Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A few of today's headlines:

General Motors' new chief executive Fritz Henderson said Tuesday that more of the automaker's plants could close and bankruptcy is "more probable" as GM works to meet new, tougher requirements for government aid. CBS

Tensions over how to handle the global economic crisis erupted before the G20 summit even began with French President Nicolas Sarkozy threatening today to walk out of the meeting if the countries do not agree to stronger international financial regulations. See ABC News for more.

Barely two months after a huge recall of peanut-related products, federal officials said yesterday that a California processor would recall about one million pounds of pistachio products because of concerns about salmonella contamination. NY Times
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image via

Oh, now here we go again.

Just as the Chris Brown drama starts to cool down another "celebrity" starts trying to flex.

That creepy ShamWow guy done put his shoe on a prostitute. Suntimes.com says:

ShamWow pitchman Vince Shlomi was arrested Feb. 7 on felony battery charges for allegedly punching a stripper, according to the Web site TheSmokingGun.com. Police reports obtained by the site claim that Shlomi met 26-year-old prostitute Lenea Harris at a Miami nightclub, and subsequently brought her back to his room at Setai Hotel. Shlomi allegedly paid Harris $1,000 for "straight sex."

That's (when) things took a turn.

Shlomi told police "that he kissed [Harris] when all of a sudden [Harris] bit his tongue and would not let go," according to the report.

That's what he gets for being so lame that he has to buy sex. You get what you pay for. Unfortunately it didn't end there:

Shlomi then punched Harris several times until she released his tongue, and then ran to the lobby to call police. Harris suffered several cuts and fractures to her face.

My wife has been begging for a ShamWow for years but I wouldn't allow it. I'm not paying $25 for a freaking dust rag. And now I have an even better excuse for not buying it.

To me, the saddest part of this story is that I saw the pictures of the battered woman BEFORE I heard about the story! If you wanna see 'em, google 'em, they're not hard to find, but I'm not posting 'em. I'm tired of seeing mutilated women. And it blows my mind how quickly the media posts pictures of these jacked-up ladies.

Poor Rihanna had her battered pictures posted online on her birthday! Now y'all know Rihanna is not on my Christmas card list but even she didn't deserve that. And this newest victim is even worse - ol' girl looks like she tried to kiss a ceiling fan. When a woman's blonde hair is stained red, you know there is a problem. I can't imagine she'd want the entire world seeing her like that.

But then again, seeing is believing. Before Rihanna's mug shots were released, I know LOTS of people (mostly women, but that's a conversation for later) who said "oh, I bet Chris Brown didn't hurt her THAT bad." Uh huh. Well, we saw otherwise.

You could make the argument that posting the pictures is a reminder of the serious nature of domestic violence. Or...you can theorize that TMZ n' dem just wants Web hits.

What do you think? Is it important to see the aftermath of these attacks, or should those scars be a private matter?
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will be posted this evening.

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Posted by on 7:27 AM No comments

Monday, March 30, 2009

Oct. 13, 2008 seemed like a typical Monday for Mariam Williams. She started her day at Main Line Broadcasting in Louisville, where she worked as a copy writer and research director, as she normally did. But she had just written about three lines of a new commercial when her supervisor gave her a call. At about 9:30 a.m. that day Mariam was laid off.

Over five months later, Mariam has yet to find a full-time job, a true sign of how pitiful our economy is these days. But she's kept busy not only job hunting but also picking up freelance writing gigs and laying the ground work for her business Research Works, through which she offers freelance copy writing, research and editing services to companies.

Mariam has also started a blog that's received a lot of attention called The Pink Slip Blog - Living Life Laid Off. This blog stands out from the rest because in addition to sharing stories on the emotional roller coaster on which this time has sent her, Mariam also discusses the economic issues on a national scale so readers leave her site a little smarter than they were before stopping by.

We caught up with Mariam recently to talk to her about her blog and about what it's like living life laid off.

When and why did you start the blog?

I started the blog in January, during (Louisville's) snowstorm. I was in month three of my employment hiatus then. I had wanted to start a blog for a while in order to informally publish some of my writing and to share my thoughts with the world. I felt like after three months of being unemployed, I had more to say about being jobless than I did about any of the other subjects I could have chosen to write about.

How has the helped you deal with your "employment hiatus"?

It’s cathartic. I usually end each post on a positive note, and I’ve found that even if I was distressed when I sat down to write, the process of sorting out my feelings in words to the point where I can make other people understand them helps me to feel better. And whenever readers leave a comment on the blog that says they’re in the same situation, they’re encouraged, or they’re just enjoying the writing, my spirit perks up again.

In addition to your blog you've been featured on FLYP Magazine and in a story I wrote for Velocity Weekly, in which you talked about being laid off. Why are you so open to sharing your story?

Three reasons: 1) I know there are millions of people in the same situation. 2) I don’t think young adults affected by the recession have gotten much attention. 3) I never know where a job lead might come from.

Has being laid off taught you anything about yourself?

Yes. It’s taught me that: I shouldn’t be afraid to showcase my talent as an essayist; I enjoy this style of writing even more than I do play writing and screenwriting (Mariam's also a dancer, actress and playwright. Click here for more on how awesome she is); I’m good without all the events my former employer used to get me into for free; I can be very productive working from home; and it has reinforced something I already knew -- I function best in quiet surroundings.

What's your dream job?

To be an author and freelance writer who makes a comfortable living and who occasionally gets the chance to appear on stage in her own work and in that of others. Managing the blog and social media content, newsletters, and press for non-profits, small businesses, or a corporation would fit in well with that goal.

How are you coping both financially and emotionally?

Financially, I’m blessed. I’ve never been late with rent, I don’t have any “services terminated” notices, and I’m never hungry. I was worried at the beginning because I knew that the deferred billing on some items I had bought for my apartment was about to come due, things were tight already, and I had never gone through filing for unemployment benefits before. I didn’t know what 1.3078% of my base period wages would look like. I now know it’s enough to cover the basics, plus three really good going out of business sales and a trip to the beautician exactly once every eight weeks for a press and a trim. It’s very difficult to save money, though. I recently decided to take the payout for the sorry remainder of my 401k and put it into a health savings account now that I have high-deductible individual health insurance. Emotionally, there are ups and downs. I’m not naturally optimistic, so after several weeks of thinking positive and getting no new job leads or getting several rejection letters/emails in a row, I tend to revert back to glass half-empty mode. But I write about it and apply for jobs again.

The Pink Slip Blog - Living Life Laid Off can be found at: http://livinglifelaidoff.com/.

Do you have a project you'd like to be featured on GeorgiaMae.com? E-mail me at javacia@georgiamae.com.
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The Obama administration gave General Motors and Chrysler LLC failing grades Monday for their turnaround efforts. The government plans to give the automakers more money, but it is also holding out the threat of a "structured bankruptcy" and promised a sweeping overhaul of the troubled companies. Part of that restructuring began early Monday when CEO Rick Wagoner announced his resignation, which he said came at the request of the Obama administration. President Obama is expected to make a formal announcement later in the day about his plans for the companies, which have already been given $17.4 billion. CNNMoney.com

Some liberals and conservatives want to know why the Obama administration asked GM CEO Rick Wagoner to resign but not the leaders of companies like A.I.G. What do you think of the White House pushing out Wagoner?

Robert Stewart, 45, is suspected to be the gunman who shot and killed seven patients and a nurse at a Carthage, North Carolina, nursing home Sunday before being wounded during a shootout with a police officer. The slain patients ranged in age from 78 to 98. Investigators are looking into whether Stewart targeted the facility because his estranged wife worked there. CNN and ABC News

Madonna is courting cameras and controversy in Africa once again as she awaits a decision on the adoption of a second Malawian child. The pop star was told in Malawi today, she'll have to wait a week to learn if she'll get permission to adopt a 4-year-old girl, whose mother died shortly after childbirth. Madonna is receiving criticism from the well-known charity Save the Children. The group's spokesperson says "we believe very strongly that children are much better looked after, even if they've lost their parents, within their home communities." CBS

Do you think Madonna should be allowed to adopt the girl?

Just as the Red River began retreating from Fargo's hastily fortified levees, the city's tired residents stared down a winter storm Monday expected to bring up to 14 inches of snow and wind-whipped waves that could worsen the flooding. Engineers worry the waves could crash against the sandbag levees, further weakening them. The forecast called for the storm to move in by early afternoon Monday and last until Tuesday evening. MSNBC
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Friday, March 27, 2009

One of the newest additions to our "links we love" list is Buzz-Beast.com, a new blog that features commentary on the lastest in music, art, technology and style. Buzz Beast also posts interviews with emerging artists, athletes and entertainers and if you stop by today you'll see an interview with yours truly.

Check out "Javacia N. Harris - She's Got NEXT" and be sure to leave comments about how much you love GeorgiaMae.com.
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Rapper T.I. will appear in a federal courtroom today for sentencing on weapons charges related to purchasing machine guns and silencers. T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris, is expected to be sentenced to one year in prison and be ordered to pay a $100,000 fine, under the terms of a plea agreement reached with authorities last year. The agreement allowed Harris to remain out of prison for a year while he performed 1,000 hours of community service. He also released sixth CD, "Paper Trail," which has sold close to 2 million copies. CNN

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silvablamed "white people with blue eyes" for the world economic crisis, sparking accusations of racism. "This crisis was caused by the irrational behavior of white people with blue eyes, who thought they knew everything and now show they know nothing," Lula da Silva said after a meeting with the UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown in the country's capital of Brasilia. CNBC

A cracked levee in flood-threatened Fargo, North Dakota, forced the evacuation of about 150 homes early today. The evacuations came hours after forecasters warned the Red River, which runs between Fargo and Moorhead, Minnesota, could crest at 42 to 43 feet, topping a record of 40.1 feet set in 1897. CNN

There is another group of people outraged over the AIG debacle. Employees of American International Group not involved with the shady practices that led to the company's near-collapse last year are angry for being unfairly blamed and are scared by threats of violence against them and their families. "You mother******s should all be taken out back and shot in the head. I'd do it myself if given the chance," read one threatening e-mail sent to the company and obtained by ABC News.

President Obama plans to send another 4,000 troops to Afghanistan along with hundreds of civilian specialists. The president also will call on Congress to pass a bill that triples U.S. aid to Pakistan to $1.5 billion a year over five years. Obama is expected to announce new strategies for both countries today. CNN

U.S. Navy ships capable of shooting down ballistic missiles are being moved to the Sea of Japan as North Korea prepare for an expected rocket launch next month. Japan has also announced it is ready to fire on the rocket if any part of it enters Japanese airspace. North Korea says it will launch a commercial satellite on top of a rocket sometime between April 4 and April 8. But Western governments fear the North Koreans will actually put a long-range missile on top of the rocket. If North Korea launches, the Obama administration may have as little as five minutes to decide whether it is a threat and, if necessary, try to shoot it down. CNN
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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Okay, here are the answers to yesterday's Women's History Quiz:

1:B, 2:A, 3:A, 4:A, 5:C, 6:D

and the answer to the question I added is C. Tori Murden McClure, an amazing woman I recently had the pleasure of interviewing. I'll post a link to my Q&A with her next week.

So how'd you do on the quiz? I got four of the original six correct, which isn't awful, but isn't great either. I've got some studying to do.
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Posted by in ,  on 5:41 PM 3 comments

You know, I've always had great admiration for the trials women face on a daily basis, especially when those trials are made worse by my species.

And I've noticed that my species often makes the gym a den of iniquity.

I kid you not, when a woman walks by 90 percent of men at my gym, they stop whatever they're doing to follow her with their eyeballs. And I'm not talking about one of those quick glances. I've seen dudes in mid-conversation stop talking to watch a woman walk by, then resume the conversation when she's out of eyesight. It's like their brains shut off.

I always say to myself, "how horrible that these women must endure such lustful behavior! She's a PERSON, for goodness sakes!"

If it sounds like I'm sucking up, it's cuz I am. I need some help from you ladies out there because I now share your pain.

See...there's this older lady at the gym who has been stalking me. And I think she wants my body!

I know what you haters are saying: "Playa, she don't want you!" Oh, I wish I was wrong.

Here's how it usually goes: I'll be using a machine, minding my own business, usually listening to some classic Keith Sweat on the iPod, when I just FEEL the presence of someone looking at me. Then I spot her - a blonde, roughly in her mid-50s, with orange skin, looking like a shriveled-up Hulk Hogan. And she's looking directly at me.

At first, I thought maybe she was daydreaming. But oh no.

Those eyes burn with desire.

Usually, she's about 20 feet away from me, but once, she came over for a closer look! She came to a machine adjacent to one I was using but didn't get on it - she just leaned against it and watched your boy do his thing. It's like I could hear the softcore porn music in the background. And a few days ago, when she crept up on me I was so shook that I ran off squealing like LL Cool J in that Old Spice commercial.

So how do I convince Stella not to get her groove back? It's not like she's grabbed my butt (yet) so I don't feel the need to be vicious.

I've blatantly displayed my wedding ring many times but that hasn't helped. Some people have suggested that I make small talk with her, but I think that'll encourage her to convince me to accompany her for a romp on the Mayflower.

And before you ask, yes, I've talked to the wifey about this. She's seen Ms. Cougar in action and she thinks the situation is totally hilarious. Bet she wouldn't think it was so funny if it was Kim Kardashian who was eyeing my sweaty workout pants.

What do you ladies do to fend off unwanted attention?
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Posted by in  on 12:48 PM 6 comments
North Dakota is in a race against time as residents try to shore up huge sandbag levees ahead of record-breaking flooding expected to hit this weekend. Forecasters predict the Red River's waters will crest at 41 feet by early Saturday, exceeding record levels set in 1997. Water reached 35.6 feet in Fargo by midday Wednesday. City officials said they'll add another foot to the dikes -- already 42 feet high -- in an effort to withstand the river's crest. President Obama has already declared a the state a federal disaster area. ABC News

The Obama administration is proposing an extensive overhaul of financial regulations in an effort to prevent a repeat of the banking crisis last fall that toppled once-mighty institutions and wiped out trillions of dollars in investor wealth. The administration will seek to regulate the market for credit default swaps and other types of derivatives and require hedge funds to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is scheduled to outline the administration's proposals today before the House Financial Services Committee. FOX News

An F-22A Raptor, the Air Force's top-of-the line fighter jet, crashed Wednesday in a remote area of the Mojave Desert, killing a test pilot for prime contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. The pilot was David Cooley, 49, was a 21-year Air Force veteran who joined Lockheed Martin in 2003. The jet crashed at 10 a.m. about 35 miles northeast of Edwards, a vast unpopulated area of flat desert. It's not known if Cooley attempted to eject. MSNBC

After remaining tight-lipped for weeks, Gov. Jim Douglas of Vermont said Wednesday that he would veto a same-sex marriage bill if it reached his desk, setting a new hurdle for a measure that had been moving swiftly through the legislature. However, Douglas, a Republican, did say “legislative leaders would not have advanced this bill if they did not have the votes to override a veto.” The Senate overwhelmingly approved the bill Friday, and a House committee is hearing testimony on it this week. NY Times
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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Deborah Siegel over at Girl w/ Pen is celebrating Women's History Month in part with what she hopes become a sort of viral blog quiz. She's asking bloggers to copy and paste her six questions and add one of their own and then post the quiz on their blogs. I decided to join the fun and if you have a blog I hope you play along too and spread the knowledge.

So, ladies and lads, here is the quiz. I'll post the answers tomorrow.

1. In 2009, women make up what percent of the U.S. Congress?
A. 3%
B. 17%
C. 33%
D. 50%

2. How many CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are female?
A. 12
B. 28
C. 59
D. 84

3. Who was the first First Lady to create her own media presence (i.e. hold regular press conferences, write a daily newspaper column and a monthly magazine column, and host a weekly radio show)?
A. Eleanor Roosevelt
B. Jacqueline Kennedy
C. Pat Nixon
D. Hillary Clinton

4. The Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced to Congress in:
A. 1923
B. 1942
C. 1969
D. 1971

5. Who was the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature?
A. Phyllis Wheatley
B. Alice Walker
C. Toni Morrison
D. Maya Angelou

6. What percentage of union members are women today?
A. 10%
B. 25%
C. 35%
D. 45%

(And here's the question I added)

7. Who was the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean?
A. Jennifer Figge
B. Barbara Washburn
C. Tori Murden McClure
D. Julia Archibald Holmes
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Posted by in ,  on 6:59 PM 2 comments
*Click here to read the New York Times' thoughts on President Obama's press conference held last night.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday pledged to stand "shoulder to shoulder" with Mexico in its violent struggle against drug cartels, and acknowledged the U.S. shares blame because of its demand for drugs and supply of weapons. Clinton's statements come one day after the Obama administration pledged to send more money, technology and manpower to secure the border in the U.S. Southwest and help Mexico battle the cartels.
FOX News

Just hours before Clinton arrived in Mexico, Authorities announced the arrest of Hector Huerta Rios, one of Mexico's most wanted drug smugglers. FOX News

Forecasters issued flash flood warnings for Bismarck and surrounding areas Wednesday, as volunteers rushed to fill sandbags ahead of expected record floods in the flat state of North Dakota. More than 1,000 people were evacuated from an area near Bismarck on Tuesday night as the Missouri River flooded. Emergency officials are particularly concerned, however, about the Red River, which snakes through eastern portions of North and South Dakota and western Minnesota. The river is expected to crest between 39 and 41 feet in Fargo on Friday. The record for the Red River at Fargo was set in 1897 at 40.1 feet. CNN

The investigators who have been busy examining multiple plane crashes this year today announced that ice was not likely the cause of last month's fatal plane crash near Buffalo, N.Y., despite early media reports identifying ice as a potential culprit. The National Transportation Safety Board said it is looking into the pilot's experience and training in connection with the Feb. 12 crash that killed 50 people. New flight data recorder information released today reveals that the controls of the plane were pulled back, which affected the aerodynamics of the wing. ABC News

Legendary American cyclist Lance Armstrong had a stainless steel plate and 12 screws inserted during a surgery meant to mend his broken collarbone. Armstrong was injured earlier this week when he crashed in the first stage of the Vuelta of Castilla and Leon race in northern Spain. The seven-time Tour de France champion plans to be back on his bike in days even though the bone may take eight to 12 weeks to fully mend. Armstrong must resume training almost immediately if he’s to meet his goal of racing in the Giro d’Italia, which begins May 9.The 37-year-old American cyclist also plans to ride in the Tour de France this July. MSNBC
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These new rappers make me chuckle.

If you haven't heard, Kid Cudi is supposed to be the next big thing in hip hop. Cudi - whose name is supposed to be spelled KiD CuDi, but I refuse to type that - was all over Kanye's horrible album. His current single, "Day N Night" is actually doing pretty well. I must admit, the song is catchy and different (sorta like how Missy Elliott came out of left field with "The Rain" back in 1997), but I hesitate to call him the next big thing.

I'm a hater like that.

But apparently, a lot of people are checking for this guy and last week he broke their hearts when he made this announcement. From xxlmag.com:

Rap longevity apparently isn’t on Kid Cudi’s 10-year plan. Per a blog entry written on kidcudi.com, the New York-based rapper (by way of Cleveland) will call it quits after his first album drops.

Talk about putting the cart before the horse. Who's to say his album will even drop in the first place? Wu-Tang veteran Raekwon has been talking about dropping an album for years and I haven't seen that yet. I'll put my money on Wu-Tang before some guy who carries Kanye's Gucci purses.

But I digress. Late last week, Cudi decided that he WON'T retire after his first album. If I wouldn't have dragged my feet on writing this post he wouldn't have had time to change his mind.

Anyway, this talk made me think of all the rappers who have become obsessed with retiring in the past few years. To name a few:

- Timbaland planned to retire around 2004, claiming a lack of inspiration.
- Eminem was rumored to be hanging it up a couple of years ago.
- 50 Cent was supposed to go away after losing a sales battle to Kanye in 2007. Sadly, he lied.
- Lupe Fiasco claims to be leaving after his next album is released. Whenever that is.
- Jay-Z, of course, came crawling back in 2006 after bowing out in '04. Luckily, he has redeemed himself since then.

So why do all these guys want to call it quits? Here's more insight from Cudi:

But Cudi’s current success has apparently taken as toll on him. “After the release of my first LP this summer, I am not making any more solo albums,” he wrote in all caps. “I am falling back on being an artist. The drama that comes with it is more overwhelming than the s*** I was dealing with when I was piss poor broke.”

Do I sense doubt?

Despite all the bragging about how great they are, these artists are really pressured to put out stellar material, and I think they're really worried about being able to measure up. In my opinion, instead of trying to outsell Lil Wayne on their first go-round, they'd be better off compiling the best music they can, releasing an album and letting things fall into place. I know these days there's a lot of pressure, but I still believe hard work can pay off.

Look at Jay-Z. It's a little-known fact that he had planned to retire after his first album. Despite what you young'ns out there might have heard, the album didn't sell well at all initially (me and a friend of mine were the only ones who had it in our neighborhood). Over time, and through word of mouth, it picked up steam, and look where Jay is now. The man worked hard and it paid off. I know the industry is a very different place these , but I still think it's a model blueprint for emerging artists.

Of course, if Kid Cudi's album just flat-out sucks, retirement might not be a choice.

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Posted by in ,  on 8:00 AM 2 comments
will be posted this evening.

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Posted by on 6:53 AM No comments

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I had been making a conscious effort to limit the Chris Brown/Rihanna posts.

I ignored talk of their dominatrix sex tape (whoo, I hope she doesn't have to stretch a leather mask around that head of hers); Chris Brown allegedly creeping with his manager, who is roughly the age of Estelle Getty (RIP Sophia); and Rihanna being ashamed of being seen in public with ol' C Breezy (she should have thought of that before taking him back).

But this latest news was too good to pass up.

I usually don't mess with MediaTakeOut.com. The entire site is the online equivalent of pork rinds - messy, unappealing to the eyes and too much will make you sick to your stomach. But like those artery-busting treats, every once in awhile you'll get something tasty:

According to one of MediaTakeOut.com's snitches, Chris is trying to enroll for classes at Virginia's Norfolk State University. He and his mother attended this weekend's open house at the prestigious Virginia university - and were anxious to sign up for classes.

Word is Chris' mother thinks that getting a college degree would be a good move for Chris.

And guess who else is a graduate of that fine institution? The guy who played the father on Sister, Sister. For real.

Oh, yeah, and me.

Although I take most of MediaTakeOut's news with a grain of salt (from a pork rind), a friend who works at NSU confirmed that Chris Brown was at a recent open house. As much as I'd like to give him a hard time for popping up at my alma mater, it's actually a good move. He's a Va native and he'll probably be more comfortable at a low-key black college like NSU than Hampton. Easier to hide that way.

Plus, he's about 6 months away from becoming as relevant as Alexander O'Neal so he might as well get an education. Being able to spin on his head on a coffee table won't help him in the real world.

I know one thing - he'd better not get out of line. If he starts pushing those Spartan ladies around they'll show him the real meaning of "Take You Down."
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Posted by in ,  on 7:52 AM No comments
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration must reconsider its decision under the Bush Administration to limit access to emergency contraception, a U.S. court ruled on Monday. The ruling ordered the FDA to allow 17-year-olds to buy the Plan B drug without a prescription. FDA officials in 2006 allowed easier, "behind-the-counter" sales to those age 18 and older who show proof of age. The court gave the FDA 30 days to allow nonprescription use for 17-year-olds. FDA spokeswoman Rita Chappelle said the FDA had received the court's opinion, and was "reviewing it now." Reuters

Do you think 17-year-olds should be allowed easier access to the Plan B drug?

The New York State attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, has persuaded nine of the top 10 bonus recipients at the American International Group to give the money back, as the Senate retreated on plans to tax such bonuses. Cuomo said he was working his way down a list of A.I.G. employees, ranked by the size of their bonuses, and had already won commitments to pay back $50 million out of the total $165 million awarded this month. NY Times

The Obama administration is considering asking Congress to give the Treasury secretary unprecedented powers to initiate the seizure of non-bank financial companies, such as large insurers, investment firms and hedge funds, whose collapse would damage the broader economy, according to an administration document. Currently the government has the authority to seize only banks. MSNBC
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Monday, March 23, 2009

In honor of it's 70th anniversary Glamour magazine staff answered the question "Which woman of the past 70 years has inspired you?" in the April issue. The answers run the gamut from feminist trailblazer Gloria Steinem to model Kate Moss. Michelle Pfeiffer, Oprah Winfrey, Marilyn Monroe and Hillary Clinton also made the list.

The April issue also features a fashion spread called American Icons in which some of today's hottest talents are styled to look like some of history's greatest groundbreaking women. There's Hayden Panettiere as Amelia Earhart, Paula Patton as Billie Holiday, Lindsay Lohan as Madonna and Alicia Keys as Michelle Obama, just to name a few.

In honor of March being Women's History Month, I want you to pose the question to you: What woman in American history has inspired you most?

As I tried to answer the question myself I realized it was impossible to pick just one person. Different women have inspired me in different ways and at different times in my life. When I was younger it was Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni who inspired me to express myself through poetry and the writings of Toni Morrison pushed me to try my hand at fiction too. When I decided I wanted to be a journalist I dreamed of being the next Susan L. Taylor, former editor-in-chief of Essence magazine.

Today Michelle Obama inspires me to be smart, eloquent, stylish and graceful, yet down-to-earth, compassionate and supportive of my man.

I have found, though, that these days I am mostly inspired by my peers -- women who are around my age but are doing great things, young women who are making history before my eyes, women like Jessica Valenti, noted author and founder of the blog Feministing.com.

Now it's your turn. Tell me about the women who inspire you.
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Posted by in  on 8:00 AM 2 comments
The federal government will announce today a three-part plan that will partner it with private investors to purchase up to a trillion dollars of toxic loans from the nation’s banks, as well as purchase securities backed by souring loans. Check FOX News for more.

A single engine turboprop airplane nose-dived into a cemetery as it approached the Butte airport Sunday afternoon, killing 14 people aboard, including seven children. The plane was believed to be taking its occupants on a ski trip to Montana. The aircraft crashed and burned at Holy Cross Cemetery, 500 feet short of Bert Mooney Airport in Butte, said FAA spokesman Mike Fergus. The plane, a Pilatus PC-12, has a capacity for 12 adults. It was not known whether the extra people aboard was a factor in the crash, since seven of the victims were children. ABC News

A FedEx cargo plane burst into flames after bouncing off a runway in unusually high winds at Tokyo's main international airport Monday, killing the pilot and copilot and closing a major runway for several hours. The flight from Guangzhou, China, skipped along the main runway at Narita Airport before skidding to a fiery halt, footage from airport security cameras showed. The pilot and copilot - the only people onboard the flight - were identified as Kevin Kyle Mosley of Hillsboro, Oregon and Anthony Stephen Pino of San Antonio, Texas. CBS News

Alaska's Mount Redoubt erupted three times late Sunday and early Monday, with the largest eruption sending a plume of smoke some 50,000 feet above sea level. Mount Redoubt is roughly 100 miles southwest of Anchorage. MSNBC
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Friday, March 20, 2009

Since there has been a lack of new music being released (sorry, I don't count The-Dream as "music") I decided to dig in my collection and reminisce about some of my favorite forgotten artists.

Back in the mid 90s, you could separate the good R&B acts into two categories - the megastars like TLC, Toni Braxton, even Brandy, and then there were the lesser stars, who were nearly as good but lacked the chart-busting pedigree of their peers. Changing Faces was among those artists.

For all the young'ns out there, just picture an R&B version of Mary Mary.

Their first big song was back in '94 -- "Stroke You Up" from their self-titled debut. I remember the video was very 90s - Cassandra and Charisse standing around in a raggedy house with R. Kelly creepily saying "I don't miiiiiiiind." I used to think it was something going on with those three - but we now know they were waaay too old for Kelly. As popular as "Stroke You Up" was, I preferred "Foolin Around," another song from the Pied Pedophile.

Can't you see why I thought something was up with them and Kells? Too much stroking and fooling around going on.

In '97, they dropped their second album All Day, All Night, and it was pretty good. That featured another Kelly song, ethnically entitled "G.H.E.T.T.O.U.T." Ladies LOVED that song.

Ladies love any song that disses a no-good man.

The girls vanished for a few years and popped up at the end of 2000 with Visit Me. Oh, but the world of music was a much different place by then.

Have you ever been to a club and seen a person who, while very attractive, just looks way too old for the scene? That was their dilemma. Look at 'em sitting on the side of that volcano in their draws - they were definitely trying to appeal to the younger set. I loved their track "That Other Woman" and the album was decent enough, but everyone was too distracted by Destiny's Child and Aaliyah to notice.

And speaking of Aaliyah, the album cut "Come Over" was the EXACT SAME SONG Aaliyah released posthumously from her I Care 4 U album. It was identical, down to the ad-libs. I never got the story on that.

And that was that for Changing Faces.

I read in a magazine a few years back that one of the girls was performing at local venues. I can't remember which one, and y'all don't pay me enough to dig around and check.

Should they come back?: Hey, Arruh, what do you think about a Changing Faces comeback?

Kelly: "I don't miiiiiind."

I agree. I doubt they could sell more than 50 copies but as long as they don't start using vocoders I'd check 'em out.
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Posted by in ,  on 8:30 AM 1 comment
President Obama sat down with Jay Leno on Thursday for a late-night TV interview that touched on topics ranging from the economic crisis to the presidential dog. On the AIG brouhaha, Obama said he was "stunned" when he learned about the bonuses and he defended Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner who some say dropped the ball on the matter of the bonuses. Obama also made an offhand comment that raised some eyebrows when he joked that his bowling ability was suitable for the Special Olympics. Obama was the first sitting president ever to appear on "The Tonight Show" and he appeared twice as a candidate. Some have questioned whether the president's light-hearted chat with Leno would strike a humorous tone when a serious one was merited. FOX News

Do you think Obama's appearance on "The Tonight Show" was a mistake?

Authorities on Thursday found the body of a toddler believed to be Emma Leigh Barker, an 18-month-old girl reported missing by her mother, who said someone knocked her out while she was putting the child into her car seat. The baby was found in tall grass beside a street in the northern LA neighborhood of Sylmar, a few blocks from Interstate 5. Los Angeles County sheriff's officials said the 20-year-old mother, whose name was not released, was not in custody and was cooperating. She has not yet been named a suspect. ABC News

The owners of the Foxy Lady strip club in Providence plan to hold a job fair on Saturday. They say they're looking to fill around 30 positions, from strippers and waitresses to disc jockeys and bartenders, at that club and two others in Massachusetts. Rhode Island's economy is among the worst in the nation, with an unemployment rate of 10.3 percent in January. CBS News
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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Actress Natasha Richardson died of injuries caused by blunt impact to the head, the New York City Medical Examiner's Office confirmed today. The film star and Tony-winning stage actress was injured after she fell on a Canadian ski slope Monday. After the fall, Richardson initially declined medical attention but about an hour after the accident said she was not feeling well and the paramedics were called again. Richardson died Wednesday in a New York hospital. CNN

In a move to quell the growing outrage over the massive bonuses given to employees of companies such as AIG, the U.S. House of Representatives voted today to slap a 90 percent tax on the bonuses of any employee making more than $250,000 at any company that received federal bailout money. The bill was approved 328 to 93. ABC News

We've been dreaming of flying cars since we watched The Jetsons as kids. But this dream may soon come true. A flying car made by Woburn, Mass.-based Terrafugia has already been cleared for use on roads by the company's home state, and the process of getting it approved for use in the air is well under way. CBS News
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image via

Not sure if you all heard about this or not, but Dora the Explorer is getting a makeover.

Nickelodeon and Mattel recently released a teaser silhouette to get folks excited about the new Dora, but instead the announcement just pissed off a lot of parents. Mattel says the makeover lets Dora grow up with her fans, many of whom are tweens now. But outraged parents argued her long hair, long legs and short skirt were too hot to handle. There are even online petitions circulating pressuring the companies to reconsider.

Amid the controversy a fully detailed rendering of the new Dora has been released (pictured above). And though the mini skirt was actually a tunic and Dora's long legs are covered by a purple pair of leggings, some parents still say Dora is too sexy.

And you may remember a similar uproar when an updated look for Strawberry Shortcake was announced.

So what do you think? Should characters like Dora the Explorer mature with the girls who love them or do these makeovers make girls want to grow up too fast?

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Posted by in  on 2:18 PM 6 comments
will be posted this evening.

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Posted by on 8:05 AM No comments

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

image via

I'm sure most of you know that Disney is planning to finally introduce its first black princess with the release of "The Princess and the Frog." But even though the animated musical doesn't come out until later this year, it's already the center of controversy.

Apparently, even though Princess Tiana and many other characters are black, the prince is not and the Internet is buzzing with complaints.

According to a story from The Daily Mail, one person wrote:

'I think it's sad that he is white because its saying that black love isn't good enough and that black men could never be princes.

‘Disney had the perfect chance to make its first black prince, but instead it decided to go the controversial route.'

Actually the prince does look a little ethnic to me and his name Prince Naveen of Maldonia, so I wonder if Disney will release a statement saying he isn't white at all.

Nonetheless, I want to know what you think? Is a supposedly white prince a slap in the face to black men or should Disney be applauded for depicting interracial love? Honestly, I'm on the fence, so I really want to hear from you.

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Posted by in  on 12:51 PM 4 comments
In a stunning turn of events, Josef Fritzl, the Austrian man on trial for imprisoning his daughter for 24 years and fathering her seven children, pleaded guilty Wednesday to all charges against him — including negligent homicide — after hearing his daughter's heart-wrenching testimony.
Fritzl faces up to life imprisonment on the negligent homicide count. Prosecutors also had charged him with rape, incest, forced imprisonment, coercion and enslavement. FOX News

Could the government's outrage over the AIG bonuses be fake? Perhaps. According to CBS News report the Obama administration and members of Congress have known for months that insurance giant was getting ready to pay huge bonuses while living off government bailouts. It wasn't until the money was flowing and the news hit the public that officials in Washington rose up in anger and vowed to yank the money back. CBS News
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My bad if you've already seen this, but there's nothing else going on today besides the usual Chrihanna drama and talk of Michael Jackson's "comeback" album - the same one he's been working on for 10 years.

I'm still upset he didn't release a video for "Butterflies" from the Invincible album. That was my joint. The song, not the album.

Anyway, a so-called "Music Makes You Dumb" study was recently released, comparing SAT scores to the music the test takers prefer. The chart above showcases the results (the X axis represents SAT scores).

Here are my thoughts:

- Gospel fans are just as dumb as TI fans.

- The only hip-hop group intelligent people listen to is OutKast.

Because when I think of smart, I picture this guy:

- And what's the difference between hip hop and rap?

- Who or what is Guster?

- I guess I need to listen to more Counting Crows.

Of course, one could make the argument that using SAT scores to gauge the intelligence of music fans can be pretty inaccurate. But according to this chart I'm just a stupid rap and R&B fan. So what do I know?

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Posted by in ,  on 12:53 PM 1 comment
Amid outrage from politicians and the public, the White House says it's looking at restrictions on some $30 billion in taxpayers' money approved to help American International Group as the administration tries to reclaim or block millions of dollars in bonuses the struggling company awarded executives. In case you hadn't heard, AIG went ahead with $165 million in bonuses even though the company received more than $170 billion in federal rescue money. CBS News

Pope Benedict XVI said today that the distribution of condoms is not the answer in the fight against AIDS in Africa. He has stressed that the Roman Catholic Church is in the forefront of the battle against AIDS and the Vatican encourages sexual abstinence to fight the spread of the disease. "You can't resolve it with the distribution of condoms," the pope told reporters aboard the Alitalia plane headed to Yaounde, Cameroon. "On the contrary, it increases the problem." MSNBC

What do you think? Do you think condoms can help or hurt the battle against AIDS?

DJ AM (a.k.a. Adam Goldstein) filed suit Friday against Learjet for the crash that injured him and Travis Barker, and killed the jet's pilots and Barker's assistant and bodyguard. ,The suit seeks $10 million for injuries and lost earning and another $10 million for pain and suffering. DJ AM and Barker suffered burns in the September 2008 crash, from which the two helped each other to escape and were the only survivors. People magazine

Visit nytimes.com/thenewhardtimes and check out a video project by my fellow Berkeley alum Rob Harris. (No, he's not my cousin.) The project, titled The New Hard Times, focuses on the generation that lived through the Great Depression. Harris is also asking the public to grab their video cameras and interview their own grandparents and upload clips onto the site.
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Monday, March 16, 2009

Last week the Associated Press reported that according to the most recent American Religious Identification Survey the percentage of Christians in our nation has declined and more people say they have no religion at all. The survey found that traditional organized religion is playing less of a role in many folks' lives. In fact, it stated that 12 percent of Americans believe in a higher power but not in the God at the core of monotheistic faiths such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

These kinds of studies always intrigue me and not simply because I identify as Christian. I've been borderline obsessed with religions since I was 14. That's the year I met someone who was atheist for the first time. Growing up in the Deep South in a black family God had a huge presence in my life and I figured it was that way for everyone. And even though my parents didn't go to church often, we prayed before bed and before every meal and "Jesus" was the name you called on in times of trouble.

Oddly enough, my realizing that there were people in the world who thought there was no God didn't shake my faith in God's existence at all. Instead I suddenly wanted to know about every faith in the world. So I went to the public library, checked out books on Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Scientology and the Mormon faith, ran home and read them all. (Yes, I was a nerd.) I was also active in a group for black and Jewish teenagers and spent plenty of weekends at local synagogue.

Despite my interest in organized religion there have been many times in my life when it has stood in the way of my spirituality, when it has actually pushed me away from God. In January I joined a new church that I absolutely adore, but I've attended churches whose doctrines caused me to doubt God's love for me and convinced me I was less special to God because of my two X chromosomes.

A poet friend who also identifies as Christian but very rarely talks about her faith said she keeps quiet because she believes, "religion is as intimate as sex." I'm finally starting to understand what she means.

Sure I'm open to listening to what church leaders, friends, and family have to say about religion. I don't even mind being called out when I'm acting a fool. But at the end of the day how I love my God is nobody's business.

And though I am as committed as ever to church, I have finally learned how to ditch routine religion for a real relationship with my Creator.

What's your story? What do you believe?

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Posted by in , , ,  on 1:55 PM 5 comments
Yesterday the Associated Press reported that three people were arrested and six others injured Saturday afternoon after chaos erupted outside an "America's Next Top Model" audition in Manhattan. AP

Controversial radio host Don Imus announced on his radio show today that he is battling stage II prostate cancer. Imus is perhaps best known for a 2007 scandal that ensued after he referred to the championship-winning Rutger’s Women’s Basketball Team as “nappy-headed hos.” He lost his job with CBS for that, but was hired by ABC later that year. Imus seemed confident that the cancer was treatable and that he would beat it. FOX News

After a month of delays, the space shuttle Discovery and its crew of seven finally launched Sunday evening, rising into a cool, clear Florida twilight en route to the International Space Station. The Discovery is carrying a last set of solar arrays for the space station and a replacement part for a water recycling system, needed to transform urine into drinkable water. NASA wants the recycling system fully functional before the station crew is expanded to six members from three, a move planned for late May. NY Times
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Sunday, March 15, 2009

I'm not sure exactly when it happened but at some point the social networking site Twitter became insanely popular and I was left behind.

Well, that's not entirely true. I've actually had a Twitter account since 2007. I signed up for one because I was doing a story on Twitter, but soon after that story was filed, my tweeting days were done.

But now in an effort to keep up with the cool kids, I'm trying to get back into it, which will be a lot easier if my friends and faithful readers play along.

So if you're on Twitter hit me up at twitter.com/writeousbabe.

I'll be posting updates on my so-called life and on happenings at GeorgiaMae.com.
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Friday, March 13, 2009

For this round, I'm pitting new R&B weirdo Janelle Monae against the queen of individuality, Erykah Badu. Will this blog be crushed beneath the weight of their hair? I can't make any promises.

Album covers: Remember Highlights magazine? Every month, they'd have a drawing of some scene that had goofy items hidden in the picture. Hot dogs in the trees, record players in the bushes, toasters on dog's butts, stuff like that. Badu's New Amerykah Part One reminds me of that. Just look in her hair. Let's see, I see a tuning fork, a syringe, creepy looking babies, a man getting beat up....Fun!

Janelle's Metropolis: The Chase Suite looks like a weird reject from "I, Robot." Or worse, those pasty mannequins from Dillard's. Ugh, they creep me out, especially the headless ones in muscle shirts.

Erykah Badu 1, Janelle Monae 0

Album quality: Badu has always been known to buck trends, so it should come as no surprise that New Amerykah is like nothing you've ever heard. When I heard the first single "Honey", it was so refreshing to hear something upbeat, yet wasn't clubbish or have crude lyrics. It's a song you wouldn't be embarrassed to listen to on the radio.

As engaging as that single was, the album as a whole is much harder to wrap your head around. I have no idea what songs like "The Cell" and "Twinkle" are talking about - I can barely even hear the vocals sometimes. I prefer tracks like "Me", her ode to individuality and the recession anthem "That Hump." They're nowhere near as lightweight as stuff that Ciara and company put out, but they're much more assessable than much of the rest of the album.

The Chase Suite, on the surface, is just as weird as Erykah's album. The main theme is an android lady's quest for love in an apocalyptic future. If that didn't chase you off, you'll see that there's a lot of substance here. The refreshing blend of funk, soul and a slight dash of rock give these songs a lot of character.

"Sincerely, Jane", one of my favorite songs last year, is pretty much "What's Going On" Part 3,245, but you'd never realize it on the surface, you'll be too enraptured by the creative writing and awesome horns. Same goes for "Many Moons." I'm not sure why it has that title, but it's so upbeat and fun regardless, with strong messages nestled inside. And "Smile" churns out one of the best vocal performances I've heard in a long time. The album's an EP so its extremely brief running time is painful, but it's a great debut regardless.

Erykah Badu 1, Janelle Monae 1

Sales: The winner here should be no surprise. Badu sold 120,000 copies of New Amerykah in the first week alone, debuting at No. 2 on the charts.

Janelle peaked at No. 115 (!) and has sold about 25,000 to date. Give her a break, she's just starting out.

Erykah Badu 2, Janelle Monae 1

Bad hair day:

As my grandma would say, "What's going on with that HEAD?"

Badu looks like she's being attacked by Thelma from Good Times' lost 'fro. But at least she ditched those fake dreadlocks she had back in the day.

Janelle's hair is weird mix of a faux-hawk and an Elvis-like pompadour. So when she looks straight ahead, like in the picture above, it's like a cat is asleep on her scalp. Isn't that thing heavy?

Erykah Badu 3, Janelle Monae 1

OutKast Konnections: I remember back in the late 90s, when word spread that Badu was dating Andre 3000, girls were swooning, talking about what a cute couple they made and what pretty babies they would have. Well, they did have a baby, Seven Sirius, back in '97. But that couple thing didn't quite work out. Remember Badu's infamous "Tyrone" song that everyone linked to Dre? They've gone on record to say that that song was NOT about Andre. But OutKast's "Ms. Jackson?" Oh yeah, that was about Badu, specifically her momma - Badu said so herself. I hope they've worked out their problems. I wonder who got custody of the talking animals in the music video?

Many may not realize it, but if you've heard OutKast's Idlewild album, chances are you've heard Ms. Monae. She was featured on "Call the Law," "In Your Dreams" and the single "Morris Brown." But of all the OutKast albums to cut her teeth on, it's a shame she had to show up on that fiasco.

Erykah Badu 4, Janelle Monae 1

Fashionably late: Erykah's sequel, New Amerykah Part Two, was scheduled to be released last June, but was pushed back until Feb. 17. Unless I'm using an outdated calendar (which actually happened for like two months last year) it's well past Feb. 17 and no album. What's up with that?

Janelle's not much better. The full-length Metropolis album is set to be released this year, but I've heard nothing about it since last year. Ladies, stop holding out on me! The longer you wait, the longer we'll have to listen to "Single Ladies" on the radio 24/7.


Erykah Badu 4, Janelle Monae 1

Legacy: For better or worse, Erykah Badu has been a trendsetter for more than 10 years. Sometimes she's been misunderstood, other times she's been just flat-out crazy, but she's always been true to herself. While everyone tries to be the next Beyonce, Badu has forged her own path. With two great albums to her credit - 1997's Baduizm and 2000's Mama's Gun - and lots of other gems along the way, you can't touch her success.

Janelle's just starting out, but she bears a lot of similarities to 1997-era Badu. If she can pull Puffy away from his self-centered projects long enough to get some support for her music, she's just one hit away from getting noticed.

Erykah Badu 5, Janelle Monae 1

Decisive win for Erykah, but give Janelle a couple of years to grow. And maybe she can grow out that weird 'Fro-hawk.

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Posted by in ,  on 4:28 PM 2 comments
I'm sure most of you have been tagged in the "25 Random Things About Me" notes on Facebook dozens of times by now and so have I. But I've been to busy with work to write a list of my own. So I decided to turn it into work.

Check out my latest Velocity column, "25 not-so-random things about me."
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Posted by in  on 3:42 PM 1 comment
Anna Nicole Smith's longtime partner and attorney, Howard K. Stern, and a doctor were jailed yesterday on charges of conspiring to give Smith drugs before her death in 2007. Stern and Dr. Sandeep Kapoor were arrested and later released from a Los Angeles County jail Thursday night after each posted a $20,000 bond. Officials claim Dr. Kapoor, other doctors and Stern devised a plan to use a fake name so that Smith could be prescribed "thousands of pills" to feed her addiction. CNN

Bernard Madoff went from a $7 million penthouse to a tiny jail cell with cinderblock walls and linoleum floors yesterday after confessing he carried out what may be the biggest fraud in Wall Street history to escape the pain of a recession. Madoff, considered a flight risk, will have to stay in prison as he await a June 16 sentencing when he will face up to 150 years in prison.
Associated Press

In case you missed it: Just in time for Women's History Month (which I hope you knew is this month) President Barack Obama signed an executive order this week to create the White House Council on Women and Girls. The council's mission will be to provide federal responses to the challenges confronted by women and girls and to ensure the impact of federal policies and programs on women and girls are taken into account. The council will also work to prevent violence against women, improve women's health care and the economic status of women and develop policies to establish a balance between work and family. ABC News

What specific issues would you like the new White House Council on Women and Girls to address?

Oprah Winfrey yesterday dedicating her entire show to "all the Rihannas in the world, and all the young men who would think of hitting a woman" discussing domestic violence for the hour. Winfrey was joined by fellow talk show host Tyra Banks and she told young women that if a man hits you and you go back to him, "He will hit you again." Winfrey said she believes women return to abusive relationships because of low self-esteem. Banks stressed that people who are disappointed in Rihanna should remember she is just "a girl... an entertainer" and shouldn't have to face that added pressure. Entertainment Weekly

Do you think Oprah's show can be effective in sending the right message to young people about violence against women?

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Last year I had the great pleasure of being a guest speaker at a Louisville-based weekend retreat for area middle and high school girls called My Sister's Keeper. The theme of the weekend was "Happy With Me" and the activities for the girls ranged from hip-hop aerobics sessions and self-defense classes to girl talk time.

My Sister's Keeper was founded by Mandi Mohammed, a stay-at-home mom and former teacher who designed the retreat to help build the girls' confidence.

Going along with the theme, my talk with the girls was called "How I Learned To Be Happy with Me." I spoke about how I managed to love my body and my looks despite my big hair and small boobs and how I dealt with boys who tried to pressure me into sex when I was a girl. I told them I was a nerd and tried my best to convince them that they should be one too.

Later that night, the girls gave me hugs, asked for my business card and said things like, "You really inspired me," and I wanted to cry. But they have no idea how much the night inspired me. After my talk, the girls, volunteers and I all sat in a circle and many of the girls shared heartbreaking stories of the things they're dealing with or have dealt with at home, including parents struggling with drug addictions and mental illnesses. But despite all this these girls were so kind to one another, they were so positive and they were so determined to go to college and pursue their dreams. I was blown away by their strength.

I was inspired also by Mandi for putting together such a life-changing event. I caught up with her recently to chat with her about My Sister's Keeper in hopes that she would inspire you too.

How did you get the idea for My Sisters' Keeper?

I taught in (Kentucky) for three years before I was married and moved to Atlanta. I pretty much started a family right away and decided to be a stay at home mom. However, I did miss my interactions with my students. MSK was my way of connecting with young people without going back into the classroom. I decided to focus on young women because as a woman, I felt I had so much to offer them as far as life experiences.

What all did you have to do to get it started?

I still feel like I am getting started. I really just spoke with other people who had started organizations or are involved with non-profits in some aspect. The main thing was coming up with a mission statement. Everything else just kind of came together.

What was the toughest thing about starting the program?

The toughest thing about starting the program is being broke and unknown. It has only been a year, and although our budget is better this year and more people know about what we are doing, we are still working to get the word out. Also, I have no financial background. So creating a budget and organizing finances is always a challenge.

What has been most rewarding?

The most rewarding so far has been the first retreat. You work so hard to make something happen, but you still don't know how those efforts are gonna pay off. The retreat in 2008 exceeded any expectations I might have had. It just proves that things work out when God is working in your heart. I have also seen a few of the girls in the mall or talked to them by e-mail, and they all want to attend the retreat this summer. That feels good to know they had such a good time that they want to come again this year. And they are telling their friends.

What kind of advice would you give to someone interested in starting a program like MSK in their city?

My best advice would be to not let anybody get in the way of what you want to do. When God is moving, so is the devil. You must be careful. That has been the best advice given to me. However, you must be realistic in your goals. I know what I can handle right now. I pray that MSK will grow and grow, but it is how it should be right now. And the other thing is to continue to do your research and ask for help. MSK would not happen if it were not for all the volunteers that help me from the goodness of their hearts. I am still learning and getting new ideas for this program. I keep a of journal of other components that I would like to implement. I am always dreaming of what it can be.

For more information about My Sister's Keeper visit mysisterskeeper.org.
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Posted by in ,  on 9:00 AM 2 comments
News Update: Yesterday we mentioned the petition for Nickelodeon to remove Chris Brown and Rihanna from consideration for Kids' Choice Awards. Brown has since decided to withdraw his nomination. People magazine

News Update: The launch of space shuttle Discovery has been postponed again. The shuttle will remain on the ground until at least Sunday after a hydrogen leak scrubbed a launch attempt on yesterday. Technicians will not be able to get a close look at the leak site, near the connection of a vent line to the external fuel tank, until Friday afternoon. The vent line carries away excess hydrogen pressure from the tank and the spacecraft to where it is safely burned. If the fix is straightforward and quick, shuttle officials hope to launch the Discovery at 7:43 p.m. Sunday.
NY Times

Muntadhar al-Zeidi, the Iraqi journalist who threw shoes at then-President George W. Bush has been convicted of assaulting a foreign leader and sentenced to three years in prison. He defiantly shouted "long live Iraq" when the sentence was read. FOX News

A candidate for mayor of Detroit who has been campaigning to restore integrity to an office rocked by last year’s resignation and jailing of Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick has admitted making false claims about his academic background. Dave Bing, has said for years that he received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Syracuse University in 1966, but yesterday said he did not get that degree until 1995. Bing also admitted to lying about having a master’s degree in business administration. NY Times
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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

An south Alabama man went on a shooting rampage Tuesday, killing 10 people -- including family members and apparent strangers -- before turning the gun on himself. News reports say Michael McLendon fatally shot his mother and set fire to her house, killed his grandparents, his aunt and uncle, the wife and child of a sheriff's deputy, and three other people. CNN

After weeks of delay, the space shuttle Discovery is finally ready for a Wednesday evening liftoff and a two-week mission to the international space station. The launch was delayed by a month while teams of engineers worked through concerns over hydrogen valves in the engine compartment, which have since been replaced. CNN

Congress is easing up on restrictions on family travel to Cuba. Changes in the rules for travel to Cuba are included in a huge government spending bill Congress sent to President Barack Obama Tuesday night. The changes come amid debate on whether the U.S. should lift its trade embargo against the island nation. Under the bill, which Obama is expected to sign, Cuban-Americans could travel to Cuba once a year to visit relatives and stay for an unlimited duration. Existing rules limit family visits to once every three years for no more than 14 days at a time.
Associated Press

R&B singer Chris Brown is still in the running for awards at this year's Nickelodeon Kids' Choice awards despite an online petition asking the network to remove him and his girlfriend, pop star Rihanna, from consideration, according to Us Weekly. Brown was charged with two felonies last week in connection with an attack on Rihanna and is accused of beating her Feb. 8. In a statement to UsMagazine.com, Nickelodeon said Brown will remain a Kids' Choice Award nominee for favorite male singer and his "Kiss Kiss" a nominee for favorite song. (Brown will be competing against Rihanna in the latter category.) An online petition asking Nickelodeon to remove Brown and Rihanna as nominees had 2,166 signatures as of yesterday. UsMagazine.com

What do you think? Should Nickelodeon remove Brown and Rihanna from the ballot or let the kids decide who wins?
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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Seven-year-old Heather McNamara was expected to be discharged from a New York hospital today after a high-risk operation last month in which doctors removed six of her vital organs so they could take out a baseball-sized tumor in her abdomen. The marathon operation was held Feb. 6 and lasted 23 hours. It was the first of its kind in a child and the second in the world.
USA Today

Bernard Madoff, the disgraced financier who allegedly ran a $50 billion Ponzi scheme is expected to plead guilty this week to 11 felony charges including securities fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and perjury. There is a chance 70-year-old Madoff could face life in prison. ABC News

Five Guantanamo prisoners accused in the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on the U.S. staunchly defended their actions, calling the operation "blessed" and "great" and the accusations against them "badges of honor." The six-page response from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who plotted the attacks, and four others calls the United States "the terrorist country number one in the world." CNN
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Editor's note: This is the first installment of "He Said, She Said," which will be an occasional Georgia Mae feature that will allow our resident man blogger and I to discuss different, though not necessarily opposing thoughts on different issues. While Edd and I for the most part have similar feelings regarding the charges against R&B singer Chris Brown for the assault of his girlfriend and fellow pop star Rihanna, we had different things that we wanted to get off our chests.

He Said

Everywhere I turn over the past couple of weeks, I keep hearing the same two things: Chris Brown is stupid for beating on his girlfriend, and Rihanna is stupid for taking him back.

Let the record show that I said that BOTH were pretty stupid long before that.

I mentioned in my post "Girl Power" that the young ladies in my youth group a) predicted that Rihanna would run back to Chris Brown and b) had already lost respect for her.

The price of celebrity is having your business put all over the streets. It's tough enough for a young lady to deal with a betrayal of trust without having everyone read about stuff like this, from rollingstone.com:

He then placed her in a head lock positioning the front of her throat between his bicep and forearm. Brown began applying pressure to Robyn F.'s left and right carotid arteries, causing her to be unable to breathe and she began to lose consciousness.

She reached up with her left hand and began attempting to gouge his eyes in an attempt to free herself. Brown bit her left ring and middle fingers and then released her.
While Brown continued to punch her, she turned around and placed her back against the passenger door. She brought her knees to her chest, placed her feet against Brown's body and began pushing him away. Brown continued to punch her on the legs and feet, causing several contusions.

It's not like Chris Brown simply slapped Rihanna during a heated argument. This fool was casually driving around town while choking her out, like he was playing Grand Theft Auto! And then a couple of weeks later they're out partyin' with Puff. I'm not saying she should never forgive the man, but she should at least distance herself from him for awhile due to the gravity of the issue.

There are many girls out there who lack positive male role models, or possess crappy ones, and they look up to these celebrities to escape the turmoil in their homes. So when they see the same make-up n' break-up crap on TV that they do at home, there's no wonder that they wind up in poor relationships.

I don't care if they made up behind the scenes. Rihanna is silently defending Chris Brown with her actions (she recently refused a "no contact" order from the judge) and it makes it seem like the incident wasn't a big deal. And that's a huge mistake.

-- Edd

She Said

Until now I've refrained from writing about the Rihanna/Chris Brown situation, but not for lack of an opinion. I've been quiet because I'm so angry I haven't been able to compose my thoughts. But I believe that as a feminist I can no longer hold my tongue.

Even when reports of the assault first surfaced many people were not taking this situation seriously. Perhaps it's her celebrity status that makes us turn her abuse into a joke, but there is nothing funny about domestic violence. Nothing.

Now that she has allegedly taken him back, Rihanna has somehow become the bad guy. Sure, I'm disappointed that she would go back to him and, like Edd, I worry about the kind of message this sends to her young fans. But let's not forget that she is more than an image on our TV and computer screens. She is a human being with complicated emotions. She's a young woman who experienced something most traumatic.

Before judging Rihanna we should keep in mind that it's often very difficult to leave an abusive partner. Some studies have shown it can take a woman four to seven attempts. And I'm sure many of the people criticizing her have never been victims of domestic violence themselves.

Furthermore, this tisk-tisk attitude toward Rihanna just takes our attention away from Chris Brown and what he did to her. It's just another case of blaming the victim.

My wish is that all the people busy defending Chris Brown and bashing Rihanna would redirect that energy into meaningful conversations about violence against women. I wish mothers would talk to their daughters about any physical, mental or emotional abuse they may be secretly enduring from the boys in their lives. I wish fathers would talk to their sons about the right way to treat a woman. And I wish we all would learn more about the conditions -- be it fear, guilt, low self-esteem or other issues -- that make it difficult for women to leave abusive relationships. Then maybe we can get to the important work of empowering these women and we can finally stop belittling them.

-- Javacia
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will be posted this evening.

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Posted by on 7:55 AM No comments

Monday, March 9, 2009

I couldn't let the day go by without mentioning that it's been 12 years since we lost the greatest rapper alive.

We'll never know if he would have kept churning out hits, or if he would have lost his mind, started singing R&B and wearing skinny jeans and those sunglasses that look like venetian blinds.

Eh, who am I fooling. That dude could barely wear regular jeans, let alone skinny ones.

Throw down some ice for the nicest emcee and check out what I believe to be the best rap song, bar none.

The Notorious B.I.G. - One More Chance Remix -
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Posted by in ,  on 5:51 PM 1 comment
It's time for more Yes Means Yes promotion!

The essay I want to discuss today is "The Process-Oriented Virgin" by Hanne Blank. The essay begins with Blank, who often studies and writes about virginity (she's the author of the book "Virgin: The Untouched History"), meeting a young woman that has abandoned the traditional notion of what it means to lose your virginity.

The woman tells Blank that she'd decided that her first sexual experience and quite a few after that one simply did not count. Blank writes that the woman says, "I just didn't feel like I'd really done it, you know, not for real. Not until about a year later. I kept feeling like I was a virgin. Until finally I had an orgasm while I was having sex with a partner. That was when I lost my virginity."

Chances are you just yelled something like, "Is this chick serious?" at your computer. Blank admits her reaction was similar. In the essay she writes: I was fascinated, but at the same time, the more I thought about it, the more I felt my mental upper lip curling in scorn.

Blank eventually coins the term "the process-oriented virgin." You know, someone who sees losing his or her virginity as a process, not a one time deal. And despite the fact she initially thought this idea was "ludicrous" by the essay's conclusion, Blank declares herself a fan of the process-oriented virgin and believes it even has potential of being a feminist act.

Blank concludes that losing your virginity should be a subjective, not objective, transition and that it's okay for it to be a process in which you figure out what sex should be -- mutually pleasurable and positive.

Blank writes:

Think about what your own relationship to virginity might've been like had you been able to set the terms for it and decide for yourself what it meant to you, rather than having those decisions made for you, perhaps violently, by a parent, an abuser, a doctor, a church. It would change sexuality, gender roles, and maybe the world.

What are your thoughts on the loss of virginity being a process, not a one-time act? Do you think this idea is potentially empowering or completely ridiculous?

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President Barack Obama is expected to announce today a reversal of the 8-year-long ban on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research. This move could open potential pathways to cures for serious diseases such as muscular dystrophy and Parkinson's disease. The decision could also, however, further alienate conservatives who consider embryonic stem cell research morally wrong. Newsday.com

An Illinois pastor was shot and killed, and two parishioners injured after an unknown gunman opened fire during Sunday services at the First Baptist Church in Maryville, Ill. Rev. Fred Winters used the Bible he was reading from to shield himself from the first round of bullets being pumped at him. The gunman's .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol jammed after the fourth shot was fired. The suspect then started stabbing himself with a four-inch knife and slashed two parishioners who tried to subdue him. It is believed the gunman was a 27-year-old man who
developed mental illness after Lyme disease attacked his brain. FOX News

North Korea put its armed forces on standby for war Monday and has threatened retaliation against anyone seeking to stop the regime from launching a satellite into space in the latest barrage of threats from the communist regime. MSNBC

According to the Associated Press, "Watchmen" racked in $55.7 million in ticket sales to claim the top spot at the box office, making director Zack Snyder's comic book adaptation about a team of twisted superheros the biggest opening of 2009 so far. The hubster and I avoided the crowds and saw the movie Saturday afternoon. We both loved it. If you saw "Watchmen" this weekend too, let us know what you thought of it.
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Saturday, March 7, 2009

On the eve of Valentine's Day, my youth group had its annual lock-in. For those who don't know, a lock-in is an event where kids run around an empty church until 6 a.m., eating ice cream, playing games and shortening my lifespan.

During this past lock-in, we split the kids into groups of boys and girls and I had the tall task of conducting a rap session with the young ladies, ranging in age from 10 to about 14.

The most interesting part of our conversation was role models. We talked about women in the media they respected, and those who brought shame to the double X chromosome carriers. I thought it would be interesting to see whom the young'ns respect. Kids say the darndest things.

Role models:


Why she's a role model:

"Because she's rich and people listen to her."

- Good reason, I guess.

Alicia Keys

Why she's a role model:

"Because she's pretty."

- But why isn't Kim Kardashian a good role model then? Oh yeah, the sex tape stuff.

Halle Berry

Why she's a role model:

"Because she's a good actress."

- I guess the kids didn't see Catwoman.

Aretha Franklin

Why she's a role model:

"She's a good singer."

- I think the real reason is because of the hat she wore at the inauguration.

That hat DEMANDS respect. And a strong neck.

Then we turned our attention to the poor role models.

Bad role models:

Tiffany "New York" Pollard

Why she sucks:

"Because she had too much plastic surgery. And she cusses a lot."

- Ugh, gotta agree with them on that one.

Tanisha from Oxygen's Bad Girls' Club

Why she sucks:

"Because she bangs pots and pans to wake people up."

- Makes sense. Kids hate getting awakened, especially for school.


Why she sucks:

"Uhhh, I don't know, it's just something about her."

- They couldn't even give me a good reason! I guess the needless Beyonce hate starts at a young age.


Why she sucks:

"Because Chris Brown beat her up and she hasn't said anything."

- Wow, this one struck me. Goes to show that Rih-Rih needs to make a stand about what happened to her, and she'd better think twice before she runs back into the arms of Chris Brown or she could lose a generation of fans.

What do you think of the girls' choices? Whom would you add to the list?

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Posted by in ,  on 9:21 AM 5 comments
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