Thursday, August 13, 2015

Last Call For Youngstown Burning

When we say that black lives matter, and black people get the response "But what about..." or "Why not support..." or "Yes but it's also about..." I shake my head, because as long as incidents like this keep happening, everything else in our lives is secondary.

A  Youngstown, Ohio woman says she is in fear for her life after she moved her business into a new neighborhood where she has been threatened and harassed — and her truck was burned by vandals. 
The New York Daily News reported that 40-year-old Nicole Rhodes has been targeted because she is a black woman opening a business in a mostly-white neighborhood. 
The harassment began about three weeks ago with a note taped to the door of Rhodes’ beauty school and salon, which she is moving into an old school building on Mt. Vernon Avenue that her family has owned for three years. 
“We don’t want you here black b—-,” the note said. “Don’t get burnt up in there.”
Then on Monday, she came outside to find her 2006 Ford pickup ablaze

You have to understand that we're fighting to survive in a country where being black itself is enough to incite dangerous and sometimes deadly violence against us.  It's not that I don't care about drones or civil liberties or Gitmo detainees or Income inequality, I do.  I recognize those are important issues.

But racism in this country directly interferes with my ability to address those issues.  When a police officer can summarily execute someone for being black, my priorities as a black man have to start with this issue, self-preservation, above everything else.

“This can’t be real. This just can’t be real,” Rhodes said in an interview with the Daily News on Wednesday. “It just cannot be this serious. Black skin just can’t be this serious. Black skin just can’t make you go destroying property.” 
Fire investigators concluded that the blaze was deliberately set and are investigating the threats and fire as hate crimes. 
Youngstown Fire Department Investigator Alvin Ware told WKBN-27, “There’s something going on.” 
Rhodes said she has put up 16 surveillance cameras around the property and will not be intimidated into opening her business somewhere else.

And let's be honest here, black history is replete with examples of programs for correcting economic injustice independent of addressing racism, where racism in applying these crept in and these programs were used as a bludgeon against us to keep us down. Economic injustice and racism are deeply related, but they are separate issues.  I'm seeing a lot of talk about how we need to fix economic injustice.  I'm not seeing candidates tell me "we're going to work on racism."

So as long as people are willing to commit arson against a black woman in 2015 for the crime of being a black woman, everything else has to take a back seat, folks.  You can accuse Black Lives Matter of being a "single issue" group all you want to, but the reality is that if you're dead, you can't do much of anything useful.

Self-preservation wins.  It has to.  But for the grace of God I am not a hashtag.

The Moderate John Kasich Strikes Again

Sick of hearing how John Kasich isn't considered a far right GOP reactionary just because he doesn't scream on national TV.  His policies are just like the rest of the party of bad science and corporate interests.

Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) is the rare GOP presidential candidate who has acknowledged that climate change is a real problem requiring us to “protect” the “creation that the Lord has given us.” But just days after earning plaudits for his relatively moderate-sounding approach in Thursday’s GOP presidential debate, Kasich adopted a climate-change denialist approach on Sunday.

On NBC’s Meet the Press, host Chuck Todd called Kasich one of the “big winners of Thursday’s debate,” and praised him for an “impressive performance for the supportive crowd” in his home state and read a Time magazine quote comparing him to Pope Francis.

Kasich distanced himself from the Pontiff on economic issues and environmental ones. “I think that man absolutely affects the environment, but as to whether, what the impact is… the overall impact — I think that’s a legitimate debate.”

He then added: “We don’t want to destroy people’s jobs, based on some theory that is not proven.”

The new climate denier position: yes, man-made global warming exists, the thousands of scientists who are telling us it's a global problem are just confused I guess, and besides, the richest, most exceptional country on Earth can't afford to do anything about it.

Just like we can't afford to do anything about roads, schools, the electrical grid, guns, water mains, bridges, jobs programs, education, and everything else.

Until it's too late, of course.

President Carter Has Cancer

Jimmy Carter is 90 years old and is still going strong, leading international initiatives through his Carter Center.  He's been a strong voice for world peace and a tireless advocate for Habitat For Humanity, among other charities and NGOs. It pains me then to hear that this true example of an American statesman, having served his country for more than 40 years, is now facing the specter of cancer.

"Recent liver surgery revealed that I have cancer that now is in other parts of my body," Carter said in the statement released by the Carter Center. "I will be rearranging my schedule as necessary so I can undergo treatment by physicians at Emory Healthcare."

The statement makes clear that Carter's cancer is widely spread but not where it originated, or even if that is known at this point. The liver is often a place where cancer spreads and less commonly is the primary source of it. The statement said further information will be provided when more facts are known, "possibly next week."

Carter announced on Aug. 3 that he had surgery to remove a small mass from his liver.

Good wishes poured in on social media after Carter's announcement, while President Barack Obama said he and first lady Michelle Obama wish Carter a fast and full recovery.

"Jimmy, you're as resilient as they come, and along with the rest of America, we are rooting for you," Obama said in a statement.

Jimmy Carter has the resume of ten lesser people combined, a Nobel Peace Prize, countless hours as America's global diplomat emeritus, and a new memoir.  Now he faces this challenge.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to President Carter," said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.

"There's a lot we don't know," but the first task likely will be determining where the cancer originated, as that can help determine what treatment he may be eligible for, Lichtenfeld said. Sometimes the primary site can't be determined, so genetic analysis of the tumor might be done to see what mutations are driving it and what drugs might target those mutations.

"Given the president's age, any treatments, their potential and their impacts, will undoubtedly be discussed carefully with him and his family," he added.

Age by itself does not preclude successful cancer treatment, said Dr. Lodovico Balducci, a specialist on treating cancer in the elderly at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. Much depends on the patient's "biological" age versus his actual years, he said.

"A man 90 years old normally would have a life expectancy of two or three years, but Jimmy Carter is probably much younger than that" in terms of his function, Balducci said. "If he tolerated liver surgery I imagine he has a relatively good tolerance" to other treatments that might be tried. For example, Moffitt has developed a scoring system to estimate how well an older person would tolerate chemotherapy, and the risk of serious side effects.

The first task is to determine if the cancer is curable, "which is unlikely with metastatic cancer," or if it is possible to meaningfully prolong the life through further surgery or other treatments, Balducci said. "Cancer in a 90-year-old is a serious problem, but that does not mean a 90-year-old cannot benefit from treatment."

Here's wishing Jimmy well.


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