Obama: One Year On

It was one year ago today the world watched Barack Obama make history by becoming America's first black president and a commander-in-chief who would save the world from the disasters the previous administrations created.

I came upon a article today about a website that is keeping an eye on Obama's greatest hits and misses in the last 12 months.

From Boston Metro:

Two New Yorkers who volunteered for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign wanted to make sure he kept his election promises. So, they created a Web site encouraging people to rate Obama on everything from his Cabinet members to weekly radio addresses.

“We’re trying to make it as easy as Netflix,” said Chirag Patel, 34, co-founder of the TabsonObama.org. “We hope it promotes transparency, accountability and civic engagement.” He also wants to provide “deeper insights than standard Gallup polls.”

Developed by a bunch of like-minded, tech-head liberals in Patel’s Brooklyn, N.Y., loft, the site shows low favorability for the president. In fact, ex-Bush appointee, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, is the most popular...

...How does Patel rate Obama, on a scale of one to five? He’s disappointed in the lack of a public option in health care reform, campaign finance reform and troop withdrawal from Iraq. “I might give him a three … or maybe a two and a half.”

Between the ongoing health reform debacle, Martha Coakley's Senate defeat, the escalation in Iraq, the Nobel Peace Prize and Chicago Olympics fails, I would give him a 3.

How do you rate President Obama so far?

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Drama in Haiti: Reporters or Heroes?

Since the earthquake in Haiti last week, there has been an outpouring of good will coming out of everyone. However, a couple of journalists have stepped over to the other side of the camera in recent days and became part of the news.

Friday night, CNN's Sanjay Gupta, who has always claimed to be a doctor first and reporter second, got into a bit of an ethical bind with some media analysts when he began treating patients after all the sanctioned United Nations medical personnel left a hospital for the night.

Today I saw the footage above, showing Anderson Cooper saving an injured Haitian boy from harm.

I say good on both Gupta and Cooper, but especially for Gupta because I would be saddened if he didn't do anything to help that baby. It is never unethical to save a life.



Wyclef Jean's side of the story

Wyclef's personal statement on the accusations against his foundation Yele Haiti.

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Haiti earthquake gets quick response online

Haiti was rocked Tuesday night by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake. According to a report, Haiti's First Lady Elisabeth Debrosse Delatour said that "most of Port-au-Prince is destroyed."

While almost all phone lines have gone down on the impoverished island, Haitians have been able to communicate to friends and relatives around the world with the use of new media. Not only has there been a flurry of tweets and photos of the devastation posted online over night, but charitable individuals and organizations have responded quickly with their efforts to help victims.

Victims of the earthquake immediately got on Twitter, uploaded photos and YouTube videos and text messaged to give eyewitness reports on the tragedy like this one:

RAMHaiti: It's 8:44PM and we're still getting aftershocks!!I can hear people gathered in the distance singing prayers...people in large numbers are singing prayers downtown

In the last few hours charitable organizations have been able to make initial assessments of victims' needs and have asked for donations, mostly through the use of digital tools.

Red Cross: Help Haiti right now, text Haiti to 90999 to give just $10 to the Red Cross

UNICEF: Donate now for Haiti on their website

Rap artist and activist Wyclef Jean was among the first to organize online when he sent out these tweets:

@wyclef Help Haiti by donating to Yele on www.yele.org follow @YeleHaiti

@wyclef Another way you can help Haiti after their 7.0 earthquake: Donate $5 by texting YELE to 501501 and by visiting www.YELE.org

News organizations that cater to Haitian communities in the United States have also taken the initiative to give their readers updated information about the earthquake's aftermath, such as the Boston Haitian Reporter, which has been live-blogging since Tuesday night.

While a full assessment of the Haitian earthquake will be long term, this latest international incident shows the incredible value in digital activism for quick response and possibly saving lives.

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Save Marcus Books!

It is with sad regret that Marcus Books, the nation's oldest black book store, is on the verge of closing. I have a picture of Mutabaraka because I remember meeting him on Jamaica once and he talked about a book reading he did there in 2005.

From Prometheus 6

Marcus Books is in foreclosure, the victim of a sub-prime loan scam and ponzi scheme. An auction is scheduled to take place next week, unless lawyers delay matters. It is $900,000 in debt on their mortgage. Because of hubris, the family did not disclose their situation to the pubic or more specifically to the black community until the eleventh hour. Several options are being attempted as we write, including having their property in San Francisco declared a historical monument, since Marcus is no doubt the oldest black book store in America.

Paul Cobb, publisher of the Oakland Post, is leading the charge to save Marcus Books. No matter the cause, the primary objective is to save this historical black business that has meant so much to Bay Area black consciousness. Thanks to Marcus, the little light of blackness is still shining in the Bay. So we want to save Marcus at all costs, even if 100 black writers must post themselves in front of the property on auction day, even if we go to jail.

I want to save Marcus in spite of my personal relationship with the family which has been shakey from time to time, but Julian Richardson was my mentor, so I will fight to save it because of his contribution to black liberation in the Bay and throughout America, since writers, artists and activists from around the world came through Marcus Books, either in person or with their books, and shed light on a people who walked in darkness.

If you want to help, I suggest you call Paul Cobb at the Oakland Post Newspaper. 510-287-2800.



The Music of David Bowie

Forget Elvis; lets celebrate the living, breathing musical genius of David Bowie.

Lets groove into the weekend with a few of my favorite songs.

What are your favorite Bowie songs?



Resolve to Eat Healthy in 2010

Food justice activist and journalist Michael Pollan was on the Daily Show last night, keeping it real about the war on Big Food. By the way, Jon Stewart on "Terror 2.0" and religious advice for Tiger Woods is funny and on point.

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New Year, New (ish) Books

So, I'm not a big fan of new year's resolutions, but I do figure that now is a good time to get cracking on some new and not so new books I have been putting off.

Here is my reading list so far.

The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy by Raj Patel

Something to Tell You: A Novel by Hanif Kureishi

The Black Album by Hanif Kureishi (For old time's sake!)

Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays by Zadie Smith

Rasta and Resistance: From Marcus Garvey to Walter Rodney by Horace Campbell (really for old time's sake!!)

The Conversation: How Black Men and Women Can Build Loving, Trusting Relationships
by Hill Harper (I know, out of left field, right? After interviewing him recently, I thought I would check the book out.)

In addition, I hope to not only follow Michael Pollan's Food Rules, but also make the attempt to cook all (or most) of the recipes in Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen this year!

Yay for me! What are your reading?