Friday, October 8, 2010

Parents Say Kid's Art Project Looks Like KKK Hood

Parents Say Kid's Art Project Looks Like KKK Hood

A 6-year-old boy in Fort Scott, Kans., came home on Monday with an art-class project that shocked and unnerved his parents: a KKK hood. The boy's parents were so outraged that they removed their child from the school.

Dallas Smith, a first-grade student at Winfield-Scott Elementary, came home wearing a white KKK-fashioned hood that he had made in art class under the guidance of teacher Russ Gordon.

"It appears to look like a Ku Klux Klan hat, which is a heck of a thing to put on a 6-year-old boy," Dallas' father, Barry Smith, told NBC News. The art instructor, who has been teaching his craft for 30 years, claims that art is eye candy; he uses it to teach the principals of shape, symmetry and texture.

Gordon says that students had free reign to design their own masks with paper. A poster was used to inspire the class and give them ideas to create their own visions for the masks.

He also says that in all of his teaching years, not once has he experienced any negativity from the projects he helped his students create: "It's just a creative shape that the kids can take a lot of different directions," he said. "I had kids make knights. I had kids make princesses.

You can take it all different directions." Instead, the teacher is pointing the finger at the 6-year-old child, saying Dallas himself chose the art direction he took. Dallas' parents, however, aren't buying Gordon's explanations.

When Dallas came home wearing a hat that look like a KKK hood, quite naturally his parents were not only puzzled but livid: "My wife was fearful for my son, just because of the symbolism that goes along with this," Smith said.

When Smith confronted the school's principal and district superintendent the following morning, they apologized. Suffice it to say, the Smiths took their son out of Winfield-Scott Elementary school and moved him in to a "safer" school environment in Pittsburg, Kans. The Smiths feel that the powers-that-be in their former school district are in dire need of sensitivity training. Meanwhile, Gordon is contemplating ending the mask project for good.

Baseball: Roberto Alomar's Wife Accuses Him of HIV Exposure

Former major league baseball player Roberto Alomar and his wife Maria are battling in a divorce court. Maria claims that her husband knew he was HIV-positive and had unprotected sex with her anyway.

According to the New York Post, Alomar, who is considered by many to be one of the best second basemen in history, "knew prior to his first sexual contact with (her) that he was HIV-positive," said the former baseball great's soon-to-be-ex wife. Maria also affirms in the filing that he did not tell her about his condition and he outright lied stating, "he had been tested for sexually transmitted diseases and the tests were negative."

Interestingly enough, the 42-year-old Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards recipient also had another suit filed against him last year by an ex-girlfriend. Ilya Dall filed a reported $15 million lawsuit in January of last year against Alomar for having unprotected sex with her while knowing he was HIV-positive. Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, Alomar issued a statement responding to the allegations by saying he was "in very good health" and that the lawsuit was "filled with lies." The Dall case was settled just five months after it had been filed.

Ironically, Maria, who was Alomar's girlfriend at the time that Dall's case went public, spoke out vehemently against the suit calling it a "vile lie."

Now, Maria, a former model and boutique owner, who publicly defended her man like a guard dog against Dall's alleged lies only last year, finds herself in a bitter legal battle over the same claims.

The dueling duo, married for only one year, also made headlines just a few months ago when Maria claimed to have been pushed and threatened with a knife by her husband back in August during a domestic dispute. Maria, a 33-year-old, well-known Puerto Rican sex symbol, who is known as the Paris Hilton of her shores, wound up placing a restraining order against Alomar.

According to court documents, Maria found out conclusively about Alomar's HIV status and the discovery caused her to "suffer extreme emotional distress, fear and mental anguish," the filing says.

Last year Alomar was interviewed by the New York Post and he adamantly denied the HIV rumors. "I don't talk about my personal life, but I don't have that disease."

Up until this point, Maria has "not contracted the virus to date but uncertainty still exists due to the delay in the onset of the virus," say the court papers.

By Ruth Manuel-Logan

Young Blacks Unlikely To Rally Behind Democrats

By Cathy J. Cohen

Chicago, IL ( -- When record numbers of young African Americans turned out to vote for Barack Obama nearly two years ago, political pundits predicted the start of an important and positive trend. Socially marginalized young blacks buoyed by the election of the nation's first black president would supposedly begin to see themselves as newly politically empowered and engaged. They would become as invested in, and optimistic about, their future as their young white counterparts. politicians weren't paying attention to what these young people were saying even in the heady, hopeful days after the Obama election. The Democratic Party that benefited greatly from the votes of these young people was also asleep at the wheel; if not, party leaders would have understood that despite young voters' genuine enthusiasm for Obama, they were not energized by the Democratic Party nor particularly moved by its agenda. It was Barack Obama and the historic nature of his election that energized young people. 
Two years ago, in focus groups with young blacks in Chicago after the election, young blacks noted with pride that they had voted for the nation's first black president, yet they were quick to also point out that they had low expectations about the impact of Obama, or any politician, would have on their personal life circumstances. Even as they celebrated the election of Obama as a symbolic step forward for the country, few of the young people believed that Obama's election would change the high levels of violence in their neighborhoods, improve the poor quality of their schools, stop their harassment by the police, or even just provide them with more jobs that would pay a decent wage to provide for them and their families. 
Unfortunately, their perceptions proved too accurate. If these young people don't come out to vote, the Democratic Party will have only itself to blame. Instead of harnessing the energy of young voters across the board, particularly black ones, and nurturing their political momentum, President Obama and his party ignored them once the election was over. 
Now we are in a political environment where the Democrats seem to have decided that they will move away from traditional interest group politics and appeals. So instead of making direct appeals to young black voters about issues that matter specifically to them, in a form that resonates with them the party is making very general statements about jobs, and education, and even about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and asking young black people to find messages within those generalized statements to relate to and be motivated by. 
Does that sound familiar? It's the failed strategy of the Dukakis 1988 presidential campaign, when a winnable election turned into a debacle because little was done to energize the Democratic base. 
Once again, that strategy is not going to materialize in substantial numbers of young black people voting, precisely because it ignores a very simplistic understanding of racial politics - people, especially young people, need a reason to vote beyond party identification. 
It is the absence of direct appeals and engagement with young people, in particular young black people, which will lead to substantial numbers of them not going to the polls. This will undoubtedly hurt Democratic prospects, which are already in danger. 
President Obama will also have to shoulder much of the blame. His decision that started in his campaign to, I dare say, run away from race, and only respond to the issue of race when it was in crisis mode has allowed conservatives and Tea Party leaders to define the narrative of racial politics, leaving young people feeling alienated by the rhetoric and discourse around race in this country. 
If President Obama had initiated certain programs and policies and framed them in a way that truly spoke to young people, he would have almost certainly could expect more mileage in terms of turnout in 2010. Take education as an example. The president is very clearly committed to improving the public educational system where many black and Latino children are educated. However, his messaging has not spoken directly to that population. He hasn't made direct appeals to black youth on BET or MTV. He hasn't written op-ed pieces for the black blogosphere that says: ‘I'm committed to the future of young black people and here are my education initiatives.' It's a messaging problem and a surprising contradiction considering how much the president's rhetorical style is celebrated. 
In the midst of trying to be a President of the entire United States, he has missed the integral politics of connecting with specific communities, in this case young blacks. He has also missed an opportunity to mobilize them even when he has had policies that could have really motivated them.
The bottom line is that we're going to see lower turnout among young people next month, and we'll see even substantially lower turnout among young black people. And then the question will be what's going to happen in 2012?
It's likely too late for Democrats to turn things around in time for the midterm elections, but the larger question that looms is whether President Obama and his party have learned from their mistakes and can change course to keep Obama in the White House in 2012. 
Cathy J. Cohen is the David and Mary Winton Green Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. Her new book, "DEMOCRACY REMIXED: Black Youth and the Future of American Politics", gives readers an in-depth analysis of the state of black youth in America today. Published by Oxford University Press, "Democracy Remixed" is available in bookstores and online. For media interviews with Ms. Cohen, please contact Nicole Germain at 443-540-3121 / or Michael K. Frisby at 202-625-4328 /

I Pledge Allegiance To The Court

So a lawyer walks into a bar…  Strike that.  A lawyer walks into a courtroom and refuses to recite the Pledge Of Allegiance.  A lawyer in Tupelo, Miss., was thrown in jail Wednesday for refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance in court.

I was frankly unaware that there were jurisdictions that required court attendees to cite the pledge.  Silly me.  High School classrooms, sporting events and KKK rallies but a courtroom?  Needless to say, finding an attorney in contempt for refusing to regress to high school and recite was a judicially boneheaded and “un-American” move by the presiding judge.  He must have been doing some early work on his future campaign for elected office when Constitutional Law was being taught at his law school.

Lawyers often give up a lot of things when they walk through those hallowed doors to appear before the bench. Dignity, truth, ethics and emotional control are often surrendered. One thing we do not surrender is our First Amendment Rights which includes the right to choose not to say the Pledge Of Allegiance.

I wonder if he issues bench warrants at ball games for people who do not participate in the National Anthem or God Bless America.  I will avoid sitting next to him when I have hot-dog in mouth.

Holding Prosecutors Accountable: The Supreme Court Takes Another Look

by Matt Kelley
In the last few terms, the right-leaning majority on the U.S. Supreme Court has seemed eager to reinforce the immunity that prosecutors have traditionally enjoyed from being sued in civil court for any wrongdoing. But that immunity was tested again in a case heard by the court yesterday, Connick v. Thompson, which centers on whether a prosecutor's office can be held liable for failing to train its attorneys to follow the rules.

The justices returned for a new term this week (with the newly arrived Justice Elena Kagan) and the transcript of yesterday's arguments shows that they jumped right in. Attorneys for defendant John Thompson were arguing that a New Orleans jury was right to award him damages after finding that the office run by prosecutor Harry Connick had been negligent in failing to train its attorneys in proper handling of evidence -- which led to his wrongful conviction and near execution. Lawyers for Connick's office argued that Thompson had failed to show a pattern of misconduct.

The justices had tough questions for both sides, and the media analysis is all over the map. Writing at, Tony Mauro points out the Ruth Bader Ginsburg in particular seemed peeved that several prosecutors in Connick's office had failed to follow evidence standards set under the critical case Brady v. Maryland. But there was skepticism from the bench as well, with Justices Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor asking exactly how much training would be enough to meet a constitutional standard. Knowing the makeup of this court and its steadfast protection of prosecutors, I'm not holding my breath for a ruling holding prosecutors accountable for their actions. (Read more after the jump.)

Shock Poll: John Dingell (D-MI) Down 4 Points To GOP Challenger In... DETROIT! (Ann Arbor/Dearborn)

The resident fossil of the US House is in big trouble, something unfathomable in a city like Detroit where Dingell's district resides. In fact, Detroit's voting record indicates the most pro-Democrat record in the entire U.S:

2008 General Election results-DEM: 96.93% GOP: 2.65%
2006 General Election results-DEM: 95.05% GOP: 4.33%
2004 General Election results-DEM: 93.61% GOP: 5.93%
With that as a backdrop, from The Detroit Free Press: Poll: In House race, Rob Steele leads John Dingell by 4 points
A new independent poll has the dean of the U.S. House, Rep. John Dingell trailing his Republican opponent, Rob Steele, by 4 percentage points.

The automated phone survey of 300 people in the 15th Congressional District showed Steele getting 43.8% of the vote. Dingell, a Dearborn Democrat and the longest-serving member of Congress, got 39.5%. About 11% were undecided. The gap is within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 5.6 percentage points. The poll was conducted Monday.
If Dingell isn't safe in Detroit (and for that matter Ann Arbor and Dearborn), is any Democrat safe anywhere? I'm going to go out on a limb here and speculate that Dingell did himself no favors with sad recent episodes like when he admitted on air that ObamaCare was all about 'controlling the people:'

Tribute For Tyler Clementi

Tyler Clementi Vigil.jpg
Gay suicides have been in the news way too often lately. The Trevor Project, a 24 hour suicide prevention hotline for gay and questioning youth, does great work and everyday citizens are doing what they can to shine light on the unfortunate and too overlooked epidemic. Mark your date book: Stefanie Cronin and Sommer Sheikh have organized "A Rose for Tyler," a tribute walk for Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers student who leapt to his death from the George Washington Bridge after his roommate streamed a live video of him having sex with another man on the internet. At 9 a.m. on October 16th, people will walk across the George Washington Bridge and drop a rose into the river in honor of Clementi. "What inspired Sommer and I to organize this tribute walk in honor of Tyler Clementi was the fact that his life needed to be honored, despite others ending it for him," Cronin said. "Because that is what they did with their cyber-bullying. No one's life should be taken from them for being who they are or for who they love. Everyone has a valid right to be happy regardless of their choice of lifestyle. We, personally, did not know Tyler, but his story inspired us to show others that admist the darkness, there is still good in the world."

Dems Admit Rep. John Adler Planted Fake Tea Party Candidate

by Mike Roman
Democratic operatives in New Jersey are turning on Congressman John Adler (D-NJ3). Due to “ethical qualms” they have revealed the Adler campaign is behind the bogus “NJ Tea Party” candidacy of Peter DeStefano.
In May, Geoff Mackler, Adler’s Campaign Manager, along with Democratic consultant Steve Ayscue gave a presentation outlining the “DeStefano Plan” at the Camden County Democratic Committee headquarters:
“The goal was to take 5 percent of (Republican Jon) Runyan’s vote,” said a Democrat with direct knowledge of the Adler campaign and CCDC operations.
“Steve Ayscue designed the plan with Geoff Mackler following his lead.”
DeStefano first emerged in an internal poll circulated by the Adler campaign in July that showed him getting 12 percent of the vote. Until then he  hadn’t announced he was a candidate.
He was immediately dismissed by Tea Party groups:

“Peter DeStefano is not, and I emphasize, not a Tea Party candidate, by any stretch. He is a shill for someone else, but certainly not what the Tea Party stands for.”
Adler denied that his campaign was behind the deception:
“I know we weren’t part of it.”
Seems that wasn’t true.

Lou Dobbs Denies Allegations He Hired Illegal Workers

The Nation recently reported that former CNN host, Lou Dobbs, and his company employed illegal workers. Dobbs once said that anyone who hires undocumented workers should be charged with felonies so this report is even more crushing to his character and credibility. Dobbs fired back while appearing on Good Morning America, “They went after me as hard as they could in a smear piece.” He went on to say, “And the fact of the matter remains I have never hired an illegal immigrant, never will. None of my companies have hired illegal immigrants, and we work very hard to make sure that we do not do so. My accounting firm goes through every single person on our payroll to make certain that they are absolutely legal in every aspect.”

Stimulus Checks Sent to Dead, Incarcerated


The Social Security Administration sent about 89,000 stimulus payments of $250 each to dead and incarcerated people—but almost half of them were returned, a new inspector-general's report found.

The agency was charged with distributing the one-time payments, worth about $13 billion in total, as part of the economic-stimulus package passed in February 2009. Most of the payments were made in May 2009.
The inspector general found that about 72,000 payments were sent by electronic-transfer and as checks to people who would have qualified to receive them—had they still been alive.

The report Thursday said that of these payments, about 55,000 were sent because the recipients had died recently, and the Social Security Administration had not been informed of their deaths by states, families or funeral homes at the time the payments were sent.

The remaining 17,000 of the mistaken payments were attributed to the SSA failing to properly process death records that it did have.

Another 17,000 payments went to recipients who were in prison at the time the payment was made in May 2009. However, not all of those payments were necessarily against the letter of the law. While lawmakers intended to prevent payments to people in prison, the law included only a provision prohibiting payments to people incarcerated in the three months before the plan was passed—from November 2008 through January 2009.

There is a bright spot in the report: The inspector general estimates that about 41,000 of the payments were returned. It is illegal to spend social-security money issued to somebody else, but such actions are rarely prosecuted for small amounts. At least one person has been prosecuted for cashing a stimulus check not issued to them, in one of the few accusations of stimulus fraud to date.

The downside: The SSA says that the stimulus package didn't include a provision allowing it to try to retrieve funds that were mistakenly sent out, so it can't try to retrieve the rest of the money. Money transferred electronically may be sitting untouched in bank accounts of dead people.
The combined total of the mistaken payments is $22.3 million. About $12 million hasn't been returned.

The SSA said in response to the report that it was pleased with the overall finding that the "vast majority" of payments were properly issued. "In the short timeframe imposed… we issued economic—recovery payments accurately to more than 99.8 percent of approximately 52 million eligible Social Security and Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries," it said.

The report drew criticism from Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, a longtime campaigner against waste, who opposed the economic-stimulus package.

"This report highlights the broader problems with the Recovery Act itself," said Mr. Coburn, in a statement.

Congratulations to Mario Vargas Llosa on Receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature

he 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature awarded to my father, Mario Vargas Llosa, is great news for those of us who value freedom.

His work, as the Swedish Academy recognized in its public statement, explores the oppressive structures of power and the plight of the individual who rebels against them. His novels examine this theme through the potent means of literary creation, of course. His journalism, public speaking and non-fiction writing do it in more direct form; their impact has given some comfort, for decades, to those who struggle against authoritarian regimes.

Among the moving messages he and the family have received since the announcement are hundreds of letters of hope from Cubans and Venezuelans who see in him a symbol of what they stand for.
The cause of liberty in the Western Hemisphere has good reason to rejoice.

China Dissident Liu Xiaobo Awarded Nobel Prize 2010 Thanks To His Charter 08 Book

This week has been a great week for the Nobel Prize 2010 edition. Earlier in the week we presented you the two men who won the Nobel Prize 2010 in Physics for discovering the graphene, and this time we’re going to talk about the Nobel Peace Prize 2010 which has been awarded to China dissident Liu Xiaobo.

It’s not the first time the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to a dissident, and a major factor that probably contributed to this award is the fact that China warned Norway not to give the prize to Liu Xiaobo who has been arrested in December last year because of “state subversion.”
Liu Xiaobo
Liu Xiaobo was a lead activist in the Tiananmen Square and we wrote books about the freedom of speech as well as multi-party elections. Mr. Xiaobo has been arrested in June 2009, and in December 2009 he has been sentenced to 11 years in prison.

His book, Charter 08, has been inspired by Czech Republic’s former President, Vaclav Havel (also a dissident), who wrote Charter 77 back in 1977. Do you agree with the Nobel Peace Prize 2010 decision? I remind you that last year the same prize has been awarded to US President Barack Obama.

Jay-Z’s a Gang-banger According To Miami Police

This has lawsuit written all over it in Hierogliphics.  Peep game
*The Miami Police Dept. has a very interesting anti-gang campaign going on. In the department’s effort to encourage snitches and reports of gang violence, the banner depicts two gangsters who without question strongly resemble rapper and Hip-Hop mogul, Jay-Z.

His people have yet to respond to the ad, but many believe that Jay would never endorse the drawing. Miami New Times broke the news and reached out to MPD, so folks are anxiously waiting their reply.