Former Suspect In The Death of Kendrick Johnson Charged With Assault

We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident

On January 13, 2013, 17-year old Kendrick Johnson’s body was discovered in a gym mat in Valdosta, GA. Local authorities and a government medical examiner determined that Johnson died of “positional asphyxia” due to an accident.  They described the accident as Kendrick placing his shoes inside the gym mat and while retrieving them, he became stuck in the mat.

In October 2013, Kendrick’s parent had an independent autopsy performed.  The cause of death was determined to be “apparent non-accidental blunt force trauma”.  CNN reported on the independent autopsy.

Thereafter, the Department of Justice opened an investigation.  In June 2016, the DOJ closed their investigation citing insufficient evidence.

During the DOJ’s investigation, two suspects were brothers Brandon and Brian Bell. Brian Bell now attends the University of Akron where he plays linebacker on the football team.

brian-bellBrian Bell

On September 22, 2016, Raycom News Network reported that Brian Bell was charged…

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Some feedback about the book is puzzling

I agree with the author that the telling is important.

The Last Lynching in Northern Virginia: Seeking Truth at Rattlesnake Mountain

pic-048 Mt. Welby was the home of the DeButts family at the time of Shedrick Thompson’s death. It is now a bed-and-breakfast.

The Last Lynching in Northern Virginia has been out three weeks, long enough for me to get some feedback. As expected, the results are mixed.

I’m delighted when I hear that someone enjoyed the book. “You addressed a very difficult and dark subject very well,” said one reader. “Well done,” said another.

I also was pleased to hear from Daniel DeButts, a descendant of two of the men implicated in Shedrick Thompson’s death. DeButts posted on my Facebook page that he had read the book, and added, “My family was surely part of it, as you say. They made sure he was not on Mt. Welby (the family farm) when they strung him up. Just over the fence on someone else’s land.”

And two of Thompson’s descendants, after hearing…

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Famous Presidential Quotes Compared To Donald Trump’s

This is obviously selective to present a certain political disadvantage, but it’s fun reading and asks an important question: can we live with Donald Trump’s statements as “presidential quotations” in our future history?

We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident

By Guest Blogger, Racerrodig

I put together quotes from United States Presidents that I remembered and went to the trouble to look them up exactly as spoken, then added a “comparable” Trump quote. It’s fairly long and I know this would take a year to do right, but here it is………..Racerrodig’s take on the Donald’s philosophies.
“….let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – FDR

“I would rather belong to a poor nation that was free than to a rich nation that had ceased to be in love with liberty.” – Woodrow Wilson

“I plan to implement stop and frisk in the black communities.” the Donald

“I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited” RonaldReagan

“When one side only of a story is heard and often repeated, the human mind becomes…

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A “Founding Mother” on Political Partisanship—Abigail Adams to Thomas Jefferson, August 18, 1804

Retired But Not Shy

john-quincy-adams[NOTE:  As a rule, I do not post at this blog about current American politics (for an exception, go here).  I usually limit that sort of thing to my Facebook timeline, when I “say something” about an article that I’m “sharing” from a newspaper like the New York Times or the Washington Post.

Madison and Jefferson cover

Nevertheless, the other morning, while reading a chapter in Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg’s fine book, Madison and Jefferson, I came across a passage that struck me as painfully relevant to our contemporary political climate.  I went to the source of that passage, and reading the entire letter made an even stronger impression.  What follows is my summary of Abigail Adams’ letter to Thomas Jefferson in mid-August 1804, as well as comments that might, I hope, suggest how ideas in that letter apply to our current depressing presidential campaign.]

* * * * *

Adams-Jefferson Letters

The context of Abigail Adams’ letter…

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Urban planners, city workers, airport architects, heads up!Highways Can Help Pollinators Return to Health

In the face of rapidly-declining honeybee populations, farms across the country are under threat. In California, officials are now pioneering new methods to boost the health of the honeybees and bu…

Source: Highways Can Help Pollinators Return to Health

Race and policing in the U.S.

The dialogue that is loosely referenced under the banner of “Black Lives Matter” is a crucial, landmark, richly promising dialogue.  Yes, it hurts right now, but can we as a country find a way to ensure that these pains are birth pangs?  The birth of a healed and healing nation?

The dialogue about legislation, public life, policing, and reform movements is important.  But I can’t help but believe that the best answers are to be found at a deeper level, the heart and soul level.  Thoughtful introspection, painful investigation, searching for superior self-knowledge, and humbling ourselves to examine with fresh eyes our experiences, our observations, and our socialization in this my country is required.

Dig, dig, dig into the nature of our beliefs and our practices, our instincts and our socialization into our society.

How do we value each other?  What human qualities do we respect?   How humble can we become while assessing the current situation?  Who is a “hero?”  Who is a “suspect?” What wrongs can be righted? What rights can be respected?

A single individual can be right and wrong, heroic and cowardly, highly educated and ignorant, overcoming and yet helplessly trapped in evil instincts and patterns.  A single individual can be guilty and innocent, improving and fallible, insightful and blind. We are each and every one deeply flawed yet amazingly capable of growth, insight, and transformation.

We can learn to celebrated differences yet recognize that these differences are surface, social creations. We can learn to celebrate our common humanity and recognize that some acknowledgements of that common humanity need to be made publicly, repeatedly, genuinely, and in many varied times and places.  We must remind ourselves every hour of the journey and the path that we choose.  We must reach out our hands, our hearts, our feet, our pocketbooks, and step into the unknown, taking a big eraser to our pride, our anger, our churning bundle of primitive mysterious weighty “truisms.”

We must talk to each other, in private, in public, aloud, silently, in long and short conversations, in writing and with our tongues, with our body language and with our priorities.  That’s how we have a meaningful and fruitful dialogue.

We must stop blaming the past for inadequacies of the present.  Rather, we can confront our pasts with new eyes, new ears, and new questions. We can stand on the foundation of the past to build a better future. We can.  It begins with each individual.

When we humble ourselves, open ourselves, invest the time to meditate upon this situation, truly meditate; when we do these things, is the action to which we are led the action of reaching for a gun? I think not.

Love one another. Humble ourselves. Find different definitions of power and satisfaction.





EXCERPT: Murrow’s Cold War

This looks fascinating!

UNP blog


TomlinThe following is an excerpt from Murrow’s Cold War (May 2016) by Gregory M. Tomlin. 

In March 1961 America’s most prominent journalist, Edward R. Murrow, ended a quarter-century career with the Columbia Broadcasting System to join the administration of John F. Kennedy as director of the United States Information Agency (USIA). As director of the USIA, Murrow hired African Americans for top spots in the agency and leveraged his celebrity status at home to challenge all Americans to correct the scourge of domestic racism that discouraged developing countries, viewed as strategic assets, from aligning with the West.

Chapter 8: Birmingham, the Story Heard ‘Round the World 

“We cannot do good propaganda unless we have something good on which to base it.” —Eleanor Roosevelt, May 26, 1961

While Kennedy utilized his executive power selectively to address aspects of American racism, Murrow faced the challenge of explaining the civil rights movement to the…

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“Vegetated shores remain the best defense and management strategy to protect shorelines from ice push damage.”

Ice heaving, ice jacking or ice push are all names for the same, fairly common winter event on Vermont lakeshores. And, mild winters, like this past one in 2016, with low snow coverage combined with frequent freeze/thaw events can cause some of the more severe ice damage along shorelands. Sheets of ice pushing and expanding […]

via Mild Winter Leaves Unwanted Surprises for Shorelands Owners – Ice Berms! — Flow

Simple things

Pushing this rotary blade mower today – almost done with 2 out of 4 large yards (over an acre). This is my second day of experimenting with this activity. My thoughts below the visual evidence.

IMG_1768 2

What if more people around the world viewed environmentally responsible habits as fun? Healthy? Rewarding? Pleasurable?

I am older and not in great health, presently. In fact, I am in physical therapy twice a week and on a medical leave of absence from my university. But this, this activity: balance is not an issue because I’m holding a wide, sturdy bar similar to a walker; risk of harm is low because there is no power motor involved; weight is distributed evenly. Note the full foot and ankle brace showing on right ankle. Whenever I feel tired, I slow down or stop and rest. The activity will take several sessions spread out over several days.  It was definitely aerobic which is challenging for me to find (can’t run, can’t pound the foot/ankle, can’t bicycle due to balance handicap, too cold out to swim).

This experience was filled with pleasure and satisfaction. I felt empowered. The rotary blades did a good job.  Worked off some of the anxiety of the news from Brussels. I was not disturbing my neighbors and community with the noise of small engines, nor was I polluting the air. Mild muscle strengthening. Husband and dog entertained. Form and posture could be worked out, modified, tested through the marching up and down the grounds. A good stretch.  Happily wearing my dorky clothes. Wind blowing the blousy blouse.

Lean in, Pat; lean in!