Saturday, December 30, 2006

Godfather's Gone, His Soul Lives On

Here's a thoughtful reflection of the life and music of the incomparable James Brown from Kenya courtesy of

Brown Dead But His Soul Lives On

The Nation (Nairobi)
December 30, 2006
Posted to the web December 30, 2006

By John Kariuki

The death this week of the "godfather of soul", James Brown, marked the exit of the last of the original exponents of this kind of music and undoubtedly its most enduring figure.

Brown died of pneumonia at the Emory Crawford Long Hospital, the US.

Coming from a generation of African Americans who ushered in the era of flamboyance in black music, Brown became an icon of showmanship high-energy shows that were so charged that he once claimed that on each he expended enough energy to supply electricity to a town of 25,000 people.

He was everything to look out for in a stage performer, earning the tag of Mr Dynamite, the hardest-working man, as compliments.

With his fancy foot work, Brown is credited with introducing synchronised dance on stage, a style that inspired fellow American pop star Michael Jackson.

His exuberant style and showmanship have few comparisons in the African American music, and probably only Little Richard gets anywhere.

A hardworking man to his final moments, Brown had planned to perform in Toronto, Canada, on New Year's Day, a fact that speaks volumes about his credentials as the self-proclaimed most hardworking man on earth.

In a career spanning 50 years, he had 119 chart hits from 50 albums, earned three Grammy awards and was a pioneer inductee to the Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame.

His greatest successes were in Papa's Got A Brand New Bag (1965), which won him a Grammy award in the R&B category, Say It Loud, I am Black "n" Proud (1968) and Living In America (1987), which won him a second Grammy.

The third was a Lifetime Achievement award in 1992.

Quite some credentials for a man who worked as a shoeshiner and learnt the tough ways of the street and serving jail as a juvenile when he was booked for petty crimes of car breaking and later for several drug-related cases.

But the shoeshine boy finally put the brush to his own life, earning millions of dollars as a recording and performing artiste and, like most others of his generation, blowing much of it away through bad investment decisions and fast living.

True to his superbad form, by the time of his death, the soul music he pioneered had fathered two of the most viable youth trends - hip hop and rap. Thus, Brown may be dead, but soul music lives on.

In defining soul, he once termed it "a reflection of the hard knocks suffered by Blacks in America. The unfulfilled dreams that had to be fulfilled."

Already, samples of his music have made careers out of rappers such as Ice-T, Fat Boys and Chuck D, and his influence has inspired other legends - notably Sly Stone, Rick James, Prince and a whole array of groups that gained fame during the funk music that evolved from his brand of soul.

There are others who can also claim credit for driving the popularity of soul and from his generation such as Wilson Picket, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin and Sam & Dave, all of whom were out there pushing for the genre that drew considerably from African American gospel music and straddled the ground between rock 'n roll and blues, but eventually refined itself enough to father trends of its own.

Originally, the general rhythm arrangement in the early soul music was built around hard, crispy guitar chops, busy drum patterns and staccato horns. But with Brown, the groove bass took prominence to create a more danceable beat, and the horns were more pronounced.

The concept has flourished to form the backbone for today's disco music which bears dominant basslines and sparse vocal melodies to allow more rhythm and beat.

In a comment, Chuck D sees nobody to equal Brown in real funky music. "He had the best grooves and nobody comes anywhere near," he said. Equally impressed was Radio One DJ Bob Harris who described Brown as "one of a kind, never to be repeated."

Besides Brown, Sly Stone and the late Rick James are the other musicians whose recordings have been used to flavour the current hip hop. Sly Stone's late 1960s classic Everyday People has been on the hip hop circuit, as were Rick James recordings from his Super Freak album that was adapted by MC Hammer as the backdrop to his rap.

But both came after Brown who was their early inspiration.

But Stone did probably better and, just like Brown's hit Say It Loud, I am Black and Proud, his song became the anthem for black pride in the 1960s.

Stone's 1969 hit Every Day People was equally potent as the rallying call for racial and social harmony. But while most other soul musicians were adapting to more melody than punch in their singing, Brown stayed in the old school, opting for punch to evolve a style that seemed more of scat singing (half-singing), popularised by jazz and blues musicians, only that his was more punctuated.

It has not survived the 90s which saw a smoother more melodic style in vocals, but has been redefined by the younger generation of rappers to extend its reign. It is clearly not soul as James Brown did it, but a new offspring that very much resembles the father.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Ethiopia and Somalian forces at war



Ethiopia 'repels Somali militia'

Children fleeing fighting in Somalia
Aid agencies say all sides must protect civilians

*Ethiopia says it has repelled Islamist militia threatening the seat of
Somalia's transitional government in the town of Baidoa.*

PM Meles Zenawi said he hoped to pull out his 3-4,000 troops within a
week, following days of heavy fighting.

However, the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) says it has made a strategic
withdrawal from frontlines.

A UN envoy to Somalia has urged the Security Council to call for a halt
to fighting, or risk a broader conflict.

A failure to reach a political settlement "would be disastrous for the
long-suffering people of Somalia and could also have serious
consequences for the entire region," Francois Lonseny Fall told the
15-nation council in New York.

However, splits have emerged on the council with Qatar insisting that
any statement should call for the immediate withdrawal of all foreign
forces, including Ethiopia's, from Somalia.

Other council members say that this should not apply to Ethiopian
troops, arguing that they are in Somalia at the request of the interim

The Security Council is due to resume its discussions later on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, on the ground, the Red Cross says it is treating more than
600 civilians and combatants injured during the fighting.

It has called on all sides to respect the rights of the injured and

*'Out of the game'*

Mr Meles told journalists Baidoa was no longer under threat.

Ethiopia had already completed half its mission, he claimed - saying
many UIC members were "out of the game".

He claimed as many as 1,000 people had died and 3,000 were wounded.

Mr Meles said his forces had found evidence that people from Eritrea and
Britain were fighting alongside the UIC militia.

On Sunday, Ethiopia admitted for the first time its troops were fighting
in the country, saying it was forced to defend its sovereignty against
"terrorists" and anti-Ethiopians.

The UN estimates at least 8,000 Ethiopian troops may be supporting the
transitional government.

Earlier on Tuesday, the African Union (AU) said Ethiopia had the right
to intervene militarily in Somalia as it felt threatened by the Islamic
militia operating there.

An AU official also acknowledged the body had failed to "react properly
and adequately" to the Somali situation.

Ethiopian jets fired at Islamist positions for a third day on Tuesday.

*African Union's Somali test*
*Tough task for Ethiopia*

The town of Burhakaba, one of the Islamists' main bases, is reported to
have fallen to forces loyal to Somalia's interim government.

In recent days, the area around the town - which is close to Baidoa -
has been the focus of heavy fighting involving tanks and artillery.

Speaking from Burhakaba, the Somali deputy defence minister, Salad Ali
Jele, told the BBC the government aimed to extend its control across the
whole country.

"The people [in Mogadishu] are already expecting us," he said.

"We call on the Islamic Courts to surrender... Mogadishu is the capital.
It is our duty to go there."

But the Union of Islamic Courts described its reported pullout from
areas in central and southern Somalia as a change of tactics.

A leading UIC official, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, told reporters in
Mogadishu that the retreat merely signalled a new phase in the war.

"Since Ethiopia started using air power and heavy artillery, we have
changed our tactics and are getting ready for a long war," he said.

Source: BBC: Dec. 26, 2006.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

In Defense of Jill Clark: Human Rights Defender

By Rashard Zanders, editor of Blacklogic and a member of the Jill Clark Defense Coalition

“Human rights defender” is a term used to describe people who, individually or with others, act to promote or protect human rights. See A very large portion of the activities of human rights defenders can be characterized as action in support of victims of human rights violations. Investigating and reporting on violations can help end ongoing violations, prevent their repetition and assist victims in taking their cases to courts. Some human rights defenders provide professional legal advice and represent victims in the judicial process.

What should a lawyer do when she encounters apparent evidence of corruption and judicial misconduct? What should a lawyer do when she takes the proper steps to report the corruption, and finds her complaints ignored by the apparent proper channels? Then take into consideration that that lawyer has a reputation as a human rights defender with a record of success in that judiciary.

In the Hennepin County District Court, Attorney Jill Clark has spent nearly ten years defending, often times pro bono, mostly people of color and poor people who have been victims of police brutality – a recurring problem in Minneapolis. The have used incidents of police brutality as an affirmative defense for their client/victims. The City of Minneapolis has paid in excess of $14 million dollars settling cases of MPD brutality over the last 10 years, according to a February 8, 2006 article in the Pulse of the Twin Cities weekly newspaper. Many more cases pending or unsettled. The cases which Clark has won and for which they have fought are numerous and will be reviewed in a follow-up article. But they are cases by whose defense the attorney merit s recognition and respect as a defender of Human Rights.

Furthermore, Clark along with attorney Jill Waite, have been instrumental in holding police and courts accountable through their involvement in the federally mediated Police Community Relation Council, as well as pushing the Minneapolis City Council to recognize the Civilian Review Authority (CRA) as a legitimate authority in authorizing penalties for MPD brutality. Jill Waite is not Clark's law partner--they are each independent but sometimes co-council on certain cases together. These are some of the reasons why has joined the broad coalition of Minneapolis community members as a supportive member of the Jill Clark Defense Coalition.

According to the non-profit Council on Crime and Justice, Minnesota has the highest rate of over prosecution of Blacks in the nation. According to the Minneapolis based police watchdog group Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB) Clark has encountered and exposed corruption and misconduct in the Hennepin County judiciary used specifically to “railroad police brutality victims and others,” corruption that contributes to such aforementioned disparity in prosecution.

Presently, the Hennepin County court system, and hence, the Minnesota criminal justice system, is undergoing serious, and possibly self inflicted wounds to its integrity.

As an attorney, Jill Clark has experienced first hand and heard directly from her clients about collusion between Hennepin County judges (including Chief Justice Lucy Weiland), the city attorney's office of Minneapolis, and prosecutors, including, but not exclusive to, annual social gatherings in Brainerd, MN at Maddens Bar – activities that in her judgment, violated the rights of her clients and further suggested to her that these problems were not isolated, but could in fact be affecting other people brought before the Hennepin County District Court.

Consequently, Clark has gathered an array of court documents and audiotapes to support the existence of those problems, and reported them in two separate complaints with the Judicial Standards Board, one complaint with the Lawyer's Board of Professional Responsibility, and one lawsuit in federal district court. The complaints allege activities on the Hennepin County District Court that violate the standards for judges established in the Code of Judicial Conduct, standards for attorney's in the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct, and the Human Rights treaties.

In violation of Article 9(5) of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, Jill Clark's complaints have not been investigated, nor have there been prompt reviews to date in a public hearing before an independent, impartial and competent authority as required by Article 9(5).


A retaliatory complaint filed on October 30, 2006 against Clark with the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board by Chief Justice Wieland, one of the judges whose conduct Clark had reported to the Judicial Standards Board, has been allowed to proceed to investigation, including the requirement that Clark submit a written response to the 28 allegations made by Justice Wieland against her.

According to Peter Brown, a local attorney, member of the MN chapter of the National Lawyer's Guild, and a Jill Clark Defense Coalition supporter, conducted his own independent study ahead of an NLG meeting in February about Clark's situation. His study suggests that “given the timing of the judge's complaint to the Judicial Standards Board (October 30, 2006) and the fact that it complains about statements Ms. Clark made in her [earlier] April 11, 2006 complaint to the Judicial Standards Board and federal lawsuit filed April 25, 2006, the appearance of retaliation is created.

“Until the issue of retaliation is forthrightly and thoroughly examined, the appearance is that a person who brought a complaint of human rights violations to appropriate authorities gets no hearing or investigation whatsoever, and a judge complained of subsequently files a counter-complaint and the wheels of investigation swing into action on her behalf. This, we believe, fits the profile of an impermissible retaliation against Jill Clark for complaining about human rights violations

“In terms of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the combined effect of the Judicial Standards Board's failure to act upon Ms. Clark's complaints and the Lawyer's Board of Professional Responsibility proceeding to process the judge's complaint against Ms. Clark, therefore, is an apparent failure to protect Ms. Clark from retaliation resulting from her legitimate exercise of her right to report activities that violate human rights, all in violation are Article 12(3).”

According to Clark, it was the “alarming conduct of Judge Wieland” that led her, in April '06, to file a complaint with the Judicial Standards Board on behalf of her two young African American clients.

Here are some examples from Clark's April '06 complaint letter:

Many of you know that I vigorously represent clients of color who were mistreated by police, and are standing up against fabricated criminal charges filed by those police.

Around Christmas 2005, Communities United Against Police Brutality called [the] Minneapolis police to ask that they preserve all video footage of an incident of reported police misconduct. As we often see in these cases, following the videotaped incident, both of the young Black men were faced with criminal charges.

One of them, Rasheed Abdullah, asked me to represent him. This is the kind of case that I take, this is the kind of case that I have been successful with. Ask yourself who would not want me to be successful with these cases.

Evidence shows that Judge Wieland took overt steps to keep me from being able to represent this young Black man, including:

My January 10 appearance form notified Judge Wieland's chambers that I was coming onto the case of the loitering ticket for this young man if necessary, I was prepared to defend him by pointing up the misconduct of certain Minneapolis police officers.

I gave the ticket number on that filing and faxed it to Judge Wieland's chambers.
It turns out the City of Minneapolis hadn't filed formal charges on that ticket. It appears that after [italics Clark's] receiving notice that I was trying to come onto the loiter case, Judge Wieland's chambers contacted the prosecutor from the City of Minneapolis, on my case, to tell her to enter the ticket into the system. That would allow Judge Wieland to act on it. No one told me, the lawyer for this young man, that this was happening. No one sent me a copy of the email.

Court was set for January 12.

Someone from Judge Wieland's chambers told the Minneapolis prosecutor to come 15 minutes before I was due to arrive. (What was said or transpired in those 15 minutes).

On January 12, even though Judge Wieland knew that I was representing the young man on this loiter case, she had conversations in her chambers with the City prosecutor, without me present.

I arrived early to review the court file (which by the way I got from Judge Wieland's chambers), and I was sitting in the courtroom know knowing they were in the chambers. During that time, government lawyers were talking about my case in Judge Wieland's chamber's, just down the hall, and no one came to get me in the courtroom.

By the time I learned those lawyers were there, it was clear that they had already met with Judge Wieland about the case(s).

When I went back to chambers and questioned what was going on, rather than including me in the chambers discussion, Judge Wieland tried to physically close her chambers door on me, to prevent me from going into chambers, where there had been discussions about my case. She resorted to physical conduct against me, instead of legal process, in order to keep me from coming into her chambers to discuss my case.

When it became clear that Judge Wieland would not allow me into her chambers, I was unwilling to resort to physical force to push my way into her chambers. But I demanded that if they talked without me, that I wanted a record. Judge Wieland told everyone to return to the courtroom, which I did. But once I got there, no one else came.

When I went into the back hall to see what had happened, attorneys were walking down the hall toward the courtroom and Judge Wieland was bringing up the rear. Judge Wieland told those attorneys that she wanted to “talk to Ms. Clark on a different matter.” Then alone in the back of the hall, just her and me, she got physically close to me and she threatened me about the case of Ali Dunham v. the Wayzata Country Club. That interaction was memorialized in my March 27, 2006 letter to Judge Wieland. [Copy provided with attachments A (my contemporaneous notes) and B]. In my opinion she was trying to intimidate me, under threat of filing an ethics charge on me, from doing my job.

Because of these and similar events, Clark believes Judge Wieland was trying to prevent her from representing Rasheed Abdullah on a case that she already knew involved allegations of videotaped police misconduct.

The aforementioned facts were put into a complaint to the Judicial Standards Board in April 2006, with an clear statement, Clark says, that I had more evidence and transcripts in my office.

“What was I supposed to do, stay silent,” Clark asked at a press conference held December 12, 2006 at the Hennepin County Government Center, shouting distance from Judge Wieland's chambers.


According to Clark, no one from the Judicial Standards Board ever contacted her about that additional evidence; rather, she got a letter dated May 23, 2006, that stated that there was “insufficient evidence to sustain your complaint or proceed to a public hearing.”

She wrote back a letter dated May 25, 2006, questioning how that conclusion could have been made, since she was never contacted to obtain the evidence that she already had in her office.

In a letter dated July 18, 2006, David Paull of the Judicial Standards Board told Clark that the Board had reviewed “a number of witness statements” and other documents. However, Clark says that when she talked to Paul on December 4, he said he doesn't take “statements,” he takes notes, and then writes paragraphs. Clark claims she was told the Board's review of complaints is “as loose as can be,” and it decides whether or not it “wants” to pursue the case further.

Neither Clark nor the other complainants believe they really know what happened to their April '06 complaint What is certain is that Judge Wieland is using the inaction of the Judicial Standards Board against Clark.

Prior to learning of Judge Wieland's October 26 complaint, in September and October 2006 Clark filed another complaint with the Judicial Standards Board, complaining about Judge Wieland's involvement in what Clark believed was a matter of pubic concern.

Clark filed a parallel copy with the Office of Lawyer's Professional Responsibility, asking that they investigate whether a lawyer was involved in that situation involving Judge Wieland.

About a month later, on October 26, Judge Wieland filed a complaint letter against Clark with that same legal office, claiming, apparently, that Clark violated her ethical rules by complaining against her.

It is at this point that Clark had her Eureka moment, and believes without a doubt that Judge Wieland filed her October 26 complaint to retaliate against her, in hopes of intimidating her into silence.

A copy of Judge Wieland's complaint against Clark is unavailable because in contains confidential information about a juvenile client of hers, without his permission.

Ironically, the Office of Lawyer's Professional Standards decided not to investigate the lawyer's conduct that would have implicated Judge Wieland, but has decided to investigate her. Hence the appearance that the lawyer who questioned the judge is getting investigated, but the judge is not.

“I am glad that Judge Wieland filed this complaint against me, because it gives the community the opportunity to discuss these important issues,” Clark said.

As advocates for Human Rights Blacklogic.blogspot will continue to update our readers and report as the situation develops. If you would like to become a part of the Jill Clark Defense Coalition contact Michelle Gross at 612-703-1612 or Pauline Thomas at 612-827-4158.
Communties United Against Police Brutality can be reached at 612-874-7867, or visit

Rashard Zanders can be reached at 612-812-5261 or via email at


12-26-2006.N1A_26YoungBROWN.GP72234LH.1.jpg (JPEG Image, 350x518 pixels)

'Person of the Year': You - Technology -

From JM:

Time's online voters actually selected Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The last paragraph lists Gates and wife, Bono, Bush and "the American soldier" as previous winners placed on Time's person of the year cover. It is only with Chavez that they seem to have to justify his win--by the people.

[What a hoot! Internet voters named Hugo Chavez Person of the
Year on TIME's own website, with 35% of the total votes. So TIME
named US, the internet voters, "Person of the Year" (rather than
having to put Chavez on their cover, they have a computer screen).

"You" beat Ahmadinejad (who got 21%) and Kim Jong Il (2%) and James
Baker and Condi Rice and George the Moron, all of whom got less
than 20% of the votes. One of their stupid nominees was "the YouTube
guys," whatever that means. They didn't garner many votes either.
Not mentioned in the quote below, of course, is the REAL winner
"You" chose: Hugo Chavez. The joke's on TIME. -NY Transfer]

'Person of the Year': You - Technology -

Baltimore Police Dept Racist Grooming Policy Petition

Baltimore Police Dept Racist Grooming Policy Petition

Thanks RB for this tip and pettition link.

The Baltimore PD wants to impose European standards of grooming across the entire dept.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Hands off Jill Clark


From Communities United Against Police Brutality's
newsletter from December 9, 2006
Attorney Jill Clark has tirelessly and fearlessly defended people of color and poor people who have been targeted by the criminal justice system, especially survivors of police brutality and family members of people killed by police. She often takes important cases free of charge, in order to create significant changes in police policies and practices. She is truly the people's lawyer.

As part of her work, Jill has encountered and exposed courthouse corruption being used to railroad police brutality victims and others. This corruption contributes to Minnesota having the highest rate of overprosecution of Blacks in the country (according to the Council on Crime and Justice). In April 2006, Jill filed a formal complaint against Hennepin County chief judge Lucy Weiland for activities that unfairly stacked the deck against her client. She filed another complaint in October against Weiland, two other judges and a prosecutor who colluded to deny her client justice. In both cases, although Jill indicated that she had extensive documentation on file, the Minnesota Board of Judicial Standards refused to investigate the case--or even review her documentation. We've had dealings with this outfit in the past and can tell you that this board doesn't do squat and seems to exist to protect wayward judges, so this was no big surprise. Still, you would think that some of her documentation might have at least peaked their interest.

Jill has now learned that Weiland filed a formal complaint against her with the Lawyer's Office of Professional Responsibility. Unlike the Board of Judicial (NON)Standards, this agency takes their responsibilities seriously. They have launched an investigation of the complaint. They won't find anything--there isn't a shred of truth to Weiland's complaint, which is mostly a rant about the fact that Jill complained about her. Still, the process itself is grueling and forces Jill to expend energy defending herself rather than working for the community.

We must fight back against this vicious attempt to silence one of the strongest defenders of the community against the abuses of the courts and cops. The people need lawyers like Jill who stand up for us against a repressive system. If we don't defend her, all other lawyers who do the right thing will be targeted, too and the community will be without the help we need.

If you've ever been helped by a lawyer like Jill, now is the time to come to her defense! Tell the system, HANDS OFF JILL CLARK!

Press Conference
Tuesday, December 12
12:00 noon
Hennepin County Government Center
300 S 6th Street, Minneapolis
By the fountain on the main floor
Called by the newly-formed Jill Clark Defense Coalition. Jill will formally announce the complaint to the media and we will announce the formation of our coalition and our intent to stand with and defend Jill and to fight corruption in the Hennepin County courts. We need lots of folks to be there, hold signs and be visible supporters.

Organizing Meeting
Tuesday, December 12
6:00 p.m.
Minneapolis Urban League
2100 Plymouth Avenue North, Minneapolis
We will continue to organize our Hands Off Jill Clark campaign and a counteroffensive campaign of going against the corruption in the Hennepin County courts. Come and join one of our working groups to stand with Jill and take action against the machinery that defends brutal cops and targets police brutality survivors.

Blacklogic is a full supporter of the Jill Clark Defense Coalition and will be reporting more on this story as it develops -- RZ