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Obama Visits His "Unhinged" Hometown

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Teens Skeptical President Can Change Gang Mindset

. . . Black Journalists Pleased With White House Meeting

Maine Paper Drops Request for Gun Permit Records

Commentators Struggle to Explain Admiration for Dorner

Swimsuit Issue Criticized for Use of Exotic Human "Props"

Gay Journalists Challenge AP Style on "Couples"

Pew Study Confirms Blacks Lead in Twitter Use

A Plan to Boost Minority Ownership of TV Stations

Short Takes

President Obama, speaking at the Hyde Park Academy on Chicago's South Side, called the killings in Chicago "the equivalent of a Newtown every four months." (Credit: C-SPAN) (Video)

Teens Skeptical President Can Change Gang Mindset

"President Barack Obama returned to Chicago for a few hours Friday to address the high-profile gun violence that continues to plague his hometown and suggested the solution is not only more gun laws, but community intervention and economic opportunity in impoverished neighborhoods," John Byrne and Dahleen Glanton reported Friday for the Chicago Tribune.

"The president didn't delve into his specific call for an assault weapons ban and other gun control measures, instead choosing to illustrate Chicago's plight by comparing it to the December elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six adults were shot. . . ."


Obama was responding not only to local residents but also to commentators who urged a personal visit by the president. Last weekend, first lady Michelle Obama attended the Chicago funeral of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, a baton twirler who participated last month in Obama's inauguration. She was shot and killed on Jan. 29 not far from the Obamas' Chicago residence after being caught in the crossfire between two rival gangs. Her parents attended Tuesday's State of the Union address.

". . . Obama's Chicago, our Chicago, is unhinged now, and rightly embarrassed," Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page wrote on Wednesday. "The street slaughter won't subside. . . ."

On Friday, Darlene Superville wrote for the Associated Press, "Obama sought support for proposals, unveiled this week in his State of the Union address, to increase the federal minimum wage and ensure every child can attend preschool. He also pitched plans to pair businesses with recession-battered communities to help them rebuild and provide job training. . . ."

Glanton prepared for the Obama visit by interviewing a dozen teenage African American boys at the Salvation Army's Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, youths "most likely to be hit by the gunfire that occurs almost daily in neighborhoods like Roseland, Englewood and Lawndale." They told Glanton that Obama can have little effect on gangs.

". . . While all of the young men at the community center said they had respect for the first African-American president, they noted that it would be difficult for anyone to penetrate the culture of violence," Glanton wrote.

" 'People look up to Mr. Obama more than he knows, but the one thing they need is their guns,' said Latwon Rufus, 18. 'It's about revenge, reputation and territory. That's the city of Chicago.' "

From left: Steven Gray, George E. Curry, Jenée Desmond-Harris, Michael H. Cottma

. . . Black Journalists Pleased With White House Meeting

In Washington, White House aides met with six black journalists Thursday to preview the "Ladder of Opportunity" proposals President Obama planned to discuss in Chicago Friday, and the journalists left impressed.

"I've attended every White House round table for black journalists since President Obama took office and this was the most engaging, and candid session yet," Michael H. Cottman of Black America Web told Journal-isms by email. "It signals, perhaps, a sea change in the way the White House plans to approach initiatives for black Americans during the next four years. The word 'black' is mentioned proudly and that didn't go unnoticed in our session. Valerie Jarrett said the White House will do a better job communicating its policies to African Americans and I believe that effort started with our interview this week."

Joining Cottman were George E. Curry, editor of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service; Jenée Desmond-Harris of the Root; freelancer Steven Gray; Leroy Jones Jr. of radio's syndicated "The PoliticalJones Show"; and Joyce Jones of Black Entertainment Television and Black Enterprise magazine.

They were briefed by Jarrett, senior adviser to the president; Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council; Danielle Grey, assistant to the president and Cabinet secretary; and Racquel Russell, deputy assistant to the president for urban affairs and economic mobility.

"I found all of the administration officials to be candid and very receptive to our questions," Desmond-Harris said. "Very helpful. Lots of insights,"  Gray said.

Curry said by email, "I agree with Michael that Valerie addressed the 'Why doesn't the president do more for Black folk?' question head-on. While the president has not moved from his rising tide lifts all boats approach, the White House seems intent on doing a better job of explaining how its policies and programs directly benefit African Americans."

Paul Farhi wrote in the Washington Post this week, "Obama has never consented to an interview with any member of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, an organization consisting of 210 African-American-owned newspapers, said Robert W. Bogle, the organization's former president."

"That criticism remains," Curry told Journal-isms by email. "I reminded Valerie after the meeting that we still want an opportunity to interview the president and said she is aware of our request but made no promises.

Asked whether meeting with the White House aides counts, Curry replied, "African Americans did not vote for his aides — we voted for him. We deserve to hear answers directly from the president rather than from his intermediaries. If President Obama can speak exclusively to the Latino media, as he has done on more than one occasion, and boldly advocate on behalf of gays and lesbians — and no one is suggesting that he should not have taken those actions — he should be willing to speak directly to the nation's Black newspapers.

"Valerie said the administration hasn't communicated its message as well as it should and I agree. This would be an excellent opportunity to correct that mistake."

Maine Paper Drops Request for Gun Permit Records

"The Bangor Daily News has rescinded its request for records about concealed weapon permit holders in the state of Maine," Anthony Ronzio, the paper's director of news and new media, wrote Friday. "We have informed the agencies who received our request to disregard it. We've informed the agencies who have responded that their records will be destroyed.

"We are disappointed with the reaction to our request, which we felt was with the best intentions to help study issues affecting Maine through an analysis of publicly available data. We will continue our reporting, but will use other sources of information to do so."

Ronzio added, ". . . The BDN never would have published personally identifying information of any permit holder in Maine, as a newspaper in New York had done," but said there were ". . . concerns about the concealed weapons permits process. Some callers to the BDN spoke of long delays in the review of applications. . . ."

Meanwhile, the Virginia state Senate voted 32-8 Thursday to bar circuit court clerks from disclosing to the public the names of people who have concealed handgun permits, Andrew Cain and Jim Nolan reported for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The bill goes to Gov. Bob McDonnell (R).

Shot to death: Monica Quan, an assistant coach at Cal State Fullerton, and her f

Commentators Struggle to Explain Admiration for Dorner

California authorities now say Christopher Jordan Dorner, the fugitive ex-cop, killed himself as the cabin in which he was barricaded caught fire after a shootout with officers. His saga left some commentators struggling Friday to explain why some considered the killer of four, including two police officers, a martyr.

For those concerned about open government, the case "underscores yet again why transparency in officer misconduct cases is needed," the Los Angeles Times said in a headline above an editorial on Tuesday.

"A group of panelists on CNN tried to make sense of the phenomenon this afternoon," Tim Hains wrote Wednesday for Real Clear Politics.

" 'This has been an important conversation that we’ve had about police brutality, about police corruption, about state violence,' said Huffington Post Live host and Columbia University professor Marc Lamont Hill.

" 'They were even talking about making him the first domestic drone target. This is serious business here. I don't think it's been a waste of time at all. And as far as Dorner himself goes, he’s been like a real life superhero to many people. Now don't get me wrong. What he did was awful, killing innocent people was bad, but when you read his manifesto, when you read the message that he left, he wasn’t entirely crazy. He had a plan and a mission here. And many people aren't rooting for him to kill innocent people. They are rooting for somebody who was wronged to get a kind of revenge against the system. It's almost like watching Django Unchained in real life. It's kind of exciting.' "

Not to Ta-Nehisi Coates, who wrote Thursday on his blog for the Atlantic, "I don't really know how anyone, with any sort of coherence, adopts Christopher Dorner as a symbol in the fight against police brutality, given how he brutalized those two human beings. "I cannot understand, except to say that sometimes our own anger, our pain, becomes so blinding that we fail to see the pain of others. This is the seed of inhumanity, and inhumanity is the seed of the very police brutality which we all deplore."

Donner's online manifesto charged the LAPD with mistreating him and sanctioning racism, the L.A. Times recalled.

". . . Police disciplinary boards, where the most serious charges of misconduct are considered, were open to the public for years, and that helped the Los Angeles Police Department on its long trip back from ignominy to esteem," the Times editorial said. "Their closure in recent years, as well as the department's refusal to release the names of officers involved in shootings, threatens to undermine that slowly recovering public confidence.

" . . . L.A. has been reminded in the starkest terms that the price of closure is not just inconvenience for journalists; it's the threat that the public won't trust the institutions protected by such secrecy."

A portrait of Emily DiDonato during photo shoot for the Sports Illustrated swimsui

Swimsuit Issue Criticized for Use of Exotic Human "Props"

"The icy, hot Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue has prompted some controversy," Ann Oldenburg reported Thursday for USA Today.

"No, no one's complaining about Kate Upton's curves (that we know of, anyway).

" stirred up chatter this week by pointing out that the issue features models posing with 'natives.' Writer Dodai Stewart goes on to say that 'using people of color as background or extras is a popular fashion trope, whether it's Nylon magazine, the Free People catalogue, British Vogue or J.Crew. But although it's prevalent, it's very distasteful.' She adds: 'People are not props.' "

SI swimsuit issue editor MJ Day replied, ". . . We pick these locations very specifically. That is because we can show people the world. How much of the population can access areas of the world we can access? We feel beauty exists on all levels as well. The beauty is in the people and the places. We want to immerse you as a viewer in these situations." Of the controversy, she dismissed it, saying, "There's nothing to it."

Gay Journalists Challenge AP Style on "Couples"

The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association is challenging a style memo from the Associated Press on same-sex marriage partners.

". . . What is troubling is the final sentence in the memo: 'Generally AP uses couples or partners to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages,' " Jen Christensen, NLGJA president, said in a letter Thursday to David Minthorn, editor of The Associated Press Stylebook.

"Such guidance may be appropriate for referring to people in civil unions, for which there are no established terms and the language is still evolving, but it suggests a double standard for same-sex individuals in legally recognized marriages. One has to assume that AP would never suggest that the default term should be 'couples' or 'partners' when describing people in opposite-sex marriages. We strongly encourage you to revise the style advisory to make it clear that writers should use the same terms for married individuals, whether they are in a same-sex or opposite-sex marriage. . . . "

Meanwhile, Linda Johnson Rice, chairman of Johnson Publishing Co., which produces Ebony and Jet magazines, endorsed same-sex marriage in an op-ed piece Thursday in the Chicago Tribune.

Chicago's WMAQ-TV reported, "The Illinois Senate advanced a bill legalizing same-sex marriage Thursday, voting 34-21-2 in favor of the measure. . . . Gov. Pat Quinn has already said he will sign the bill once it passes. The House still needs to pass the bill. . . ."

Johnson Rice wrote, ". . . My family has always made Chicago our home, and I care deeply about the values our company has espoused for decades. Fairness and equality means that what you are never limits who you can be. . . ."

Pew Study Confirms Blacks Lead in Twitter Use

"The popularity of Twitter and Instagram among blacks in American is surging, while white women under 50 continue to pin away on Pinterest, according to a demographic survey released Thursday," Roger Yu reported Thursday for USA Today.

"The survey, by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, also confirmed what parents of college students already know — 83% [of] Internet users ages 18 to 29 use social media.

". . . Asian Americans weren't included in the Pew study because there were not enough respondents to draw statistically reliable conclusions.

"Among the Pew findings:

  • "Twitter, Instagram are popular among blacks. Among black Internet users, 26% use Twitter, far outpacing whites (14%) and Hispanics (19%). In August 2011, 18% of black Internet users were using Twitter. . . ."

A Plan to Boost Minority Ownership of TV Stations

It's a growing trend in the television business: holders of separate TV licenses agree to share news or other departments. When the decision to share is made, it can lead to the elimination of the entire staff of one of the stations, as happened in Tucson, Ariz., in 2011.

Mignon Clyburn

These arrangements are called "shared services agreements" and "joint sales agreements."

They coexist with a more stubborn trend: Reporting on broadcast ownership, the Federal Communications Commission reported in November that while station ownership by whites increased, the minority numbers were declining. Blacks went from owning 1 percent of all commercial TV stations in 2009 to just 0.7 percent in 2011. Asian ownership slipped from 0.8 percent in 2009 to 0.5 percent in 2011. Latino ownership increased slightly from 2.5 percent to 2.9 percent.

As the CommLawBlog points out in defining "shared services agreements" and "joint sales agreements," "To some, they’re a godsend, sustaining stations that would otherwise be dead-and-gone. To others, they’re an anti-diversity scourge, a disingenuous device reflecting all that is wrong with Big Media Consolidation. . . ."

On Friday, Harry A. Jessell, a longtime observer of the television business and publisher of TVNewsCheck, endorsed "an idea floating around Washington" intended to make both diversity advocates and television station owners happy.

"Broadcasters eager to double up in markets often bring in third parties and help them buy stations in the markets with the intention of operating them under JSAs and SSAs. The help usually comes in the form of loans or loan guarantees.

"The idea is that the FCC would say that JSAs and SSAs are allowable only if the third parties are minorities and women. This would act as a powerful incentive for broadcasters to seek out such partners rather than the assortment of mostly white men we have today. . . . "

FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who has been pushing for greater minority ownership and is the first African American woman on the FCC), ". . . has a real opportunity here to increase ownership by segments of our society that were not just disadvantaged, but essentially shut out from getting a broadcast license in the days when they were available for the asking," Jessell wrote.

Short Takes

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Cross-postings from the Root


I have heard that Chicago has some of the toughest gun laws in the country. Other cities such as DC do as well, yet the number of deaths by guns in these cities remains repugnant. So, what good will more gun laws do? When guns aren't legal to begin with and gun laws and penalties are not enforced, what good are the president's pronouncements? This president like those of the past 40+ years, can't see the forest for the trees and are trying to put band aids on internal bleeding to appease the communities where this savagery is a way of life.


If you want violence to go down in Chicago and everywhere else, end the war on users of the 'wrong' drugs. If we can live with legal killer alcohol, surely we can live with legal marijuana, at least.

Let addicts have their drugs at non-black market prices as long as they don't cause society any problems. That would be one hell of a carrot for them to not cause society any problems. The extreme disparity between the way we treat people addicted to alcohol compared to the way we treat people addicted to other drugs is ridiculous, and extremely offensive to justice, and the cost of such fascist crap justice is being paid in blood every day.

QuietThoughtsII likes this.

aunt negrem

The only solution for the south side is to declare a state of city, county, state and national emergency, surround it with overwhelming force,,move thru house to house, take the illegal guns,,serve the warrants,,take the drugs,,etc then permanently secure the perimeter,,even the baggers couldn't disagree.


Good idea but wrong location. Washington would be a better place to do it, starting with Congress.


The Second Amendment comes to mind. The people have 'the right to keep and bear arms', and that right 'shall not be infringed' Also there's another amendment that prohibits 'illegal searches and seizures'. You need to read through the amendments before you make 'suggestions' of this nature.


We don't have enough police, national guard, or active military to do what you are suggesting. This is not just a problem in Chicago and DC, it is a way of life in every city across the country. It is a societal problem, but society only gives lip service. It's not just the politicians, it's us, the people who turn a blind eye to the problem. When communities have to say enough. When the last member of the neighborhood dies, then perhaps the problem will be solved. Until then, we will be like Hillary Clinton, when someone says look at the number of dead and how and why did they die? Her answer as society's is "They're dead. Who cares?".

Audrey Bam Jackson

African Americans should be paid reparations for number 1 # reasons is we was America citizen and America enslave its our citizen.

Obama does not respects the fact that African America worked picking cotton, tobacco and farming everyday without pay .President Obama support that Germany pays an estimated $25 billion in reparations to Israeli Holocaust survivors.

Why not support the citizen of this country and pay reparations is for the years labor receive

InnocentBystander likes this.

aunt negrem

As Abe Lincoln wanted to do in 1866, Repatriation back to mother africa for the slaves, not reparations that will never happen.

Audrey Bam Jackson

why not ,we was born citizen, of America . America demanded the Germany pay the Holocaust survivors. when you read the census you will see that Mattie the slave work without pay and if he was here everybody would demand for her to be paid .well apply that frame of though to yesterday . I don want to go back to Africa ,too many of my people died here. this president support the Holocaust survivors, why not Obama is a america president why not support American


If you are going to hold your breath waiting on that to happen you will soon be dead and forgotten. Never going to happen.


Audrey Bam Jackson

that the problem black accept not getting nothing , well i learn from the Israeli Holocaust survivors. don't accept . what kill me is the same African america will stand up up the Israeli Holocaust survivors. and not for yourself . as long as we got this president Obama in office and we are in america and this is america history I going to ask him to stand up for american (African america )

InnocentBystander likes this.


I think you are absolutely correct, Audrey. The time has come to change the things we can't accept, rather than live with them. Keep pushing and fighting for what is legally due us as the ancestors of millions of black people who worked their entire lives for free, so a bunch of lazy, greedy racists could enrich themselves, as they have always done when they were allowed to get away with it.

t ElFuego

Another The Root's article that sputters and fizzles out The only way the President can stifle gang violence is by an Executive Order of Marshall Law. Then he becomes a dictator. The failure of the churches, corrupt policemen and self-serving local governments consider gang violence fodder for profit. The local thugs must be dealt with be the communities that they terrorize. We expect Big Bro to wipe our butts continuously but we cry about the loss of privacy. Democracy just don’t work in a drugged out, it’s-all-about-me society.


really? we live in a drugged out society?

aunt negrem

Quite a few do,,well said fuego


Obama's failed urban policies

The obvious reason for the crime carnage unfolding in Chicago is the lack of economic opportunities. The absence of a stable economy in urban venues create behaviors that become criminal .

The post industrial world has created a culture of urban hopelessness and decay. The platform to address the malaise in urban venues across the nation includes a tangible national urban policy with a defined set of objectives from immediate economic safety nets to a decriminalization of urban behaviors on reaction to poverty.

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