September 19 - October 2, 2013


Maryland Ends Death Penalty October First

dealth penelty in marylandClarence has been serving life without parole for two decades.  Death penalty advocates probably wish that his sentence would have been some sort of execution, claiming that life without parole is too lenient.  However, Clarence will tell you that time in maximum security prison is anything but a “leisure country club.”  Averting his gaze for a moment, he shares, “It’s a mental war.  The sentence is always on my mind no what other activities I try to get involved with.”

The 40-year-old describes beginning each day realizing that this is his life; it is tantamount to a slow death.  Forfeiting his freedom is not his only regret.  His father gave up on him, believing that Clarence will not ever come home.  “He won’t answer my calls,” Clarence finally relents into a spiritless tone.

On October 1, Maryland will join New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, Illinois and Connecticut as the sixth state in six years and 18th in the United States that have made the controversial decision to abolish the death penalty.  Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (also see Governor Martin O’Malley and the  Lifers Parole Bill) signed the much maligned repeal of the death penalty into law to ecstatic cheers from those who believe life without the possibility of parole is more economical than the death penalty. From those who question whether justice will be served for the victims when the state allows convicted criminals to live, he met derisive jeers.

The debate was tedious and contentious. The democratic governor’s position is that the increasing cost to the taxpayer for litigating death penalty cases is not good.  “Cost continually goes up to ensure that innocent people are not executed,” cites  Advocates of capital punishment maintain that for citizens, it’s all about justice and not the cost of litigation.

The bipartisan debate over death verses life for the defendant was equally passionate outside the Maryland statehouse.  Some demonstrators were incensed by the notion of violent criminals savoring what they incorrectly characterized as a “leisure country-club” existence in prison.  They incorrectly believe that lifers serve a mere ten years.  However, as Clarence witnesses, prison life is not country club living.  Furthermore, lifers in Maryland require the signature of the governor for parole, which has not occurred in more than 20 years.

Other death penalty opponents make the rational argument that capital punishment has not deterred violent crimes.  Other death penalty advocates reason that the death penalty precludes the assailant from committing another crime. “I believe the death penalty is the one way some families get closer,” writes

Economics was the incentive that persuaded the Maryland legislators to finally adopt the repeal of the death penalty.  A 2008 Urban Institute study revealed that Maryland spent $186 million on death row inmates since 1978.  The study also revealed that the cost to prosecute a death penalty case is approximately three times higher than a non-death penalty case.  Once the state imposes the death penalty, the cost is seven times higher:  $1.7 million for death penalty cases versus $250,000 for non-death penalty cases.

Michael Woods is serving life without parole.  He says, “I have to live with this crime for a longer period than most.”  The most frustrating part for Michael is not prison life in and of itself, it is being removed from his family - - all of whom resides on the West Coast.  “The loss of love of family is the most difficult,” he says.

Life without parole saves taxpayers millions, yet leaves the incarcerated living hopelessly and opens the question of justice for the victims.  While one side celebrates and the other bemoans, there is no clear victor. 

IMAN Cosmetics Launches Breast Cancer Awareness Lip Stain

iman cancer awareness programIn honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, IMAN Cosmetics is partnering with Sisters Network’s Young Sister Initiative (YSI) by donating $20,000 of profits generated from the IMAN Pink Luxury Lip Stain ($10) during October 2013.

YSI was designed to give female breast cancer survivors with skin of color under the age of 45 information and resources about breast cancer. Programs in the initiative include Twitter chats for young survivors, webinars focusing on current breast cancer trends, “Ask the Doctor” sessions, and weekly cocktail hours to increase dialogue among survivors.
During October, IMAN Cosmetics will urge Facebook fans to visit the Young Sisters Initiative page to raise awareness for breast cancer prevention and treatment. The brand is also hosting a giveaway of the IMAN Pink Luxury Lip Stain on

The IMAN Cosmetics Pink Luxury Lip Stain is available for $10 exclusively at,,, and 

de Blasio Breaks Records in New York Mayor Race


Exit polls show how Bill de Blasio defeated his rivals to become the Democratic nominee for mayor of the nation’s most diverse city:  He was ahead in all five boroughs; was ahead of William C. Thompson Jr., the only African-American candidate, with Black voters and ahead of Christine Quinn, the lone woman in the race, with female voters. He also led Quinn, who is openly gay, among gay voters.

46 years after the United States Supreme Court invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage, New York  may be led be an Italian-American man with an African-American wife, who once self-identified as a lesbian and provides interesting insights on human sexuality.   On Tuesday, November 5, he will face Republican Joe Lhota in the general election in a city that is also ironically heavily Democratic and liberal, but has not had a Democratic mayor in almost two decades.

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$20 Billion Hudson Yards

hudson yard project 

What is now a vast rail-yard complex packed with trains and surrounded by parking lots and auto-repair shops will become Hudson Yards with 17 buildings built on massive concrete platforms. Within the next decade, on Manhattan’s far west side, the project will include offices, apartments, and luxury shopping malls, reports Fortune Magazine.

Growth can be attributed to the success of the High Line which has spurred $2 billion of private investment, 12,000 new jobs and 29 development projects since opening in June 2009. The High Line recently started construction of its third and final phase which wraps Hudson Yards as it turns toward the Hudson River at West 30th Street and culminates at 12th Avenue and West 34th Street.

Rep. Lee Appointed to UN

 barbara lee going to UN

On the day President Obama spoke to the nation about Syria, he nominated Congresswoman Barbara Lee to be a Representative of the United States to the Sixty-eighth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.  Lee gained national attention in 2001 as the only member of congress who voted against the Iraq War.

Congresswoman Lee will continue to represent the 13th Congressional District of California while she assumes the duties of a Representative to the United Nations. She will also continue to serve as Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Peace and Security Task Force.

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champion services travel - group travel

Things to Do

the watson go to birmingham 
The Watsons Go To Birmingham

Washington, DC
Tell It with Pride
The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens' Shaw Memorial
National Gallery of Art
Open till Mon, Jan 20 2014, free

Sexual Freedom Summit
Sheraton Hotel
8777 Georgia Avenue
Silver Spring, MD
Thu, Sep 19-Sun,  Sep 22, $

Tides Technology Field Demonstration
Ft. McNair
Tue, Oct 1 – Fri, Oct 4, free

2013 Mayor's Annual Disability Awareness Expo
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Public Library
901 G St NW
Tue, Oct 1, 10a-3p, free

Coming in November
Decorating for the Holidays
with Sherry Ways
A Port Of Harlem Event
Alexandria Black History Museum
902 Wythe Street
3 blocks from Braddock Rd Metro
Free street parking
Alexandria, VA
Sat, Nov 9, 11p-1p, free

Baltimore Book Festival
Mount Vernon Place
Fri, Sep 27 – Sun, Sep 29, free

New York (Greater)
Brooklyn Book Festival
Brooklyn, NY
Sun, Sep 22, free

The Watsons Go To Birmingham
Starring Noni Rose and Alan Grier
Hallmark Channel Original Movie World Premiere
Fri, Sep 20 (8p ET/PT, 7C)

Advanced Prostate Cancer Webinar
- ZERO - The End of Prostate Cancer
Wed, Sep 25 4p-5p, EDT, free
Click here to register 

The Other Side - Poem

Reflection #23
de Marcus Brown de Marcus Brown
Age 12 Age 22 (he is now 35)

If real men don’t shed tears, then what are these in my eyes?
You betray me with your trespass, no longer welcome inside.

Burning with emotion, searing your tell-tale trail,
A consequence of the havoc reeked as the lock latches in the cell.

Cursed walls whose torments seek meals of my flesh;
Your bite has struck bone, ain’t your hunger sated yet?

On bated breath I’ve awaited death behind the consequences of choices,
Made by a fool’s mind, readily influenced by fools’ voices.

Never bore could I voice this, but a greater need exceeds;
And the reality of my wrongs has me down here on my knees.

Is there help for the helpless, or maybe hopes still on hold?
God I’m trying to let go, but my words have all froze.

I know you ask that I unload, but these closets have storage
And I need to believe you’ll make a change, if I really get to pourin’.

Though the thought has my heart soaring, it feels strange in this new place,
Even momma smiles now, it’s like she’s seen a new face.

And if we maintain the pace, maybe those deeper wounds can mend,
But that conversation to the mirror, where it begins, than it shall end.

For your burden is light and our yoke is easy, my feet have diverted from the darkness,
Because your light will now receive me.


You may reach Demarcus Brown at:
P.O. Box 534
Jessup, MD 20794 

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