Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Obama’s to Use Own Cash to Redecorate White House

The Obama’s are using their own money to redecorate the White House residence and Oval Office, the White House confirms, and not accepting the $100,000 in federal funds that is traditionally allotted to new presidents for such renovation projects.
The first couple — who made well over $2 million in 2008, largely from book revenues — is also turning down money from the White House Historical Association, the organization that financed a $74,000 set of china for the Bushes.

New presidents have traditionally undertaken extensive redecoration efforts to their personal quarters to reflect their own tastes, with a new Oval Office rug tradition ringing in as the priciest item. Former President George W. Bush spent over $60,000 on a new cream carpet designed by former First Lady Laura Bush in 2000 to replace the deep blue rug that covered the space during former President Bill Clinton’s administration. White House aides have said the president likes the Bush rug, and does not plan to replace it.

The decision to forgo federal funds is the president's latest belt-tightening move amid the sagging economy and widespread outrage over corporate excesses. Last month President Obama put an order on hold for a fleet of new helicopters, which was ordered by the Bush Administration, which will cost at least $11 billion.

In January, the Obama’s tapped high-profile interior designer Michael Smith to spearhead the project. Mr. Smith said affordability would be one of the "guiding principles." Other principles in the Obama’s redecoration will include the family's casual style and their interest in bringing 20th Century American artists to the forefront.

The White House needs to look like the home of the leader of the Free World. We should all be proud of it. After all it is the people’s house. Using their own earned money is a great gesture. I love how much personal responsibility the Obama’s are taking. They plan to make the White House more open to the public during their stay.

That is a pretty good-looking Oval Office rug. I would probably want to keep it, too. Nice job First Lady Laura! I find it hilarious President Bush wanting to change the Clinton rug. After what went on in that room I would want to change it too.

Monday, March 30, 2009

World Dims Lights During "Earth Hour 2009"

Empire State Building, New York
Jakarta, Indonesia
Petronas Twin Towers Kuala Lumpur, Malasia
Sydney, Austrailia
Berlin, Germany
Gateway of India
Giza Pyramids, Cairo, Egypt
Hong Kong, China

Lights went out all around the planet Saturday from 8:30 to 9:30pm local time to observe Earth Hour 2009, a global event designed to highlight the threat from climate change. From tourism landmarks to individual homes around the planet people turned off or dimmed light to do their part to reduce the effects of harmful exhaust emissions.

Australia first held Earth Hour in 2007 and it went global in 2008, attracting 50 million people. The World Wildlife Fund, which organized the event, estimated at least one billion people from nearly 90 countries took part this year.

More than 370 world landmarks that switched off their lights included Mexico City’s Angel of Independence, Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue, the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the Reserve Bank in Mumbai, the dome of St Peter's Basilica in Rome, Egypt's Great Pyramids and the Acropolis in Athens. The word "Earth Hour" in Arabic and English was lit with candles amid Dubai's high-rise buildings.

Even Las Vegas, a city known to never turn the lights off, plunged into darkness as the symbolic energy-saving exercise unfolded across the globe. The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Empire State Building in New York, and the city skylines across the U.S. went dark or at least went dim.

Friday, March 27, 2009

T.I. Sentenced to Year in Prison, Fined

Rap star T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris, was sentenced in Atlanta federal court Friday to one year and one day in prison and ordered to pay a $100,300 fine on weapons charges (purchasing machine guns and silencers).

The 28-year-old Harris, who was dressed in a gray suit and black shirt and tie, spoke these words to the court, "I would like to say thank you to some, and apologize to others. In my life, I have been placed in the worst-case scenario and had to make the best of it. Most often, things I have learned have been from trial and error. I knew no way to protect myself than to arm myself."

Mr. Harris also was sentenced to some property forfeiture, supervised release for three years after his prison sentence, 365 days of home confinement and 1,500 hours of community service. He has already served 305 days of home confinement and 1,030 hours of service. He also must undergo DNA testing and drug counseling, cannot own firearms and must submit to reasonable searches and a financial audit.

Former Atlanta Mayor and U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young spoke on behalf of Harris. Young said he regarded working with Harris not so much as a chance to help him but more as "an opportunity for him to help me." "It was a grandfather type of relationship." He spoke of a visit to a hospital for paraplegics by him and Mr. Harris, "He heard the testimonies of guys in their 50s and 60s who talked about being shot back when they were 16." Bishop Eddie Long also spoke in support of Harris.

For his court hearing Friday, Harris' attorneys submitted more than 100 letters from officials who thanked him for his community service since the weapons arrest. One of the letters was from Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, who said Harris did an "outstanding job" talking to a group of teenagers about not breaking the law. "If only one young person in that courtroom listened to Mr. Harris -- and I believe they all did -- we are all better for it," Sears wrote. "He was honest, humble and inspirational."

Harris will be taken into custody no earlier than May 19. The plea agreement, which federal authorities called unique, allowed the entertainer to remain out of prison for a year while he performed community service. In that time, he mentored at-risk students at 58 schools, 12 Boys & Girls Clubs, nine churches and many other nonprofit organizations.

The multiplatinum rapper has starred in the MTV reality show, "T.I.'s Road to Redemption: 45 Days to Go," which chronicles his efforts to shave years off his sentence by completing his community service. The show features him talking to schools and community groups "about how to avoid the trouble he now finds himself in."

Mr. Harris was arrested in October 2007 in an Atlanta parking lot hours before he was to perform at the BET Hip Hop Awards. He was caught in a federal sting after his bodyguard-turned-informant delivered three machine guns and two silencers to him. The rapper had provided the bodyguard with $12,000 to buy the weapons. Harris was not permitted to own any guns, however, because he was convicted in 1998 on felony drug charges -- possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute -- in suburban Atlanta.

Surgeon Heals Patients and Their Violent Ways

What happens to the young men who don’t die in the streets like scenes from the HBO series “The Wire” in real life Baltimore? Well a lot of them are treated by Dr. Carnell Cooper. Dr. Cooper is a Baltimore surgeon who is saving lives inside and outside the operating room. Since becoming a trauma surgeon 16 years ago, he has dedicated himself to treating the many young Black men who've been shot, stabbed or beaten, only to see them return to the ER with another severe injury just months later.

But when one of his patients was readmitted with a fatal gunshot wound to the head in 1996, it changed Cooper's life. His colleagues told him that there is really nothing they could do in those situations. But Dr. Cooper did not believe that.
Dr. Cooper created the Violence Intervention Program (VIP) at the Shock Trauma Unit of the University of Maryland Medical Center, the state's busiest hospital for violent injuries. It became one of the U.S.'s first hospital-based anti-violence programs.

The program approacheS the problem like any public health crisis, like heart disease or smoking. They began to work on the root causes. The VIP provides substance abuse counseling, job skills training and other support services to trauma victims. Saving their lives is the first step. The next step is to try to keep them from coming back.

A 2006 study showed that people in the program were six times less likely to be readmitted with a violent injury and three times less likely to be arrested for a violent crime.

Dr. Cooper was born to unwed teenagers in Dillon, South Carolina and grew up in a neighborhood where violent crime was commonplace. Many of his friends and relatives ended up dead or in jail. But his grandparents made sure he stayed on the right path. As a straight-A student, he attended a prestigious high school in Massachusetts, then Yale University and Duke University School of Medicine.

But while Dr. Cooper rose above his circumstances, he felt sympathy for the young men who rotated in and out of his operating room. His program attempts to help patients from the moment they arrive because victims of violence face a greater risk of receiving another violent injury. Everyone treated for violent wounds at the hospital is seen by a VIP case worker. VIP helps connect its members with additional support services, such as GED classes, conflict resolution, mentoring and parenting skills. A peer support group also meets at the hospital once a week.
The success of Cooper's program has made it a model for others around the U.S. and inspired the doctor to develop a larger initiative, the Violence Prevention Program, which includes other hospital-based efforts targeting young people in at-risk communities.

One success story is 29-year-old Howard McCray. He joined the program in 2001 after he was hospitalized with a gunshot wound. McCray was into robbing and shooting people. He had been through the ER many times. Through VIP, McCray earned his GED and received job training and a driver's license. The program also helped him learn about budgeting money and paying child support. Today, he is an outreach worker for VIP, visiting patients at their bedsides and encouraging them to join the program.

Helping people like McCray inspires Dr. Cooper to continue his work. Carnell Cooper believes it is all part of his responsibility as a doctor.

"There are some individuals who we are not going to save, who are just immersed in the culture, but that's not the majority of folks," he said. "The majority of folks want to get out of the game and deserve a chance. Every physician's goal is to save lives," he said. "This is another step in that process."

Dr. Carnell Cooper was named a CNN Hero for his violence prevention efforts.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Who Says the Game Is Not Fun Anymore?

You never know what to expect at an NBA game these days. Not only do you get to watch some of the best atheletes in the world. But you might see a king taking photos or a big ticket bowling.

And they say these guys are in it just for the money. Looks like a little fun is still in the game.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Black People What Y'all Gon' Do?"

Back in the day there was a pre-rap group (known in some circles as the grandfathers of rap) called The Last Poets and one of their songs was titled “"Black People What Y'all Gon' Do" They talked about moving forward and being positive in this negative world. And that same question is still valid today.

We cried out racism when Imus called the Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy headed hoes”, but we say nothing when you hear that and worst coming from the mouths of rappers. "Black People What Y'all Gon' Do?"

We called President George W. Bush every thing from dudya to idiot but when somebody says things about President Barack Obama we get highly offended. We called him Bu$h but when people say Obama, we say he is President Obama.

You get mad when White or any other color people say nigger but it cool when Black people say it. And you try to justify it by saying we have made it our own or we say “nigga”. "Black People What Y'all Gon' Do?"

It cool for Black men to have a White woman, but when you see a Black woman walking with a White man you jaws get clinched.

AIDS/HIV has become an epidemic in the Black community and very few Black “leaders” are talking about it. "Black People What Y'all Gon' Do?"

Every Black person in America was so proud on January 20, and rightfully so. Now we are waiting for change to come. The president can’t bring change to your life. The only person who can bring change to you is that man or woman in the mirror. And no, Jesus can not bring change to you if you are not willing to act. Black people what are you going to do?

We will never be respected when we don’t respect ourselves. People have to earn respect and you earn respect by how you carry yourself. Always respect the office and position of someone, and not necessarily the person. We have to stop using four letter words with every few words out of our mouths; stop walking around with “do” rags out in public; stop walking around with our pants sagging below our butts; stop having children with multiple partners. Sure everyone needs a helping hand at times, but we need to always be about the business of moving forward.

One thing that President Obama did when he became president was take away any excuses. Right or wrong, people will look at you and think, it he did it… And really that is true. Barack Obama could have just settled at so many points in his life, with all the obstacles he faced, but he decided to move forward. He started off with a funny name; he had a single mother; he was raised by his grandparents; he was caught between to coutures. But he worked hard in school and earned a scholarship, so how you start does not make a difference, it is where you end up that count. And as long as you are breathing, it is never too late.

I laughed when he messed up the Oath of Office. It showed me that President Obama is a man just like all of us. He puts his pants on one leg at time, just like we all do. All people are the same; no one on this planet is more powerful than you. We all have different circumstances and come from different environments, but with God’s help you can do anything you set your mind to. We are all unique, unrepeatable miracles of God with their own individual talents and gifts that can benefit everybody. Black people what are you going to do?

Bloom where you are.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Team Helps Player Survive Tragedy

I found this on ESPN.com and thought I would share it. Please take a second before you begin to grab some tissue to dry your eyes.

"Baylor junior Morghan Medlock has a story that Baylor Lady Bears coach Kim Mulkey says "will make you bawl."

It's about recognizing a young woman who is getting through enormous grief with the help of her strength and that of her team. It might make you cry. But it should make you feel good, too -- because thanks to basketball, Medlock has a whole community behind her.

"The support system I have at Baylor has helped me grow," Medlock said. "And it's let me know that there are people who are going to take care of you on the days you can't take care of yourself."
Medlock got the call on her cell phone on Dec. 19, 2008. The Baylor team had checked into its hotel in Oregon that afternoon, and Coach Mulkey was taking a quick bath to relax when one of the team managers was beating on the door and screaming “Coach, Morghan needs you! Her mother's just been murdered!"

Medlock, three weeks shy of her 21st birthday, received the news from police in Little Rock, Arkansas. Her mother, Shannan Barron, was dead in what police determined to be a murder-suicide. Barron's boyfriend, Gerald Gallian, had shot her, then shot himself. Medlock's 12-year-old brother, Nizhan, had found their bodies.

"Morghan came up to the room and just collapsed in my arms," Mulkey said. "I just held her, talked to her, helped her calm down and said, 'Let's call the police back,' because she was so concerned about her little brother being put in foster care because there was no other family there."

One of Baylor's players, Whitney Zachariason, is from Little Rock. Coach Mulkey and Medlock asked police to keep Nizhan at the station until Whitney's mother, could pick him up. The Zachariasons took care of Nizhan until someone from Medlock's family in California could get him.

Then Mulkey had to gather the rest of her players to explain what had happened.
"The team was just crying," Mulkey said. "I can't tell you the things that I said, I don't remember. It just came from the heart."

This is a group of Baylor players who have dealt with other difficult things. Senior Rachel Allison's cousin, Natalee Holloway, disappeared on a trip to Aruba in May 2005 and still hasn't been found. Allison and Holloway were born just five months apart and were very close growing up. The Holloway case became a media sensation for several months and the mystery remains unsolved.

In 2007, as Baylor prepared for the NCAA tournament, then-senior Bernice Mosby learned her mother's house had burned to the ground and her family had lost everything. In February 2008, the team's emotional leader, Jhasmin Player, suffered a torn ACL and missed the rest of the season. But Player said that, of course, it doesn't compare to some of the things her teammates have faced. "The thing I'll never forget about that Oregon road trip is how we all grew together as sisters. I've never been closer to a group of women than I am to this group this year."

It was a trip that under different circumstances might have been considered taxing for other reasons. A snowstorm hit Oregon, preventing Baylor from making it to California for a Dec. 22 game at Berkeley. Then it was a complicated process getting everyone where they needed to go for the holiday break. Medlock had chosen to stay rather than go back immediately to Little Rock. Baylor beat Oregon 81-71 on Dec. 20, and Medlock scored seven points.

The previous night, after finding out what happened, the team had gathered for a somber meal no one felt like eating. There were two tables for the players. They were next to each other, not very far apart, but at this moment they wanted no distance at all. The players pushed the tables together. And everywhere they've eaten since, they've done the same thing.

"That's what people who never played team sports don't always understand," Mulkey said. "You have so many individuals of different races, religions, cultures -- but you bond for a single purpose: to excel on that floor and become a team that can go as far as your potential can take you. People see the fun part. They don't see missed holidays, and all the time we spend together as a team and not with our families. But when you spend that many hours together, you can do one of two things: You can grow tired of each other, or you can really learn to respect and love each other."
Morghan Medlock spoke at her mother's memorial, and so did Coach Mulkey, who told of the story she had heard from Dawn Zachariason about Nizhan.
"While she had him, I asked her to go buy him whatever he needed, like clothes, because he couldn't get into his home then. It was a crime scene," Mulkey said. "And she told me she did that, and then when they were walking out of the mall, he said, 'Would you please buy me a Bible?' "Now, here's a child who had walked in and seen his mother murdered. I said that was part of the strength their mother left to them. The strength that helped Morghan say the powerful things she said at her mother's funeral and for her brother to ask for a Bible. I told them, 'That's your mother coming out in you.'"

Medlock turned 21 on Jan. 9, and Baylor began the Big 12 season the following day. For the next two months, she filled a reserve role. Then on Feb. 28, fellow junior post Danielle Wilson went down with a knee injury against Texas. Next it was on to the Big 12 tournament in Oklahoma City, and Medlock felt it was really time to step forward. "I thought, 'OK, Danielle went out, and there's going to be talk about "Baylor can't do this."' And I refuse to let the basketball world think we're going to go down without a fight," said Medlock.

Baylor, the Big 12's No. 2 seed, trailed Oklahoma State by as much as 15 points in the second half of its quarterfinal game, yet still rallied to win. Medlock had 14 points, and 12 of them came in the second half, including her second 3-pointer of the season.

In the semifinals, Medlock had nine points in a win over Iowa State. Then, in the title game victory over Texas A&M, she had 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting and was named to the all-tournament team."
By Mechelle Voepel
Special to ESPN.com

The Baylor came together as a family. How Mulkey dealt with it also was the mother coming out in her. She has two teenaged children of her own, and she knows that sometimes players need their coaches to fill in as mothers or fathers amid crisis. Kim Mulkey, has been mother, coach and confidant to Medlock. She also recognized she had to help keep Medlock focused on school, basketball, and her day-to-day responsibilities.

I have been a big fan of Kim Mulkey since she was the point guard and led the legendary “Lady Techsters” of Louisiana. In her 19 years (15 years as assistant coach – how did they let her get away) as either a player or coach she was associated with 11 Final Four squads and three national championship teams. As a player, Mulkey led the Lady Techsters to a 130-6 record, two national titles and four Final Fours from 1980-84.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

March Madness: Countdown to Tipoff

It’s the middle of March again and all sports fans are walking around with that puzzled look on their faces. Yes March Madness is here once again and after the last few days of filling in their brackets sports fans have settled in for three weeks of total college basketball madness.

Of course everyone has made their picks and are watching to see if the number 1’s will all make it to the final four or who the Cinderella team will be. How will the three number 1’s seeded Big East Conference teams fare? Most of us will be watching to find out the answers but there a few other things that have my curiosity radar tuned in.

How about Coach Tubby Smith, after leaving Kentucky, one of the nation’s most storied programs for a team that had just set a school record for losses in a season, and after being absent only one year is back in the NCAA tournament earlier than anyone could have reasonably expected when he accepted this rebuilding project – and his old school is missing from the 65-team field. When Minnesota faces Texas today it will make Coach Smith just the sixth person to coach four schools in the NCAA tournament. He previously did it with Tulsa, Georgia and Kentucky. Minnesota is holding his practices at nearby High Point University, where Coach Smith played and earned all-conference honors. Smith’s critics at Kentucky believed the season should have ended with a win more often. After leading Kentucky to a national championship in his debut season of 1997-98, they didn’t get to the Final Four again; three appearances in the Elite Eight were not enough. Tubby Smith never won fewer than 22 games at Kentucky. The Wildcats had to settle for an NIT, ending a string of 17 consecutive NCAA appearances.

How about the guys from North Carolina staying in school for a shot at a national championship? How about the president picking them to win in all? How will the overrated Big Ten or the underrated Pac Ten do?

My pick – Louisville. And here we go!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

New NFL Players Association Executive Director

DeMaurice Smith was elected by the league’s 32 player representatives as the new NFL Players Association executive director on Sunday night and wasted no time, spending his first day on the job getting a start on labor talks with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and uniting the union ranks following a divisive seven-month search to replace former union boss Gene Upshaw who died from cancer complications in August.

Smith had a brief phone conversation with the commissioner and started putting together a transition team to assume the reins of North America’s most powerful sports union as it approaches a critical juncture. He said the call was the first conversation of the collective bargaining agreement.

Labor talks are among the numerous challenges Smith immediately faces in becoming the fourth executive director in the union’s 41-year history. NFL owners opted out of the collective bargaining agreement last year, opening the possibility for labor strife if a new deal is not settled by 2011. Smith said his goal is to maintain the labor peace that has allowed the NFL to emerge as “America’s Game” over the past two decades. But he warned that he is also preparing for “war” if needed.

Another immediate challenge Smith must deal with is repairing the rift between the union and a group retired players, who feel disenfranchised over their poorly funded pension and medical plans. Smith called it “a moral obligation” to address the concerns of retired players and noted that his transition team will include retired players.

DeMaurice Smith was regarded as an outsider, having no ties to the union or NFL. His strengths included his connections to power, having ties to President Barack Obama and has worked with new U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. He has no labor law experience but is a trial lawyer and partner at the influential Washington-based Patton Boggs, and chair of the firm's government investigations and white collar practice group.

Other candidates for the job were sports attorney David Cornwell, and retired players Troy Vincent and Trace Armstrong. He has invited each to become part of his staff and has also asked retired coach Tony Dungy to become part of his staff.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Jada Pinkett Smith Adds 'Schoolmaster' To Her Resume

Jada Pinkett Smith is adding another title to her resume: schoolmaster. The 37-year-old actress-producer-musician and her husband, Will Smith, opened the New Village Leadership Academy in Calabasas, California last fall. The private school is for pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. It currently has 60 students.

Jada said she decided to open the elementary school after creating a home-school program for her children, 10-year-old Jaden and 8-year-old Willow.

"More and more parents were like, 'Can we come?'" she said. "Then my house started to fill up. We had like 20 kids and I said, 'We might as well start a school.'"

The New Village Leadership Academy generated some controversy when it was first announced because it relies on instructional methods developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. But the school's director has said it isn't a Scientology facility. The school’s Web site states that Hubbard's "study technology" is a secular course akin to a Montessori approach.

Jada Pinkett Smith said the school stresses "100 percent mastery," encouraging students to retake exams until they score 100 percent. The student body is ethnically and economically diverse. She said that this is probably the hardest thing that she has ever done, but that it is really rewarding. She also plans to open a companion campus for upper grades

Jada is also set to star in a new television series, "HawthoRNe," premièring in June on TNT. She plays a widowed nurse struggling to overcome her grief while balancing her duties at the hospital with and being a single mom of a teenage daughter.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

And a Child Shall Lead Them

When eight-grader Ty’Sheoma Bethea sent a letter to Congress asking for help rebuilding her school she never dreamed it would make it to the eyes of the president of the United States. But that it did, and as a result she became one of the faces of the stimulus package and her school, J. V. Martin Junior High School, in Dillon, South Carolina, became a symbol of the kind of crumbling infrastructure that President Barack Obama hopes the stimulus bill will improve.

Not only that but Ty'Sheoma Bethea boarded her first plane with her mother, Dina Leach, and flew from to Washington, D. C. and was seated next to First Land Michelle Obama as her guest for the president’s first speech to a joint session of Congress.

Ty'Sheoma was inspired to write the letter by President Obama, who mentioned her school in his first presidential news conference on February 9. After visiting the school, he referenced J.V. Martin as evidence of educational institutions that would benefit from school construction funding in his multi-billion dollar stimulus package. In her letter, Ty'Sheoma described the rundown conditions plaguing her school, which was built in 1896, saying the funds would improve the building and the quality of education.

In her letter she wrote, "We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself, and one day president, so we can make a change to not just the state of South Carolina, but also the world. We are not quitters."

Poorly maintained and ill-equipped schools in South Carolina's "corridor of shame" (some of the poorest counties in America) were an issue during the Democratic primary as evidence that education reform had to be an imperative for the next president. South Carolina schools became an issue again recently when South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford said he might turn down some of the money in the stimulus. And South Carolina Representative James Clyburn, the highest-ranking Black American in Congress, answered that turning down money was an "insult" to Blacks.

"We have legislation here now with the money to do something about the schools, do something about water and sewage along that corridor in these 12 counties. And now the governor says, 'I don't want to accept the money. 'That's why I called this an insult, that's why I said this is a slap in the face, because a majority of those counties are, in fact, inhabited by African-Americans," Clyburn said on CNN.

Education has become the new civil rights issue. Take note of the states that are fighting educational improvements are states with the worst education in the country (South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Nebraska, West Virginia) and all Republican strongholds. It’s really not an issue of the color of your skin – its all about economics. There are not very many poor educated people anywhere in the world. Whether you can do a job exceptional or not does not make a difference today if you don’t have an education. You must get the best education possible to be able to compete in this era. I went to my twin grandsons eight grade graduation last June and there were people screaming and cheering like it was a degree from Stanford. My daughter and I looked at each other and said to each other, it’s just the beginning people. You can always break out your education when all things are equal.

In his speech, President Obama said that education is among the top priorities of his administration and urged Americans to take advantage of the promise of an education. In an economy, where we have to compete with people from around the globe, the most valuable skill you can present is your knowledge. And a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity. It is a prerequisite. In past generations you needed a high school diploma to get ahead, now you need at least a college degree. We all need to continue to educate ourselves daily to stay in the game.

In his speech to Congress, the president asked every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. Even if you can not afford that kind of training, you can at least take a self-help course. A high school diploma will barely get you in the door today.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Trash Talking with the President

Last Friday, President Barack Obama attended a Washington Wizards/Chicago Bulls basketball game at the Verizon Center in D.C. The president had a beer, signed a few autographs and read the program. But night out didn't stop there. He also exchanged a few playful words with a diehard Wizards fan sitting a few rows back. Yes, that's right, the 44th President of the United States joined in a little trash talk. Awesome

The vocal instigator: Miles Rawls, commissioner of the Barry Farms' Goodman League — a big-time summer circuit in Southeast D.C., which has starred Gilbert Arenas and Kevin Durant, among others NBA stars. It was a blow out Wizards win and not too many people can claim to have taunted a sitting President with the old "Warm up the limo" chant.

Miles Rawls, who has season tickets, like everyone else had heard rumors about the president attending the game. So in anticipation, he went to a local shop to pick up a $15 Obama t-shirt. He showed up at the Verizon Center around 6:25, and was greeted by his usual usher who told him to be on his best behavior because the president would be sitting right in front of you. Rawls has gone after all the stars playing against the Wizards, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James -- "exchanging pleasantries".

President Obama got a somewhat warmer greeting. Rawls shook his hand. He asked "How do you like my shirt, Mr. President?" President Obama said it was beautiful. Rawls told the president he would treasure this moment, and that he was proud of him. President Obama said he appreciated it.

That was before it got heated.

"Once I knew he was a big trash talker, too, about them Bulls, that means the gloves came off", said Rawls. "Heckling and having a good time are two different animals," he explained. "I wasn't heckling the President and I don't heckle the players. I talk about their weaknesses. We were having a good time. He was talking trash and I was talking trash. I couldn't believe he was that laidback and real. I loved it. I wasn't disrespectful," he said. "I know my limits."

For example, he told the President that if he was rooting for the visitors, he was "gonna have to keep it to a low roar, because we're cheering for the Wizards over here." The president repeatedly needled Rawls about the Wizards' habit of letting leads evaporate, especially when the Bulls made a run. “He gave me the high five. We were just supporting each others' team, having a good time."

Rawls said he made at least one member of the President's Secret Service detail laugh. He will, of course, keep the t-shirt, and wants to get the photo autographed; he also hopes to invite Obama to Barry Farms. He said he had an adrenaline rush throughout the entire game, and that it was a "once in a lifetime experience" he won't ever forget.

"Where can you do that, sit there and talk smack with the President of the United States face to face? But he enjoyed it," Rawls added. "Trust me."

Actually, I think what's going on in the pictures; dude is talking smack to the Pres....next the Pres is pointing out and saying "you see that guy up there pointing the high-power rifle at you? That's my Sec Service detail...; then dude says just joking Mr. Pres. and gives him high five (smile).

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


It seems that every time someone in the Republican Party publicly criticizes talk show host Rush Limbaugh they come back in a few hours to apologize. Check out these high ranking Republicans flip-flopping on previous statements.

Congressman Phil Gingrey of Georgia: "I mean, it’s easy if you’re Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or even sometimes Newt Gingrich to stand back and throw bricks. You don't have to try to do what's best for your people and your party."
I'm Sorry, Rush: I clearly ended up putting my foot in my mouth on some of those comments and I just wanted to tell you, Rush, [...] that I regret those stupid comments.

Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina: "Anybody who wants [President Obama] to fail is an idiot, because it means we're all in trouble..."
I'm Sorry, Rush
Sanford’s Communications Director, said that "the governor was not referring to anyone" in particular.

And now even the supposedly Republican National Committee Chairman comes crawling back to Limbaugh with his tail between his legs.

RNC Chairman Michael Steele: Rush is not the head of the Republican Party. He's an "entertainer" whose show is "incendiary" and "ugly."
I'm Sorry, Rush
"My intent was not to go after Rush - I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh [...] I was maybe a little bit inarticulate. [...] There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership."

This is why the Republicans have lost so many seats and now the White House in elections since 2006. They have no leadership or worst their leader is a talk show host who is more interested in his own agenda instead of the good of the Party or the people of the United States. And yes Rush Limbaugh is the Republican Party leader. Most Republicans will say no he isn’t but, why is it that the keynote speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference was Limbaugh and not the RNC Chairman or some other “party leader”?

Michael Steele’s criticism makes him the highest-ranking Republican to pick a fight with the popular and divisive talk show host. In an interview on CNN with D.L. Hughley, Steele assured that he, not Limbaugh, was in charge of the party before saying that he wanted to put the right-wing talker “into context.”
“Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer,” Steele said. “Rush Limbaugh, his whole thing is entertainment. Yes it’s incendiary, yes it’s ugly.”

But the new RNC chairman’s comments didn’t sit well with the millions of conservative listeners Limbaugh draws each week, and Steele aides scrambled to limit the damage Monday morning by trying to change the subject. Limbaugh, asked to respond, said he’d save his counter-attack for his listeners. “I’ll handle it on the radio,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Yes, Rush Limbaugh is the face of the Republican Party and dares anybody in the party to separate themselves from him. It seems that Republicans face repercussions for criticizing Limbaugh.

To highlight why I say the Republican Party has no leadership just look at the silliness in the past few months. First their presidential candidate, showing absolute poor judgment, picks Sarah Palin to try to off Hilary Clinton, who they thought would be Barack Obama’s choice for vice-president. Even if they picked a woman, do you mean to tell me that there isn’t a better Republican woman than that? Now they appoint a Black chairman as an answer to President Obama. They are just too out of touch. They don’t realize that it is not about gender or race. It is about ability to lead.

Michael Steele says his party is going to launch an "off the hook" public relations campaign that will update the Republican Party’s image by translating it to "urban-suburban hip-hop settings." He added, that “we need to uptick our image with everyone, including one-armed midgets.” This guy is so out of touch…

I guess he thinks that by speaking “hip hop” he will reach the young people …wow! Trying to reach the youth is not about speaking slang or trying to use hip hop, because I doubt that Mr. Steele has some Jay-Z bumping while driving to work, so if you’re phony with your message young people will see right through that. Just be honest is what anybody wants, young or old. Can you imagine him at the BET Awards or the Source Awards? Dick Cheney with bling; "getting jiggy with it". All the mavericks in the house, put your hands up! All the plumbers in the house, pull your pants up! We’ll get in there and trick out the White House and bring thugz life all up in there then we be ballin'!!!

Most modern-day Republicans just had their hips replaced. Urban suburban hip hop settings will really play well in the rural Kentucky, West Virginia, Nebraska, West Texas and Western Pennsylvania, won't it?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Nation’s Number 1 High School Baller

So you say so what, a high school basketball player standing 6-foot-8 with an 86-inch wingspan and size-17 shoes and possessing real talent. Well it’s not that common, but there some out there. Well when you add the factor that the baller is a she then we’re talking extraordinary. The 18-year-old Brittney Griner of Nimitz High School in Houston, Texas is the nation’s number 1 player. To put her height in perspective, only one WNBA player, 7-2 Los Angeles Sparks center Margo Dydek, is taller. But the reasons for her basketball success extend beyond her large frame. Brittney has great agility, athleticism and speed.

The senior's size and skills account for her jaw-dropping statistics. She has averaged 27.2 points, 12.5 rebounds, 8.4 blocks, 2.6 assists, and 2.6 steals for the No. 24 girls team in the country. In 32 games, she has 17 triple-doubles and has shot 70 percent from the floor. Her numbers reflect a once-in-a-generation talent, and make her the RivalsHigh.com no. 1 player in the class of 2009. She set a national record 25 blocks in their season-opening game this year.

Defense and rebounding serve as Brittney's forte, but her dunking has become an Internet sensation. Video clips showcasing her dunks have attracted more than 2 million hits on Youtube. But none of her fans were bigger – literally or figuratively – than 7-1 Phoenix Suns center Shaquille O'Neal. "The Diesel" met her last year while in Houston to face the Rockets, and it resulted in a new experience for her -

Before Lisa Leslie recorded the first dunk during WNBA play in 2002, women had dunked only seven times during college and professional action between 1984 and 2002. Brittney Griner averages about two a game. Brittney Griner owns an extensive dunking repertoire. She can dunk running or standing and with one hand or two. Those jams have not only become a YouTube favorite but also were featured on SportsCenter's top 10 plays. She is working on nailing both a 360 dunk and one where she jumps over a teammate.

She will take her dunking skills to Baylor next season. She selected that school over Tennessee, North Carolina, Texas, Texas A&M, Connecticut, Rutgers and LSU because of its close proximity to home, strong program and passionate coach, Kim Mulkey.

She has one drawback and it is the same as Shaq - her free throw shooting stands at only 51 percent. Brittney did not play team basketball until high school so she could concentrate on her studies and other sports like soccer and volleyball. Her coach found Brittney after a fall volleyball practice during her freshman year and suggested she hoop it up when the volleyball season concluded. The rest is history.

A recent doctor's visit confirmed that her height was not caused by a gland condition and they estimate Brittney likely will continue growing and could end up 6-9 or 6-10 something she would welcome. She is not self-consciousness and displays comfort with her size. She loves being tall and calls her height an asset.

Brittney is a B-student, who remains grounded and is a consummate teammate despite growing national attention. She is very polite and always answers questions with yes sir or no sir. Her coach describes her as a real humble kid. Shaq advised her to prioritize family life, work out vigorously and remain healthy. Along with those objectives, Brittney would like to play basketball in the Olympics and overseas.