Monthly Archives: April 2011


Remnant of Tycho's 1572 supernova

NASA / CXC / Chinese Academy of Sciences / F. Lu & others

Bulletin at a Glance

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

New Insights on “Tycho’s Supernova”

April 28, 2011 | The famous Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe watched a star explode in 1572. Now new observations strongly suggests that there was an accomplice in its demise. > read more

Endeavour Set to Fly

April 27, 2011 | Endeavour‘s launch marks the end of an era in U.S. space-exploration history as NASA phases out its shuttle fleet in preparation for a new generation of launch vehicles. > read more

Royal Birth Heralded by a Supernova?

April 22, 2011 | Why didn’t 17th-century observers see the exploding star that created the Cas A supernova remnant? According to a controversial new hypothesis, British royal historians — but not astronomers — saw the event in 1630. > read more

Forced “Hibernation” for SETI Telescope

April 26, 2011 | Astronomers have shut down the innovative Allen Telescope Array in northern California — a huge blow to the ongoing search for extraterrestrial intelligence. > read more

Sky & Telescope June 2011

April 21, 2011 | Sky & Telescope‘s June 2011 issue is now available to digital subscribers. > read more


S&T Illustration

See the Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower

April 29, 2011 | The Eta Aquarids might be the best meteor shower that you’ve never heard of. Best viewed at southerly latitudes, this shower is strong in the predawn hours from May 4th through May 8th. > read more

A Great Time for Space-Station Watching

April 21, 2011 | For the next week, the enormous International Space Station will be slam-dunk easy to spot in the evening sky — if you know where and when to look for it. > read more

The Four-Planet Dance of 2011

March 9, 2011 | Every morning in May 2011, just before sunrise, four planets combine to form fascinating and ever-changing patterns. > read more

T Pyxidis Finally Blows Again

April 15, 2011 | A very overdue recurrent nova is having its long-awaited outburst. You can follow it with binoculars right after dark. > read more

Saturn’s New Bright Storm

December 27, 2010 | A massive new storm in the ringed planet’s northern hemisphere is bright enough to see in small telescopes. > read more

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

Looking east in bright dawn

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

April 29, 2011 | A month-long dance of four planets is becoming visible low in the dawn. In the evening sky, Saturn’s white outbreak is breaking out again. > read more


Tony Flanders talks about his job at S&T

S&T: Jessica Kloss

Video Interview with Tony Flanders

April 25, 2011 | Tony Flanders talks about his job at Sky & Telescope and the strange sequence of events that led him to work for Sky. > read more

Let the Star Parties Begin!

April 14, 2011 | Want to gaze at the Milky Way all night or peer into the eyepiece of a 12-foot-tall telescope? Then escape the city lights and head for the nearest “star party.” > read more

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April 28, 2011 Direct | Published by the Applied Research Center

May Day Rallies Reveal America’s True Self—Its Promise and Its Fear

Several hundred thousand very diverse people will assert their Americanness on Sunday. Rinku Sen explains why a few loud voices will freak out.

A Year After SB 1070, the Deportation Pipeline Still Begins in Washington

From Arizona to Georgia, states are making draconian policy. But the feds remain the problem. Seth Freed Wessler reports from the border.

The Love Story That Made Marriage a Fundamental Right

An intimate new documentary profiles Richard and Mildred Loving’s quiet activism. Asraa Mustufa talks with the director at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Also:Alabama Senate Apologizes to Recy Taylor for 1944 Rape Case


Racist Campaigning Is Here to Stay
Donald Trump is just a preview of what’s to come in the 2012 elections.

Tanya McDowell Pleads Not Guilty to ‘Stealing’ Son’s Education
A homeless mom faces 20 years in jail for using a friend’s address to send her 5-year-old to school.

Weighing Solutions to Hate Crime After Brutal Baltimore Attack
Reina Gossett of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project argues law enforcement is part of the problem, not the solution.

It’s Time to Talk to Employers About Domestic Workers’ Rights
Workers are slowly learning about their rights under the landmark New York law. But what about bosses?

Mumia Abu-Jamal Gets New Sentencing Hearing
A U.S. Appeals Court has ruled he must be granted a new hearing within six months.

Movement Notes
Global Justice
Gender Matters
Jobs Crisis
Detroit Schools
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 J.D. Crowe - Mobile Register - Birther Trump - English - Donald Trump, President Obama, birth certificate, GOP, Hawaii

Birther Trump @ J.D. Crowe. Mobile Register

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Director Nancy Buirski’s documentary The Loving Story, which chronicles the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Richard and Mildred Loving, whose case helped strike down anti-miscegenation laws, will debut at the Silverdocs Festival in Washington, D.C., in June. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. The ACLU will be hosting a D.C. showing on Capitol Hill on June 13. Ms. Buirski and the Lovings’ attorney Phil Hirschkop will hold a panel discussion that evening after a screening at the School of Visual Arts in New York.

In the following article, Ms. Buirski explains why she decided to make this documentary, as well as addressing  the lasting effect that Loving v. Virginia, and the Lovings, have had on America.


Richard  and Mildred Loving.

They are both gone now.

Mr. Loving died in an auto accident June 29, 1975 when a drunk driver slammed into his vehicle. He was 41. Mildred, who was in the car with him at the time, sustained injuries (she lost her right eye), but, she survived. She carried on with her life, raising their three children:  Peggy, Sidney, and Donald (who died in 2000).

On May 2, 2008, Mrs. Loving died from pneumonia at the age of 68, in Milford, VA. She was always humble about the respect so many people gave her and Richard, and considered what she and Richard did as just simply an act of love for each other. But, what they did changed laws that affected marriage in many ways.

The U.S. Supreme Court, by a 9-0 vote, declared Virginia’s anti-miscegenation statute, the “Racial Integrity Act of 1924“, unconstitutional, thereby overturning Pace v. Alabama (1883) and ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States.

Richard and Mildred probably never thought of the profound effect their marriage would have, when in 1967, the dismantling of anti-miscegenation laws were repealed all across America (with Alabama, the last holdout, rescinding its anti-miscegenation laws in 2000) due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision of Loving v. Virginia. June 12 is now celebrated as “Loving Day” in honor of Richard and Mildred Loving.

In June 12, 2007, the 40TH Anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, Mrs. Loving delivered a rare public appearance addressing the rights of same-sex couples to marry and the legacy of Loving v. Virginia:

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.

Until the day she died, Mrs. Loving simply considered herself just an ordinary woman, who never considered herself as extraordinary:  “‘It wasn’t my doing,’ she told the Associated Press in a rare interview. ‘It was God’s work.’”

Yes, it was God’s work.

Just the same, what you and Richard did was extraordinary.

We thank you for that.


The Love Story That Made Marriage a Fundamental Right

Married couple Mildred and Richard Loving embracing at a press conference the day after the Supreme Court ruled in their favor in ‘Loving v. Virginia,’ June 13, 1967. Photo: Francis Miller/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

by Asraa Mustufa

Wednesday, April 27 2011, 10:16 AM EST

The Tribeca Film Festival is under way in New York, and one featured documentary delves into the story behind the landmark civil rights case Loving vs. Virginia, which struck down Jim Crow laws meant to prevent people from openly building families across racial lines.

Mildred and Richard Loving were an interracial couple that married in Washington, D.C., in 1958. Shortly after re-entering their hometown in Virginia, the pair was arrested in their bedroom and banished from the state for 25 years. The Lovings would spend the next nine years in exile, surreptitiously visiting family and friends back home in Virginia—and fighting for the right to return legally. Their case wound its way to the Supreme Court and, in 1967, the Court condemned Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act as a measure “designed to maintain white supremacy” that violated due process and equal protection. The ruling deemed the anti-miscegenation laws in effect in 16 states at the time unconstitutional. However, it took South Carolina until 1998 and Alabama until the year 2000 to officially remove language prohibiting interracial marriage from their state constitutions.

lovings-about_042611.jpgThe landmark case has returned to popular consciousness in recent years as states have debated same-sex marriage rights. Marriage equality advocates have pointed to the Lovings’ fight as a foundational part of American history, establishing marriage as a basic civil right. But for decades it was left to the footnotes of civil rights history, overshadowed by blockbuster cases like Brown vs. Board of Education.

Director Nancy Buirski’s “The Loving Story” aims to deepen public understanding of not just the case but the Loving family itself. The filmmakers recreate their story through interviews with their friends, community members and the attorneys fighting their case. Buirski and her team revived unused footage of the Lovings from 45 years ago, including home movies, and dug up old photographs to bring the couple to life. As a result, the film is as much an engaging love story as it is a history of racist lawmaking.

“The Loving Story” is making the film festival rounds this year and will air on HBO in February 2012. I spoke with Buirski after the film’s Tribeca screening this week.

Why did you want to make this film?

I came across an obituary on Mildred Loving in 2008 and I realized when reading the story that she had an incredible life. She was an amazingly compelling character, partly because she was not your typical activist, who had set out to make change. You know, she was not a civil rights activist. She was a woman that was trying to return to her home in Virginia after being exiled for 25 years because she had married a white man. And he, too, was not someone who was your typical change the world kind of guy. He really loved his wife and felt the exile that the state had forced them into was simply wrong. And so what they wanted to do was right a wrong, but they weren’t trying to change history, and I felt that that was an unusual way to approach a civil rights event and the change that resulted from their actions.

What do you think is the relevance of the Lovings’ story today, in 2011?

There’s a tremendous amount of relevance. This is not just a civil rights story, it’s a human rights story. And we are talking about the freedom to choose who you love and who you can marry and clearly there are relevant concerns around those issues today in gay marriage rights.

I think other relevance comes from the identification that some mixed-race couples and mixed-race children have in society. Even though many of us take that for granted, it’s not necessarily as easy as it may seem to be part of a mixed-race relationship. I think the thing that connects the two situations, in 1967 and 2011, is the thing that motivates a lot of people to try to stop people from marrying—the intolerance and the prejudice that bubbles up in 2011, not only about gay marriage but even about immigrant reform. I think it has to do with fear. I believe that fear was a motivating factor when the Lovings were arrested and I believe fear is also a motivating factor in the intolerance that we see in society today.

nancybuirski-filtered_042611.jpgCan you tell us more about Peggy Loving, the couple’s only surviving daughter? How does she feel about the case and the film?

You know, she’s very proud of her parents. She knows exactly what they achieved. She says whenever she watches a mixed-race couple walk down the street, arm in arm, she knows that that might not be the case if it weren’t for her parents, and she gets kind of emotional when she thinks about that. She likes to think of herself as a kind of rainbow, mixed, she feels it’s important that people recognize her mixed-race heritage and she’s very proud of it. And I think she loves the film.

How about the Lovings’ lawyers? They’re both still alive. Did they share any views, all these years later?

Philip Hirschkop [one of the Lovings’ attorneys] said recently that the fear and the prejudice that pervades our society today is a reminder of what the Lovings went through, and even though they prevailed, there’s nothing that could give them back their nine years of exile and separation from their family. And so we may take it for granted, but we really should be remembering how people like the Lovings struggled to get us where we are today.

So you were inspired after reading Loving’s obituary. Tell us about the long road from there to Tribeca.

Oh, you know, it’s three years later and it is a long process, but it’s an exciting one. You really just have to believe in the story and believe in the way you want to tell the story. And I think the most important thing was recognizing the value of the footage that we had and the photographs, and because we had such intimate material, allowing the Lovings to tell their own story. So we’ve made a historical film in a somewhat unusual style because there is no narrator, there’s no voice of God explaining to us what’s happening. It’s basically following the Lovings and their daughter and other people who knew them, allowing them to tell the story.

mildred-daughter_042611.jpgIs there anything else you wanted to say about the film?

[The film’s editor] Elisabeth Haviland James and and I both felt a real obligation to bring this story to a really wide audience and the fact that the depth of the story, the real story about this couple and their love have been overlooked for so many years. We really felt a commitment to bring this to a wider audience and we’re very grateful that we’re getting the response that we’re getting.

Do you feel like there’s any reason that it was overlooked? Because it was a landmark civil rights case and yet…

I think there were a number of other landmark cases and changes that were taking place just prior to this, and they tended to overtake this one because, you know, you had voting rights, you had Brown vs. Board of Education, you had people struggling for public accommodation, you know, the freedom to sit where they want to sit on the bus. Those felt a little more urgent than this did, so I think that’s one reason.

I think another reason is that the Lovings themselves were so humble and shy they didn’t particularly want publicity. And they were also in danger, because they were going back and forth to Virginia where they were supposedly prohibited from doing that, so they really needed to protect themselves and their family. And then finally, the fact that this was a case that dealt with the bedroom, that tended not to get the biggest publicity. Voting rights was an easier thing for people to deal with.

The Loving Story” screened at the Tribeca Film Festival this week and will play at the Silverdocs Festival in Washington, D.C., in June. The ACLU will be hosting a D.C. showing on Capitol Hill on June 13. Buirski and the Lovings’ attorney Phil Hirschkop will hold a panel discussion this evening after a screening at the School of Visual Arts in New York.

*This article has been altered since publication.


Here is a video of Richard and Mildred. They discuss their marriage, their arrests, and their being told to leave the state of Virginia for 25 years. The video also divulges Mrs. Loving’s decision to write to then U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy, the case taken on by lawyers, and the case brought before the United States Supreme Court, where the infamous anti-miscegenation laws were struck down in June 1967.

The following  “Mildred and Richard Loving Documentary” features more information on the Lovings, as well as including the founder of “Loving Day”, Ken Tanabe.


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I’m shocked.

Never in my life did I ever think I would live to see any apology for the racist rapes that Black women suffered during the reign of Jane Crow segregation.

Now, while the FBI is re-opening Civil Rights murders, they also need to re-open rape cases as well.

But, I suppose I will be Mrs. Taylor’s age before such a thing happens.


Alabama Senate Apologizes to Recy Taylor for 1944 Rape Case

Recy Taylor, 91, in her home in Winter Haven, Fla., in October 2010. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File

by Benjamin Greenberg 

Friday, April 22 2011, 9:01 AM EST

The Alabama Senate joined the state House yesterday in passing a resolution for an official state apology to Recy Taylor, 91, who was raped by seven white men in Abbeville, Ala., in 1944. According to the AP:

The Senate gave final approval Thursday on a voice vote to a resolution that expresses “deepest sympathy and deepest regrets” to Recy Taylor, now 91 and living in Florida. She told The Associated Press last year that she believes the men who attacked her in 1944 are dead but that she still wanted an apology from the state of Alabama.

The House approved the resolution last month. It now goes to Gov. Robert Bentley, who said Thursday he’s not personally familiar with details of the case, but sees no reason why he wouldn’t sign it.

Taylor’s case has for decades lingered as an icon of the sexual violence black women suffered from white men in the South. At the time, her case became a rallying point for a movement to end impunity for that violence. Today, federal law enforcement officials have reopened dozens of civil rights era murders, but have not revisited the rapes and sexual assaults that went un-prosecuted.

Taylor, who now lives in Florida, is not well enough to be interviewed, but I spoke to her brother Robert Corbitt, who has been her spokesperson since The Root first reported in February that Taylor wants apologies from the state and from the county and city where the rape occurred and was covered up. Corbitt is currently a resident of Abbeville.

“I’m glad to know that it’s gone that far,” Corbitt said. “I’m waiting for the ink to dry and then I’ll feel like it’s official.”

Recent public interest in Taylor’s case has followed the September 2010 publication of Danielle McGuire’s book, “At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance,” which tells Taylor’s story. A petition drive and coverage by Colorlines and others has spurred Rep. Dexter Grimsley and other Alabama officials to respond swiftly to Taylor’s request for formal apologies.

A month ago, Corbitt attended a press conference held by Abbeville Mayor Ryan Blalock with Grimsley and other city and county officials, who offered personal apologies to Taylor and discussed issuing official state, county and city apologies.

“Our representative [Grimsley] said from the beginning that he was going to push it hard; he kept his word,” said Corbitt. “I’m still waiting for the mayor to do whatever he’s gonna do.”

County and city apologies are also in order, Cobitt explained, because in 1944, in the face of a state investigation, the Henry County sheriff and an Abbeville policeman took part in covering up the rape.

Corbitt hasn’t heard from Blalock or any other local officials since the press conference last month. “A personal apology and a official one is two different things,” said Corbitt.

Benjamin Greenberg is a regular contributor to Colorlines and a founding member of the Civil Rights Cold Case Project. You can follow him on Twitter @minorjive.


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What did I tell you?

The racist, hankering-for-a-transorbital-prefrontal lobotomy birthers are not satisfied (and they never will be) and are beating their dessert forks into switchblades concerning Pres. Obama’s birth certificate.

Yeah, let’s call the birthers exactly what they are.

Racist, demented, hatemongering KKK white supremacists.


The Day After: ‘Birthers’ Regroup With Crazed Claims of Fraud

by  Ryan Lenz  April 28, 2011

The foaming-at-the-mouth “birthers” are hardly the type to lay down their rhetorical arms and admit defeat even when forced to see the very document they’ve been demanding from President Obama.

The clamor surrounding Obama’s citizenship status has only intensified in the aftermath of the White House releasing, for the second time, documented proof he was born in Hawaii. For the most part, birthers refused to accept Obama’s “long-form” birth certificate at face value. Some even insisted the document they had sought for years — and claimed didn’t exist — offered more proof that Obama is not constitutionally eligible to be president.

Within hours of the White House releasing the document Wednesday — a political token Obama hoped would curtain the “sideshows” and muzzle the “carnival barkers” — lead barker Donald Trump held a news conference to offer self-congratulations for helping the country move past the issue. (Of course, for more than a month Trump has led the charge to delegitimize the president — and energize a possible campaign of his own.) Trump then moved on to question Obama’s intelligence, wondering how this “terrible student” got into Harvard and Columbia.

Not everyone would be as … ahem … gracious as The Donald.

Orly Taitz, often described as the “Queen of the Birthers” found herself in a surreal yelling match with Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC, demanding the camera zoom in on a copy of Obama’s draft records — new proof, she claimed, of a fraudulent presidency. The interview quickly devolved into shouting, and O’Donnell cut her feed. “I invited a crazy person on the show to see if a crazy person faced with the thing that the crazy person was trying to get for two and a half years could say something responsive, something human,” he said. In the end, she couldn’t.

The Council of Conservative Citizens, a white nationalist group that argues black people are “a retrograde species of humanity,” accused the White House of doctoring Obama’s birth certificate, claiming to have uncovered computer coding that suggests it had been digitally altered. Meanwhile, over at the far-right World Net Daily, Joseph Farah — who has sponsored billboards with the text “Where’s the birth certificate?” — called for a “skeptical public” to press Obama on his parentage and why he “continues to cultivate a culture of secrecy around his life.”

“It would be a big mistake for everyone to jump to a conclusion now based on the release of this document, which raises as many questions as it answers,” Farah said.

In what The New York Times called “a profoundly low and debasing moment in American political life,” Obama released the missing piece of the “birther” conspiracy puzzle — his “long-form” birth certificate. It confirms that Barack Hussein Obama II was born on Aug. 4, 1961, at Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961. His parents are identified as Stanley Ann Dunham, born in Wichita, Kan., and Barack Hussein Obama, born in Kenya — precisely what the president has said clearly for his entire life.

The questions Farah says remain are ludicrous, but they’re part and parcel of the loony conspiracy theories surrounding Obama’s presidency: He’s a Manchurian candidate, a sleeper agent placed here years ago by mysterious foreign — perhaps “Islamic” — interests bent on seizing control of the nation’s highest office to steer the country toward socialism. Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, reacting with typical chicanery, even suggested the president might not even be human.

What does he find shocking? “That Obama was born at all,” Limbaugh said. “I mean, here they have presented this guy as ‘the Messiah,’ as ‘the One,’ and those people aren’t born. They just descend from the heavens.”

The birther claims were first introduced during the 2008 campaign. They quickly spread from the conspiracy-laden dens of the radical right into the talking points of conservative media pundits and politicians, many of whom lent the idea credence. Sarah Palin said questions about Obama’s citizenship were “fair game.” U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-Minn.) questioned the president’s nationality, too, though she has backed off slightly in recent days. Arizona state Sen. Carl Seel introduced legislation that would require every presidential candidate appearing on that state’s presidential ballot to produce a birth certificate. (Gov. Jan Brewer ultimately vetoed the bill.)

Most recently, right-wing attack dog Jerome Corsi — best known for his “Swift Boat” twisting of the Vietnam war record of then-presidential candidate John Kerry — wrote two books questioning the Obama story. In what must produce chuckles in the White House, one of them goes on sale on May 17. Upon publication, Where’s the Birth Certificate? The Case That Barack Obama is not Eligible to be President will be saddled with an untimely title.

Even though Obama provided exactly what Corsi has been asking for, he wrote Thursday on World Net Daily that the president has more to prove. “Obama’s presidency now depends upon the White House being able to support the veracity of all the information contained in the birth document released yesterday morning.” He even claimed the document presents new proof to discredit the president. (Critics spuriously claim that because of his father’s Kenyan citizenship, the Constitution disqualifies him for the office of the president.)

During yesterday’s White House briefing, Obama said the time has come for the nation to move on and address the real challenges facing the nation.

“We’re not going to be able to do it if we are distracted,” Obama said. “We’re not going to be able to do it if we spend time vilifying each other. We’re not going to be able to do it if we just make stuff up and pretend that facts are not facts.”

Maybe, just maybe, the Trumps, the Taitzs, the Farahs and the Corsis of the world aren’t really interested in that at all.


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I was leaving the South
to fling myself into the unknown . . .

I was taking a part of the South
to transplant in alien soil,

to see if it could grow differently,
if it could drink of new and cool rains,
bend in strange winds,
respond to the warmth of other suns
and perhaps to bloom.
— Richard Wright

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The “birthers”, the Tea Party, and Donald Trump have attacked President Obama for quite some time on his legitimacy as a U.S. citizen. Their cries, screams and bleats demanding that he divulge his birth certificate have caused Pres. Obama to release his birth certificate, as the following Washington Post article states. The birthers finally got their wish.

But, something tells me that the birth certificate will not be enough for these heathens.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for them.

This will not be the last we will hear from them on Obama.

Pres. Obama’s releasing his birth certificate will not stop these racist, knuckle-dragging Piltdown humans. They seek to hound him from office and nothing, even with this certificate, will ever be good enough for them.



Obama produces his detailed birth certificate

By Karen Tumulty and Perry Bacon Jr., Updated: Wednesday, April 27, 9:33 AM

(Brendan Smialowski/ GETTY IMAGES ) – President Obama addresses the press corps Wednesday in the White House breifing room. The White House released a long form version of his birth certificate earlier that morning.

In a gesture that acknowledged the corrosive and distracting effect that a false but persistent rumor has had on the Obama presidency, the White House on Wednesday released the long-form version of Barack Obama’s birth certificate, which showed that he was born in Hono­lulu, Hawaii.

In a White House appearance, a smiling Obama expressed puzzlement that some people continue to believe he is not a U.S. citizen, a rumor he said has been fueled by “side shows and carnival barkers.”


(The White House/ The White House released a long-form copy of the president’s birth certificate Wednesday. ) –


President Obama made a statement about his birth certificate Wednesday morning, saying the country should focus on more important issues. (April 27)

President Obama made a statement about his birth certificate Wednesday morning, saying the country should focus on more important issues. (April 27)





Citing the serious economic challenges that face the nation, Obama added, “We do not have time for this silliness. We’ve got better stuff to do. I’ve got better stuff to do. We’ve got big problems to solve.”

The belief that Obama was born in another country, which the most recent CBS/New York Times poll suggests is embraced by about a quarter of Americans, has been used by some conservative critics of the president as a means to question his constitutional legitimacy to occupy the White House — and even his basic American-ness.

“The President believed the distraction over his birth certificate wasn’t good for the country,” White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer wrote in a blog post on the White House Web site. “It may have been good politics and good TV, but it was bad for the American people and distracting from the many challenges we face as a country.”

Most recently, it has been raised in near-constant television appearances by showman and business executive Donald Trump, who is flirting with the prospect of running for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. As recently as Tuesday, Trump — who claimed to have a team of investigators looking into the issue in Hawaii — said he had heard that the certificate was missing.

“I’m very proud of myself because I’ve accomplished something that nobody else has been able to accomplish,” Trump announced as he arrived in Portsmouth, N.H., for what looked like a campaign swing, to the news that Obama had released the certificate. “I am really honored, frankly, to have played such a big role in hopefully — hopefully — getting rid of this issue.”

At that point, Trump launched into another favorite topic: whether Obama — who graduated from Harvard Law School magna cum laude — deserved admission to Ivy League schools. Trump cited unspecified sources who claim that Obama had not been a good student.

During the 2008 campaign, Obama had posted on the Internet a shorter “certification of live birth,” which Pfeiffer noted was the same one that Hawaiians use to get a driver’s license from the state and the one recognized by the federal government and the courts.

The campaign also set up a Web site to address the “birther” controversy, as well as other rumors that had dogged Obama.

However, the rumor persisted — and, Obama acknowledged during his appearance Wednesday, probably will, despite the release of the long-form birth certificate.

The timing is in some ways surprising — though also telling of what drives the political culture these days. It came on a day when the top story might otherwise have been news of changes in the administration’s national security team.

And even as Trump had vaulted up in some polls of the Republican 2012 field in part by making claims that Obama was not born in the United States, a series of major Republican figures, including Karl Rove, the top political strategist for President George W. Bush, and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, considered a leading contender for the 2012 GOP nomination, had publicly urged members of the party to move on from the “birther” issue.

Indeed, it is far from clear who is hurt most by the persistent rumors, which many Republicans believe makes their purveyors seem wacky.

Obama himself was mentioning the birthers his recent campaign speeches, attempting to fire up his own supporters by reminding them of how some Republicans remained so sharply opposed to him.

In an interview with ABC News earlier this month, Obama suggested that continued questions about his background from Republicans such Trump would hurt the GOP in next year’s elections.

It “creates, I think, a problem for them when they want to actually run in a general election where most people feel pretty confident the president was born where he says he was, in Hawaii,” Obama said. “He doesn’t have horns. We may disagree with him on some issues and we may wish that you know, the unemployment rate was coming down faster and we want to know his plan on gas prices.

“But we’re not really worrying about conspiracy theories or or birth certificates,” Obama said, “and so I think it presents a problem for them.”




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If you missed viewing the first episode of PBS’ Black In Latin America, tonight is your chance to catch up on the next episodes. Black in Latin America is the third of a trilogy that began in 1999 with the broadcast of Professor Henry Louis Gates’s first series for public television, Wonders of the African World, an exploration of the relationship between Africa and the New World, a story he continued in 2004 with America Beyond the Color Line, a report on the lives of modern-day Black Americans. Black In Latin America, which premiered nationally Tuesdays April 19, continues on April 26 and May 3, 10, 2011 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings), examines how Africa and Europe came together to create the rich cultures of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The series will showcase the following countries:  Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru. If you miss tonight’s episode, not to worry. PBS will re-broadcast it for a week until the next episode airs. You can also view previous episodes by going to the PBS website.

Many of these countries have black Afro-Latin populations that many people in America are unaware of their existence. On the other hand, many countries throughout Latin America have sought to whiten their history, as well as seeking high immigration from European countries to further whiten their nations. The desire to erase much of the African influences and contributions throughout South America, Mexico, and Central America, has left those areas as an image of nations peopled by white people, or at least people who could pass for white, in the minds of many outsiders.

But, there is a profound effect that Africans have had on the countries discussed in this four-part series: 

-The first Black president in this hemisphere was not Barack Obama, but instead was Vicente Guerrero, who was of mixed black and Indian blood.

-The first black (and only) black nation in this hemisphere was Haiti, with its overturning slavery and winning its independence from France.

Haiti, with its proud and troubled history, and still recovering from last year’s earthquake. Haiti, one of the only countries that did not undergo the whitening mentality that affected other Latin American/Caribbean nations, even though colorism is an issue in Haiti as it is in many countries that have a history of European domination. Haiti, the only country where French is spoken.

-Brazil, with its huge land expanse, favelas, and the voice of blacks who have pride in their African history and legacy. Brazil—the only nation in this hemisphere where Portuguese is spoken.

Brazil, with its black heroines who valiantly fought for the end of degrading slavery:  Aqualtune, the enslaved African Congo princesss,  Anastasia, Patron Saint of Brazil’s blacks, and Dandarah, one who was named after a goddess.

The many color descriptions and racial classifications for blackness: Brazil, where there are 134 descriptions; Mexico, with 16; Haiti, with 98.

-Cuba, a country that is still under a U.S. embargo that keeps many visitors from going there.

Cuba, a country where the Rebellion of Matanzas in 1843 was led by Carlotta, a Black woman who fought for the freedom of enslaved Blacks. Her name was later given to Cuba’s 1980′s operation Black Carlota in Southern Africa, which culminated in the battle of Cuito Cuanavale and the defeat of the South African army in pitch battle.

-Vodun is a recognized and established religion just like Catholicism, Buddhism, and Islam, not the zombie, glazed-eyed-in-a-trance fiction of Hollywood racist movies.

-Brazil, outside, of Nigeria, has the largest population of African descent people.

The first episode aired on April 19, and it explained the history, culture and people of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

You can view the first full episode, “Haiti and the Dominican Republic: An Island Divided”  here. This episode explores race and identity in both countries.

(Minna Sedmakov/PBS)

A market in Haiti, a nation where enslaves overthrew their colonial masters in the 19th century. 

Tonight’s episode, is “Cuba: The Next Revolution.” It explores whether Fidel Castro’s revolution really eradicated racism in that country. You can decide for yourself with the title of the episode. In Cuba, Professor Gates finds out how the culture, religion, politics and music of this island are inextricably linked to the huge amount of slave labor imported to produce its enormously profitable 19th century sugar industry, and how race and racism have fared since Fidel Castro’s Communist revolution in 1959.

Part 3 entitled “Brazil: A Racial Paradise?”, airs May 3.

Part 4 and the final episode, entitled “Mexico and Peru: A Hidden Race”, airs May 10.

It would have been nice if Prof. Gates could have done all 12 South American nations, all 7 Central America nations, and all 13 Caribbean nations, but due to lack of sponsor support, he presented us with these gems of unknown knowledge. (Okay, I know; not possible at all to do all nations, but, wow, what a series it would have been if he could have pulled off such a feat).  I realize that a four-part series can only explore so much in the limited time it has, but, I was disappointed when I saw that some countries, and some factors, were not included:

-Puerto Rico. As a commonwealth of the U.S., its importance cannot be ignored, and as a nation where Puerto Ricans can vote in the presidential elections, but are not U.S. citizens, is one of the contradictions;

-Argentina, where the cry that “There are no Black people in Argentina” reverberates throughout the land, hides the truth that there have been, and still are Afro-Argentines.

-The many Afro-Latins found throughout this hemisphere:  Afro-Bolivians, Afro-Ecuadorans, Afro-Panamanians, Afro-Columbians and others all across Latin America, of whose existence the world is still unaware.

But, this program is a start, and it holds promise to shed more light on a part of the world of which so many know so little.

So, tune in tonight and get acquainted with your neighbors, America.

It looks to be an interesting, entertaining and educational series.





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Health & Wealth in St. John

TUESDAY, MAY 3, 2011 5:30PM-6:30PM


Calling All Sisters!
Find out how you can be a part of this positive
movement to uplift women and girls!

For more information, call Angela Coleman @ (340) 714-7076.


*Light refreshments

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