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Rev. Wright Demands to be Right! April 28, 2008

Posted by Reginald Johnson in AIDS, African-American, Celebrity, Culture, Election '08, Elections, Minority Issues, Politics.

Into the belly of the media beast, he went.

Inflammatory and controversial, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. felt a strong desire over the past few days to defend his ministry and speak out against government injustices. In hearing his remarks at the National Press Building, located in downtown Washington, D.C., Wright went even further by saying, “…it [the United States government] engineered HIV/AIDS to infect black communities”.

He stood behind this remark by saying, “I believe our government is capable of anything.”

Speaking before a majority-reporter crowd, this marks the third time in four days Rev. Wright has claimed the national media spotlight. Some pundits believe his constant media presence will sabotage Sen. Barack Obama’s effort to become the democratic presidential nominee. Rev. Wright’s remarks can definitely hurt his former parishioner’s chances by upsetting and making uneasy the skeptical white working-class voters.
Many people are concerned why Wright would choose to become so vocal at this time. It’s a good question. Some believe that Wright can hurt Obama, the more he stays in the spotlight. While others say he has every right at any time to speak up for himself, and not the political talking heads.

One thing is for sure, the issue of Rev. Wright’s remarks was dying down – until about four days ago. People were actually focusing on former President Bill Clinton’s remarks on the issue of race. Mr. Wright has chosen to get back into the fire.

Rev. Wright declared, “The Christianity of the slave owner is not the Christianity of the slave.” While this was definitely true in the early 1600s, on into the late 1800s, it doesn’t necessarily means that those things are still in play.

He said, “Our congregation … took a stand against apartheid while our government was supporting the racist regime of South Africa. Our congregation stood in solidarity with the peasants of El Salvador and Nicaragua while our government … was supporting the Contras who were killing the peasants. … Our congregation feeds over 5,000 homeless and needy families every year, while our government cuts food stamps and spends billions fighting in Iraq.”

Rev. Wright is adamant in defending his reputation; that was his reasoning for speaking on the Bill Moyers’ PBS program. He feels his sermons were “unfair, unjust and untrue” and publicized by the media for “very devious reasons” to damage Sen. Obama’s run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“The snippets from the sermon and sound bite [have] made me the target of hatred,” Mr. Wright said.

Some say Sen. Obama’s 20-year relationship with Rev. Wright and his former church is a serious thing to consider. Many believe you become guilty by association. His relationship with the reverend caused Obama to give an interesting speech on March 18 in which he called for a national dialogue on race and disavowed Mr. Wright’s remarks. During this time it is important to note that Obama did not sever ties with the man, who he described as being like a family member.
Sen. Obama, who calls Rev. Wright his spiritual mentor, said the sermons reflect “a profoundly distorted view of this country.” Profound? Distorted? So why not cut your loses and move forward.

What doesn’t work for Rev. Wright is his continued remarks in ‘defending’ himself. He has every right to defend himself; but he needs to look at the bigger picture. The bigger picture in my view is this: if he wants to support Obama, he should take a step out of the spotlight and hold his tongue. If Obama receives the nomination or is elected; then after Election Day, he can spout all he wants.

I thought the Rev. Wrights demeanor and body language was unprofessional and unapologetic. During the question and answer session of the press conference, he reacted like someone who didn’t know there were cameras recording his actions. After answering a question of his patriotism, he stepped back from the microphone, gave a frat sign with his arms, saluted and smirked.

It gave me the impression that he was soaking up his 15 minutes. Throughout the Q&A, he didn’t seem like a man who’s educated and professional and more importantly, someone who has been a 20 year friend and spiritual advisor of the next possible president of the United States.

How unfortunate.

Wesley Snipes Headed to Prison April 25, 2008

Posted by Reginald Johnson in Celebrity, Culture, Entertainment, Humor, Legal, Minority Issues, News, Odd News.

If you haven’t heard about Wesley Snipes’ tax evasion case, all I have to say is: how could he have been so foolish. Wesley Snipes…the guy just was not thinking. It seemed that when his back was finally up against the wall, he tried to do everything he could to fix the situation; all to no avail. By that point, there really isn’t too much he could do to stop what was coming.

Mr. Snipes tried it all: called on his famous friends to vouch for him, torted his clean criminal record and even wrote the government $5 million in checks. Nothing worked this time. He just wanted to convince a judge not to send him to prison. He was trying to get home detention out is this thing. Or maybe do a few public service announcements.

This go ‘round, it isn’t going to work for him. This time, he’s gotta do hard time.

Yesterday, Wesley Snipes was sentenced to three years in prison…all because he failed to file tax returns. According to the federal courts, he’s receiving the maximum penalty. Everyone who has followed this case believes that the government is looking to make an example of the Blade trilogy star.

He got his Hollywood buddies, like Woody Harrelson and Denzel Washington, to write letters of support. They talked about his good character and clean arrest history. His lawyers recommended he be given home detention and ordered to make public service announcements because his three convictions were all misdemeanors and the actor had no previous criminal record.

The U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges said Snipes exhibited a “history of contempt over a period of time” for U.S. tax laws, and granted prosecutors the three-year sentence they requested — one year for each of Snipes’ convictions of willfully failing to file a tax return from 1999-2001.

“In my mind these are serious crimes, albeit misdemeanors,” Hodges said.

Snipes surprised the court before Hodges handed down the sentence by offering the government three checks totaling $5 million in unpaid taxes over several years, money the government first denied but then accepted. Prosecutors called it “grandstanding” to avoid jail time, and a mere down payment on the actor’s still-undetermined multimillion dollar tax bill.

Snipes was the highest-profile criminal tax target in years, and prosecutors called for a heavy sentence to deter others from trying to obstruct the IRS. The government alleged Snipes made at least $13.8 million for the years in question and owed $2.7 million in back taxes.

Snipes was acquitted in February of five additional charges, including felony tax fraud and conspiracy. Co-defendants Douglas P. Rosile and Eddie Ray Kahn were convicted on both those counts. Kahn, who refused to defend himself in court, was sentenced to 10 years, while Rosile received 54 months. Both will serve three years of supervised release. Snipes will serve one year of supervised release.

Snipes and Rosile remain free and will be notified when they are to surrender to authorities. Defense attorney Carmen Hernandez signaled in court that Snipes would pursue an appeal.

Prosecutors sought to justify the maximum sentence by raising those and other details from the IRS investigation, as well as a tax loss even for years in which Snipes was acquitted of failing to file a return. Such “relevant conduct” is allowed by law for a judge’s consideration at sentencing.

Criminal tax prosecutions are relatively rare — usually the cases are handled in civil court, where the government has a lower burden of proof. Prosecutors said Snipes’ case was important to send a message to would-be tax protesters not to test the government.

In looking at this thing, all I have to say is: Wesley, use this time to get yourself together. Do you your jail time and never think you can just screw around with the IRS. End this foolishness and never, never, never remove a candy bar off your prison bed when you first arrive.

Good luck, Mr. Snipes

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