Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Silent Killer

A major health problem for Black people is high blood pressure (hypertension). High blood pressure is particularly common among Black folks. You can have high blood pressure for years without a single symptom. Most people with high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms, even if blood pressure readings reach dangerously high levels. Although a few people with early-stage high blood pressure may have dull headaches, dizzy spells or a few more nosebleeds than normal, these signs and symptoms typically don't occur until high blood pressure has reached an advanced and possibly life-threatening stage. But, in this case silence is not golden, it can kill.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of serious health problems, including heart attack and stroke and kidney failure. Fortunately, high blood pressure can be easily detected. And once you know you have high blood pressure, you can work with your doctor and change some habits to control it. You should ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading at least every two years. He or she may recommend more frequent readings if you have high blood pressure or other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Almost all high blood pressure cases have no identifiable cause. It tends to develop gradually over many years. Certain medications, including birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relievers and some prescription drugs, may cause high blood pressure. Various illicit drugs, including cocaine and amphetamines, also can increase blood pressure.

The risk of high blood pressure increases as you get older. If you don't have high blood pressure by age 55, you have a 90 percent chance of developing it at some point in your life. Women are more likely to develop high blood pressure after menopause. It often develops at an earlier age in Blacks and Hispanics than it does in Whites. Serious complications, such as stroke and heart attack, also are more common in Blacks. High blood pressure tends to run in families.

Other risk factors for high blood pressure are within your control. Excess weight. The greater your body mass, the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. Inactivity. People who are inactive tend to have higher heart rates. The higher your heart rate, the harder your heart must work with each contraction. Tobacco use. The chemicals in tobacco can damage the lining of your artery walls, which promotes narrowing of the arteries. Salt intake. Too much salt in your diet can lead to fluid retention and increased blood pressure. Low potassium intake. Potassium helps balance the amount of salt in your cells. If you don't consume or retain enough potassium, you may accumulate too much salt in your blood. Excessive alcohol. Over time, heavy drinking can damage your heart. Stress. High levels of stress can lead to a temporary but dramatic increase in blood pressure. If you try to relax by eating more, using tobacco or drinking alcohol, you may only fuel problems with high blood pressure.

Other conditions also may increase your risk of high blood pressure, including high cholesterol, diabetes, kidney disease and sleep apnea. Sometimes pregnancy contributes to high blood pressure.

Studies of adults who worked more than 40 or 50 hours a week, particularly clerical and unskilled workers were more likely to have high blood pressure than were those who worked 40 hours or less a week. Researchers tied the higher risk for workers with longer hours to unhealthy eating, less exercise, more stress and less sleep.

The latest blood pressure guidelines, issued in 2003 by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, divide blood pressure measurements into four general categories:
Normal blood pressure. Your blood pressure is normal if it's below 120/80, but some data indicate that 115/75 should be the gold standard. Once blood pressure rises above 115/75 the risk of cardiovascular disease begins to increase.

High blood pressure falls into different categories:

Prehypertension. Prehypertension is a systolic pressure ranging from 120 to 139 or a diastolic pressure ranging from 80 to 89. Within four years of being diagnosed with prehypertension, nearly one in three adults ages 35 to 64 and nearly one in two adults age 65 or older progress to definite high blood pressure.

Stage 1 hypertension. Stage 1 hypertension is a systolic pressure ranging from 140 to 159 or a diastolic pressure ranging from 90 to 99.

Stage 2 hypertension. The most severe hypertension, stage 2 hypertension is a systolic pressure of 160 or higher or a diastolic pressure of 100 or higher. There are thousands of people walking around daily with condition without even knowing it and they are at a risk of stroke or heart attack at any minute.

A single high blood pressure reading usually isn't enough for a diagnosis. Because blood pressure normally varies throughout the day, and sometimes specifically during visits to the doctor, diagnosis is based on more than one reading taken on more than one occasion. Your doctor may ask you to record your blood pressure at home and at work to provide additional information.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to damage to your arteries, heart failure (heart attack), a blocked or ruptured blood vessel in your brain (which leads to stroke), weakened and narrowed blood vessels in your kidneys, thickened, narrowed or torn blood vessels in the eyes (which can result in blindness), and uncontrolled high blood pressure also may affect your ability to think, remember and learn. Memory loss and dementia are more common in people who have high blood pressure.

Blood pressure goals aren't the same for everyone. Although everyone should strive for blood pressure readings below 140/90, doctors recommend lower readings for people with certain conditions.

Changing your lifestyle can go a long way toward controlling high blood pressure. But sometimes lifestyle changes aren't enough. In addition to diet and exercise, your doctor may recommend medication to lower your blood pressure. Which category of medication your doctor prescribes depends on your stage of high blood pressure and whether you also have other medical conditions. To reduce the number of doses you need a day, which can reduce side effects, your doctor may prescribe a combination of low-dose medications rather than larger doses of one single drug. In fact, two or more blood pressure drugs often work better than one. Sometimes finding the most effective medication is a matter of trial and error.

Lifestyle changes can help you control and prevent high blood pressure even if you're taking blood pressure medication. Here's what you can do:
Eat healthy foods. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy foods. Get plenty of potassium, which can help prevent and control high blood pressure. Eat less saturated fat and total fat. Limit the amount of sodium in your diet.
Maintain a healthy weight. If you're overweight, losing even 5 pounds can lower your blood pressure.

Increase physical activity. Regular physical activity can help lower your blood pressure and keep your weight under control. Strive for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day.

Limit alcohol. Even if you're healthy, alcohol can raise your blood pressure. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation — up to one drink a day for women, two drinks a day for men.

Don't smoke. Tobacco injures blood vessel walls and speeds up the process of hardening of the arteries.

Manage stress. Reduce stress as much as possible. Practice healthy coping techniques, such as muscle relaxation and deep breathing. Getting plenty of sleep can help, too.

Practice slow, deep breathing.

One unconfirmed and ancient Chinese remedy for high blood pressure is celery juice, which can be made with a blender or a juicer. Two to three 8 oz glasses a day for a month can help prevent high blood pressure or restore it to normal. Additionally, celery is known to prevent gout and other arthritic conditions. Studies have found that this stalk is packed with over a dozen anti-inflammatory agents, including apigenin, a cox2-inhibiting compound similar to some anti-inflammatory drugs. It doesn’t hurt to try it, you may get the benefits without the side effects!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dr. Charles H. Epps, Jr.: The Trainer of Orthopedic Surgery

Dr. Charles H. Epps, Jr. has had an outstanding professional career as a medical pioneer and educator. He was born on July 24, 1930, in Baltimore and graduated from the city's Frederick Douglass High School. During his senior year, he was class president and valedictorian. He was also selected to be a delegate of the Maryland State Boys Senate, where he introduced legislation calling for the elimination of segregation of the state's public transportation, which the State Boys Senate passed.

He graduated high school in 1947, and enrolled at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in chemistry in 1947 from Howard and received the M.D. with honors in 1955. After medical school, Epps completed his internship and residency in orthopedic surgery at Freedmen's (now Howard University) Hospital, in Washington. Following the completion of his residency, he served as captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps.

After his honorable discharge from the Army in 1962, he returned to Howard University as a member of the College of Medicine faculty, and began a successful private practice.

At the age of thirty-three, he was appointed Chief of the Division of Orthopedic Surgery at Howard. During his tenure as chief and professor, Epps trained more Black men and women in orthopedic surgery than anyone in the world. He has also served Howard in various other capacities, as dean of the College of Medicine, vice president for health affairs, the acting CEO of Howard Hospital and as special assistant to the president for health affairs.

Epps retired from Howard in 2001. He has contributed more than seventy publications and thirty book chapters and has given numerous lectures and scientific presentations. He also serves in a variety of professional organizations, including the American Orthopedic Association, where he was its first Black member, and later its president. He and his wife, renowned doctor Roselyn Payne Epps, live in Washington, D.C., and have four children.

Senator Obama Urges Europeans and Americans to Defeat Terror

Cheered by an enormous international crowd, Democratic presidential contender Senator Barack Obama on last Thursday summoned Europeans and Americans together to "defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it" as surely as they conquered communism a generation ago. Obama said he was speaking as a citizen, not as a president, but the evening was awash in politics as Senator Obama sought to polish his international credentials for the fall campaign.

His remarks before a crowd estimated at more than 200,000 in Berlin, Germany, inevitably invited comparison to historic speeches in the same city by Presidents Kennedy and Reagan.

"People of Berlin, people of the world, this is our moment. This is our time," he declared. "The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand," Senator Obama said, speaking not far from where the Berlin Wall once divided the city. "The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes, natives and immigrants, Christians and Muslims and Jews cannot stand," he said.
Obama's speech was the centerpiece of a fast-paced tour through Europe designed to reassure skeptical voters in the U.S. about his ability to lead the country and take a frayed cross-Atlantic alliance in a new direction after eight years of the Bush administration.

Republicans chafed at the media attention Obama's campaign-season trip has drawn. Presidential rival Senator John McCain went to a German restaurant in Ohio.
Senator Obama met earlier in the day with German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a discussion that ranged across the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, climate change, energy issues and more.

Crowds of bystanders waited along the senator's motorcade route for him to pass. One man yelled out in English, "Yes, we can," when he emerged from his car to enter his hotel.

For his speech, Senator Obama drew loud applause as he strode confidently across a large podium erected at the base of the Victory Column in Tiergarten Park in the heart of Berlin. The crowd spilled away from the Column for blocks. A police spokesman said there were more than 200,000 people, nearly three times the 75,000 Senator Obama drew in Oregon this spring in his largest previous audience. He drew loud applause when he talked of a world without nuclear weapons and again when he called for steps to counter climate change.

He referred repeatedly to the Berlin airlift, launched by the Allies 60 years ago when the Russians sought to isolate the Western part of the city. If they had succeeded, he said, communism would have marched across Europe. Now, he said, the enemy is different but the need for an alliance is the same as the world stares down terrorism and the extremism that supports it. "This threat is real and we cannot shrink from our responsibility to combat it," he said.

He said Europeans sometimes view America as "part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right. ..." And in America, "there are voices that deride and deny the importance of Europe's role in our security and our future."

He said both views miss the truth, "that Europeans today are bearing new burdens and taking more responsibility in critical parts of the world; and that just as American bases built in the last century still help to defend the security of this continent, so does our country still sacrifice greatly for freedom around the globe. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more, not less."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Obama Daughters Keep Their Own Hectic Schedules

The Democratic presidential nominee, Senator Barack Obama and his wife Michelle are determined that his bid not disrupt the normal, happy childhood of their daughters, who would be two of the youngest residents of the White House in 30 years if he wins. Amy Carter was 9 when she moved in the White House in 1977. Malia is 10 and Sasha is seven.

The rules in the Obama household for Malia and Sasha are clear-cut:
"No whining, arguing or annoying teasing," said Michelle Obama. “Make the bed. "Doesn't have to look good, just throw the sheet over it."

“Set your own alarm clock. "They get themselves up, get their own clothes," said their grandmother Marian Robinson.

And the allowance from Dad for doing chores is $1 a week. Barack Obama conceded that "I'm out of town for weeks at a time, so Malia will say, 'Hey you owe me for 10 weeks.'"

Malia and Sasha visited the White House in 2005 and were bored until President Bush's dog Barney showed up and they romped with him on the South Lawn, Michelle said.

While the senator is on the road, the Obama girls keep a hectic schedule: soccer, dance and drama for Malia, gymnastics and tap for Sasha, piano and tennis for both. Michelle Obama tries to fit in three 90-minute workouts each week and hits the campaign trail two or three days a week.

"When some folks were attacking Michelle, Malia just asked, 'What was that all about?' and we talked it through," Barack Obama said, adding that it was fortunate that "she's completely confident about her mommy's wonderfulness."

"They have a wonderful life in Chicago," Senator Obama said. "So I'm sure there's a part of them that won't be heartbroken if things don't work out."

The Obamas rarely allow their daughters to be interviewed. After the television show "Access Hollywood" aired a report on the Obama children earlier this month, their father expressed regret for having agreed to it. "I don't think it's healthy and it's something that we'll be avoiding in the future," he later said.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Walking Tall: Kevin Everett

On September 9, 2007, Everett sustained a fracture and dislocation of his cervical spine that his doctors characterized as "life-threatening" the day after the injury, and stated it is likely to leave him with permanent neurological impairment. However, on September 11, 2007, Everett showed significant movement in his arms and legs, which led doctors to speculate that he may eventually be able to walk again. Everett walked in public for the first time at Ralph Wilson Stadium before the Bills home finale against the New York Giants on December 23, 2007.

Kevin Everett was born February 5, 1982 in Port Arthur, Texas. He played tight end for the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League. He played college football at the University of Miami. Everett attended Thomas Jefferson High School in Port Arthur, Texas, where he was a three-year letterman in football and won Class 5A All-State honors in 2000. Kevin Everett attended Kilgore College in Kilgore, Texas for two years, where he was a two time first-team All-Southwest Junior College football conference pick, ranked the second best junior college player in the nation.

Everett struggled with injuries almost from his first day of play with the Bills, having missed the 2005 season after suffering a torn knee ligament on the first day of 2005 minicamp. He was placed on the physically unable to perform list on August 10, 2005, and on injured reserve on November 30. Everett returned to play in 2006, where he participated on special teams for most of the season. He made his first career start on September 10, 2006 at New England. On October 1 of that same year, Everett made his first career NFL reception.

Seventy-one thousand fans watched the Bills' 2007 season opener. As Everett lined up for the second-half kickoff against the Denver Broncos, he told teammate Anthony Thomas to keep an eye on him. He knew he was going to make the tackle. The kickoff sent the ball end over end into a gray sky. What happened next would make anyone wish it had never come down.

Everett raced down the field and went in for the tackle of the Bronco's Domenik Hixon. Everett's helmet collided violently with the side of Hixon's helmet and shoulder pads, and Everett dropped to the ground, face-first. Facedown on the field, Everett was desperately trying to lift himself off the turf. "I was like, 'I got to get up,' because I heard my teammates saying, 'C'mon, get up, let's go,'" Everett recalled. "I couldn't move. I tried."

An eerie silence draped over the stadium, as players from both teams knelt in prayer and the Bills medical staff surrounded Everett on the field. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Andy Cappuccino, the Bills' spine specialist, was quickly by Everett's side, and recalls asking, "Kevin, can you move your arms and legs?" Cappuccino says Everett's response was, "I am moving them." "No, Kevin, you're not moving them," Cappuccino told Everett.

Kevin Everett sustained a neck injury that resulted in his transport off the field by ambulance and emergency surgery. The injury was described as a cervical spine injury. Following the lengthy surgery, Everett's agent, Brian Overstreet, expressed hope that the injured player would be able to walk, but aside from his eyes, Everett had not shown any signs of movement on the field after sustaining the injury. Dr. Cappuccino was Everett's attending surgeon, and described the injury to Everett's spinal cord as a "scissoring" or "pinching" injury. Kevin's neck was dislocated between the third and fourth vertebrae, and the bones were pinching his spinal cord. "The ligaments are destroyed, the tendons are destroyed, so the only thing holding his head on his shoulders really is the skin on his neck and the big muscles," said Cappuccino.

Dr. Cappuccino repaired the fracture between the third and fourth vertebrae in a procedure that included a bone graft, the insertion of a plate and four screws in Everett's spinal column, and the relief of pressure on the spinal cord. However, Cappuccino gave the player a "statistically very small" chance of walking again. Dr. Cappuccino originally stated that he believed Everett would sustain "permanent" neurological damage, and used terms such as "bleak" and "dismal" to describe the outlook for a case he frankly described as "life-threatening", giving Everett less than a 5-10% chance of regaining full utilization of his physical capabilities.
Until September 11, Everett remained on a respirator, but was able to breathe on his own while it was briefly turned off. Cappuccino described Everett's respiratory risks as among the issues he described as "life-threatening" as well as how techniques, such as intravenous methods to reduce Everett's body temperature in an attempt to reduce the swelling, were performed in order to make operation easier. Cappuccino described Everett as an "NFL athlete [with] a warrior's mentality," who showed concern primarily for his family, and who asked doctors to do everything they could for him.

On September 12, Dr. Cappuccino and supporting neurosurgeon Dr. Kevin J. Gibbons reported that Kevin had been able to slightly move his arms and legs and also wiggle his toes. However, he could not move his hands. Also in that report, it was stated that Kevin had been taken off the respirator and was able to breathe on his own. On September 14, Fox Sports reported that Everett had begun to regain movement in his right hand. On September 17, 2007, he regained movement in both hands and was steadily regaining strength in his legs, and on September 20, Dr. Barth Green told the Associated Press that Everett will be able to stand and walk within weeks, and perhaps sooner.

"The rest of this story is about Kevin Everett and the warrior that he is and his mom and his fiancee not giving him one ounce of slack," Cappuccino said. "I have never seen one come this far, this fast." And the milestones kept coming.
With his family looking on, Everett took his first steps exactly one month after that terrifying collision in Buffalo. "I was so proud of him. I was laughing and crying at the same time," Everett’s mother said. "He's a tiger, you know, he's strong. His inner strength … they can't tell Kevin what he can't do."

By October 1, 2007, Everett had been relocated to Houston, near his family and off-season home, where he began a long rehabilitation that doctors believed would lead to his eventually walking again and possibly even making a full recovery. Working in his favor was his age, the incomplete nature of the spinal cord injury, his constitution, and exceptional physical condition at the time of injury, as well as the rapid treatment he received. On October 16, Everett was been able to walk "to an extent." On December 7, Kevin was able to walk on his own power, but did not have full movement.

On Sunday, December 23, 2007, the Buffalo Bills and their fans received an early Christmas present, Kevin Everett walked on the field of Ralph Wilson Stadium for the Bills season home finale against the New York Giants. Coincidentally, Domenik Hixon was on the Giants team at the time of the game after being from released by the Broncos. On January 31, 2008, Everett appeared on Oprah, clearly able to walk under his own power.

On April 9, 2008 Everett underwent more surgery to relieve persistent pain in his neck. On May 12, 2008 Everett was waived by the Buffalo Bills to allow him to be eligible to immediately apply for lifetime disability benefits. The Bills kept Everett on the active roster prior to waiving him to ensure that he completed three full NFL seasons, allowing him to qualify for a full pension.

On July 20, 2008 Everett was awarded the Jimmy V award for perseverance at the 2008 ESPY Awards for his heroic recovery from neck injury that threatened his chances of walking again, defying the odds and "never giving up" - something Jimmy Valvano said himself at the 1993 ESPY Awards.

Senator Barack Obama Visits Iraq

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama met Iraqi leaders and U.S. military commanders in Baghdad on Monday in a visit with the main focus of when U.S. troops should go home. The U.S. strategy in Iraq and troop levels are central issues in the November election race between senator Obama and Republican candidate Senator John McCain. Senator Obama was in Baghdad to assess security in Iraq.
Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Senator Obama did not mention his pledge to remove U.S. combat troops within 16 months if he takes office in talks with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. But in comments suggesting Iraq and Obama are not far apart on the timeframe, Dabbagh said Baghdad's goal was for foreign combat forces to leave by the end of 2010 if security conditions allowed.

On Sunday, Mr. Dabbagh denied Maliki had told a German magazine in an interview that he backed Senator Obama's troop withdrawal timeframe. Mr. Dabbagh had said no government statement should be seen as support for either U.S. presidential candidate. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was interviewed by the German magazine Der Spiegel, and his words seemed to come straight from Obama’s talking points.

“Would you hazard a prediction as to when most of the US troops will finally leave Iraq?” Der Spiegel asked.

“As soon as possible, as far as we’re concerned,” Maliki answered. “U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes.”

“Is this an endorsement for the U.S. presidential election in November?” the magazine followed up. “Does Obama, who has no military background, ultimately have a better understanding of Iraq than war hero John McCain?”

“Those who operate on the premise of short time periods in Iraq today are being more realistic,” Maliki said. “Artificially prolonging the tenure of US troops in Iraq would cause problems. Of course, this is by no means an election endorsement. Who they choose as their president is the Americans’ business. But it’s the business of Iraqis to say what they want. And that’s where the people and the government are in general agreement: The tenure of the coalition troops in Iraq should be limited.”
The Iraqi government quickly released a statement saying that Der Spiegel had “misunderstood and mistranslated” Maliki’s remarks, and that Maliki’s words “should not be understood as support to any U.S. presidential candidates.” But the Iraqis didn’t offer any alternate version of what Maliki had said. The Obama campaign quickly accepted what appeared to be Maliki’s endorsement.

Senator Obama visited Afghanistan over the weekend, the other big foreign policy challenge the next president will face. He called the situation in Afghanistan "precarious and urgent" and said Washington should start planning to transfer more troops there from Iraq.

Senator Obama, who is visiting Iraq as part of a U.S. congressional delegation, was greeted at Baghdad's airport by General David Petraeus, the U.S. military commander in the country. He will hold formal talks later with Petraeus. Senator Obama will also travel to other countries in the Middle East and visit major powers in Europe this week.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Soledad O'Brien

Soledad O'Brien is an anchor and special correspondent for CNN: Special Investigations Unit, reporting hour-long documentaries throughout the year and filing in-depth series on the most important ongoing and breaking news stories for all major CNN programs. She also covers political news as part of CNN's "Best Political Team on Television." Most recently, O'Brien has reported for CNN Presents: Black in America revealing the current state of Black America 40 years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

María de la Soledad Teresa O'Brien was born September 19, 1966 in St. James, New York of Irish Australian and Black-Cuban heritage. She is most known for anchoring the CNN marquee morning newscast American Morning from July 2003 to April 3, 2007, with Miles O'Brien; their common surnames are coincidental.

O'Brien's parents, both immigrants, met at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland in 1958. Her mother was from Cuba and her father was from Australia. Both attended daily Mass at a church near campus. Every day her father would offer her mother a ride. Every day, she declined. Finally she said yes. One year later, the day after Christmas, the two of them were married. Her father was a mechanical engineering professor. Her mother was a French and English teacher. Soledad is the fifth of six children, who all graduated from Harvard University. Her siblings are law professor Maria (b. 1961); corporate lawyer Cecilia (b. 1962), Tony (b. 1963) who heads a documents company; eye surgeon Estela (b. 1964); and anesthesiologist Orestes (b. 1968).

At the time, interracial marriage in Maryland was illegal, so her parents married in Washington, D.C where marriage laws were less strict. Ms. O'Brien explained that in Spanish her full name means, "The Blessed Virgin Mary of Solitude." When she started working in TV, many people recommended that she change her name, but she refused.

Despite her partial Latina heritage, O'Brien doesn't speak Spanish fluently. Since 1995 O'Brien has been married to Bradley Raymond, co-head of investment banking at Thomas Weisel Partners. Together they have two daughters and twin sons: Sofia Elizabeth (born October 23, 2000); Cecilia (born March 20, 2002); and Charlie and Jackson on August 30, 2004.

She began her career as an associate producer and news writer at WBZ-TV, then the NBC affiliate in Boston. She joined NBC News in 1991, and was based in New York as a field producer for the Nightly News and Today. O'Brien then worked for three years as a local reporter and bureau chief for San Francisco NBC affiliate KRON. At KRON she was a reporter on "The Know Zone." O'Brien was featured on a regular segment of the Discovery Channel program The Next Step, holding the position of "Sun Microsystems Infogal." She then anchored MSNBC's weekend morning show and the cable network's award-winning technology program The Site, which aired weeknights from the Spring of 1996 to November 1997.

Ms. O'Brien co-anchored Weekend Today with David Bloom beginning July 1999. During that time, she contributed reports for the weekday Today Show and for weekend editions of NBC Nightly News, and covered such notable stories as John F. Kennedy Jr.'s plane crash and the 1990s school shootings in Colorado and Oregon. In 2003, she covered the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster and later anchored NBC's weekend coverage of the War in Iraq. In 2005, she covered the Hurricane Katrina aftermath in New Orleans. Soledad moved to CNN where she co-anchored their flagship morning program American Morning in July 2003.

O'Brien has just completed a documentary entitled, "Children of the Storm," directed by Spike Lee. She continues to work for CNN, hosting Special Investigations Unit and occasionally filling in for Anderson Cooper on Anderson Cooper 360. She also anchored exit poll coverage during CNN's coverage of the primaries and caucuses in the 2008 United States presidential race. She also has filled in for Paula Zahn on Paula Zahn Now.

O'Brien's work has received an Emmy for her work co-hosting the Discovery Channel's The Know Zone. She has been named to People's 50 Most Beautiful in 2001 and to People en Español's 50 Most Beautiful in 2004. She was named to Irish American Magazine's "Top 100 Irish Americans" on two occasions. She is also on Black Enterprise magazine's 2005 Hit List. Also in 2005, she was awarded "Groundbreaking Latina of the Year" award by Catalina magazine. Most recently she was awarded the 2007 NAACP President's Award.

In May 2007, O’Brien gave the keynote address at the undergraduate commencement at Bryant University and was presented with a Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree. She was also the convocation speaker at Cornell University's Commencement on May 26, 2007. O'Brien was also invited to Stony Brook University to speak as part of the university's School of Journalism's 'My Life as...' series. Her section is titled, 'My Life As a CNN Anchor'. O'Brien also spoke at the Binghamton University commencement in December 2007 and received a standing ovation after her speech detailing her disbelief in advice. O'Brien served as the keynote speaker for the 2008 annual National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Conference in Boston, MA in March 2008.

O'Brien joined CNN in July 2003 as the co-anchor of the network's flagship morning program, American Morning, and distinguished herself by reporting from the scene on the transformational stories that broke on her watch. Her efforts following Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami in Phuket, Thailand, have earned her numerous awards and critical acclaim.

O'Brien was part of the coverage teams that earned CNN a George Foster Peabody award for its Katrina coverage and an Alfred I. duPont Award for its coverage of the tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia. In 2006, the National Urban League awarded her its Women of Power award. O'Brien was also included in Crain's Business Reports' "40 under 40", Essence magazine's "40 under 40" and Black Enterprise "40 Under 40." O'Brien earned the Mickey Leland Humanitarian Award from the National Association of Minorities in Cable in 2006 and has received honorary degrees from Siena College and Mercy College.

She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. She serves on the board of directors of The Harlem School of the Arts. O'Brien is a graduate of Harvard University with a degree in English and American literature.

Mark Your Calendar

Did you know that some companies in the United States of America have said they would hire a White man with a felony record and no high school education BEFORE they would hire a Black man with NO criminal record and a 4-year college degree?

On July 23 at 9pm and July 24 at 9pm, CNN will premier a series, 'Black in America with Soledad O'Brien'. This is a really “must see TV”. I encourage all Black people to watch it WITH your children.

The aforementioned statistic and many others will be revealed during the series. Soledad O'Brien is an anchor and special correspondent for CNN: Special Investigations Unit, reporting hour-long documentaries throughout the year and filing in-depth series on the most important ongoing and breaking news stories for all major CNN programs. She also covers political news as part of CNN's "Best Political Team on Television."

Ms. O'Brien's report of Black in America, breaks new ground in revealing the current state of Black America 40 years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The program features six hours of documentaries and weekly reports with a focus on fresh analysis from new voices about the real lives behind the stereotypes, statistics and politics that frequently frame the national dialogue about Black America.

People who have met with Soledad O'Brien and previewing this show say it brought tears to their eyes, and a sense of anguish and frustration to their soul.

On July 23 the series will focus on Black women and families and on July 24 it is dedicated entirely to the plight of the Black man in America.

PLEASE watch it and discuss with your children what you see and hear so that they know what they may have to face.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Satire or Racism

The New Yorker magazine latest cover has this tasteless picture of Senator Barack Obama and his wife Michelle with Barack depicted in traditional Muslim garb and Michelle in fatigues and sporting an Angela Davis style giant Afro with an AK-47 slung over her shoulder. And to make matters worst the picture is set in the Oval Office of the White House.

New Yorker editor David Remnick seemed shocked by the backlash from the Obama’s campaign manager and many others. “Our cover … combines a number of fantastical images about the Obamas and shows them for the obvious distortions they are,” he said in a statement. “The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Sen. Obama’s right-wing critics have tried to create. But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree,” Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said.

My sentiment is that is you are going to go with outlandish satire for a candidate you must have their opponent on the same cover with something just as ridiculous. I understand that “controversy sells” but they crossed the line with the flag burning and Bin Ladin

Senator Obama brushed off the brouhaha. “I have no response to that,” he told reporters when asked about the cover, but his supporters are infuriated. We all know how well versed Barack is at brushing off the bull. You can always guarantee that he will show class and strength in the face of this kind of foolishness. Barack Obama ‘08 - YES WE CAN!!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Emory Douglas: Artist for The Black Panthers

In January 1967, the organizers of San Francisco's first annual Malcolm X Grassroots Memorial tapped Emory Douglas, a 22-year-old graphic arts student, to create the poster and flyers for the Hunter's Point event. There was a group coming over from Oakland to provide security for Betty Shabazz (Malcolm X's widow). When the group arrived, it included Huey Newton and Bobby Seale.

Douglas was a member of City College's Black Student Union who was designing props and sets for playwright LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka). He had heard rumors about Seale and Newton. The two friends from Merritt College had, just three months before, co-founded the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. They liked Emory’s work and invited him to be a part of what they were doing. He was soon named the party's minister of culture, a position he filled until the Black Panther newspaper ceased publication in 1979. Art directing every issue, he created a visual history of the party's ideology and agenda, designing hundreds of provocative original illustrations, photo collages and political posters, more than 200 of which are reproduced in the recently released Rizzoli book "Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas."

The Black Panther Party was a controversial offshoot of the civil rights and Black nationalist movements. Douglas' involvement with the party began one April evening 40 years ago, when he paid his first visit to Eldridge Cleaver's apartment, the so-called Black House. Douglas found Seale working on the inaugural, typewritten and mimeographed issue of the Black Panther. Douglas offered his commercial typography and illustration skills (first acquired in a Chino prison print shop as a teen sentenced to juvenile detention for burglary) to make the weekly paper look as potent and persuasive as its message.

Douglas says that "since the Black community at that time weren't by and large readers," he "created an 'everyperson' look everyone could connect with." In effect, he branded the militant-chic Panther image decades before the concept became commonplace. He used the newspaper's popularity (circulation neared 400,000 at its peak in 1970) to incite the disenfranchised to action, portraying the poor with genuine empathy, not as victims but as outraged, unapologetic and ready for a fight.

Douglas' art echoes expressionist elements of the Black artists he admires, Charles White and Elizabeth Catlett. His style -- drawing with thick black outlines and creating woodcut textures -- is similar to the Chicano poster art of the '60s and '70s. The images are full of anger and biting humor. Quiet and with an easy sense of humor, Douglas exudes a surprising calm.

"Emory's pictures are actually a lot less terrifying than the news photos of the day," says Kathleen Cleaver (Eldridge Cleaver's ex-wife) formerly the Panthers' communications secretary and now a senior lecturer at Emory University Law School. "It's amazing that he was able to maintain his gentle artistic being through those risky, extreme times. Cities were on fire, people were being arrested by the droves and police brutality was the order of the day."

As the Panthers' agenda broadened to include social programs, Douglas' posters illustrated the impact of the party's community outreach: free breakfast programs for children, grocery giveaways, health clinics and sickle-cell anemia testing. "A lot of people would say they could look at the artwork in the paper and see in which direction the party was headed," Douglas says. He modestly admits that "some people did start buying the paper specifically for the art."

Emory Douglas lives in San Francisco's Excelsior district with his blind mother, and has continued to work as a graphic artist since the Black Panther Party's collapse in 1980. After a brief stint designing ads for Safeway ("That was definitely not my thing," he says), Douglas has been an illustrator and prepress manager for the Bayview/Hunter's Point Sun-Reporter newspaper since 1984. He is currently working on a "children's artwork series called 'Health is Wealth,' a dialogue between two kids about HIV/AIDS."

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Fayetteville State University

In continuing the series on historically Black colleges and universities, here is Fayetteville State University.

Fayetteville State University is a four-year public comprehensive regional university located in Fayetteville, North Carolina. FSU is a member school of the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund. Fayetteville State University is located in Fayetteville, North Carolina. It is a member of the greater University of North Carolina system. A few courses are offered at the campus in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Fayetteville State University was founded in 1867 as the Howard School for African-Americans, became a 4-year school in 1933, and received university status in 1969. Ward Seabrook the school became Fayetteville State Teachers College, thereafter being authorized to grant the Bachelor of Science degree in Education. The general academic structure took its present configuration in 1985 when the University became a Comprehensive Level 1 Institution.

The University now awards bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. It is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and School, among others. The University is part of the North Carolina Research Education Network and provides distance learning through remote videoconferencing centers throughout the state. Fayetteville State University’s mission statement says that the University’s mission is “to provide quality education to its students through a basic liberal arts foundation, specialized professional training, and specific graduate programs.”

FSU has its beginnings in the end of the Civil War, when the local Black community began devising a plan for an educational system. The school that would become FSU opened its doors in 1869. Through various changes in administration and some legislative acts, the institution became the University it is today, and formally adopted its current name in 1969.

Fayetteville State University is a member of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA). The university won back-to-back CIAA football championships in 2002 and 2003, and was the Western Division Champion in 2002, 2003, and 2004. The University currently participates in 10
NCAA sports, including men’s football, basketball, cross-country/track, and golf.

The University is composed of a number of different schools and colleges: the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the School of Business and Economics, and the School of Education.
Bachelor’s degrees are awarded in a number of different disciplines, including criminal justice, natural sciences, performing and fine arts, various humanities programs, education, management, and social work. Minors are also awarded in many of these fields.

Master’s degrees are awarded in biology, mathematics, and psychology, English, history, educational leadership, reading, and business administration (MBA). The school awards one doctoral degrees, an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership.
Fayetteville State offers 39 undergraduate and 20 graduate degree programs in the arts, sciences, business, and education. FSU ranks among the top producers in the country of skilled, Black graduates, especially in the fields of mathematics, psychology, computer science, education, social sciences, and history. The faculty-to-student ratio is 20-to-1, meaning that FSU students get individualized attention from FSU’s expert faculty. The Criminal Justice program enrolls approximately 400 majors and is housed in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences. The Criminal Justice program prepares graduates for careers in corrections, justice, and public service.

The Fayetteville State University Library offers electronic catalogs and on-line databases, in additional to physical volumes stored on site. The University has several special collections, including the personal papers of author Charles Chesnutt and members of his family.

The city of Fayetteville has a population of approximately 130,000 and is located in the Cape Fear area of southeastern North Carolina. The military bases of Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base are located nearby. The city has an arts center, a museum dedicated to the Cape Fear region, and the Airborne & Special Operations museum, which is operated in conjunction with the U.S. Army.
Fayetteville is a paradise for anyone whether they enjoy staying home or going out. A claim to fame was the fact that putt-putt golf was created in Fayetteville.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Halle Berry Crowned the “Sexiest Black Woman Alive”

TV One recently voted Halle Berry as the sexiest Black woman alive. TV One Access co-host Jamal Munnerlyn and guest co-host Tatyana Ali counted down to the 16 sexiest Black women alive. The show also gave viewers a look at women who embody categories such as “Sexiest Athletes,” “Sexiest Sense of Style,” and “Quintessential Complete Package.” TV One is a Black oriented channel — a la BET, but with way less music videos.

The list ranges from Tyra Banks, who was the first Black woman ever to grace the cover of “Sports Illustrated,” to Grammy Award-winning artist Alicia Keys. A few surprises include presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama’s wife Michelle and “Deja Vu” break-out star Paula Patton.”

Here’s the list, according to TV One, of the “16 Sexiest Black Women Alive”:
1. Halle Berry
2. Gabrielle Union
3. Beyonce
4. Naomi Campbell
5. Rihanna
6. Paula Patton
7. Lauren London
8. Angela Bassett
9. Iman
10. Vanessa Williams
11. Janet Jackson
12. Jada Pinkett Smith
13. Alicia Keys
14. Tyra Banks
15. Beverly Johnson
16. Alek Wek

Personally I don't see how they could make a list of sexiest Black women and leave off Sanaa Lathan. Give me a few more minutes and I could think of more names that are more sexier than Halle. Sure Halle Berry is a very beautiful woman but sexiest Black woman alive...

My list would be something like:
1. Angela Bassett
1A Sanaa Lathan
2. Gabrielle Union
3. Vanessa Williams
4. Melinda Williams
5. Lauren London
6. Iman
7. Jada Pinkett Smith
8. Nia Long
9. Kerry Washington
10. Kellita Smith
11. Halle Berry
12. Golden Brooks
13. Stacey Dash
14. Kenya Moore
15. Elizabeth Withers
16. Beyonce
17. Tyra Banks
18. India.Arie
19. Beverly Johnson

All-Williams Wimbledon Final Raises TV Ratings

The Williams sisters’ duel drew the highest preliminary television ratings for a women’s Wimbledon final in three years. Venus Williams’ straight-set victory over younger sister Serena on Saturday earned a 3.4 overnight rating and a 10 share on NBC, the network said Sunday. That’s up 21 percent from the 2.8/8 for last year’s meeting between Venus and Marion Bartoli. It’s the best rating since a 4.0/12 in 2005 for the match between Venus and Lindsay Davenport. Venus Williams has won the Wimbledon championship five times earning the nickname Venus Wimbledon.

The rating is the percentage watching a program among homes with televisions, and the share is the percentage tuned into the broadcast among those households with TVs on at the time. Overnight ratings measure the country’s largest markets.

When Venus won her second match point of the day at Wimbledon, even little sister Serena could celebrate. About 3 1/2 hours after Venus beat Serena to win the women’s singles title, the sisters paired up to win their seventh Grand Slam doubles title, beating Lisa Raymond of the United States and Samantha Stosur of Australia 6-2, 6-2.

The victory improved Venus and Serena to 7-0 in Grand Slam doubles finals, and gave them their third doubles title at All England Club. “We’ve both worked really hard this year, and I think the results showed here, both in the singles and the doubles,” Venus said after winning the Wimbledon singles title for the fifth time.
This was third all-in-the-family Wimbledon singles final.

The sisters last won the doubles title at Wimbledon in 2002, the first of two straight years in which Serena had beaten Venus in the singles final. On Saturday, Venus beat Serena 7-5, 6-4 on Center Court before the pair returned to the same stadium for yet another victorious Grand Slam final.

In the doubles match, Venus and Serena broke their opponents twice in each set, showing little emotion throughout and only whispering tactics to each other with their hands covering their mouths. Venus, with tape near her right knee, served out to win each set. When Venus’ backhand lob sailed high into the darkening sky in the final game, both Stosur and Raymond watched the ball land on the baseline for the final point of the match.

Serena, standing near the net with her racket at the ready, didn’t even know if the ball landed in. Once she realized she, too, claimed a Grand Slam title of the 2008 tournament, she raised her arms in celebration and hugged her older sister.
The Williams sisters have entered 34 tournaments as a team and won 11 titles, including the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Venus first won both singles and doubles titles at Wimbledon in 2000, and Serena matched that in 2002.

Including the prize money awarded to the singles champion and runner-up, along with what they earned for the doubles championship, the Williams family netted more than $2.5 million Saturday.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Dennis Haysbert May Have Helped Pave Way for Barack Obama

Actor Dennis Haysbert believes his portrayal of President David Palmer on Fox's hit show "24" as the first Black U.S. president may have helped pave the way for Senator Barack Obama's bid for the White House.

"If anything, my portrayal of David Palmer, I think, may have helped open the eyes of the American people," said the actor, who has contributed $2,300 to Senator Obama’s presidential campaign. And I mean the American people from across the board - from the poorest to the richest, every color and creed, every religious base - to prove the possibility there could be an African-American president, a female president, any type of president that puts the people first," he said Tuesday.

Haysbert, who also played Nelson Mandela in the 2007 film "Goodbye Bafana," said his role as President Palmer seemed to "confuse people" who would approach him on the street "every day, almost every hour, and ask me to run." The 54-year-old Haysbert said he recently stopped for dinner south of Los Angeles with his daughter in Dana Point, California, a town he described as "very wealthy, very White and very Republican." "I go into this little restaurant with that demographic and a lady comes up to me and says, `You know, I want to vote for you,'" he said. "I don't know if it is a joke or that people just like to say those things. But to me, for them to say it out loud means they are thinking about it."

Dennis Haysbert, who now stars on "The Unit" on CBS, made his comments to reporters during a teleconference call promoting the upcoming American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe. "I still, even after three seasons into `The Unit' playing Sgt. Maj. Jonas Blaine, I'm still asked by people on the street to run," he said.