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That Cat Is Down With The Rhythm

The ASPCA will be handing out 10 Humane Awards on October 29, reports USA Today. Among the recipients are law-enforcement agents involved in the largest dog-fighting raid ever; a couple whose ranch is now a sanctuary to about 70 animals; and, of course, Nora the Piano-Playing Cat, the ASPCA’s 2009 Cat of the Year.

Wait, what? The mewing musician isn’t being rewarded for her mad musical skills (although she’s better at tickling the ivories than some of us here at Paw Nation), but for the way she’s raised the profile of shelter pets. You see, shelter pets aren’t just sad, furry faces waiting to be rescued. They’re animals with lovable personalities and talents, and Nora is proof. You just never know who’s going to steal your heart (and maybe the spotlight) at your local shelter or rescue!

Check out the ASPCA Website for a full list of 2009 Humane Award winners.
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    Posted 5 years ago at 7:18 am. Add a comment

    Louisiana Justice Of The Peace Refuses Inter-racial Couple A Marriage License

    Mildred & Richard Loving

    Mildred & Richard Loving

    Mrs. Loving and her husband, Richard, were in bed in their modest house in Central Point in the early morning of July 11, 1958, five weeks after their wedding, when the county sheriff and two deputies, acting on an anonymous tip, burst into their bedroom and shined flashlights in their eyes. A threatening voice demanded, “Who is this woman you’re sleeping with?”

    Mrs. Loving answered, “I’m his wife.”

    Mr. Loving pointed to the couple’s marriage certificate hung on the bedroom wall. The sheriff responded, “That’s no good here.”

    Apparently a white Louisiana justice of the peace feels the same way in 2009.

    Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long and said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have.

    “I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way,” Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday. “I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else.”

    Bardwell said he asks everyone who calls about marriage if they are a mixed race couple. If they are, he does not marry them, he said.

    Bardwell said he has discussed the topic with blacks and whites, along with witnessing some interracial marriages. He came to the conclusion that most of black society does not readily accept offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society, he said.

    “There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage,” Bardwell said. “I think those children suffer and I won’t help put them through it.”

    If he did an interracial marriage for one couple, he must do the same for all, he said. “I try to treat everyone equally,” he said.

    Bardwell estimates that he has refused to marry about four couples during his career, all in the past 2 1/2 years.

    Beth Humphrey, 30, and 32-year-old Terence McKay, both of Hammond, say they will consult the U.S. Justice Department about filing a discrimination complaint.

    Humphrey, an account manager for a marketing firm, said she and McKay, a welder, just returned to Louisiana. She is white and he is black. She plans to enroll in the University of New Orleans to pursue a masters degree in minority politics.

    “That was one thing that made this so unbelievable,” she said. “It’s not something you expect in this day and age.”

    Humphrey said she called Bardwell on Oct. 6 to inquire about getting a marriage license signed. She says Bardwell’s wife told her that Bardwell will not sign marriage licenses for interracial couples. Bardwell suggested the couple go to another justice of the peace in the parish who agreed to marry them.

    “We are looking forward to having children,” Humphrey said. “And all our friends and co-workers have been very supportive. Except for this, we’re typical happy newlyweds.”

    As a result of Richard and Mildred Loving’s lawsuit, the Supreme Court issued a ruling, in 1967, which struck down the last group of segregation laws to remain on the books — those requiring separation of the races in marriage. The ruling was unanimous, its opinion written by Chief Justice Earl Warren, who in 1954 wrote the court’s opinion in Brown v. Board of Education, declaring segregated public schools unconstitutional.

    In Loving v. Virginia, Warren wrote that miscegenation laws violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause. “We have consistently denied the constitutionality of measures which restrict the rights of citizens on account of race,” he said.

    “It is really astonishing and disappointing to see this come up in 2009,” said American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana attorney Katie Schwartzmann.

    The ACLU sent a letter to the Louisiana Judiciary Committee, which oversees the state justices of the peace, asking them to investigate Bardwell and recommending “the most severe sanctions available, because such blatant bigotry poses a substantial threat of serious harm to the administration of justice.”

    “He knew he was breaking the law, but continued to do it,” Schwartzmann said.

    According to the clerk of court’s office, application for a marriage license must be made three days before the ceremony because there is a 72-hour waiting period. The applicants are asked if they have previously been married. If so, they must show how the marriage ended, such as divorce.

    Other than that, all they need is a birth certificate and Social Security card.
    The license fee is $35, and the license must be signed by a Louisiana minister, justice of the peace or judge. The original is returned to the clerk’s office.

    “I’ve been a justice of the peace for 34 years and I don’t think I’ve mistreated anybody,” Bardwell said. “I’ve made some mistakes, but you have too. I didn’t tell this couple they couldn’t get married. I just told them I wouldn’t do it.”

    The statute in Louisiana does not give Mr. Bardwell the discretion withhold the issuance of a marriage license to inter-racial couples.

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      Posted 5 years ago at 11:49 am. Add a comment

      From the Mouth Of Babes: Fourth Grader Ask President An Interesting Question

      Watch CBS News Videos Online

      At a town hall meeting in New Orleans Thursday, fourth-grader Terrence Scott earnestly asked the question that has probably been on many people’s minds as they witnessed the rage that has been directed at Obama these last few months: “why do people hate you?” The young man seemed genuinely concerned as he asked the question, and he went on to tell Obama that “They supposed to love you.”

      Giving the young man a hug while saying, “That’s what I’m talking about” , President Obama said, “it is just politics” and that “you have to take it with a grain of salt.

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        Posted 5 years ago at 6:21 am. Add a comment

        No Sagging Pants In The House: Morehouse College Implements New Dress Code

        During his presidential campaign, President Barack Obama said that brothers need to pull up their pants.

        That is exactly what will be happening starting today at the historically all black, all-male Morehouse College. The alma mater of Dr, Martin Luther King Jr. is demanding that its students adhere to a dress code.

        The code which is to be implemented today is part of what Morehouse President Dr. Robert M. Franklin, Jr. describes as his “Five Wells: well read, well spoken, well-traveled, well dressed and well balanced.”

        The “well dressed” portion of the creed includes but is not limited to not wearing do-rags outside of residence halls, no sunglasses in class, no jeans at major programs, no pajamas outside of the dorm, no dental grills, no women’s garb and yes, no sagging pants.

        “Each student must promote and portray a positive image and properly represent themselves and the college,” Franklin says.

        Morehouse is not alone in its dress code mandate: A couple of years ago, Michael Sorrell, the president of HBCU Paul Quinn College in Dallas, also felt that students could not be taken seriously because of their attire and ordered a dress code.

        Sorrell’s premise was “…if you’re not used to dressing in business casual, how can you make the transition to life after school?” Students initially resisted, but according to FoxNews.com, “the kids we talked to on campus say they’re on board — they look and feel better.”

        Hopefully N.C. A&T State University, Howard University and the rest of the HBCUs will follow Paul Quinn and Morehouse’s lead.

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          Posted 5 years ago at 5:55 am. Add a comment

          Former Florida Appeallant Judge Disbarred For Helping Stripper


          The Florida Supreme Court today disbarred former 2nd District Court of Appeal Judge Thomas Stringer.

          The court followed the recommendation of the Florida Bar Association and stripped Stringer of his license to practice law for five years effective immediately.

          The judge’s attorney, John Lauro, said Stringer voluntarily requested disbarment and wanted the matter concluded before sentencing in federal court in November.

          “This is part of the process of Judge Stringer accepting full responsibility in this matter,” Lauro said. Lauro said he and Stringer felt it was important that the former judge take these steps.

          Stringer pleaded guilty to bank fraud in August. That brought on disciplinary proceedings by the Florida Bar Association.

          “This disbarment for five years is a death sentence for his legal career,” said Pat Anderson, former Judicial Qualifications Commission prosecutor. “It’s a big deal, a big deal.”

          Asked if this effectively puts an end to Stringer’s legal career Lauro said, “At this point, he doesn’t have any intention on reapplying for admission.”

          An investigation by news media in March 2008 revealed the 2nd District Court Appeal judge helped stripper Christy Yamanaka (seen left) hide money from her creditors. Yamanaka owed credit card companies more than $300,000.

          “The judge suggested to me to put the money into his account, due to his position nobody bothered him so it would be safe,” Yamanaka told News Channel 8 in March 2008. News Channel 8 is an NBC affliliate located in Tampa, Florida.

          Bank deposit slips showed Yamanaka deposited tens of thousands of dollars into Stringer’s bank accounts during the time she owed creditors hundreds of thousands.

          Records also show Yamanaka showered the judge with gifts, such as Rolex watches and an expense-paid trip to New York City.

          The judge failed to report the gifts, which was required by Florida law.

          Stringer also purchased a house in Hawaii with Yamanaka. The Judge left her name off the mortgage and provided false information on the loan application.

          “What happened here was a long term pattern of misconduct,” Anderson said. “The court is pretty intolerant of judges who misbehave in a blatant way like this.”

          Following News Channel 8′s reports, Florida’s JQC, the agency that investigates judges, began investigating Stringer. So did the FBI.

          The state filed misconduct charges against Stringer in January.

          Stringer abruptly retired in February, just days before JQC prosecutors were to question him under oath.

          In July, the U.S. Attorney’s office announced it had reached a plea agreement with the former judge. The government charged Stringer with bank fraud for filing false and misleading information on the mortgage application for the Hawaiian home.

          Stringer pleaded guilty to the charge in August.

          After the plea, the Florida Bar and Stringer agreed in September to a disbarment. It called for Stringer’s disbarment for five years and for the ex-judge to reimburse the organization $1,250 for its expenses in the disciplinary process.

          Stringer is married to Lillian Stringer, director of public relations for the Tampa Housing Authority, and has five adult children, including a stepson. Lillian Stringer said she knew nothing about her husband’s financial relationship with Yamanaka.

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            Posted 5 years ago at 1:42 pm. Add a comment