Saturday, March 31, 2007 at 10:59 AMIt is undisputed that the most exciting day in professional football is the day when teams play semi-final games (conference championships) to make it to the Super Bowl. (Just as the most exciting day in my favorite spectator sport, women’s tennis, is the day when semi-final matches in the majors are played.) Likewise, the most exciting day in college basketball is the (Final-Four) day when semi-final games in the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship are played. And no doubt today’s match ups pitting Florida – v- UCLA and Georgetown -v- Ohio State – to make it to Monday night’s championship game – will continue this trend; notwithstanding the absence of a bona fide Cinderella team.
But it would be disingenuous of me to give the impression that I’m a big fan of college basketball….I am not. Although few people I know are. After all, their interest in college basketball seems limited to picking teams on a whim from brackets in their office pools.
That said, I can at least claim a sentimental reason for my pick to win this year’s championship: Georgetown! And my reason can be summed up in one name: John Thomspson III – the team’s coach. Because notwithstanding the brilliant play of his team, Thompson is on an historic odyssey to emulate his Daddy, John Thompson Jr, who became the first African American head coach to win the NCAA Division I Basketball Championship when Georgetown defeated the heavily-favored University of Houston in 1984.
And, how’s this for a little more sentimental attachment to Georgetown: Just as Patrick Ewing was a pivotal player on his father’s championship team, Ewing’s son, also named Patrick, is the point player on Thompson’s team this year. Now, what mortal coach or player could upset this fateful symmetry?!
(Incidentally, imagine how exciting this NCAA tournament would have been if Thompson Jr’s other son Ronny, the head coach of Ball State University, had led his team to the championship game against Georgetown…)
NOTE: This weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, now has a more user-friendly address: http://ipjn.com/
Friday, March 30, 2007 at 10:48 AM
They were fighting two wars: One was in Europe, and the other took place in the hearts and minds of our citizens. The Tuskegee Airmen helped win a war, and you helped change our nation for the better….And the medal that we confer today means that we’re doing a small part to ensure that your story will be told and honored for generations to come. [President George W. Bush]
Yesterday, in the rotunda of the nation’s Capitol, President George W. Bush presided over the shamefully-belated Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony Honoring the Tuskegee Airmen. In addition to distinguishing themselves in the skies above the battlefields of WWII, these men become bona fide American heroes for enlisting to defend their country at a time when most white Americans were too stupid to appreciate that blacks had the intelligence to learn how to fly.
Meanwhile, even though I suspect this ceremony came as sweet vindication for the surviving members of this band of brothers, the occasion had to have been bitter sweet. After all, they must not only resent the fact that so many of their flyboys died without being duly celebrated, but also regret that many black GIs who fought just as heroically on the ground as they fought in the air have not been, and never will be, thusly recognized.
Of course, this fact is made all the more bitter given that every president from Dwight Eisenhower to Bill Clinton knew about the valor these men showed in the face of enemies abroad, and the dignity they showed in the face of racists at home. In fact, one wonders why black leaders did not prevail upon “racially-sensitive” presidents like Carter and Clinton to redress these egregious military oversights during their presidencies….
Nevertheless, the good news is that – despite being so delayed – justice for at least some of these heroic black veterans was not denied. And given the tears that welled up in his eyes when he stood to salute them, President Bush clearly appreciated the solemnity, contrition and reverence the occasion warranted.
NOTE: Notwithstanding this good news, I know most of you are just looking for your Anna-Nicole fix. But, unlike her Drs Feelgood, I must honor my Hippocratic Oath to prescribe a little socially-redeeming commentary to supplement the gossip I peddle.
Therefore, to get your uppers on Anna Nicole, which I fear my American friends might have an allergic reaction to, as well as your downers on…Iran, click here.
Thursday, March 29, 2007 at 9:33 AMOver the past two years I have written a series of articles (the most recent appended below) proselytizing scientific studies which have found that circumcision (a ritual dating back over 15,000 years) is the cheapest and most effective way to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS. After the publication of each of them, however, I have been besieged by a disturbing number of e-mails denouncing the African scientists who pioneered these studies as bush doctors promoting human mutilation (a misleading allusion to the truly brutal practice of clitoral excision, which is performed as a cultural rite of passage in some areas of Africa).But it is a shame that such hostility towards circumcision persists (primarily from Europeans); notwithstanding the fact that these studies have been peer-reviewed exhaustively and endorsed by the most reputable public health and scientific organizations in the world:
…if male circumcision was more widely available, millions of lives, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa would be saved. WHO and UNAIDS said access to the procedure should be urgently scaled up in areas with high rates of heterosexual infection and low rates of male circumcision. [BBC Report 28 March 2007]I am painfully aware, however, that all I can do is to continue my modest crusade to raise public awareness about the latest and greatest hope for combating a virus that is condemning so many people (especially blacks in Africa and the Caribbean) to an agonizing death. Accordingly, I am pleased to cite a BBC report, published yesterday, which echoes my informed hope that people all over the world will soon regard circumcision as an effective procedure to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS; much as they now regard condoms as an effective prophylactic to protect them against contracting other STDs.Circumcision for HIV prevention an “extraordinary development”Published originally 6 March 2007For years, as the Related Articles linked to below will attest, I have been proselytizing the findings by African scientists of a positive link between male circumcision and substantial reduction in the incidence of HIV infections. But, notwithstanding confirming studies by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO), I’ve been obliged to brook persistent criticisms about the medical (and cultural) viability of this nexus.Therefore, I was heartened last week when The Lancet, a British journal reputed to be the most “independent and authoritative voice in global medicine”, published the full data from all trials in this respect and endorsed the original findings enthusiastically.
This is an extraordinary development… Circumcision is the most potent intervention in HIV prevention that has been described. [Dr. Kevin de Cock, director of the World Health Organization’s AIDS department]
I am also encouraged by reports that several countries in Africa, where the spread of this virus is pandemic, have already met with UN agencies to discuss funding and facilities to increase circumcision services. Although I remain indignant at professed cultural and religious concerns that would countenance letting millions of people die instead of implementing this medical procedure.
Male circumcision is such a sensitive religious and cultural issue that we need to be careful. [Dr. Catherine Hankins, scientific adviser at UNAIDS]
But I reiterate here what I’ve maintained all along; namely, that our shared humanity compels us to support any scientific development that would help stem the genocidal ravages of HIV/AIDS – especially amongst poor black and brown people.
I wonder, though, if the genital circumcision Jews and Christians practice for religious or cultural reasons is any more benign or humane than the genital circumcision so many Africans practice for similar reasons, but which Westerners decry, perhaps self-righteously, as genital mutilation….
Wednesday, March 28, 2007 at 10:13 AMFrom the middle ages, the art of war in the Middle East has been governed by Lex talionis – the law of retaliation (or the categorical imperative) which calls for “an eye for an eye…a life for a life”. Therefore, the capture of 15 British Marines by the Iranians last week was sanctioned retaliation – pursuant to this law – to avenge the capture of Iranians (in Iraq) by the Americans last December.
That said, there is probably some truth to reports that the Iranians took this action to spite the UN Security Council because it was poised to enact more onerous sanctions against Iran. However, it is far more accurate to report that these dingy-roaming marines just happened to be sitting ducks. And all parties to the cold war being fought by proxy throughout the region between the U.S. and Iran appreciate that they presented a target of opportunity that the Iranians would have been foolish not to seize.
At any rate, I admonish you to ignore all of the bellicose rhetoric being exchanged between the UK and Iran; especially since it smacks of a patently-hollow threat for British PM Tony Blair to warn about taking “a different phase if diplomacy failed” to secure their release. Because the only thing that matters now is what leverage each side has in behind-the-scenes bartering for the release of its respective captives, which I suspect is already underway. But let’s be mindful that this could take days or weeks depending on how much Iran wants to make the British sweat.
Meanwhile, it is instructive to recall that Israel launched a costly war against Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy government in Southern Lebanon, to secure the release of one of its soldiers. Yet Hezbollah is still holding that soldier today – 8 months after capturing him – as a bargaining chip. It follows, therefore, that Iran is clearly sitting in the catbird seat in this standoff. Because everyone knows that it would be an even greater folly for the British to escalate this hostage crisis to a shooting war than it was for the Israelis to do so against Hezbollah.
In due course, pursuant to customary practice for settling disputes in the Middle East, the Iranians will release their British captives in exchange for the Iranians being held in Iraq. And this, notwithstanding that the Americans have accused them of providing money and logistical advice to Iraqi insurgents, and that they may number many more than 4 as widely reported (in fact, as many as 36). In the meantime, I hope the captured Brits can make themselves comfortable, because they may be staying awhile….
It’s worth noting, however, that this little tit for tat will have no bearing on the course of the Iraq war or escalating UN sanctions against Iran to get it to stop its nuclear program.
Likewise, I feel obliged to note that it’s naïve for President Bush to think that ordering battleships to the Persian Gulf will force Iran to retreat from its defiance in dealings with the British over this hostage crisis and with the United Nations over their nuclear program. In fact, I suspect it will only evoke derisive laughter in the Iranians who know full-well that – just as the British are making threats they can’t back up – the Americans are flexing military muscles they simply don’t have the balls to use against them ….
Monday, March 26, 2007 at 11:54 AMAll the world’s a stage, and a small-town medical examiner will be strutting his hour upon it today to announce his autopsy report on Anna Nicole Smith…and then will be heard from no more. But am I the only one who thinks the Florida officials dealing with the death of Anna Nicole must be drinking (or smoking) something that induces eccentric, erratic and wholly narcissistic behavior?
First we were variously entertained and outraged by the PT-Barnum performance of Judge Larry Seidlin who spent 6 days auditioning for a TV show instead of taking 6 hours to arrive at the patently-obvious decision to have Anna Nicole buried in The Bahamas.
Then there was Judge Lawrence Korda who we thought had restored judicial knowledge, temperament and dignity to the Florida bench (by punting litigation about Anna Nicole’s Will and the paternity of her baby to California and The Bahamas, respectively). Therefore, imagine our shock, dismay…and hysterical laughter when news broke last week that he was arrested for blithely smoking weed on a park bench.
Which brings me to today’s media event starring Broward County Medical Examiner Dr Joshua Perper. Because who knew that Seidlin was just an understudy to Perper when it came to doing anything to extend his 15 minutes of Anna-Nicole infamy. But this is the plot twist that has the entire world now fixated on Perper.
After all, Perper had everything he needed to determine the cause and manner of Anna Nicole’s death weeks ago. Yet he made himself the ringmaster in a circus of pundits speculating about foul play when he delayed his autopsy report – purportedly to consider new evidence. And, this delay has been made all the more farcical by media reports – um er, rumors – that this new evidence is related to the drug-induced suicidal ideations, drug solicitations and other stream-of-consciousness thoughts that Anna Nicole allegedly typed into her computer. Never mind that such thoughts are probably catalogued more reliably in her two diaries that were just sold for a half million dollars.
I am not a pathologist, and I’m not going to play one here. By the same token, however, Perper is not a detective and he should not be playing one on TV. But that’s precisely the role he’ll be playing this morning when he makes his contrived-for-TV (and thoroughly-anticlimactic) announcement. Namely, that:
Anna Nicole’s death was accidental. And, that she died from infections and other complications caused by the ingestion and/or injection of a cocktail of drugs, which was made fatal as much by her own carelessness as by the negligence of others, including Howard K. Stern, who failed to seek proper medical attention for her. Period!
Alas, anyone tuning to hear this wannabe detective announce murder charges against Howard K. Stern will be justifiably disappointed….
Inquest into death of her son Daniel in The Bahamas
The court will take testimony from a number of witnesses, including the coroner and forensic pathologists to explain the cause (an ingestion of a more lethal cocktail of drugs in his case) and manner of death (an accident due to the unexpected but fatal chemical interaction of those drugs). Indeed, I suspect the most sensational findings will be that Stern facilitated the illegal transshipment of drugs into the country and perverted the course of justice by disposing incriminating evidence after the fact. Both of which, of course, are relatively serious crimes and would land him in jail – if found guilty as charged.
After all evidence is presented (and with 20-plus witnesses scheduled to testify, this could take two to three weeks), the 7 or 9 members of the jury will present their findings to the judge – who can reject, amend or present them as is to the prosecutors. They in turn can reject, amend or prosecute based on their discretion.
Accordingly, I predict (but don’t bet your kid’s lunch money on this) that the jury will return a verdict (by a majority) of criminal mischief against Stern with respect to the findings cited above; that he will be prosecuted; and that Stern will be found guilty and sentenced to spend a fair amount of time in our island paradise in far less accommodating confines than he has become accustomed to at the Horizons estate.
Sunday, March 25, 2007 at 12:22 PM
Saturday, March 24, 2007 at 11:46 AMThe political firestorm that broke out a few weeks ago over the controversial firing of eight U.S. attorneys has now engulfed the storied career of America’s first Latino Attorney General, Alberto R. Gonzales. And, as it is with all Washington scandals, it’s not the alleged crime – of firing them because they were deemed “unloyal Bushies” for prosecuting corrupt Republican politicians and campaign donors – that’s burning him. Rather, it’s the stupid cover up – of insisting that these attorneys with impeccable records were fired for being incompetent, and Gonzales then swearing to indignant Democrats (who, remember, now control Congress) that he had nothing to do with it.
Because, here’s how Gonzales deflected blame (and calls by Democrats and a growing number of very flammable Republicans for his resignation) for ordering these patently politically-motivated, though entirely-legal, firings:
As we can all imagine, in an organization of 110,000 people, I am not aware of every bit of information that passes through the halls of justice, nor am I aware of all decisions.
Therefore, I imagine he was “shocked, shocked” when documents released yesterday under threat of Congressional subpoenas revealed that Gonzales was not only aware of the “five-step plan” to fire these prosecutors, but that he actually “signed off” on it.
But no one should be shocked when he spins this damning revelation by lamenting that – because he has signed off on so many controversial, hair-brained and barely-legal Bush Administration plans as head of the Justice Department – we can all imagine the honest mistake he made by not recalling that he had signed off on this one too. Indeed, like he’s been saying ever since it started getting hot in the White House over these firings: “mistakes were made”….
Of course, given the Clinton precedent, I suppose his guilt now depends on whether his “mistake” was making a mistake or telling a lie. But, whatever the case, Gonzales must resign now for being either too clueless or too dishonest to continue serving as the nation’s chief law-enforcement officer…even at the pleasure of this president!
Friday, March 23, 2007 at 10:54 AMEven though I have “strayed” far from the religious dogma that governed my upbringing as the son of a preacher man, I still find it tremendously entertaining to listen to charismatic preachers sermonize under the anointing of the Holy Ghost.
And even though preachers like T.D Jakes and Jimmy Swaggart may be more popular, I have never witnessed a more rousing, inspirational and, yes, entertaining preacher than the leader of the Church of God in Christ, Bishop G.E. Patterson. (Well, that is except for my brother Bishop Dr Joseph L. Hall….)
But I was shocked to learn yesterday that God called Bishop Patterson home to his mansion in the sky on Tuesday to end his 3 years of suffering from the ravages of prostate cancer. He was 67.
I don’t know why we ever got stuck on that thing that we’re only supposed to witness to black folks….Once you’ve received the word, spread it. God’s not going to do something to bless your work until you do something to bless his work. [Bishop Patterson]
My heartfelt condolences to everyone who was blessed by his ministry; especially the 6 million members of his church headquartered in Memphis, TN. But it would be blasphemous for a wretch like me to wax too nostalgic about his loss. Therefore, as a lasting tribute to his 50-year mission to spread the gospel, I shall suffice to provide a link here to a video showing Bishop Patterson as I so enjoyed seeing him.
NOTE: Something is rotten in the chambers of the Trinidad and Tobago judiciary. Click here to read my CNN column explaining why.
Thursday, March 22, 2007 at 4:17 AMOver the past 24 hours, I have been contacted by many people expressing insidiously-vicarious frustration about reports that Howard K. Stern has filed (or given notice of his intent to file) an appeal of Justice Stephen Isaacs’ “order” to make Dannielynn available for samples of her DNA to be taken. And this reported appeal, notwithstanding the fact that he has already complied (as I predicted here he would).
But let me assure all of you that, if these reports are true, he would merely be hoping against hope that the Court of Appeal will squash the results of the paternity test. Meanwhile, with undisguised schadenfreude, I shall hereby disabuse Stern of his psychopathic hope by asserting, without fear of contradiction, that he stands a snowball’s chance in hell of winning such an appeal. And that, if filed, it would be dismissed summarily!
But even if they are untrue, there is still probable cause to suspect that Stern’s antic state of mind is endangering the welfare of this child; notwithstanding the devoted care of her Bahamian Mammies.
After all, his (unnatural) reluctance to establish his paternity – to legally, biologically and conclusively dismiss Larry Birkhead’s claims – is prima facie suspicious. Then, of course, there’s his alleged role in the uncanny circumstances surrounding the death of Anna Nicole and her son, Daniel.
Therefore, I urge His Lordship to give emergency instructions for our Department of Social Services to immediately place this child in protective care pending the outcome of this surreal paternity (and custody) case.
NOTE: For those who are anxiously awaiting the (anti-climactic) results of this paternity test, which should be known by this weekend, I regret to inform you that – according to reliable sources – the judge has ordered that they remain sealed until 3 April. Therefore, I encourage you to use this respite to reacquaint your brain with other news-worthy matters – like Angelina’s new adoption or VoteforWorst.com’s ironic effort to make American Idol even more of a national farce by sabotaging the votes – at least until 26 March, when the inquest into Daniel’s death is scheduled to convene.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007 at 10:49 AMPresident George W. Bush may not have learned anything from the egregious mistakes his Administration made in planning and executing its war against Iraq. But he appears to have been sufficiently chastened by them to heed his Daddy’s advice to build an unassailable coalition and secure unambiguous UN authorization before attacking his next axis-of-evil target: Iran. (Recall that Daddy [George H.W.] Bush won universal acclaim for leading a bona fide coalition of the willing to liberate Kuwait from Saddam Hussein in 1991….)
We will not be delivering the fuel until you comply with the United Nations Security Council resolution….We have certain concerns over the Iranian nuclear
program. [Vitaly Churkin, Russia's chief envoy to the Council]
Accordingly, it’s déjà vu all over again. Because Bush is emulating his Daddy by working diplomatic channels to enlist nation after nation, including major European powers and Russia, in his efforts to get the UN to impose increasingly onerous sanctions against Iran for refusing to freeze uranium enrichment. Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is emulating Saddam by not only showing utter contempt for those sanctions but also declaring that Iran’s nuclear program is unstoppable:
They get together, talk and create propaganda and psychological war….But we laugh at them. They call us and say that crisis is on the way, but we believe that the enemy has a crisis and we have no crisis in our country. Our people are brave. [President Ahmadinejad ridiculing UN debate on sanctions against his country]
But to ensure that he conveys his defiance beyond all reasonable doubt, Ahmadinejad seems even willing to go where Saddam feared to tread. Because last week he demanded – and the U.S. was obliged to grant – a visa to fly to New York to attend the ongoing UN debate. But instead of seeking a reprieve, Ahmadinejad is expected to only heighten the spectre of military confrontation over his nuclear program by challenging delegates – especially those from developing nations – to declare whether they are with him or against him.
By contrast, Bush is demonstrating uncharacteristic statesmanship these days. In fact, even his most devoted critics must concede that he showed impressive form in this respect during his recent 5-day (I-feel-your-pain) tour of Latin America. Never mind that even a bull in a China shop would seem diplomatic compared to Bush’s arch nemeses: the Frick-and-Frack court jesters of international politics, Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Nevertheless, I fear that the political path that led Daddy Bush inexorably to military confrontation with Saddam – despite diplomatic efforts that were worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize – is now being laid to lead baby Bush to military confrontation with Ahmadinejad.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007 at 4:10 AM[Today in The Bahamas, seminal legal proceedings in the Anna Nicole baby-Daddy drama will be conducted. And, given the level of reader interest (and confusion) this case has generated, I was persuaded that it would be a good idea to republish - as a public service - a couple of my articles clarifying and resolving the legal mess she left behind.
So, here they are, and I hope you find them informative and even a bit entertaining:]
A surprising number of people, including media reps, contacted me this morning with inquiries about the Bahamian judge’s authority to compel Howard K. Stern to provide DNA samples from himself and Dannielynn for a paternity test. But I wholly sympathize with their bewilderment.
Because over the past few days, I have watched with perverse amusement as American reporters and legal pundits expounded – with varying degrees of coherence – on the differences between judicial orders in the U.S. and judicial directives in The Bahamas. Whereas, in fact, to the extent there are legal differences between them, they are utterly without distinction. And here’s why:
Our British colonial heritage has perverted our legal system with many royal pretensions – from judicial vestments that make our judges look 18th Century drama queens, to legal prose that envisions reverence for, and obedience to, the implied authority of Her Majesty’s “Lordships”. Therefore, where an American judge may feel obliged to issue orders to assert his authority, a Bahamian judge feels vested with such authority that he presumes his directives are tantamount to royal decrees – compliance with which he takes for granted.
That said, the consequences for failing to comply with a judicial directive in The Bahamas are essentially the same as those that obtain for failing to comply with a judicial order in the U.S: You will be held in contempt!
Accordingly, if Supreme Court Justice Stephen Isaacs directs Stern to provide DNA samples and he refuses, I have no doubt that his Lordship will “give directions” not only to social services to take custody of Dannielynn until paternity and custody matters are settled, but also to immigration authorities to deport Stern back to the U.S. forthwith. (Assuming, of course, that he’s not already being held in a Bahamian jail cell on suspicion of murder in the death of Anna Nicole’s son Daniel….)
NOTE: Please do not take from this point of clarification the impression that there are no substantive and meritorious differences between Bahamian and American law; because there are many. This, however, is not the forum for that dissertation. Therefore, I urge the American TV reporters covering this case to at least retain a local attorney to provide more informed talking points to better serve their rapt audiences back home.
But I invite you to scroll below and browse my Related Articles to learn all that’s worth knowing about the origins, litigation and resolution of the legal and political mess Anna Nicole left behind….
UPDATE: This weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, now has a more user-friendly address: http://ipjn.com/
Hey Tony, what’s up with the brothers wearing white wigs
Tuesday, March 20, 2007 at 4:03 AMToday is being heralded as a day of reckoning in the late Anna Nicole Smith’s baby-Daddy drama. But, as was the case with everything in her life, today’s proceedings will be characterized far more by surreal fanfare than legal resolve.
In fact the only moment of reckoning for parties to the Dannielynn-paternity and Horizons-ownership matters will probably come when they have to fight their way through rabid media scrums to enter and leave The Bahamas Supreme Court. Because I suspect the legal jousting and posturing (amongst judges, lawyers and litigants) that have prolonged these matters thus far will conspire to extend them further still. And this, notwithstanding the fact that paternity and ownership, respectively, could easily have been resolved months before Anna Nicole died if our Bahamian judges had the temperament to exercise their authority more judiciously and decisively.
Recall that Larry Birkhead’s attorney’s filed papers in the Bahamian court months ago – seeking enforcement of an order from a California court for Anna Nicole to provide DNA saliva samples from herself and daughter Dannielynn. And, had presiding Judge Stephen Isaacs accorded this order pro forma comity under international law, paternity would have been established within weeks of securing the simply saliva swabs requested. But let me hasten to clarify that he should have done so not to genuflect to the California court; but rather to honour the letter and spirit of Bahamian law.
After all, Chapter 130 on the Status of Children provides, in part, that:
Where circumstances exist that give rise to presumptions of paternity in respect of more than one father, no presumption shall be made as to paternity.
This means that even though Howard K. Stern is presumed to be the father – because he is allegedly designated as such on her birth certificate and cohabited with Anna Nicole for a statutorily-required period of time before her birth – that presumption was rendered moot by Birkhead’s application concerning this child’s paternity. And, even Stern’s lawyers would have to concede that Birkhead’s lawyers have presented enough circumstantial evidence in court to sustain a rebuttable case against Stern’s claim that he is Anna Nicole’s baby Daddy.
Therefore, Judge Isaacs had the authority (and duty) to order “blood tests” (or more advanced and less invasive DNA tests pursuant to the California order) to settle paternity. And had he done so, he would have furthered the best interest of the child.
As it stands, this honourable Judge is enabling, albeit unwittingly, Stern’s (and Anna Nicole’s now posthumous) scheme to perpetrate a fraud not only on our Court – by using it to shield his mercenary reasons for claiming paternity, but also against Birkhead (assuming he is the biological father) – by denying him the experience of sharing in the most precious moments of his daughter’s life. Therefore, I entreat Judge Isaacs to seize this opportunity to redeem Bahamian jurisprudence by ordering DNA tests today to finally establish paternity, without further ado.
(Then, of course, he can hear the more interesting matter concerning who gets custody of Dannielynn. And, notwithstanding cultural biases and legal precedents that favor mothers and grandmothers in custody cases, I submit that, under these circumstances, if Birkhead were found to be the father, it would be in the best interest of the child to award him, not Anna Nicole’s estranged mother, Vergie Arthur, legal custody.)
Meanwhile, I am loath to bore you with too much commentary on the even more farcical Horizons dispute – between a squatting Stern and American real estate mogul G. Ben Thompson – over who is the legal and beneficial owner of this Bahamian property. Therefore I shall suffice to note that this case should also have been resolved months ago, and with even greater dispatch than the paternity case. In fact, but for the alleged machinations of a seemingly star-struck and pussy-whipped Bahamian minister of immigration (see Related Articles below), it would (and should) never have become a legal matter at all.
For the record, this dispute arises from the fact Anna Nicole took possession of Horizons to secure her permanent residency, but failed to honor contract terms to establish ownership. But her residency should never have been granted until she presented legal documents to prove that she had invested in real estate as required by law. And, under those circumstances, she would have been forced to resolve this matter to maintain her fugitive refuge from that California court order.
Alas, once residency was granted, she had neither the incentive to honor her contractual obligations nor the compulsion to comply with the order. And so she squatted.
Nevertheless, since Mr Thompson is the purported title holder (and no other ownership interest has been registered that supersedes his), the Judge presiding over this case should have granted his application to evict freeloading Stern and Anna Nicole long before she died. Therefore, it would amount to an egregious perversion of justice if she fails to issue a decisive ruling on this matter today – given that the parties are bound to have all documents necessary to support their respective claims available for consideration.
Accordingly, I hope the Honorable Justices of the Supreme Court of The Bahamas make us proud by doing the right (and just) thing, despite the fanfare.
NOTE: I imagine a few enquiring minds would like to know what has or will become of Anna Nicole’s alleged Last Will and Testament, which Stern presented in evidence in the Florida court to assert his authority – as executor – to have her buried in Nassau. Well, here’s a hint: Whatever its validity and provisions, it will never be probated in The Bahamas….
However, the more juicy gossip pertains to the pending inquest into the death of Anna Nicole’s son in Nassau and the investigation into her own death in Florida. Because, in both cases, the umbrella of suspicion appears to be hovering over the head of Howard K. Stern – due to his alleged role in procuring and administering the cocktail of drugs that caused their respective deaths. Clearly, he’s got “some splainin” to do.
* Version of my syndicated column published yesterday, 16 March, by CNN.
Monday, March 19, 2007 at 10:19 AMTo commemorate the occasion, here’s an objective, but only partial, account of the sacrifices and costs of this misbegotten war:
3,218 American soldiers dead
200,000+ American military personnel wounded
60,000+ Iraqi civilians dead
500,000+ Iraqis wounded (and over 2 million displaced)
With sacrifices and costs mounting at a wholly untenable rate!
Sunday, March 18, 2007 at 12:42 PM
I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts….I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way. [I support] the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on gays serving in the military because homosexual acts “are immoral.As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace is America’s top ranking soldier and the principal military advisor to President George W. Bush. Therefore, it was not at all surprising that he incited so much political and moral outrage after delivering the above sermon to newspaper editors last week. After all, polls indicate that well over two thirds of Americans favor gays serving in the military.
More to the point, however, consider that – according to the most recent report by the Government Accountability Office (in 2005) – 9488 service members have been forcibly discharged from the U.S. military for serving while gay. Never mind that the armed forces are being hobbled by recruiting shortfalls that are forcing many soldiers to do repeat and extended tours of duty in Iraq.
Consider further that 322 of those discharged pursuant to this ban were language specialists – 54 of whom specialized in Arabic (the language of the Iraqi insurgents). Never mind that the lives of many American soldiers, and even more innocent Iraqis, could have been spared if the military had not instituted this ban.
But, with all due respect to Gen Pace, he must know that he’s telling a lie (and bearing false witness against his former commander in chief) when he says that former President Bill Clinton ordered this immoral and strategically-flawed ban because “homosexual acts…are immoral”. After all, it’s a matter of public record that Clinton signed it into law in 1993 – under political duress – as a Machiavellian compromise to ingratiate himself with the homophobic top brass of the military who, otherwise, regarded him as little more than an insolent, draft-dodging and unreformed hippie.
Therefore, since General Pace does “not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way”, I hereby urge Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to discharge him immediately! Because Pace has clearly committed the immoral act of telling a bold-faced lie. And the unqualified principles of military justice and fairness demand it.
Meanwhile, instead of playing partisan paintball with Republicans, I implore the Democrats – who now control America’s legislative agenda – to redress Clinton’s craven compromise by repealing this juvenile “Don’t ask, don’t tell” law and lifting all restrictions on gays serving in the military.
NOTE: This weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, now has a more user-friendly address: http://ipjn.com/
Thursday, March 15, 2007 at 10:34 AMLeaders all over the world have spewed shocking indignation at Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe for ordering the brutal arrest on Sunday of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai (pictured left being escorted to court on Tuesday with obvious signs of prison abuse) and others for daring to hold a public “prayer vigil” for their country without his expressed authorization.
But Mugabe can be forgiven his own shocking indignation at their reaction. After all, this was a relatively-benign police action compared to others he has ordered over the years to maintain “law and order” in his country, none of which incited this kind of international outrage. (Click on Related Articles below to read about some of his other presidential orders that were far more brutal, in fact genocidal.)
Indeed, by their silence, world leaders gave tacit approval when he confiscated almost 4000 farms and brutally evicted their white owners. And they seemed relatively unbothered when Mugabe then parceled those farms out to his political cronies as fallow retreats, leaving millions of poor Zimbabweans with no food to eat.
They gave tacit approval when he politically cleansed whole neighborhoods – in an operation he called “Drive out the rubbish” – by bulldozing the homes of people he deemed opposition sympathizers, which left millions of Zimbabweans with no place to live.
And, they gave tacit approval when he dispatched police goon-squads to intimidate voters to guarantee his reelection in 2005 by a far more respectable margin than his 62 to 57 parliamentary victory in 2000. And sure enough, he was reelected with his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party claiming 78 seats and reducing Tvsangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party to 41 seats. (Incidentally, there was little international indignation hurled at Mugabe when he had Tsvangirai arbitrarily and capriciously arrested in 2003 and on many subsequent occasions….)
Clearly, given this record of tacitly approving every iron-fisted act of brutality Mugabe ordered against his people during his 27-year dictatorship, the outrage being expressed around the world today seems disingenuous at best. But, frankly, I’m sure Mugabe’s only response to this chorus of condemnation will be:
So, what are you going to do about it?!That said, I feel constrained to issue a special indictment against South African President Thabo Mbeki. Because, despite having not only the power but also the political (and moral) obligation to help the MDC end Mugabe’s ruthless and repressive rule, he has pretended for years to hear no evil and see no evil across his border; notwithstanding the constant public pleas of MDC leaders for his aid in their freedom struggle.
In fact Mbeki remains unapologetic about his unconditional embrace of Mugabe. But nothing indicts his leadership more than Mbeki using the canards of “quiet diplomacy [and] constructive engagement” to rationalize his tacit approval of Mugabe’s political oppression against black Zimbabweans. After all, these are the same canards that world leaders who embraced the former Apartheid government of South Africa used not so long ago to rationalize their tacit approval of its oppression against him and other black South Africans.
Yes, Save Darfur! But what about Zimbabwe?
Wednesday, March 14, 2007 at 11:13 AMIt is arguable that the first strategic blunder President George W. Bush made in his war on terror was his failure to endorse HR 3598, the Universal Military Training and Services Act, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. And his blunder was made all the more egregious (and curious) given that this Bill to reinstate the Draft was introduced in December 2001 by members of his own Republican Party, Nick Smith of Michigan and Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania.After all, nothing is more responsible for the bedeviling success of the insurgents in Iraq (and the resurgence of the Taleban in Afghanistan) than Bush’s refusal to deploy enough soldiers to win these wars. And this despite pleadings by his most respected military advisers, including his Secretary of State Gen Colin Powell and Army Chief of Staff Gen Eric Shinseki, for Bush to deploy 4 to 5 times the number of troops he finally ordered into battle.It’s not surprising, therefore, that Bush is now surging troops into Iraq to salvage a mission that, alas, now seems woefully misguided and not salvageable. What is surprising, however, is that so many of those who urged him to deploy more troops, including Powell, Shinseki and Sen John McCain of Arizona, actually supported his vow to veto HR 3598. Because, given the size of the military in 2003, it was practically absurd for them to think that Bush could deploy up to 500,000 in the Middle East without a Draft (or cyborgs) to pick up the slack elsewhere.Meanwhile, the Pentagon has actually conceded, albeit unwittingly, the need for a military Draft. Because, after just four months of the now four-year war in Iraq, most Americans had already lost that jingoistic (post-9/11) zeal to fight. And, consequently, recruiters at home have been expressing as much frustration about their efforts to enlist volunteer soldiers as generals in Iraq have been expressing about their efforts to defeat Iraqi insurgents.Yet despite this clear and present need, no prominent member of military has urged Bush to change course and support the Draft. In fact some of them have argued publicly for him to stay the course. For example, in a Georgetown University article titled Why the Draft is a Bad Idea, U.S. Army Captain Jason B. Nicholson argued, among other things, that:
Maintaining a professional all-volunteer force is paramount in our nation’s ability to project its military power most effectively…. The current war in Iraq hardly threatens our very existence as a nation-state and the military we possess is amply equipped and manned to fight this war. Those who call for a draft are often those who need not fear its effects.
But on behalf of the 3,197 dead and thousands of injured troops – many of whom might have been spared if more forces had been deployed – I felt compelled to respond to Captain Nicholson’s article; and did, in part, as follows:
We are merely proffering the morally-imperative and self-evident truth that politicians would be more circumspect about sending Americans to war if their loved ones were obligated to serve.
Meanwhile, generals are complaining that they do not have enough troops to execute their missions; volunteers are being forced to endure extended tours of duty; and recruitment is so anemic that the military is lowering its (physical and educational) standards for enlistment to fill its ranks (promoting 42-year-old mothers as lean, mean fighting machines?).
Therefore, I was heartened last November when Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York, himself a former Army Sergeant, raised the issue of the Draft again – as a political and moral imperative. Although I knew full well that there was neither the political will nor moral courage among members of both parties to reinstate it.
Indeed, because I am so acutely aware that Congress will do so only under public pressure, I was very encouraged on Sunday when 60 Minutes Commentator Andy Rooney, who was drafted in 1941 to fight in WWII, registered his influential support for the Draft as follows:
Now comes the part of this I never thought I’d hear myself say: Whenever we, as a nation, decide to fight a war – in Iraq or anywhere else – it should be fought by average Americans who are drafted.
To clarify, by “average Americans”, Andy means every eligible American should serve; not just the poor, dumb suckers who join the Army when they grow tired of flipping burgers. And, with today’s technology and access to information, people like VP Dick Cheney (who has been quoted as saying that he did not serve in Vietnam because “I had other priorities in the 60s than military service”) and former President Bill Clinton (who did the same by feigning conscientious objection) won’t be able to dodge the Draft quite so blithely.
So, forget the pissing contest in Congress over withdrawal plans and tell your Congressman to support the Draft to end this stupid war in Iraq!!
Tuesday, March 13, 2007 at 10:24 AMReports are that former Bahamian Minister of Immigration, Shane Gibson, has hired the Johnny Cochran of white-collar litigation, Willie Gary, to sue American media outlets for “ruining his personal and professional reputation with scandalous and libelous remarks”.
The irony, of course, is that proud and informed Bahamians would like to see Mr Gibson held to account for ruining our political and legal reputation with his star-struck and shady dealings with Anna Nicole Smith.
But, frankly, Gibson’s case is fatally flawed. Because, to prevail, all any defense attorney for the media has to do is display poster-size shots of him in bed with Anna Nicole whilst playing the barrage of phone messages he left her – over one 24-hour period, which make him seem every bit the unprofessional, pussy-whipped and love-sick puppy the media have made him out to be. In fact even an OJ jury would have to find that no one did more to ruin his reputation than Gibson did himself…
Accordingly, again I plea:
…to preserve the integrity of his government, Prime Minister Perry Christie must demand Gibson’s resignation [not only as minister but also as a renominated MP] forthwith!
And my plea is urgent. Because it is very likely that more embarrassing, if not incriminating, information about Mr Gibson’s involvement with Anna Nicole will be published in the coming days and weeks to titillate the world and humiliate us. Indeed, it behooves the prime minister to appreciate that his failure to act decisively in this regard is having a corrosive effect on his re-election prospects.
Meanwhile, I implore my fellow Bahamians to reject any notion that this pathetic All-American tragedy being played out on our soil is good for our tourist economy. Because the only ones who are truly benefiting are the lawyers, tabloid owners and Howard K. Stern – notwithstanding his sworn denials to the contrary.
Nevertheless, for those of you who can’t get enough prurient details about this story, click here to hear Gibson’s lovelorn messages to Anna Nicole courtesy of TMZ.com….
“Friendship” with Anna Nicole forces Gibson to resign
NOTE: This weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, now has a more user-friendly address: http://ipjn.com/
Monday, March 12, 2007 at 11:24 AM
Don’t get taken advantage of by these people. They will suck you dry…Don’t let black freedmen back you into a corner. PROTECT CHEROKEE CULTURE FOR OUR CHILDREN. FOR OUR DAUGHTER[S] . . . FIGHT AGAINST THE INFILTRATION (sic). [Darren Buzzard, an advocate of expelling blacks from the Cherokee nation]
The case for black Americans still pleading for reparations for slavery is greatly undermined by the fact that Africans helped facilitate the transatlantic slave trade and free Negroes in America actually owned slaves.
Similarly, the sympathy and goodwill Native Americans have traded on so successfully for decades will be greatly undermined by the fact that they are now trying to ethnically cleanse blacks – who are the direct descendants of slaves owned by Indians – from their tribes. Moreover, this fact could prove far more costly for Native Americans than revelations about slavery have proved for black Americans. And here’s why:
Since the U.S. government granted them rights to operate casinos on their “sovereign reservations” in the early 1980s, Indian tribes from California to Connecticut have raked in billions of dollars by feeding the gambling addiction that has reached epidemic proportions amongst Americans.
Unfortunately, just as their forefathers were scalped of their property rights by the white man, gullible and greedy tribal leaders are being fleeced of the lion’s share of their casino earnings by their (indispensable) white “partners”. And, consequently, chronic poverty and welfare dependency remain facts of life for the vast majority of Native Americans.
It is also troubling, however, that Indians are now emulating the whites who oppressed their ancestors by spewing nonsense about the need for racial or tribal purity (at least relative to blacks). Indeed, it’s a curious thing that they would rather be condemned as racists than as niggards. Because all that seems to matter is that evicting blacks would allow the Cherokees (in this case) to claim a greater share of what little of the gambling revenues the white man passes on to them. After all, it’s patently obvious that their sudden campaign to restrict “who should be citizens” of their respective nations is motivated more by greed than racial or tribal pride.
We will pursue the legal remedies that are available to us to stop people from not only losing their voting rights, but to receiving medical care and other services to which they are entitled under law, Marilyn Vann, president of the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes]
Indeed, just as Indians resorted to the courts to vindicate their sovereign rights to operate casinos, “black Indians” – like J.D. Baldridge (pictured right) – are also resorting to the courts to vindicate their rights and continue reaping welfare benefits as citizens of Indian nations. And their cases will probably be slam dunks in federal courts because these blacks can support their claims by simply pointing to the names of their ancestors on the authoritative Dawes Rolls, which is a federal registry of members of the five major Indian tribes who were living on reservations around 1900.
Therefore, I am stupefied that Indians would allow ignorant greed to undermine the national goodwill that has served them so well. In fact, given the precedent established when the Seminoles voted in 2000 to ethnically cleanse their tribe, one would have thought no other tribe would follow suit. After all, as soon as the Seminole vote was ratified, the U.S. government condemned it and “cut off most federal programs to the tribe”; which forced the Seminoles to nullify their own vote and allow blacks (with ancestries similar to Baldridge’s) to remain bona fide members of their tribe.
Nevertheless, the Cherokees are scheduled today to ratify the vote 76 percent of its members cast on 3 March:
…to amend the Cherokee Nation’s constitution to remove the estimated 2,800 freedmen descendants from the tribal rolls.
Of course, it may be that the Cherokees, like people in so many other developing nations, have lost so much regard for the political and financial influence of the U.S. that they couldn’t care any less how the Bush Administration reacts. In fact, just as oil wealth has allowed Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to thumb his nose at the U.S., casino wealth may imbue Cherokee leaders with similar defiant pride.
But my Indian friends should be mindful that not everyone wanted John Wayne to win. And, moreover, that their campaign against these (Dawes-Roll) blacks is so anathema to the legacy of their forefathers that famous Indian Chiefs like Sitting Bull, Cochise and Dragging Canoe must be rolling over in their graves…
NOTE: This weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, now has a more user-friendly address: http://ipjn.com/
Fatally-flawed case for Reparations for African slavery
Sunday, March 11, 2007 at 11:10 AM
In fact, American foreign policy has long been characterized by insidious hypocrisy and egregious double standards. And nothing demonstrates these features quite like the Bush Administration insinuating that China is becoming a regional and international menace because it has budgeted $45 billion in military expenditures for fiscal 2007. After all, Bush has budgeted $625 billion to feed America’s military industrial complex this year….
NOTE: This weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, now has a more user-friendly address: http://ipjn.com
Saturday, March 10, 2007 at 12:53 PMIt’s bad enough that America sent brave soldiers in armor ill-suited to fight a medieval war in Iraq. That America was ill-prepared to tend their wounds when they returned home, however, is a national shame. But this shame turned to universal shock and indignation recently – after the Washington Post published a series of investigative reports on the roach and rodent-infested Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC, which was reputed to be the premier caregiver for soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.