Vivian) Stewart, Jr., Ms. Pauline Blair, Mr. James McRae, Rev. Curtis (Teresa) Bishop, Mr. Freddie L. Bishop, Ms. Jessie Pearl Lembrick, Mr. Calvin (Tammie) Wright, Mr. Eddie (Gwen) Wright and Ms. Charlene Smith; twenty-two great grandchildren, thirty-eight great great grandchildren, three great great great grandchildren; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins other relatives and friends also survive.

ANNIE MAUDE CALDWELL

ANNIE MAUDE CALDWELL

ANNIE MAUDE CALDWELL

On January 22, 1923, the union of the late Clarrie Wade Idlette and the late Major Idlette of Andersonville, Georgia was blessed with the birth of a beautiful daughter. They named her Annie Maude.

Affectionately known as “Maude”, she attended the Sumter County Schools. She accepted Christ as her Savior at an early age, and united with the Mountain Creek A.M.E. Church, where Maude also enjoyed singing in the choir.

In addition to the joy of singing, she also enjoyed sewing, cooking, and gardening. While she received great joy from many things, her greatest joy was time spent with her family.

Maude also was a substitute teacher for Mrs. Clark at the Union Elementary School. She worked as a housekeeper for Mrs. Daisy Pennington and the Magnolia Manor, where she later worked as a sitter for the administrator’s mother. Maude retired from the Magnolia Manor Nursing Home after 25 years.

On Friday morning, December 12, 2014, the final chapter of life was penned while Maude was a patient at Phoebe Sumter Primary Care Hospital. Although her special place on earth cannot be filled, she is now filling her special place in Heaven as she joins her son, James Hayward Idlette.

Annie Maude is survived by her loving and devoted children: three daughters, Annie L. (William) Gamble, Fuquay-Varina, NC; Shirley A. (Floyd) Toombs, Albany, GA; and devoted daughter, Marilyn Noble of Americus, GA;  three sons: Donald (Juanita) Idlette; Hansford Idlette, both of Americus, GA and Richard (devoted daughter-in-law, Samantha) Idlette of Leesburg, GA; sisters: Mae Catherine Dawson and Mary Clark; eleven grandchildren: Judith (Jeffrey) Taylor, Bonita (Dave) Webbe, Belinda (Jose) DiCupe, all of Silver Springs, MD; Albert (Saeu) Higgins, Portland, OR; Travis (Tammy) Toombs, Charlotte, NC; Christy (Gustavious) Hodges, Atlanta, GA; Dexter (Iyana) Towns, Albany, GA; Christopher Idlette, Americus, GA; Jocelyn (Broderick) Waters, Columbus, GA; and a devoted granddaughter, Deidre Noble, Americus, GA; eighteen great grandchildren, and a host of relatives and friends including devoted cousin, Forest Brown, Atlanta, GA; and friends, Annie Pearl Felton, Montezuma, GA and Celestine Yearby, Americus, GA; and family friend, Silas Bullard, also survive.

Mrs. Doris Jackson Hurley

Mrs. Doris Jackson Hurley

Mrs. Doris Jackson Hurley

Mrs. Doris Jackson Hurley was born in Sumter County, Georgia on March 21, 1958 to the parentage of the late Mr. Joe Jackson and the late Mrs. Rosa Lee Hardy Jackson. At an early age, she joined the Lebanon Baptist Church. She received her education in the public schools of Sumter County. She was a bus monitor for the Sumter County School System. She was married to the late Mr. Rudolph Hurley. She is preceded in death by a brother, Mr. Alvin “Peanut” Jackson.

She leaves to cherish her memories, her son, Mr. Joshua Jackson, Plains, GA; three brothers, Mr. Clinton (Carolyn) Jackson, Mr. McArthur (Maxine) Jackson and Mr. Joe Jackson; brothers & sisters-in-law, Ms. Gloria Hurley, Ms. Annie Ruth Tullis, Ms. Mary Tullis, Mr. Charles Hurley and Mr. John (Gloria) Hurley; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins other relatives and friends also survive.

JOHN “GYPSY” MORAN

 

JOHN “GYPSY” MORAN

JOHN “GYPSY” MORAN

Mr. John Moran was born in Americus, GA on April 28, 1946 to the parentage of the late Mr. Tom Moran and the late Mrs. Irene Reddick Moran.  He attended the public schools of Sumter County, graduating in the class of 1964.  After graduation, Mr. Moran moved to New York City and made it his home until his passing.

In addition to his children and companion, Deborah, he leaves to cherish his memory, 5 sisters, Mrs. Jessie (Frank) Moran-Reid, Rev. Susie Mann, Elder Mary Ann (Clifford) King, all of Americus, GA, Elder Carrie Moran-Grimes, Atlanta, GA, Ms. Tobie Moran, New York City, NY; one brother, Mr. Antontious “Al” (Kathy) Moran, Americus, GA; a host of other relatives and friends, in New York and Americus, also survive.

Asthma raises adults’ risk of sleep apnea

Adults who have asthma have a greater risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea than their peers.

Adults who have asthma have a greater risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea than their peers.

By: MARY ANN MOON, Family Practice News Digital Network,

Adults who have asthma are at significantly greater risk than are those who don’t for developing obstructive sleep apnea, according to a report published Jan. 13 in JAMA.

“Accumulating evidence suggests a bidirectional relationship between asthma and obstructive sleep apnea, whereby each disorder deleteriously influences the other,” said Dr. Mihaela Teodorescu of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and her colleagues.

To understand the “initiating processes of a potentially self-enforcing asthma-apnea cycle,” the investigators analyzed data from the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study, a population-based longitudinal epidemiologic investigation of the natural history of obstructive sleep apnea that began in 1988 and followed participants at 4-year intervals for up to 24 years. For their analysis, Dr. Teodorescu and her colleagues focused on a subset of 547 participants.

In their first 4-year follow-up intervals, 22 of 81 participants with preexisting asthma (27%) developed incident obstructive sleep apnea, compared with 75 of 466 participants who didn’t have asthma (16%). When all the interval observations were considered, there were 45 cases of obstructive sleep apnea among 167 possible intervals in participants who had preexisting asthma, for a rate of 27%, and 160 cases among 938 possible intervals in participants without asthma, for a rate of 17%. Compared with people who didn’t have asthma, those who did showed a relative risk of 1.39 for developing apnea, regardless of potentially confounding factors such as body mass index, the investigators said (JAMA 2015 Jan. 13 [doi:10.1001/jama.2014.17822]).

This association showed a dose-response pattern when cases were categorized according to the duration of asthma, with the highest risk for obstructive sleep apnea occurring among people who had asthma of 10 or more years’ duration. The association also remained robust in numerous additional analyses, including one involving only the subset of 220 participants who had spirometry results, another involving only participants who used asthma controller medications, and a third that accounted for participants’ neck girth, waist girth, and waist-to-hip ratio.

The mechanism(s) by which asthma may predispose patients to obstructive sleep apnea is not known, but could pertain to the disease itself, its treatment, or its common comorbidities. Nighttime asthma attacks could increase pressure in pharyngeal airway tissues, or pharyngeal airway stiffness could decrease because asthma causes abrupt drops in lung volumes during sleep, or a “spillover” of systemic inflammation could weaken the respiratory muscles or trigger CNS inflammatory responses. Corticosteroid therapy could alter the architecture of the pharyngeal airway by raising or redistributing pressures in the tissues there, or it could diminish the contractility of the dilator muscles. And coexisting gastroesophageal reflux could trigger pharyngeal spasms and induce mucosal exudative neurogenic inflammation, Dr. Teodorescu and her associates said.

Alcohol poisoning kills an average of six people each day

alcohol-poisoning-kills-6-americans-every-dayBY DOUG BRUNK in Emergency Trauma,

Every day, an average of six people in the United States die from alcohol poisoning—the majority of them middle-aged men, according to a new Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This is likely to be an underestimate,” the CDC’s Deputy Principal Director, Ileana Arias, Ph.D., said during a Jan. 6, 2015 press briefing.

Dr. Arias highlighted findings from a study of alcohol poisoning among people aged 15 and older that coauthor Dr. Robert D. Brewer and associates conducted using multiple cause-of-death data from the National Vital Statistics for 2010-2012. They found that more than 2,200 Americans died each year of alcohol poisoning, for an average of six deaths every day each year. Three in four alcohol poisoning deaths involved adults 35-54 years old, mostly men.

The researchers determined that binge drinking, defined as consuming four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men during a period of 2-3 hours, accounted for most of the deaths. “Despite the risks, more than 38 million U.S. adults report binge drinking about four times per month and consume an average of eight drinks per binge,” Dr. Arias said. “Alcohol poisoning is caused by consuming a very large amount of alcohol in a very short period of time.”

A person’s response to alcohol can vary depending on many factors, including the grade of alcohol consumed, the health of the drinker, and whether the drinker has consumed other drugs. “But the key point is this: The more you drink, the greater you are at risk of poisoning and of death,” she said.

Dr. Arias noted that a 12-ounce can of 5% beer contains the same amount of alcohol as a 5-ounce glass of 12% wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits. “It’s also best to avoid drinks with unknown alcohol content and be very cautious when mixing alcohol with energy drinks,” she said. “Caffeine can mask alcohol’s effects, causing you to drink more than you intended [to].”

When assessed by race and ethnicity, the majority of alcohol-poisoning deaths occurred among non-Hispanic whites. However, American Indians and Alaska Natives had the most alcohol-poisoning deaths per million people. Alcohol-poisoning deaths also varied widely across states, ranging from 5.3 deaths per million residents in Alabama to 46.5 deaths per million residents in Alaska. “Alcohol dependence was identified as a factor in 30% of these deaths and other drugs contributed to 3% of the deaths,” she said.

Life-threatening signs of alcohol poisoning include the inability to wake up from sleep, vomiting, seizures, slow or irregular breathing or heart rate, and low body temperature, bluish skin color, or pallor. Dr. Arias said that health professionals can play a role in the prevention of deaths related to alcohol poisoning by screening all adult patients for excessive drinking, counseling those who do so to help them drink less, and referring excessive drinkers who are alcohol dependent for specialized treatment.

“The bottom line is that binge drinking can be lethal,” she said. “Alcohol poisoning is killing people across the lifespan, but in particular men in the prime of their lives.”

None of the researchers reported having relevant financial disclosures.

The healthy obese don’t stay healthy for long, study suggests

© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporationBY MIKE BOCK in Diabetes on January 5th, 2015

FROM THE JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN COLLEGE OF CARDIOLOGY

The phenomenon of “healthy obesity”– having a body mass index over 30 kg/m2 but without significant metabolic risk factors – is most often a transitive phase toward unhealthiness, and not a stable physiological stage, a new report suggests.

“Healthy obese” adults were nearly eight times more likely to progress to an unhealthy obese state after 20 years than were healthy nonobese adults. After 20 years, roughly 50% of healthy obese adults were unhealthy obese, and 10% were healthy nonobese, lead author Joshua A. Bell wrote in a research letter published Jan. 5 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (doi: /10.1016/j.jacc.2014.09.077).

Mr. Bell and his colleagues from the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London examined data from 2,521 British government workers between the ages of 39 and 62 years. Each participant’s body mass index, cholesterol, blood pressure, fasting plasma glucose and insulin resistance was measured over 5 years, 10 years, and 20 years. Three-quarters of the participants were male.

The sample included 66 “healthy obese” adults at baseline, or about a third of all obese participants. Of these subjects, 21 (32%) were unhealthy obese after 5 years, and 27 (41%), 23 (35%), and 34 (52%) were unhealthy obese after 10, 15, and 20 years, respectively.

“Our results, which were obtained with a longer, more detailed follow-up than any previous study, suggest that long-term stability is the exception, not the norm. The natural course of healthy obesity is progression to metabolic deterioration,” the authors wrote.

There were no relevant disclosures to report.

Conventional, Natural and Organic Does It Matter?

by Earlene Bacon,

Shopping for “healthy” grocery can be a challenge, especially with the deception that is legally allowed by companies today. Most people don’t realize that there are many preservatives and harmful fillers used in the food that they think is perfectly healthy to eat.

Where do you begin to differentiate between what is good for you and what isn’t? Doing your research and reading labels is a must when shopping in today’s markets.

Understanding what key ingredients to steer clear of will make a difference between you being healthy or sick. Most people don’t realize the seriousness of consuming nutrient poor junk opposed to whole food nutrition. In my opinion, it can be a matter of sickness or health.

Who is to blame for the lack of the right kinds of foods being available when we take our weekly trip to the grocery store? Could we, as the consumers, be responsible for not demanding the availability of better choices?

We usually don’t have much time to read labels because we are so busy and have to find something quick to cook, if we even cook at all. Who is suffering because of this? We are.

In talking to people about making lifestyle changes to better their health, the first key issue that arises is time. No one has time to cook healthy, nutritious meals anymore, so they end up turning to fast food or processed foods that are loaded with preservatives and harmful toxins.

So to answer the question “Does it matter?”, Yes it does! We not only need to know that it matters, but also understand why it matters. Not eating the right kinds of foods will cause us to be sick and tired. We can’t put junk in and expect to feel good. Bad diets will cause more problems than we think.

First, we have conventional food that is grown with the use of chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, GMO’s and other harmful preservatives that end up causing diseases in the humans that consume the product.

The next category comes with many misconceptions. What is the definition of food labeled “natural”?

In doing my research when I began this journey of using food for healing, I discovered that defining the term “natural” was too vague for the standards that I had set for my family. Each company determines how high or low the standards for their natural product will be. Foods labeled “natural” can still have toxic preservatives and they can be processed. That’s why I put natural in the middle of conventional and organic. Natural can still include GMO & MSG in the ingredients, so beware & read labels.

For those of you who don’t know what GMO is, you probably have been unaware that you were buying it. GMO is genetically modified organisms. Simply stated, experimental food. It is yet to be determined what effects GMO has on humans, but one thing is for sure, not enough research has been done to ensure it’s safety. If a natural food label does not display that it is NONGMO, run far and fast.

And last, but certainly not least, we have organic food. Organic is always the best option because at a bare minimum you won’t have to worry about the above mentioned issues. Organic foods won’t contain preservatives, GMO’s, artificial colors or flavors. The fact of the matter is that it’s grown contrary to conventional foods and with higher standards of natural foods.

At the end of the day, know the source of where your food  is coming from and do your due diligence in researching the ingredients being used in the foods that you purchase. Know for yourself because knowledge will help you make better
choices for you and your family.

Earlene Bacon
Healed & Whole Living18002816561
healedandwholeliving@gmail.com
www.mywildtree.com/earleneb

Police Now Citing ’Feelings’ as Reason for Slowdown

Some police officers turn their backs in a sign of disrespect as Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during the funeral of New York Police Department Officer Wenjian Liu on January 4th, 2015. AP Photo/John Minchillo Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/police-now-citing-feelings-as-reason-for-slowdown-20150106#ixzz3OpEo6dt3  Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

Some police officers turn their backs in a sign of disrespect as Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during the funeral of New York Police Department Officer Wenjian Liu on January 4th, 2015. AP Photo/John Minchillo

BY  ,

The apparent work stoppage by the New York Police Department is now officially a really confusing story.

The latest weekly stats show that whatever they NYPD is up to is still going on in a big way, with parking violations down 92 percent compared to the same week last year, and “quality of life”-type infractions like public urination and open container tickets down 91 percent.

What exactly is going on? This slowdown seems to have started as a protest against Mayor Bill de Blasio and against a “hostile” protest environment many people in law enforcement blame for having led to the December murders of officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.

But is it morphing into something else?

The few police spokespeople who are saying anything at all about the slowdown seem to be saying they’re doing this for a variety of reasons. The New York Post reports that some of the reduction may be due to safety measures recommended by union members after the Ramos/Liu murders:

Cop union leaders told their members to respond to all calls with two patrol cars — and make arrests only when “absolutely necessary” — to avoid potential copycat attacks following the Ramos and Liu assassinations.

But then Edward Mullins, head of the Sergeants’ Benevolent Association, who admitted that “people are talking to each other” and that the action has “became contagious,” told the Times that police are still responding to essential calls, and only ignoring “financial” infractions:

All of the 911 calls are being responded to…The lack of summons activity, we’re talking about financial fines. That’s one of those things that will correct itself, I’m sure.

But then there was this bizarre quote in the Post yesterday:

Michael Palladino, the head of the detectives union, responded with frustration.

“You can’t win,” he said. “When cops make arrests and give summonses, they are accused of being robotic with no feelings, When cops exercise discretion and express feelings, theyre accused of being political and disrespectful.”

So which is it? Are police cutting down on arrests out of concern for their safety post Ramos/Liu? Are they merely pulling a slowdown by specifically abandoning non-essential, financial infractions?

Or are they “exercising discretion” and showing “feelings” by doing away with the harassing, often arm-twisting, day-ruining barrage of useless and expensive summonses that have been handed out in low-income neighborhoods in massive numbers since the early Nineties?

I’m not buying the “feelings” line, although I know for a fact that a lot of police hate the endless regime of Broken Windows tickets (not as much as the people getting the tickets hate it, but still).

I’m guessing police are trying to make the public and the Mayor feel the pain of their absence as much as possible without opening themselves up to accusations of deliberately making the city unsafe, and this is the only way they can think to do it.

Of course, there are a lot of people who still believe in the efficacy of Broken Windows and its attendant regime of mass quality-of-life arrests and citations. Most particularly, Commissioner Bill Bratton and Mayor de Blasio both strongly reaffirmed a commitment to the policies just last month, touting Broken Windows for having turned around the crime picture in New York two decades ago.

So maybe there’s an element of this, too: Police know that de Blasio and Bratton have wedded themselves politically to Broken Windows, and as such they’re standing on their shovels on that particular dig site. And because there’s a portion of the public that hates the summons regime, they may simultaneously try to spin the slowdown in a populist direction, i.e. as an end to the robotic, “unfeeling” dissemination of tickets to aggrieved residents.

Who knows. It could be as simple as this, that handing out summonses is an irritating, contentious, time-consuming activity that police are more than happy to give up, if there’s a slowdown to be gotten away with. A person signs up to be a cop usually because as young people he or she has watched Serpico and The French Connection and Law and Order, not because that same youth saw some yawning uniform handing a pink slip to a kid on a bicycle, and thought, “That’s who I want to be when I grow up!”

Whatever it is, it’s weird. There are all sorts of news stories out there now about how the slowdown is being welcomed by activists, who in many cases have histories as some of the harshest critics of the police. And there are nervous mainstream news editorials in outlets normally very supportive of police warning that the slowdown might inadvertently puncture the legacy of Broken Windows, by making the public too relieved by its absence. Newsday, recounting the story, even breathed a sigh of relief at the way Bratton “reassuringly” reaffirmed his commitment to the policy.

It’s not often that a political protest goes on for weeks and people on all sides of the issue express confusion about what it all means, whether it’s good or bad, etc. Can anyone else recall a parallel?

Off duty, black cops in New York feel threat from fellow police

download (2)By Michelle Conlin,

(Reuters) – From the dingy donut shops of Manhattan to the cloistered police watering holes in Brooklyn, a number of black NYPD officers say they have experienced the same racial profiling that cost Eric Garner his life.

Garner, a 43-year-old black man suspected of illegally peddling loose cigarettes, died in July after a white officer put him in a chokehold. His death, and that of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, has sparked a slew of nationwide protests against police tactics. On Saturday, those tensions escalated after a black gunman, who wrote of avenging the black deaths on social media, shot dead two New York policemen.

The protests and the ambush of the uniformed officers pose a major challenge for New York Mayor Bill De Blasio. The mayor must try to ease damaged relations with a police force that feels he hasn’t fully supported them, while at the same time bridging a chasm with communities who say the police unfairly target them.

What’s emerging now is that, within the thin blue line of the NYPD, there is another divide – between black and white officers.

Reuters interviewed 25 African American male officers on the NYPD, 15 of whom are retired and 10 of whom are still serving. All but one said that, when off duty and out of uniform, they had been victims of racial profiling, which refers to using race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed a crime.

The officers said this included being pulled over for no reason, having their heads slammed against their cars, getting guns brandished in their faces, being thrown into prison vans and experiencing stop and frisks while shopping. The majority of the officers said they had been pulled over multiple times while driving. Five had had guns pulled on them.

Desmond Blaize, who retired two years ago as a sergeant in the 41st Precinct in the Bronx, said he once got stopped while taking a jog through Brooklyn’s upmarket Prospect Park. “I had my ID on me so it didn’t escalate,” said Blaize, who has sued the department alleging he was racially harassed on the job. “But what’s suspicious about a jogger? In jogging clothes?”

The NYPD and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the police officers’ union, declined requests for comment. However, defenders of the NYPD credit its policing methods with transforming New York from the former murder capital of the world into the safest big city in the United States.

EX-POLICE CHIEF SKEPTICAL

“It makes good headlines to say this is occurring, but I don’t think you can validate it until you look into the circumstances they were stopped in,” said Bernard Parks, the former chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, who is African American.

“Now if you want to get into the essence of why certain groups are stopped more than others, then you only need to go to the crime reports and see which ethnic groups are listed more as suspects. That’s the crime data the officers are living with.”

Blacks made up 73 percent of the shooting perpetrators in New York in 2011 and were 23 percent of the population.

A number of academics believe those statistics are potentially skewed because police over-focus on black communities, while ignoring crime in other areas. They also note that being stopped as a suspect does not automatically equate to criminality. Nearly 90 percent of blacks stopped by the NYPD, for example, are found not to be engaged in any crime.

The black officers interviewed said they had been racially profiled by white officers exclusively, and about one third said they made some form of complaint to a supervisor.

All but one said their supervisors either dismissed the complaints or retaliated against them by denying them overtime, choice assignments, or promotions. The remaining officers who made no complaints said they refrained from doing so either because they feared retribution or because they saw racial profiling as part of the system.

In declining to comment to Reuters, the NYPD did not respond to a specific request for data showing the racial breakdown of officers who made complaints and how such cases were handled.

White officers were not the only ones accused of wrongdoing. Civilian complaints against police officers are in direct proportion to their demographic makeup on the force, according to the NYPD’s Civilian Complaint Review Board.

Indeed, some of the officers Reuters interviewed acknowledged that they themselves had been defendants in lawsuits, with allegations ranging from making a false arrest to use of excessive force. Such claims against police are not uncommon in New York, say veterans.

STUDIES FIND INHERENT BIAS

Still, social psychologists from Stanford and Yale universities and John Jay College of Criminal Justice have conducted research – including the 2004 study “Seeing Black: Race, Crime and Visual Processing” – showing there is an implicit racial bias in the American psyche that correlates black maleness with crime.

John Jay professor Delores Jones-Brown cited a 2010 New York State Task Force report on police-on-police shootings – the first such inquiry of its kind – that found that in the previous 15 years, officers of color had suffered the highest fatalities in encounters with police officers who mistook them for criminals.

There’s evidence that aggressive policing in the NYPD is intensifying, according to data from the New York City Comptroller.

Police misconduct claims – including lawsuits against police for using the kind of excessive force that killed Garner – have risen 214 percent since 2000, while the amount the city paid out has risen 75 percent in the same period, to $64.4 million in fiscal year 2012, the last year for which data is available.

REPORTING ABUSE

People who have taken part in the marches against Garner’s death – and that of Ferguson teenager Michael Brown – say they are protesting against the indignity of being stopped by police for little or no reason as much as for the deaths themselves.

“There’s no real outlet to report the abuse,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a former NYPD captain who said he was stigmatized and retaliated against throughout his 22-year career for speaking out against racial profiling and police brutality.

Officers make complaints to the NYPD’s investigative arm, the Internal Affairs Bureau, only to later have their identities leaked, said Adams.

One of the better-known cases of alleged racial profiling of a black policeman concerns Harold Thomas, a decorated detective who retired this year after 30 years of service, including in New York’s elite Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Shortly before 1 a.m. one night in August 2012, Thomas was leaving a birthday party at a trendy New York nightclub.

Wearing flashy jewelry, green sweatpants and a white t-shirt, Thomas walked toward his brand-new white Escalade when two white police officers approached him. What happened next is in dispute, but an altercation ensued, culminating in Thomas getting his head smashed against the hood of his car and then spun to the ground and put in handcuffs.

“If I was white, it wouldn’t have happened,” said Thomas, who has filed a lawsuit against the city over the incident. The New York City Corporation Counsel said it could not comment on pending litigation.

At an ale house in Williamsburg, Brooklyn last week, a group of black police officers from across the city gathered for the beer and chicken wing special. They discussed how the officers involved in the Garner incident could have tried harder to talk down an upset Garner, or sprayed mace in his face, or forced him to the ground without using a chokehold. They all agreed his death was avoidable.

Said one officer from the 106th Precinct in Queens, “That could have been any one of us.”

For Second Week, Arrests Plunge in New York City

For two straight weeks, New York City police officers have sharply cut back on making arrests and issuing summonses throughout the five boroughs, magnifying the growing divide between the city’s police force and its mayor,Bill de Blasio.

Officers made half as many arrests in the seven days through Sunday as in the same week a year ago. In the entire city, 347 criminal summonses were written, down from 4,077 a year ago, according to police statistics. Parking and traffic tickets also dropped by more than 90 percent.

Most precincts’ weekly tallies for criminal infractions were close to zero: In Coney Island, the precinct covering that neighborhood did not record a single parking ticket, traffic summons or ticket for a low-level crime like public urination or drinking, the statistics showed.

The drop may present a new challenge for the mayor and his police commissioner, William J. Bratton. With officers in the country’s largest police department apparently using their own discretion to largely ignore low-level offenses, Mr. Bratton finds himself, for a brief moment, confronted with the kind of reactive force that he worked to shed two decades ago in New York City.

Standing with the mayor at a news conference on Monday, Mr. Bratton offered various theories to explain the decline: the large-scale protests over police practices last month; the mourning period for two Brooklyn officers killed on Dec. 20; the holiday season; a dip in 911 calls. He said the department’s leadership was actively studying what took place.

“I will look very specifically — precinct by precinct, tour of duty by tour of duty, sector car by sector car, officer by officer — and we will deal with it very appropriately, if we have to,” he said.

“We may see,” he added, “that things begin to return to normal on their own volition.

At the same time, he acknowledged the sagging morale of officers, which union leaders have sought to attach to the policies of the mayor.

Hundreds of officers — out of tens of thousands — have twice turned their backs when the mayor eulogized the two officers shot in their patrol car by a man who targeted them for their uniforms. In his first comments on the police protests, Mr. de Blasio said on Monday that such displays were “disrespectful” to the families of the men killed, Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.

“I also think they were disrespectful to the people in this city, who, in fact, honor the work of the N.Y.P.D.,” Mr. de Blasio said.

Mr. Bratton, who before the second funeral, on Sunday, asked officers to put aside their grievances, went further, lamenting the “selfishness” of their actions.

“Come demonstrate outside City Hall, come demonstrate outside Police Headquarters,” he said. “But don’t put on your uniform and go to a funeral and engage in a political action.”

Mr. de Blasio and Mr. Bratton held the news conference to draw attention to the city’s success in driving down crime, even as stop-and-frisk encounters plummeted. Robberies and murders, they said, dropped to their lowest levels since 1963, when the department began collecting reliable statistics.

The downturn in enforcement activity, though, threatened to reopen a question that Mr. de Blasio had seemingly put to rest in his first year in office: Would crime rise under a liberal mayor promising policing reforms?

During the first week of the enforcement declines, in fact, crime went down. But in the second week, the statistics showed an uptick: Robberies rose 13.5 percent over the week, to 361 from 318 a year ago. Murders increased to 11 for the week that ended Sunday, from seven in the same week a year earlier.

The numbers, disclosed on Monday, reveal a downturn in nearly every category of arrest — including gun possession and drunken driving — and all three categories of summons activity, parking violations, (down 93 percent to 1,191 from 16,008); traffic infractions (down 92 percent, to 749 from 9,349); and low-level crimes (down 91 percent).

Richard Aborn, the leader of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, said he expected the drop to correct itself. “The only thing more critical to the cops right now than their outrage is their sense of duty,” he said, “and they’re not going to abandon that for a long period.”

How much revenue the city might lose was not immediately clear. The city took in $546 million in parking fine revenue during the 2014 fiscal year, according to Doug Turetsky of the city’s Independent Budget Office, an average of about $10.5 million a week.

Robert Cassar, the head of the union for police traffic agents, said his uniformed personnel — who are now doubled up on their rounds — were at even greater risk to attacks than patrol officers. “Our guys, we don’t have guns,” he said.

“We’re being very cautious,” he added. “We don’t want to enrage the public.”

Across the city, officers made a total of 2,401 arrests, compared with 5,448 for the same week the year before, a 56 percent decline. That included 17 percent fewer arrests for major felonies, which declined to 472 from 568.

The declines came after a drastic drop in activity that began shortly after the murder of Officers Ramos and Liu in Brooklyn, and continued across all 77 precincts in the city.

Police union leaders have denied the declines represent any organized work action, though they have urged their members to put their own safety first, which could curb enforcement in all but the clearest situations that called for an arrest.

The sustained declines, however, suggest something of a coordinated effort, even if it was not sanctioned by union leaders.

“People are talking to each other,” Edward D. Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said on Sunday. “It became contagious.”

He added that there had been no decrease in police service. “All of the 911 calls are being responded to,” Mr. Mullins said.

Mr. Bratton said he had no intention of departing from the proactive approach to policing, addressing minor offenses to head off major crimes following a strategy often known as “broken windows,” which he helped pioneer during his first stint as New York City police commissioner in the 1990s. “We’re not going back to that period of time; never again,” he said.

He called attention to the roughly 17,000 police officers who live in the city, a majority of the force. “I think officers are very mindful that if this city were allowed to be de-policed, some of the first who would be affected would be their families,” he said.

George Zimmerman Arrested Charged With Aggravated Assault, Domestic Violence With A Weapon

Credit:DonkeyHotey, CC license.

Credit:DonkeyHotey, CC license.

Diane Sweet’s Blog,

George Zimmerman, 31, made his first court appearance on Saturday morning after being arrested by Lake Mary police on Friday evening.

According to Zimmerman’s attorney, the arrest was due to allegedly throwing a wine bottle at a girlfriend “several days ago.”

Zimmerman was arrested in 2013 for alleged domestic violence against a girlfriend, although a Lake Mary police spokeswoman said“this alleged “victim is not the same (woman) as in 2013.”

“It’s clear he hasn’t been very lucky with the ladies the last few months,” West said of his client.”

Zimmerman was released on $5,000 bond, and ordered to:

Avoid contact with the woman, who was not identified

– Stay out of Volusia County, where the woman lives.

– Pack up any personal belongings his girlfriend may have left behind and give them to his lawyer.

– Surrender any weapons.

While surrender any weapons sounds good, according to CNN’s website, he was told only to surrender any weapons to a “relative or third party.”

The next scheduled court appearance for Zimmerman will be February 17th.

Defense attorney Don West said that his client (Zimmerman):

“…doesn’t have a full-time job, implying he’s had his struggles since the Martin acquittal.”It’s been a devastating experience that he’s had that he’s working through,” the lawyer said. “… I’m concerned, obviously, as we are here again this morning.”

The devastation has been upon the Martin family alone, having lost a precious child.

Each time we hear of Zimmerman in the news since his aquittal, he seems only more of an arrogant asshole who believes he can get away with anything. And so far, he has done just that.

George Zimmerman, acquitted by a Florida jury in the shooting death of  unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, was arrested by Lake Mary police in Seminole County Florida on Friday evening on charges of domestic violence with a weapon and aggravated assault, according to the John E. Polk Correctional Facility’s website where he is being held.

A notation on that website states that he “May not be bailed.”

Texas Gun Nuts Policing the Police – With a Black Panthers Tactic

014789-gun-fire-arms-010415By Brandy Zadrozny, The Daily Beast,

In Arlington, Texas, armed open-carry activists are challenging cops as they do their jobs, in escalating confrontations that go beyond the Black Panthers’ ‘cop-watching’ strategy.

n any given night in Arlington, Texas, a group of open-carry activists turned self-appointed cop-watchers can be found walking by the side of the road, in safety-yellow reflector vests with cameras pointed at police. They carry “FILM THE POLICE” signs, and sometimes, in a habit that’s become of increasing concern to the officers being watched, they’re carrying guns of their own.

These armed activists’ mission—ostensibly to hold the police accountable by recording every interaction—has found new meaning in light of recent deaths of unarmed citizens like Mike Brown and Eric Garner. Indeed, members of the Texas group have adopted the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” cry popularized during protests of the men’s deaths.

The group is led in part by Kory Watkins, an Olive Garden bartender trainer and a bandwagon activist who also presides over Open Carry Tarrant County (OCTC). (He’s also the host of Open Carry Cop Watch, an Internet radio show that’s launching this week.) Chasing leads from police scanners, members of OCTC and a local faction known as Cop Block—another loosely organized group of anti-law enforcement libertarian-leaners—have been gathering in the approach to DUI checkpoints and speed traps to warn motorists of the police presence, responding in real time with cops to 911 calls, making impromptu stops to film strangers’ traffic violations, all while trolling the police they observe. (During the heckling, bacon references abound, and some cop-watchers even wear police hats with pig ears attached as they follow officers.) According to Watkins, who often carries his AK-47 while cop-watching, the group makes as many as 20 stops a session, depending on the night.

Cop-watching—the practice of observing and documenting police interactions to try to reduce brutality and civil-rights violations—was started by the Black Panther Party in Oakland in the 1960s. Panthers carrying shotguns or wearing pistols on their hips would hit the streets with law books and watch the police to demand accountability. The open carrying of guns was perfectly legal then, though laws were soon enacted to restrict the practice, due in large part to the Panthers’ enthusiastic exercising of their rights.

Today, cop-watching is back, mostly in response to killings of unarmed citizens by police and controversial policies like New York City’s stop-and-frisk. Many cop-watch organizations like to tout the Black Panthers’ origin story, but due to laws or common sense, no longer arm themselves. “Today, our cameras are our weapons,” New York City’s People’s Justice says on its site.

Not so much in Texas.

According to the Arlington Police Department, cop-watching has been going on in that city for about a year. Though early interactions were uneventful—Sgt. Jeffrey Houston told The Daily Beast both the filming of police and the open carry of firearms are “a constitutional right that the department supports”—recently, the cop-watches have been escalating in hostility and frequency and several members have been arrested.

“The police department in Arlington is out of control and keeps wrongfully arresting people for doing things that are well within their rights,” Watkins said in part of a statement provided to The Daily Beast. “It’s wasting taxpayer money and it’s violating the rights of the people.”

Jacob Cordova, 27, is the latest activist to be jailed for their activities. Cordova, an Air Force veteran who sports a Ron Paul “rEVOLution” tattoo on his right arm and flashes a peace sign in his Facebook photos, was on patrol last Saturday as a part of the Tarrant County Peaceful Streets Project when, according a two-minute video of the event, he was arrested. “[For] a pre-1899 black powder pistol, which isn’t against the law. I want them to,” he says as two cops approach. The arresting officer says, “You’re not allowed to have a firearm. I’ve asked you to put it up.” Though the gun is actually legal in Texas, which allows the open carry of long guns and certain antique revolvers, Cordova was taken into custody and charged with the misdemeanor of interfering with public duties.

According to police, Cordova drove up to a traffic stop, got out of his car, and began yelling at officers and pulling up his vest to show them he was armed.

“When you see somebody being aggressive, interfering with a stop, and armed with a deadly weapon, the officer can’t just ignore that,” Sgt. Houston said.

Open-carry activists are known for baiting cops into on-camera arguments about the Second Amendment and state laws. And Cordova has had his share of run-ins with authorities, including an ill-advised attempt to issue a citizen’s arrest for a police officer for double parking.

Arlington police say they’re gotten used to open-carry activists, and even the biggest firebrands among the cop-watch crowd. “It’s the combination that creates an enhanced threat to officer safety,” said Tiara Richard, a spokeswoman for the Arlington Police Department.

Cordova refused to comment on the officer’s allegations—he and others in the group are reluctant to talk with reporters about Cordova’s arrest or their cop-watching activities—but wrote in a Facebook chat with me, “What you see on the video is what you get.” The posted video, however, starts conveniently just before the officers arrest him and leaves out any possible inciting incident by Cordova.

Cordova’s arrest was the second of the night for the cop-watch gang. The first was 26-year-old Pablo Frias, who showed up to record as police responded to a 911 call for a woman had been threatened with a rifle. According to police, Frias got into a disagreement with a bystander at the scene. “Officers had to go stop an elderly lady from being assaulted,” Sgt. Houston said. Frias—who was arrested in 2013 for interfering with public duties and public intoxication—was not carrying a gun at the time.

In September, Watkins; his wife, Janie Lucero; and Joseph Tye, a leader of Texas Cop Block, were arrested on charges related to interfering with a traffic stop. Later, Lucero posted photos online of bruises to her arms, alleging she’d been manhandled by police.

The ratcheting cop-watches and arrests come at a time of anti-police sentiment and heightened concern over officers’ safety. An Arlington PD spokesman noted that in the last fortnight, two New York officers were shot dead in their car, two Los Angeles officers were shot at as they responded to a call, and an officer in Florida was shot and killed responding to a noise complaint.

“It’s a real threat,” Sgt. Houston said.

“We don’t mind them cop-watching. Just leave your guns in the car. Leave your guns at home,” Lt. Christopher Cook told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

But such a bargain seems unlikely. Certified letters from the Arlington Police Department requesting a meeting with the cop-watch and open-carry groups have been denied and ignored. Responding to Cordova’s arrest, cop-watch leader Watkins posted a video doubling down: “You disobey the oath that you took and you kidnap and harass citizens who are well within their rights and this is what you get: pissed off patriots. And it ain’t going anywhere.”

U.S. incarceration rate sickening, disgraceful and far exceeds that of every other nation

incarceration-rates-natoU.S. exceptionalism is no new concept. It dates back to the time before the grandparents of anyone now alive were born. Politicians, whether they actually believe the U.S. is exceptional or not say that it is to prove their patriotism. It meshes with the view that America is No. 1 in the world. Unfortunately, when it comes to many issues of importance, America is nowhere near No. 1: for instance, infant survival rates, per capita income and the percentage of the populace with healthcare coverage.

In a couple of arenas, however, we do lead. We spend more on our military than the next nine to 13 nations combined, depending on how one counts. And we incarcerate people at a far higher rate than any other nation. Hardly something proud to be exceptional about.

Currently, some 2.2 million people are doing time in our nation’s prisons and jails. That is a phenomenal 500 percent increase in four decades. The reason for this surge has not been a surge in crime rates. Rather it’s been a change in sentencing policies. The consequences have been prison overcrowding—and an attempt to relieve it with one of the worst ideas ever to get widely adopted in the States: private prisons.

As anyone who has paid even cursory attention to this situation is aware, the huge proportion of the increase in imprisonment has been because of drug crimes, and the vast majority of those are marijuana-related. Indeed, nearly half the federal prison population have been sentenced for drug crimes—currently 98,000 inmates—with more than a fourth of that number being marijuana-related. In 1970, that 48.7 percent total incarcerated for drug crimes was just 16 percent.

As of 2011, only about 16 percent of inmates at state prisons and local jails are there for drug crimes, but the total figure is more than twice as many as are in the federal system for such offenses: 225,000 people in state prisons and more than 180,000 in local jails for drug crimes.

The grand total: Half a million Americans are doing time for drug-related crimes.

But punishment for drug crimes isn’t the only reason for the burgeoning of the numbers who are incarcerated. The Prison Policy Initiative notes:

The U.S. incarcerates 716 people for every 100,000 residents, more than any other country. In fact, our rate of incarceration is more than five times higher than most of the countries in the world. Although our level of crime is comparable to those of other stable, internally secure, industrialized nations, the United States has an incarceration rate far higher than any other country.Nearly all of the countries with relatively high incarceration rates share the experience of recent large-scale internal conflict. But the United States, which has enjoyed a long history of political stability and hasn’t had a civil war in nearly a century and a half, tops the list.

If we compare the incarceration rates of individual U.S. states and territories with that of other nations, for example, we see that 36 states and the District of Columbia have incarceration rates higher than that of Cuba, which is the nation with the second highest incarceration rate in the world.

New Jersey and New York follow just after Cuba. Although New York has been actively working on reducing its prison population, it’s still tied with Rwanda, which has the third highest national incarceration rate. Rwanda incarcerates so many people (492 per 100,000) because thousands are sentenced or awaiting trial in connection with the 1994 genocide that killed an estimated 800,000 people.

The backwardness of U.S. incarceration policy is being given a few important tweaks by the Obama administration, particularly in the arena of disparity in drug sentencing. But this only affects less than 10 percent of those imprisoned for drug crimes in the federal system. While welcome, it does not touch the ideology that has put so many in the slam and left tens of millions with felony records that makes life so much more difficult when they emerge. It’s no fluke that that these policies have disproportionately affected people of color, particularly African Americans as well as American Indians, the latter being incarcerated at the highest rate of any race or ethnicity although their total numbers are small because their portion of the population is.

As every prison reform activist knows too well, making changes in these policies is an uphill slog. Part of the reason for that is that even many progressives don’t put such reforms anywhere near the top of their priority list in spite of the damage these policies do to the individuals imprisoned, their families and society itself.

A good starting point for a new emphasis on prison reform should be with juveniles. The Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama that mandatory sentences of life without parole for juveniles are unconstitutional. But the court did not make this retroactive. Thus, some 2,500 juveniles or people who were juveniles when their crime was committed are still serving these draconian sentences despite what we know about brain development of adolescents. Every one of these sentences ought to be tossed out, and while shorter terms of imprisonment may be sensible, a program that treats these offenders as redeemable is essential.

But that is only a starting point.

Dr. Andrea Oates named Academic Dean At SGTC

Dr. Andrea Oates, the new Academic Dean at South Georgia Technical College.

Dr. Andrea Oates, the new Academic Dean at South Georgia Technical College.

Staff Reports,

Dr. Andrea Oates has been promoted to Academic Dean at South Georgia Technical College. She has been assigned to oversee the Accounting, Business Administrative Technology, Marketing, Computer Information Systems, Engineering, General Education, Learning Support, Early Childhood, and Recreation and Leisure Management programs on the Americus and Cordele Campus. She will also be the GVTC Point of Contact for online learning. Dr. Oates was a math instructor at South Georgia Technical College and formerly taught mathematics and technology education in the Sumter County School System. She has her Doctor of Education in Adult Education from the University of Georgia as well as a Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio; and a Master Equivalent in Mathematics from Georgia Southwestern State University. She received her Bachelor of Science in Electrical
Engineering from Howard University in Washington, DC.

Dr. Oates is a member of the Plains City Council and serves on the Board of Directors for the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development at the University of Georgia. She is a graduate of DCA’s Georgia Academy for Economic Development and is a member of the 2015 class of Leadership Georgia. She praises God for the new opportunity to serve the community in this capacity. Her motto is: With God, nothing is impossible.

John White, Former State Representative; Albany and South Georgia’s first Black Elected official after 1868.

Former State Rep. John White (Submitted photo)

Former State Rep. John White (Submitted photo)

Submitted Article,

Today, Former Educator and State Representative Announces his departure from Albany & Georgia. White is leaving Albany to become a resident of Montgomery, Alabama; Alabama’s Capital City. He say’s “my family needs me, so I’m moving.” White say’s “I have a Lot of People to Thank for whatever success I’ve had, as I went about serving the people of Albany and Georgia”. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve and thankful for the many people were willing to stand with me through many challenging and difficult times, as we worked to make life better for our citizens. I especially want to thank the many ministers of the community and their congregations for their support as we worked to improve both, personal lives and the social and economic health of the Albany community. White say’s “it is with mixed emotions, that I say farewell to this city and the surrounding areas where I built some great friendships & relationships and of course upsetting a few people along the way, in the name of progress or fairness. I have made some lifelong friends here as well as across the state; surely I will maintain contact with my friends and some associates.

White came to Albany in 1967 at age 26 armed with a Masters Degree from Florida A & M University. He accepted employment as the Student Services coordinator at Monroe Vo-Tech School; where he intended to stay for just 2 years. However, that challenge plus various community challenges turned into 47 years; spending 22 years in active work of education. My son’s were born here and I proudly say that they are now successful adults.

White says, “I have spent most of my adult and professional life in Albany & Georgia and worked in education, in communications as a news reporter, as news anchor at TV 10 in Albany and the political arena, working to make a difference in the lives of people, especially, “the least of these”. White Served in the Georgia House of Representatives for 22 years; He was appointed by President Carter to a three year term (1978-1980) as commissioner of (UNESCO) The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, an arm of the United Nations; He served as President of the Albany SCLC and served on many Boards and Commissions of charitable and public service organizations. He Co-Sponsored the Legislation to make Georgia on My Mind, the official State song and brought Ray Charles to Albany in 1979; He authored the Georgia Lottery Bill and introduced it in the House of Representatives in 1977; against many
odds this effort took 14 years- it is now one of the most successful Lotteries for Education in America. White was a Charter Member of Albany Tomorrow, whose design was to improve life in Albany, in downtown, the riverfront and other areas. He created legislation to bring about Elected Boards of Education in Dougherty County as well as across the state. He wrote the “Non-Public Post Secondary Act of 1990” a Law that was designed to regulate For Profit Schools in Georgia. As Chairman of the Interstate Cooperation Committee of the Legislature, he requested the Highway Department & Board of Regents build a Pedestrian Mall under the Highway on the campus of Albany State University. These are but a few Public Service activities that White was involved with. He said “You are invited to read about other activities in my upcoming Book.” White’s final statement was “I wish Albany and her citizens well as they move by the vision they posses, and they should always remember; if something is morally wrong, it can never be politically right. White says “January 2nd. 2015, He will registered to vote in Montgomery and become an official Citizen of the State of Alabama.” He may be reached @ 229-347-5085.

“Thin Red Lines”

RHONDA BROWN, D.D.

RHONDA BROWN, D.D.

Incidents of black men being attacked and killed by police are not new. In fact, they are as old as this country’s foundation. Record numbers of Black Americans are accosted by the police regardless of our professional accolades, educational successes or economic status. I have yet to hear anyone give me an adequate reason why this should still be the case in 2015. So I’ll give you one: We’ve been sleepwalking through the racial debate since the Reconstruction Era.

Why else are we still facing the same societal bias Frederick Douglass spoke about in his books if our nation was not so hellbent on cultivating that fear? And there’s always been a reason to be afraid of Black America, hasn’t there?

From the 1990s onward, the reason for racial bias has been our “gansta” subculture, the underbelly of the Rap and R&B scene. In the 1960s and 1970s, we were too dominant and opinionated in pursuing civil rights. In the 1940s and 1950s, our dirty dancing in the juke joints with blues and jazz were corrupting the youth of White America. We were marginalized in the 1930s and 1920s because the Klan propagated the myth of the Phantom Negro – you know the one terrorizes folks like the boogeyman and requires white hoods and burning crosses to scare him off. And before that, a bunch of big shots with a lot to lose decided to create the Prison Industrial Complex to fill the void that slavery left behind by creating
laws to incarcerate blacks in record numbers so they would work in chain gangs. So this “fear of the Negro” is antiquated.

But minorities are not America’s issue. The core troubles in our country are a result of large scale corporate and institutional thievery alongside a backwards class system , plain and simple. The other thing is that our world is becoming
increasingly smaller with globalization and less free overall as a result. Minorities have always just been a convenient scapegoat. Let’s also set the record straight: Poverty and violence are equal opportunity employers within our country.
Propagating the myth that they are just so-called “ethnic problems” is an affront to logic. Crystal meth, heroin and prescription medication abuse has been investigating White America with violence for decades now. It shows up in the form of crime, domestic violence, suicides and public shooting sprees. So these issues affect everyone, not just those with pigmentation.

In 2015, it is also willful ignorance to pretend that the racial issue has been “solved.” Our nation has run us around in verbal circles over welfare programs, education and Affirmative Action, as if this trio only help Black America to the exclusion of every one else. This is simply not the case. Meanwhile, the plight of the poor White in America is all but invisible. Yet that hasn’t stopped the political wheel harping on a so-called “abundance of unfair minority advantages” to capture their attention. Are they joking? This system has been crushing Whites slowly to death just like the rest of us. At the end of the day, the only real color our nation gives a damn about is green.

All of this appalls me. It should appall you. I’m tired of seeing thin red lines, these bloody trails from souls crushed under this American machine. And I’m not talking about the folks you see on the television screen. I’m talking about people dying little by little from everyday indignities. There multitudes of stories our nation has refused to acknowledge.

That blood demands that we wake up. With the advance of technology, we are able to SEE now. Not just the versions we blindly choose to see, but all of it. Injustice will not be shoved under the rug and hidden. It won’t be dismissed out of turn and buried. These images will continue to rise. As they do, we need to keep praying, working and striving towards greatness. We need to keep protesting with peace and clasp hands across the racial divide. As human beings, we will be united. Then there won’t be a sound byte in hell that can stop us from being heard.

But the question I leave for our nation is: “Are you ready to listen?”

The Government Problem

ROBERT REICH

ROBERT REICH

Some believe the central political issue of our era is the size of the government. They’re wrong. The central issue is whom the government is for.

Consider the new spending bill Congress and the President agreed to a few weeks ago.

It’s not especially large by historic standards. Under the $1.1 trillion measure, government spending doesn’t rise as a percent of the total economy. In fact, if the economy grows as expected, government spending will actually shrink over the next year.

The problem with the legislation is who gets the goodies and who’s stuck with the tab.

For example, it repeals part of the Dodd-Frank Act designed to stop Wall Street from using other peoples’ money to support its gambling addiction, as the Street did before the near-meltdown of 2008.

Dodd-Frank had barred banks from using commercial deposits that belong to you and me and other people, and which are insured by the government, to make the kind of risky bets that got the Street into trouble and forced taxpayers to bail it out.

But Dodd-Frank put a crimp on Wall Street’s profits. So the Street’s lobbyists have been pushing to roll it back.

The new legislation, incorporating language drafted by lobbyists for Wall Street’s biggest bank, Citigroup, does just this.

It reopens the casino. This increases the likelihood you and I and other taxpayers will once again be left holding the bag.

Wall Street isn’t the only big winner from the new legislation. Health insurance companies get to keep their special tax breaks. Tourist destinations like Las Vegas get their travel promotion subsidies.

In a victory for food companies, the legislation even makes federally subsidized school lunches less healthy by allowing companies that provide them to include fewer whole grains. This boosts their profits because junkier food is less expensive to make.

Major defense contractors also win big. They get tens of billions of dollars for the new warplanes, missiles, and submarines they’ve been lobbying for.

Conservatives like to portray government as a welfare machine doling out benefits to the poor, some of whom are too lazy to work.

In reality, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, only about 12 percent of federal spending goes to individuals and families, most of whom are in dire need.

An increasing portion goes to corporate welfare.

In addition to the provisions in the recent spending bill that reward Wall Street, health insurers, the travel industry, food companies, and defense contractors, other corporate goodies have been long baked into the federal budget.

Big agribusiness gets price supports. Hedge-fund and private-equity managers get their own special “carried-interest” tax loophole. The oil and gas industry gets its special tax subsidies.

Big Pharma gets a particularly big benefit: a prohibition on government using its vast bargaining power under Medicare and Medicaid to negotiate low drug prices.

Why are politicians doing so much for corporate executives and Wall Street insiders? Follow the money. It’s because they’re flooding Washington with money as never before, financing an increasing portion of politicians’ campaigns.

The Supreme Court’s decision this year in McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission, following in the wake of Citizen’s United, already eliminated the $123,200 cap on the amount an individual could contribute to federal candidates.

The new spending legislation, just enacted, makes it easier for wealthy individuals to write big checks to political parties. Before, individuals could donate up to $32,400 to the Democratic or Republican National Committees.

Starting in 2015, they can donate ten times as much. In a two-year election cycle, a couple will be able to give $1,296,000 to a party’s various accounts.

But the only couples capable of giving that much are those that include corporate executives, Wall Street moguls, and other big-moneyed interests.

Which means Washington will be even more attentive to their needs in the next round of legislation.

That’s been the pattern. As wealth continues to concentrate at the top, individuals and entities with lots of money have greater political power to get favors from government – like the rollback of the Dodd-Frank law and the accumulation of additional corporate welfare. These favors, in turn, further entrench and expand the wealth at the top.

The size of government isn’t the problem. That’s a canard used to hide the far larger problem.

The larger problem is that much of government is no longer working for the vast majority it’s intended to serve. It’s working instead for a small minority at the top.

If government were responding to the public’s interest instead of the moneyed interests, it would be smaller and more efficient.

But unless or until we can reverse the vicious cycle of big money getting political favors that makes big money even bigger, we can’t get the government we want and deserve.

If Obama Were a White Republican, He’d Be a Conservative Hero

African American professor Cornel West once called Obama a "Rockefeller Republican." (photo: Mike Thieler-Pool/Getty)

African American professor Cornel West once called Obama a “Rockefeller Republican.” (photo: Mike Thieler-Pool/Getty)

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News,

If Ronald Reagan were alive today, he would be one of Barack Obama’s biggest fans. In the six years he’s been president, Obama has managed to turn our country’s economy, at its worst point since the Great Depression, into one booming along with the greatest quarterly GDP growth in 11 years. The Dow Jones closed above 18,000 this week – the highest ever. And yet, despite an apparently surging economy, 95 percent of income gains since 2009 have gone to the richest 1 percent. Not even Ronald Reagan’s economic policies created inequality on that scale.

Since his first inauguration, President Obama has masterfully steered the benefits of the recovery to only the wealthy, while the net worth of average working Americans has dropped by 40 percentsince before the recession. Today’s middle class is actually poorer than it was in 1989, when Reagan left the White House. Even though the most recent unemployment rate is 5.8 percent, most of the new jobs that have been created since the recession have been in low-paying sectors, like retail and fast food. The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, which most workers in those industries earn, has less buying power than the minimum wage in 1968.

According to a study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, if the minimum wage had kept up with worker productivity since then, it would be $16.54 an hour today. This means Americans are working harder than ever, but aren’t getting a penny ahead. When you use that data to paint a picture with the most recent quarterly GDP growth surge and the new record-high closing on the Dow Jones, the image is actually quite ugly. The insane growth our economy is experiencing, combined with the fact that 99 percent of Americans aren’t seeing 95 percent of the income gains from that rapid economic surge, means that our hard work is simply feathering the nest of the ownership class. Income inequality hasn’t been this severe since right before the crash that caused the Great Depression.

President Obama could be pushing for the pitifully-low minimum wage for tipped workers to be increased from $2.13 an hour, where it has stayed since 1991. He could sign executive orders to pay all federal workers $15 an hour, to allow government contracts to go only to model employers who pay a living wage, and to allow all government workers to have the right to collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions. He could be investing billions of tax dollars into in creating public sector jobs aimed at rejuvenating American infrastructure – which American engineers have given a D+ in their most recent assessment – rather than lowering the deficit with cruel austerity like the continued budget sequester.

At the very least, President Obama could have vetoed the federal budget “cromnibus” bill that was recently passed, sparing low-income women, infants, and children from another $93 million in cuts to their food assistance. But we’re talking about the president who already approved $8.7 billion in cuts to food stamps in the latest farm bill. Even the last lifelines of help for the most desperate Americans have been slashed to pieces and put on hold by the Obama administration. Even if Republicans are singlehandedly holding social safety nets like food stamps and unemployment extensions for the long-term jobless hostage, the fact that President Obama hasn’t even fought that hard for these programs speaks volumes. Republicans applauded Clinton when he cut welfare in the 1990s, but there’s been nothing but silence from today’s crop of Congressional Republicans for Obama’s cuts to the welfare state.

Instead of fortifying his legacy with economic populism, Obama has presided over an economic “recovery” where only the rich have benefited – the first “recovery” of its kind. If Obama were a Republican instead of a Democrat, Republicans would be singing his praises. Instead, liberals and partisan Democrats are celebrating the news of growth they don’t benefit from, and are the first to shout from mountaintops about lower deficit numbers. In terms of economic policy, Obama and his most diehard supporters are Reagan Republicans. But despite their similarities in economic policy, Reagan would be even more proud of Obama for his foreign policy.

As Glenn Greenwald has pointed out, President Obama has extended George W. Bush’s War on Terror from just Iraq and Afghanistan to Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Libya, and even the Philippines. The U.S. military has more of a presence than ever in the Middle East since Obama took office, with the Iraq War alone costing as much as $4 trillion. Obama has been just as steadfast a supporter of Israel as any of his predecessors – standing by them even as they bombed civilian targets in Gaza earlier this year. He recently signed off on supplying the Israeli weapons stockpile withanother $200 million infusion; this is the same stockpile that Israel used to bomb Gaza. And thanks to Obama’s signature, Israel will now have the capability to refuel fighter jets in mid-air, which would be necessary if Israel wanted to launch airstrikes in Iran.

It speaks volumes that President Obama agreed to cut food stamps by $8.7 billion and WIC by $93 million, but committed to spending $1 trillion over the next 30 years to upgrade our nuclear weapons stockpile. Even while Obama has supported the idea of equipping police officers with body cameras, his defense department stands by the Pentagon’s 1033 program that allows military equipment like grenade launchers, sniper rifles, and apache helicopters to flow to local and county police departments. And despite his historic move to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, Obama is still stuck in a cold war mentality of the U.S. having to command the widest array of nuclear weapons. Obama’s record on foreign policy and the military-industrial complex puts Reagan’s to shame. The ludicrous “Star Wars” program and the 1983 invasion of Grenada don’t hold a candle to the current administration’s imperialist worldview.

From a policy standpoint, it makes no logical sense for Republicans to hate Obama as much as they do. He’s simultaneously expanded the worst economic policies we saw under Reagan and the worst foreign policy we saw under George W. Bush. The rich are richer than ever before, the middle class is becoming poorer, and the poor have had their already razor-thin social safety nets cut to the barest of margins. On top of all of that, the U.S. military is engaged in permanent wars all over the Middle East, and the cold war mentality that drove Reagan and George H.W. Bush is still very much alive in the current White House. The only reasonable explanation left for Republicans’ fervent opposition to everything Obama says and does is that he’s black.

Ending Our Own Racism

The Black Lives Matter protests have been likened to the civil rights movement. (photo: AP)

The Black Lives Matter protests have been likened to the civil rights movement. (photo: AP)

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News,

I have heard many claim they do not have a “racist bone in their body.” Technically that is true, bones can’t be racist – but people who say they are not racist are in denial. Prejudice rooted in fear of what one doesn’t understand is present in us all. The key to ending or not acting on that fear is knowledge drawn from life’s experiences.

Fear itself can be healthy. Fearing someone waving a gun, or threatening people with violent behavior, is healthy. What isn’t healthy is fearing people based on their race or appearance. It is understandable that, when in a new environment, people experience fear based on the stereotypes they have learned watching television or reading stories influenced by the authors’ prejudices.

That is why it is so important to diversify your life experiences. If you live your life on your side of the tracks and don’t experience how others live, fear will be present when you encounter the unknown. There are many things you can do to to keep these fears from being expressed in racist, sexist, or bigoted manners.

The first is to acknowledge them. I live in a diverse neighborhood in Washington DC. I feel safe when walking home unless I’m confronted by behavior that warrants healthy fear. I have long acknowledged that there are thugs in every race and class, but that was not always the case. There was a time when I feared black men because I thought they were more likely to mug or bully me.

I grew up in a very white neighborhood in a small town in upstate New York. My father is Puerto Rican, so I was one of the few minorities in the town, but I never experienced prejudice based on that, since I looked white and was middle class. I went to a public school that was 98% white, and the 2% who weren’t were brought in by a program to give them a better chance to succeed. There was also my best friend Alex. His parents were from Ethiopia. Alex was born in the United States and grew up in our small town. He was one of us. He didn’t act like the blacks we saw in the movies or on television. I never feared Alex or his family.

When I was 16, I ran away from home. The reasons for that are for another story. I hitchhiked south, spending my first night on the streets of Scranton, Pennsylvania. The streets late at night were a scary place. I tried to avoid all interactions. It was the early eighties: the only reason a middle-class white boy could be walking the streets late at night was to score pot.

Of course, I was scared of anyone who approached me at 3 a.m. It was a healthy fear, but I learned that night that it wasn’t right. One of the dealers even told me where to go to get breakfast and find a place to sleep the next night. Some of my prejudice was chipped away. I was home a few days later, back to white middle-class America. Well, that was about to change.

I wasn’t getting along with my father, so at 17 it was off to the Army. My two-year stint in the military was uneventful. The Army life was still segregated. I hung out with white guys, and the blacks hung together. It was the military, very different from interacting as “civilians,” so I don’t think much progress was made. I imagine I became more comfortable around people of color, but no one event stands out to me like the events that would happen on my college campus.

It’s 1983, and I’m using my GI bill money to go to college. I’m on the campus of Syracuse University, walking past a divestment rally. On the stage is a young black boy in a wheelchair. As he was describing what it was like to grow up in apartheid South Africa, my life changed forever. I became an activist that day. My work against apartheid, and later other causes, did not make me a non-racist, but it did chip away and make me less racist. I learned about other cultures, I worked with African Americans, and it had an impact on me, but I still was influenced by racist thoughts and fears.

After college I moved to Washington DC. I remember walking through Lafayette Park for the first time and a hippie named Sunrise calling out to me. He said my mind was too closed to listen. I turned around and ended up spending my first night at the “Peace Park Anti-Nuclear Vigil.” I was fascinated that people were dedicating their whole lives to rid the world of nuclear weapons. After talking to Sunrise, Philip, Concepcion, Ellen and Thomas, I found myself in a sleeping bag being awakened by a policeman who handed me a ticket for “camping.” I was outraged – with all of the people forced to live on the streets, it was illegal to stay warm in a sleeping bag? I later learned it was the actual sleeping that was illegal. I was hooked, I was a full time activist again. I was mentored by people like Phil Berrigan, William Thomas, Mitch Snyder, Roger Newell, and Lisa Fithian, to name a few.

Of course, they taught me that racism was wrong, but that knowledge does not erase the prejudice and fear engrained within us. I was mugged twice during those years in Washington, but my eyes were opening. It wasn’t that the young black men who mugged me were black that caused them to act, it was that they were poor and victims of their environment. I was making lots of black friends, many of them homeless and with reason to be angry. But like me, they chose a different path. My time with the antinuclear vigil and later working and living at the largest homeless shelter in the country taught me that it wasn’t race that led to a life of crime, it was one’s environment.

On the streets, in the shelter, and later in jail, I realized that violent behavior was for survival. Racists equate behavior with race, while it is clear from my experiences that behavior is taught and influenced by one’s experiences. People are not born gang-bangers. People are not born racists. Racism is taught, and develops from ignorance and fear. It is the same with the behavior that makes us fear others. What we fear is a by-product of the environment we grew up in. When we acknowledge this, we achieve the first step toward ending racism, sexism, and bigotry.

It will still be there. I still catch myself fearing people based on their appearance, including skin color. I am less likely to fear a white person that approaches me than some black people. But my life experiences have lessened that fear and made me less prejudiced. So here are some steps you can take to become less racist.

    1. Volunteer at a homeless shelter. During my time living in community at the Community for Creative Nonviolence shelter in Washington DC, I saw the other side of those who thought they had to be a thug to survive. Don’t just serve the soup but talk to people who you would otherwise avoid contact with. You will find they are not any different than you or me.

 

    1. Volunteer at an inner city school. You will learn that kids are victims of their surroundings. As I’ve said, people are not born violent, violence is a product of the environment they are raised in.

 

    1. Don’t avoid neighborhoods of color. Diversity will do more to end racism than any laws or programs. Understanding each other will break down the walls that divide us.

 

    1. Travel. Visiting other cultures is another way to eliminate the fear we have of what we don’t understand.

 

  1. Education. Take classes that teach from a non-Eurocentric viewpoint. Learn foreign languages so you can better understand people from other ethnic groups.

I hear some of you saying, “What about reverse racism?” Well, my response is simple. Any race can take my advice, but the bottom line is: ending racism begins in your own heart.

Dr. King had a dream… and then he woke up

Ridgley Muhammad, Phd

Ridgley Muhammad, Phd

By Dr. Ridgely Abdul Mu’min Muhammad,

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan in his series “The Time and What Must Be Done” has explained to us why we must do something for ourselves before this way of life destroys us as a people. He has warned us about the poisons being put in our foods-a wickedness that is in fulfillment of the warning The Honorable Elijah Muhammad expressed 45 years ago. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught us in How to Eat to Live that food can keep you here and food can take you away. Food is an essential ingredient for life, and Minister Farrakhan reiterates what the Messenger has long said: “Ownership of producing land is a prime and necessary part of freedom. A people cannot exist freely without land-and the so-called Negro in America is evidence of that.”

For the last 45 years we as a people have sought not after land but after a dream “…that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” Each year they roll out Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, but they never introduce you to Dr. King after he woke up. They did not kill him because he had a “dream” in 1963, they killed him because by 1968 he had the support of the poor masses to force the government to consider giving Black people the “check” that they had been denied in “payment” for decades of discrimination and abuse.

The leaders of the 2013 march were inviting people to honor Dr. King while he was “dreaming,” not the King that woke up after meeting with both Malcolm X and The Honorable Elijah Muhammad. On May 7, 1967, and almost one year
away from his assassination, King appeared on NBC News’ “The Frank McGee Sunday Report: Martin Luther King Profile.” During the interview he dismissed the accusation that the Civil Rights Movement was “dead.” King argued that the
movement was simply “moving to a new phase”-economic justice.

“Well now twelve years we struggled to end legal segregation and all of the humiliation surrounding legal segregation. So it was a struggle for decency. It was a struggle to get rid of extremist behavior toward Negroes. Now we are in a new
phase and that is a phase where we are seeking genuine equality, where we are dealing with hard economic and social issues. And it means that the job is much more difficult. It’s much easier to integrate a lunch counter than it is to guarantee an annual income. It’s much easier to integrate a bus than it is to get a program that will force the government to put billions of dollars into ending slums.”

BOE REFUSED MEDIATE WITH WRIGHTAND ACLU

At its Thursday January 8, 2015 meeting, the Sumter County Board of Education (BOE) voted 5-2 to ignore their attorneys’ advice. The advice recommended by the BOE’s attorneys was for BOE to discuss mediation with the Rev. Matt Wright and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The 5-2 vote was along racial lines. The five White members voted not to respect the advice of their lawyers, and the two Black members voted to follow counsels’ recommendations.

Strickland, Brockington, and Lewis, a Republican, conservative multi-million dollar firm in Atlanta, GA, are the lawyers for the Sumter County Board of Elections and Registration. The Strickland firm has a reputation of defending Whites who attack primarily Black majority school boards around the state of GA.

Why mediate? The current school board districts have five board members with two districts at-large. The Strickland firm realized that this configuration of the districts is a violation of Section 2 of the 1965 voting Rights Act. Rev Wright represents the Sumter County NAACP, and his position is that we should have a seven member school board. Led by Chairman Randy Howard, all of the White Sumter County Commissioners voted to give Strickland a $900,000 retainer to fight Wright and the ACLU. The two Black county commissioners voted to mediate before the county hand out nearly a $million dollars.

The BOE’s senseless defense of the lawsuit has cut deep into the county’s budget. The $900,000 retainer fee already awarded the Strickland Law Firm is having a devastating effect on many of the County’s services. The citizens of Sumter County will suffer the consequences, as a result. Dr. Michael Busman BOE chairman who led the opposition not to mediate. He has demonstrated a disturbing persistence to remain BOE chairman at any cost. What a selfish vote to refuse mediation on the advice of their own counsel. His and the other three white board members destructive behavior is insane and even childish. Further, Busman and the three senseless votes not to mediate would create an unnecessary budgetary burden. Sumter County residents need to call or email and tell Michael Busman and Randy Howard to stop the hemorrhage of County money and vote to mediate.

It is time for Busman and Howard to face realities that it is unfair to give the public an unnecessary financial burden. For Busman and Howard to refuse the advice of an expensive, conservative law firm to mediate makes no fiscal sense. Busman and Howard should realize that the Strickland Law Firm will get paid whether they win or lose the case. And for Strickland to recommend meditation hints that Busman and Howard are going to lose the case.

We want to thank school board members Edith Ann Green and Alice Green for doing what is right by voting to mediate the case that is in Federal Court in Albany, GA. We equally thank the two County Commissioners, Thomas Jordan and
Clay Jones who have voted for mediation from day one.

 

Americus Mourns the Loss of SGTC Adjuct Instructor Derrick Terrell Bryant

Derrick Terrell Bryant

Derrick Terrell Bryant

Staff Reports,

DERRICK TERRELL BRYANT was born on September 18, 1978, to Nancy Bryant. He was loved, nurtured and cared for by two sets of loving parents: Nancy and David Green III, as well as Charlie and Yvette Greene. Truly blessed from the beginning until the end, Derrick lived his passions and persevered until his dreams came true.

He accepted and embraced Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior at an early age, and joined the Lebanon Baptist Church. Through faith he lived the life he talked about. Derrick later moved his member to The Restoration Church of Americus. He was a minister in training and he was described as the face of Restoration, so brilliant was his anointing.

Derrick graduated from Sumter County Comprehensive High School in 1998. He received a diploma in Culinary Arts from South Georgia Technical College, where he was also employed as an Adjunct Culinary Arts Instructor. Derrick was only one class away from completing his course work for an Associate of Art Degree in one of his many passions, Culinary Arts. It’s been said that when you saw Derrick coming you knew food was coming also.

Derrick was a bold, determined, kindhearted, creative and generous man who never complained. His confidence and zeal for life, his passion and love for God touched and blessed many lives. He held membership with the Rylander Theater, Sumter Players, Phi Beta Sigma, GA Mass Choir, Georgia Southwestern Choir, and was a member of the Rylander Board. He was a member of DECA at South Georgia Technical College, the National Technical Honor Society, and the first
Culinary Arts student to win the GOAL Award.

We praise God for the gift of Derrick Terrell Bryant and we celebrate his life.

Derrick would tell you quick “don’t worry about me, I’m all right you better get yourself together.” He’s alright yall’.

Derrick is preceded in death by his grandparents Jessie Bryant, J.C. Bryant Sr., Archie Greene, and John Greene, Sr.

He leaves behind: his parents, Nancy and David Green III., and Charlie and Yvette Greene, and one brother, Michael Greene, Sr. (Shakita), and two sisters, Senikkiu Greene (friend Charlie Bass, Jr.) and Tomeka Moran-Wilson and husband; devoted grandmother, Alice Green; one niece Mikiya Greene and one nephew Michael Greene, Jr.; aunts and uncles: Mary Bryant, J.C. (Elaine) Bryant Jr., Verna (Alexander) Thomas, Gwen Bryant, Annie Bryant and fiancé, William Barnes, Elizabeth (Nathan), Jackson, William (Subrina) Bryant, Sr., Willie (Pamela) Bryant, Wilbur Bryant, Sr., Laura Bell Greene, Geneva Lusane, Edward (Jennie Mae) Greene, Archie (Charles) Harris, Curtis (Betty) Greene, Roosevelt (Amy) Greene, Diane Furlow, Bertha (Marion) Smith, Levon (Timothy) Sims, Bobbie Ann Greene, Alma Wallace, Timothy Wallace, Nawanda (James) Miles, Tawyna (Kimothy) Hadley, Alicia Green and Jenneatte
Swinson.

We would also like to recognize his devoted and loving friends, Edward Sampson, LaToya Josey, Nikki Mapp, Rev. and Mrs. Michael Edge, Krystal Jones, David Finley, Ante Williams and many more.

The family would like to acknowledge Derrick’s biological father Al Moran and all other siblings.

Charges against the Quitman 10 + 2, Dropped

 

Quitman 10, aquitted in trail against the Secretary of State

Quitman 10, aquitted in trail against the Secretary of State

After four years, three trials, two mistrials, and an acquittal in the trial of Lula Smart; Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s Voter Fraud Cases against the courageous citizens known as the Quitman 10 has utterly failed.  Prosecutors with the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia announced a dismissal of all charges against the remaining defendants after Lula Smart was acquitted by a Brooks County Jury of 19 charges of voter fraud. “The Witch hunt is over and the Quitman 10 story reaffirms that Davids can still have victories over Goliath” said Francys Johnson, Georgia NAACP President and Civil Rights Attorney from Statesboro, Georgia responding to the recent news. “This is a total victory against the forces of retrogression that tried to intimidate and suppress democracy in South Georgia” said Johnson.

The issue of Voter Fraud was front and center during the past election cycle as the Georgia NAACP stood with civil rights and faith leaders from across Georgia in solidarity with the New Georgia Project.  The New Georgia Project and the Georgia NAACP delivered more than 51,000 unprocessed voter registration applications to Secretary of State’s Office.  After multiple arrests, protests, sit-ins, and a civil case; Secretary Kemp still has not addressed questions raised regarding the lack of processing of more than 51,000 voter registration applications.

The Georgia NAACP believes the Secretary of State has abused his power.  Specifically, he is clearly targeting minorities including women, the elderly and young voters by attempting to suppress voter registration drives and absentee campaigns like those used in Quitman. “We will not tolerate voter suppression or intimidation.  This is an attack on all of us, and we will not back down” said Johnson.

“While I am grateful this nightmare is over for the remaining defendants; Georgians must ask why Secretary of State Brian Kemp wasted millions of dollars intimidating honest Georgian trying to use the tools of civic engagement to make a difference” said Johnson.