Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Quick Update

I just wanted to post this quick update. As many of you probably already know, there was a rally today in Jena, Louisiana to show support for the Jena 6. News sources stated the rally was about 15,000 to 20,000 strong. That is very impressive. And perhaps I'm late with this observation, but it seems this injustice is finally receiving the publicity and outrage it deserves.

As my previous update post mentions, even with recent actions by higher courts, the Jena 6 still need help. Amnesty International has been organizing great email petition campaigns and they have a new one asking the Dept of Justice (DOJ) to get involved and review the case. If you've acted through Amnesty International before (like one of the previous links in my previous posts on the Jena 6) then you simply enter your email and it will tell you if you have already taken this petition action before or not. The DOJ seriously needs to get involved, if for nothing more than to keep the spotlight (i.e. publicity and transparency) on the case. Also, with the incompetent and corrupt Alberto Gonzales no longer at the helm of the DOJ there is a significantly greater chance the DOJ will actually do something about it. Though the charges and case are indeed in state court. What I mean to say is that the petition is not asking the DOJ to take over the case (that is not possible nor prudent, proper, etc), but that the DOJ can investigate civil rights/equal treatment violations, as well as investigate the other incidents leading up to the Jena 6 fight and the actions the local DA has taken. Though even DOJ involvement might be lacking (though with greater public pressure and scrutiny this is less likely). Earlier the US Attorney for the region conducted a town hall meeting in Jena. While the US Attorney (Donald Washington) did make some insightful points (such as prosecuting juveniles for hate crimes would be completed in such a manner as to be invisible to the public; though I must say I find this a bit suspicious as well and I am having trouble finding sources through internet searches on what is the proper protocol of prosecuting a juvenile for a hate crime), I find some of his statements highly suspicious. None more so than stating at the town meeting that he found no evidence of unfair prosecution or sentencing of the Jena 6 (this isn't a direct quote so let's hope he was misunderstood). Washington also concluded that there was no legal connection with the noose incident and the Jena 6 fight (though he stresses that there was no 'legal' connection a prosecutor could bring up in court, this also sounds suspicious to me, and even without the noose incident there were the string of racially charged fights [white on black] that preceded the Jena 6 incident).

Once again an intended short post has turned long. I'll end it here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Thank you

I just wanted to say thanks to Sage who was kind enough to pick my blog for a Nice Matters Award. Sage said some very kind things about my blog and I am so very grateful. For the few (if any) of you unfamiliar, Sage writes an amazing blog titled Musings. It is simply a wonderful personal blog that I could not say enough good things about. I think a blog's returning visitors say a good deal about that blog. Over at Musings you will find an incredible, eclectic mix of bloggers who read and comment regularly. It truly says a good deal.

I also want to say thank you to everyone who regularly reads and comments on my blog. I've posted these thank you type posts before so don't get too weirded out, lol. And, once again, my apologies for being a little lax in the blogging department these past few weeks.

And now, I'll end this post with a web video which just might be (in my humble opinion) the cutest web video ... ever. And I don't care if people think I'm gay or a cat person (nothing against cats, I just get along with dogs better), I mean seriously folks, can anyone deny the off the charts cuteness quotient of this lil' fella? (Special thanks to the lovely NYKat on whose blog I first viewed this vid.)

PS - Please read the following update post on the cases of Troy Davis and the Jena 6, two tragic injustices. Thanks.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

An Update Post

Troy Davis - For those unfamiliar with his story please check out this link. Amnesty International has been an amazing resource as it runs a stellar campaign trying to spotlight and correct the injustice Troy Davis has suffered. From what I've read, I believe the Georgia Supreme Court is currently hearing whether or not Troy Davis will be granted some semblance of a new trial (in which he can introduce a plethora of new evidence). In any case, there is an on-going petition one can sign to show support for Troy Davis and his appeal for fairness. Some of you may be wondering if you have signed this online petition before. I am unsure, but the petition doesn't ask for much personal information and will let you know if you have signed it before. Also, if you could help spread the word about Troy Davis, it would be invaluable.

Jena 6 - I had typed most of this update on the Jena 6 a few days ago. Since that time, an important new event has occurred. (Thank you Diane for alerting me to this!) I have placed this news item in the proper chronological place within the total update. However, for those that want to read about this first, scroll down to the "****Good News!" section below.

For those unfamiliar with the Jena 6 please check out the informative wikipedia entry on it. This incident simply boggles the mind. One of the key issues this injustice brings to light is the power a District Attorney has. Clearly in the case of the Jena 6, the DA has abused his power. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like there is going to be any punishment for this abuse in the near future. The DA is still prosecuting the case. However, the egregious, exaggerated charges have been lowered for some of the Jena 6. Unfortunately, they have only been lowered to still inflated charges of aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy. Also unfortunate is that this is the same sequence experienced by the first of the Jena 6 to be tried. The judge dismissed the conspiracy charge, but an all white jury found the young black man guilty of the aggravated second-degree battery. Aggravated second-degree battery must include the use of a deadly weapon. In this case the DA claimed tennis shoes worn on the feet were deadly weapons (during kicking in the fight/jumping), and the jury agreed. Sentencing for the first of the Jena 6 to be tried will be decided shortly; he faces up to 22.5 years.

****Good News! (Sept 15) Louisiana's 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals has vacated the aggravated second-degree battery conviction against the first (and so far only) of the Jena 6 to be tried. The court found the black youth was improperly tried as an adult and in a case that raised many questions of racial fairness and justice. Unfortuantely, this still is not the end of this social and legal travesty. The DA released a statement saying he would appeal the decision to the Louisiana Supreme Court. Also, if the Louisiana Supreme Court (and, potentially, the US Supreme Court afterwards) were to uphold the state Circuit Court ruling, the DA must decide to then drop the case or refile in juvenile court. For more information, please read the Chicago Tribune report linked to earlier. It seems the specter of an organized upcoming rally to show support for the Jena 6 had an impressive impact. It is quite the accomplishment that people across the nation have joined together to support and aid the Jena 6, though it is still chilling to the bone that an injustice of this magnitude occurred in this nation, in this day and age. And, unfortunately, this travesty is still not yet over for the Jena 6.

(The rest of this update was written before the Sept 15 news. It may seem a slight bit off context but I am still going to post it. Plus it ends with links to two solid petitions/actions that may be of interest.)

Whether the Jena 6 assault incident (on Dec. 4, 2006) was a fight or a jumping, it was the culmination of three months of intense, inflamed, unjust racial strife (for those that haven't, please check out the Jena 6 wikipedia entry or simply do an internet search for more info on the events leading up to the incident; they will incisively shock you). I am enormously sympathetic to the Jena 6, and yet I agree the court should find out if this was more of a two-sided fight or a one-sided jumping. Yet, even in the worst case scenario for the Jena 6, this is simple assault in the heightened environment of racial strife (they didn't jump the white kid for no reason). And they surely have served their time, if they needed to serve time at all. And after the court fairly adjudicates this incident, it must go back and fairly adjudicate all the events and incidents leading up to the Jena 6 assault (including the gross abuse of power by the DA). Unfortunately, that is most likely not going to happen. And the story of the Jena 6 showcases just how troubling race relations and how tenuous minority rights are in certain areas of our great nation. However, this incident is also a call to action: To show that most of the citizens in this nation find the injustice of the Jena 6 (and the preceding events) unbelievable. Unfortunately, I am still uncertain of what is the best way to act and show support. There are numerous petitions. This one is closing in on 200k signatures. I first learned about the Jena 6 through They also have a great petition (with a little over 150k signatures) which also sends emails to the Governor and a critical one to the Jena DA (yes, the one who is abusing his power). Those of you who have read my previous Jena 6 posts might have already signed this petition and email campaign. However, please still click on the link and enter the minimal personal info needed. The petition will let you know if you have acted before or not.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Summer TV - Parte Uno

It's still summer. Over here it has been hitting the high 90s recently. I know I'm a spoiled Northern Californian when I hope September brings cooler temps. And all the more so when my thoughts (and prayers) wander to our troops, who must do their difficult jobs in 115+ degree heat.

I haven't posted in about 2 weeks and I'm really sorry about that.

While I was gone (well, it happened yesterday, but technically that is while I was gone) Dan was very kind and tapped my blog for a blogger award. I just want to thank Dan again, especially for the kind words in his post, and let everyone know to check out his post (which lists the 4 other blogs he tapped, as well as who tapped him). In any case, it's wonderful all-around blog fun and a great way to be introduced to other blogs.

And now to the main point of this post: Summer TV. TV is pretty crappy year round (well, that's my opinion). At the same time, there are shows I truly adore and respect (The Daily Show, most of PBS, 30 ROCK, LOST, THE OFFICE, HOUSE, THE UNIT, etc). Unfortunately, most of these shows go on hiatus during the summer, allowing me to experience (or have the chance to experience) more of the crappy TV. However, my recent crappy TV viewing will be the subject of my next post: Summer TV - Parte Dos. Yes, I am a master of the ratings cliffhanger.

While I am pessimistic of TV as a whole, some TV isn't really crappy as it is just plain silly. But I see the appeal of silly; especially in regard to one particular type of show. That's right, the karaoke game show. Who watches the silly "Singing Bee" on NBC? Ayup, I do. I'm not the biggest fan of pop music either, but I'm one of those people who really shouldn't (because he cannot) sing but I'd go to great lengths to have a strong singing voice. However, success on the "The Singing Bee" isn't really about singing well (though I must say I'm jealous shocked that so many of the contestants are decent singers). It is actually about pop music lyrical knowledge. If you can remember the correct song lyrics, you'll win. I'm not sure how many other people out there are enjoying "The Singing Bee" and to those of you who find such a show, well, silly ... you're right. But I must admit that it is silly fun. The pop songs range from the 60s to present day, so while you'll have to endure some Backstreet Boys or Britney Spears, it is seldom, and soon balanced out by some Elvis or The Temptations. In the end it's a fun 30 minutes and, at least for me, it's rather easy to get into the show and root for the contestants (some of whom will surprise you with their pop lyrics knowledge).