Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Justice, American Style:Sarah Kruzan 16-Year-Old sentenced to life for killing pimp

By: Tolu Olorunda

I was browsing the web a few days ago when I ran across the following headline: “16yr old gets life in prison for killing her pimp.” Perhaps my considerable awareness of the way the internet works–Shock and Awe = Traffic–was what led to initial skepticism; but once I clicked the YouTube video link, all ambiguity vacated.

I was introduced to the story of Sarah Kruzan, 29, a female inmate in California. Filmed by the National Center for Youth Law, an advocacy group assisting her, Sarah tells in full detail her background, and the path leading up to the prison cell she resides in today.

She grew up in Riverside, California, in the home of a drug-addicted mother who frequently abused her. Nonetheless, this “over-achiever” excelled in school, making the principal’s Honor Roll consistently, running track, winning a Young Author’s Award for a book on the effects of drugs. It all seemed like the perfect Horatio Alger mythology come true, until she met a 31-year-old man, G.G.

The missing “father figure” vacuum in her life was happily filled by G.G. who would take her and her friends skating and to the mall. “G.G. was there at some times,” she says, “and he would talk to me, take me out, and give me all these lavish gifts… and then he would tell me, sex-wise, ‘you don’t need to give it up for free’.” G.G. was a skilled manipulator who knew what he wanted, and just how to get it. When Sarah turned 13, he raped her.

“He uses his manhood to hurt–like break you in,” Sarah recounts. The break-you-in allusion is a mere euphemism for prostitution. At that same age, Sarah was put on the streets, working 12-hour shifts (6P.M.-6.A.M.) for G.G. Sarah saw none of the money she worked for. “Everything was his,” she reports.

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How Racist Are You?

Are you racially biased? Harvard University has been trying to find out with their Racism test. The four-minute test throws different races at you and has you identify the images as "bad" or "good" as quickly as you can. The idea is that your first reaction is most likely your honest reaction.

You can try the test out for yourself, after clicking on the "Demonstration" button and then clicking the "Race IAT" button.

Project Implicit is a joint investigation between Harvard, the University of Washington and the University of Virginia into our subconscious biases. The project began 11 years ago. Many would say that they are not biased against Latinos, those with darker skin, obese people or women, but researchers say that we can harbor subconscious biases that we are not even aware of.

Ask the average person whether they have a bias toward male executives over female executives and the answer might be no.

That's what I said when Anthony Greenwald of Project Implicit asked whether I thought of men and women differently when it came to leadership in business, math and science. He quickly informed me that I was probably like a majority of Americans who incorrectly think they don't have a bias toward male leadership.

"Eighty percent of Americans, black and white and Asian, have associations that associate women less than men with leadership in business, science and math. You may be aware of some biases you have but less aware of others," Greenwald, a principal investigator for Project Implicit and professor of psychology at the University of Washington, told Black Voices in an interview.According to the Project Implicit web site:
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Revised Formula Puts 1 in 6 Americans in Poverty

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The level of poverty in America is even worse than first believed.

A revised formula for calculating medical costs and geographic variations show that approximately 47.4 million Americans last year lived in poverty, 7 million more than the government's official figure.

The disparity occurs because of differing formulas the Census Bureau and the National Academy of Science use for calculating the poverty rate. The NAS formula shows the poverty rate to be at 15.8 percent, or nearly 1 in 6 Americans, according to calculations released this week. That's higher than the 13.2 percent, or 39.8 million, figure made available recently under the original government formula.

That measure, created in 1955, does not factor in rising medical care, transportation, child care or geographical variations in living costs. Nor does it consider non-cash government aid when calculating income. As a result, official figures released last month by Census may have overlooked millions of poor people, many of them 65 and older.

According to the revised NAS formula:

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Michael Jackson - Is this it?

Music - Michael Jackson's final words in public... This Is It. These three little words are brought back to life with a brand new song, album and film, all titled 'This Is It'.

'This Is It' was orginally written with Paul Anka in 1983 for a planned duet that never happened, but since Michael Jackson's death, a version of Michael singing with a piano accompaniment was found within a box of tapes. Michael's brothers have since added backing vocals, as well as strings and a finger-click percussion.

The new song features on the credits for the movie 'This Is It', released worldwide today. The film has already broken box office records as one of the fastest selling ever. The movie was premiered worldwide simultaneously last night, and attended by stars including JLS, Mel B, Westlife, Taio Cruz and Peter Andre in London. In the US, the Jackson brothers attended alongside Will Smith, Paris Hilton, Paula Abdul, Jennifer Lopez, and Katy Perry who took pal Adam Lambert along to the LA premiere. The concert/documentary features unseen rehearsal footage recorded just days before Michael died.

Close friend Elizabeth Taylor wrote on her Twitter: "It is the single most brilliant piece of filmmaking I have ever seen. I wept from pure joy at his God-given gift. There will never, ever be the likes of him again."

The album 'This Is It' is also released this week, as a 2-CD collector's edition, and features the music that inspired the movie Michael Jackson's This Is It. The package includes a 36-page, commemorative booklet featuring exclusive photos of Michael from his last rehearsal along with an 11"x17" (approx. 28cm x 43cm) movie poster. There is a Deluxe Four Vinyl LP (180g) set, which contains the original album masters of some of Michael's biggest hits, previously unreleased versions of classic tracks plus two versions of the never-released "This Is It".

And if that isn't enough for you, the Michael Jackson Exhibition also launches today in London. For the first time, Michael Jackson's estate has opened the doors to his extraordinary personal belongings to celebrate his life.

The exhibition will celebrate Jackson's rise to fame in Motown through his record-breaking solo career and end with the spectacular shows he had planned for The O2 arena before his untimely death.

Michael Jackson's estate has opened up extensive archives from his homes, Neverland Ranch, concert collections and video vault to present more than 250 items including awards, clothing and a wide range of personal belongings. These include an original Jackson 5 contract, personally-commissioned portraits, the largest publicly displayed collection of his iconic concert and video costumes, his personal Rolls Royce and the famous sequined glove.

3 arrested in Calif. in alleged gang rape of girl

Three more people have been arrested in connection with the gang rape and beating of a 15-year-old girl outside her high school homecoming dance in an attack that has generated widespread outrage.

A man and two boys were arrested late Tuesday, including 21-year-old Salvador Rodriguez of Richmond, Calif., and two teens, 16 and 17. They were each booked on one count of gang rape and likely face other charges including robbery and kidnapping.

"These are people who played a significant role in the incident," Richmond Police Lt. Mark Gagan said Wednesday. "I'm confident that more arrests will be made."

The arrests bring to five the number of people taken into custody in the attack that occurred Saturday night at Richmond High School, located in the San Francisco Bay area. The attacks and its aftermath have rattled Richmond, Calif., a crime-ridden city of about 120,000 in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Police believe as many as 10 people ranging in age from 15 to mid-20s attacked the girl for more than two hours at a dimly lit area near benches Saturday night. As many as two dozen people saw the rape without notifying police.

The victim, a sophomore, had left the dance and was drinking alcohol in a school courtyard with a group when she was attacked, police said.

Officers found the girl semiconscious and naked from the waist down near a picnic table. She remains hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.

Police also hope a $20,000 reward will bring more people forward with any information.

Gagan said the girl left the dance and was walking to meet her father for a ride home when a classmate invited her to join a group drinking in the courtyard. The girl had consumed a large amount of alcohol by the time the assault began, police said. Gagan said the girl's father tried to call her cell phone, but no one answered.

Police received a tip about a possible assault on campus from a young woman, a former student, who heard two males bragging about it.

The victim was found nearly an hour after the dance had ended.

US new home sales slip back again

The annual rate of US new home sales fell unexpectedly in September, raising doubts about the strength of the housing sector's recovery.

The Commerce Department said sales fell by 3.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 402,000 homes, down from a revised 417,000 in August.

This marks the first fall in the rate of home sales since March.

The median sales price of $204,000 (£124,000) was down by 9.1% from $225,200 a year earlier.

Tax credits

Some analysts argue that the housing sector has been supported by the $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers introduced by the government to boost demand for houses.

They argue that the latest figures simply reflect the fact that the credit is due to run out on 30 November.

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Larry Johnson Gay Slur on Twitter, in Locker Room Results in Ban From Team

The NFL's Kansas City Chiefs have barred star running back Larry Johnson from all team activities as the club and league look into comments he made Monday.

In telling reporters to get away from him, Johnson used a slur that referred to gays. He used the same slur on Twitter in an exchange with one of his followers.

A day later, he used a gay slur again as he brushed off reporters and told them he had no comment, according to the Kansas City Star, which recorded this.

He has also posted demeaning remarks about Coach Todd Haley, questioning his authority. Yeesh. Now that's a lot worse than any Bob Griese taco comment.

Larry Johnson eludes a tackler. And basic social decency.

In a statement released through his agent, Johnson apologized for his remarks, though in the list of people to whom he apologized, he did not mention gays.

Last season, Herman Edwards, who was the Chiefs’ coach, benched Larry Johnson for three games for a then-unspecified violation of the team's rules.

Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended him for a fourth game for violating the NFL player-conduct policy in connection with incidents involving women in bars.

Johnson, who has 358 yards on 132 rushes and no touchdowns in 2009, was sentenced to two years’ probation after pleading guilty todisturbing the peace.

We'll see if he takes the field anytime soon this year.

How will the Dems spin this one? Christie surging 6 days out of Election Day

From Eric Dondero:

This is precisely the type of headline any candidate wants to see one week out of an election. From Politico:

Christie with a late surge
Two new polls out today suggest that Republican Chris Christie is holding the late momentum in the New Jersey gubernatorial race over Gov. Jon Corzine (D-N.J.)

The latest Rasmussen survey shows Christie taking the lead over Corzine, 42 to 38 percent, with Independent Chris Daggett winning 14 percent of the vote. Last week, Corzine held a one-point lead over Christie, 37 to 36 percent in the initial ballot test.

A separate poll from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling finds that late-deciding voters are lining up behind Christie. The poll shows Christie leading Corzine by four points, 42 to 38 percent with Daggett at 13 percent. Christie only led by one point over Corzine in the last PPP survey two weeks ago.
Meanwhile the race is essentially over in Virginia. If you haven't heard the news one poll - Battleground from Ed Goeas (Republican) and Cylinda Lake (Democrat) polling firm, has Bob McDonnell now leading Democrat Creigh Deeds by 19 points!

So, we just got this "Pre-Post Election" spin from the Washington Post:

There’s been a fair amount of punditry of late to the effect that the Virginia governor’s race is shaping up as a big referendum on Obama’s presidency. If GOPer Bob McDonnell wins, lots of people in DC will be eager to claim that Obama is one of the race’s Biggest Losers.

But the internals of the new Washington Post poll in Virginia suggest that Obama may not really be an important factor at all. It finds:

* Seventy percent of likely voters say Obama is “not a factor” in ther choice. Only 15% say opposition to Obama is a factor, while 14%, say support for him is a factor.
Entirely predictable. No surprise there. But how are the Obama lapdogs going to explain New Jersey? Obama has spent considerable political capital campaigning last minute for Corzine.

Democrats may be able to spin McDonnell's big win as a poor candidate running in a Red-leaning southern state. But they can't spin a Christie win in deep blue Democrat territory.

It's increasingly looking like Late Tuesday Night may be a great opportunity for a virtual Gloat Fest for Republicans nationwide.