Loop 21 Runs Excerpts From Shawn Williams SPJ Address

TheLoop21.com published excerpts from my March 23rd address to the Society of Professional Journalists. The title they posted was Don’t Let Character Assassination Kill The Real Story.

I thought their choice of title was superb. Especially in light of the fact that when I wrote the speech, the latest attacks on Martin’s character had not reached the level we’re now seeing.

Jury Issues Mixed Verdict in Michael Baisden’s Copyright Infringement Case

The Wire

michael-baisden1Michael Baisden’s attorneys, Daryl K. Washington and Aubrey “Nick” Pittman, announced on Monday, a jury in Houston Federal Court reached a verdict in the copyright lawsuit filed by nationally syndicated radio and TV personality Michael Baisden.  The mixed verdict allows for the return of Baisden’s copyrighted rights and allows the best-selling author to proceed with upcoming movie and television projects.

In the lawsuit, Baisden claimed damages from past conduct of I’m Ready Productions and Image Entertainment for the unauthorized distribution of DVD’s based on two of his best-selling novels. According to Baisden’s attorneys, I’m Ready Productions filed a counterclaim against Baisden seeking compensation related to a movie based on one of Baisden’s best-sellers that Baisden had originally planned to write and produce.

According to the original lawsuit, I’m Ready argued that it had all rights to the stage-play versions of Baisden’s best sellers, The Maintenance Man and Men Cry in the Dark.  Documents filed in the case also showed that I’m Ready Productions was marketing movie rights to these best sellers and entered into an agreement with Image Entertainment to do a film from one of the stageplays.  In earlier arguments to the Court, the Court rejected I’m Ready’s arguments that it had the right to sell Baisden’s movie rights.   Pittman noted that after the Court denied I’m Ready’s contention, the jury had to decide whether Baisden was entitled to monetary damages from the past conduct of the Defendants.  The jury also had to determine whether I’m Ready Productions was entitled to any compensation from Baisden’s upcoming movie deals on his copyrighted works.  In the end, the jury answered no to both questions.

“I have mixed feelings about the case.  On the one hand I am ecstatic that my copyrighted rights have been returned to me to allow me to proceed with upcoming movie and TV projects without continued interference from Image and I’m Ready Productions,” said Michael Baisden.  “On the other hand, I am disappointed that this jury did not punish the Defendants for their open infringement by awarding monetary damages for their actions.  I have asked my general counsel to proceed with an appeal of the jury’s finding as to the decisions on the past conduct. The fight goes on, but I am excited to now be able to go forward with our movie and TV plans that had been put on hold for the last five years”

Michael Baisden is a recognized best selling author, nationally syndicated radio personality and TV talk show host.  His high-octane energy and love for interacting with his listeners is just one reason for the popularity and success of the number one rated Michael Baisden Show, which is broadcast to over ten million listeners in over 76 affiliate stations across the country.   Baisden is known for spearheading the historic Jena Six March and The Michael Baisden Foundation’s 2010 One Million Mentors National Campaign to Save Our Kids where he spoke in over 72 cities signing up mentors.

For more information on Michael Baisden, go to  http://www.BaisdenLive.com/ or join him at “Michael Baisden Live” on Facebook and “Baisden Live” on Twitter.

Rookie Arlington Officer Jillian Smith dies in the line of duty

jilliansmithOn Tuesday night, the Arlington Police Department was struck by the death of 24 year-old officer Jillian Smith.  According to the Star-Telegram’s Susan Schrock, Smith was a 2005 graduate of Seguin High School and received a bachelor’s degree in criminology from the University of Texas at Arlington in August 2009.

Officer Smith was responding to a domestic violence call when the assault suspect entered the apartment killing her and his ex-girlfriend before shooting and killing himself.  Smith is the second Arlington officer to die in the line of duty and 8th officer to die in the history of the department.

AG Eric Holder on Fair Sentencing Act, crack/powder cocaine disparity

From the Dallas South Newswire


“I congratulate the House of Representatives on today’s passage of the Fair Sentencing Act. The bill greatly reduces the unwarranted disparity in sentences for crack and powder cocaine offenses, and will go a long way toward ensuring that our sentencing laws are tough, consistent, and fair.

“By sending the bill to the President, the House has taken an important step toward more just sentencing policies while enhancing the ability of law enforcement officials to protect our communities from violent and dangerous drug traffickers.

“This day was long in coming, and I want to express my appreciation to the members of the House and Senate who worked tirelessly to bring about this result. Particular thanks are due to Majority Whip Clyburn, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Conyers and Crime Subcommittee Chairman Scott, and to the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Judiciary Committee, including Chairman Leahy, Ranking Member Sessions and Senators Durbin and Graham.

“I join them in celebrating this achievement, and look forward to working with them to implement the new law.”

Video: Ludacris talks about fixing communities and responsible leadership

Is Ludacris the leader we’ve been looking for?

Chris Bridges a.k.a Ludacris is offering a refreshing image for an art form that has seemed to lose its way over the last decade.  This past weekend he made the circuit, promoting his foundation and asking for a new look at philanthropic leadership.  This 4 1/2 minute video is worth the time.

Good Look Luda.

Top 10 Most Stolen Cars and 10 DIY Ways to Keep Them Safe

Thought I’d share a few excerpts from a post on the Top 10 most stolen cars:

1. Cadillac Escalade ESV: Twenty inches longer than the base model Escalade, it makes an attractive target, not just for the visibility, but for the standard features. It comes with many high-ticket items such as a DVD navigation system and Bose surround sound. The best DIY way to keep it safe? Park it in a locked garage. If the garage is full, find another place for your stuff. If you don’t have a garage, how can you afford a $65,000 car?

4. Dodge Charger: According to a Fox affiliate in Detroit, Chrysler products are so easy to steal, even a child can do it. Requiring only a screwdriver, a brick, and minimal force, thieves regularly steal and use these vehicles simply for transportation. The Detroit PD recommends etching your VIN on key areas of the vehicle to deter thieves. The entire video can be seen here.

7. Dodge Magnum: Also easy stealing, this wagon trim vehicle actually boasts an impressive engine that is attractive to joy riders. The newer models come with Sentry keys, making it difficult to start the car without one. Owners of older models are advised to purchase a steering wheel lock, starting at around $16.00.

10. Honda S2000: The only convertible on the list, it is a tempting target to thieves, simply because there is no need to pick a lock. With a simple slice from a household knife, a thief can cut open your top and be in the driver’s seat within seconds. If considering a purchase, try getting a hard top. It will pay for itself if it saves you from just one break-in.

Read the entire post here.

American Airlines To Launch Social Networking Site Focused On Sharing Black Culture Experiences From Around The World

FORT WORTH, Texas – American Airlines announced today it is launching a first-of-its-kind social networking site, BlackAtlas.comSM, which combines the best features of a travel site with the power of social networking to create a dynamic online community for travelers to share experiences unique to the black community.

User content will be anchored by travel video blogs and commentaries from author, filmmaker, television producer and world traveler, Nelson George, who will serve as the BlackAtlas.com travel expert at large. Unique travel content for the site is currently being collected at BlackAtlas.com. The site is scheduled to fully launch later this month.

“I love to experience new cities, new food and meet new people. I love the thrill of discovering black culture everywhere, and so many African Americans feel the same way I do,” said Nelson George. “I want to entice more people to hit the road by giving them a different, and hopefully fresh, angle on travel through BlackAtlas.com.”

Through blogs and discussion boards, users will be able to share travel stories, videos and photos and provide travel tips. They will also be able to rate or make recommendations of popular destinations and businesses, connect with other travelers with similar interests, answer questions based on their personal travel experiences and build travel itineraries based on user recommendations.

“We at American Airlines see BlackAtlas.com as an important connector, enabling an online community of travelers to share information about their favorite places for experiencing African-American and Black culture, food, music, literature, history and events across the globe,” said Roger Frizzell, American’s Vice President – Corporate Communications and Advertising.

“As we created the site, we also found a wealth of little-known facts about African-American and Black cultural and historical contributions in every corner of the world”, said McGhee Williams Ossee, Burrell Communications’ Co-CEO. “From a Jamaican restaurant in Milan to Santa Monica’s Ink Well Beach, there are uniquely African-American experiences enjoyed by travelers around the world. BlackAtlas.com is a forum that encourages travelers to share these stories and gives them the opportunity to better plan their next trip with a few key activities or places in mind.”

Site users will be able to share content across social networks, create profiles, rate content, save content to Favorites, create downloadable travel guides, contribute unique text, video or photos, and link to promotional fares on AA.com. Initial site content will be divided into destination/city-specific and category-specific information, such as travel tips, restaurants, nightlife, culture, arts and museums, historic sites, beauty and barber shops, and places of worship.

American Airlines developed BlackAtlas.com in partnership with Burrell Communications and Juxt Interactive.
For more information, please visit our electronic press kit at http://media.blackatlas.com.

Attorney General and Education Secretary Call for National Conversation on Values and Student Violence


U.S. Department of Justice to Release Study on Children’s Exposure to Violence;

U.S. Department of Education to Provide $500,000 Grant to Help Fenger Community

Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan today joined with Chicago city officials to call for a national conversation on values to address youth violence in the wake of the fatal beating of a Chicago high school student.  The announcement followed meetings with City officials, community leaders, students, and parents.

“Youth violence isn’t a Chicago problem, any more than it is a black problem or a white problem. It’s something that affects communities big and small, and people of all races and colors. Today is the beginning of what will be a sustained, national effort on behalf of this entire administration to address youth violence and to make our streets safe for everyone,” Holder said.

“Chicago will not be defined by this incident but rather by our response to it – so we came here today to join with you and with communities all across America – to call for a national conversation on values. It’s a conversation that must happen every place in America where violence, intolerance, and discrimination exists,” Duncan said.

Today’s meeting continues President Obama’s and the Administration’s strong commitment to combating violence:

    • In August, the Attorney General joined mayors from across the nation at a White House Gang Violence Prevention and Crime Control Conference.
    • The Recovery Act provided $4 billion for state and local law enforcement assistance, crime prevention, victims of crime, and funding to address violence against women. Through the Recovery Act, the City of Chicago received over $13 million in funding from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) to hire 50 officers to help combat crime and violence.
    • The President’s budget includes a request of $298 million in additional funding for hiring additional police officers to help meet the Administration’s commitment to hire 50,000 officers nationwide.
    • The Administration requested $114 million within the Department of Justice to fund programs designed to reduce criminal recidivism and help end the revolving door from corrections to reoffending, as well as $115 million in reentry-related programs funded within the Department of Labor.
    • The President’s budget requested $24 million to support successful community-based partnerships designed to end violent youth crime – partnerships like the successful model implemented by Operation Ceasefire in Chicago.

The Department of Justice will today release a study on children’s exposure to violence. Among other findings, the study shows that more than 60 percent of the children surveyed were exposed to violence in the past year, either directly or indirectly. Nearly half of children and adolescents were assaulted at least once, and more than one in 10 were injured as a result.  Nearly one-quarter were the victims of robbery, vandalism or theft, and one in 16 were victimized sexually. The study can be found at www.ojjdp.ncjrs.gov after 2 p.m. ET.

“These numbers are astonishing, and they are unacceptable. We simply cannot stand for an epidemic of violence that robs our youth of their childhood and perpetuates a cycle in which today’s victims become tomorrow’s criminals,” Holder said.

Duncan announced that the Department of Education is working with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to award a $500,000 grant to help Fenger High School and the elementary and middle schools that feed into Fenger HS, restoring learning environments following the death of 16-year-old Derrion Albert. His fatal beating, outside a Roseland community center several blocks from the high school, was captured on a cell phone video. Funds for this grant are coming from a grant program entitled Project SERV – School Emergency Response to Violence. This program is designed to help restore the learning environment in school districts that have been impacted by a significant traumatic event. SERV grants also were provided to school districts in New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York in 2009.

Duncan emphasized, however, “This is not about the money. Money alone will never solve this problem. It’s about our values. It’s about who we are as a society. And it’s about taking responsibility for our young people to teach them what they need to know to live side-by-side and deal with their differences without anger or violence.”

The grant from the Department of Education will enable CPS to facilitate safe passage for students to and from school, offer training to enable teachers to better manage their classrooms and engage students in learning, and it can be used to collaborate with community organizations to expand and increase student-centered support programs. The grant also can be used to strengthen the school support network with crisis response training for teachers, and to provide additional, extensive mental health services to students and the school community.