Monday, April 17, 2017

5 Misconceptions About Economic Bubbles And People Who Warn About Them

Friday, March 24, 2017

Louisiana Business Emergency Operations Center (LABEOC).

                                                                       Spring 2017

 TBR-Contributor WWW.LABEOC.ORG                                 

Welcome to the Newsletter of the Louisiana Business Emergency Operations Center (LABEOC). This edition initiates a new quarterly release of the LABEOC Newsletter. The next edition will be issued in a new, expanded format, and will be devoted to business and community preparations for the 2017 Hurricane Season.
This Spring edition contains information on

  • Updates and the Disaster Declaration from the February 2017 tornados;
  • Progress reports on the statewide flooding recovery (FEMA Events 4263 and 4277).
  • A friendly reminder from FEMA for those who have filed for federal assistance;
  • A call to Spotlight your Business in future issues of this Newsletter; and
  • Announcements of upcoming events. 
This newsletter is provided as a public service by the NIMSAT Institute and LABEOC at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. For questions or assistance please contact us at or call (337) 482-0600.
Louisiana Severe Storms, Tornadoes, and Straight-line Winds (DR-4300)
Incident period: February 07, 2017
Major Disaster Declaration declared on February 11, 2017

FEMA Advisory Report

In early February, the National Weather Service confirmed six tornadoes, including two EF-3 systems, damaged several areas across southwest Louisiana.  Tornado survivors in Livingston Parish and Orleans Parish are encouraged to apply for disaster assistance.

If you sustained property damage as a result of the Feb. 7 tornadoes and severe storms, register with FEMA. You may be eligible for federal and state disaster assistance to help you recover. The presidential disaster declaration of Feb. 11 makes federal Individual Assistance available to eligible families and individuals in Livingston and Orleans parishes.

If you had storm damage, you can register for assistance online at You may also call 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Assistance for eligible survivors can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, and for other serious disaster-related needs, such as medical and dental expenses or funeral and burial costs. Long-term, low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) also may be available to cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations.

You should register with FEMA even if you have insurance. FEMA cannot duplicate insurance payments, but under-insured applicants may receive help after their insurance claims have been settled.

Registering with FEMA is required for federal aid, even if you have registered with another disaster-relief organization such as the American Red Cross, or local community or church organization. FEMA registrants must use the name that appears on their Social Security card. Applicants will be asked to provide:

  • Social Security number
  • Address of the damaged home or apartment
  • Description of the damage
  • Information about insurance coverage
  • A current contact telephone number
  • An address to receive mail
Bank account and routing numbers if you want direct deposit of any financial assistance
After You Apply Keep in Touch with FEMA: Update Contact Info to Avoid Delays

Louisiana February tornado survivors can move their recovery forward by ensuring FEMA has their latest contact information.

Many survivors have changed phone numbers or resided at multiple locations, so it’s important to update FEMA with your latest contact information. FEMA may need to reach survivors to obtain information to complete an application, provide application status or schedule inspections. Missing or incorrect information could delay scheduling a home inspection or receiving assistance.

  • Contact information may be updated in two ways:
  • Online at
  • Calling the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362, 7 a.m.-10 p.m. local time seven days a week
  • People who use TTY may call 800-462-7585.
  • Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS) may call 800-621-3362.
Survivors may also call the FEMA helpline if they have any questions about disaster assistance.
Spotlight Your Business

Spotlight your business in our LABEOC monthly newsletter, share your knowledge and experience, and help another business to prepare or recover from an emergency or disaster.   If you have tips, tools, resources, services, experience or best practices that can help another business or organization  and their employees become more resilient, we want to highlight your organization in our new Business to Business section.

What businesses are eligible?
All registered businesses and industry partners are eligible to submit a spotlight article.

How do I submit my business for a Spotlight?
Send an email to Please provide your personal and business contact information and a 350 word or less business spotlight article. The article should include helpful information related to business preparedness and/or hazard mitigation. Lessons learned and no-cost solutions are always helpful.

How do you decide which businesses to Spotlight?
All submissions will be reviewed by the LABEOC Team and published as soon after receipt as possible.  All published submissions will be compiled on the site.  One business spotlight article will be featured each of the newsletter’s new Business to Business Section.

What about images?
Images or company logos may be included. Please do not include any proprietary or personal information.

Is there a fee to get a Spotlight?
Absolutely not! The spotlight article was created to introduce stakeholders, share ideas and best practices, stimulate business-to-business (B2B) discussion, improve resiliency and reduce recovery time after a disaster.

An LABEOC representative will contact you either via email or phone prior to including your spotlight article as a feature in our LABEOC Monthly Newsletter. 
Questions can be sent to
Save the Date

Resources for Louisiana’s Recovery: A Summit for Creating Solutions

When: March 29, 2017
10:00 AM - 3:30 PMWhere: Community Center, 708 Main St, Pineville, LA 71360
Admission is FREE and Lunch is PROVIDED!
Registration Link:

Resources for Louisiana’s Recovery: a Summit for Creating Solutions is a highly interactive, results‐oriented workshop for business and community leaders involved in long‐term recovery and resilience statewide.
Participants will exchange ideas and learn not just where resources may be for long‐term recovery and resilience, but
HOW to access them.If you have any questions, please contact Geoff Brien at, 5045594752. Sponsored by Kisatchie-Delta Regional Planning & Development District, Imperial Calcasieu Planning & Development Commission, and Louisiana Economic Development.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Stop the Raids!


RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act of 1970) laws were initially designed to prosecute powerful organized crime syndicates like the Mafia. Over the past few years, RICO has been used to excessively charge young people of color from low-income neighborhoods as if they were gangsters.

Click here to sign this petition to Congress:


We are asking you to act now to #ReformRICO and stop prosecutors from using these federal laws, originally designed to take down the Mob, to score easy convictions against poor communities of color. Innocent teens and young adults are often forced to take plea deals when faced with first-degree conspiracy counts on which they can face a maximum of 25-years-to-life in prison.

The overwhelming majority of those charged never see trial. RICO laws are disastrous and have ruined lives, torn apart families and contributed to the enormous racial inequities we have come to expect with mass incarceration.

Click here to add your name.

Trump's inaugural pledge for "law and order" is coded messaging to law enforcement agencies, both local and federal, that will empower them to continue their abusive, racialized policing. This will mean more arrests and more incarceration at a time when America should be moving away from needless punishment of Blacks and Latinos.

Collaboration between local police departments and federal law enforcement in large, military-style "gang" raids have been cheered on by sensationalized media reports. The reports describe these young men as all being dangerous and part of organized criminal enterprises -- which they were not.

Over the past few years we have seen the emergence of a bipartisan consensus for criminal and civil justice reforms. Movements are growing across our nation urging legislators to change unfair laws that hurt families and communities of color. A wasted $80 billion a year spent on prisons actually dehumanizes inmates, many of whom are detained in inhumane conditions, some tortured in solitary confinement and denied visits or communication with their families.

Sign this petition, spearheaded by family members of those charged with RICO.

After signing the petition, please use the tools on the next webpage to share it with your friends.

This work is only possible with your financial support. Please chip in $3 now.

-- The Team

P.S. RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Frances Fox Piven, Lila Garrett, Phil Donahue, Sonali Kolhatkar, and many others.

 Blowing The Whistle On Drones

As one of the very few drone whistleblowers in the world, Cian Westmoreland needs and deserves our support.

Cian is the first recipient of the Drone Whistleblower Fellowship. In the past he was a U.S. Air Force technician who worked on the drone program. Now he takes to heart a statement by Martin Luther King Jr. that remains crucial in 2017: “Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.”

Please support the work of Cian Westmoreland by making a tax-deductible contribution to the Drone Fellowship Program of the RootsAction Education Fund.

Speaking clearly about compelling moral issues, Cian offers a blunt perspective on the U.S. drone war: “In this war on terror, we have become terror. Drones are heartless by design, and the act of killing through them can become routine and bureaucratic.”

Cian reports: “I have been connecting, speaking, writing and helping where I can all over Europe.” He has put in a lot of time in Germany, which hosts U.S. military bases directly involved in the drone war.

When Cian speaks out, he is educating activists, journalists, elected officials and the general public. In early winter, for instance, he spoke to 3,000 “hackers and hacktivists” from around the world at the huge Chaos Communications Congress in Hamburg. There he addressed “the Global Assassination Grid.”

At the Hamburg conference, “I spoke of the various layers of dehumanizing elements in the drone program to include the structural, political, and psychological. It was not only understood but well received. A professor of mathematics at Cambridge University approached me afterward and said that he’s noticed the problem of students not connecting their work to real life, and that my talk inspired him to go back and show my speech to them.”

It’s far from easy, living out of a suitcase, far from home, doing this kind of work. The pressures are severe, and the resources are thin. Please help Cian Westmoreland keep going with a tax-deductible donation to the Drone Fellowship program.

It’s vital for Cian to be doing what he’s doing at this time. As he explains: “Germany is now getting prepared for Trump’s world, and Germans are now at a point where they are discussing the need to take a normative stance against Trump’s stance on Muslims and the brutal war strategy of annihilation that the Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis, is promising.”

Cian adds: “It appears that Germany is now deciding how they will work with the United States. Will they be compliant or will they resist?

Meanwhile, Cian is also engaged in public outreach elsewhere in Europe, most crucially in the U.K. and Italy where two other critical pieces of the global drone infrastructure are based.

We hope that you’ll keep supporting Cian Westmoreland’s important work as a drone whistleblower. You can show support now by making a donation to the Drone Whistleblower Fellowship.

For Cian, stepping forward as a whistleblower has been very difficult -- and morally imperative.

Now, your tax-deductible contribution -- in solidarity with Cian Westmoreland’s whistleblowing work -- is needed to support the first Drone Whistleblower Fellowship.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Hidden Dimension-An Inside View On The Reality Of Inner City African America


TBR-Steve B. Lofton, contributor
If Hillary Clinton wins the upcoming Presidential Election the Black underclass is doomed! Just like Hillary Clinton our Black Democratic Leadership also has no respect for our laws from President Barrack H. Obama all the way down through the local level. Is this a Nation of laws or not? Yet and unfortunately this phenomenon also holds true for our Black middle-class like Clarence Thomas, Dr. Ben Carson, and talk show host Larry Elder etc. who express their views from the right side of the political spectrum without an understanding.The result is a lawless inner-city African America headed toward its own total self destruction.
     I studied at the Los Angeles University of Hard Knocks for almost a lifetime. The courses heaped upon me there forced me to finally accept the truth about the nature of my own African-American leadership; political, social, and religious despite my great unwillingness to do so and the facts. It may be the reason many black people remain poised to cry racism at every turn. I come from both a unique and odd experience. Yet I have no criminal record which is a rarity when it comes to black men although I've been jailed many times. Our almost entirely Democratic Party affiliated African-American leadership has attempted to resolve all of our problems through the welfare system for the past half-century.

Its consequence has been the total annihilation of the African-American family. This practice by my own leadership consequently even gave birth to the Los Angeles gangs known as the Crips and the Bloods the byproducts of broken black female led homes. The African-American so called educated middle-class has failed to pull its weight for it allowed this leadership to continue to exist unchecked making me wonder if they are functionally illiterate. Is not the purpose of education still to build your community? For the black middle-class education serves them to flee the Black community believing somehow they can solve the problems of everyone else rather than to take notice of those facing their own kind.The timing finally seems right to publish the Hidden Dimension for Americans are angered by their

 Washington based politicians on both sides of the isle where our President Barrack Hussein Obama sits center stage. The world has now gotten a glimpse of this African-American President and the same unmerited black middle-class arrogance about self that we within the inner-city have existed beneath for half a century. You just can't reach them up there in the ivory towers of government or their various offices where they have caused the total breakdown of law on the civil side of the system within the inner-city then retire to the white suburbs where they live at the end of the day.There are African-Americans within the inner-city who have asked themselves how on earth is it that we have fared so miserably beneath our own kind? My book The Hidden Dimension documents the answer to that question. At the age of 60 years old I am a first time newlywed to Estella Louise Lofton and we live within the inner-city of City of Los Angeles, California. The Hidden Dimension                

Monday, August 15, 2016

Simon Reeve, operated a ‘drone’ in breach of CAA New Zealand rules sentenced.

Drone sentencing a ‘beacon of awareness’
for new aviation rules – CAA
At Kaiapoi, on 5 January 2015, Simon Reeve operated a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) in a

control zone in close proximity to a helicopter conducting firefighting duties over the Pines Beach


The helicopter pilot was not aware that the RPAS was operating in his proximity. Further RPAS

flights were carried out over a beach fire at the same location on 20 January. The Civil Aviation

Authority (CAA) decided to prosecute the drone pilot.

CAA General Manager - General Aviation, Steve Moore said CAA’s decision to prosecute three

charges was based on the following factors:

· Seriousness of the offending;

· Serious risk of harm;

· Breach of Section 44 of the Civil Aviation Act 1990 [Dangerous activity involving aircraft] Civil

Aviation Rule 101.13 X 2 [Hazardous Operations]

On 6 May 2015 the District Court Judge, G S MacAskill, found Mr Reeve guilty on all 3 charges. Today

Judge MacAskill sentenced Mr Reeve to make a $500 payment to charity and discharged him

without conviction on the charge of unnecessary endangerment. He was sentenced to pay a $250

fine for each of the other charges of flying a model aircraft in controlled airspace without Air Traffic

Control clearance.

“The CAA respects the decision of the court and considers that any penalty in this case, irrespective

of the conditions of the sentence, provides a very clear signal to RPA (drone) operators that they

need to follow rules that are in place to ensure the safety of all.

“These are not toys, they are a new form of aircraft and need to be treated with respect and flown

responsibly,” Mr Moore said.

Mr Moore continued “This case has become a beacon of awareness of the new RPAS (drone) rules

that came into effect last August.”

“This outcome should come as a timely reminder to all RPAS users – fly within the rules. And think of

others when your unit is in the sky.” He said.
look up RPAS (
Intending or new drone operators are advised to check the
or CAA website and Contact: Mike Richards, Manager Corporate Communications (Media phone 0800 222 697)








Wednesday, May 18, 2016

U.S. Senate approved the Whistleblower Appreciation Day Resolution.

This month the U.S. Senate approved the Whistleblower Appreciation Day Resolution. But if the government had put you in prison for telling the truth about torture, you probably wouldn’t feel appreciated.

As CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou says, that Senate resolution is “no joke.” When whistleblowers reveal grim secrets that the public needs to know for the sake of democracy, the government’s goal is not only to punish -- “it's to ruin, professionally, personally, and financially.”

John served two years in prison for shedding light on the CIA’s torture program -- a steep price for telling the truth about some awful consequences of undemocratic power. NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake has also paid a steep price. They need your help!

With vindictive prosecutions, the government wrecked their personal finances.
Please click here to make a tax-deductible donation now. Half of every dollar will go directly to John and Tom, while the other half will go to the Whistleblowers Public Education Campaign that they co-chair.

Below are some comments from John and Tom.

John Kiriakou:

“The United States Senate in July passed the Whistleblower Appreciation Day Resolution. No joke. Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus chairman Senator Chuck Grassley said that the resolution would designate July 30, 2016 as a day to recognize ‘the role whistleblowers play in shining a light on fraud, waste, and abuse... Workers who come forward to report fraud or misconduct in their agencies are frequently punished by their superiors for simply telling the truth. These brave citizens should not be penalized, they should be praised.’

Somebody should tell the Justice Department. The War on Whistleblowers has been a hallmark of the Obama Administration’s judicial policy. Legitimate whistleblowers are charged under the Espionage Act, a draconian law meant to punish traitors and spies, not truth tellers. Leakers with political connections or who are friends of the President get a pass. The goal is not just to punish. It’s to ruin, professionally, personally, and financially.

“Still we went into this with our eyes open. It might sound crazy, but we would blow the whistle again. We don't need the Senate's ‘appreciation.’ What we need is for the Justice Department to respect the laws already on the books, to support whistleblowers exposing waste, fraud, abuse, and illegality.

“Over to you, Tom.”

Tom Drake:

“Congress has yet to invite John or myself in front of Congress to testify before any committee regarding our whistleblowing on torture and mass surveillance, respectively. We both came forward at great risk and to this day are the only two people who have paid a very high price for exposing government wrongdoing and criminal conduct regarding these two state-sponsored programs.

“Prosecuting whistleblowers under the Espionage Act sends a most chilling message to anybody who dares to expose critical information on government conduct vital to the public interest done in the name (and under the cover) of National Security.

“Our whistleblowing turned our lives upside down. It will take years for us to recover from the ordeal of the government criminally prosecuting both of us as vindictive and malicious punishment for exposing their criminal conduct involving torture and mass surveillance.

“We would not break faith with the Constitution. We upheld our oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic (including our own government), faithfully serving our country in the line of duty at the CIA and the NSA -- even when our agencies didn’t and wouldn’t.

“We are eyewitnesses to the dark side of history. It is the truth tellers and the whistleblowers who are key to sounding the alarm and holding our own government to account. Please support our education campaign to get the word out that informs the public and holds up a mirror to those in power who abuse power.

“Thank you for your continuing support.

Jesselyn Radack, The New York Times: "Whistleblowers Deserve Protection Not Prison"
The Huffington Post: "The One Man Jailed for CIA Torture Tried to Expose It"
Jane Mayer, The New Yorker: Thomas Drake -- "The Secret Sharer"

Grass Roots Organization RootsAction-Questions U.S. Foreign Policy
Since the end of the Cold War, the United States of America has systematically violated the prohibition against the threat or use of force contained in the UN Charter and the Kellogg Briand Pact. It has carved out a regime of impunity for its crimes based on its UN Security Council veto, non-recognition of international courts and sophisticated "information warfare" that undermines the rule of law with political justifications for otherwise illegal threats and uses of force.

                                    Former Nuremberg prosecutor Benjamin B. Ferencz has compared current U.S. policy to the illegal German "preemptive first strike" policy for which senior German officials were convicted of aggression at Nuremberg and sentenced to death by hanging.

                                    In 2002, the late U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy described post-September 11th U.S. doctrine as "a call for 21st century American imperialism that no other nation can or should accept." And yet the U.S. government has succeeded in assembling alliances and ad hoc "coalitions" to support threats and attacks on a series of targeted countries, while other countries have stood by silently or vacillated in their efforts to uphold international law. In effect, the U.S. has pursued a successful diplomatic policy of "divide and conquer" to neutralize global opposition to wars that have killed about 2 million people and plunged country after country into intractable chaos.

As representatives of civil society in the United States, the undersigned U.S. citizens and advocacy groups are sending this emergency appeal to our neighbors in our increasingly interconnected but threatened world. We ask you to stop providing military, diplomatic or political support for U.S. threats or uses of force; and to support new initiatives for multilateral cooperation and leadership, not dominated by the United States, to respond to aggression and settle international disputes peacefully as required by the UN Charter.

We pledge to support and cooperate with international efforts to stand up to and stop our country's systematic aggression and other war crimes. We believe that a world united to uphold the UN Charter, the rule of international law and our common humanity can and must enforce U.S. compliance with the rule of law to bring lasting peace to the world we all share.

This petition will be sent to all the world's national governments.

Click here to sign as an individual.

Click here to sign as an organization that you are authorized to sign on behalf of.

After signing the petition, please use the tools on the next webpage to share it with your friends.

This work is only possible with your financial support. Please chip in $3 now.

-- The Team

P.S. RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Coleen Rowley, Frances Fox Piven, Lila Garrett, Phil Donahue, Sonali Kolhatkar, and many others.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Reverend Pinkney: The Civil Rights Leader You May Not Know

TBR- Special to TBR, Reverend Edward Pinkney
In the struggle to preserve civilization and the rule of law, Reverend Edward Pinkney stands in virtual isolation against a very real fascist threat in the tiny lakeside town of Benton Harbor, Michigan. His ability to stand up against the fascist machine, his organizing abilities, and his endless goodwill and positivity put him in a category with civil rights heroes such as Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks.
Pinkney will without a doubt go down in history as either a great civil rights hero who fought-off a racist and fascistic tide in America, or he will go down as the civil rights activist who warned the world that

 "fascism is coming to your town next" but whom no one listened.
Please help us keep Pinkney out of prison to continue his fight against the Whirlpool corporate takeover in Michigan. Visit to help Rev. Pinkney avoid life in prison. He can't fight fascism from a jail cell!

Contacts: 269-925-001
David Sole
Joe Peery
Submitted by Polly Hughes: 217-638-5314

"ACLU of Michigan Supports Release of Faith Leader, Activist, in Election Fraud Case
Constitutional rights violations alleged in case of Rev. Edward Pinkney of Benton Harbor"
GRAND RAPIDS—The trial of Rev. Edward Pinkney, 66, of Benton Harbor violated his constitutional rights according to a motion filed with the Michigan Court of Appeals. Supporters of Pinkney—including ACLU of Michigan who filed an amicus curiae brief backing the motion—are calling for his immediate release on bond pending appeal.
A veteran community activist from Benton Harbor, Pinkney was convicted last November on five felony counts of forgery based on allegations that he changed five dates on a petition intended to recall Mayor James Hightower. Currently in Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater, he maintains his innocence and faces 30 to 120 months in prison. According to the ACLU brief, his appeal is “almost certain” to lead to the reversal of the conviction. Pinkney has already spent over seven months in prison since his sentencing last December. Visitors from around the state attempt to monitor his health and safety.
“There are so many violations of Rev. Pinkney’s rights it’s hard to believe. Three witnesses stated emphatically that Rev. Pinkney was not present when another person altered the petition,” said Michigan civil rights attorney Hugh Buck Davis. “The prosecutor in the case was allowed to use Rev. Pinkney’s community activism as evidence. This is a serious violation of the Reverend’s First Amendment rights and due process. When the defense attorney raised objections, the judge called his constitutionally-based arguments ‘emotional rhetoric.’”
Pinkney and his supporters believe his human rights activism has made him a target of political persecution by local government and business interests. According to Davis, "Given the thousands of irregularities in election petitions in Michigan every year, it's clear that this is political prosecution in retaliation for successful community and electoral organizing. They like it until it looks like you are going to win. Two-and-a-half to ten years? He's a political prisoner.”
In just one recent example, Pinkney’s arrest warrant for the non-violent charges was served by a SWAT team surrounding his home at gunpoint. Such tactics, Pinkney says, are designed to intimidate all Benton Harbor residents who speak up against Whirlpool Corporation and local officials. Supporters charge that the unjustified prosecution amounts to election fraud.
Pinkney and other members of the Benton Harbor community group, BANCO (Black Autonomy Network Community Organization), have led multiple petition drives to recall local officials as one strategy of their campaign to promote democracy, civil rights, and economic justice in the county. Whirlpool Corp. is headquartered in Benton Harbor, which is 96% African-American and has among the highest unemployment and poverty rates in the state. Mayor Hightower’s opposition to a city income tax that would have affected Whirlpool Corp. resulted in the community’s effort to recall him.
BANCO and Pinkney have protested the four emergency managers, appointed by the governor under Michigan’s controversial Emergency Manager Law, who have operated the city instead of democratically-elected officials. BANCO was also among the most vocal opponents of the Harbor Shores golf course and luxury development that appropriated lakeshore land formerly designated as a Benton Harbor city park.

Updates at: @FreeRevPinkney
Facebook: Detroit Organizing in Support of Reverend Pinkney

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I Did Not Serve In Iraq, To Return To A War Zone.

TBR-Garett Reppenhagen, Iraq War Veteran, Contributor

 As an Iraq War Veteran, I understand the dangers of firearms and the importance of keeping them out the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill.

As a Coloradan, I also have a deep and abiding respect for our national tradition of gun ownership in this country and our rights to defend family and property.

I believe it is possible to hold both of those views simultaneously -- that there is a way to change our gun laws while respecting the constitutionally protected right to bear arms. Ensuring all Americans pass a background check to guarantee that those who carry weapons are law abiding citizens would be a good first step.

As the debate over gun violence prevention reignites after yet another mass shooting, it's important that veterans (our nation's foremost experts on weapons), military family members, and VoteVets supporters make our voices heard.

Sign my petition: Tell Congress to pass commonsense gun laws that will keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill.

Throughout my military experience, I trained and performed combat missions with a conservative magazine limit. Every soldier carried a full combat load and the magazines were constructed to minimize malfunction and to be effective in tactical situations.

Currently some states allow the same size magazines I was issued as a Cavalry Scout and in some cases the clips they are allowed to carry have a larger capacity. Basically, these laws allow our citizens to be more combat effective in our communities than I was in Iraq.

In the military, every recruit is scrutinized for any moral deficiency and criminal history before entering basic training and being issued a weapon. But here at home, criminals are able to get their hands on this kind of firepower without even passing a background check.

It makes no sense, and Congress must act.

Sign my petition: Tell Congress to pass commonsense laws that will keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill.

During the Iraq War, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld compared the violence in Iraq to Chicago, saying about both, "It's a tough part of the world."

We should strive for better. And if Congress acts on this issue, we can save lives.

Thank you for reading,

Garett Reppenhagen
Iraq War Veteran

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Some thoughts on "Straight Outta Compton".

TBR-Speech Thomas of Arrested Development

I applaud Ice Cube, Gary F Gray & Dr. Dre because they know how to tell a great story! The accurate portrayal of a hiphop producers heart.... wanting to make something special...well done. The vicious sharks that swim in music industry waters...greatly exposed. The acting, promotion and soundtrack... superb! In a country where excellence in black film on the big screen isn't seen enough, it's proudly exhibited here.
But from the perspective of the ancestors, they got some explaining to do. Centuries of struggle by our men, women and children who were thoroughly desolate with only one hope. The hope that through their perseverance, future generations would have it better than they did. Many died for that very reason.
That's the African-American legacy.
It was just two weeks ago, we all were discussing how soiled America still is from the horrors of slavery and the following systematic racism.
Blacks for hundreds of years purposely portrayed in every advertisement, news article, play, TV show and movie as dangerous, vile, uncaring, simple, roguish brutes, with intelligence a tad higher than a monkey. Year after year, decade after decade, century after century... And here we are today - as white trigger happy cops shoot blacks. It doesn't matter if they're unarmed, cuz in the minds of so many, blacks are always armed with centuries of dangerous propaganda. And a lie can run around the world twice before truth can get her shoes on!
And in comes Hollywood pushing yet ANOTHER movie with that same ole narrative... Straight Outta Compton! With the convenient subtitle - "the worlds most dangerous group"
Is that literal or it's figurative? None of them came from the most dangerous of street life but Easy E. right? I often hear that they're dangerous because of Cube's defiant lyrics & fierce determination to speak "truth" to power. Ummm, that sounds honorable.
But I'm sure I can come up with a few more suggestions more appropriate than NWA. The black panthers for instance might be better suited for such an honor. With fierce determination they defied an entire system at risk of their very lives! They REALLY fought for justice and most paid the ultimate price. An epic bio pic that shows how these brave young men and women organized change for all races and genders, showing true devotion mixed with legal prowess... that's a film suggestion! And can I get a witness that NWA's "F*** the Police" is only the prevailing anti-police brutality anthem BECAUSE the music industry championed it. It didn't take the FBI long at all to see that NWA was ultimately a harmless group because their other songs & political savvy was thoroughly misguided and non-directional. As opposed to the earlier & less popular "F*** the Pigs" that the black panthers often shouted as they persevered through police harassment as actual freedom fighters, not as drug dealers and pretend thugs. Historically there were activists that started as thugs but TRANSFORMED into purposeful revolutionaries.
I've heard some say, the title "most dangerous" is as far as MUSICAL groups are concerned.... Ummm wouldn't PUBLIC ENEMY better fit that definition? But see a movie like that would simply be too dangerous, it might cause people to do more than ooo and aaah over the financial success of a music producer & rapper who made nice movies and headphones. It might cause REAL change.
NWA may be the most dangerous, but not because they fought against a racist and oppressive system... but because they were effective ambassadors of that very system! I like to call it white supremacy on wax! Who else could have done such a great job at spreading the age old message that blacks are morally sub-human? Many things white supremacists say about blacks is what NWA confirms in their most popular songs. And yes, in 2015 Twitter is going nuts praising the film and much of the hiphop world is bowing down to NWA as heroes in the genre. But I applaud a good number of blacks that "don't believe the hype"!
Bio pics about rap artists are few and far between, but take notice to WHICH rap movies Hollywood green lights for major motion picture release? And have you ever thought about WHY these particular movies?
Biggie's Notorious, Eminem's 8 Mile, 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Trying and NWA's Straight Outta Compton! Most of which come straight outta Jimmy Iovine's & Dre's storehouse of thuggery, and celebrate the "American Dream" thru gritty accounts of drug deals, crack addicted communities, strip clubs, friends that deceive each other and gun battles gone wrong. And then the inevitable transformation from rags to riches. As they live happily ever after (in their death though). Oh yeah, Biggie was about right, that if you're're nobody til somebody kills you!
To quote Public Enemy... "Burn Hollywood Burn!" They're pretty much about money and judging by this past weekends ticket sales... THEY'RE WINNING! Stay tuned for a Tupac, Ice T and whomever else da cap fits bio pic for us all to swoon over!
Feed us our illusions, Hollywood has no skin in the game, it's just money to them. But don't we as blacks literally have skin in the game?
It's our SKIN that signals brainwashed cops to pull us over just because we didn't use a turn signal. Or blow our brains out for trying to start our car while being questioned. Or get choked to death, spines snapped, or just walking home wearing a hoodie.
There's gotta be a point where we WEIGH the pains we feel from years of being mis-represented against the joy we feel seeing another black thug soliloquy on the big screen! The pain lasts for years, the joy last 2 and a half hours. You do the math.
There's gotta be a breaking point when we make a critical decision. Directionless expression or real freedom? I know, I know... no one screams when Scorsese does a gangster film, why pick on rappers? Because Jewish people aren't making these movies WHILE simultaneously getting shot down in the streets by their own kind, arrested in astronomical rates and their rappers literally getting assassinated like they were in a Middle East war zone!
When is enough... ENOUGH!?
Consciousness didn't start with NWA, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar's "To Pimp a Butterfly", nor ‪#‎blacklivesmatter‬.
It's been in full effect since slavery and we must keep our eyes on the prize to reach the finish line!
On the big screen, these rappers are portrayed as bigger than life heroes and even somehow "freedom fighters"! But TRUE heroes like Julian Bond, Garvey, Harriet & Parks deserve a bio pic, because they served US all! But would we support it?
It NEVER was enough to have a conscious song or two on an otherwise "white supremacist" gangsta record. It's not enough to have things "go in cycles"... (people say that to me all the time about music)
It's about standing on the shoulders of those that stood before us until we get out from the ditch that hides our humanity!
Our values are so backwards that fathers, mothers, educators, intellectuals & activists don't fill today's memes and murals. Instead it's Tupac, Biggie, NWA and maybe a Jay-Z. The murals you see painted in the ghettos, (I've even seen em in the outskirts of Africa!) Memes of these rappers floating around on the Internet and interviews at the end of albums with their "prophetic" words. 3D holograms of them in front of wooing crowds. Supposed martyrs packaged and shrink wrapped in a CD. "Heroes" of the people - celebrated, applauded, jailed and assassinated, with a level of admiration that you'd think they died because of political resistance or activism, but no. It's simply a petty beef or a record executive hungry for more money.
We have so lost our way, that we celebrate their temporary success - in lieu of our own lasting success.
Behind the riches of every Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Easy E. or Suge Knight are quiet little Jewish & White guys in polo shirts that are even richer than them.
They play golf and listen to Bach while they count their money. Meanwhile we wallow in these decadent, century old stereotypical, blaxploitation flicks and albums, their kids fly in private jets and vacation in Belize. Our kids suffer just walking to school.
Yes, Straight Outta Compton is very good and yes, these men have immense talent, but Italian mafioso refused to sell crack to their own communities. They insisted on separating their families from their illegal business.
We sell this "crack music" to our little kids and we infest the whole world with it!
It is NOT just entertainment. We are getting killed in real life. We influence Africa, South America and everywhere there's poor people that need inspiration. It has never been simple entertainment and it has far out reached the block.... it's racist propaganda. And it hurts the soul of humanity!
And by the way ITS NOT HONEST, it's not what we see in the hood. It's an embellishment of it, it's "reality" on steroids, it's someones story on performance enhancers! And the things that destroy these communities has become a Satanic virus, packaged and shipped out to every other community to infect those that were previously healthy.
That's my problem with NWA - not the music (it's brilliant) NWA endorsed the worse traits of the hood, promoted these traits and to justify their lust for fame they revised their purpose claiming it's a noble freedom of speech movement.
And many have bought that revisionist history, poured it in our glasses & ummm that kool aid taste sweet! White supremacy is happy, blacks got our thug heroes and the world keeps on turning.
So, sit and eat your popcorn, sip a Coke, enjoy a well-deserved break from lifes stress.
I know I did. I also know I made Ice Cube, Dr. Dre Gary Gray and a host of white dudes a bit richer! I'm alright with that. May God bless em.
But even as I'm entertained by the film, I know that unless we change our dynamics and moral infrastructure as black people, WE really are the entertainment. The silly blacks that can't realize the difference between an Arnold Schwarzenegger fiction and a propaganda missile aimed at the very demise of our freedom, dignity and culture.
GIL scott was right....The revolution will not be televised it will be screened in a theater near you.
Two thumbs up.