Carol Moseley Braun : Hyde Park Policing Needs Focus

Carol Moseley BraunI don't mean to over-react... But what the heck is going on, crime-wise, in Chicago's charming Hyde Park community? One of our distinguished neighbors, former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun, was attacked by a knife-wielding mugger on Friday night. Right at her front door. Luckily, Senator Moseley Braun only suffered a broken wrist, thanks to some University of Chicago students who happened by and got involved to stop the attack.

The University of Chicago students said they saw a woman on the ground with an attacker standing over her, beating her; they had no idea it was the astute woman whom President Clinton had appointed U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa. Nor does Moseley Braun's attacker likely care...

Thing is, there was another Hyde Park incident two Fridays ago. A rape a block away from my home, a stone's throw from lovely Promontory Point on Lake Michigan...

Chicago's historic Hyde Park community.  The view of downtown Chicago from picturesque Promontory Point
Yet, at about the exact time this young woman was in distress, a jerk cop stopped and ticketed me for allegedly rolling through a stop sign a few yards from my front door. Why was this guy squandering his time harrassing someone like me? Meanwhile, rapists and muggers are having a bit of a field day around here, and getting away Scot free.

A huge community hug is owed the University of Chicago students who got involved, frightening off Moseley Braun's attacker. The former senator says that, fortunately, she was wearing gloves. The mugger's repeated attempts to slash her purse strap free resulted in only minimal cuts to her hand.

Moseley Braun's cuts and broken wrist are sure to heal just fine. It's the community trust that's likely broken beyond repair. Our mistaken belief that Hyde Park is a fairly safe community. The myth has been shattered; this is what'll be hardest to recover from.

That, and the likelihood that those responsible for policing the area were probably busy playing tough-cop with non-threatening people like me, who just aren't worth bothering with. Not when you increasingly have rapes and muggings happening a block or two away.

Carol Moseley Braun's video interview describing the attack
Wikipedia on Carol Moseley Braun
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George Tenet / Bernard McGuirk / Barbie 2.0

The new Barbie Girl goes gadget, attached to an MP3 player and with Internet capability

~ She moves. She grooves. She's an all-new Barbie poised to troll the Internet for friends. She also likely tunes out mom and every other annoyance except for catchy tunes like Fergie's sultry "Glamorous." Officially called Barbie Girl, she is Mattel Inc.'s latest attempt to connect with modern girls. Considered more gadget than the traditional fashion doll, Barbie Girl is a device that plays MP3 music and connects to the virtual world via a personal computer. Read all about America's favorite fashion chick gone techie here: Barbie 2.0 delivers interactive experience.

~ If you missed Bernard McGuirk's exclusive interview last night on Hannity & Colmes, News Hounds offers this excellent recap. Of all the inflammatory things McGuirk said on the Fox News show, I found most amusing that he apologized to Alan Colmes for repeatedly saying he resembles "a ferret in a suit." Beyond that, sounds like Bernie was on the show primarily to 1) bash Rev. Al Sharpton for taking a stand for the Rutgers girls and 2) jump-start a new chapter of his post-Imus career saying nasty things about undeserving people.

~ Former CIA Director George Tenet is making the media rounds to promote his book, "At the Center of the Storm." In the tome due out on Monday from HarperCollins, Mr. Tenet discloses what many people have sensed all along: The Administration made him a scapegoat for the "bad" intelligence that justified going to war in Iraq. According to this L.A. Times story, former officials say the book "makes a compelling case that Vice President Cheney and other administration hawks pressured the CIA to find nonexistent links between Iraq and the Al Qaeda terrorist network." Tenet also substantiates that his superiors were "hostile to post-invasion assessments that portrayed conditions in Iraq as deteriorating."
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Democrats : Doing Big Thangs - Gangsta Thangs

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Isn't Nancy Pelosi's leadership astonishing? Can I say "Like a Pimp?" No? Well, she's definitely gangsta then! With Pelosi's fearless shoving, the Democrats are gaining impressive traction against so many outstanding issues. (Translation: Finally, the Dems seem awake.) As of yesterday, Speaker Pelosi's very frisky and newly demanding House is officially engaged in four or five crucial stare-downs with just about everyone in the Bush Administration.

~~ This New York Times piece, Flexing Muscles, talks about three hot subpoenas the Democrats served Republicans yesterday. Among the Big Pimpin' moves is the subpoena delivering more email trouble to Karl Rove, on an entirely different front.

Subpoenas aside, last night House Democrats passed a $124 billion war spending bill. It was attached, of course, to a timetable for pulling American troops out of Iraq. If the Senate also passes the bill, and they're to vote on it today, Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats may have the honor of delivering the short-leashed bill to Mr. Bush on an embarrassing anniversary. This Washington Post story, House Passes Iraq Pullout Timetable, says it all...
The Senate is expected to follow the House's 218 to 208 vote with final passage today, completing work on the rarest of bills: legislation to try to end a major war as fighting still rages. Democrats hope to send the measure to the White House on Monday, almost exactly four years after President Bush declared an end to major combat in a speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. In addition to holding the Iraqis more accountable for stabilizing the chaos there, the bill contains guidelines for resting and training the troops.
U.S. troops will never be the same.  And for what?  What's been the benefit?
~~ Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has been ordered to testify about the prewar claim that Iraq purchased uranium from Niger for WMD. Which was a gross and deadly err, at best. (See last paragraph about impeachment articles...) In light of AG Alberto Gonzales' still-rising water, Dr. Rice (Wiki) may be forced to swim a different Chanel. I mean channel.

Secretary of State Condoleeza 'Condi' Rice dresses to impress in cat woman boots.Or who knows? Maybe she's a woman scorned by now -- one ready to get that dirt off her shoulder pads. Last year's scandalous Vanity Fair article said that Vice President Cheney had been dismissive of her as head of the NSA. Maybe the good doctor's ready to again teach a lesson.

In any case, here's a snippet of Reuters report on the confrontation -- I mean chat -- the Democratic-led panel wants to have with Condoleeza Rice:

On a party-line vote of 21-10, the House of Representatives' Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved a subpoena for Rice, which was quickly issued.

"There was one person in the White House who had primary responsibility to get the intelligence about Iraq right -- and that was Secretary Rice who was then President George W. Bush's national security adviser," said committee Chairman Henry Waxman, a California Democrat.

"The American public was misled about the threat posed by Iraq, and this committee is going to do its part to find out why," Waxman said.

~~ Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) continues the push to oust Vice President Cheney, filing three articles of impeachment on Wednesday.

Rep. Kucinich's articles against Mr. Cheney charge that he knowingly provided false information about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction. And that Cheney pressured the intelligence community to change its findings to support the war.

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Bernard 'Bernie' McGuirk : Fox News Scoops the Imus Poop

Those of us who've watched Imus In the Morning are familiar with this infamous three-man camera shot.  It's (left to right) Don Imus, his news anchor Charles McCord, and producer Bernard McGuirk, probably verbally abusing someone important.Guess who's back -- on Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes, no less. Why, it's Bernard 'Bernie' McGuirk, rearing his ever-hot head on the very station he has said the most dispicable things about. Bernie McGuirk's exclusive interview with the "Odd Couple" of cable news is scheduled for Thursday, April 26th at 9 p.m. (ET).

Of course last week, Don Imus retained power attorney Martin Garbus, says Business Week. The speculation is that Imus plans to fight CBS for the greatest possible severance package. Imus had recently signed a five-year deal with CBS, which was set to begin paying him nearly $10 million a year.

It doesn't look good right now for Don Imus in terms of moving to Sirius Satellite Radio, though. The buzz is that Imus media powerhouse pal Mel Karmazin, who is Viacom's head of Sirius, consulted with his top shock jock Howard Stern about the idea of Imus joining their team. Sounds like Howard Stern said heck-e naw!

But a year ago, Howard Stern did "bless" Don Imus's brother, Fred Imus, to get a show over at Sirius.

It's sad how the chickens are coming to roost for grumpy Don Imus and his angrier sidekick, Bernard McGuirk. Don has said terrible things about Howard Stern over the years. A month ago, there's no way that Imus could have imagined his radio nemesis, Howard Stern, would be standing between him and his next career move.
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* chicago writers' pick : walter moseley *

African American author Walter Moseley's new book for writers is titled 'This Year You Write Your Novel' If you're anything like me -- a writer who benefits from every morsel of encouragement and information to get that novel published -- then don't miss Walter Moseley. Author of the best-selling 'Easy Rollins' mystery series, Moseley says he's sharing all he knows about "writing, and rewriting, fiction" through an intensive writer's workshop and book signing tour. Moseley's Chicago appearance tomorrow is in conjunction with his latest book, "This Year You Write Your Novel." The event with Walter Moseley is free and open to the public at the DuSable Museum on Thursday, April 24 at 7 p.m.

~ An excellent primer covering most of Moseley's 25 mystery novels.
~ Wikipedia write-up about the celebrated African American author, whose fans include former President Bill Clinton.
~ And AALBC (African American Literature Book Club) provides this awesome, exhaustive list of African American authors.
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Grand Wizard of Imus : Ding Dong McGuirk Is Done

Bernard 'Bernie' McGuirk was fired by WFAN Radio for his part in the Imus 'nappy headed ho' scandal.  Actually, McGuirk initiated the distasteful banter and baited Don Imus

I shouldn't be surprised that previous posts here about Bernard "Bernie" McGuirk, producer and sidekick on Don Imus's infamous talk show, continue to interest a great number of new readers in checking out the South Side Star. People aren't really Google-ing "Don Imus" much any more: Finding more info on "Bernie McGuirk" seems all the rage, on par even with those seeking information about "Cho."

As I've previously opined here, Bernie's inappropriate quips on Imus In the Morning were, by far, more mean-spirited and bigoted than Don's ever were. And so his long over-due day finally has come: BERNIE McGUIRK WAS FIRED by WFAN radio on Thursday for his part in the racially-charged banter...


Bernard 'Bernie' McGuirk defiles even Cardinal Egan; he's an equal opportunity hater who seems mad at any and everybodySo hide your "white sheets," boys and girls. Be afraid that McGuirkkk's next "gig" may not be televised and monitorable. And if you happen to be among the Rutgers basketball players who've received death threats, please note that even on college campuses, terrible things can happen. Particularly at the hands of unhinged strangers who may somehow view you as responsible for ruining their lives. As it's been said many times during this tragic week in U.S. history: You just never know...

Virginia Tech shooting spree victimVirginia Tech massacre leaves families and a nation in tears
Rising star Ryan Clark was tragically one of the first of two victims murdered by Cho at Virinia Tech

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Paris Is (Still) Burning : Hip-hop Fires-up the French Vote

French rapper Diam is driving the presidential vote

Ever steeped in controversy, American hip-hop has undergone enormous scrutiny lately. At least it did until Monday, when the massacre at Virginia Tech relegated hip-hop and every other news story "below the fold." But in and around Paris, rap music has purposefully stepped up to the mic -- and is headlining French news.

According to this NPR BBC audio report, the French artist known as Diams -- a female rapper influenced by those fiery riots -- has thrust hip-hoppers into the political spotlight. Suddenly, the vote of African youth has become among the most aggressively sought in France by candidates competing in the country's forthcoming presidential election.

Rap music in France takes the political lead
Links to:

~ Diam,
~ Amazon's list of the most influential French rap CDs,
~ Top French rapper Joey Star of NTM,
~ Rap leadership in the political sphere, and
~ More fiery culture clashes that occurred on the anniversary of the French youth riots.
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American Idol : Sanjaya's GONE!

Nooooo... We weren't done marveling at beautiful Sanjaya! We still want to watch that fantastically bouncin' and behavin' hair. He got through each of his songs with a lovely smile and had fun performing every time. No one had to cover their ears!... Never mind those who complained that Sanjaya was still in the running; shame on those who hit the kitchen whenever he performed. Those of us who enjoyed him -- despite his lack of strong vocal chops -- stayed glued to American Idol. Hoping with his every note sung that Sanjaya magically would sound fabulous, as if suddenly possessed with the spirit of Michael Jackson.

The magical improvement we hoped for never came. But the magic of Sanjaya never failed to show up, always with glam hair.

It's a conspiracy! All the bad people in America must've dialed up American Idol and voted for everyone but Sanjaya...

What's that you've asked? Did I vote to keep Sanjaya on?

Well... Let's just say I'm not engaged in American Idol on that level. I'm just saying that Sanjaya has more charisma than than all the other contestants combined. His inner Michael Jackson only needs a good coach to be honed and coaxed out.

Not to worry, though. We the "Fanjayas" of the Internet will just keep blogging about him and blogging about him, and before we know it, our cutie pie may have a second TV life. And many MANY imaginative, new hair-dos, I'm sure.

Want more Sanjaya?

* This ABC News story, "Let's Give Them Something to Talk About," explores the Indian and Indian-American reactions to Sanjaya on Amerian Idol. It also explores rumors that his ethnicity alone led large numbers of telemarketers in India (and here) to flood the phone lines to keep him on the show.

* At Vote For The Worst, Web fans are lamenting their inability to make Sanjaya the next American Idol. And ABC News also offers various videos of Sanajaya stories they've produced.

* Last but not least, Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion journalist Robin Givhan at the Washington Post comes out of the "Sanjaya" closet: She's glad he's gone?! But why did she write this funny stitch about our guy:

It was time for Sanjaya to go! Pack your curling rods, your flatiron, your extensions, your bandannas, your hair gel and GO! Go forth and make the rounds of the chat shows. Hook yourself up with a nice spokesmodel gig at Clairol. Do your television cameos.
Here's the link to Givhan's hatin' but entertaining write-up: Hair and Gone: American Idol Trims Sanjaya. Read the whole post...

Poet Nikki Giovanni at Virginia Tech Convocation

I've long been a fan of poet and Virginia Tech (VT) professor Nikki Giovanni. She's on my mind today because of her healing words and the ovations she received at the VT convocation, a service held yesterday to honor the victims of the shooting tragedy by a young man named "Cho." Thing is, I well know how Nikki Giovanni can move an audience... Because as a child, I was absolutely intrigued -- transported, even -- by her famously vivid and empowering poem, Ego Trippin'.

Compellingly delivered atop a music bed of some of the hardest African drumming you've ever heard, Ego Trippin' played in heavy rotation on the radio station I grew up listening to in St. Louis. Whenever Nikki's poem-song began wafting from my radio, I'd turn it up loud to hear her emphatically say:

I was born in the Congo
I walked to the fertile crescent and built
the sphinx
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star
that only glows every one hundred years falls
into the center giving divine perfect light
I am

- Nikki Giovanni, Ego Trippin'

It warmed my heart to see Nikki singled out by national news outlets for her encouraging words. But earlier today, an NPR report about the shootings at VT, where Nikki teaches English, connected me to the legendary poet on an entirely different level....

In the NPR interview, Nikki says she told the VT powers that be that she'd resign from her job if they didn't remove an eerily silent and interpersonally challenged student named Cho from her class.

This apparently smart stance and foreshadowing about Cho's character reminded me of another "old school" artist from her Ego Trippin' days: James Brown. 'Cause it sounds like Nikki should have told VT, in those infamous words of James Brown from "The Big Payback":

I don't know karate, but I know ka-RAYzay!

Nikki Giovanni kicked Cho out of her English classCho turned out to be "ka-RAYzier" than even Professor Nikki knew. Or maybe not...

I'm not trying to make light of the mass killing at VT. I am just so feeling Nikki for telling the school to get that nut away from her and her students. I'm loving her sixth sense -- or common sense, really. In 2005, Cho was kicked out of Professor Giovanni's English class. Yes, she is still bad.

After hearing Nikki's NPR account of her personal brush with and bristling at Cho -- and the emerging mental health accounts of others -- it is unfathomable that he was able to purchase firearms.

So while Obama has us full of hope about soon cleaning up America's image, and Rev. Al Sharpton has us full of hope about tidying up rap music, we might as well grab the Pine-Sol and revisit the gun-control laws, too.

For more about the poet, her close friendship with Rosa Parks, the work she created honoring Tupac Shakur and more, check out Nikki Giovanni's interview about her new book, "Acolytes."
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Oprah's Hip-Hop Town Hall : Plenty of Fightin' Words

Is hip-hop coming from the same place as the notion of a Fight Club?  Dissatisfied young men need a way to vent their societal anger.  But why beat-down and character assassinate women?

Lucky for me that in Chicago, daily episodes of Oprah rerun on television around midnight. This allowed me to catch last night what may have come close to being the first-ever fist fight on Oprah. The impetus behind the contentious debate was hip-hop, a town hall topic the Queen of Talk included among her three shows in follow-up to the Don Imus " controversy.

Special guests on-stage included Russell Simmons, conscientious rapper Common, Dr. Benjamin Chavis of Simmon's Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, and Kevin Liles, executive vice president at Warner Music. Seated in the audience -- with a visible degree of frustration with the hip-hop proponents on-stage -- were Stanley Crouch of the New York Daily News and Bruce Gordon of CBS, formerly head of the NAACP. And via satellite from Atlanta were about eight impressive young women from Spelman College, who took a stand a few years ago against Nelly for his insulting, extremely sexualized "Tip Drill" video.

Hip-hop panelists for Oprah's Town Hall broadcast included Common, Kevil Liles, Dr. Ben Chavis, and Russell Simmons
Yada-yada: You wanna know about the "near-fight" don't you?! Okay, here goes...

Russell Simmons vs. Oprah
Long-winded Russell Simmons, who seemingly believes he is the King of Golden Words, clashed with Oprah a couple of times. He would pontificate ad nauseum; Oprah would eventually try to break-in and regain control of her show; and Russell would continue talking, rudely ignoring her. He got testy with Oprah at one point and snapped a little, frustrated because he hadn't finished making his point. A point, mind you, that very few in the audience were buying.

Russell's stance was that the notion of censorship is a dangerous one, and that America shouldn't seek to silence hip-hop "poets." Rather, America should focus on solving the problems that prompt some rappers to express themselves in such unseemly ways. It's a valid enough argument, but only to a point.

Somewhere along the line, Russell and other hip-hop shot-callers must have a "come to Jesus" about what exactly they're fighting for. And such a meeting may indeed be taking place today. It was mentioned several times that a high-powered "insiders" meeting with Lyor Cohen, chairman and CEO Warner Music Group was already scheduled, to discuss the future of hip-hop and how to move it in a more positive direction.

It could be a fairly short meeting -- one resulting in an audible difference in a few months. Lyor Cohen has the power to simply tell his executives and top-selling artists this: Look, we're under attack. And my job -- all of our jobs -- is to keep this hip-hop ship from going down. So going forward, Warner and associated labels will not fund albums that include even one song containing the following words: Bitch. Ho. Niggers. Fuck. (And a few other stingers...)

Lyor could then hand out a little Cheat Sheet suggesting substitute words like Trickstas, Honey and Cats. Meeting adjourned, major difference made given that the following rappers report up to Lyor and Kevin: Jay-Z and all of his Def Jam artists, Lil Scrappy, Jacki-O, E-40 and Sean "P. Diddy" Combs (and his various artists).

Spelman College Students vs. Hip-hop Moguls
But back to the Oprah show itself... The girls from Spelman College, moderated in Atlanta by Gail King, seemed ready to jump through the camera and wring a few necks during their cut-ins. Clearly frustrated, one even cut-off Gail in order to confront Russell Simmons and Kevin Liles, telling them they were side-stepping the issue. What are your action steps for cleaning up the mess you're in charge of?, they insisted the hip-hop heads answer.

One young lady's serious but humorous quip indicated that no rude guy in a club ever asked to see her student ID before deciding to call her a "ho" for, say, not joining him on the dance floor. This is all too common in clubs, and it needs to stop. This is, indeed, how altercations start. With insecure guys belittling a girl who's disinterested in chatting or dancing with him.

Kevin Liles vs. Stanley Crouch
But I've saved the best on Oprah for last... Warner E.V.P. Kevin Liles seemed seconds away from doing a Jerry Springer: jumping out of his chair and delivering a bruising to someone in the audience. The person Kevin exploded on was Stanley Crouch, the New York Daily News columnist and vocal opponent of gangsta rap.

It started when Crouch made a comment calling some of the rappers represented by people on-stage "clowns." Well, you'd a thunk Crouch had called Kevin Liles a nappy-headed ho! Angry, Kevin went on and on about not appreciating Crouch calling him a clown. (Someone wasn't listening. Crouch didn't call anyone on the show a clown.)

I hoped that Oprah had a few Springer-style security guards near by. Kevin was so hot and insulted it looked as though he might run into the audience and give Crouch a WWE beat-down.

But what was saddest about Kevin's upset was this: He looked like the biggest hypocrite. Everyone watching the show could see that Kevin's barely-controlled outrage was precisely the same insult that women feel when men call us nasty names. Be they Imus on TV or Ludacris on an album that Kevin himself is responsible for getting to the marketplace. His anger was glaringly ironic. He didn't like being called a clown (which no one actually did); he all but rolled up his sleeves to protect his reputation.

Touche, brother. You don't like being called names either and wanna kick some butt over it? Well, perhaps you could start with your own for letting the "clowns" your label represents call others offensive names.

So major kudos are in order for Oprah for delving into this touchy subject -- a subject she has admittedly avoided in the past. Many in the audience agreed that it would be up to women to make a change; the music industry couldn't be counted on to police itself.

We'll keep watch for something concrete to come out of today's meeting with Lyor Cohen. He'll certainly have in the room all the people it takes to make a change.

Common vs. Himself
PS -- Common is such a nice guy. So sensible and intent on doing the right thing. But dispite his personal concerns about the negative language in hip-hop and being the father or a nine-year-old daughter, Common said he'd have to continue riding on the side of hip-hop. He wouldn't want to become an outsider because he can be more effective by staying with the hip-hop community and coaching the offenders through constructive criticism that comes from love, not blame.

Excellent point. Plus, Common took such a stand before, through his cult classic song, "I Used to Love H.E.R.," which laments the state of hip-hop. It basically led to a nasty, well-publicized beef between him and fellow rapper Ice Cube. Who took Common's criticism personally.

So Common knows he has to be careful here. He already is known to spit lyrics that are uplifting of the African American community and earnestly value women. In today's rap world, them's almost fightin' words.

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Virginia Tech Massacre : The Best & Latest Links

Virginia Tech students massacred yesterday by Cho are being observed on the Internet with this symbol
America is both mourning and abuzz about the shooting spree yesterday at Virginia Tech (VT). We wonder what could be so serious and angering as to lead a young person, one we now know as Cho Seung-Hui, to a deadly rampage resulting in 32 deaths. Thirty-three when you include his own. In the back of your mind, something this horric makes you wonder if someone you know could snap and do something like this, which is part of the reason we follow such stories.

Cho entered the dorm and classrooms at Virginia Tech seemingly transfixed, with a blank expression
Stories they may be, but the victims are real. And it was a 23-year-old student gone mad who inflicted it. The clues and insights we seek into Cho Seung-Hui and his victims are starting to hit the Web. Following are the news reports and opinions that may help us begin to frame this tragedy, to understand what when so very wrong with so many aspects of this crisis...

~ The Lede Blog at the New York Times gets to the point with lots of new information, leads and links. It includes VT-related news from every angle. Most interesting here is a puzzling quote by a former professor of Cho's, and an ex-classmate is interviewed who long ago pondered how to react if Cho someday snapped. Unfortunately, they could do nothing about the odd behavior they noticed. Very unfortunately....

There also are many links that lead to the Facebook "friend" reponses to the VT massacre and more. A different Times article includes peculiar observations about Cho and his family by their neighbors in Centreville, Virginia.


~ Time has collected a different set of interviews with people who personally knew Cho. A former classmate of Cho's tells more about the plays he wrote, which apparently suggest he may have been molested -- which I'd wondered when I first learned of this tragedy. The piece also includes a blurb about Ryan "Stack" Clark, the adorable African American dorm R.A. who was killed trying to defend the girl who was Cho's first victim.

~ The Collegiate Times provides this precise timeline of events yesterday at Virginia Tech, and today during President Bush's visit for the Memorial Service. Practically minute-by-minute, this one covers all the points -- high, low and in between. Maybe these kids are bucking for a future as a prosecutor. Who knows: A timeline this finely crafted probably could stand up in court in a way the Blacksburg Police Department may prove unable to.

~ MTV has created a Virtual Memorial featuring a plethora of links to firsthand blog accounts by VT students of being on lock-down in the dorms, trapped in classrooms and more. MTV's Virtual Memorial also links to sites created by other universities to honor their fallen peers at VT. Meanwhile, Hot Air blogs about the romance rumors that allegedly led to the initial shooting at the dorm.


~ And from the other side of the world, the ever-watchful New Zealand Herald reports that Blacksburg, Virginia, is a town "saturated with guns." Even measured against other U.S. cities, Blacksburg is said to have an obsession with waaponry in an area where it is "ridiculously easy" by buy firearms.

Not to worry, all you would-be killers who're reading this. The National Rifle Association, one of the nation's most powerful lobby groups, is already on the case to ensure no one takes away your right to *hunt*. Here's the extent to which the NRA has commented thus far on the college campus murders at Virginia Tech, when all eyes are on them and the issue they stand for:

Statement From the National Rifle Association
Monday, April 16, 2007

The National Rifle Association joins the entire country in expressing our deepest condolences to the families of Virginia Tech University and everyone else affected by this horrible tragedy.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families.
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Russell Simmons to Obama on Hip-hop / Don Imus's would-be host Gov. Corzine / Virginia Tech massacre

~ Rap music mogul Russell Simmons seems to be the media's unofficial go-to guy for statements about hip-hop being the impetus behind Don Imus's career-damaging words. And apparently, Russell feels at least partial responsibility lies elsewhere. He has challenged hip-hop critic Barack Obama to fix the societal issues that make furtile ground for the anger manifesting as rap music.

The Def Jam founder makes a valid point. People with jobs and advancement opportunities don't typically go into rapping, and certainly not of the "gangsta" variety. They're not frustrated enough with their lives to create the dark thoughts that are so pervasive in rap lyrics. Pursuit of happiness is a constitutional right tied to the laws of human nature. Marginalized individuals who're determined to make a mark will do so by whatever devices they can access.

~ It was apparent even from the sparse, initial news coverage that New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine had critically suffered during the car accident that prevented him from actually hosting the meeting between Don Imus and the Rutgers students. But this update at ABC News indirectly reveals just how bad off Gov. Corzine -- a frequent Imus In the Morning guest and one of few, visibbly supportive Don Imus "friends" -- really is.

~ It would take something fairly horrific to knock the Don Imus story off the front pages, and so it is: At least 32 people at Virginia Tech were mass murdered today. Another nearly 30 are wounded and hospitalized.

Because the situation is so new, details as of this writing are sketchy. But what already sounds questionable is that the yet unidentified gunman started his crazed shoot-out at a dorm, and then safely made it elsewhere on campus, to an engineering building, to continue killing. Hours later.

This was was one mad, determined man on a rampage, boldly walking about the 100-building campus to seek out entirely new set of victims away from the original crime scene. As is too often the case, it doesn't appear an effective communications system was in place to alert people to a terror attack... This would be terrorism, would it not? You try sitting in the alleged safety of a college dorm or classroom and suddenly hear 40 to 50 gunshots.

Worse: be the person who was close enough to capture this video footage of the deadly ambush via cell phone: ABC New video of Virginia Tech shooting.

It hasn't be confirmed that the shooter was an engineering student, and I don't want to stereotype, but I went to college with lots of engineering students. They can be pretty intense -- hard on themselves and overly-sensitive to criticism. The Virginia Tech shooter died in the incident, presumably at the hand of law enforcement authorities who reported immediately to the campus.
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Oprah Takes On Racism, Sexism, Hip-hop

Hip-hop spokesman Russell Simmons, who co-founded Def Jam, a rap music label that Jay-Z is now president ofStill reeling from the Don Imus incident like most of America, Oprah today presented an excellent second of three shows related to Imus's controversial racial and sexist slur and firing. Last week, the Rutgers women's basketball team appeared on Oprah; tomorrow, Oprah's guests will include two of hip-hop's head statesmen: Def Jam founder Russell Simmons and Grammy Award-winning rapper Common.

As dynamic as the next show in the series promises to be, today's show featured a robust panel of African Americans with great thoughts as well. Guests included New York Daily News columnist and gangsta rap critic Stanley Crouch, Rev. Al Sharpton, the Spelman College women who protested Nelly's "Tip Drill" video, Bruce Gordon (former head of the NAACP), and brilliant neo soul artist India.Arie. India's new black girl anthem, "I Am Not My Hair," was shown lots of love, as its message so perfectly fit as a dignified response to those who think like or side with Don Imus. Check out India's soulful video...

On Oprah, India.Arie was quick to explain that she hadn't wanted the guy in the above video, singing sensation Akon, as her duet partner on "I Am Not My Hair." She was talked into it by her record label, she said. She eventually recorded the song as a solo, the version that most of us know. After seeing the above video, I see why she was displeased with the outcome and made such a deal about it on Oprah!

In any case, discussion on Oprah centerted on what the firing of Don Imus means, why what he said disturbed so many, hip-hop's role in this environment, and who will be targeted next.

Oprah, unaided, voiced a resounding statement, one perhaps intended to absolve her from not having tackled the problem via her influential show in the past. "For years I wouldn't have this [hip-hop misogeny] conversation because I didn't want to be in the fight alone," Oprah said. And she, indeed, has been under fire for her past criticism of hip-hop music. The most recent example being rapper Ludacris was terribly offended when he was the only cast member in the movie "Traffic" who wasn't invited to a group appearance on the show.

Rev. Sharpton made the final comment on the show, and it was a powerful one. He asked rhetorically: "How can civilization come from women, and then find it easy to denigrate the ones we came from?"

Tomorrow's Oprah show will likely delve into the psychology of this unsavory side of hip-hop, thanks to Oprah regular, Dr. Robin Smith. I hope that something said touches Russell Simmons, informs him of a different, euqally important advocacy role he might play in music. The father of two beautiful daughters, Russell has a personal reason and the juice to help improve the loose language in music that'll impact his own girls and those everywhere in the future. Read the whole post...


All the Presidents' Children / Obama Money / Dom Imus Firing Triggers Death Threats

Barbara and Jenna Bush are the colorful twin daughters of President George Bush and his charming wife Barbara
Chelsea Clinton is the more attractive than ever daughter of Senator Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton
America mourned the loss of John Kennedy Jr., who grew up with America watching and adoring its little 'John-John'

Are you a fan of First Kids? You know, the Chelseas, John-Johns, and First Twins Barb and Jenna of America? If so, you'll be enlightened by this round-up in the Washington Post, which tells about each presidential candidate's children. While many have grown children, quite a few have young ones poised to fascinate us -- and provide late-night joke fodder -- for at least four, formative years. That is, should their ambitious parent win the 2008 presidential election.

In terms of fundraising prowess, Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama seems to be a lucrative cash cow. According to the Washington Post, Obama is enviably receiving campaign contributions from every nook and cranny. Even on the Internet, Obama has out-fundraised Senator Hillary Clinton. In "Obama Taps Two Worlds," the Post explores a few strategic friends of Obama, ranging from Penny Pritzker (the Hyatt heiress) and David Katzenberg (partner to Steven Spielberg and David Geffen). They and others have helped money cascade the senator's way.

Radio and television talk show pioneer Don Imus walks head down, humiliated these daysSurely you've sensed that I'm still following the Don Imus tragedy... And here's yet another morsel! This, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, is a spoke to watch in the Imus story's ever-revolving wheel of retaliation: Death threats. By taking aim at Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton -- not to mention the b-ball girls at Rutgers University -- Imus fans unfortunately are helping prove that an unhealthy mindset may have been cultivated by the Imus In the Morning talk show.

Rev. Jackson received a bomb threat yesterday during his weekly business community meeting at Rainbow/Push headquarters here in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. Meanwhile, Rev. Sharpton in New York has substantially stepped-up his security team. Sharpton was stabbed in 1991 at a protest, so his team takes assassination attempts very seriously.

Last but not least, check out USA Today's piece pondering whether the demise of Imus In the Morning signals a clean-sweep for talk radio and television shows. Which leads me to question this: Would it have been alright for Imus & Crew to spew their hate over satellite radio or some other, less public broadcast medium? The USA Today article looks at some recent FCC stances and makes insightful predictions about where our viewing selections are headed -- particularly in light of Janet Jackson's desperate "wardrobe malfunction."
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Don Imus : The Aftermath

Some good, late editions well worth checking out... The Wall Street Journal's "Behind the Fall of Imus" lays out a timeline that includes behind-the-scenes details of the double-loss of talk show titan Don Imus.

The New York Times covers CBS's perspective, and evaluates the media landscape of Don Imus's possible come back via Sirius or XM.

Editors & Publishers gives a nod to late Daily News columnist Lars-Erik Nelsen, who in 1995 foretold the controversy at Imus In the Morning.

Newday asks, "Is Rap Next?" Story with good analysis of the "ho" landscape includes this quote from rap mogul Russell Simmons:

"Comparing Don Imus' language with hip-hop artists' poetic expression is misguided and inaccurate and feeds into a mindset that can be a catalyst for unwarranted, rampant censorship."
I'm not sure of the value of any poetic expression that refers to me, mother or daughter in the pejorative terms that rap uses. But with Rev. Jesse Jackson vowing to next take on any corporation that supports sexist and degrading language in music, we may soon see how true Russell's words ring for America.
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Don Imus : Bernard McGuirk Is Show's Real Problem

Happy Friday the Thirteenth, but this is a sad day for fans of Imus in the Morning
Want proof that today is Friday the 13th? Here's all the proof I need: Today's the first day the mighty Don Imus, host of Imus In the Morning, awakens banished from both his MSNBC television and WFAN radio shows. The tsunami of criticism finally took its toll, washed away one of many hugely popular but negative influences that keep America in darkness, less than we're called to be.

I hope that one day Don Imus stands up a much taller man from this devastating experience and returns to the airwaves. I believe he bought Sirius stock fairly deeply, so that's clearly an opportunity for The I-Man.

But whatever Don Imus does next, he simply must not bring his producer, Bernard "Bernie" McGuirk, along. Or if he does, he shouldn't allow Bernie to speak on-air as before. Bernie's the real hate-monger on the show, not Imus. McGuirk revels in angry, piss-on-everybody talk on a level that far exceeds his boss, Don Imus.

I would say that Bernie seeds most of the comments in poor taste, and his persona casts the darkest shadow that creates the show's pall. The only person I've seen admonish him for his cruel words is frequent guest Terry Bradshaw. The problem was that Don himself didn't seem to let Bernie know the atmosphere of the show had to improve.
Don Imus's sidekick, Bernie McGuirk, is being looked at by New York Times
This New York Times story keys in on the same thing: Bernard McGuirk's role in the Don Imus fiasco deserves close examination...

I commend those who took a stand against the Imus show's long-running barrage of verbal attacks. Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton demonstrated remarkable leadership, despite mainstream criticism for every breath they breathe. They are deeply valued for their commitment and efforts. And in this case, astonishing success! Next stop: record labels producing hip-hop songs that go too far with degrading monikers for females...

NBC and CBS also deserve major atta boys for listening and acting decisively. It was particularly thrilling to hear the employees of NBC had spoken the loudest to management, and broke through to sensitize the Peacock Network what it really means to be one, big diverse family.

Last but not least, get well wishes to Governor John Corzine of New Jersey, who was in a terrible auto crash last night. He was en route to the Governors Mansion to host Imus's meeting last night with the Rutgers women's basketball team. Governor Corzine suffered numerous broken bones and vertabae by a hit-and-run driver. Speedy recovery!
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Imus Dropped From MSNBC / Bush Defends Imus

Don Imus has been dropped by MSNBC due to using his popular Imus In the Morning talk show as an open platform to perpetuate racial hatred

News Flash: MSNBC has dropped Imus In the Morning from its line-up. Suddenly, all eyes are on The I-Man, but few are looking lovingly at the MSNBC and WFAN Radio talk show host. That's because Don Imus has done the impossible: he's managed to give the term "nappy-headed hos" a million-dollar price tag. That's probably how much advertising revenue his stations have suddenly lost now that GM, Sprint, Procter & Gamble, American Express and Staples have suspended their media buys on Imus In the Morning.

Most of the advertisers are quietly taking a wait-and-see stance. If Imus is able to weather the storm over his "nappy-headed hos" comments about the Rutgers women's basketball squad, the commercial life-blood of the show may be resuscitated down the line. The radio portion of his act, however, remains in tact for now. That is, following a two-week, off-air suspension.

Accused of one too many divisive slurs, the embattled radio personality now is taking hits from every angle -- protests at TV station affiliates in various cities; guests cancelling appearances on the highly sought-after show; and now this kick in the backside, a wallop to the wallet.

There are reports, however, that Don Imus still has a friend in a high place. Some media outlets are reporting that President Bush weighed in, in Don Imus' defense.

Whoa, President Bush defends Don Imus? The same Don Imus who has made a fine living from calling the Administration a bunch of crooks, liars and morons? Perhaps this proves that blood -- and those profusely bleeding -- are indeed thicker than water. Even when the most arguable ingredient of all, oil, is involved.

Imus links:
~ AOL Sports weighs in with its NCAA Fanhouse lending a balanced perspective
~ New York Times covers Imus on Sharpton's radio show, and dropped ad buys
~ The Scotsman and Reuters observes the rawness of racial emotions that still exist in America
~'s "He's Sorry Now" views
~ CNN's video "How to Apologize" and viewer comments
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Don Imus : A 'nappy-headed' fan speaks

Don Imus and Larry KingThis'll be the toughest piece I've written here. You see, I'm one of Don Imus' biggest fans. I'm also African American. And I'm a woman. There, I've said it: You won't find another African American female on the planet who's watched and enjoyed MSNBC's Imus In the Morning more than me. I've watched Imus near-religiously for, I don't know, over a decade? That is, until a little over a year ago...

I was irreversibly sickened by similar -- if not worse -- racially offensive banter on Imus. Long before the current Rutgers University women's basketball crisis...

Contessa Brewer and Don Imus landed on bad footing after another racial comment she initiated on his television showIt wasn't Don Imus who uttered the shockingly hurtful comments, but two of his side-kicks: his producer Bernie McGuirk and MSNBC news anchor, Contessa Brewer, who used to do the news teaser cut-ins on Imus. These two completely lost their minds on-air. Brewer said she didn't like to stand near the show's director (who is African American) because of an alleged odor. She crinkled her nose and may have even fanned with her hand.

Bernard McGuirk, producer of Don Imus' show, is the worst of all the cast members when it comes to making slurs against women, blacks and JewsWhich is when McGuirk -- the same person involved with Imus in the ho-calling banter -- pressed Brewer to be specific. "What? Are you saying he smells like a black guy?" McGuirk insisted. I swear, they went back and forth with this bizarre conversation a good while. When the camera finally cut back to Don, he looked pretty dazed by it, too. But said nothing.

I couldn't believe my ears. I was incredulous, felt punched in the gut. Never heard anything like this uttered in my life. Thing is, I'm aware of the many peculiar stereotypes that exist, but am blown away when people are stupid enough to voice them on-air at MSNBC. That's suicidal. Or at least, it should be.

I wrote the Imus show. (Crazy me, I even copied several major NBC on-air personalities including Katie Couric and Lester Holt.) In my letter, I urged that Don acknowledge the inappropriate banter his people engaged in. I wrote that his silence would seem like agreement, and that I'd contact Rev. Al Sharpton if Don acted like that head-spinning racial slur was okay to say on his show.

The next couple of days, I tried hard to stay awake during the show's very early, daily broadcast, hoping to catch an acknowledgement. I didn't want to contact Rev. Sharpton. I really liked the show, but knew they needed to speak less wrecklessly.

I imagine they laughed and dismissed my suggestion that Rev. Sharpton could cause them a problem. Well, guess who could be laughing now...

It's unclear to me if Don actually said anything about the wacky exchange. Sometimes I would nod back to sleep while trying to watch Imus. I did re-awaken with a start one of those mornings and believe I caught the tail-end of Don uttering regret about it. But I'll never know for sure.

At the same time, Contessa Brewer suddenly vanished from the show. Seems to me those b.o. comments may have had a something to do with it. Once she was gone, Imus called Contessa a "fat skank."

I could never, really return to the show after that. I felt betrayed, bitterly turned-off. I'd expected more from Don himself. Which is why I -- Don Imus' (ex) biggest African American female fan -- would now be okay with the show being cancelled.

Do I believe Don Imus is the devil? Not at all. He seems to have a few, close African American associates, such as former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford. He has cared for the seriously ill, African American children who've attended his medical ranch. I've also frequently seen Don almost "get nappy" -- I mean happy -- off some deep gospel or blues songs. He enjoys pop culture antics in songs by the likes of Snoop Dogg and Shaggy. You hear a lot of music by James Brown and Ray Charles on the show. So no, Don can't be the worst person in the world.

But these guys are out of control, and they've been that way for a very long time. In fact, I'm less offended by Janet Jackson's boob on the Super Bowl than by the stream of racial slurs and character slams that creep like maggots from the brains of those on Imus In the Morning.

Sure, Don Imus' influential political voice would be missed, and so would his comical, curmudgeonly dissing. But I ask you: How many lives does one cat get? We don't have the right to stop counting.

Link: Bernard McGuirk says Hillary Clinton will have corn rows and gold teeth due to her "black dialect" faux pas during February's Black History Month.
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Cybering : Morocco

Sure, it's Easter. But it's still Sunday. Which means it's time for another CyberMartini! Today it's an immersion in exotic Fez, Morocco, a culture shrouded in mysticism and mystery. Like many Americans, I'd be remiss, dishonest or something if I didn't credit Hollywood film legends Bob Hope and Bing Cosby for first sparking my imagination about Morocco. Their comedy classic, "Road to Morocco," is a movie that -- right or wrong -- has informed several generations of Americans about Morocco. And it looks like a trip. A world of instantly hypnotic intrigue.

Many years after seeing "Road to Morocco," while in college actually, I made wonderful new friends who were Moroccan. I'm still delighted about discovering couscous, thanks to their superb kitchen witchery. But most notably, those guys were the sexiest dancers! By the looks of this video, humps-shaking wasn't unique to the guys I got to know. This YouTube piece reminds that in Morocco, the softer sex still shuts things down...

Did you catch the killer Middle Eastern rhythm? I love its kinship with the urgency of African drumming. Raw!

The impetus for this Moroccan look is a stellar New York Times Travel article. It transports you right to the ancient Moroccan city of Fez. Any day, anywhere reality. There's also a bit about Fez's June 2007's Festival of World Sacred Music. Headliners from around the world include Turkish dervishes, Japanese drummers, Indian sitar master Ravi Shankar, and Senegalese pop star Youssou N’Dour. That'll be a moment in music and spiritual history. Partially because of these hypnotic guys:

The Festival of World Sacred Music also celebrates the 800th birthday of the Persian mystic poet Rumi.

If travelling to exotic Morocco sparks your imagination, take a step forward:

~ provides a photo gallery showcasing some of the Web's best shots of colorful and spiritual Morocco.

~ The BBC provides this fascinating profile of Morocco, including a perspective on its modernest King Mohammed, and his interest in joining the European Union. Read the whole post...

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter from Viqi French @ South Side Star -- Home of the CyberMartini
Happy Easter from Viqi French @ South Side Star -- Home of the CyberMartini
Happy Easter from Viqi French @ South Side Star -- Home of the CyberMartini
Happy Easter from Viqi French @ South Side Star
Happy Easter from Viqi French @ South Side Star
Happy Easter from Viqi French @ South Side Star

Jesus, looking fed up with commercial use of image Read the whole post...


"Urban Islands" Photo Gallery | Viqi French