Wednesday, June 30, 2010



About 50,000 sea turtle eggs from beaches in the Florida Panhandle and Alabama will be dug up and moved to Florida's Atlantic Coast in hopes of keeping the hatchlings alive in the face of the oil spill.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Monday that it had expanded the area closed to fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. The total closed area now covers 80,228 square miles, or about 33.2 percent of federal waters in the gulf.

The New York Times, June 29, 2010.
THE    E    MAG

Treve de blues
  - Leon Damas

Compassion is my art
  - Grace A. Ali

God makes stars. It's up to producers to find them
  - Samuel Goldwyn 



I was afraid his bones were going to bust through his skin. His dark body looked like an X-ray sheet, with skin so thin that all his bones were visible. He lay on the ground naked. Bare and barren he stared up into the sky as if asking “why” with full, opened eyes pleading in perplexed agony for an answer to his one question as if he was in a conversation with his creator above. I’ve never seen anyone so skinny.
I was out with my reporter that I shadow at my internship, Julio Caraballo, when we saw this homeless man without clothes starving on the street. Our original story was intended to be at the hospital but we stopped when we saw this man. Julio approached the man cautiously as a crowd began to form and stare at this homeless man in all his nudity. A white sheet lay to his right side and he weakly pulled it over him to cover himself. He looked embarrassed and ashamed to have all these strangers staring, but he was too frail and weak to lift himself.
“What’s your name? Where are you from?” Julio asked the man gently. The man didn’t respond.Now that we were closer I saw a plate of food to his left side probably given to him by someone out of kindness. Flies buzzed over the food and over his body but he was too weak or maybe he just didn’t care enough to swat them away, maybe he knew they would eventually return again. Looking at this man I was in awe. How did he get like this? What happened to him? Was he going to be okay? I wanted to help but what could I do? I reached in my purse to give the man some pesos but the camera man, Christian, told me to put my money away. It was pointless to give him money because he didn’t have clothes or shoes. No one would allow him to enter their store in order to buy things. Laying money next to him, someone walking by would probably just take it.
 “Do you have any family?” Julio asked, still trying to get this man’s story. The man turned his head away from the mic as my heart turned in my chest. He seemed disarrayed couldn’t help but think, yes we are trying to cover his story, but how are we helping him? We have a camera filming him and everyone is staring but what are we actually doing for him to possibly save his life? The man still wouldn’t speak. His dark wide vacant eyes just continued to look up, and then we left.
 That same day we left the city and traveled to the outskirts of Santo Domingo to cover a story about this community police force in the community. We passed children walking home from school on the dirt roads and passed shacks that were their houses. Men sat outside playing Dominoes and sitting on their porches in conversations as more children ran by. The unemployment rate in the Dominican Republic is 15.1% (2009 estimate) and driving round in the streets you see a lot of people doing nothing. The houses aren’t air conditioned so it’s cooler to be outside during the day, so they just appear to be sitting around.Looking at their community from the window in the truck I was riding in, I wondered if they were happy. For some reason, America, in all its vast idealization of materialism as idols of self-worth, has brainwashed us into believing that the items we own determine our happiness. But Americans have more wealth and materials than a “third world country” (I hate that term) like the Dominican Republic, and we still have people with all the items in the world that are depressed and unhappy.
According to the World Health Organization from 2008, the United States had 11.1 suicides per 100,000 people compared to the Dominican Republic which had 1.6 suicides per 100,000 people.In fact, Central and South Latin America had the lowest suicide rates overall in the world and these are the countries that most of the world powers countries look down upon because their lack of “modern developments”. Is it really THAT big of a deal that people are living in places without hot water or air conditioning? If you never knew of something “better” that existed, you would be perfectly content because that is the only thing you knew. Henry David Thoreau says it best,
As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor will weakness be weakness. 
I wonder who’s really better off. Them or us?
Our affluent society contains those of talent and insight who are driven to prefer poverty, to choose it, rather than submit to the desolation of an empty abundance.  ~Michael Harrington

Dear Poets,
Below are the guidelines for submitting to read in the Library of Congress Poetry at Noon Program for the coming year.   The deadline is July 15.  Submissions should be made by mail.
Fall 2010 - Spring 2011
Several Poetry at Noon readings, sponsored by the Poetry and Literature Center, Office of Scholarly Programs, will be held in 2010-2011. To apply to read in the series, choose a theme from the list at the bottom of the guidelines.
Submission Guidelines
One submission for one theme consists of:
1.  A cover sheet with the following information:
  • the theme as the title of your submission
  • your name, address, phone number, and email address.  
  • the name of the other theme for which you are submitting, if you are.
2.  Three of your poems and two by other poets (a total of 5 poems) on the theme. 
  • each poem should have the name of its author on it.
3.  A one-paragraph bio with each submission.   (The bio can be the same for each submission.)
Please staple all pages of one submission together.
Up to 2 submissions may be mailed in one envelope.
Please Note: Regrettably, honoraria and travel funds are NOT available.
Send manuscripts to:
Patricia Gray
Library of Congress
Poetry and Literature Center
101 Independence Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20540-4861
Deadline Postmark: July 15, 2010 (Manuscripts will not be returned.)
You may apply to read in one or two of the themed programs listed below.
Themes for 2010-2011 Poetry at Noon
Fall 2010
October -- "Rhode Island Sampler" (No submissions.  Just come and enjoy the program that also features the national winner of the Poetry Out Loud competition.)
November -- "Insider/Outsider Experiences" 
December -- "Decade One" (Life in the first decade of the 21st century.)
Spring 2010 Themes
February -- "Love Poems"
March -- "Reversals of Fortune" (whether good or bad)
April -- Shakespeare's Birthday Reading  (No submissions; just come and enjoy performances by professional actors.)
May--"Away from Home" (away from familiar people and familiar places)
A Poetry at Noon outreach spotlighting poets laureate from each state continues in the fall 2010. 

Library of Congress
Poetry and Literature Center
101 Independence Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20540

Phone: 202-707-1308
FAX: 202-707-9946

Tricycle Daily Dharma
How To Find True Solitude

Being alone means you are established firmly in the here and the now and you become aware of what is happening in the present moment. You use your mindfulness to become aware of every feeling, every perception you have. You’re aware of what’s happening around you in the sangha, but you’re always with yourself, you don’t lose yourself. That’s the Buddha’s definition of the ideal practice of solitude: not to be caught in the past or carried away by the future, but always to be here, body and mind united, aware of what is happening in the present moment. That is real solitude.

Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Matter (Winter 2009)
In Clarence Thomas's gun rights opinion, race plays a major role

By Courtland Milloy
Wednesday, June 30, 2010

He hardly ever speaks during oral arguments, often appearing asleep on the 
bench. But in his written opinion Monday supporting the right to bear arms, 
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas roared to life.
Referring to the disarming of blacks during the post-Reconstruction era, Thomas 
wrote: "It was the 'duty' of white citizen 'patrols to search negro houses and 
other suspected places for firearms.' If they found any firearms, the patrols 
were to take the offending slave or free black 'to the nearest justice of the 
peace' whereupon he would be 'severely punished.' " Never again, Thomas says.
In a scorcher of an opinion that reads like a mix of black history lesson and 
Black Panther Party manifesto, he goes on to say, "Militias such as the Ku Klux 
Klan, the Knights of the White Camellia, the White Brotherhood, the Pale Faces 
and the '76 Association spread terror among blacks. . . . The use of firearms 
for self-defense was often the only way black citizens could protect themselves 
from mob violence."

This was no muttering from an Uncle Tom, as many black people have accused him 
of being. His advocacy for black self-defense is straight from the heart of 
Malcolm X. He even cites the slave revolts led by Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner 
-- implying that white America has long wanted to take guns away from black 
people out of fear that they would seek revenge for centuries of racial 

Of course, Thomas's references to historic threats posed by white militias might 
have been dismissed if not for a resurgence of such groups in the year after 
Barack Obama's election as the nation's first black president.
And if their behavior turns as violent as their racist rhetoric often threatens, 
then Thomas will almost certainly go down in history as the nation's foremost 
black radical legal scholar.

Thomas, the only black justice, sided with the court's conservative majority in 
a 5 to 4 vote to give Otis McDonald, a 76-year-old black man from Chicago, the 
right to buy a handgun. In his lawsuit to repeal Chicago's restrictive handgun 
law, McDonald said he needed a gun to protect himself -- not from a white mob 
but from young black "gangbangers" who were terrorizing his suburban Chicago 

Thomas agreed with McDonald, concluding that owning a gun is a fundamental part 
of a package of hard-won rights guaranteed to black people under the 14th 
Amendment. And just because some hooligans in Chicago or D.C. misuse firearms is 
no reason to give it up.

"In my view, the record makes plain that the Framers of the Privileges or 
Immunities Clause and the ratifying-era public understood -- just as the Framers 
of the Second Amendment did -- that the right to keep and bear arms was 
essential to the preservation of liberty," Thomas wrote. "The record makes 
equally plain that they deemed this right necessary to include in the minimum 
baseline of federal rights that the Privileges or Immunities Clause established 
in the wake of the War over slavery."

Thomas made no mention of the black loss of life and liberty from handguns being 
wielded by other blacks. But he has made clear on other occasions that the 
problem is not that there are too many guns in the black community; the problem 
is too many criminals.He dismissed the cogent gun-control arguments of his retiring colleague, John 
Paul Stevens, conjuring up the abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens instead: "When it 
was first proposed to free the slaves and arm the blacks, did not half the 
nation tremble?"
Let 'em quake, Thomas appears to be saying.

From Frederick Douglass, Thomas writes: " 'The black man has never had the right 
either to keep or bear arms,' and that, until he does, 'the work of the 
Abolitionists was not finished.' "
Because of his conservative take on affirmative action and prisoners' rights, he 
has been cast as an uncouth African American who didn't understand black 
history, a dupe for arch conservative Justice Antonin Scalia and a man who 
couldn't think for himself.

What Thomas has created, however, is a legal defense of the Second Amendment so 
thoroughly original and starkly race-based that none of the white justices would 
even acknowledge it, as if it were some blank sheet crafted by an invisible man.
That ought to be a clue enough for black people that this document is at least 
worth a look. You may not agree with his conclusion, but there'll be no mistake 
about where he's coming from.
The thing that most nourishes my soul is tending our beautiful grounds. Whether I am raking leaves, weeding, pruning or planting I feel most close to God when I am outdoors listening to the birds, breathing in the fresh air, and getting covered with dirt.

    - Mary Fleig, Carmelite News, Vol.17, No.2  (July-Sept 2010)

 Why can't someone be a liberal judicial activist?  What's wrong with being one?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


So, I keep seeing these full page ads bp keeps running in the newspapers. This publicity money could have been given directly to some of the Gulf fishermen. It seems like such a waste. The latest ads features Keith Seilhan. Yes, this guy is from Louisiana - where else?  It reminds me of how under apartheid, the South African government would look for some black people to make them seem legit.

Hey - bp says if you see oil on the beach call this number: 1-866-448-5816. They will send a team to clean it up. How much oil must you see?  Bp says they will maintain beach cleanup operations until the last of the oil has been "skimmed from the sea, the beaches and estuaries have been cleaned up, and the region has been pronounced oil-free."

Is oil-free like drug free?  After all the skimming can bp promise that fish and plant life will return?  No- they can't and this is where one should become angry. Too many dead turtles and pelicans without cell phones to call 1-866-448-5816.
Palestine Studies
Nadia Hijab is an independent analyst and a senior fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies. These columns were syndicated on 18 and 21 June 2010 by Agence Global.  The opinions in these pieces are her own. The columns may be circulated on listservs but may not be republished without permission from Agence Global. For contact information regarding rights and permissions see below.
A Better Blockade?
By Nadia Hijab

After locking itself up for hours on end, Israel's security cabinet finally emerged to announce an easing of its blockade on Gaza, a move immediately welcomed by the United States. Israel and the U.S. hope to defuse world outrage over the collective punishment of the 1.5 million Palestinians who live there and to prevent future flotillas from trying to break the siege.

Will they succeed? It is tempting to think that the flagrant illegality of attacking unarmed humanitarians on the open seas is bound to lead to an end to the blockade. However, Palestinian analyst Mouin Rabbani has warned against over-optimism. He notes that after the horror of Israel's 2008-9 attacks on Gaza the blockade was not only kept in place; it was tightened.

Yet America and Israel are fighting a losing battle in their efforts to devise a kinder, gentler blockade for the simple reason that there is no such thing. Activists, the United Nations, and the human rights community are saying more loudly than ever that the blockade is against the law -- international law.

Activists appear to have the upper hand at the moment, as more ships head to Gaza to try to break Israel's naval blockade. And they are being organized not only by groups in Iran, Lebanon and Turkey; European Jews for a Just Peace are also organizing a flotilla.

EJJP, an umbrella group of Jewish groups from 10 European countries, plans to deliver humanitarian aid but its purpose is primarily political. The activists want to focus attention on the "immoral" blockade. And, German organizer Edith Lutz told The Huffington Post, "We are frightened that Israeli policies will help anti-Semitism. We also want to show that these actions are not Jewish.

Meanwhile, UN organizations have lined up in the past few weeks to counter Israeli claims that there is no "humanitarian crisis." The World Health Organization has warned that the health system is on the verge of collapse. The UN's Humanitarian Coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territory has said that Gaza's agricultural sector is suffocating, noting that the "absurdity" of a situation in which Gaza's coastal population is forced to import fish through tunnels. And the UN Secretary General repeatedly says that the blockade must be completely lifted.

The most damning report in recent weeks has perhaps been that of the International Committee of the Red Cross. The ICRC rarely speaks out, but it has clearly stated that the closure constitutes collective punishment in clear violation of Israel's obligations under international humanitarian law. And, should anyone need affirmation that there is no such thing as a better blockade, the ICRC says the hardship facing Gaza's Palestinians cannot be addressed by providing more humanitarian aid: "The only sustainable solution is to lift the closure."

The way Israel plans to ease the blockade gets nowhere near lifting the closure. For example, all food will be allowed in -- but not materials that will enable Palestinians to grow their own food. And Israel's "security envelope" will remain in place, including the naval blockade.

Why is Israel so eager to maintain its siege when even Israeli strategists are saying that its purpose -- to dislodge or weaken Hamas and its resistance -- has not and cannot be achieved?

There are persistent reports that a major Israeli reason could be access to and control of Gaza's gas fields, valued at some $4 billion. Such reports might sound hard to believe -- until one considers that Israel has been tapping the West Bank's water for decades and that the illegal Wall it is building in the West Bank conveniently encircles the Palestinians' strategic aquifers. Writing about the Gaza gas deals in the Guardian in 2007, Arthur Neslen notes that Hamas has persistently called for the renegotiation of the contract negotiated with BG Group.

Meanwhile, human rights activists are turning to the courts -- a move that may at last grab Israel's attention. The Free Gaza Movement, organizers of the flotilla Israel attacked on May 31, is currently working with attorneys in a number of countries to pursue legal action on behalf of those killed or badly injured.

Here's a question: Since the blockade is illegal under international law, could the Palestinians of Gaza organize some kind of class action suit against Israel and seek compensation for the agonies they have suffered since 2006? For all those dead due to lack of access to care? The children stunted due to malnourishment? The school years lost, the crops and land and infrastructure destroyed. The list is long, but it is long past time to total up and claim the costs of Israel's occupation.

Here are the teams I would love to see win the World Cup:

Ghana, Brazil or Japan.

Tuesday. I leave my house and start walking to the bus stop. I stop and talk to a neighbor who is going through a divorce. His wife wants the house. It's ugly and I try to change the subject and talk about his upcoming hernia operation. I walk another block and the woman from Cuba I always say hello to is outside watering her plants. She's upset that everything is dying. I look at her and see her beauty fading. I tell her it's hot and notice her grass is already brown. I turn off Underwood Street, and start walking on Georgia Avenue. A woman stops me and wants to use my cell phone. She has a court date and is late. I never let strangers use my phone. Somewhere in the back of my head is a Jack Bauer incident and this woman could be a terrorist or a spy from Russia. No, she's a black woman who looks like she has a drug problem. If this was the Third World and I was a soldier, she would offer me sex for a call. Sprint must have a better idea. The bus is late but who cares. Many of us were on it yesterday, we're heading back to work for seconds. A guy sitting in the back of the bus says he saw my picture in the latest issue of Ebony. I smile and hide my face behind the Washington Post Sports section. The Nationals lost again. I'm having problems scoring runs too. I get off at the Howard stop and cross the street to the The Capstone or what people started calling The Mecca. I enter the back of the Administration building and suddenly have the urge to pee. I stop on the ground floor where the men's restroom is. Once again the paper towel dispenser isn't working. I emerge from the ground floor like a character out of an Ellison novel. As I start to walk across the main campus, I see a whole bunch of young people. It must be one of those summer programs where lunch is the only thing kids learn. Is this the Mayor's program or some youth group with an African name?  I walk pass the first kid - and he asks me if I have fifty cents. It's obvious these kids haven't been paid for doing nothing yet. I walk into Founders Library and nod at the guard. The air inside the building is nice and cool, suddenly I have the urge to be a book no one will checkout.  I think about the elevator that isn't working again. I'm out of prayers and it's only 9AM.
Someone tell me which way is East.
5AM. I rise. Where are my brother monks?  I did yard work this morning until about 7AM.  Today will be a day of meetings. I must learn to listen more. Each day, one less day of living.

Monday, June 28, 2010


When will the media discover it?
THE    E    MAG

Treve de blues
   -Leon Damas

Compassion is my art
  - Grace A. Ali

God makes stars. It's up to producers to find them
  - Samuel Goldwyn

My guest is Alyssa McLendon. Ms. McLendon is a Howard University student spending the summer in the Dominican Republic.


When we arrived at the island, butterflies greeted us. They swarmed around us like snow in a winter blizzard, o vast in numbers that they looked more like fallen leaves then butterflies. But the only trees around us were palm trees and we were far away from any winter storm. When I tell you that we went to paradise, I am not exaggerating.
My day started at 5:00 that Saturday morning as I woke up and began my day with my newly acquired routine Bible study.  Every morning I have been waking up earlier to begin my day with prayer, and then I open my Bible and read and ask God to help me take away the message that He wants me to understand. That day I was reading the book of 1 John (which is one of my favorites because it is all about how God is love) and the verse 1 John 3:18 really stood out to me:
“… let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”
I immediately began to think of my friend, James*. He recently told me that he discovered his parents are separated and are considering a divorce. James is a student in the DR program with me, and he feels lost. He never would have imagined in a million years that his parents would divorce and here he is in the DR, helpless to do anything about the situation. “All I want to do is go home,” he told me with a voice that sounded like a sigh full of a heavy longing for comfort as his eyes slid past mine, drifting away into his own thoughts.
With this memory in my mind, I flipped the page in my notebook, picked up my pen, and began to write James a letter. Today we were all going on an excursion to Isla Saona and I wanted him to enjoy himself and not worry about situations that were out of his control. So I did the one thing that I do best. I wrote.
I arrived to campus around 7 am and quickly claimed my seat on the bus for the 2 hour ride to the island. I slipped James the letter that I wrote which included Bible verses about the love God has for him, how things will all work out for the best, and how if he ever needed to talk I was here for him. A couple minutes later I was captured into his warm embrace and he thanked me sincerely saying how at the exact moment I gave him the letter, he was beginning to feel sad and was thinking about his parents. God is good.
Two hours later, we were taking a motor boat out to the island. With our bright orange life jackets on, we screamed and laughed in excitement while riding over the clearest ocean water I have ever seen. It was light blue and turquoise, sparkling under the sun like a sea of gems. We couldn’t have picked a more beautiful day. The clouds in the sky were white, fluffy and shapely, placed specifically to decorate the sky like jewelry adorns the body.
The motor boat stopped halfway to the island where the water was shallow and we were told to jump out of the boat and take a moment to swim. So we did. We took off our life jackets, striped down to our bathing suits, and jumped into the Caribbean Sea. It was amazing! The water was as clear as a sanitized swimming pool and was only about 4 and a half feet high, so it stopped at my chest. The salt in the ocean burned our eyes, but we were so ecstatic that we didn’t mind. I felt like I was in a dream, the beauty of this place was surreal. And just to add the Dominican feel to this moment, I have to mention that one of the boat drivers brought out a bottle of Rum and was pouring plastic glasses full so half of the students on my trip were sipping rum in the middle of the Caribbean at 11 am. Like I said, surreal.
We got back on the motor boat and about 15 minutes later we arrived to Isla Saona  (Saona Island) which is a tiny, remote island off the Dominican Republic’s coast and  that is sometimes used to film movies that need a “deserted island” setting. It looked like an advertisement for heaven. Soft, white sand, crystal clear water, palm trees surrounded by butterflies; I felt like I was in a postcard. The beauty of Isla Saona was unbelievable.
The only thing on the island that we saw other than its own nature were beach chairs, a volleyball net, and two picnic covering areas. Under one covering people were dancing salsa, bachata, and merrengue, and under the other was food. There weren’t any hotels, no roads, no pollution, just pure beauty. There weren’t even that many tourists. There were about 100 people that we saw on the island in total but we had our own strip of the beach to ourselves including an open bar with as much rum and beer as you want. I spent the day in the water soaking up a golden tan while delighting in God’s majesty.
 I could have stayed there forever, just me, the sun, the beach, and the butterflies.
While my friend, Arcena, and I were playing in the water, a man joined us. He had brown hair with blue swimming trunks and shades on his face and started a conversation with us in Spanish. We found out he was an Argentinean on vacation. We then proceeded to have a full conversation in Spanish! The conversation flowed so naturally that I forgot I was speaking Spanish. A couple other tourists from Brazil joined our conversation except they spoke Portuguese. I spoke to them in Spanish since it is similar and they were amazed when I later told them that I was actually an American and my primary language is English.  So here I was, in the Caribbean ocean off the coast of the Dominican Republic having a conversation in Spanish with a man from Argentina and a Brazilian who spoke Portuguese. I still can’t believe it.
As the day progressed, the other students in my program quickly became drunker and drunker from the free rum and soon became very entertaining to watch. A couple of them were sprawled out on the shore, passed out from too many shots of the cheap rum. One girl was crying on her beach chair and speaking nonstop slurred Spanish while proclaiming how beautiful the island was, it was quite sad and yet hilarious at the same time.
I didn’t want to leave, but soon it was time to get on the boat to go back to our foreign homes. So I waved goodbye to my isla de paraiso from the sail boat we were taking back to the bus. I discovered on this sail boat (my first time ever on a sail boat) that I am susceptible to seasickness and that I prefer to swim in water rather than ride on top of it for too long.
The excursion to Isla Saona made me happy to be doing this program again. My homesickness was an inevitable phase, but now I’m ready and excited to continue my studies and finish off my program strongly. That one day made everything I’ve experienced thus far worth it. I’m learning to do everything that I wanted; to love others, to grow closer to God, and to speak Spanish. Isla Saona helped show me that I am maturing into the person I’m supposed to be. It was a little piece of heaven that God left here on earth, and there, on that beautiful, glorious Saturday, the butterflies carried a glimpse of the blessings that await me on their wings.
-The Girl with the Monkey Mind 

      SUNDAYS, 7:00 PM to 7:30 PM
Hosted by Dr. Brenda M. Greene, Executive Director
Center for Black Literature

July 4, 2010                 Dolen Perkins Vladez/Wrench A Novel                                   

July 11, 2010               Cornel West/Brother West Living & Loving Outloud     

July 18, 2010               Charles Ellison/Tantrum                                                          

July 25, 2010               Zetta Elliot/ A Wish After Midnight                                          

Aug. 1, 2010                Bernice McFadden/Glorious                                              

Aug. 8, 2010                Wes Moore/The Other Wes Moore  
Aug. 15, 2010              Donna Hill/What Mother Never Told Me 
Aug. 22, 2010              South End Press                                                                      

Aug. 29, 2010              Tom Burrell/Brainwashed                                                         

In The Washington Post yesterday, I saw a short review of THE PRESUMPTION OF GUILT: THE ARREST OF HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR.AND RACE, CLASS, AND CRIME IN AMERICA by Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. This has the makings of a stir fry book. No way I'm putting out cash for ink. Ogletree represented Gates after the 2009 police incident in Cambridge, Mass. One wonders if a book deal rang Ogletree's doorbell before Gates had his photo taken at the police station. Why read this book? Is it another Black Talk/Black Pain affair?  Does this book come filled with stats and charts? Someone should profile me if they see me walking with this book. Black man NOT reading.


As I move towards being 60 in November (20th), I will post more E-Notes on retirement and health.  Here is an important link:
It is there, right where you are;
If you seek it, obviously you do not see it.

    - Muso Kokushi
Giovanni Singleton wrote me from California. She reminded me that yesterday was Lucille Clifton's 74th

May we all continue to walk in the light and embrace all that is YES in the world.

May the boats be ready to take us across when we are ready to meet Lucille again.

May the living know the secret to the blessing, is understanding the words spoken by the lips of the heart.
Tricycle Daily Dharma
Creatively Engage Your Thoughts 

I think one has to be careful not to think that meditation is about getting rid of thoughts. On the contrary, I would say that meditation helps us to creatively engage with our thoughts and not fixate on them. When people say they cannot concentrate I say “No no no, you are concentrating—too much on single thoughts!”

I think it is interesting in meditation is to start to notice all the different places that our thoughts lead us—what distracts us and what occupies our minds. It is important to notice these things in meditation because these will be the same things that occupy our minds in daily life. As we become more familiar with our thoughts in meditation, we will see how repetitive they are. We often think very similar things over and over again and it is actually rare to have what I would call a creative original thought.

Martine Batchelor, from the 3rd talk of her ongoing Tricycle Online Retreat

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Greg Tate:

Michael Jackson: The Man in Our Mirror - Page 1 - News - New York - Village Voice

There I was yesterday watching the soccer game and having strong feelings for the US and Ghana. You want your own nation to advance, but then you listen to the folks describing the game from the sports booth. Once again black people are talked about like we just shouldn't be on the same field with others. Are we "smart" enough to play smart? So my blackness begins to takeover and I realize that Ghana is not just playing for an entire continent but also some of the blood that's inside me. Black people still struggle to win and even when we win too many wish we had lost. My soul is often too weary to even kick a ball.
Morning Music:

Listening to Freddie Hubbard (Red Clay) and Muhal Richard Abrams (Young At Heart/Wise In Time).

I came home with a couple of films from the Takoma Park Library yesterday:

Music and Lyrics
The Lives of Others

Also two novels:

Exit Ghost by Philip Roth
Terrorist by John Updike

The Updike novel is proving to be an interesting read so far...
Trans Africa Forum. Justice for the African World.
June 26, 2010

TransAfrica Forum E-News

CONTENTS► Connecting the Dots from Detroit to DakarG8 Aid Pledge 'Cautious'Inviting Africans to G8 Meeting "Is Just Window-Dressing"Far Worse Than Watergate: Report Reveals Widening Scandal Regarding Intelligence Agency as New Government Takes Office in ColombiaCharges Sought in Death of Congo Leader LumumbaZimbabwe: Diamonds Remain BannedThe World Cup As A Symbol Of Hope In South Africa♦ Poor People's World Cup Stresses South Africa's Anti-Poverty Fight♦ Upcoming Events--Cabral/Truth Circle--Congo at 50; Congo Independence 50 Years Later: The Continuing Pursuit
Connecting the Dots from Detroit to Dakar, by Bankole Thompson, Inter Press Service News Agency, June 25, 2010 Africa's continued struggle for political and economic independence in many ways mirrors the very own struggles of communities in the U.S. that are now being tabled at the 2010 U.S. Social Forum in Detroit. Africa advocates and progressive foreign policy observers were pitching that message Thursday in introducing the "From Detroit to Dakar 2010" project, even as leaders of the powerful G8/G20 nations geared up for their meeting this weekend in Toronto, Canada next door. More...  Phoyo by Bankole Thompson/IPS G8 Aid Pledge 'Cautious' AL Jazeera, June 26, 2010 Rich countries have shied away from making bold aid pledges at the G8 summit, mindful of their own tight budgets and past broken promises. They pledged $5bn in aid over five years to reduce deaths among mothers and their newborns in Africa, at the summit in Toronto on Friday. The amount is nowhere near the ambitious promise from five years ago to double aid by up to $50 billion by 2010. More... Photo by AFP
Inviting Africans to G8 Meeting "Is Just Window-Dressing", by Stephanie Nieuwoudt, Inter Press Service News Agency, June 23, 2010 Questions are being asked about whether the Group of Eight invitation to seven African states to attend its summit in Ontario, Canada, reflects its concern about the litany of unmet promises dating from its 2005 Gleneagles meeting -- or whether it merely amounts to another bout of window-dressing. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper invited seven African countries to attend this year's Group of Eight (G8) summit to be held in his country on Jun. 25-26. They are: South Africa, Malawi, Ethiopia, Senegal, Nigeria, Algeria and Egypt. More...

Far Worse Than Watergate: Report Reveals Widening Scandal Regarding Intelligence Agency as New Government Takes Office in Colombia, by Kelly Nicholls, The Huffington Post, June 18, 2010 As Colombians prepare to elect a new president on Sunday, a new report reveals the shocking details of the Colombian intelligence agency's Watergate-like scandal, which went well beyond illegally spying on key players in the country's democracy. The Department of Administrative Security (DAS), Colombia's intelligence agency, actually orchestrated active efforts to sabotage the activities of Colombian judges, journalists, human rights defenders, international organizations and political opponents. More...
Charges Sought in Death of Congo Leader Lumumba, by Slobodan Lekic, Associated Press, June 22, 2010 A group of legal activists has formally requested war-crimes charges against a dozen Belgian government officials and military officers widely suspected in the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, Congo's first democratically elected prime minister. Lumumba headed Congo's largest political party and became leader when Belgium granted independence to the country on June 30, 1960 after a century of colonial rule. Many in the West viewed the charismatic prime minister as a dangerous radical because he wanted to nationalize the new nation's lucrative, Belgian-owned gold, copper and uranium mining industry. More... Photo of Lumumba in July 1960 AP File Photo
Zimbabwe: Diamonds Remain Banned, by Violent Gonda, SW Radio Africa (London, posted on, June 24, 2010 Member states and partners of the Kimberley Process, an organization set up eight years ago to eradicate the trade in blood diamonds, failed to reach agreement on whether to allow Zimbabwe to resume its trade in diamonds from the controversial Chiadzwa fields. More... The World Cup As A Symbol Of Hope In South Africa, by Angelique Kidjo, Nation Public Radio's (NPR) "Morning Edition", June 23, 2010 If I tell you about my seven brothers, you will understand why soccer was so important in my early life. In order to complete the team, and though I was petite, I would always end up as the goalkeeper. I remember, when it was announced that the World Cup would take place in South Africa, Nelson Mandela cried. I felt right away it was a turning point for my continent. Click here to listsen.  Click here for transcript.  Photo by Rajesh Jantilal/AFP/Getty Images of South African fans cheer after their team scored against France. Poor People's World Cup Stresses South Africa's Anti-Poverty Fight, by Pepe Lozano, People's World, June 23, 2010 As the FIFA World Cup 2010 attracts soccer fans worldwide, another tournament in South Africa is also gaining international attention: the Poor People's World Cup in Cape Town. The local tournament was organized by the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign (AEC). Running parallel with the FIFA games, it aims to highlight the province's struggle against rampant poverty and homelessness. More...Photo: The under-nines team from Hanover Park on the opening day of the Poor People's World Cup. (Anti-Eviction Campaign)
Upcoming Events
June 28, 2010: Cabral/Truth Circle--Congo at 50 
June 30, 2010: Congo Independence 50 Years Later: The Continuing Pursuit 

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Quote of the Day:

I believe today, under the circumstances that we're facing, that the majority of the illegal trespassers that are coming into the state of Arizona are under the direction and control of organized drug cartels and they are bringing drugs in.

   - Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R)

With statements like the one above, it's obvious this woman is going to be considered for a slot on the national Republican ticket in 2012.
Quote of the Day:

And while, yes, a vast majority of all writers, regardless of skin color, are struggling to stay afloat, and there are more African American writers being published today than at any other time in history, one must still take note of exactly what is being published.

Mainstream publishing houses contort themselves to acquire books that glorify wanton sex, drugs and crime. This fiction, known as street-lit or hip hop fiction, most often reinforces the stereotypical trademarks African Americans have fought hard to overcome.

   - Bernice L. McFadden, The Washington Post, June 26, 2010

Late yesterday afternoon I met my friend Gregory Orfalea at Sala Thai on U Street. It was fun sitting down and talking about our lives, our children, our work. Greg is the author of a number of books, among them are THE ARAB AMERICANS: A HISTORY and a collection of personal essays, ANGELENO DAYS. Back in the 1980s we traveled together to Iraq, a memorable trip for both of us.

After food and conversation I gave Greg a copy of my memoir, THE 5TH INNING. He gave me two books. One was OBAMA'S FIRST 150 DAYS: PERSPECTIVES FROM AN ARAB AMERICAN WRITER. This is a publication of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University.
I read it last night and found it filled with insightful information regarding Israel and Palestine. Greg also includes an excellent analysis of Obama's 2009 Cairo speech. A must read.

The other book Greg gave me was a new collection of short stories, THE MAN WHO GUARDED THE BOMB. This is a Syracuse University Press book that is part of their Arab American Writing series.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Thomas Sowell
Idols of Crowds
The Gathering Storm.
‘A human group transforms itself into a crowd when it suddenly responds to a suggestion rather than to reasoning, to an image rather than to an idea, to an affirmation rather than to proof, to the repetition of a phrase rather than to arguments, to prestige rather than to competence.”

Jean-François Revel was not referring to the United States when he wrote those words, nor to his own France, but to human beings in general. He was certainly not referring to Barack Obama, whom he probably never heard of, since Revel died last year.

To find anything comparable to crowds’ euphoric reactions to Obama, you would have to go back to old newsreels of German crowds in the 1930s, with their adulation of their fuehrer, Adolf Hitler. With hindsight, we can look back on those people with pity, knowing now how many of them would be led to their deaths by the man they idolized.

The exultation of the moment can exact a brutal price after that moment has passed. Nowhere is that truer than when it comes to picking the leader of a nation, which means entrusting that leader with the fate of millions today and of generations yet unborn.

A leader does not have to be evil to lead a country into a catastrophe. Inexperience and incompetence can create very similar results, perhaps even faster in a nuclear age, when even “a small country” — as Senator Obama called Iran — can wreak havoc anywhere in the world, when they are led by suicidal fanatics and supply nuclear weapons to terrorists who are likewise suicidal fanatics.

Barack Obama is truly a phenomenon of our time — a presidential candidate who cannot cite a single serious accomplishment in his entire career, besides advancing his own career with rhetoric.

He has a rhetorical answer for everything. Those of us who talk about the threat of Iran are just engaging in “the politics of fear” according to Obama, something to distract us from “the real issues,” such as raising taxes and handing out largesse with the proceeds.

Those who have studied the years leading up to World War II have been astonished by how many people and how many countries failed to see what Adolf Hitler was getting ready to do.

Even though Hitler telegraphed his punches, few people seemed to get the message. Books about that period have had such titles as “The Gathering Storm” and “Why England Slept.”

Will future generations wonder why we slept? Why we could not see the gathering storm in Iran, where one of the world’s leading oil producers is building nuclear facilities — ostensibly to generate electricity, but whose obvious purpose is to produce nuclear bombs.

This is a country whose president has already threatened to wipe a neighboring country off the map. Does anyone need to draw pictures?

When terrorists get nuclear weapons, there will be no way to deter suicide bombers. We and our children will be permanently at the mercy of the merciless.

Yet what are we talking about? Taxing and spending policies, socking it to the oil companies and rescuing people who gambled on risky mortgages and lost.

Are we serious? Are we incapable of adult foresight and adult responsibility?

Barack Obama of course has his usual answer: talk. Rhetoric seems to be his answer to everything. Obama calls for “aggressive” diplomacy and “tough” negotiations with Iran.

These colorful adjectives may impress gullible voters but they are unlikely to impress fanatics who are willing to destroy themselves if they can destroy us in the process.

Just what is Senator Obama going to say to Iran that has not been said already? That we don’t want them to develop nuclear weapons? That has already been said, every way that it can possibly be said. If talk was going to do the job, it would already have done it by now.

Go to the United Nations? What will they do, except issue warnings — and when these are ignored, issue more warnings?

But what does Obama have besides talk — and adoring crowds?

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

I ran into Roy Lewis this afternoon on the Howard campus. He gave me information about his upcoming photo exhibit (see below). I asked him about where his photographic work was going to be housed after we have all departed. This is a serious topic that we all need to be discussing. Some of the existing black cultural institutions lack budget and staff to maintain collections. Then there is the issue of access, control and ownership.Everyday, as a literary activist I'm making decisions that might help a scholar in the future. Roy has been looking at the black community through a lens for many years. He's 73 today. One thing Roy keeps telling people is that artists have to be paid. Folks will smile for you but then they want the picture for free. Go figure - rent is due.

Everywhere with Roy Lewis
July 9th Opening (5PM-8PM) - September 30, 2010
Prince George's African American Museum & Cultural Center
3901 Rhode Island Ave
Brentwood, MD. 20722

The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to begin hearings Monday on Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court.
E-Note from 2009:

Michael Jackson article published in Thailand:

Thursday, June 24, 2010


District Seasonal Grass Cutting Rules Now in Effect
(Washington, DC) - The Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) is issuing a reminder to District residents about the seasonal grass-cutting rules, which take effect on May 1, 2010 and run through October 31, 2010.
District regulations prohibit property owners (commercial and residential) from allowing grass and weeds on their premises to grow more than 10 inches in height.  Failing to adhere to the rule could lead to fines of more than $500. Between May 1 and October 31, DCRA can immediately mow properties and issues fines.
DCRA will be hanging "door knocker" reminders at properties where the grass height is getting close to the threshhold to try to encourage voluntary compliance before the city has to intervene.
Tall grass can trigger respiratory problems like asthma and allergies in District residents and rats and other vermin are also drawn to the over-growth. This holds serious public health implications. 
DCRA regulates several types of excessive vegetative growth including: kudzu, poison ivy, oak and sumac, plants with obnoxious odors, weeds, grasses causing hay fever, and any weed growth that creates a breeding place for mosquitoes. Regulations require that these weeds be cut after no more than seven days of growth.
Weeds may be defined as any vegetation at any state of maturity that:
  • Exceeds more than 10 inches in height, is untended, or creates a dense area of shrubbery that is a detriment to the health, safety and welfare of the public; 
  • Creates a harbor (including hiding places for persons), or provides a place to conceal refuse or trash, regardless of height; 
  • Develops into deposits, or accumulation of, refuse or trash;
  • Harbors rodents and vermin or provides a refuge for snakes, rats or other rodents; 
  • Creates an unpleasant or noxious odor; 
  • Constitutes a fire hazard; or 
  • Contains grass or weeds that are dead and diseased.
Failure to comply with a Notice of Violation during the growing season may result in DCRA cleaning the property and billing the owner for cost of the cleanup. Residents should report suspected violations to DCRA at (202) 442-9557 or email complaints to
Residents can also send Tweets to @dcra - include photos if you'd like - of properties with grass and/or weeds exceeding 10 inches. Please try to get exact address before making a complaint.

Of Shrines, Talking Drums
& Religious Chants:

Santería in D.C.

Santeria in D.C.

José Sueiro, Eloy Hernández, James Early,
Michael Mason, Elaine Peña, René López and
Oscar Rousseaux share memories, insights
and performances recalling stories of the
small Afro-Cuban community who transplanted
this religious tradition to Washington, D.C.
Saturday, June 26 from 3:00 - 5 p.m.
GALA Theatre 3333 14th St. NW

This program is part of the Latino DC History Project, an initiative of the
Smithsonian Latino Center and is
made possible by a grant from the
Humanities Council of Washington, DC
RSVP on  Find us on Facebookacebook

For more information email or call (202) 203-0120

Be sure to pick-up the latest issue of FAST COMPANY (July/August). There is a lovely profile of Zainab Salbi. She is high on the list of people I admire. She is the founder of Women for Women International (1993) which based in Washington, D.C. Zainab is always on the go. I can't wait to sit down again with her to discuss writing and laughter.
I don't call myself a poet because I don't like the word. I'm a trapeze artist.

    - Bob Dylan
City of Asylum Showcases Cave Canem

Cave Canem Co-founder Toi Derricotte speaks with Sampsonia Way about the history of Cave Canem and its work to support free expression for African American poets. Read the interview here:  "We Are Not Post-Racial": An Interview with Toi Derricotte.

Join Cave Canem & City of Asylum/Pittsburgh as they present an evening of poetry this Thursday, June 24, featuring readings by Colleen J. McElroy, Carl Phillips, Claudia Rankine & Sapphire.

Cave Canem Poets in Pittsburgh
Thursday, June 24, 7:30 pm
Under a tent, between Sampsonia & Jacksonia

For more details, visit

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