Thursday, July 30, 2009

Holocaust Museum Shooter Indicted

Washington, D.C. (AHN) - The 89-year old white supremacist suspected of killing a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum last month was indicted on Wednesday on seven counts, including hate crimes violations.

A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia charged James Wenneker Von Brunn with the murder of Stephen Tyrone Johns, an African-American who had served as a special police officer at the museum for six years when he was fatally shot on June 10. The indictment also charges Von Brunn with federal civil rights and hate crimes violations, and offenses under the District’s murder, firearms and hate-crimes statutes.

Prosecutors say Von Brunn had acted alone but has connections to the white supremacist movement and maintained “a website that espoused hatred against various groups and government entities.”

Von Brunn’s indictment had been postponed because he was in a D.C. hospital recuperating from gunshot wounds received during the incident. He faces up to life in prison if convicted. Four of the seven charges in the indictment may result in the death penalty.

The shooting came on the heels of a visit to Buchenwald by President Barack Obama with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Nobel laureate and Auschwitz and Buchenwald survivor Elie Wiesel. It had prompted lawmakers on Capitol Hill to pass a House resolution condemning the attack and honoring the courage and dedication of employees of the museum.

The Day the President Turned Black

By Greg Palast
He's in hot water now. For a moment, on national television, the President of the United States turned black!

Last week, when his buddy "Skip" Gates got busted for being Black in Boston, Barack Obama forgot his official role: to soothe America's conscience with the happy fairy tale that his election marked the end of racism in the USA.

Instead, Obama, the excruciatingly middle-of-the-road President, was seized by Barack the militant State Senator from the South Side of Chicago, who reminded us that cops bust Black guys for no goddamn good reason all the goddamn time.

I'm reminded that it was not so long ago that we watched the vicious gang-beating by Los Angeles cops of a defenseless, handcuffed, Rodney King, an African-American. King's beating was unusual only in that it was caught on videotape.

Yeah, I know: we've come a hell of a long way. Obama won, Jessie cried, Beyoncé has her own line of perfume and Tiger Woods plays where 30 years ago he couldn't eat lunch.

Good on them.

But what about Robert Pratt, Mr. President?

Pratt, a United Auto Workers member, has five kids and a mortgage payment of $1,100 a month on a house in Detroit worth no more than $40,000. The payment's astronomical because he pays 11% on his mortgage balance, double the national average interest rate. Now, on those crazy terms, he's sure to lose his house.

How did that happen? Pratt, whose story we've been tracking, was "steered" into a sub-prime loan by Countrywide Financial. "Steering" is the polite term for forcing folk into crappy loan terms. And not just any folk: Black folk, like Pratt. Over 60% of African-American mortgage applicants were (and ARE) steered into "sub-prime" predatory loans.

According to exhaustive studies by the Federal Reserve Board and the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), African Americans are 250% more likely to get a loan with an "exploding interest" clause than white borrowers - and notably, the higher the income and the better the credit rating of a Black borrower, the more likely the discrimination.

As an economist, I can tell you it's not a stretch to say that Obama's failure to deal with endemic racism in the finance system is killing off hope of the nation's economic recovery. The "exploding rate" attack centered on Black and Hispanic communities has, according to the CLR, caused 40.2 million homes to lose value due to their proximity to foreclosed properties.

Yet, not a peep from the Obama Administration about ending this Ku Klux lending practice which has laid waste Black neighborhoods and taken a hunk of White America's housing values with it.

Instead, Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is the honored guest of the Board of Directors of JP Morgan, owner of one of the most outrageous of the financial predators, Washington Mutual. Morgan/WaMu, with its racially-poisoned mortgage trickery, makes the Cambridge Police Department look like the NAACP.

(Indeed, Emanuel's host JP Morgan was sued last week by the NAACP for "systematic, institutionalized racism in making home mortgage loans.")

The cold truth is, financial attacks on the Black community continue as freely under Obama as under Bush, despite Obama's power to halt it instantly by banning loan-sharking as a condition of continued bail-outs for these banks. Obama has directed the FDIC to guarantee JP Morgan loans, saving the bank $3.1 billion this year. Obama has directed the FDIC to guarantee Mr. Pratt, uh, "hope."

And what about Thomas Johnson, Mr. President?

Johnson's a minister in Florida who lost his vote in 2000, alongside at least 94,000 others falsely accused of being felons without the right to vote. Most of the innocents accused and abused were Black, the minister included. I know, because I saw those state records with the carefully recorded "BLA" next to the voters' names.

I had an editor on the story, won't say his name because he was so typical, who asked me why Johnson, an African-American, didn't pound the table and DEMAND his ballot. Johnson's no Harvard professor in Boston with the President's phone number on his speed dial.

My extremely white editor, a Yale graduate, sitting in San Francisco, could not imagine what would happen if a dark-skinned Rev. Johnson had started making a scene in Alachua County, in the Deep Deep South. The Reverend was smart not to pull a "Skippy Gates" and lip-off at authority: just a couple months ago, Alachua cops 'Tased' an angry, but unarmed, Black man, then shot him dead with seven bullets.

Johnson's vote loss, you might say, was "so 2000." This is post-racial 2009. Bullshit. In last year's election, Florida went right back into the racially biased block-and-purge of Black voters, barring thousands from the ballot through new ID laws that would have made Jim Crow segregationists of the Fifties proud. (See the investigative report, "Block the Vote," by myself and Bobby Kennedy, from the October 2008 Rolling Stone).

Yet, the Obama Administration appears quite squeamish about taking down the nouvelle ballot-box Bull Connors.


What I'm saying is that the venom of structural racism in America continues to sicken us all, in our economy, in our voting stations, in our schools (don't get me started), our health care system, our ... well, you name it.

Yes, I joined the Hope Parade and voted for Obama, expecting just this one change: a direct attack on the remaining areas of official sanction of racist policies and practices. I'm still waiting.
It was quite inspiring, last Thursday, to the see a Black man appear, if momentarily, behind the Presidential seal. Unfortunately, Obama's swift demand for equal justice under the law was provoked only when the whip came down on someone, like himself, whose professional and class status had, they presumed, made them exempt from the daily insults and assaults visited on their less privileged brothers.

So much was made of Gates' Harvard post that the issue seemed to be It's not right to cuff a dark-skinned man who's a HARVARD PROFESSOR." The race-neutral rules of class privilege had been violated.

What's missing in America - and in the Oval Office – is any hint of outrage at the endemic, systemic cruelties visited on Black Americans, like Pratt and Johnson, who lack a key to the Harvard Alumni Club.

Boston Police Officer Suspended For Sending E-mail Calling Professor Gates A "Jungle Monkey"

By Logan Murphy

As the story of the arrest of Professor Henry Gates has unfolded, this was bound to happen. Apparently, the Boston Police Department now has their own Mark Fuhrman:

A Boston police officer allegedly sent a mass e-mail using a disgraceful racial slur in referring to Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., prompting the commissioner to move immediately to fire the cop, the Herald has learned.

Officer Justin Barrett, 36, a two-year veteran assigned to District B-3, was placed on administrative leave pending a termination hearing yesterday afternoon. When a supervisor confronted Barrett about the e-mail - in which he called Gates a “jungle monkey” - he admitted to being the author, according to officials.

Police Commissioner Edward Davis immediately stripped the cop of his gun and badge, according to officials. Barrett, who could not immediately be reached, has no prior disciplinary history. Read on...

I've tried to understand the minds of scum like this, but it only ends in excruciating pain -- every time. With all the racist hate being spewed on right wing radio and television, it's no wonder guys like Barrett are worked up to the point where they can no longer control their hatred. I guess this would be another one of those "teachable moments?"

Tanning Before 30 Triples Skin Cancer Risk

Tanned golden skin is seen as beautiful and healthy, so many fair-skinned ladies and gents use indoor tanning beds to get a quick sun-kissed glow. We've all heard that UV exposure from this fake sun can lead to skin cancer, but now new research has identified tanning as even more dangerous than first thought. International cancer experts have moved tanning beds and other sources of ultraviolet radiation into the top cancer risk category, saying they are as deadly as arsenic and mustard gas. They add that anyone who's started toasting at the electric beach before the age of 30 has increased their risk for skin cancer by 75 percent. Tanning bed users are also at risk for eye cancer.

Previously, skin cancer rates were highest in people over 75, but now doctors are seeing more and more cases in women in their 20s. It's not just tanning beds you have to worry about, it's UV radiation from the sun too. So if you want a tan, go for bronzers, sunless self-tanning lotion, or spray tans. They'll give you the glow without the risk. If you do enjoy being out in the Summer sun, just protect yourself with sunscreen.

Mel Gibson Attacked Fan or Photog

Mel Gibson attacked fan or reporter for taking his pictures. Mel was in the partying mood last night when he attended the grand opening party for the new hotspot in town, Playhouse with his girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva. Things turned sour when Mel got upset and attacked a fan for snapping photos of him and his pregnant girlfriend.

photos of Mel and his girlfriend; also a photo of the guy with the ripped shirt below..

As reports by Hollyscoop: Gibson and his pregnant girlfriend arrived with a large group of people and settled into their VIP area. One club-goer tells Hollyscoop that “Mel looked so happy and in love” at the club.

However, things turned sour when a Life & Style reporter posing as a fan tried to snap a picture of Gibson and his girlfriend. His security team immediately took the camera and deleted the pictures. The pushy reporter did not stop there as she sent her friend to take another picture. That’s when Mel stepped in and attacked the clubgoer because he was fed up with everyone trying to take his pictures.

“Mel approached the guy who tried to take his picture and ripped his shirt.” says a source.

Apparently the guy that was attacked by Mel Gibson is on his way to the police station to file a report against him.

Mel and his girlfriend left the club shortly after the incident.

Part of the package of being famous is that you really don’t have much privacy. Is it worth it? Heck yes if you asked me!

Strikeforce News: Renato “Babalu” Sobral vs Gegard Mousasi On Aug. 15

The highly-anticipated showdown between Renato “Babalu” Sobral (35-8) and Gegard Mousasi (25-2-1), which was suddenly cancelled by its original promoter last week, has been revitalized and will be contested with Sobral’s STRIKEFORCE World Light Heavyweight (205 pounds) Championship on the line at San Jose, California’s HP Pavilion on Saturday, August 15.

The title bout will be featured during the SHOWTIME televised portion of the STRIKEFORCE: “Carano vs. Cyborg” mixed martial arts (MMA) mega-card.

“I am very happy that STRIKEFORCE has resurrected this fight and that I will have the opportunity to become STRIKEFORCE world champion,” said Mousasi, who is in the midst of a monstrous, 12 fight win streak. The 23-year-old was crowned the first Dream Middleweight Champion and Middleweight Grand Prix Tournament Champion last year in Japan.

“STRIKEFORCE is one of the world’s top promotions and I am proud to be a part of their roster of world-class fighters,” he said.

His wins over Denis Kang, Melvin Manhoef, and Ronaldo Souza last year cemented Mousasi’s place as one of the world’s top three middleweights.

Mousasi’s last victory, a first round (1:20) submission of former K-1 heavyweight champion Mark Hunt in Yokohama, Japan on May 26th of this year confirmed his desire and ability to conquer opponents in a heavier weight class as did his first round (2:32) KO of Japanese heavyweight champion Musashi in a K-1 kickboxing rules bout in Saitama, Japan on December 31, 2008.

The 33-year-old Sobral, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and former national wrestling champion for Brazil, will defend his STRIKEFORCE championship for the first time since he seized the title from Bobby Southworth at HP Pavilion on November 21, 2008.

Sobral, a former UFC championship challenger, is riding a five fight win streak that began with his second round (3:30) submission of David Heath at UFC 74 on August 25, 2007. In his last start, he submitted Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou with a brabo choke in the second round (2:36) of their meeting at Affliction: “Day of Reckoning” at Honda Center in Anaheim, California on January 24 of this year.

A year and a half ago, Sobral relocated from his homeland to Orange County, California where

he has since taken on former world championship boxing contender Justin Fortune as a trainer in order to bring his striking skills up to par with his expertise in submissions.

Over the course of 43 career starts, Sobral has faced and defeated some of the sport’s best competitors including legendary K-1 and UFC champion Maurice Smith. On Sept. 6, 2003, Sobral knocked off three top-tier rivals-Jeremy Horn, Mauricio “Ninja” Rua, and Trevor Prangley-during a single-elimination tournament.

In the main event on August 15, mixed martial arts’ (MMA) leading lady, the undefeated and extremely popular Gina “Conviction” Carano (7-0), will square off with rival powerhouse Cris “Cyborg” (7-1) in what is one of the most eagerly anticipated battles of all time.

Carano and Cyborg, the consensus two best female fighters in the world, will be the first women in MMA history to headline a major MMA fight card. In addition, they will fight for the first STRIKEFORCE 145-pound Female Championship.

STRIKEFORCE World Lightweight (155 pounds) Champion Josh “The Punk” Thomson (16-2) will set out to defend his crown against Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez (15-2), the man whom Thomson dethroned by way of unanimous decision at HP Pavilion on June 27, 2008.

Lawyer: Announcement pending on Jackson custody

NEW YORK — The attorney for Michael Jackson's mother says an announcement is imminent on a custody deal regarding the pop icon's two oldest children, but stopped short of saying an agreement had been reached.

L. Londell McMillan said in an interview with The Associated Press that word of an agreement between Katherine Jackson and Deborah Rowe, the biological mother of Prince Michael, 12, and Paris-Michael, 10, would come sometime Thursday.

McMillan has previously said any agreement will be in the best interest of Jackson's children. He declined to go into specifics and would not address reports about what kind of visitation Rowe would get, if any.

E-mail messages sent to Rowe's attorney seeking comment Thursday were not immediately returned.

Michael Jackson, who died June 25 at 50, was the sole parent to his three children. He was married to Rowe, but both had described the relationship as borne out of a friendship and said that Rowe had given birth to his two oldest children as a "gift" to Jackson. They divorced after Paris-Michael was born and Rowe was largely absent in her children's lives. His third child, 7-year-old Prince Michael II, known as Blanket, was born to a surrogate and the mother's identity has never been revealed.

In Jackson's will, he expressed his desire to have his mother take care of his children. But after he died, Rowe expressed interest in raising not only her two children, but Blanket as well. In a phone interview with television station KNBC, she also said she would seek a restraining order against Joe Jackson, Michael's father; Michael Jackson had a complicated relationship with him and often spoke of beatings at the hands of his father.

After Mrs. Jackson, 79, was named by a court as the children's temporary guardian, Rowe won a delay in a guardianship hearing while she decided whether to seek custody. Other hearings were delayed at the request of both parties, and McMillan had described the negotiations between both sides as very cordial.

While McMillan would not discuss details of any agreement, he did say no money exchanged hands. Rowe has taken legal action and demanded retractions as other reports have claimed that she was seeking money from the Jacksons in exchange for dropping any attempt at custody of the children.

Michael Jackson gave Rowe a financial settlement after they divorced in 2000 and she relinquished her parental rights. But they were reinstated by a judge in 2005 after Rowe went to court over the children. The custody dispute was settled in 2006. Terms were not disclosed. Jackson retained primary custody of the children.

All three children have been living with Katherine Jackson since their father's death, where they have been surrounded by their aunts, uncles and cousins.