Mr. James Curtis Byrd Strange

imageMr. James Curtis Byrd Strange age 65 of Americus, Georgia died on Saturday, July 18, 2015 at his home. Funeral arrangements are incomplete and will be announced later by West’s Mortuary.

Mr. James Curtis Byrd Strange was born on January 10, 1950 to the late Roy Byrd and Ruby Lee Givens.

He is survived by three children: James McGhee and Monique Jackson, both of Americus, Georgia and Shancreisha Byrd of Atlanta, Georgia; three step children: LaShanda McArthur Mansfield of Americus, Georgia Chiquita Hosley of Leesburg, Georgia and Lecante Carter of Jacksonville, Florida; his companion of 25 years, Virginia Hand of Americus, Georgia; four sisters: Geneva Williams, Juanita Ross, and Phyllis Green all of Americus, Georgia and Hazel Jucly of Albany, Georgia. Several other relatives and friends also survive.





Mr. Elijah Smith was born June 18, 1941 in Lee County, GA to the late Mr. Walter Smith & the late Mrs. Johnnie Mae Smith. “Smitty” as he was affectionately called, was educated in the public schools of Lee County, GA and went on to obtain his Bachelor’s degree from Albany State University. He further pursued his education with obtaining a Master’s degree and Specialist degree in Education from Troy State University. He retired from Tri County High School as Assistant Principal in 2005. At an early age, he joined Piney Grove Baptist Church where the Rev. Henry Hosley is now the pastor.

He touched many lives during his tenure as an educator, and in community organizations. He had a passion for gardening and never turned away from an opportunity to cook for his family and friends.

He was preceded in death by his brothers; Ezekiel Smith, Randolph Smith, Theodis Smith, and Isaiah Smith, and one sister, Vera Smith.

Survivors include his wife of 28 years, Patricia A. Smith of Warner Robins, GA. A daughter, D’ete (Bryant) Foster of Fort Hood, TX.  Two sons;  Elijah Keith Smith of Columbus, GA and Jason L. Smith of Warner Robins, GA.  A step-daughter, Yolanda (Daniel) Myers of Albany, GA. Biological grandchildren;  Kelvin M. Coley of Jackson, MS ; Devyn T. Coley of Americus, GA; Aleyah M. Minnis of Fort Hood, TX. Step-Grandchildren; Daniel Myers Jr, Dakayla Myers, Dakota Myers, Dakari Myers, and December Myers all of Albany, GA.  He is also survived by two sisters; Angie Kate Atkins and Nervine (James) Smith, of Lee County, GA.  3 sister-in-laws; Shirley (Joseph) Bailey of Ellenwood, GA, Delois (Bill) Johnson, of Bluffington, South Carolina, and Dorothy (Uli) Briese of Kerfel, Germany, and Teresa Dismuke of Stone Mountain, GA. One brother-in-law, Mr. Leon Butts, Rex, GA & several nieces and nephews also survive.




Ms. Cheryl Denis Pope was born on August 22, 1972 in Americus, GA to the late Mr. Willie Broner and Mrs. Linda Pope Larkin, who survives.  Cheryl was educated in the public schools of Sumter County, Georgia .  She was graduated in the 1991 Class of Sumter County Comprehensive High School.  She was a member of the Saint Paul A M E Church of Smithville, GA. Cheryl passed unexpectedly on July 3, 2015 at the Phoebe Sumter Medical Center in Americus, Georgia.

She is preceded in death by her grandparents: Leonard Pope, Lester Broner, Sr. and Georgia Lee Broner; a granddaughter, D’Aja Walker; a sister, Coretta Boone and an uncle, Bobby Broner.

In addition to her mother, Mrs. Linda Larkin, she leaves to cherish her memory, her son, Nathon Johnson and daughter, Tarvishia Larshay Walker, both of Americus, GA; her brother, Timothy Pope, Americus, GA and 6 sisters:  Mrs. Valerie (William) McGhee, Albany, GA, Ms. Kenyada Barrington (Eric Deriso), Americus, GA, Ms. Melita Stancil, NYC, NY and Ms. Heather Broner, Ms. Crystal Broner and Ms. Jessica Broner, all of Little Rock, ARK.  Cheryl is also survived by her grandmother, Mrs. Doris Pope; 4 aunts, a devoted aunt, Ms. Nadine Pope, Mrs. Elma (Willie) Golphin, Mrs. Janet (Elder Elijah) Smith and Ms. Regina (John) Clark all of Americus, GA; 6 uncles, Mr. Leonard (Emma) Pope, Sr, Mr. Donald (Linda) Pope, Mr. Calvin (Susie) Pope, Mr. Harold Pope, Mr. Eddie Broner and Lester Brown, Jr.; a host of nieces, nephews, cousins other relatives and sorrowing friends, also survive.




Mrs. Virginia Gandy-Duncombe was born in Americus, Sumter County, Georgia on February 5, 1944 to the parentage of the late Mr. Sonnie Lee Wiggins and the late Mrs. Vesta Jones Wiggins. She is preceded in death by two brothers, Mr. James Wiggins, Mr. Herbert Wiggins and a sister, Ms. Ora Dell Combs.

He leaves to mourn her passing, a daughter, Ms. Christal Sheffield and finance’, Augusta, GA; two brothers, Mr. Dobbs (Jacquelyn) Wiggins, Americus, GA and Mr. Graham (Jermina) Wiggins, Roswell, GA; two sisters, Ms. Celestine Neeson, Douglasville, GA and Ms. Theresa Shields, Seattle, WA; a sister-in-law, Ms. Sharliss Wiggins, Atlanta, GA; and a host of nieces and nephews, including, Mrs. Betty (Thomas) Bell, Dobbs Wiggins, Jr., Mr. Erin (Elizabeth) Wiggins, Menki Wiggins, Ron Wiggins, Ryan Wiggins, Carol Sorrell, Allen Wiggins, Mr. George (Shelly) Combs, Jr., Charles Combs, Mrs. Phyliss (Lorenzo) Brown, Mrs. Marnie (Martin) Cagle, Mrs. Janice (Phillip) Arnochie, Mr. Nigel (Tammy) Combs and Stanley Shields, cousins other relatives and friends also survive.




Mrs. Annie Ruth Sims Harvey, affectionately called “Honey B”, was born in Sumter County, Georgia on September 29, 1938, to the parentage of the late Mr. L.W. Sims and the late Mrs. Mary Gladys Stewart Sims. She received his education in the public schools of Sumter County. At an early age, she joined the Bethlehem Baptist Church, where she served until her health failed. Annie Ruth was also known as the lady with the “Black Cadillac”. She was also a very caring and loving person who never turned anyone away. Everyone that knew her was always welcomed to go by to receive love and food. She was a mother and caregiver to all her brothers and sisters. She enjoyed going to Simpson Café and playing cards. Her favorite saying was, “Put down.” She is preceded in death by two sisters, Catherine Poole and Deborah Sims.

She leaves to cherish her memories— three sons: Mr. Eddie Sims, Mr. Johnny Harvey, Jr., both of Americus, GA and Mr. Paul Harvey, Washington, DC; five daughters: Ms. Patricia Jackson, Ms. Tiffany Harvey, Ms. Wiffi Harvey, all of Atlanta, GA, Ms. Brenda Harvey, Americus, GA and Mrs. Ella (Eric) Freeman, Evans, GA; five brothers: Mr. Charlie Sims, Sacramento, CA, Mr. Bobby Sims, Mr. Harold Sims, Mr. Robert L. (Ashley) Sims, all of Americus, GA and Mr. McArthur Edwards, Portland, OR; four sisters: Ms. Georgia Mitchell, Ms. Minnie L. Davis, Ms. Martha Seay and Ms. Earnestine Rogers, all of Americus, GA; a sister-in-law, Ms. Mary Jenkins, Americus, GA; her aunts and uncles: Mr. Sammie (Ann) Stewart, Miami, FL, Mr. Lynnwood Stewart, Ms. Retha Stewart of Americus, GA and Ms. Martha Edwards, Smithville, GA; 15 grandchildren: Lagarius (Jennifer), Miya, Latriss, Crystal (Kendrick) Cyntica, Alonzo (JaQuita), Byron, Dustin (Antonia), Jonathan, Lanchetti, Edrick, Mirari, Chez΄and Terry; 19 great grandchildren; one great-great grandchild, Kiersten Dodson; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends, including a lifetime friend, Ms. Sylvia Gordon, also survive.





Deacon Samuel Mays was born July 8, 1949 to the parentage of the late Mattie Mays Burchett and the late John Thompson, Sr. He grew up in Smithville, GA and after graduating from the Lee County Training School, he went to New York where he was drafted into the United States Army.  While in New York he attended the Long Island University. He worked  for the Human Resource Department for the City of New York for several years. He later, worked as a bus driver for the New York City School System.  He was dedicated to providing clothing and food to anyone in need as a member  of the Breakfast Club. He returned home to Georgia in 2013 and joined the Green Grove Baptist Church where he was ordained as a deacon and served until his health failed.

He leaves to mourn his passing two daughters, Aishia (Chris) Gordon Atlanta, GA and Samantha Mays of New York;  one grandson, Johnathon Mays , Brooklyn, NY; five brothers, Curtis Thompson, John Thompson , Jr, Earl (Mary) Thompson  all of Orlando FL, Steven (Carolyn) Thompson, Shreveport , LA; three sisters, Mary Harris, Americus, GA, Paulette Thompson, Orlando, FL, Debra Burchett-Lee, New York, NY; his aunts and uncles , Daisy Mays, Brooklyn, NY, Mary Thompson, Smithville, GA, Emma Ison Hempstead, NY, Catherine Daniels, Cherry Hill, NJ, Ruth Hall , Palm Bay, FL, Charlotte Sapp, Leesburg, GA , Delores Boyd, Queens, NY, Beatrice Dempsey, West Palm Beach, FLA, Gladys Floyd, Detroit MI, Albertha Thompson, Fairmount, NC, and James Battle, Brooklyn, NY: a loving great aunt Lonnie Lewis of Philadelphia, PA; a caring and devoted companion Loretta Smothers of Smithville, GA; devoted caring friends, Mr. and Mrs. James Wilson and children, Classmates of Lee County High School Class of 1967, Friends from the City of New York, a host of nieces, nephews and  cousins to include a devoted cousin  raised with him Michata Wynn of Atlanta, GA , and a devoted cousin Annie Miller of Atlanta GA and a host of other relatives and friends also survive.




Veteran M. C. Manuel was born in Americus, Sumter County, Georgia on October 9, 1936 to the parentage of the late Mr. Mack Manuel and the late Mrs. Artelia Wilkerson Manuel. At an early age, he joined the New Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he served faithfully until his health failed. He received his education in the public schools of Sumter County. After graduation, he enlisted in the United States Army and was honorably discharged. While serving his country, he received the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal w/Bronze Clasp-5 Loops. He loved putting together model cars, spending time in his yard, watching the History Channel and the love for his pets. He was a member of the American Legion Post #558, Iron Horse Club and the VFW Lodge. On October 11, 1980, he married Mrs. Ethel Hall Manuel and they had 34 wonderful years together. He is preceded in death by his siblings, Robert, Melvin, Curtis and James Manuel, Annie Ruth Manuel, Artelia M. Sherrod, Ola Mae Smith, Mattie Terry, Lizzie Brown, Mary Taylor and Daisy Bell Jones; and a daughter, Carolyn Hall.

He leaves to cherish his memories, his wife, Mrs. Ethel Hall Manuel, Americus, GA; two sons, Mr. Kenneth Ray Manuel, Temple, TX and Mr. Gregory (Carolyn) Hall, Newport News, VA; five daughters, Ms. Pamela Manuel, Temple, TX, Ms. Kimberly Manuel and friend Eric, Baton Rough, LA, Ms. Deborah Pace, Dallas, GA, Mrs. Tracy (Kenneth) Monts, Plains, GA and Ms. Kimberly Holt, Americus, GA; two aunts, Ms. Mamie Wilkerson, Americus, GA and Ms. Elizabeth Wilkerson, Warner Robins, GA; five sisters-in-law, Mrs. Shirley (A.J.) Brantley, Stone Mountain, GA, Mrs. Betty (Al) Harris, Acworth, GA, Mrs. Bernice (Maurice) Williams, Amherst, NY, Ms. Eva Ware, Americus, GA and Ms. Lula Wise, Charlotte, NC; two brothers-in-law, Mr. John (Darlene) Hall, Americus, GA and Mr. Harrison Hall, Rochester, NY; 15 grandchildren, Kelvin, Ronnie and Marcus Pace, Corey Hicks, Carol Monts, Jasmine and Gregory Hall, Clarisa and Justine Holt, Cornelius Hall, Reggie Benson, Zoe Roberson, Kenneth Tidds, Raizhe L. Manuel and a devoted granddaughter, Ashley (Ben) Mathis; 17 great grandchildren, Braylon, Kenley, Anthony, Corterrious, Jacorey, Miaele, Marcus, Jr., Marley, Autum, Samae, Jordan, Avantae, Ariyah, Rahjee, Rijan, Raizhe J. and a devoted great grandson, Briceton “Pete”; his caregivers, Ms. Angela Wimbush, Ms. Pamela Smith, Ms. Patricia Rogers, Dr. John Marshall, the staff of Gentiva Hospice and Amedisys Home Health Nurses; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, including a devoted cousin, Mrs. Betty (Thomas) Bell, other relatives and friends also survive.

Mr. Kemp Morgan Howard

Mr. Kemp Morgan Howard

Mr. Kemp Morgan Howard

Mr. Kemp Morgan Howard was born in Sumter County, Georgia on November 28, 1962 to the parentage of the late Mr. Glossie Howard and the late Mrs. Fleeola Morgan. He was a member of the St. John A.M.E. Church. He received his education in the public schools of Sumter County and was graduate of the 1982 class. He was employed by Eaton formerly Metalux for 30 years. He was married to the late Mrs. Patricia White Howard. He is also preceded in death by three brothers, Mr. Glossie Howard, Jr., Mr. Estee Howard and Mr. Clayton Howard and two sisters, Ms. Sarah Howard and Ms. Alice Howard.

He leaves to cherish his memories; two sons, Mr. Mario Howard and Mr. Terrence Jones and a daughter, Ms. Tanesha Jones of Americus, GA; one brother, Mr. Dale Morgan, Plains, GA; six sisters, Ms. Janice Hill, Ms. Barbara Morgan, Ms. Renee Mann all of Plains, GA, Ms. Doretha Morgan, New York, NY, Ms. Barbara Howard, West Palm Beach, FL and Ms. Ethel Moore, New York; his mother-in-law, Ms. Annie Maude Edmonds, Plains, GA; his aunt, Ms. Janie Flowers, Delray Beach, FL; his uncle, Mr. Curtis Solomon, Plains, GA; a sister-in-law, Ms. Dorothy J. and husband; five brothers-in-law, Mr. Glenn White, Mr. Thomas White, Mr. Stanley White, Mr. Jesse White and Mr. Mark White all of Plains, GA; and a host of nieces, including a devoted niece, Ms. Kiwante΄Monique Morgan, Plains, GA, nephews, cousins other relatives and friends, including devoted friends, Mr. Lewis Stewart and Mr. Jerome Jackson also survive.




Ms. Destiny Shauniece Brown, was born in Dougherty County, Georgia on March 4, 2000 to the parents of Mr. Damien L. Brown and Ms. Shawanza D. Jackson. She was a dedicated member of United Holiness Church. She received her education at home through the Sumter County School System. Destiny was raised and nurtured by her loving grandparents, George & Dorothy Wilcher, she was the apple of their eye and the joy of their heart.“My Angel”

In addition to her parents, she leaves to cherish her memories, two brothers, Mr. Destin Jackson of Americus, GA and Mr. Dyante Watson of Portsmouth, VA; her grandparents, Mrs. Dorothy Wilcher, Mr. George Wilcher and Ms. Eva Jackson all of Americus, GA; her great grandmother, Ms. Ella Mae Harvey, Americus, GA; her great great grandmother, Mrs. Rena Paul, Americus, GA; her aunts & uncles,  Mr. Travarres (Stacey) Asberry of Tennessee, Mr. Darren B. Brown and fiancé, Ms. Arlena Pless, Mr. Derrick Brown, Mr. George Wilcher, Jr., Mr. Nelson Jackson all of Americus, GA and Ms. Shanella Jackson, Stone Mountain, GA; her great aunts & uncles, Mrs. Gennie (John) McElveen, Ms. Mary Asberry, Mr. Larry (April) Paul, Mr. Willie J. (Latrenda) Asberry, Ms. Josephine Smith, Mr. Walter Jackson, Mr. Robert (Oveda) Jackson and Mr. Andrew (Gussie) Jackson; devoted caregivers, Ms. Wylinda Wilkerson and Ms. Pamela Dowdell; and a host of cousins, including a devoted cousin, Ms. Tiffany Jackson other relatives and friends also survive.

Most Health Care Professionals Have Worked While Sick

Clinicians cite staffing shortages and patients concerns as reasons to work while sick.

Clinicians cite staffing shortages and patients concerns as reasons to work while sick.

HealthDay News — Many health care professionals work when they are sick, putting their patients at risk for serious illness or even death, according to a study published online July 6 in JAMA Pediatrics.

A team of researchers, led by Julia Szymczak, PhD, of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, received anonymous survey responses from 536 health care professionals (physicians and advanced practice clinicians).

The vast majority of those surveyed (95.3%) believed that working while sick put their patients at risk. Still, 83.1% admitted to working while sick at least once in the past year, and 9.3% said they worked while sick at least five times. The respondents said they worked with symptoms like diarrhea, fever, and significant respiratory issues. The reasons given for deciding to work while sick were as follows: 98.7% didn’t want to let their colleagues down; 94.9% had concerns about staffing; 92.5% didn’t want to disappoint their patients; 64.0% were worried about being ostracized by their colleagues; and 63.8% were concerned about continuity of care.

“The study illustrates the complex social and logistic factors that cause this behavior,” the authors write. Lowering the stigma that can come with sick leave “must factor in workforce demands and variability in patient census and emphasize flexibility,” Jeffrey Starke, MD, of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and Mary Anne Jackson, MD, from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, write in a related editorial. “Also essential is clarity from occupational health and infection control departments to identify what constitutes being too sick to work.”

Drug Overdose, On The Rise, Cropping Up As Campaign Issue

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie participated in a roundtable discussion at the Farnum Center in Manchester, N.H. earlier this month.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie participated in a roundtable discussion at the Farnum Center in Manchester, N.H. earlier this month.

By Tamara Keith,

As presidential candidates visit the early caucus and primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire, they’re hearing about heroin and meth. Drug overdoses now kill more Americans than traffic accidents. And, in many places, there’s a growing acceptance that this isn’t just a problem for other people.

New Hampshire is in the throes of a crisis. Last year more than 300 people in the small state died of drug overdoses. Mostly opiods like oxycontin and heroin.

On a recent morning at the Farnum Center, a drug and alcohol treatment center in Manchester, N.H., about a dozen women sat around doing arts and crafts. They string plastic beads into bracelets, paint flowers and laugh a lot.

“We admit clients from all over the state,” said Christine Weber, director of substance abuse services at the center. “At all different levels of education, professional status, socio-economic status. And that’s a change for the community.”

A dose of heroin is now cheaper than a six pack of good beer, said Ted Gatsas, the mayor of Manchester. “There is no simple fix. We are not going to arrest our way out of this,” he said. Gatsas is a prominent Republican in the state and bends the ear of every presidential candidate he meets. It turns out that’s a lot of them — seven so far this cycle.

“I’ve told them all the same thing,” he said. “What I believe is the biggest problem not only facing this city but the state of New Hampshire and this country is the heroin epidemic.”

Drug policy is deeply personal for those who are affected by addiction and the people who want to be president are talking about it. Whether it be Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s work on mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s recent visit to the Farnum Center.

Christie told a story about a law school friend who had it all until he injured his back and got addicted to prescription painkillers.

“One Sunday morning,” Christie said. “I got a phone call that they found him in a hotel room with an empty bottle of Percocet and a bottle of vodka. And he was gone.”

The war on drugs, Christie said, hasn’t worked. And he argues resources should be put into treatment and recovery rather than incarceration. It’s a position that not long ago would have been risky for a politician. But now it is increasingly mainstream.

At an event at a children’s furniture factory in Keene, N.H. that was supposed to focus on helping small businesses, Hillary Clinton found herself in an intense conversation about addiction. Pam Livengood, an employees there, told Clinton she and husband are raising their grandson because drug addiction has a grip on they boy’s parents.

“My grandson’s mother can’t be quite so responsible. So we’ve picked it up and took over but we also need to see more substance abuse help,” she said.

Clinton had only been campaigning for a week and that wasn’t the first time someone had brought the issue up. She described it as a hidden epidemic.

“This is not something we can just brush under the rug and wish it would go away,” Clinton said. “We need a concerted policy, national, state, local, public private — and we need to try to help young people like the mother of your grandson.”

Clinton now has two aides working to draft a policy prescription and she talks about it regularly as part of her opening remarks at campaign events.

“When I started thinking about this campaign, I did not believe I would be standing in your living room talking about the drug abuse problem, the mental health problem and the suicide problem,” she said recently in Mason City, Iowa. “But I am now convinced I have to talk about it. I have to do everything I can in this campaign to raise it, to end the stigma against talking about it.”

Several candidates have had addiction touch their own families too. While the issue may not drive people to the polls — Americans don’t count drugs among the most important problems facing the nation, according to a Gallup survey — it’s still an issue around kitchen tables and one that isn’t going to leave the campaign trail any time soon.

Heroin Use Surges, Especially Among Women And Whites

A user prepares drugs for injection in 2014 in St. Johnsbury, Vt.

A user prepares drugs for injection in 2014 in St. Johnsbury, Vt.

By Richard Harris,

Health officials, confronted with a shocking increase in heroin abuse, are developing a clearer picture of who is becoming addicted to this drug and why. The results may surprise you.

The biggest surge is among groups that have historically lower rates of heroin abuse: women and white (non-Hispanic) Americans. They tend to be 18-25 years old, with household incomes below $20,000. “In addition, persons using heroin are abusing multiple other substances, especially cocaine and opioid pain relievers,” says a reportpublished Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

All told, more than half a million Americans used heroin in 2013, according to the report. That represents a nearly 150 percent increase since 2007.

Men still outnumber women, but that gap is narrowing. And 96 percent of heroin users said they’d used other drugs within the past year.

In 2013 alone, more than 8,200 Americans died of heroin overdoses. Most of them took that as a deadly combination with other drugs — most often cocaine. The death toll has skyrocketed in recent years. It’s up from 1,800 in 2001, according to a reportfrom the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“As a doctor who started my career taking care of patients with HIV and other complications from injection drugs, it’s heartbreaking to see injection drug use making a comeback in the U.S.,” says Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the CDC. He unveiled the report in a phone briefing.

Those stark facts define the challenge that health officials face. The epidemic isn’t just a problem of inner city “shooting galleries” and a dead end for the down-and-out. To a considerable extent, Frieden says the heroin “crisis” is growing out of prescription drug abuse, especially opioid painkiller use. People who abuse painkillers are 40 times more likely to abuse or be dependent on heroin, the study finds.

“It’s really a one-two punch,” Frieden said.

First, he says, the widespread use of opiate painkillers has primed people for heroin addiction. These drugs and heroin have essentially the same active ingredient. The second punch is that heroin is increasingly available, and often far cheaper than prescription painkillers. Frieden estimates that heroin is available on the street at one-fifth the cost of prescription pain pills.

This problem calls for a comprehensive response — one that recognizes the changing demographics of heroin use, says the CDC report, which is co-authored by Christopher Jones at the Food and Drug Administration along with colleagues from the CDC.

Frieden said “an urgent all-society response” is needed. It would include:

  • Tracking the use of prescription painkillers and making sure doctors only prescribe them as necessary.
  • Providing treatment to individuals who are addicted to these drugs.
  • Cracking down on smuggling and street sales of heroin, to drive up the price and discourage abuse.
  • Increasing the use of naloxone, a drug that can be injected into someone with a heroin overdose to reduce the risk of death.

Payments to doctors are on the rise

is_141117_billing_payment_stethoscope_800x600BY GREGORY TWACHTMAN in Practice Economics ,

Between improvements in reimbursement and increases in out-of-pocket spending by patients, physicians are seeing an increase in their payments.

Private insurer payments rose 2% for established patients between 2013 and 2014, while payments for new patients grew 1.4%, according to a study from athenahealth and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Established patients are paying 3.5% more, while new patients are paying about 3% more.

Meanwhile, the number of physicians working in practices wholly owned by physicians is declining. According to an American Medical Association survey, from 2012 to 2014, the percentage of doctors working in this setting dropped from just over 60% to nearly 57%, while the number of physicians working directly for hospitals or practices that are partially owned by hospitals grew from 29% to nearly 33%.

In the Medicaid arena, researchers are examining ways to reduce Medicaid churn – when a person earns enough to lose coverage only to rejoin the Medicaid roster when their income dips later in the year. The Commonwealth Fund found two models to be most effective – extending coverage until the end of the calendar year once a person is enrolled in Medicaid, which would reduce churn by 78%, or offering 12 months of continuous coverage, which would cut churn by 30%.

And finally, women are spending less on contraception thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found that women are seeing a 20% reduction in their out-of-pocket spending since the mandate took effect.

Trying To Remember Multiple Things May Be The Best Way To Forget Them

gettyimages-475158629edit_slide-4874e948fe7a268e4ff21523af7a56cdfcc5dfe9-s800-c85By CHRIS BENDEREV,

Our days are full of things to remember, and they don’t always arrive in an orderly fashion. Perhaps you begin your commute home and remember that you need to pick up milk. But then immediately, another to-do springs to mind: You never called back your friend last week. You may try to hold both in your head, but in the end the milk, the phone call or both still sometimes fall away, forgotten.

A new scientific model of forgetting is taking shape, which suggests keeping multiple memories or tasks in mind simultaneously can actually erode them.

Neuroscientists already knew that memories can interfere with and weaken each otherwhile they are locked away in the recesses of long-term memory. But this new model speaks to what happens when multiple memories are coexisting front and center in our minds, in a place called “working memory.”

It argues that when we let multiple memories come to mind simultaneously, those memories immediately lock into a fierce competition with each other. The milk and the phone call fight to each be remembered more than the other.

“When these memories are tightly competing for our attention the brain steps in and actually modifies those memories,” says Jarrod Lewis-Peacock, a neuroscientist at UT Austin.

The brain crowns winners and losers. If you ended up remembering the milk and forgetting the phone call, your brain strengthens your memory for getting milk and weakens the one for phoning your friend back, so it will be easier to choose next time you’re faced with that dilemma.

Previous research has demonstrated this competition-based weakening of memories over very short periods of time, but Lewis-Peacock and his colleagues recently put it to the test again, to see if it could cause long-term forgetting. They decided to force two memories to compete: pictures of human faces and pictures of scenes.

First they used an advanced type of MRI technology to get a window into the minds of the study’s participants.

“We’re starting to get to the point where we can pretty reliably sort of read out what a person is thinking about, seeing [and] trying to remember. And we’re doing this on a moment-to-moment basis,” says Lewis-Peacock. His team’s MRI machine learned to recognize the unique pattern that emerges when each participant thinks of faces, scenes or both at the same time.

Then, while participants were loaded in the MRI, they were shown pictures of faces and scenes. They were then repeatedly asked to recall the pictures — in most cases just the images of scenes. “Most of the time, I’ll show you both [then] test you on the scene. You can basically forget the face at that point,” Lewis-Peacock told them.

The minds of participants were now presumably focusing on the memories of the scenes alone. “But occasionally I’m going to sort of trick you and say ‘Aha, no: On this trial I’m actually going to test your memory for the face item,’ ” which forces your brain to quickly pull the face item back to mind, Lewis-Peacock says.

For many participants this meant suddenly both the scene and the face memories existed in their heads at once — competing with each other.

The research team used their MRI to verify that both memories were present at once, and 30 minutes later they did another test for memory of that scene. Indeed, in the trials where competition had taken place, memory for scenes weakened significantly. The upshot: people had more trouble recalling a memory when it had earlier been simultaneously active with another one.

Jarrod Lewis-Peacock cautions that more testing is required before researchers can strongly recommend certain memory-enhancing techniques. Still, he says one interpretation of this is that “switching between thoughts cleanly or efficiently is a good thing.”

“When you’re done thinking about something you totally pack it away. Don’t let it sit in the back of your head,” he says. “Because if you do, it might thrust it accidentally into competition with what you’re moving on to think about.”

Lewis-Peacock also says this competition theory of forgetting points to the limitations of our own minds.

“I think what this data is suggesting is that there might be these unintended consequences to the way that we’re juggling thoughts in our head,” he says. “Maybe it’s not just a whole big free lunch that you can try to do as many things as you can try to without any repercussions.”

Sandra Bland Was Found Dead In A Texas Jail Cell After A Traffic Stop

The FBI has decided not to take the local Sheriff’s word for matters related to the death of civil rights and police accountability activist Sandra Bland.

The FBI has decided not to take the local Sheriff’s word for matters related to the death of civil rights and police accountability activist Sandra Bland.

by  and 

The lawyer for the family of a woman found dead in a Texas jail cell last week said dashcam video from the roadside traffic stop that led to her arrest shows the encounter grew confrontational after she refused an officer’s demand to put out her cigarette.

Sandra Bland, 28, was pulled over by a state trooper for a routine traffic violation in Prairie View on July 10, authorities said. After running her license and insurance, the trooper returned to her car with what appeared to be a written warning, according to the the lawyer, Cannon Lambert, who sat down with NBC News in a joint interview with Bland’s sister.

Lambert, citing what he had seen on the dashcam video, said the trooper then asked Bland to put out her cigarette.

Bland, who seemed irritated at having been pulled over in the first place, responded: ‘Why do I have to put out a cigarette when I’m in my own car?'” Lambert said. “And that seemed to irritate him to the point where he said, ‘Get out of the car.'”

Bland, a civil rights advocate who had moved to the Houston area from suburban Chicago for a new job at Prairie View A&M University, “wasn’t comfortable getting out of the car,” Lambert said. So the trooper “looked to force her to get out of the car by way of opening the door and started demanding that she do,” Lambert said.

Lambert said there was “no clear understanding why she had to get out of the car in the first place. It is a routine traffic stop.”

The lawyer added other details about video in an interview with the Tom Joyner Morning Show. As the trooper tried to get her out of the car, she reached for her cell phone “to try to go about taping what was going on.” Moments later, the trooper pulled out a Taser and pointed it at her, Lambert said. At that point, Bland got out.

Authorities said Bland became “argumentative and uncooperative” and was taken into custody for assault on a public servant.

She ended up in the Waller County Jail, where, three days later, she was found hanging in her cell. She was declared dead soon afterward, and her death was ruled a suicide.

But Bland’s family disputes that account. They have asked for an independent autopsy.

“There are concerns regarding the findings already, that we’ve communicated previously, so we are doing our own due diligence,” Lambert said. “We want to understand what happened, we want to know what happened and we want to know why.”

Bland had said in an online posting that she was “depressed.” But Lambert said that statement was made in March — and says little about her mindset before her death.

Bland’s sister, Sharon Cooper, said Bland did not have any “medically diagnosed clinical depression” but was prone to good days and bad.

On Thursday, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards criticized the Waller County Jail for insufficient training and for failing to check on inmates face-to-face every hour, and ordered it to come into compliance. The Waller County Sheriff’s Office responded that the two jailers involved did receive mental health training, just not in the past year, and jailers did check in on Bland, but used an intercom system rather than an in-person inspection as required.

The sheriff’s office said it has no reason to believe either of these deficiencies contributed to Bland’s death.

Unarmed Mississippi man died after 20-minute police chokehold, witnesses say

Jonathan Sanders, who was 39, repeatedly told the officer ‘I can’t breathe’, according to one witness. Photograph: Frances Sanders

Jonathan Sanders, who was 39, repeatedly told the officer ‘I can’t breathe’, according to one witness. Photograph: Frances Sanders

Jon Swaine in New York,

Witnesses have told Mississippi state investigators that an unarmed black man died after being kept in a chokehold by a police officer for more than 20 minutes and denied CPR, according to his family’s attorneys, who said an autopsy confirmed he was fatally strangled.

State medical examiners provisionally found Jonathan Sanders died through homicide by manual asphyxiation, according to attorneys Chokwe Lumumba and CJ Lawrence.

Sanders, who was 39, repeatedly told Stonewall police officer Kevin Herrington “I can’t breathe”, according to one witness.

According to the attorneys, one witness alleged that Herrington said he was “going to get that nigger” seconds before confronting Sanders in Stonewall on the night of 8 July, and several said the officer was the aggressor. Police have described the encounter as “a fight”.

“We believe there is probable cause for a prosecution,” the attorney Lawrence said in an interview on Wednesday. “A determination should now be made by a jury at an open trial as to whether officer Herrington had any justification for choking Jonathan Sanders to death.”

The attorneys are requesting that a special prosecutor take over the case, citing remarks at a town hall meeting on Tuesday by Clarke County’s district attorney, Bilbo Mitchell, that he had handled 15 cases of killings by police during his career and none had resulted in an officer being indicted.

Warren Strain, a spokesman for the Mississippi department of public safety, did not respond to a request to confirm the preliminary conclusions of the medical examiner’s autopsy. Stonewall police chief Michael Street did not respond to a message requesting comment.

Sanders’ attorneys said they were present this week while three witnesses, whom they declined to identify due to safety concerns, separately gave matching accounts of what happened to investigators from the Mississippi bureau of investigation (MBI) during filmed interviews.

According to the attorneys, the three witnesses are related to Sanders by marriage and one has 10 years of experience working in law enforcement. They said this witness told Herrington he was trained in CPR and had his own mask for use on a patient but was repeatedly prevented by the officer from using it on Sanders.

The version of events given by witnesses, they said, is that Sanders was riding by a gas station on a horse-drawn buggy at about 10.30pm when he made a comment to Herrington, who had pulled over a driver. The attorneys said this driver had told them he was drunk and his registration tags had expired.

The driver said his stop was abandoned when Sanders asked Herrington “Why don’t you leave that man alone?” or similar, said Lumumba. “According to the driver, once the officer saw Jonathan, his attention was piqued and he said: ‘I’m going to get that nigger.’”

The attorneys said investigators from the MBI had informed them they were aware of the alleged racist remark and were in communication with the driver.

Lumumba said a person they call Witness 1 was standing at the window of a nearby home seeking signal for a cellphone when he or she saw Sanders approaching on his buggy, wearing a light on a headband similar to those used by climbers.

“Then, Witness 1 saw officer Herrington’s blue lights come on,” said Lumumba. “Jonathan’s horse reared up, startled, and knocked Jonathan off his horse. His light slipped around his neck. Jonathan ran to get the horse and Officer Herrington came from behind him, yanked him down to the ground in front of the house with the light strap and placed him in a chokehold. Jonathan didn’t even see him.”

Early reports said witnesses had thought Sanders was choked with some kind of flashlight, which attorneys now believe was a reference to the head-mounted light.

“I never saw him go for the officer,” said Witness 1, who was quickly joined by Witnesses 2 and 3, according to the attorneys. They said Herrington held Sanders face-down on the ground and placed his arms around Sanders’ neck to restrain him.

Witness 3, who the attorneys said has law enforcement experience, told investigators he ran outside to see what was going on and told Herrington: “‘Let him up; he won’t be able to breathe in my grass because my grass is too high,’” said Lumumba. Witness 2, who had also moved outside, said he or she then heard Sanders twice say “I can’t breathe”.

The witnesses said Herrington was shouting to them that Sanders was reaching for his gun, despite the 39-year-old being unable to reach the weapon. The officer initially asked Witness 3 to help remove the gun from his belt, before changing his mind and asking for a woman who had been travelling with him in his patrol car to come out and remove the gun with Witness 3’s guidance.

“The chokehold had been going on the entire time,” said Lumumba, who noted that Eric Garner died in about three minutes when placed in a chokehold by a police officer in New York City last year, prompting months of protests.

“Witness 3 was saying ‘Let him up, let him up, he’s not breathing, let me do CPR’,” said Lumumba. “He is trained in CPR and had a mask in his home. But Herrington said ‘No, stand back’.”

The witnesses said that after being instructed by the officer, Herrington’s companion attempted to call for backup but could not operate his radio system, according to the attorneys. Witness 3 again stepped in to help, and officers were dispatched, but they travelled to the wrong location and had to be redirected.

“This time frame, according to Witness 3, is that Jonathan was in a chokehold for more than 20 minutes, close to 30 minutes,” said Lumumba, who said that when a support officer identified as “Officer Derek” arrived, Herrington told his colleague: “I think I put him to sleep.”

Medics were called and used Witness 3’s mask, according to Lumumba, but they did not appear to competently administer CPR. After they sat Sanders upright, “blood starts rushing out of his mouth, and they are never able to get a pulse”, said the attorney. Sanders was put in an ambulance and taken to hospital, although the family’s attorneys say he was dead at the scene.

Al Gore: Obama’s Approval of Arctic Drilling Is ’Insane’

Al Gore

Al Gore

By Suzanne Goldenberg, Guardian UK

The former US vice-president and climate champion Al Gore has made a rare criticism of Barack Obama as Royal Dutch Shell prepares to drill an exploratory well in the Arctic Ocean, denouncing the venture as “insane” and calling for a ban on all oil and gas activity in the polar region.

With Shell planning to begin drilling in the oil-rich Chukchi Sea within days, Gore said in an interview with the Guardian that Obama was wrong to ever allow drilling in the Arctic.

It was the only real point of criticism from Gore of Obama’s efforts to fight climate change, at home and through a global deal to be negotiated in Paris at the end of the year.

“I think Arctic drilling is insane. I think that countries around the world would be very well advised to put restrictions on drilling for oil in the Arctic ocean,” Gore told the Guardian in Toronto, where he was passing on his techniques for talking about the climate crisis to 500 new recruits from his Climate Reality Project.

As conventional fields decline, the Arctic is the last frontier of the oil era, containing more than 20% of the world’s undiscovered, recoverable oil and gas. But after the BP oil disaster five years ago, the risks of offshore oil drilling are all too clear – and Arctic drilling should not go ahead, Gore said.

“I think the Deepwater Horizon spill was warning enough. The conditions are so hostile for human activity there. I think it’s a mistake to drill for oil in the Arctic. I think that ought to be banned,” Gore said.

It’s now nearly 10 years since Gore turned his old slideshow on climate change into the Oscar-winning Inconvenient Truth, nearly 15 years since he won the popular vote in the 2000 election only to lose the White House to George Bush.

What was once a somewhat lonely cause – at least among leaders of Gore’s stature – has been taken up by the current US president and, more recently, the pope.

Obama elevated climate change to the top of his second term agenda, and has announced a new event or initiative every week since January. Gore, who has tried very hard to stay out of Obama’s way, now gives him top marks – although he still says the White House has bent over too far to accommodate the oil and gas industry.

“I think he is doing essentially a very good job but on the fossil fuel side I would certainly be happier if he was not allowing so much activity like the Arctic drilling permit and the large amounts of coal extracted from public lands,” Gore said.

With the critical negotiating round at Paris only five months away, it is the president and the pope who are the most visible campaigners for climate action, not Gore.

The “recovering politician”, as Gore once called himself, is so divorced from politics he neglected to offer up the expected plug for a Democrat to win the White House in 2016, when asked about frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s chances.

“I think it’s too early to endorse a candidate or predict an outcome,” he said.

Instead, Gore remains focused on his two proposed fixes for climate change: raising up campaigners in eight key countries, and improving the business environment for wind and solar and other clean energy sources.

Unlike the pope – who used a pastoral letter on climate change to deliver a scathing indictment of the prevailing economic order – Gore believes that “reformed capitalism” will eventually solve the climate campaign.

“I think that some form of market capitalism is at the base of every successful economy in the world today,” he said. “I think that reforms including putting a price on pollution to discourage more pollution is definitely a part of the solution.”

On one July day, the former vice-president spent the morning in downtown Toronto lauding the efforts of Canadian provincial leaders on climate change – in sharp contrast to the prime minister, Stephen Harper, who has pushed hard to expand oil and gas production.

The next day he planned to perform his slide show to the Climate Reality recruits again – only this time the 30-minute version, for those occasions when they only had time for a more abbreviated pitch.

After a couple of false starts – Gore disbanded an earlier group, the Alliance for Climate Protection – such training sessions have now morphed into a vast, global undertaking.

At the request of the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, Gore has taken his climate training on the road to eight countries seen as critical to a strong outcome at Paris: the big emitters US, India, Australia, Canada, China, and Brazil and those on the front lines such as South Africa and the Philippines.

The 50-person gatherings in Carthage, Tennessee, have given way to audiences of several hundred at a time – 1,200 were at the Chicago session.

In the last two years alone, Gore has trained more than 5,000 new Climate Reality recruits in 115 countries, according to the group’s own figures. Only a minority identified as dedicated environmental campaigners, the group said.

Really they are scouting for anyone with strong ties to a community – a church, a school – who can tell a convincing story.

Over three days, the trainees are inducted into the world of climate activism as described in Gore’s narrative arc: starting with the picture of earth as viewed from space, the latest science on drought and sea-level rise and other consequences of climate change, and then the multi-coloured grids of solar and wind installations.

This is where Gore’s excitement really lies. When he talks about, say, solar installations in Costa Rica, his speech gets increasingly folksy – like the clean energy Garrison Keillor – and there are whoops from the hundreds of activists in the ballroom.

The sessions are free, although activists have to make their own way to the venue. So far, only one known climate denier has managed to infiltrate one of the trainings.

The idea is for trained-up climate activists – directly schooled in the latest science by Gore and other trainers – to use their personal experience and contacts to spread the word.

Some may go on to use their connections to lobby in high places. Others may drop off the map, lured to the training by a chance to be in the room with Gore rather than actually do the work.

Ken Berlin, Climate Reality’s chief executive, said graduates put on a total of 2,500 speaking events last year. The group claims a Facebook following of 361,000, with about 35% in the US, followed by India, Pakistan and the Philippines.

As Paris approaches, and with the pope on his side, Gore said he is the most optimistic he has ever been about finding a solution to the climate crisis.

The time is ripe, he said. Like same-sex marriage, like civil rights, he believes public opinion is about to make the massive shift in favour of action.

“Climate is now on that matrix,” he said. “The change is inevitable because any great cause that becomes resolved into a binary choice between what’s right’s what and what’s wrong the outcome becomes inevitable.”

The question of course is time – how long will it take to mobilise to solve climate change. Gore sees Paris as a first step, but said he is under no illusions about the kind of deal like to emerge.

“We are going to see a Paris agreement. I think that’s assured at this point. I think it has been a near certainty since the US-China agreement” to cut emissions, which happened during Obama’s visit to Beijing last November, he said.

It’s an open secret of the climate negotiations that there is nothing compelling leaders to take strong climate action.

Countries are free to set their own targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions which ensures that while there will certainly be a deal at Paris, it will not achieve the internationally agreed goal of limiting warming to 2 degrees celsius – even Ban has conceded that.

For Gore, however, that’s not the point of Paris. The agreement is just meant as a kind of cattle prod to get countries moving on the systemic transformation of their economies, away for coal, oil and gas and to energy sources that do not rely on fossil fuels.

“Even if it falls a little bit short of the 2-degree threshold it will definitely lend a tremendous amount of momentum to an historic transition that is now well underway, away from carbon based energy and towards renewables efficiency, battery storage and sustainable agriculture and forestry,” Gore said.

“My optimism is focused on primarily on the larger goal of making this transition and finding a solution for the climate crisis. Where the Paris agreement itself is concerned I think that it is likely to be a success. Whether it actually reaches the number of reductions that are necessary to hold temperature increases below 2 degree celsius, I don’t know.”

He went on: “The Paris agreement will be an important milestone but I think we are now seeing development in the marketplace.”

Elizabeth Warren: We Need to Expand Dodd-Frank

warrenelizabeth_051215gettyBy Lydia Wheeler,

Financial reform advocates are using the fifth anniversary of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to push for more financial regulations.

Starring in a video produced by Americans for Financial Reform, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) calls for expanding the federal law that created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

“We need a world where the largest financial institutions in this country understand they can’t build their business models around cheating people, and they can’t get out there and take crazy risks and expect the American taxpayer to pick up the tab when something goes wrong,” she said.

Warren, an architect of the CFPB, described the world of 10 to 15 years ago as a place where anyone could get a ‘”free” credit card.

“It was only somewhere back on page 31 in tiny little fine print that you found out the true cost of the credit card, the real risks associated with this credit card,” she said. “That was a world where the game was rigged and the big banks were making money hand over fist.”

Since Dodd-Frank, Warren said, the CFPB, which just under 4 years old, has already forced the biggest financial institutions in the country to return more than $10 billion to people they cheated.

“I’m incredibly proud of what we built. We built Dodd-Frank with the biggest, most powerful institutions fighting us every inch of the way,” she said. “It’s the most David vs. Goliath story. You know they spent more than a million dollars a day fighting against financial reform and particularly fighting against that little consumer agency.”

Under the video on its website, Americans for Financial Reform is taking signatures on a survey that asks lawmakers to move forward not backwards on financial reform.

“We are counting on you to stand up to the industry lobbyists, protect the Dodd-Frank Act, and fight for a banking system that works for all Americans,” the survey says.

The 35-Year-Old Georgia Mother Who Was Shot and Killed by Police

landscape-1436966461-ajcstoryBy Charles Pierce, Esquire

This has been a long year already regarding the phenomenon of how police come to kill the people they are sworn to serve. The places are established and iconic—FergusonBaltimore, the first bad scene inCharleston. On Tuesday, the family of Eric Garner, who was choked to death for the crime of selling loose cigarettes, came to a settlement with the city of New York. In all of these cases, of course, race acted as what the arson-squad people call an accelerant to the largely justified outrage that followed the killings. But the problem of cops killing citizens is more vast than that, as an outbreak of actual journalism down in Atlanta has proven.

Working with a local television station, Brad Schrade of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution examines the extremely aromatic five-year old case of Caroline Small, a 35-year-old mother of two who was shot and killed by two police officers in Glynn County, a warren of small towns along the Georgia coast. It is a perfect case study of the problems with police culture in this country—most notably, the near impossibility of getting the justice system to deal with police who kill people. It is a true American horror story.

“If she moves the car, I’m going to shoot her,” an officer yelled. Small pulled forward. Eight bullets tore through the windshield, striking her in the head and the face. The shooting was captured on police dash cam video. So was what the two Glynn County officers said afterward. They compared their marksmanship. One told a witness how he saw Small’s head explode. Their words were as callous as Small’s death unnecessary. “This is the worst one I’ve ever investigated,” said Mike McDaniel, a retired GBI agent who supervised the 2010 criminal investigation into the officers’ actions. “I don’t think it’s a good shoot. I don’t think it’s justified.”

The story has it all. A really bad shoot. Cops refusing to call EMTs after the shooting despite the fact that their victim was still alive and would live for another week. Cops making up a bullshit story to cover their own asses. Cops tampering with the crime scene evidence, also to cover their own asses. An ambitious local prosecutor so far in the tank to the police department that she won’t dry off until 2024. Attempts by outside law-enforcement to bring justice in the case that run into a stonewall so thick and high that open bureaucratic warfare breaks out between Glynn County law-enforcement and the detectives from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation tasked to look into the shooting. A grand-jury proceeding that is an embarrassment to 500 years of jurisprudence, so thoroughly rigged to no-bill the tewo officers that one of its members openly expresses his remorse for having been so completely hoodwinked. And, ultimately, no charges against the two officers and a quick-and-dirty dismissal of a civil suit brought by Caroline Small’s family. The temptation just to block-quote the whole story is strong, but here is one sample of how things went so badly wrong in this case.

[Riding DA Jackie] Johnson waited a year to present the Small case to a grand jury. In the interim, she asked a mentor to review the evidence. Rick Currie, the DA in neighboring Waycross, had worked with Johnson when she was fresh out of law school. Currie told Johnson he thought the officers should be charged with felony murder, Currie told the AJC and Channel 2. Instead, Johnson undertook a highly unusual set of maneuvers. She cut a deal with the two officers, asking them to waive their right to a 15-day advance notice of any indictment. In return, she agreed not to offer an indictment for grand jurors to consider — unless they asked for one. Almost unheard of in grand jury proceedings, Johnson also shared the state’s case and evidence with the officers’ attorneys two months before the grand jury met, according to court records.

Jack McCoy wept.

We have two big problems in this country and this story brings them both into sharp relief. First, we have developed at almost every level a police culture that is thoroughly militarized both in its equipment and in the mentality it instills in too many of its officers. And, second, the institutions of civil justice are either completely incapable, or resolutely unwilling, to cope with the first problem. These problems are not exclusive to big cities or, as this story illustrates, to small towns. Caroline Small was the victim of a crime when she was alive, and the victim of several other crimes after she was dead. Like the kidz say, read the whole thing. When the president talks about criminal-justice reform, he should talk about this, too.

Black Americans Are Killed At 12 Times The Rate Of People In Other Developed Countries

Charleston ShootingBy NATE SILVER,

“We as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries,” President Obama said earlier today, in reaction to the killing of nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday. The details of the case, including the motivations of the suspect, Dylann Roof, are still unfolding. (We encourage you to read coverage broadly, including from our colleagues at ABC News.) But I wanted to add just a little bit of context to Obama’s remarks — how the U.S. compares to other countries overall, and how that comparison obscures a wide racial divide: Black Americans are far more likely to be homicide victims than white Americans.

We’re looking for good data on the incidence of mass shootings in different countries. There doesn’t appear to be all that much of it. But mass shootings represent a tiny fraction of homicides overall. And thanks to recent efforts by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which published data on homicide rates for almost every country, we can compare the overall homicide death rate in the U.S. to those elsewhere.

According to the CDC’s WONDER database, 5.2 out of every 100,000 Americans were homicide victims, on average, from 2010 to 2012. That’s not especially high by global standards; the median country had 4.7 homicide deaths per 100,000 persons over the same period,1according to the UNODC data. The highest homicide rate in the world was in Honduras, with 87.9 homicide deaths per 100,000 persons.

But the homicide death rate in the U.S. — as Obama intimated — is more unusual in comparison with other highly developed countries. In the chart below, I’ve compared each country’s rate of homicide deaths against its Human Development Index (HDI), an overall measure of welfare and the standard of living.2

Whether the U.S.’s homicide rate qualifies as an outlier depends on exactly where you set the cutoff for an “advanced” country. Among countries with an HDI of .850 or higher — these are the 31 most well-off countries in the world — the U.S.’s rate of homicide deaths, 5.2 per 100,000 persons, is easily the highest. The next-highest are Brunei (2.0), Finland (2.0) and Israel (1.9). And the U.S. homicide death rate is more than three times higher than neighboring Canada (1.5).

The U.N., however, sets a slightly lower threshold for a developed country, describing all countries with an HDI of .800 or higher as having “very high human development.” Several countries with an HDI between .800 and .850 have a homicide death rate comparable to the U.S., including Lithuania (6.9), Argentina (5.5), Estonia (5.2), Cuba (4.2) and Latvia (3.8). The U.S.’s homicide death rate is also much lower than Mexico’s (22.0), though Mexico’s HDI is just .755.

But these comparisons neglect a massively important fact, and one that is especially pertinent in the wake of the Charleston shootings.

Extending on an analysis by the academic Kieran Healy, I calculated the rate of U.S. homicide deaths by racial group, based on the CDC WONDER data.3 From 2010 through 2012, the annual rate of homicide deaths among non-Hispanic white Americans was 2.5 per 100,000 persons, meaning that about one in every 40,000 white Americans is a homicide victim each year. By comparison, the rate of homicide deaths among non-Hispanic black Americans is 19.4 per 100,000 persons, or about 1 in 5,000 people per year.

Black Americans are almost eight times as likely as white ones to be homicide victims, in other words.

So for white Americans, the homicide death rate is not so much of an outlier. It’s only modestly higher than in Finland, Belgium or Greece, for instance, and lower than in Chile or Latvia.

But there’s no other highly industrialized country with a homicide death rate similar to the one black Americans experience. Their homicide death rate, 19.4 per 100,000 persons, is about 12 times higher than the average rate among all people4 in other developed countries.

Instead, you’d have to look toward developing countries such as Mexico (22.0), Brazil (23.6), Nigeria (20.0), Rwanda (23.1) or Myanmar (15.2) to find a comparable rate. The Charleston killings were unusual in that it was a mass shooting — and also in that the suspect is of a different race than the victims (both black and white homicide victims are much more likely to be killed by someone of their own race.) But that doesn’t negate that the threat black Americans face from homicide is radically different from the one whites do.

Florist delivers “smiles” to Dublin veterans

July-2015-4_07By Dr. Frank G. Jordan Jr., FACHE,

Dublin, GA– A Dublin florist recently recognized the service of area veterans by delivering flowers in smiley-face mugs to residents at the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center.

For the last three years, Classic Florist has delivered free flowers to veterans at the Dublin VA as a way of thanking them for their service to the nation. Classic Florist manager Randy Stone was enthusiastic about this year’s event and the chance to show appreciation to veterans for defending the country’s freedoms.

“We call the event ‘delivering smiles,’ and brightening the day for these veterans is very rewarding for our entire staff. We’ve been doing it years and plan to continue in the years to come,” Stone said.

Stone was accompanied in delivering the mugs by Classic Florist staff and their families and was joined by managers and volunteers at the medical center, including medical center director Maryalice Morro. Morro and other managers accompanied Stone and his team as they passed out the gifts to veterans in the medical center’s community living center.

Cesci Jones, Recreation Services supervisor for the Dublin VA and the medical center’s coordinator for the annual event, noted that such occasions are not just beneficial for her patients’ morale but also serve as a way of nurturing relationships between the VA and its community partners, which is critical for the medical center’s continued success in its efforts to care for America’s heroes.

“Caring for veterans is definitely a collaborative process, and having people like the Classic Florist folks come in and help us make our veterans’ lives more fulfilling is so gratifying. Our volunteers and partners in the local community are crucial for our success and we are always grateful. We can’t thank Classic Florist enough for their generosity,” Jones said.

Resident veteran Dennis Patrick thanked Classic Florist for taking the time to visit and provide a little cheer to him and his fellow veteran.

“It’s wonderful of you all to take the time to come see us and we appreciate it very much,” Patrick said.

Information on volunteering with the Dublin VA is available by contacting Voluntary Service administrative officer Utaw Vines at or call 478-272-1210 ext. 2729.

“Because Of God’s Love She Was Here

Mrs. Mamie Lue Davis, age 75, passed away Friday, July 17, 2015 at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital,  Albany, Georgia.

Mrs. Mamie Lue Davis, age 75, passed away Friday, July 17, 2015 at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, Albany, Georgia.

Oglethorpe Funeral Home, Montezuma, GA,

Mrs. Mamie Lue Davis, age 75, passed away Friday, July 17, 2015 at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, Albany, Georgia. 

The funeral service will be conducted at 1:00 P.M., Thursday, July 23, 2015 at Mt. Olive Baptist Church, 420 East Jefferson Street, Americus, where Rev. Dr. H.C. Wilson is pastor. Interment will follow will follow in Eastview Cemetery, Ashby Street, Americus, Georgia.

“Because Of God’s Love She Was Here”

Mamie Lue (Wilkerson) Davis was born on December 5, 1939 in Americus, Georgia into the parentage of Mamie and Joe Wilkerson.  She was their only beloved daughter.   As a young child, her interests included sewing, sketching, dancing and most of all, she loved singing!  

Mamie graduated from A.S. Stanley High School in Americus, Georgia in 1957.  After high school, she moved to Newark, NJ where she met and married her husband, the late Mort Davis.  Within this union, two children were born.  During this time in her life, she took on the role of “homemaker” – a stay at home mother.  In the early 1970’s she relocated back to Americus, Georgia where she reunited her family of three daughters and began a career as a cosmetologist.   Working as a hair stylist was one of the happier times in her life because it gave her an opportunity to display her love and natural abilities.  She would later become employed with the Davidson Rubber Company where she worked as an Inspector.   She retired from DRC in the early 1990’s.

Mamie joined Mt. Olive Baptist Church at an early age.  She loved the Lord with all of her soul and with all of her might.   Her relationship with God strengthened over the years and her faith was unshakable!   She loved attending church, however, during the last three years of her life, her health began to fail and she was unable to attend as she truly desired.  Nevertheless, despite her aggressive illness, she still praised God in the good and bad times.  She paid homage to God through daily devotion, song and praise with the assistance of network ministries.  She also loved journaling the word of God and spending time talking with friends and relatives. 

“Because Of God’s Love and Mercy She Is Gone”

<span “font-size:16.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:=”” minor-latin;mso-fareast-font-family:calibri;mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin;=”” mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:”times=”” roman”;=”” mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;mso-ansi-language:en-us;mso-fareast-language:=”” en-us;mso-bidi-language:ar-sa”=”” style=”color: #2a2a2a;”>As an adult, Mamie prided herself on being a mother, grandmother, supporting daughter and honoring God. She leaves to cherish her memory  her mother Mrs. Mamie Wilkerson of Americus, Georgia; two  brothers, Leon Wilkerson and Joe Wilkerson, Jr. (who preceded her in death) of Americus, Georgia; three daughters, Katrana Luellen (Howard) of Atlanta, Georgia, Sabrina Bert of Warren Robins, Georgia and Diane Davis of Americus, Georgia; four grandchildren, Ninotcha Whitehead and Ryan C. Boone of Warner Robins, Georgia, Bianca Bert of Macon, Georgia and Kenneth B. Campbell, Jr. of Atlanta, Georgia; four great- grandchildren, Samaya Whitehead, Ziah Boone, Kaniyah Campbell and Hunter Bailey Campbell;  one niece Yves Wilkerson and two great nieces, Asia Wilkerson and Déjà’ Wilkerson and a host of other relatives and friends.

Alesia Snipes Sanders-Minnis Debut Solo Album Release “At Thy Word – Absolutely Alesia”

Alesia Snipes Sanders-Minnis will release her new album.

Alesia Snipes Sanders-Minnis will release her new album.

Staff Reports,

Reared and born in Americus, Sumter County in 1959, Alesia Snipes Sanders-Minnis, began her musical career at the age of eight years old by singing and playing the piano. Her parents, the late Evangelist Aaron Snipes, Sr. and Evangelist B. Snipes, instilled within their children the gospel of Jesus Christ and the importance of sharing and spreading it to others. The five children born from this union were instrumental in
providing music through their God-given talents of singing and music. Their dedication to God and their parents enabled them to assist with their evangelistic outreach ministry and the founding of United Holiness Church, Inc., with churches in Georgia, Florida and Alabama.

Because this family is comprised of musical talents, they produced their first recording project in 1994 entitled, “Lord, We Thank You” (The S & S Singers & UVOP). In 2007, Alesia produced her “LIVE” sophomore project again with her family and background group (Expressions of Praise & DPB-150) entitled, “Thou Art My Praise”. It was held at the historic Rylander Theater in her hometown of Americus, Georgia. After the release of this project, Alesia relocated to Fort Worth, Texas, where her musical career while there reached many enabling her to be featured on radio, television and ministered at several churches and venues.

In 2010, she returned back to her home state of Georgia and presently resides in the metro Atlanta area with her husband Le Minnis. Eight years had expired since her last musical project. God spoke to her on February 8th of this year that it was time to do another project. He spoke and told her, “The wait is over and I want you to move out on faith and do just what I say”. The scripture verse she recalled reading was Luke 5:5 when Peter replied to Jesus and said, “Nevertheless, At Thy Word.” Her reply to God was likewise, “Nevertheless, At Thy Word.” With no funds to begin the project, only stepping out of faith to do what He said, she started the process. Letters of solicitation were sent to many who she believed would assist her as had been done with her past projects. The date of August 8, 2015 had been chosen to release her third musical project. This project would be different from the rest for it would only be her this time. From February until the month of July, many responses of encouragement and financial support answered her request to help fund the recording cost for this faith project. She is humbled and grateful for those who partnered with her to make August 8, 2015 a reality. The project is entitled, “At Thy Word…Absolutely Alesia”. She is the executive producer, composer and writer of the eight songs featured on it. Her producer, music arranger, production engineer, photographer and graphic artist, James Andrews of Atlanta, Georgia is to be highly commended for the awesome work and artistry of music and design for this project.

She is making an appeal to the public to join her for this Debut Solo CD Release concert on Saturday, August 8, 2015, 5:0PM at Gethsemane Worship Center located at 529-10th Avenue, Albany, GA, where Bishop Frederick & Lady Felecia Williams will host the event. It is free to the public. Mayor Dorothy Hubbard of Albany, Georgia has proclaimed August 8, 2015 as “Alesia Snipes Sanders-Minnis Day in Albany, Georgia. The CDs will be available for purchasing at the concert as well as DVDs. It is her utmost mission to spread the gospel to the masses through music and the ministry of God’s word. Music is only a tool for her to use to share the gospel. If you’d like to support this ministry and
become a partner of My Praise Outreach, Inc. please go to her website: www.mypraiseprojectoutreach. com, follow her on Facebook (Alesia Snipes Minnis) or YouTube promo: At Thy Word Absolutely Alesia Promo (Link: If you’d like to book her for ministry at your church or organization, contact her at or on her website. Your generous support is greatly needed to continue to spread the gospel to the least, the last and the lost in our world today.

Whining White Southerners

Exclusive: Some brave white Southerners, including the son of segregationist Strom Thurmond, have spoken out against Confederate symbols like the battle flag, but many whites still react with fury at calls for retiring those symbols and other honors bestowed on Confederate leaders, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Whenever there’s a suggestion that the Confederate battle flag should be retired to museums or that the name of Confederate President Jefferson Davis should be removed from major highways, there comes the predictable accusation that such moves amount to “rewriting our history” – but nothing could be further from the truth. It’s a case of recognizing the real history.

What America needs – perhaps now more than ever – is a serious reexamination of its true history, not the pleasant palliatives offered in textbooks approved by Southern-dominated boards appointed by right-wing politicians. Under such benighted tutelage, popular U.S. history as taught in public schools has become primarily a brainwashing exercise, an ideological foundation for “American exceptionalism,” the jumping-off point for today’s endless wars.

Plus, given America’s continuing racial tensions, it’s particularly important to throw away the rose-colored glasses used to view the issues of slavery and the antebellum South, happy scenes of elegantly dressed white people lounging on the veranda of a stately plantation house, sipping mint juleps while being cooled by fans waved by contented and placid Negroes, a white supremacist’s happiest dream.

A June 24 column by Harold Meyerson cited a recent book — The Half Has Never Been Told by Cornell University history professor Edward Baptist —that explodes the enduring white Southern myth of the kindly and beneficent plantation. Baptist argues that even the word “plantation” should be tossed into the trash bin of historical euphemisms, replaced by the more accurate phrase “slave labor camp,” albeit one with a large, pretty house in the center.

“Torture” is also a word that should apply, Baptist argues, with African-American slaves routinely whipped for falling short of their production quotas. This behavior was not just common among the most ignorant of Southern slaveholders but was a practice employed even by Thomas Jefferson.

According to documents at Monticello, Jefferson had slave boys as young as 10 whipped. In another important book that strips away the excuses employed to ameliorate the evils of slavery, Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves by historian Henry Wiencek disclosed a plantation report to Jefferson explaining that his nail factory was doing well because “the small ones” – ages 10, 11 and 12 – were being whipped by overseer, Gabriel Lilly, “for truancy.”

Jefferson and other slaveholders in the older slave states like Virginia, where the soil had become over-farmed and depleted, also found financial salvation in breeding slaves for the newer (and even more brutal) slave states of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.

Jefferson even calculated that a fertile female had a higher financial value than a strapping male in the fields, all the better to help him pay for his extravagant lifestyle and cover his mounting debts. (According to Wiencek’s book and many other accounts, Jefferson also personally contributed to the breeding process by imposing himself sexually on his female property.)

The Deep South

Baptist’s book provides an overview of the slave economy as more than 800,000 slaves from the Mid-Atlantic region were sold to the Deep South’s cotton planters who employed even a crueler system than in Virginia and Maryland. Slaves often were forced to travel by foot and in chains and worked under the constant “threat of torture.”

Even after slavery was outlawed by the Thirteenth Amendment at the end of the Civil War, Southern whites refused to accept their guilt in the atrocities inflicted on African-Americans. Many whites fancied themselves the victims of “Yankee aggression” as they replaced slavery with another grotesque system, Jim Crow segregation often enforced by lynching blacks.

Around 1920, at the height of Jim Crow and the Ku Klux Klan, the Daughters of the Confederacy honored Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who before the war had been a prominent Mississippi slaveholder, by naming major roadways in the South after him, including stretches of Route 1 in Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C.

That roadway skirted some historic African-American neighborhoods settled by slaves freed by President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Many ex-slaves – escaping the Confederacy – ended up in a refugee camp called Freedman’s Village not far from the current site of the Pentagon.

During the Civil War, the area also was the location of Camp Casey, a training base for U.S. Colored Troops who then marched south to fight to end slavery. [See’s “The Mystery of the Civil War’s Camp Casey.”]

Under orders of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his War Department, captured black Union troops were not to be treated as soldiers but rather as slaves in insurrection, meaning that they could be executed or put into slavery regardless of their pre-war status. In several battles late in the Civil War, surrendering USCT solders were murdered, apparently including some of the soldiers from Camp Casey at the Battle of the Crater.

So, the message of Jefferson Davis Highway was always a warning to African-Americans that they were never too far from the hand of white power. The message of Southern white defiance was repeated in 1964 when Jefferson Davis’s name was added to a stretch of Route 110 near the Pentagon as a Virginian riposte to the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

This fury of white victimhood has been on display again in recent years with the hysterical conspiracy-mongering about President Barack Obama’s birthplace, the Republican Party’s assault on voting rights, the examples of police brutality targeting blacks, and the resurfacing of violent white supremacy as in the nine murders at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Some Brave Southerners

After the Charleston church massacre on June 17, some white politicians did step forward and renounce the South’s long history of racism, slavery and segregation. State Sen. Paul Thurmond, son of longtime segregationist Gov. and Sen. Strom Thurmond, joined in calling for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from South Carolina’s Statehouse grounds.

“I am aware of my heritage, but my appreciation for the things my forebears accomplished to make my life better does not mean that I must believe that they always made the right decisions,” Thurmond said. “And for the life of me, I will never understand how anyone could fight a civil war based in part on the desire to continue the practice of slavery.”

But other white Southerners continued to play the “we’re the real victims here” card or to make up endless excuses for slavery and segregation. Some claimed to be simply standing up for “history” by defending the symbols of the slave South. [For a sample of these attitudes, see comments to’s “Confronting Southern ‘Victimhood.’”]

In Arlington, where I had urged the County Board to petition the state legislature to remove Jefferson Davis’s name from Route 1 and Route 110, there was an angry backlash to the idea from some county residents as well as support from others. One group recommended that, in Virginia, Davis’s name be replaced by the name of African-American tennis player Arthur Ashe, who – unlike Davis – actually came from Virginia.

But resistance to the idea continued. On July 2,’s assistant editor Chelsea Gilmour, who was the author of the article about the training of U.S. Colored Troops at Camp Casey, posted an online petition to change the name of Jefferson Davis Highway to a Facebook group page, “I grew up in Arlington, VA,” which has nearly 13,600 members who mostly share old pictures of Arlington, talk about shops that used to exist, and share memories from their time in Arlington.

However, when the petition was posted, Gilmour said, “Within seconds, a tidal wave of comments began appearing, generally along the lines of: ‘Are you kidding?!,’ … ‘I will not sign this,’ ‘Why are you trying to rewrite history?!,’ … ‘This is the history of Arlington and the South and we can’t change it.’ … Additionally, a number of personal insults were directed towards me. … When [one commenter who had responded ‘Idiot!’ was] asked by another commentor why his previous comments had been so personally disrespectful towards me, he replied, ‘This is an attack on my Arlington, my Virginia, my South!’”

Taking Down a Petition

Then, there were demands that the petition be removed from the Facebook page. “Within 45 minutes of posting the petition, it had been removed by the administrator of the page,” Gilmour said. “The hateful reaction from a county which has always prided itself on being ‘liberal’ and ‘open to diversity’ was surprising and disheartening.”

When another person posted the petition separately, it was immediately removed again.

This hostility and close-mindedness have been characteristics of many white Southerners for generations. Rather than acknowledge the historic evils of slavery and segregation – and do whatever they could to make amends to African-Americans – too many white Southerners and racists from other parts of the United States have wallowed in their own delusional victimhood.

Instead of confronting the real and ugly history, they have devised a fictional one that is reinforced by the many symbols of the Confederacy, from the many statues of Confederate generals to the Confederate battle flag (now waved as an international symbol of white supremacy) to the honors given to Confederate President (and Mississippi slaveholder) Jefferson Davis.

It is also not an affront to history to recognize the evil realities of history. Even in the Soviet Union – after the crimes of Josef Stalin were exposed – the government stripped his name from the city of Stalingrad, despite that city’s enormous historical importance as a turning point of World War II. The renaming of the city was an acknowledgement of a very dark history. But, so too, is the history of American slavery.

When President Barack Obama went to Charleston on June 26 to deliver the eulogy for one of the massacre victims, State Sen. Clementa Pinckney, Obama read and then sang words from the hymn “Amazing Grace.” Why his choice was so appropriate was that the lyrics were written by Englishman John Newton, an Eighteenth Century slave trader — “a wretch like me” — who repented for the evil that he had helped inflict.

American Pride in Confederate Treason

Confederate flag. (photo: Getty)

Confederate flag. (photo: Getty)

By Charles Pierce, Esquire,

In which a majority of Americans think the Confederate flag symbolizes Southern pride, not racism.

ell, that certainly was a short-lived sea change. American Exceptionalism is a terrific growth medium for stupid.

The poll shows that 57% of Americans see the flag more as a symbol of Southern pride than as a symbol of racism, about the same as in 2000 when 59% said they viewed it as a symbol of pride. Opinions of the flag are sharply divided by race, and among whites, views are split by education.

Well, that’ll change when the old white folks die off, right?


Millennials see the flag as a symbol of pride, which is actually slightly higher than Gen X-ers (56%) or Boomers under 65 (53%). Seniors, well, They’re at 64%.

I understand that, people being essentially optimistic, if you give them a choice between having something symbolize the best of us or the worst of us, the former’s going to win almost every time. But this is an astonishing example of the end result of 150 years of outright propaganda in defense of the worst act of sedition in American history. (James Loewen’s piece in The Washington Post on Wednesday made that quite clear.) Personally, I am going to continue to blame these guys for the whole thing.

As it turned out, however, the actual membership turned out to consist of eight Republicans and seven Democrats. The Commission voted along straight party lines 8 to 7 to accept all of Hayes’ electoral votes and reject the Democrat’s claims. The night before President Grant’s term expired, the Senate announced Hayes had been elected President. The deadlock was broken behind closed doors when Southern Democrats agreed to support Hayes’ claim for the Presidency if he would support increased funding for Southern internal improvements and agree to end Reconstruction, thus guaranteeing home rule — meaning white control — in the South. Hayes became President and the Southern Democrats could reverse with impunity the gains that blacks had made during Reconstruction.

Thus ended the American Civil War. With a victory for the white supremacy that had been crushed on the battlefield.

My New Declaration of Independence


The original Declaration of Independence, declared 239 years ago, was a philippic against King George and his tyranny. I am no fan of King George. But the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution laid most of his tyranny to rest, and what remained was then laid to rest with him.

We need a new declaration of independence. FDR took a stab at this, with his “Four Freedoms.” Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Freedom from want. Freedom from fear. That’s a good start.

But now, eight decades later, we need to declare our independence from other forms of oppression.

We hereby declare our independence from bigotry, in all its evil forms.We declare our independence from racism, sexism, homophobia, language discrimination and chauvinism. Everyone has equal rights, no matter where you’re from, what you look like, what language you speak, and whom you love. Everyone deserves respect.

We hereby declare our independence from narrow-minded, extremist or violent religious fundamentalism. We live in a land where church and state are separate. Religious belief, no matter how sincere, is no license to dictate to others whether to terminate a pregnancy, whether to use contraception, or whom to marry. Earlier this year, I placed my hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution; I didn’t place my hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.

We hereby declare our independence from the greedy. Malefactors of great wealth have no right to buy and sell elected officials thorough the legalized bribery of “independent expenditures.” They have no right to despoil our land and our water, the air we breathe and the food we eat. They have no right to manipulate or gut our laws in order to increase their lucre. They have no right to jack up the price of what we buy, or determine what we see on TV or on our computer screens.

We hereby declare our independence from 1984-style surveillance. Neither the government nor a private company has any reason to monitor the activities of innocent people, without their express, informed and freely given consent. Who I’m with, what I say, what I buy, what I read; that’s none of anyone else’s business. Privacy — the fundamental right to be left alone — is an essential part of what it means to be a human being.

We hereby declare our independence from exploitation. Bad bosses are today’s King George. They want to work employees as hard as they can, and pay them as little as possible in return. They call the difference profit. If workers are organized, they can fight back. But if not, then they need legal protection from exploitation. If you have a job, you should have a living wage, and time-and-a-half for overtime. If you have a job, you should have health coverage. If you have a job, you should have paid sick leave. If you have a job, you should have a pension. As John Mellencamp would say, “Ain’t that America?”

We hereby declare our independence from misinformation. Fox News is a lie factory. Special interests used to lie to us about the dangers of smoking; now they lie to us about the dangers of pollution and climate disruption. They claim a right to “free speech,” but we have a right to honest speech. We have to be part of what a Reagan aide once dismissed as the “reality-based community.”

We hereby declare our independence from hubris. No, we can’t bring peace through war. No, we can’t force our way of life or our way of thinking on seven billion other people. No, we aren’t going to end the 1200-year-old civil war between the Sunnis and the Shia. No, we aren’t going to go and kill everyone everywhere in the world who harbors some harsh views of us. And no, they won’t greet our soldiers with flowers, bake apple pies for them, and salute the American flag with a hand on their hearts. They want to be them, not us. We can care for victims, protect ourselves and help our friends without sticking our nose into every else’s business.

We hereby declare our independence from a rigged system of fake trade.We buy their stuff, creating tens of millions of jobs in other countries. But they don’t buy an equal amount of our stuff. Instead, they buy our assets — $11,000,000,000,000.00 of our assets. They not only rob us of our jobs, but they drive us deeper and deeper into debt. When did Uncle Sam become Uncle Sap? If we don’t declare independence, the endgame is national bankruptcy.

And me? I hereby declare my independence from the corrupt system of campaign finance. I will not carve up the law into little pieces, and sell it to the highest bidder. I will not make “friends” with lobbyists and special interests and the minions of multinational corporations, and then “help” those “friends.” I will not forsake my real job — doing something good for the 700,000 people who chose me to be their Congressman — in favor of begging millionaires and billionaires for a few crumbs from their tables.

In fact, I already have declared my independence. In 2012, I was the only Member of Congress to draw most of his campaign funds from contributions of less than $200. And in 2014, again. This coming year, whether I run for the House or the Senate, I hope to do it again — I’ll get by with a little help from my friends, my supporters, the progressive community.

We declare our independence. We are not cattle. We are not sheep. We are human beings.

Happy birthday, America. Let freedom ring.


Rep. Alan Grayson

How to Disrupt the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex



President Obama is said to be considering an executive orderrequiring federal contractors to disclose their political spending. He should sign it immediately.

But he should go further and ban all political spending by federal contractors that receive more than half their revenues from government.

Ever since the Supreme Court’s shameful Citizens Uniteddecision, big corporations have been funneling large amounts of cash into American politics, often secretly.

Bad enough. But when big government contractors do the funneling, American taxpayers foot the bill twice over: We pay their lobbying and campaign expenses. And when those efforts nab another contract, we pay for stuff we often don’t need.

This is especially true for defense contractors – the biggest federal contractors of all.

A study by St. Louis University political scientist Christopher Witko reveals a direct relationship between what a corporation spends on campaign contributions and the amount it receives back in government contracts.

A case in point is America’s largest contractor – Lockheed Martin. More than 80 percent of Lockheed’s revenues come from the U.S. government, mostly from the Defense Department.

Yet it’s hard to say Lockheed has given American taxpayers a good deal for our money.

For example, Lockheed is the main contractor for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – the single most expensive weapons program in history, and also one of the worst. It’s been plagued by so many engine failures and software glitches that Lockheed and its subcontractors practically had to start over this year.

Why do we keep throwing good money after bad?

Follow the money behind the money.  According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Lockheed’s Political Action Committee spent over $4 million on the 2014 election cycle, and has already donated over $1 million to candidates for 2016.

The top congressional recipient of Lockheed’s largesse is Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), Chairman of the House Armed Services committee. Second-highest is Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-New Jersey), Chair of the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. Third is Kay Granger, the Subcommittee’s Vice-Chair.

Lockheed also maintains a squadron of Washington lawyers and lobbyists dedicated to keeping and getting even more federal contracts. The firm spent over $14 million lobbying Congress last year.

Remarkably, 73 out of Lockheed’s 109 lobbyists are former Pentagon officials, congressional staffers, White House aides, and former members of Congress.

You and I and other taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay Lockheed’s lobbying expenses, but these costs are built into the overhead Lockheed charges the government in its federal contracts.

And we shouldn’t foot the bill for Lockheed’s campaign contributions, but these are also covered in the overhead the firm charges  – including the salaries of executives expected to donate to Lockheed’s Political Action Committee.

The ten largest federal contractors are all defense contractors, and we’re indirectly paying all of them to lobby Congress and buy off politicians.

To state it another way, we’re paying them to hire former government officials to lobby current government officials, and we’re also paying them to bribe current politicians – all in order to keep or get fat government contracts that often turn out to be lousy deals for us.

Fifty six years ago, President Dwight Eisenhower warned of the dangers of an unbridled “military-industrial complex,” as he called it. Now it’s a military-industrial-congressional complex. After Citizens United, it’s less bridled than ever.

That’s why President Obama shouldn’t stop with an executive order requiring government contractors to disclose their political contributions.

He should ban all political activities by corporations getting more than half their revenues from the federal government. That includes Lockheed and every other big defense contractor.

Pull the Plug on This Corporate Welfare Bank

Former representative Dennis Kucinich. (photo: Twitter)

Former representative Dennis Kucinich. (photo: Twitter)

By Dennis Kucinich and Jim Jordan, USA Today,

Sometimes, reforms are no longer enough to rescue a program.

“I’m not a Democrat who believes that we can or should defend every government program, just because it’s there. Like … the Export-Import Bank that’s become little more than a fund for corporate welfare.” These are the words of Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign.

As a liberal former congressman and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, and a Republican congressman who chairs the House Freedom Caucus, we agree with then-candidate Obama that the Ex-Im Bank is little more than a fund for corporate welfare. And we are united in the belief that taxpayers should not be forced to support welfare for some of the world’s largest companies.

While it began as a New Deal-era program with good intentions, the Ex-Im Bank has become a slush fund for a handful of well-connected megacorporations. Efforts to reform the bank, including one by Kucinich in 2002, have ended in disappointment.

The bank has also failed to comply with reforms that are on the books. Additionally, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigations have uncovered that the bank is rampant with potential fraud and abuse. The bank’s inspector general is investigating 31 cases, with one indictment and more possible.

Today, Ex-Im funds support only 2% of U.S. exports. The vast majority of exporters find their funding elsewhere.

Presidential candidates on both sides rightly oppose the bank. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and nearly every Republican candidate want it to expire. But now that the environment is right to let the bank wind down, lobbyists for Boeing and other favored companies are trying to sway Congress with “Chicken Little” tales of woe and the unstated understanding that campaign dollars will flow to those who toe the Big Business line. This is wrong.

Like then-Sen. Obama, we agree that it’s not right for Congress to defend every government institution. Sometimes, reforms are no longer enough to rescue a program. That’s the case with the Ex-Im Bank. It’s time to let it expire.


In a devastating court ruling defeat last week in the federal court case against the redistricting of the Sumter County School Board, Supreme Court
Justice Clarence Thomas’ vote against Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act looms large. Thomas, a Black man from Savannah, GA, voted with four of his White, conservative Republican Justices to remove Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Had Thomas voted not to eliminate Section 4, we would have never had to face a redistricting plan in Americus that is blatantly racist and regressive. Judge Thomas has to deal with destiny. We will overcome his ignorance, and we will rise in spite of Thomas’ self-hating Uncle Tom-like decisions. He and his four right-wing colleagues have consistently voted against or weakened Black progress.

The redistricting case contested by Rev. Mathis Wright was lost on procedural points, but not on the merits of the case. For instance, in a Section 2 case, certain documents are requested by the court with instructions of “strict timelines and due dates.” All parties must obey the courts’ due dates as ordered. We thank Laughlin McDonald, ACLU lead attorney and Rev Wright, the plaintiff in the case. We are proud of the good fight the two fought. Perhaps, in the near future another Section 2 case will emerge and the plaintiffs and lawyers defeat the racist redistricting plans like the horrifying one in Sumter County.

Fortunately, we had a Black majority school board in Sumter County that was making great advances for our children. However, Americus Republican State Representative Michael Cheokas and Albany, GA, Black Democrat State Senator, Freddie Powell Sims, designed a scheme which produced a so-called local bill in the GA General Assembly that passed. The House Bill (HB) 836 was a racist redistricting plan that would assure that Blacks would never have the majority in a school system that is predominantly Black. This Bill would have never made it if Thomas had voted to keep Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Supreme Court decided along conservative and liberal lines; 5 Republicans and 4 Democrats. Thomas could have voted to protect Section 4 that Blacks bled and died for that right. We wonder what could he have been thinking when he raised his hand against all of the struggles of his own Black people. How can Justice Thomas forget the turbulent 1960’s civil rights struggles we had in Savannah, GA, his home city? Even his grandfather was a dedicated civil rights participant in
Savannah, our publisher recalls.

A self-hating, ignorant Judge like Thomas should never be able to move freely outside the halls of the Supreme Court building without massive protests and constant noise in his ears. Blacks could deny Thomas a peaceful, undisturbed existence. And we Blacks should stop allowing Thomas to destroy hard-earned court battles we have fought so hard to achieve.

Sadly, we don’t know what will happen in Sumter County after losing the school board case, but Black parents, students, and the community will remain vigilant by monitoring Sumter County School’s White majority board actions.

Hip Hop demonized, rappers under surveillance and targeted #JusticeOrElse


The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan with TakeOff and Quavo of Migos.

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan with TakeOff and Quavo of Migos.


( – As momentum builds and nationwide mobilization efforts continue for the planned October 10th gathering marking the 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March, legal troubles have followed Hip Hop artists who met with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and pledged to support the #JusticeOrElse movement.

In a serious message delivered directly to members of the Hip Hop community July 8 and released via social media, Minister Farrakhan spoke of the constant efforts by the enemy to prevent his words of guidance from reaching the youth through the influential and extensive global reach of rappers.

“I have been watched by members of the Anti-Defamation League of the B’nai B’rith, and in their stalking of me and watching those who embrace me, I’ve noticed that if you come and sit with me and I give you good counsel, good advice, the next thing I know my brother rapperhas been arrested,” said Min. Farrakhan. “Know that when you visit with me, or take a picture with me, it upsets them! I know that they are trying to put fear into you,” he noted.

It is no secret that members of the Hip Hop community and those associated with them are kept under close surveillance by law enforcement officials. Police nationwide monitor YouTube videos for information related to suspected illegal activity, and lyrics by some artists have even been entered as evidence against them in court cases.

In Hip Hop forums and in social media, many are saying they would not be surprised if those recently shown meeting with Min. Farrakhan were being targeted, especially if it seems they are using their influence to make positive change.

Even going back to the late 1990s early 2000s, it has been clear there has been a strategic implementation of increased surveillance—some would even say harassment—of Hip Hop artists, and an exaggerated treatment in the media of crimes taking place within the Hip Hop community. The mainstream media has always been complicit in the demonization of Hip Hop culture, which is dominated by Black and Latino youth.

Economist and Forbes contributor Cedric Muhammad observed this dynamic at work during his time as General Manager of the multi-platinum Hip Hop group Wu-Tang Clan. He said changes in the industry have helped rappers break free of the influence of major labels, and the consistent work, patience and love of Min. Farrakhan has outlasted the efforts of his enemies.

“These artists have been worked by the word, the time, and a changing circumstance,” said Cedric Muhammad. “First, the gradual destruction of the music industry due to technological changes which have impacted its economic structure has freed artists from the control of powerful record labels, media outlets, managers, and agents who often acted as a barrier between Minister Farrakhan and many artists. Their newfound independence has made artists their own managers, distributors, and agents allowing them to enjoy freedom of movement to think and do what they want and associate with whomever they want. Secondly, those technological changes have also empowered the masses to become consumers, producers, and distributors of information all at once. This has made activism more efficient as networks are easier to organize. Social media has now joined Hip Hop as the most threatening form of mass communication media,” Cedric Muhammad added.


This is the reason Min. Farrakhan’s embrace of social media is so threatening to the denial objectives of the ADL.

“One of the memos of the counterintelligence program of the FBI dated August 25, 1967 said that no political activist or somebody with an ideology that was perceived as a threat to the establishment should have access to a mass communication media,” said Cedric Muhammad. “Minister Farrakhan’s embrace of social media caught them off guard and it re-connected him, unfiltered, to a generation of artists who had been steered away from him while also introducing him to a younger generation of artists who never heard of him,” he added.

The ADL & Hip Hop

Why is the ADL so interested in Farrakhan’s Hip Hop connections? It seems the ADL is highly interested when  rappers come into Min. Farrakhan’s sphere of ideological influence. Some say powerful members of the Jewish community orchestrated Professor Griff’souster from the  rap groupPublic Enemy following comments he made in a 1989 interview. Then, in 1999, the group again came under fire for their song titled “Swindler’s Lust.”Again, Jewish pressure was applied. ADL leader Abraham Foxman said the song’s title was offensive and the lyrics suggestive of “age-old anti-Semitic themes and rhetoric.”

“This is the kind of racist language that has been previously used in the Black community by Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. If rap music in any way reflects the impressions of the larger community, then the themes expressed by this song are indeed troubling. We have seen this specter arise before with Public Enemy, which despite public criticism has continued to incite hate and racial divisiveness through its caustic and bigoted lyrics,” Foxman said in a statement.

Fast forward to 2015.

The ADL in a June 30 posting on their website made a point to mention certain rappers and their social media followings who have “posted messages promoting Farrakhan or the Million Man March anniversary.”

A quick examination of the legal issues plaguing some of those whom the ADL chose to mention:

– Officials in Georgia said rapper Rick Ross, whose real name is William Roberts, was released July 6 from a Fayette County jail after posting $2 million in bail on charges of kidnapping, aggravated assault and aggravated battery. Arrest records say Roberts is accused of forcing a man into an area at his metro Atlanta mansion June 7 and beating him with a handgun, leaving him with an injured jaw. He was arrested on June 24, less than 48 hours after he met with Min. Farrakhan. It was the same day of the official announcement of the 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March at Metropolitan AME church in Washington, D.C. In fact, according to The Nation of Islam’s social media director Jesse Muhammad, #JusticeOrElse was trending on Twitter that entire day and the only thing trending higher, was news of the rapper’s arrest. He had also been arrested a few weeks prior after being stopped by police for a window tinting violation and marijuana possession.  At that time, he not only made bail, but he reportedly bailed out others he befriended during his brief stint behind bars.

– The West Coast rapper known as The Gamehas been charged with hitting an off-duty Los Angeles police officer during an altercation at basketball game earlier in March. The Game, whose real name is Jayceon Terrell Taylor, met with Min. Farrakhan June 17, but even before that recent meeting and subsequent interview with The Final Call in which he pledged support for the #JusticeOrElse movement,  he released the single “Don’t Shoot” in the summer of 2014 as a tribute to Michael Brown Jr., the teenager killed in Ferguson, Missouri. Coincidentally, The song featured Rick Ross, 2 Chainz and Diddyamong others. The song mentions other Black men killed such as Emmett Till, Ezell Ford, Trayvon Martin, and Sean Bell. Facing charges of one felony count of making criminal threats and one count of misdemeanor assault and battery, The Game pleaded not guilty during his most recent court appearance June 29. He is free on $50,000 bail and faces up to three years in prison if convicted. His next court date is July 30.

– Reports have surfaced that the rapper 2 Chainz, whose real name is Tauheed Epps, is being sued for $5 million over comments he made in a video recorded and posted containing back stage footage at a concert in Charlotte, North Carolina way back in March of 2014. The woman suing him, Christine Chisolm, claims he referred to her using a derogatory term. 2 Chainz met with Min. Farrakhan during the historic meeting with Hip Hop giants at Tree Studios just outside of Atlanta June 21. On June 28 at the BET Awards, 2 Chainz was asked about his recent meeting with the Minister. He said he was happy to be in the Minister’s presence and “big things are on the way for the community,” he added.

– Sean Combs, the Hip Hop mogul known as Diddy, was in the news after being arrested June 22 charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, battery, and making terrorist threats. Mr. Combs allegedly assaulted one of the coaches of the UCLA college football team. His son Justin is a defensive back for the team. No injuries were reported resulting from the alleged attack, and reports have surfaced that the coach was bullying young Combs.

– Reportedly, a member of rapper Young Thug’sroad team was arrested after being accused of shooting at rapper Lil Wayne’s caravan early in April of this year. No one was injured. Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery L. Williams, has not been directly implicated in the shooting, however the feud between the two rival camps is a hot topic in social media and on Hip Hop related news sites.

The ADL also seems to be very interested in Kanye West, who came under sharp criticism in 2013 after he publicly opined, “Black peo­ple don’t have the same level of con­nec­tions as Jew­ish peo­ple.” After speaking with Min. Farrakhan and receiving counsel and guidance, Kanye West refused to bow to Jewish power and refused to apologize for his comments. He was present for the Minister’s recent message in Los Angeles, and has also coined a new honorific title for the Minister—“Sensei,” meaning a highly respected master teacher.

Although not mentioned by the ADL, in a 2014 interview Young Jeezy, whose real name is Jay Wayne Jenkins, said once he began speaking out about issues like what was happening in Ferguson, “things started getting a little funny. When I really just started speaking my mind about it, a lot of strange things started to happen around me.” He also has spoken publicly about his love and admiration for Min. Farrakhan.

ADL’s  meddling

For decades, the ADL has kept a dossier on Min. Farrakhan, and several times, their efforts to halt the influence of Min. Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam have been uncovered. They are regularly seen meddling in the affairs of the Black community. Outgoing ADL leader Abraham Foxman has always complained about Min. Farrakhan’s legitimization and enthusiastic acceptance within the Black community. In fact, prior to the historic 1995 Million Man March, a 1994 ADL Policy Background Report which shed light on the ADL’s strategic imperatives aimed at countering the Minister’s growing popularity was titled: “Mainstreaming Anti-Semitism: The Legitimation of Louis Farrakhan.”

What is clear is that the ADL’s efforts have failed, and the Minister is now reaching young people. Not only has the ADL’s recent move shown they are keeping close tabs on political activism in the Hip Hop community, those familiar with their operational strategies believe it is also an act of desperation, warning other rappers and entertainers who are thinking about answering Min. Farrakhan’s clarion call to become involved in the movement for justice.

This devious and high-level manipulation has been at work for over two decades by those working to prevent Min. Farrakhan’s words of wisdom from reaching the ears, hearts and minds of the youth.

“But after twenty years, I have been speaking now in colleges and universities and they listen very carefully to every word that I say, and recently on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter, when they see my brothers and sisters embracing me, they shudder with fear that the voice of the Minister is now reaching the young people,” the Minister said.

Suppressive efforts by the ADL could actually catapult the movement into a new level of intensity as more become energized working to bring oppressed people together in unity in Washington D.C., on October 10. Mr. Muhammad suggests the effects may be the opposite of what was intended by the ADL and those who control the mainstream media.

“The ADL’s plan to isolate Minister Farrakhan has backfired on them. In going to the extreme—in spreading propaganda against Minister Farrakhan influencing sanctions against entrepreneurs in the Nation of Islam and otherwise intimidating Black leaders to stay away from the Minister and the Nation—the ADL made him conspicuous by contriving his absence,” said Cedric Muhammad. “People wondered why he wasn’t on TV anymore and why mainstream Black leaders and intellectuals won’t even mention his name in speaking on critical issues. They manufactured the illusion of a temporary void in leadership and deluded themselves into believing that what they created was permanent and real. It wasn’t and now that people can hear and see the Minister without hindrance, once again, there is a conflict and discrepancy in the image and lies the ADL has spread on one hand, and the character and truth the Minister represents, on the other,” he added.

The ADL’s reaction to being exposed will be to work on various rappers the same way they have worked on Civil Rights leaders, Black intellectuals and Black spiritual leaders, Cedric Muhammad predicted.

“They will, in private meetings and public announcements imply and directly threaten them with the loss of their popularity and wealth. Their goal will be to turn a major Hip Hop artist or group of such against the Minister,” he said.

Crimes and Laws

The recently released documentary “Freeway: Crack In The System” The Rise, Fall and Redemption of Freeway Rick Ross, told the truth behind the American crack cocaine explosion in the ’80s, its continued expansion in the ’90s,  and chronicled his early days selling drugs, including his  introduction to Nicaraguan drug trafficker Oscar Danilo Blandon Reyes. This is how drugs from Nicaragua began to find their way into South Central Los Angeles, but at the time, Freeway Rick didn’t know he was a pawn in a larger chess game involving President Ronald Reagan’s administration, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Nicaraguan anti-communist Contras who were fighting to overthrow the Marxist government of the Sandinistas.

It must also be remembered that it was during that time, Reagan launched his “War on Drugs” and the “Just Say No” rhetoric was simply a cover for waging war on Black and Latino youth. It was in 1986 that Congress passed laws creating a 100 to 1 disparity in sentencing for those caught with crack cocaine versus those caught trafficking powder cocaine. Though the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act reduced the sentencing disparity to 18 to 1, Black youth are still disproportionately impacted by harsh drug sentencing.

This is the atmosphere many members of the Hip Hop community have grown up in, and they flock to Min. Farrakhan because he does not judge them for their shortcomings. He knows Black and Latino youth who love Hip Hop have been made that way through social engineering and manipulation by the wickedly wise scientists of death.

“My mission is the transformation of human life, particularly Black, Brown and Red life; so when you see me sitting with those who may have broken the law, or have been vile in their speech and degrading women in their talks, and promoting thug life, don’t be upset, because it’s written in the scriptures that Jesus sat with the publicans and the sinners,” said Min. Farrakhan. “So when you see me sitting with my people, mind your business! I speak to them as their brother and as their spiritual father … they are not your business. They are mine! So leave them alone!”

Ricky Donnel Ross, the notorious former drug dealer known as “Freeway Rick” is now an author and credits much of his life’s turnaround to Min. Farrakhan.

“The Minister to me is a saviour, and I say that because he helped me turn my life around and helped me become who I am today,” Freeway Rick told The Final Call. “I used to think I was a thug, a gangster, a hoodlum, but now I know I’m a movie producer, I’m an author, I mean I’m so many other things than what I thought I was at one time,” he added.

If anyone thought the “Justice…or Else!” movement was going to slow down by recent events, they are wrong, said West Coast pioneering rapper KAM, but he does believe some are feeling the pressure from those who control the flow of the money.

In 1991, KAM as a registered member of the Nation of Islam and member of the Fruit of Islam at Muhammad Mosque No. 54 in Compton, signed his first deal to Ice Cube’s label Street Knowledge. He’s said he’s glad to see what’s happening now, and he’s looking forward to helping these younger rappers survive the retaliation he believes will come from powerful Jewish executives within in the music industry. What is coming will show who is for justice and who is only “in it for the photo op,” KAM said.

“Retaliation is coming, most definitely, and if you are so comfortable and used to the lifestyle and the shine, not just the money, the question is: How will you survive when they dry you up like that?” he asked.