Wednesday, May 30, 2007

SCOTUS Ruling Limits Suits on Pay Discrimination

The George Bush-tainted Supreme Court (with his addition of Roberts and Alito) has delivered another blow to workers' rights. The New York Times reports that on Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled that employees may not bring suit under the principal federal anti-discrimination law unless they have filed a formal complaint with a federal agency within 180 days after their pay was set.

The decision came in a case involving a supervisor at a Goodyear Tire plant in Gadsden, Ala., the only woman among 16 men at the same management level, who was paid less than any of her colleagues, including those with less seniority. She learned that fact late in a career of nearly 20 years — too late, according to the Supreme Court’s majority.

The New York Times article continues:
In a vigorous dissenting opinion that she read from the bench, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the majority opinion “overlooks common characteristics of pay discrimination.” She said that given the secrecy in most workplaces about salaries, many employees would have no idea within 180 days that they had received a lower raise than others.

An initial disparity, even if known to the employee, might be small, Justice Ginsburg said, leading an employee, particularly a woman or a member of a minority group “trying to succeed in a nontraditional environment” to avoid “making waves.” Justice Ginsburg noted that even a small differential “will expand exponentially over an employee’s working life if raises are set as a percentage of prior pay.”

Ms. Ledbetter’s salary was initially the same as that of her male colleagues. But over time, as she received smaller raises, a substantial disparity grew. By the time she brought suit in 1998, her salary fell short by as much as 40 percent; she was making $3,727 a month, while the lowest-paid man was making $4,286
plez sez: this ruling would seem to have a devastating effect on women and minorities in industries where their numbers have traditionally been under-represented (financial sector, technology sector, upper-level management, c-level management, etc.). we live in a culture where a tremendous amount of ego and self is associated with one's salary; there is an unwritten rule that people do not talk about their salary. as illustrated by this case, Ledbetter was at Goodyear for close to 20 years, drawing far less in salary to her male counterparts. i'll be honest, i have no idea what the counterparts at my job are currently making, and i'd be well past the 180 day mark if i chose to contest it.

this is different from those (like the Justices) who are employed by the government, because those salaries are common knowledge; it is much less common in private industry for salaries to be divulged or discussed. this SCOTUS ruling (the 180 day rule) gives workers a clear disadvantage when it comes to uncovering disparity in pay. we can only hope that Congress will address this issue in upcoming legislation.

War in Iraq - Unintended Consequences

The New York Times reports that there has been a huge increase in prostitution by Iraqi women in Syria, as a result of the war. As more men are killed or kidnapped, the women flee the dangers of Iraq and head to neighboring Syria. Once there, the only industry that is open to many of them is the "world's oldest profession." There are reports of entire families of women who take turns working in the sex trade and then dividing the money with their families and children.

The New york Times article continues:
Mouna Asaad, a Syrian women’s rights lawyer, said the government had been blindsided by the scale of the arriving Iraqi refugee population. Syria does not require visas for citizens of Arab countries, and its government had pledged to assist needy Iraqis. But this country of 19 million was ill equipped to cope with the sudden arrival of hundreds of thousands of them, Ms. Asaad said.

“Sometimes you see whole families living this way, the girls pimped by the mother or aunt,” she said. “But prostitution isn’t the only problem. Our schools are overcrowded, and the prices of services, food and transportation have all risen. We don’t have the proper infrastructure to deal with this. We don’t have shelters or health centers that these women can go to. And because of the situation in Iraq, Syria is careful not to deport these women.”
plez sez: this story tugged at my heartstrings. as much as the Bush Administration likes to wallow in its own propaganda, ain't it funny that we almost never have any good news coming out of Iraq? other than the occasional "insurgent" that gets killed, all the news we hear is about how the government there is not working, how the Iraqis are not taking control of the government, how unsafe it is in Iraq for our troops and the Iraqis, etc. i am almost numbed to the horrors and despair that visits itself upon these people on a daily basis.

and why? why are the people who live in Iraq so miserable? i believe the Iraqis are miserable because of this illegal and immoral war waged by George Bush. instead of continuing to prop up his war machine by voting him billions more tax dollars, the democrats should've been drafting impeachment papers. if Clinton's little white lie about his "indiscretion" with Lewinsky was an impeachable offense, then invading a sovereign nation for the expressed intent of avenging the Bush Family Honor must certainly rise to that standard! am i the only one who feels this way?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Good News - Education Success in Atlanta

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that over the past 3 years, Atlanta's Carver High School has undergone a complete transformation. Once it was one of the worst high schools in the state (with the lowest average SAT scores), it is now a vibrant model learning environment that will soon be duplicated throughout the city.

The article continues:
But the New Schools at Carver, as the campus is now called, has changed all that. By breaking up the traditional campus into five smaller schools — each with its own student body, curriculum, principal and faculty — education officials say they've finally broken down the stubborn pattern of truancy, disrespect and low aspirations.

Walking around Carver's serene brick campus on a grassy hilltop south of downtown Atlanta feels like visiting a small college. Separate buildings are devoted to different academic pursuits: One for the School of the Arts and the School of Health Sciences & Research, another for the Early College and School of Technology, and a third for the School of Entrepreneurship, also known as the Senior Academy.

Just one year after the conversion, Carver's graduation rate soared from a paltry 36 percent to a not-too-shabby 61 percent. And next Thursday, Crawford hopes nearly all of her seniors will graduate.

By the 2009-10 school year, all of the city's high schools will either be broken up in like fashion or will develop "small learning communities" where teams of teachers are assigned to a set group of students, similar to a strategy commonly used in middle school. Hall's ultimate goal? To lift the system's graduation rate from about 70 percent to 90 percent, and ensure that Atlanta students are well-prepared for their next step in life.

plez sez: i have been engaged in a conversation concerning the plight of education for our Black boys with Eddie Griffin via e-mail and his blog site (baby moses 1, baby moses 2, baby moses 3, baby moses 4, and baby moses 5). he's been kicking around ideas as to how this dilemma can be corrected. i feel that this move by the Atlanta Public Schools is one positive step in the right direction.

i live in DeKalb County, Georgia (Atlanta's neighboring county) and our overcrowded school system which suffers from many of the maladies that have afflicted the Atlanta Public School System (apathy, low expectations, low test scores, truancy, etc.) in the past could be addressed by this "new school" solution.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Quote of the Day - May 24, 2007

"It ties into geometry. They’re cutting shapes.”
- Patricia Martin, principal of the high school for pregnant girls in (Harlem) New York City, describing the quilting project that is taking place in the geometry class

Quote taken from the New York Times article about the planned closing of New York City's four remaining p-schools.

plez sez: i hope you took a few minutes to read the article, because quite possibly, this is the saddest thing i've seen/read all month. i know young people make mistakes, but to sentence these girls (and their kids) to a life of second-class citizenry is appalling. very few of these girls will ever see a diploma, which will make them virtually unemployable.

their kids will undoubtedly grow up on the bottom rung of the socio-economic ladder, more than likely without a father and living on public assistance for the entirety of their lives. of course, this pattern of low self-esteem and low expectations will become a way of life for the child, who will probably repeat the same behavior of his/her mother, thus creating another generation of uneducated, unmotivated, and unemployed citizens.

in my opinion, they cannot close these schools fast enough!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Quote of the Day - May 23, 2007

“There has been a lot of tough talk from members of Congress about wanting to end this war, but it looks like the desire for political comfort won out over real action.”
- Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), anti-war Senator giving his reaction to the Senate moving forward with the Iraq spending bill without a pullout provision

Quote taken from US News and World Report bulletin: how antiwar ranks are angered by the passage of the Iraq spending bill.

plez sez: George Bush is on the ropes and reeling; the Democrats blink and get hit with a right hook, seemingly thrown from the upper decks!

the only reason half of the Democrats are in Washington, DC today is because WE (the people) want out of Iraq; the pullout provision of the spending bill was the ONLY leverage they had to end the war in Iraq. by caving in to the "fear" of another George Bush veto means that this mess of a war is something that the next president will have to address.

the Democrats own a majority in BOTH houses of Congress and they are too weak-willed to pull the trigger on a bill that calls for an end to the war for fear of another veto? Pul-leaze!

i said it before and i'll say it again: the Democratic Party is dead!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Senate Immigration Bill - Update

I've been out of the loop concerning the brouhaha concerning the immigration issue that has been swirling around Congress. I thought I'd do alittle research and share my findings with the rest of plezWorld. The CNN website has a nice interactive description of the key components of the Immigration Bill:
Illegal immigrants
  • Could seek a "Z Visa," which would give immediate work authorization if they arrived in the United States before January 1, 2007
  • Head of household would have to return to their home country within eight years; would be guaranteed the right to return to the U.S.
  • Applicants would have to pay a $5,000 staggered penalty

    Guest workers
  • A "Y Visa" would be issued to 400,000 guest workers per year.
  • Guest workers would enter the U.S. on two-year visas, return home for a year, then re-enter for additional two years. May enter three times (total six years) if not bringing family, but only one time if bringing family.
  • Guest workers earn points toward merit-based green card.
  • May bring families on 30-day visitor visas each year.

  • Border fencing would be strengthened.
  • The number of Border Patrol agents would be increased.
  • Employers who hire undocumented workers would face fines.
  • The guest worker program cannot begin until enforcement provisions are in place, which Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff estimates will take 18 months.

  • Since this bill was a bipartisan effort, it only figures that there will be both Democrats and Republicans who are not happy with it. Two Senate Democrats have already offered up amendments that address the guest worker program in the bill and there is a Republican who has planned a filibuster.

    plez sez: correct me if i'm wrong, but isn't every American (save the Native Americans) an immigrant? didn't everyone's ancestors sail, row, or walk here from someplace else? i'm sure the people who are crossing our borders from the south will change the "complexion" of the country, but didn't every influx of large immigrant groups change the complexion of this country? even the slaves from Africa who came here unwillingly made a drastic change to the look and feel of America.

    i just have a sinking feeling that if this influx of immigrants was coming from the north, rather than the south, then we wouldn't be having this discussion, we wouldn't be talking about increasing border patrols, and we wouldn't be contemplating the building of a fence. makes me think about the disparate treatment given to immigrants from Cuba and Haiti when they take a boat across the Gulf of Mexico to get here.

    i may be oversimplifying the issue, but since this is a country of immigrants, founded and fought over by immigrants, shouldn't ALL immigrants have the right to come here? i don't have a problem with enacting laws to control the influx, but to my way of thinking, if you made it here... you're IN!

    George Foreman - The Straight Dope

    ESPN reports that the lovable, teddy bear-like George Foreman is out peddling a new book. Somehow, over the 30-something years since he fought Muhammad Ali in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) for the heavyweight championship, Foreman now recalls an interesting fact of the fight. Very interesting.

    You will recall that back in October 1974, the fight between these two heavyweights was billed as the "Rumble in the Jungle." George Foreman was tearing through the heavyweight division much like a young Mike Tyson, except George was WHIPPIN' actual fighters: Joe Frazier and Ken Norton, both of whom had previously beaten Ali. Conventional wisdom was that George Foreman was going to knock out (and possibly kill) the flashy and flamboyant Muhammad Ali.

    Since the fight was being shown live via closed circuit (this was before cable, ya'll) in the US, the combatants entered the ring at 3:00 am in Zaire! Muhammad Ali had promised to dance around in his usual style, but this night, he leaned against the ropes and took EVERYTHING George Foreman could throw at him (known as the Rope-A-Dope)... and to add insult to injury, he would lean in close and tell George that his punches didn't hurt! By the eighth round, a flustered and arm weary George Foreman was no match for a flurry of pin-point and devastating punches from Ali. He did a clumsy pirouette before falling in a heap in the middle of the ring... Ali had vanquished Big Bad George Foreman and regained the heavyweight championship!

    Now, 33 years later, Mr. Foreman finally remembers that foul tasting water and asserts that he was not beat by Ali's Rope-A-Dope, but by some dope added to his water bottle!

    plez sez: I was but a lad of 12-years when the "Rumble in the Jungle" occurred... and if you get the opportunity, you should definitely check out the Oscar Award winning movie "When We Were Kings," which recounts the buildup to the fight! After the fight, I can remember my friends and I chanting: "Rumble in the Jungle! Ali! Ali!" I've ALWAYS been a big Muhammad Ali fan (yeah! I cried - almost boo hoo'd - when he lit the torch for the Olympic Games here in Atlanta... still get the chills when I think about it).

    Well, back to George Foreman... I have one word for his "revelation"... PATHETIC!!! He was a fluke, in a similar vein of Mike Tyson; a bully who never got hit back by his opponents. But when he finally climbed in the ring with someone smarter, who could take a punch, and could deliver a punch (a la Evander Holifield and Buster Douglas), he crumpled under the pressure. George Foreman was so dejected by the loss, he retired from boxing in his prime (after only ONE loss), went into the ministry, and disappeared from the sport for over a decade. Yeah, he waited until Ali and Larry Holmes were finished before he came back... now that's what I call: PATHETIC!

    To my way of thinking, the ONLY dope in the ring that night in Zaire was GEORGE FOREMAN! And I just threw my George Foreman Grill in the garbage!

    Monday, May 21, 2007

    In Rotation - Workout Sampler (Part VIII)

    plezWorld Workout Sampler

    My iPod has a Workout playlist, that I use when go into my workout room to hit the treadmill and free weights. For the past couple of weeks, I have been diligently working on my goal of losing 20 pounds by the end of the year. Four times a week, my routine includes a 2 mile run/walk on my treadmill and then 20 minutes of weight lifting. The plan is to get my heart rate up for 30-40 minutes during my workout. I use the music to block out all distractions, make me ignore the pain (I have bad knees - long story), and keep my feet moving.

    Thus far, I've lost about 2-3 pounds, so I'm well on my way to slimming down and getting my wind back! The MP3 Player above plays selected cuts from my workout:
  • "Numbers" from the Computer World LP by Kraftwerk

  • "State of Shock" from the Ultimate Collection LP by Michael Jackson & Mick Jagger

  • "Got Til It's Gone" from the Velvet Rope LP by Janet Jackson

  • "Slide" from the Stellar Funk: The Best of Slave LP by Slave

  • "Single Life (UK Mix)" from the The 12" Collection LP by Cameo

  • "Jupiter" from the All 'N All LP by Earth Wind & Fire

  • "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" from the The Original Hits LP by Sylvester

  • "Controversy" from the Controversy LP by Prince

  • "Vogue" from the The Immaculate Collection LP by Madonna

  • "Dr. Funkenstein" from the Tear the Roof Off LP by Parliament

  • WOW! I worked up a sweat just thinking about it!

    Sunday, May 20, 2007

    Arts & Entertainment in plezWorld

    Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast,
    To soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.
    William Congreve, 1670-1729

    This weekend, plezWorld had the opportunity to celebrate good music and true artistic performance, compliments of my daughter! May 19, 2007 was a big day because my five-year old daughter (the SugarPlum) had 3 performances on Saturday afternoon. At noon, she performed with her ballet class in the Atlanta Ballet Centre presentation of "Snow White". For the past 9 months, every Saturday morning finds the two of us at the ballet centre for her weekly ballet lessons. The fruits of her labor was evident in her performance on yesterday. In "Snow White", her class performed a short routine as Ballerina Butterflies with the Atlanta Ballet professionals! After the show, we gave the SugarPlum her bouquet of pink roses, took some pictures with the rest of her class, and then we were off to lunch.

    The SugarPlum playing "Can-Can"
    (recorded on my Palm Treo 680)

    At 4:00pm, her school program began: she has been taking piano lessons for the last 2 months and she has been singing in the school chorus all year. The SugarPlum kicked off the piano recitals with her version of Jacques Offenbach's "Can-Can." She did an excellent job on the piano considering the fact that she's been taking lessons for 2 months and she's been practicing her piece for only 4 weeks! There were a total of 14 students who performed pieces for the piano recital.

    After the piano recitals, she joined the school chorus for a medley of songs, including their school's "theme song": "Friends on Our Left, and Friends on Our Right" by Sally K. Albrecht. What a full day of an appreciation of music; I'm sure the SugarPlum will enjoy the love of music that we've given her at a young age.

    My little girl is a true performer, who had no stage fright in any of her appearances. I'm so proud of the SugarPlum, I don't know what to do!

    Friday, May 18, 2007

    Race & Skin Color - Guest Blog

    Francis L. Holland wrote such a substantial and thought-provoking comment in my entry concerning Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, that I thought it was fitting to make a separate blog entry for it. In essence, Holland, becomes plezWorld's first guest blogger!

    The Washington Post says,
    The contest for black support in South Carolina mirrors the national struggle Democratic candidates are waging to win black elected officials' support. Many have long-standing ties to the Clintons or Edwardses or others but are nonetheless tugged by racial solidarity with Obama and the excitement they see his campaign generating among their constituents. Moreover, Obama's early fundraising prowess has convinced observers that his campaign will be formidable to the end.
    Here's my biggest gripe with that paragraph and with the whole article from which it's excerpted: the word "racial." The word race is a synonym for "species" and the Washington Post is saying that we will vote for Obama because he is the same species as us, just like dogs hang out in packs with other dogs because they are from the same species.

    I'm not buying that. I'm not going to let anyone say that I am from any species other than the human species. Let's face it: There's no way we will ever win equality in America for so long as we concede that we are not even from the same species as whites. I don't think "separate but equal species" is our best argument for equality.

    Let's face it: What we have in common with Barack Obama but that separates us from whites is not our "racial" species, but simply our skin color. Is that so hard to say and accept?

    Of course whites like to exaggerate our difference so they can rationalize the exaggerated differences in the way we are treated. That's why the word "race," that appears no where else in the biological sciences, is applied to the difference in SKIN COLOR between Blacks and whites.

    Now, someone will insist that the word "race" is essential to our efforts to gain equality and fight racism. That's like saying that the "N" word is essential to our efforts to fight against epithets! The word "race" is itself a badge and mark of inferiority and the word "racism" unless you accept that concept of "race."

    I am never going to use the word "race" again without referring to it as "the disproved pseudo-scientific theory of race." Any argument about Marxism [implicitly] accepts the fact that there was a man named "Marx," which is true. Any argument about "capitalism" is based on the premise that capital exists, which is true. But any argument about racism is based on the premise that "race" exists, which is false. NO ONE anywhere can offer me even a half-baked argument that there is more than one species of human beings!

    Just as black cats and spotted cats from the same family are all from one species - "cats," likewise, Black people and white people who all came from Africa originally, who interbreed, who have [blood transfusions], who[se] organs can be transplanted one to the other, we are all from the same species. If the word race is superfluous in discussing differences between animal species, it is also superfluous in discussing differences between humans.

    The word "race" serves only one purpose: to gloss over the fact that there is no evidence that we and whites are from different species and to gloss over the fact that we and whites MUST, by all evidence, be of the SAME species, that our only difference is skin-color.

    So, what term will we use instead of "race"? How about simply "skin-color"? And what term will we use instead of "racism"? How about "skin-color aroused antagonistic behaviors of individuals, groups, organizations and societies." Yeah, it's a little longer than "racism" but has the advantage that it doesn't concede that we are, like dogs, being from a different species from whites.

    If someone asks me, Are you equal to whites?" it does require more letters to write "yes," than it requires to write the word "no," but I think it's worth the extra effort. Likewise, I think it worth taking the extra time to write skin-color instead of "race" because skin color preserves our humanness and equality white "race" negates it.

    plez sez: this is a very interesting topic for discussion, since we have lived with "race" our entire lives. we've been defined by it, lauded for it, denigrated for it. i see the point of his argument that it is a ridiculous way of labeling people because the races aren't much different until you add artificial (man made) connotations to it.

    it also brings to mind that slavery would have never been justified if there had not been a way to create a different species of man. Native Americans were here long before Africans were brought to these shores, first as indentured servants, and then as life-long servants (slaves). laws creating the Black race and the mis-use of the Bible lended a hand in creating a sub-species of humans that made us ripe for servitude of over 400 years. and the lasting effects of race can be felt to this day!

    thanks to Francis L. Holland for his contribution to plezWorld.

    Wednesday, May 16, 2007

    A Guilty Pleasure in plezWorld

    OK, I admit it... after college football, "The Wire" on HBO, "The Shield" on FX, and "24" on Fox, "America's Next Top Model" on the CW Network is my favorite show on television. I record it every week and usually wait until everyone is in bed before winding down with a big bowl of ice cream and watch the bevy of beauties on display every week. The premise of the show is ex-Super Model (and Talk Show Host) Tyra Banks takes 13 young women from around America and transforms them into models. By weekly photo shoot competitions and a final runway show, the last contestant standing is America's Next Top Model (ANTM).

    I've been following Cycle 8 with interest; I selected my favorite contestant back in Week 1 and have been pretty anxious to see if she would win. I picked Jaslene - a saucy Latina from Chicago - and I have been following her progress throughout the show. Tonight, the final fashion show came down to Jaslene versus Natasha (a Russian immigrant).

    Jaslene is AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL. I'm happy that she won, but as with the final episode of all my favorite shows, I'm sorry that it's over.

    Congratulations to Jaslene for winning America's Next Top Model... and thanks to Tyra Banks for bringing beauty back to television.

    Jaslene and ANTM: plezWorld's Guilty Pleasure!

    The Confederate Flag and Racism

    Karen Russell writes the following in her article on Huffington Post this morning:
    On what planet is the Confederate Flag NOT racist? Here on Planet Earth, the Klan uses the Confederate Flag as symbol of white supremacy. Get a clue. If the Klan is using your symbol, it's racist.

    To deny that it is racist is to deny common sense and to ignore recent history.

    The flag enjoyed a huge renaissance during the Civil Rights era. Angry, white Southerners brought it back to show they weren't going to take this whole desegregation thing lying down. They adopted it again as a symbol of hatred and defiance. They dusted it off to terrorize blacks who had the audacity to fight Jim Crow laws.
    Read the entire article here.

    plez sez: i rarely pull someone else's post into plezWorld, because you can just as easily go to their post and read it yourself. but this one really resonated with me and i wanted it on my blog, as well.

    i've lived in the south for over 25 years, so i've seen my fill of this offensive symbol (for a small fee, you can even have one on the license plate for your car). and i have not met one confederate flag waving yahoo who i would say is not a racist! this confederate flag issue is so wrong and so offensive on so many levels, it is hard to put emotions aside and write my thoughts coherently. but here goes:
    • the "it's my heritage" argument: guess what, buddy, it's part of my heritage, too! it's just a slimy and dirty and hateful heritage: it's a heritage where hate was used to subjugate and KILL Black people, it's a heritage where Black peoples rights were abused and ignored, and it's a heritage that gives the flag waver tacit approval to speak his/her hate in public without saying a word. when you say that you are not a racist for wanting to wave or display a confederate flag, you are pissing on my leg and saying that it is raining!

    • the "civil war memorabilia" argument: guess what, buddy, the civil war was fought to destroy this country and preserve the institution of slavery. i don't care how many stories about the number of slaves who fought for the confederacy, because those slaves did not know what they were fighting for (similar to our troops who are currently in Iraq, but that's for another post).

    • the "you want your history, but you want to destroy mine" argument: guess what, buddy, the civil war was fought to destroy this country and preserve the institution of slavery. that is something that we should never forget and it should be part of every child's educational development. don't teach children about the nobility of the Lost Cause, teach them about the folly of the southern states judgment.

    • the "states rights" argument: guess what, buddy, no state has the right to promulgate hate against its citizens. in most southern states, the Black population is very sizeable and everything possible was done to keep those citizens in check (anyone remember Jim Crow?). the people who lamented the end of Jim Crow were the same ones who were waving the confederate flag while they were doing it! this is no different than a group of skinheads waving a nazi swaskita, it is no less hateful or threatening.

    South Carolina should not have been given the opportunity to host neither the Republican nor the Democratic debates on national television. i specifically wrote nothing about the debates because i did not watch either debate, it is part of my personal boycott of the state (i only go there or go through there if necessary).

    [hat tip: The Huffington Post]

    Yolanda King Dead at 51

    The oldest child of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King died late yesterday, apparently due to heart problems. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that according to Rev. Joseph Lowery, one of King family's closest friends, Yolanda King, 51, died in Santa Monica, California.

    plez sez: i was born in the early 60's in upstate NY and i'm most definitely a child of the civil rights movement. i am proud of the accomplishments of Blacks over the past 40 years and a lot of the credit for our advances goes to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who i consider to be the greatest American hero. i am saddened by the loss of his oldest daughter.

    none of the King children have married and none have any children. it appears that the great burden of the legacy of being born a King will find its resting place with his children, as the momentum of the civil rights movement died along with Dr. King.

    rest in peace, Yoki.

    Tuesday, May 15, 2007

    President Clinton on Hillary

    President Bill Clinton talks about Hillary's life of public service and why he feels that she is the right choice to be president.

    plez sez: your thoughts?

    Monday, May 14, 2007

    Quote of the Day

    “Three-dimensional chess in the dark — and that’s an understatement.”
    - Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, who oversees about 26,000 American troops in an area bounded by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers south of Baghdad, including Mahmudiya and Yusufiya, describing the struggle in Iraq on May 5, 2006.

    Quote from New York Times article about the search for 3 missing US soldiers in Iraq.

    plez sez: does this sound like we're even close to winning the War on Terror?

    Sunday, May 13, 2007

    Billions in Oil Missing in Iraq

    In a story published by the New York Times, between 100,000 and 300,000 barrels a day of Iraq's oil production over the past four years is unaccounted for. The reports used an average of $50 a barrel which translates to almost $15 million daily is missing. Almost 2 million barrels are pumped by Iraq every day, so over 10% of the oil production is being siphoned off and no one knows where it is going. The report, which was prepared by the United States GAO, states that the oil may be part of an overstatement of production levels in an effort by Iraq and the State Department to show progress in Iraq. But it can also be part of inaccurate reporting or theft by Shiite militias.

    The article quotes Philip K. Verleger Jr., an independent economist and oil expert, “That’s a staggering amount of oil to lose every month, but given everything else that’s been written about Iraq, it’s not a surprise.”

    Read the entire New York Times article here.

    plez sez: one of the biggest blunders in the history of the US military is being compounded by this discovery. we are pouring billions of our taxpayers money into a lost cause, while the Iraqi's are pissing away billions more in oil revenues.

    if the figures are simply part of an overstatement by the Iraqi's, then it is obvious that the "recovery" in war-torn Iraq isn't going much better than the "recovery" in Katrina-torn New Orleans! if the oil is being siphoned off and sold on the black market, then our troops are protecting a source of income for the insurgents who are shooting at them every day! this war has been a lose-lose situation for the US, since our jets first strafed Baghdad back in March 2003.

    In light of his most recent veto, Congress has to go back to President Bush with an ultimatum on financing this war: we either begin to pull out of Iraq now or Congress will no longer fund the war. PERIOD! since 2003, this war has been plagued with poor execution, a private vendetta (by Bush against Saddam Hussein), an amorphous target (The Terrorist Boogeyman), and too few troops to secure the region ... we cannot win the war.

    HELL! we're only there because of the oil anyway and we can't even keep up with that! let's cut our losses, save the remaining soldiers' lives who are heroically fighting in a losing battle, secure our borders against additional terrorist attacks, beef up our international intelligence, and rejoin the world community!

    Happy Mother's Day

    Bo Carter - Corrine, Corrina - recorded 1928

    Corrine Corrina was first recorded in 1928 by Armenter ‘Bo’ Chatmon (a.k.a. Bo Carter, the name under which the record was released). This song has a very interesting history as it was later recorded as one of the first rock and roll songs by Big Joe Turner (Atlantic Records), and then rewritten by Bob Dylan. It has been recorded as a blues, country, hillbilly, race, rock and roll, folk, and R&B song, with over 100 covers.

    I use this song because Corrine and Corrina are the names of my beautiful wife and daughter! And because of both of them, we celebrate Mother's Day.


    Friday, May 11, 2007

    Hotter than July

    Master Blaster by Stevie Wonder from the "Hotter than July" LP

    After surviving the shortest Spring in recent memory, Summertime rolled into Georgia this week and it is definitely "HOTTER THAN JULY" around here. I know the official start of Summer is still over a month away, but I'm already feeling the heat!

    Spring got a very late start this year: early April. And it didn't stick around very long either, as evidenced by the thermometer in my car this afternoon. Yeah, it registered 107 degrees on the afternoon of May 11! Al Gore must've been on to something with his treatise on global warming, it felt like another glacier was fixing to slide into the Atlantic this afternoon!

    My summertime routine began this week: the sprinklers are set to water the lawn every other day (I can't remember the last time we had any substantial rain), the cushions are in place on the lawn chairs, the grill is cleaned and ready to go, and i sat outside this evening under the stars sipping on a cold tall one! And how can I forget, all of the cooling units and ceiling fans are up and running.

    plezWorld is gonna take it easy and settle in for a long, hot summer... as the weather will be like this until September!

    Wednesday, May 09, 2007

    Expectations For Our Kids

    This must be my week to receive impassioned e-mail messages. The following message was received earlier today from an old friend of mine. I haven't talked to him in over a year, so I was a bit surprised when I saw his e-mail address. I get loads of junk mail on a daily basis, but I try to read them before sending them to my SPAM folder... thank God I read this one!

    My friend has a daughter who had been in a private Christian school until it shut down after last year. She is finishing her first year in a public middle school here in the Metro Atlanta area and he had occasion to attend the awards program at the public school. The school has a sizable Black student population, but you wouldn't be able to tell from the awards program. His e-mail message is his candid reaction of what he saw. I have not changed the content of his message:

    Subject: Expectations For Our Kids

    This is something I want to share with everyone ESPECIALLY those of you who have kids. I went to my daughter’s Middle School Awards program this evening. I was very happy for my daughter, but I became soooooo ANGRY when I looked at the ratio of kids that were being honored.

    There were around 250 kids. I counted 20 African American kids and only 3 of them were boys. Only one of the boys received all A honor roll. So, that means that less than 2 percent of the kids that made at least all A’s or A’s & B’s for Seventh grade were African American boys.

    I became even angrier when I saw almost all of the other minorities (Middle Eastern, Chinese, and other Asians, etc) receive multiple awards.

    WHY IS THIS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    It comes down to Expectations!!!! Other minorities don’t expect less than A’s from their kids. Most whites expect an A or maybe B sometimes. If you talk to most African American parents, they will say, "Just as long as my child passes to the next grade, I’m satisfied". They could care less what grades the[ir kids] make. It has come to a point where it’s not cool to be smart in school or referred to as “Acting White”. So... what does being African American suppose to mean... acting dumb?

    I know that 90% of the time all of our kids CAN DO the work and make A’s and B’s, but we don’t push them or set expectations for them to make these grades. I know that I wasn’t pushed to make only A’s and B’s as a child. Every child will not make A’s and B’s, but we should push them to do their best.

    This will follow our children as they go to High School and College. We [should make it] embarrassing for them to have low grades when they have to apply for a scholarship, an internship or even a job.

    One major thing we have to do is to reward our kids when they do well in school. It would be a special treat for them to get extra things for putting a little extra effort to do well in school. It’s so easy to be hard on our kids when they get in trouble. We need to make sure we show a lot of appreciation when they do well.

    It’s going to be VERY competitive for our kids now and even harder for them in the future. Most of them are not strong in Math and Science and they are reading far below their grade level!!!!

    Take that extra time to make sure your kids have done their homework, get them a tutor if necessary. Make them read different books or a number of books each week and turn OFF THE TELEVISION. Let’s take them to a level where ALL of us can be proud!! I don’t want to go to another Awards programs and be disappointed!!!!

    Please pass it on !!!

    plez sez: i promised my friend that i would pass this along and share it with others. like him, i am passionate about my daughter's education: she is 5 years old and is finishing her 3rd year at a private school. my wife and i understand the value of a quality education, but more important, we understand that we cannot squander the opportunity to make it easier for our daughter to have a better life than ours. it would be the height of irresponsibility to not equip my daughter for the rigors of life in the "REAL WORLD" because of a faulty education. we have the means to send my daughter to a nice private school, but even if we were subject to the dingiest inner city school or poorest rural school, my daughter would be reading books, learning math, and gaining an appreciation of the arts. we are our children's first (and only real) teacher!

    my wife and i often wonder: WHO is going to be available for my daughter to marry? how many Black men will she have to choose from? i'll be honest, i've already started looking! and when i replied to my friend, i told him that he'd be wise to keep tabs on those 3 boys who received awards at his daughter's school!

    the bell has been rung, it is time for us to answer it!

    Barry Bonds - Hank Aaron's Record Minus 10

    ...and counting!

    This is a home video of Barry Bonds hitting #715:

    Barry Bonds jacked home run number 745 last night. He is approaching his destiny of solidifying himself as the preeminent baseball player of ALL TIME.

    Pitcher (and whiner) Curt Schilling has gone on the record for saying that Bonds doesn't "deserve" to break the home run record of Hank Aaron. Schilling says, "I mean, there's no gray area. He admitted to cheating on his wife, cheating on his taxes, and cheating on the game, so I think the reaction around the league, the game, being what it is, in the case of what people think. Hank Aaron not being there. The commissioner [Bud Selig] trying to figure out where to be. It's sad."

    plez sez: around this time last year, plezWorld opined that Barry Bonds didn't have enough juice in his legs to carry him to Aaron's record... boy, was i wrong! not only does it look like he's going to break the record, now i don't see him stopping until he reaches 775 or more! i'll definitely revisit this after he rounds the bases for number 756.

    Curt Schilling has been drinking that Haterade! Barry Bonds never admitted to cheating on his wife, never admitted to cheating on his taxes, and never admitted to using steroids... this whole "holier-than-thou" reaction from MLB and the media is sickening! it makes me ill. by his mere presence and athletic excellence, Barry Bonds has done more for the game of baseball than ANYONE who's ever strapped on a set of cleats (save Hank Aaron, who had to weather death threats on his way to breaking Babe Ruth's record, and Jackie Robinson, who had to weather death threats while just going to play everyday).

    if he took any performance enhancing drugs during his years in San Francisco, he is no different than any other ballplayer over the past 30 years who did the same to get out there and play 160 games per season. some took steroids, some took cortisone shots,some took HGH, some took aspirin, some took greenies, some took amphetamines... but everyone takes something! if you are going to pick and choose which "drugs" are good performance enhancers and which ones are bad performance enhancers, then you are doing a grave injustice to the game. i don't see anyone advocating the ban of all performance enhancing drugs. and to top it all off, there is NO CREDIBLE EVIDENCE that Barry Bonds took any performance enhancing drugs, because you (and i) know that his ass would've been publicly drummed outta major league baseball if they had even a shred of evidence. he is a pariah to the media, but NO ONE can dispute his baseball abilities.

    i'm not even going to go into the racial ramifications of this Barry Bonds witch hunt! i am a bit surprised that Hank Aaron is letting himself become part of the conspiracy by the lily-white media to lambast and ostracize Bonds. after all the shit he had to go through while breaking Ruth's record, Aaron, of all people, should see this assault on Bonds for what it is!

    lastly, Bonds sure as HELL ain't on anything now (i bet they take a sample every time he takes a piss)... and he's still on pace to own the home run record this season. STOP THE HATE... relax and enjoy being able to witness the greatest baseball player in the history of the game!

    Monday, May 07, 2007

    Ron Pettaway - A Mother's Anguish

    Ron Pettaway and his brother, Roy, were both shot by Fulton County (GA) Police officers on the evening of April 15, 2007 outside the Frozen Palace nightclub in metro Atlanta. Both men were unarmed. Ron Pettaway died as a result of the shooting. As you can imagine, the family of these young men are devastated.

    Earlier today, I received an e-mail message from Ron's mother (Margaret Pettaway-Ferrer) that is addressed to the Fulton County Police. My first inclination was to touch up the message before posting, but I have decided to post the e-mail message as it was received. In its current state, this message speaks to the agony and hurt that has visited the Pettaway family. I call on everyone within the sound of my voice to speak out against senseless police violence and call for these officers to be prosecuted.


    my name is Margaret Pettaway ferrer Iam Ron and Roy pettaway mother.we are in pain and grief seven days a week twenty-four hours a day because of the excessive force that you all use on my two sons. my son roy in his back and shot Ron in his head and his shoulder can not get over what my sons has gone so hard to believe that Ron died with a bullet to his head and shoulder Ron did not live that way. Ron would help anybody he could talk with Ron very often, he was the kind of son a mother would be so proud of, and indeed i was. because of fulton county police department use of excessive force and disregard for human life my son is dead, and my other son with a bullet in his back. My family shamaca,roy,cruse and roy jr. Ron father we struggle to get throught each day. we break down in tears asking why did this happen to roy and Ron. I want the fulton county police department to put themselfs into our feel the terrific pain and to understand why we must get 100%justice we seek nothing officer sworn to serve and must treat everyone with all need to learn how and when to use a weapon.the police department has not yet said you are sorry about my son life,but nevertheless you have straight out lied to the public and said that they shot roy in his stomach, knowing that you shot him in his back. which leaves me struggling every hour About what to do. I often wonder will justice be enough.iam mad as hell about what you did to my sons.your excessive force has ruin my life, your excessive force has ruin my children and their father life.the pain in my childerns face of missing their brother sometimes becomes too son cruse went to his prom with a broken heart.cruse who have a 4.0 will graduate with a broken heartBecause of your excessive force, and disregard of human life the family has to go to cruse graduation morning the lost of Ron our beloved son. because of fulton county police department our son lay in a grave at twenty-six years old.fulton county police department you are out of control, and Iam outraged. My heart bleeds, my soul weeps and my spirit is in disarray. my worst fear is will justice enough. This is what excessive force and disregard of human life does to a family.

    plez sez: Ron's mother must continue to live with the agony of burying her 26 year old son who was enjoying the best years of his life. it appears that the GBI is investigating the incident and i pray that indictments against these police officers are forthcoming.

    Friday, May 04, 2007

    100 Days with Hank Johnson

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson has been turning heads since he arrived on Capitol Hill in January, taking over the erstwhile firebrand Cynthia McKinney. He has continued to display a cool, detached, yet effective manner that defined his run for the House seat he currently occupies.

    Some of his notable actions over his first 100 days:

    • The first bill introduced by Johnson called for the immediate end to the use of US troops for street patrols in Baghdad.
    • His first speech on the House floor in January was in favor of raising the minimum wage.
    • He has held a number of town hall meetings here in the district.
    • He has worked with Atlanta's U.S. Representative John Lewis on protecting PeachCare, Georgia's health insurance program for poor children.
    • He has visited Iraq; he met with the troops and Iraqis.
    Talking about his visit to Iraq, Congressman Johnson says, "Looking into the eyes of the Iraqis and hearing their pleas for uniforms, transportation and for weapons, I came away with the conclusion that we are years away from the Iraqi army standing up on its own."

    The AJC article quotes Burrell Ellis, the presiding officer of the DeKalb County Commission, "He's done about 500 days of work in a 100-day period."

    Hank is even winning over staunch McKinney supporters who concede that his non-confrontational manner is impressive. Republicans and Democrats in the Georgia congressional delegation say they're just happy to have an Atlanta-area lawmaker whose office not only returns their calls, but who works with their offices on legislation.

    plez sez: this time last year, i was on a near-constant tirade about how Representative Cynthia McKinney was a the source of embarrassment for her constituents in the Fourth District and how i couldn't wait to have her ousted from office. twelve months later, i am proud to say that my neighbor and new Congressman is doing us proud; i spoke with him briefly over the weekend at the grocery store and he is wearing his role as Congressman well. thanks, hank!

    i can only hope that my support (and the support of others in the blogosphere) played a key role in helping Hank Johnson supplant a six-term Congresswoman from her post after more than a decade in Washington. this speaks to the power of this medium and the power of all who embrace and exercise our newfound voice. let's now turn our sights to the next objective and see it through.

    Thursday, May 03, 2007

    Barack Obama Gets Secret Service Protection

    All of the major news outlets (including CNN) are reporting that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, a U.S. senator from Illinois, has been placed under the protection of the Secret Service. Apparently, this is the earliest (close to 18 months before the November 2008 elections) that a contender for the White House has been given this type of protection. U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton has had Secret Service protection since her days in the White House as the First Lady and will continue to enjoy it for life.

    The news article goes on to say:
    The Secret Service said that this is not the result of any specific, credible threat against Obama, but they will admit that the campaign has received hate mail, calls, and other "threatening materials." They said the request stemmed from what one called the "cumulative effect" of a heavier campaign schedule, larger crowds and "just the growing perception internally" that it was time to take additional security precautions that are best suited for the Secret Service.

    plez sez: i like Barack Obama and i believe he has the vision necessary to change the direction of this country. i am glad that he will begin to receive the protection he needs to ensure that he makes it through the primary season alive. it is also a sad day in America when someone who stands for what is good and right cannot spread a message of hope without fear of reprisals. unfortunately, America continues to harbor an ugly underbelly of hate and ignorance (i can only imagine what hateful things have been said about Obama and his family).

    i pray for the life and vitality of Barack Obama and his family as i pray for America; i cannot wait to cheer his Inaugural Address!

    Sign up for change in America at

    Tuesday, May 01, 2007

    The War in Iraq - A Lot of Money

    By coincidence, on the very day of George Bush's veto of the Iraq War Funding Bill, I came across a very interesting article at The Street Light concerning the amount of money being spent annually on the War in Iraq. The US is spending a whopping $200 billion dollars per year and that doesn't even count the cost of human life associated with the more than 3,000 US Troops who have died in this senseless war. The article puts this amount into figures that even someone like me can understand; $200 billion is A LOT OF MONEY!

    plez sez: I couldn't really comprehend how much money $200 billion dollars was until I read the article. If I'm the Democratic Leadership in Congress, I'm heading up to the White House tomorrow and sitting down with George Bush. And I would tell him that we will no longer fund his war until he sets a timetable to end his crazy campaign in Iraq. I would assure him that the next bill will have a timetable and if he vetoes that one, the next bill after that will have a timetable, as well.

    Personally, I don't feel that we are in a position to leave Iraq, because it is more unstable than when we showed up. It is already another Korea and Bosnia. But the cost of this occupation is too high (in human life and dollars) and I feel that the terrorist threat is actually higher because of the occupation. We need to cut our losses, back out of there, come home, and secure our borders against Al Qeada and whoever else we have alienated over the past 5 years. If we don't leave now, we'll be in Iraq until their oil wells dry up!

    Michael Vick - Just Do It!

    By now you've heard that Michael Vick was called to the Principal's office (i.e. he had a visit with the NFL Commissioner) during the weekend of the NFL Draft. His behavior over the past couple of years is of concern and the most recent events may place his ability to play in the NFL at peril. Although, not arrested nor convicted of any crimes, Mike Vick has been walking a tightrope of trouble for quite some time now. And in light of his "less than stellar" performance on the gridiron (the team has crashed and burned in each of the last two seasons with losing records in both), many of the Falcon faithful are beginning to question his worth to the franchise.

    His most recent transgressions include:
  • Giving the hometown fans "the bird" while being hurled a number of insults after an ugly loss during the season
  • Being detained at the Miami Airport when a "water bottle" that he was carrying was found to have a secret compartment that contained a funny (i.e. marijuana) smell; he claimed he used it to carry his jewelry... RIGHT!
  • Missing a Congressional breakfast in his honor because he missed a flight out of Atlanta
  • His home in Virginia was recently raided because of illegal drug activity of one of his cousins; the property had evidence of illegal dog fights and abused animals
  • And who can forget the whole Ron Mexico incident?

  • Well, Mike Vick has gone on the record (again!) to apologize and said that he is committed to changing his ways, "even it means changing the people he deals with" or "playing golf or fishing everyday"!

    plez sez: I've given Mike Vick a pass ever since he's been in Atlanta; he is undoubtedly the most thrilling and exciting player in the NFL (in my opinion).

    With that said, I'm highly disappointed in his behavior and his lack of leadership. He is the effin' QB for an NFL team (with a $130 million contract) and he has been sleepwalking through his responsibility to lead the team to victory. Well, the team hasn't been very victorious of late, hopefully the new head coach will change that, but the team will never prosper until Mike Vick decides that he will be an example for the rest of the Falcons to follow. I've never heard of Donovan McNabb or Steve McNair or Tom Brady or Peyton Manning or Brian Leftwich or any other NFL QB getting caught up in the "low class" shenanigans that have followed Vick!

    I'm not surprised with the PacMan Jones problems, but he's a cornerback, not the quarterback! And if bad things continue to happen around Mike Vick, I'm afraid the Falcons will be losing him for the season.

    Personally, I'm tired of the apologies and the fake contrition.

    All I have to say to Michael Vick is: "Just do it!"
    Don't talk about changing, just change!
    Don't talk about getting rid of the negative influences in your life, just jettison them!
    Don't say you're going to follow the rules, just follow them!

    And don't talk about winning, just win, baby!