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Gender: Male
Hometown: VA
Home country: USA
Current location: VA
Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 55,363

About Me

I'm still living... Twitter: @glitchy_ashburn

Journal Archives

Air Canada Loses Woman’s Dog, Spokesman Dismisses Inquiries In Accidental Email

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Air Canada admits it lost a customer’s precious cargo when one of its workers let a dog out of its crate, and it escaped.

Jutta Kulic is visiting Sacramento for a dog show, but her mind is back in San Francisco. That’s where the search for her dog that never made it to his final destination is now in its fifth day.

This week, on her way to a dog show in Sacramento from their home in Ohio, Kulic booked a flight from San Francisco on Air Canada to Larry’s new home.

She zip-tied Larry’s crate several times before leaving him with the airline.

“And I very clearly instructed them never ever to open the door and let the dog out of that crate, unless he’s in a completely enclosed room,” Kulic said.

That flight ended up being cancelled and rescheduled for later that night.

Then came another call from Air Canada.

“They called me at about 6:30, and told me one of their employees had decided to walk the dog,” Kulic said.

Larry had run away, and Air Canada workers searching for the white and brown dog couldn’t find him.

“We’re sorry the animal was lost, because someone was simply stupid,” Kulic said.

But we wanted answers about what went wrong—what procedures might not have been followed, and what they’re doing to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else’s pet.

Instead of answers, we got this email:

“I think I would just ignore, it is local news doing a story on a lost dog. Their entire government is shut down and about to default and this is how the US media spends its time.”


Wow...Guess there will be an open PR job at AC for me to apply for in the near future

A Comedy Favorite: How The 'Act Blacker' Sketch Has Evolved

It's an old, hardy comedy trope: A black person has to turn up the volume on some stereotypical behavior in order to navigate some social situation. The sketch is a self-aware take on a modern reality. Even after the era of minstrel shows ended and black actors stopped living out egregious stereotypes for white audiences, white folks still ran mainstream showbiz. If you were going to be black onstage or on camera, your image was still controlled by a largely white industry.

That's still the case, and there's a whole thread of comedy that goes to that well, poking fun at black actors being instructed "to act blacker" (whatever the hell that even means). Let's call them "Black It Up" routines. The most famous one is probably Robert Townsend's bit from Hollywood Shuffle, in which he imagines an acting school designed to prep aspiring black actors on how to land the roles most available to them.

What makes this routine so biting is the acknowledgment that the economic calculus dictates that this must be so. Yes, this role is demeaning and the insult is exacerbated by white folks telling me I'm not doing it right — but I also gotta eat.

Townsend's entire movie is about the indignities visited upon black actors trying to earn a living. It may seem a little too on the nose today — the number for the black acting school is "1-800-555-COON" — but the sketch was influential. And it's still pretty funny. (The tall white guy teaching those dudes how to walk at 4:21 is gold. Why is he doing that thing with his neck? Why are his arms swinging so much?)

This Shuffle bit is the obvious spiritual ancestor to this Sprite commercial that people of my generation will remember in which a bunch of tough-talking street ball players begin speaking in exaggerated British accents as soon as the director yells cut. Don't talk to me like a child! I played Hamlet at Cambridge!

Earlier this year, the Upright Citizens Brigade comedy troupe revisited this same idea, and they cut out a lot of the fat in the process. A quarter-century passed between the Townsend sketch and the UCB sketch, and their approaches say volumes about the way the media landscape has and hasn't changed.


How Far Is It To The 'Boondocks'? Try The Philippines

"Ugh, I have to visit my aunt out in the boondocks this weekend."

How often have you said or heard something similar? For more than half a century, Americans have used the phrase "the boondocks" or "the boonies" to indicate that a place was in the middle of nowhere. However, few people realize that the phrase is a relic of American military occupation in the Philippines, and that it was later brought to mainstream attention because of a now largely forgotten, fatal training accident on Parris Island.

First, some history: The 1890s were a troubled time for the Philippines and marked by several conflicts, and the 1896 Philippine Revolution marked the start of the country's fight for independence from Spain. The United States would go on to acquire the Philippines from Spain in 1898 following the signing of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Spanish-American War. The Philippine-American War immediately followed a year later and would continue until 1902.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the phrase "the boondocks" is derived from the Tagalog word bundok, which means mountain. (Tagalog is one of the two official languages of the Philippines; the other is English.) American soldiers stationed in the Philippines adopted the word in the early 1900s, shifting the meaning to refer to "an isolated or wild region."


Who knew??

The Autopsy That Changed Football

Growing up in Nigeria, Dr. Bennet Omalu knew next to nothing about American football. He didn’t watch the games, he didn’t know the teams, and he certainly didn’t know the name Mike Webster.

That changed in 2002 when Omalu was assigned to perform an autopsy on the legendary Steelers center. Webster had died at 50, but to Omalu, he looked far older. Football had taken a punishing toll on his body. It was Omalu’s job to measure the damage.

As a neuropathologist, Omalu was especially interested in the brain. Inside Mike Webster’s brain, he’d make a startling discovery: a disease never previously identified in football players. The condition, known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, was the first hard evidence that playing football could cause permanent brain damage. Players with CTE have battled depression, memory loss, and in some cases dementia.

“I had to make sure the slides were Mike Webster’s slides,” Omalu told FRONTLINE. “I looked again. I saw changes that shouldn’t be in a 50-year-old man’s brains, and also changes that shouldn’t be in a brain that looked normal.”

Omalu published his findings, believing NFL officials would want to know more. They didn’t. In public, league doctors assailed his research. Omalu’s conclusions confused the medical literature, they argued. In a rare move, they demanded a retraction.

In private, the message seemed different. As Omalu recalls in the following clip from League of Denial: Inside the NFL’s Concussion Crisis, suddenly the criticism was no longer about his research. Rather, a league doctor would tell him, the trouble was in the implications for football.


FBI raid: Monsey (NY) rabbi tied to cattle-prod divorce gang

MONSEY — The head of a Monsey yeshiva and two other rabbis were among at least four men arrested in a sweeping investigation into a gang accused of using kidnapping, cattle prods and karate to coerce Orthodox Jewish men to grant their wives religious divorces.

The group plotted to kidnap and torture a man they thought was the recalcitrant husband of an Orthodox woman, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Thursday. The woman was actually an undercover FBI agent.

Among those arrested was Rabbi Martin Wolmark, the dean of Yeshiva Shaarei Torah in Monsey, which was one of the locations raided by the FBI late Wednesday.

Also charged was Rabbi Mendel Epstein, a prominent ultra-Orthodox divorce mediator in Brooklyn who this summer published a “Bill of Rights of a Jewish Wife.” The others were identified as Ariel Potash and a man known only as “Yaakov.”

All four are expected to appear in U.S. District Court in Trenton, N.J., on Thursday afternoon.

The gang allegedly charged families of women trying to obtain religious divorces, known as ‘gets’ tens of thousands of dollars to pressure their husbands using methods that included violence.

The get is essential for the woman. Those who are unable to obtain them are known as ‘agunot,’ or chained women, because they cannot remarry until they obtain a get.


A ‘black agenda’ is an American agenda

The African American media round table hosted by the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee of the U.S. Senate yesterday was the perfect opportunity to ask the gathered senators (11 in total) to validate or knock down something I have been saying for a while now. If President Obama sent Congress a definable “black agenda,” I asked, “how dead-on-arrival would such a piece of legislation be?”

There were murmurs and a bit of nervous laughter, But Sen. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) stepped up with the short answer. “It would not be dead on arrival in the Senate” she said. “It would be dead-on-arrival in the House.” She means the Republican-controlled House that has so lost touch with the concept of governing that it can’t get anything done.

But Sen. William “Mo” Cowan (Mass.), one of only two blacks in the Senate — the other is Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) — gave the long answer. One I wish the president’s critics would listen to if not appreciate.

“What is a definable black agenda? I mean the president wasn’t elected to be president of black America. He’s the president of all Americans,” Cowan responded. “Frankly, there are some significant issues in black America, the black community, that are issues that are endemic in other parts of the nation. I think with respect to those who raise that issue, I think it’s short-sighted to say these are challenges unique to black America.” He added, “The issues that black Americans are concerned about frankly are the same issues I hear about when I talk to my white constituents. It’s the same challenges. There may be differing degrees, but I think if you’re going to govern you have to govern for everybody.”

Sen. Tom Harkin (Iowa) agreed, spelling out some specifics. “An inherently African American, black agenda, is inherently an agenda that lifts low-income people into the middle class. That’s what the agenda ought to be,” he said. “The president ought to have an agenda that focuses on educational disparities, that focuses on housing disparities, focuses on wage-gap disparities, like raising the minimum wage significantly, especially for tip workers which hasn’t been for, what, 25 years, I think. [An agenda] which focuses on job creation for people that have lost their jobs in the old economy and need [a] new one. For me, that’s the kind of agenda the president ought to be focused on. It’s an agenda that speaks to the people that have really been left out.”


International adoption: I was stolen from my family

Editor's note: Tarikuwa Lemma, 19, was "adopted" from Ethiopia seven years ago by a U.S. family along with her two younger sisters after being deceived that they were headed to America on a study trip. She now lives in Maine and has just entered college with the goal of becoming a human rights advocate.

(CNN) -- When I was 13, I was sold.

Friends of my father worked for a corrupt adoption agency operating in my homeland of Ethiopia -- friends my father trusted. In 2006 they coerced him into believing he was sending my younger sisters and me to America for an educational program during which we would come home every summer and on school breaks.

Little did my father know that his "friends" were being paid to recruit children for an American adoption agency. In fact, he didn't even know what "adoption" meant. Instead of an educational program, we found ourselves caught up in an international adoption scandal.

We weren't the only ones lied to. The family who adopted us, who lived in the southwestern United States, were told that they were taking into their family three AIDS orphans, the oldest of whom was nine years old. The truth was that our mother had died from complications during childbirth, and our father was alive and well. Instead of nine, I was 13 years old; my sisters were 11 and six.

Our new "parents" changed our names and told us we could no longer speak to each other in our own languages; we were punished if we disobeyed. Eventually, we forgot how to speak our native languages, Amarigna and Wolaytta.

I was so young and naïve. I actually believed that if I ran away, I could walk back to Ethiopia. I wanted to escape from the people I felt had kidnapped us from our homeland, our culture, and our family. I was angry, hurt and grieving.


Overseas adoptions rise -- for black American children

Editor's note: In this series, CNN investigates international adoption, hearing from families, children and key experts on its decline, and whether the trend could -- or should -- be reversed.

(CNN) -- Elisa van Meurs grew up with a Polish au pair, speaks fluent Dutch and English and loves horseback riding -- her favorite horse is called Kiki but she also rides Pippi Longstocking, James Bond, and Robin Hood.

She plays tennis and ice hockey, and in the summer likes visiting her grandmother in the Swiss Alps.

"It's really nice to go there because you can walk in the mountains and you can mountain bike ... you can see Edelweiss sometimes," said the 13-year-old, referring to the famous mountain flower that blooms above the tree line.

It's a privileged life unlike that of her birth mother, a woman of African American descent from Indianapolis who had her first child at age 15. Her American family is "really nice but they don't have a lot of money to do stuff," said Elisa, who met her birth mother, and two siblings in 2011. "They were not so rich."

While the number of international adoptions is plummeting -- largely over questions surrounding the origin of children put up for adoption in developing countries -- there is one nation from which parents abroad can adopt a healthy infant in a relatively short time whose family history and medical background is unclouded by doubt: The United States.

"I thought it was so strange. I'm here in Holland and they're telling me I can get a baby" from the U.S., recalled Elisa's father, Bart van Meurs, who originally planned to adopt from China or Colombia but held little hope of receiving an infant. "This can't be true." But less than 18 months later, van Meurs and his wife Heleene were at an Indiana hospital holding four-day-old Elisa.


Kwame Kilpatrick, ex-Detroit mayor, sentenced to 28 years in jail

ETROIT (AP) — Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was sentenced Thursday to 28 years in prison for corruption, the apparent last step after a series of scandals destroyed his political career and helped steer a crisis-laden city even deeper into trouble.

Kilpatrick, who served as mayor from 2002 until fall 2008, fattened his bank account by tens of thousands of dollars, traveled the country in private planes and even strong-armed his campaign fundraiser for stacks of cash hidden in her bra, according to evidence at trial.

“I’m ready to go so the city can move on,” Kilpatrick told the judge. “The people here are suffering, they’re hurting. A great deal of that hurt I accept responsibility for.”

In March, Kilpatrick, 43, was convicted of racketeering conspiracy, fraud, extortion and tax crimes. The government called it the “Kilpatrick enterprise,” a yearslong scheme to shake down contractors and reward allies. He was doomed by his own text messages, which revealed efforts to fix deals for a pal, Bobby Ferguson, an excavator who got millions of dollars in city work through the water department.

Contractors said they were forced to take on Ferguson as a partner or risk losing lucrative deals. The government alleged that he in turn shared cash with Kilpatrick.

Agents who pored over bank accounts and credit cards said Kilpatrick spent $840,000 beyond his salary during his time as mayor. Defense attorneys tried to portray the money as generous gifts from political supporters who opened their wallets for birthdays or holidays.

The government said Kilpatrick also tapped a nonprofit fund, which was created to help distressed Detroit residents, to pay for yoga, camps for his kids, golf clubs and travel.


Native American roots in Black America run deep

o you have Indian in your family? That’s a common question asked in the black community. Many African-Americans lay claim to Native American ancestry, and yet very few blacks have taken the steps to research this part of their history, to learn about their Native American roots and embrace the culture.

Thanksgiving is known as a time for American families to reunite, partake in feast and be grateful. And yet for Native Americans it is a time for mourning, a reflection on the arrival of European settlers that ultimately led to their displacement and elimination by the millions. Blacks in America are intertwined with that history, and yet the evidence they possess is mostly anecdotal, such as the grandmother who had long, straight black hair, high cheekbones or a red tint to her skin.

While most African-Americans would likely say they have Indian blood flowing in their veins, DNA testing suggests that fewer than 10 percent of black people are of Native American ancestry. To be exact, 5 percent of African-Americans have at least 12.5 percent Native American ancestry, meaning at least one great-grand parent. In contrast, 58 percent of black Americans have at least 12.5 percent white ancestry.

Many of the notable African Americans who participated in the PBS documentary miniseries African American Lives, including Oprah Winfrey, believed they were part Native American until the facts proved them wrong. The program, hosted by Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, used DNA testing and genealogical and historical research to help blacks connect with their previously unknown ancestors.

Meanwhile, actor Don Cheadle learned his ancestors were enslaved by the Chickasaw Nation.

Nevertheless, Black Indians—a longstanding topic of black oral history—are real. As a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution reveals, the two cultures have blended since the arrival of Columbus. The exhibition—IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas— tells the story of two groups united by enslavement, genocide and a legacy of being uprooted from the land of their ancestors.

It is a complicated history filled with the good and the unpleasant. African slaves were known to escape from the plantations and find refuge among Indian tribes. Native people were involved in the Underground Railroad, and Indian trails provided a pathway to freedom for runaway slaves. They fought together in uprisings against their oppressive conditions and the white man’s incursion, and they married and had children.

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