Tuesday, February 3, 2009

NAACP President: US Minorities Still Suffer

In a meeting with the Associated Press, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous says, despite the election of President Barack Obama, there is still a lot of work to be done to help minorities in the Unit...

Davos Annual Meeting 2009 - Vladimir Putin

The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging leaders in partnerships to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

Incorporated as a foundation in 1971, and based in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum is impartial and not-for-profit; it is tied to no political, partisan or national interests.

Brown v. Board of Education

In the early 1950's, racial segregation in public schools was the norm across America. Although all the schools in a given district were supposed to be equal, most black schools were far inferior to their white counterparts.

In Topeka, Kansas, a black third-grader named Linda Brown had to walk one mile through a railroad switchyard to get to her black elementary school, even though a white elementary school was only seven blocks away. Linda's father, Oliver Brown, tried to enroll her in the white elementary school, but the principal of the school refused. Brown went to McKinley Burnett, the head of Topeka's branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and asked for help. The NAACP was eager to assist the Browns, as it had long wanted to challenge segregation in public schools. With Brown's complaint, it had "the right plaintiff at the right time." [4] Other black parents joined Brown, and, in 1951, the NAACP requested an injunction that would forbid the segregation of Topeka's public schools. [5]

The U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas heard Brown's case from June 25-26, 1951. At the trial, the NAACP argued that segregated schools sent the message to black children that they were inferior to whites; therefore, the schools were inherently unequal. One of the expert witnesses, Dr. Hugh W. Speer, testified that:

"...if the colored children are denied the experience in school of associating with white children, who represent 90 percent of our national society in which these colored children must live, then the colored child's curriculum is being greatly curtailed. The Topeka curriculum or any school curriculum cannot be equal under segregation." [6]
The Board of Education's defense was that, because segregation in Topeka and elsewhere pervaded many other aspects of life, segregated schools simply prepared black children for the segregation they would face during adulthood. The board also argued that segregated schools were not neccessarily harmful to black children; great African Americans such as Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and George Washington Carver had overcome more than just segregated schools to achieve what they achieved. [7]

The request for an injunction put the court in a difficult decision. On the one hand, the judges agreed with the expert witnesses; in their decision, they wrote:

Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children...A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. [8]
On the other hand, the precedent of Plessy v. Ferguson allowed separate but equal school systems for blacks and whites, and no Supreme Court ruling had overturned Plessy yet. Because of the precedent of Plessy, the court felt "compelled" to rule in favor of the Board of Education. [9]

Brown and the NAACP appealed to the Supreme Court on October 1, 1951 and their case was combined with other cases that challenged school segregation in South Carolina, Virginia, and Delaware. The Supreme Court first heard the case on December 9, 1952, but failed to reach a decision. In the reargument, heard from December 7-8, 1953, the Court requested that both sides discuss "the circumstances surrounding the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868." [10] The reargument shed very little additional light on the issue. The Court had to make its decision based not on whether or not the authors of the Fourteenth Amendment had desegregated schools in mind when they wrote the amendment in 1868, but based on whether or not desegregated schools deprived black children of equal protection of the law when the case was decided, in 1954. [11]

On May 17, 1954, Chief Justice Earl Warren read the decision of the unanimous Court:

"We come then to the question presented: Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other "tangible" factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does...We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. [12]
The Supreme Court struck down the "separate but equal" doctrine of Plessy for public education, ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, and required the desegregation of schools across America.

The Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision did not abolish segregation in other public areas, such as restaurants and restrooms, nor did it require desegregation of public schools by a specific time. It did, however, declare the permissive or mandatory segregation that existed in 21 states unconstitutional. [13] It was a giant step towards complete desegregation of public schools. Even partial desegregation of these schools, however, was still very far away, as would soon become apparent.

Iran Launches First Satellite.

Raw video : Iran said it had for the first time launched a domestically made satellite into orbit on Tuesday, a move likely to worry its enemies at a time when its conflict with the West over its nuclear plans remains unresolved.

The launch of the Omid (Hope) research satellite, hailed by Iran as a major progress in its space technology, may irritate the administration of new U.S. President Bar More..ack Obama, who has said he sees the Islamic Republic as a threat but is also offering direct dialogue with its leaders.

The long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit can also be used for launching weapons, although Tehran says it has no plans to do so. Analysts said the move would likely worry Israel and other states in the Middle East.

"Dear Iranian nation, your children have placed the first indigenous satellite into orbit," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a televised message.

It comes ahead of a meeting on Wednesday by senior officials from six world powers -- the United States, Russia, Britain, France, Germany and China -- to discuss the nuclear row with Iran. It will be their first gathering since Obama took office.

The Obama administration has signaled that it will pursue direct talks with Tehran but has also warned Iran to expect more pressure if it does not meet the U.N. Security Council demand to halt atomic work the West fears has military aims.

Sending the Omid into space is a message to the world that Iran is "very powerful and you have to deal with us in the right way," an Iranian political analyst said.

Omid, launched as Iran marks the 30th anniversary this month of the 1979 Islamic revolution, is designed for research and telecommunications, state television said.

It showed footage of a rocket blasting off from a launchpad and lighting up the night sky as it streaked into space.

"With God's help and the desire for justice and peace, the official presence of the Islamic Republic was registered in space," Ahmadinejad said.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, speaking during a visit to Ethiopia, also said the satellite had peaceful aims.


But Andrew Brookes of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) think-tank in London said the development would worry Israel and others in region.

"They will think that this civilian capability will soon be transformed to a military reconnaissance and intelligence gathering capability," he said by telephone. "You don't invest all that just to launch a satellite TV channel."

Isaac Ben-Israel, a former head of Israel Space Agency, said vehicles to use satellites could also have military uses.

50 Years After The Music Died... Don't Forget The Big Bopper

As many have noted, February 3, 2009, marks 50 years since the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and The Big Bopper.

Holly's music is most remembered, covered, and imitated. Valens' "La Bomba" remains a wedding reception staple. Both have inspired movie biopics. But what of the Big Bopper?

J.P. Richardson, Jr. was a DJ, radio exec, showman, and hit songwriter. He dropped out law school to become a full-time radio DJ at a Beaumont, Texas radio station, adopting the DJ handle “the Big Bopper” and ultimately becoming the station’s program director. In 1957, he set the record for nonstop live-on-air spinning: five days, two hours and eight minutes. The dude had mad skills.

As a songwriter, Richardson’s first hit was “White Lighting,” taken to #4 on the country charts by George Jones and covered by many since.

“Chantilly Lace” is the Big Bopper’s biggest hit, no less magnificent than any Holly or Valens classic. A naughty R&B yack, each verse is a conversation between the baritone Bopper and his girlfriend on the phone, with the listener only privy to the Bopper side. This cognitive negotiation always picks up the tail of the song’s chorus, “Baby, you know what I like,” then, repeating the same chord structure, sums up a hetro, teenage boy’s hopes and dreams.

Chantilly lace and a pretty face
And a pony tail hanging down
That wiggle in the walk and giggle in the talk
Makes the world go round
There ain't nothing in the world like a big eyed girl
That makes me act so funny, make me spend my money
Make me feel real loose like a long necked goose
Like a girl, oh baby that's what I like

The Big Bopper lip-syncing on American Bandstand

VIDEO: Tom Daschle Withdraws Nomination for Secretary of Health and Human Services

Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination for Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Obama. It's unfortunate on many levels, not the least of which is that Daschle was on task to lead a forceful health care reform effort.

In addition, with HIV prevention groups advocating for an appropriately hefty dose of funding in the economic stimulus bill, it may have been a boon to have Daschle as an advocate.

But Daschle concluded that he did not want to risk becoming a distraction from the President's commitment to pass health care reform legislation. Daschle told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell that he "realized [he] can't pass health care if [he's] too much of a distraction."

"I will not be the architect of America's health care reform, but I remain one of its most fervent supporters," Daschle said.