Saturday, December 6, 2008

Play-N-Skillz Surprised By Grammy Nomination

I've always been intrigued my music production duos. The production duo Play-N-Skills two brothers from Irving, Texas, are one of the hottest production duos in music today. They first gained prominence after winning a Grammy last year for Chamillionaire's "Ridin" (Dirty). This year that received another Grammy nod for producing Lil Wayne's "Got Money". They tell that the track wasn't even supposed to appear on "Tha Carter III," which is nominated for Album of the Year.

The brothers state that the original track was accidentally erased by the engineer, and after rerecording it, they had T-Pain sing the chorus, the track was given to Lil Wayne and the rest is history. Good to see these brothers living their dream.

When Using Nebraska's Safe Haven Law Became A Mistake

Teri Martin thought she was doing the best thing for her adopted 13 year-old son when she decided to transport him to Nebraska to take advantage of Nebraska's Safe Haven Law, which allows parents to essentially abandon their children without fear of prosecution. As a result of that decision, Teri Martin and her husband Terrence are now facing a trial for neglecting all 4 of their children on December 12th according to the Detroit Free Press. Teri Martin is also barred from the home and only allowed one hour of supervised visits per week.

Teri Martin described a 13 year-old boy who set fires, got expelled from schools and was being recruited by gangs. Martin did say that after she delivered her son to the Nebraska hospital, she knew that she'd made a mistake. What happened to parents taking responsibility for their children. If a 13 year-old is already having issues, how can dropping him off at a Nebraska hospital, 700 miles from home, make things better.

When Will We Hit Bottom?

The Baltimore Sun reports on the announcement yesterday that employers cut 533,000 jobs during the month of November raising the unemployment rate to 6.7%. In reality the unemployment rate is higher than that since when people stop looking for a job, they're no longer counted in the unemployment numbers. The first week in December brought major corporations such as AT& T and DuPont announcing layoffs and we know about the situation with "the big three". The primary areas presently adding jobs are the government, health care and education, and things are expected to get worse before they get better.

In these economic times, if you are gainfully employed, don't take anything for granted.

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database Launched

A monumental website was launched yesterday. "Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, launched yesterday in conjunction with a conference at Emory University marking the bicentennial of the official end of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in 1808. "Voyages" documents the slave trade from Africa to the New World in the 1500s to 1800s and includes searchable information on nearly 35,000 trips and the names of 70,000 human cargo. The voluminous work documents two-thirds of all slave trade voyages between 1514 and 1866. For someone who knows that an ancestor was enslaved in a certain part of the South, the database might help him trace from where in Africa the ancestor most likely came, said Emory history professor Leslie Harris.

Thanks to the Baltimore Sun for the information.

Friday, December 5, 2008

O.J. Gets At Least 9 Years In Prison

O.J. Simpson was sentenced to 33 years in prison today, but must serve a minimum of 9 years for last year’s kidnapping and armed robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers in Las Vegas. O.J. looked every bit of his 61 years as he gave a rambling apology to the judge. Regardless of what you think of "the Juice" and how his life has evolved over the past 15 years, it's hard to see the one time football icon reduced to being carried into a courtroom in shackles.

At the end of the day O.J. brought all of this mess on himself. I wonder why he didn't simply take his N.FL. pension and retire quietly in Florida. Either his conscience or his ego finally got the best of him.

Does Obama Actually Use A Zune Instead Of iPod?

Neal Santos saw President-elect Barack Obama listening to a Zune digital player while working out on Tuesday, posted it on the Philly weekly newspaper, and crashed the site. iPod fans apparently want proof that Obama actually uses a Zune, which only has a few percentage points of the digital player market that is dominated by Apple's iPod.

Zune fans say it's proof that Obama is true to his "Change" mantra. Thanks to the Chicago Tribune for this meaningless but interesting story.

Bush Not Willing To Bail Out The Big Three Without A Plan

The CEO's of "the big three" automakers were back in front of Congress yesterday begging for $34 billion to prevent the financial collapse of the companies. President Bush has vowed not to bail out the companies without a plan according to the New York Post. The CEO's now admit that they've made mistakes in running the companies.

I would assume that President Bush will try to put this burden on the new president-elect Barack Obama if the automakers can survive that long. Obama is on record as saying that the country can't allow the automakers to go belly up, but he wants them to have a plan in place to turn things around. The survival of "the big three" will probably be Obama's first major test as president.

Los Angeles School Superintendent Brewer Under Fire

Los Angeles School Board Superintendent David L. Brewer has been under constant attack by members of the school board, and received lukewarm support from the mayor has he fights to save his job. Brewer, who essentially relinquished control of running the school system to Ramon C. Cortines months ago is now seen as a figurehead, but the school board failed to get the necessary votes to oust Brewer on Tuesday, and now Brewer's support amongst African Americans political leaders has gained traction. The Los Angeles Times reports on the standoff that Brewer has caused due to ineffective leadership as viewed in some circles. Brewer has given an interview to the Los Angeles Daily News regarding his situation, and has pledged to serve out the remaining 2 years of his contract.

The Los Angeles School System is the second largest in the country, and Brewer hails from a military background. $300,000 a year in salary is a lot of money to pay a figurehead if that's what Brewer really is to the school system.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Gang Activity Growing In Charlotte

The Charlotte Observer is reporting that "gang related activity" has increased 25% compared to last year. Charlotte Police Chief Rodney Monroe has placed more emphasis on trying to combat the growing problem, by increasing police presence in targeted neighborhoods.

In a troubled economy, with increased unemployment, existing problems with gangs only get further exasperated.

Will The Madness Stop?

Robert L. Schulz, 69, chairman of We The People Foundation has been questioning whether President-elect Barack Obama is a "natural born citizen." He's been taking out ads in the Chicago Tribune, which has looked into the allegations in this article. The Obama campaign has been forced to release a digitized copy of Obama's birth certificate.

Obama hasn't even been sworn into office yet, and people still can't accept that he'll be our next president.

Lil Wayne Lead Grammy Nominations

Rapper Lil Wayne led the 51st Grammy Nominations that were announced last night. The superstar rapper, who released his best selling album "Tha Carter III" earlier this year received 8 Grammy nods, including a nomination for Album of The Year. The album was more mainstream, and obviously respected by music aficionados.

Complete nominations can be viewed here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Why Flaunting Is Sometimes Not A Good Thing

"Real Housewives of Atlanta" was a breakout show for Bravo over the past few months. The show spotlighted Atlanta area "housewives" at their gaudiest. The show, while wildly entertaining in spots portrayed the women profiled as obviously having wealth that was probably scripted for the benefit of the show. It's one thing to watch the other 2 installments of the reality show that profiled housewives from Orange County, and New York, respectively show off their money in a manner that at least appears to have some semblance of reality.

The Atlanta show showed one women writing a check for over $50,000 for a Cadillac Escalade. I don't know this for a fact, but I suspect that the vehicle was never driven of the dealer's lot. NeNe Leakes who really was the "realist" of the housewives has reportedly been evicted from her home according to the New York Daily News. I hate to say that these women have been exploited by Bravo, but I'm sure the network made out like a bandit as the show averaged viewreship of 1.3 million viewers for the 7 episodes. Leakes never really portrayed herself as having money during the show, and really was the most down to earth, and normal of the 5 women profiled. Hopefully things will improve for her, and perhaps if she signs on for a second season of "Housewives" she'll be able to negotiate a more lucrative contract.

Beatty Pleads Guilty

This is video of Kwame Kilpatrick's former chief of staff Christine Beatty pleading guilty, and admitting that she lied under oath in the Detroit text messaging scandal. Beatty, who has two daughters will serve 4 months in jail in addition to faing probation, and paying restitution of $100,000 if she's financially able to pay the amount. The Detroit Free Press is reporting that Beatty's family member will be assisting with the caring of her daughters while she's imprisoned.

Beatty will be sentenced on July 5th.

Hudson Family Murders Tied To Sister Dating Another Man?

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that Jennifer Hudson's estranged brother-in-law William Balfour who has now been officially charged with the murders of Hudson's mother, brother, and nephew allegedly committed the murders because he was upset that Hudson's sister Julia was having a relationship with another man. Balfour, who had allegedly previously warned Julia Hudson that he would harm her family if she continued to date the other man, allegedly found a birthday present and assumed it was from "boyfriend".

Balfour was charged Tuesday with three counts of first-degree murder and a single count of home invasion.

Monday, December 1, 2008

"Where Children Find Hope"

The Detroit Free Press profiles the Michigan Foster Care System in a special report"Where Children Find Hope." The children of Christ Child House are profiled, as they are a small portion of the 6,000 legal orphans in the state. A great report on the Foster Care System in Michigan.

Beatty Plea Deal Could Be Completed Today

The Detroit Free Press reports that former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's chief of staff, Christine Beatty may be settling on a plea deal today that will include jail time, probation and restitution. Initially I thought it was a good idea for Beatty to take her chances at trial, in hindsight, she should take the deal and move on with her life.

"Witness To Hunger"

Mariana Chilton, a professor and anthropologist at Drexel University's School of Public Health, gave digital cameras to 40 women who live in the ghetto of North Philadelphia. The simple idea evolved into "Witness of Hunger" an exhibit that will go on display December 11th at Drexel University in Philadelphia. The women, who were paid up to $125 dollars and allowed to keep the cameras, photographed the reality of their conditions. One of the participants is quoted below:

"My 4-year-old son saw a shot person and has prostitutes in his face," Tianna Gaines, 29, said in an Inquirer interview in her crowded apartment. "This is not The Cosby Show. That wasn't a stunt double dead in front of my son. I know a woman who sells her body to buy Pampers. This is the real world."

36 of the 40 participants report that they were raped as children or sexually abused by relatives. This the reality of urban living, trying to make something out of nothing and living to tell about it. Thanks to the Philadelphia Inquirer for a very compelling story about a tremendous exhibit.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Roots Of Obama's Faith

Four and a half years ago he was a young politician speaking to a local Chicago area church about the roots of his faith. The Chicago Sun-Times has republished this April 5, 2004 article about the then 42 year old politician named Barack Obama who just 4 years later would make history as the first African American President of the United States.

It's amazing what you can accomplish with a vision, goal and plan.

When Will Plaxico Get A Clue?

New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg while fumbling a gun in a Manhattan nightclub early Saturday morning. Burress was at the club with teammate Antonio Pierce, who drove the beleaguered wide receiver to the hospital. Just this year, Burress, who recently signed a $35 million contract has been suspended by the team for being late to practice, fined $45,000 for verbally abusing an official, and had police summoned to his home twice for alleged domestic disturbances.

The lunacy of the situation become even crazier since according to the New York Daily News Burress didn't have a permit to carry the gun, and is expected to be arrested in a few days, while Pierce could faces charges for allegedly trying to hide the gun. Burress is expected to be charged with criminal possession of a firearm which carries with it a sentence of up to 5 years.

Our black athletes continue to amaze me with the lack of self control. I hope Burress has Michael Vick on speed dial.

First AME Pastor Owes Church $122,000 Plus Interest

The Los Angeles Times reports that Rev. John Hunter, who pastors the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles has been ordered to repay the church $122,000 plus interest after independent audits showed that Hunter had used church credit cards for personal expenditures including clothing, jewelry and family vacations. Hunter, who is paid a six figure salary, and has use of a $2 million church parsonage has agreed to repay the money over a four year period.

It appears that the church is being very generous in their handling of their pastor. Hopefully he's learned the error of his ways.