2007 - %3, August

Update: Al Sharpton Fights Back?

| Thu Aug. 16, 2007 5:59 PM PDT

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The always-reputable TMZ.com is reporting that a spokesperson for Sharpton's National Action Network (who helped organized the recent anti-bad language protests) has responded to rapper David Banner's (real name: Levell Crump) expletive-laden rant about Sharpton with some bad language of her own. The spokesperson, Kristen John-Foy, apparently referring to Banner's invitation for Sharpton to "suck [his] d***," released this statement:

From time to time we do encounter people that have sexual fantasies about Reverend Al Sharpton, but they are always women and Crump's proposition is a first. I am sure Rev. Sharpton would not call Crump the "N" "B" or "H" word. And, despite Crump's personal request, I am sure Reverend Sharpton would not call him a f*****. He would just pray for him. We at NAN are pro civil rights for everyone, even Levell Crump who has not had a banner year since his debut album in 2003.

TMZ says another spokesperson confirmed the statement was sent from Sharpton's office, but also seemed to distance the Reverend from the comment, saying he would "never" respond directly to attacks like Banner's. Well, somebody in your office did, and used the "F" word, with a cute, Ann Coulter-style "I'm not saying this word right here that I'm saying" trick, so they don't get in trouble. Awesome! Keep up the good work, National Action Network!

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Weird Weather Watch: Brutal Heat Wave in the South

| Thu Aug. 16, 2007 5:16 PM PDT

It was 107 in Memphis yesterday—an all-time high. The heat that has gripped most of the South for the past week and a half has killed at least 37 people.

Riffing the massive earthquake yesterday in Peru (which left almost 450 people dead), Memphis' mayor said, "This is pretty akin to a seismic event in the sense that there is no remedy, no solution that we here in this room can come up with that will take care of everybody."

Meanwhile, Americans presided over the deaths of 250 people in Iraq, where we are busily fighting for the fossil fuel we need to fight.

Perhaps our efforts would be more constructively directed at halting climate change.

CARE Doesn't Want the U.S.' Money

| Thu Aug. 16, 2007 5:04 PM PDT

CARE, an organization that combats poverty, will no longer accept $45 million a year in funding from the U.S. government. It's not often you hear about a charity walking away from that much money, but CARE's reasons are sound. It comes down to the fact that the U.S. food aid program is designed to suit American agricultural and shipping interests more than those of the world's poor. Jonathan Schwarz, in our upcoming issue (hitting the newsstands in early September), documents why this is happening and what Congress needs to do to change it. But lucky for you, you don't have to wait. Read the entire article here.

—Celia Perry

Court Denies FTC Injunction Against Whole Foods Merger

| Thu Aug. 16, 2007 4:47 PM PDT

The proposed merger between Whole Foods and Wild Oats is back on the table as of today.

To learn more, continue reading this post on our science and health blog, The Blue Marble.

Court Denies FTC Injunction Against Whole Foods Merger

| Thu Aug. 16, 2007 4:24 PM PDT

The proposed merger between Whole Foods and Wild Oats is back on the table. The Federal Trade Commission's recent injunction to stop the merger under anti-monopoly laws was denied today, and the merger may take place as early as Monday, August 20. That is, if the FTC does not file a stay for an appeal by then. Stay tuned for more Whole Foods news Monday. Until then, though, you can browse Michael Pollan's feature on why eating organic isn't necessarily sustainable.

New Lawsuit: Michael Vick is Going to Need a Bigger Contract

| Thu Aug. 16, 2007 1:27 PM PDT

Spotted on The Corner, the most interesting news story of the day. Reprinted in full:

An offbeat South Carolina prison inmate has filed a handwritten lawsuit seeking $63 quintillion from Michael Vick.
That's $63,000,000,000,000,000,000.
Or as Jonathan Lee Riches put it in his handwritten lawsuit, "$63,000,000,000 billion." The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Richmond on July 23.
Riches -- who has developed an Internet cult following for his propensity to file strange lawsuits naming multiple diverse defendants -- claims that Vick stole his pit bulls and sold them on eBay to "use the proceeds to purchase missiles from the Iran government."
In the complaint, Riches scrawls that "Michael Vick has to stop physically hurting my feelings and dashing my hopes."
If he wins the lawsuit, Riches says he wants the $63 quintillion delivered in gold and silver to the front gate of the Williamsburg Federal Correctional Facility in South Carolina, where he is housed as he serves a conviction for wire fraud.

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News Flash: Jose Padilla Found Guilty On All Counts

| Thu Aug. 16, 2007 1:01 PM PDT

His attorneys were not allowed to mention the original "dirty bomb" allegations, nor the fact that he was held without an attorney for 3 1/2 years. AP story here.

More to come. Meanwhile read my previous blog post here. And our full archival coverage of the Padilla case here.

Women Lagging Politically, Except for That Whole WH Contender Thing

| Thu Aug. 16, 2007 12:58 PM PDT

Yesterday Salon picked up on a Wall Street Journal article titled: "Women's March Into Office Slows," which begins:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton could be elected president next year, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi would likely remain Speaker of the House assuming the Democrats retain control of Congress.

Yeah, that sounds like the women's march is screeching to a halt. Or, it sounds like women could grab the White House and maintain control of the highest ranking seat in the House. But, I guess that's neither here nor there.

What's important, says the WSJ, is that three governships held by women "face stiff competition." The article also uses the current Cook Political Report as evidence that the female gender's political dominance is slowing down. The article notes that 14 out of the 75 "vulnerable" House seats are women. But, if you look at that in terms of percentages, there's only about a six percent difference between the number of male and female vulnerable seats. And anyway, isn't it a bit early to be talking 2008 congressional races?

Jenna is Getting Hitched

| Thu Aug. 16, 2007 12:49 PM PDT

Jenna Bush has just announced her engagement to former Karl Rove aid, Henry Hager. This gives her just enough time to plan a White House wedding before daddy gets the boot.

—Celia Perry

Rappers Respond to Al Sharpton

| Thu Aug. 16, 2007 12:22 PM PDT

mojo-photo-davidbanner.jpg As I previously covered here on the Riff, Al Sharpton recently organized protests against foul and violent language in hip-hop, demanding the withdrawal of government-run pension funds from record labels who don't comply. Now artists are speaking out against Sharpton. Web site SOHH.com reports that both critically-acclaimed MC Talib Kweli and hit producer and rapper David Banner (above) have criticized Sharpton, each in their own way. Kweli was firm but thoughtful, saying "I'm an artist and I'm gonna say what I want to say," but also giving respect to, well, Oprah:

I do think that people like Al Sharpton and Oprah and Russell Simmons are our vanguards and our elders and that we should respect them… They have been here representing for us since before even hip-hop was here. What they say is important and it's relevant but I think we need our own leadership so that we can respectfully disagree and say 'I hear you uncle Russell, I hear you Al Sharpton' and be respectful about it. But we can't cow tow (sic!!!!) to them either.

I'm going to hope it was SOHH and not Kweli who made that unfortunate bovine slip-up there. Anyway, on to Banner: his brilliant, minimalist 2005 hit "Play" may be the filthiest song ever recorded, one of a few hip-hop tracks ("My Neck, My Back," anyone?) whose "radio edits" basically required complete re-writes. He was naturally more colorful in his response:

The next time you see Al Sharpton, tell him I said @#*$ him and he can suck my @#*$… I might change the name of my album from The Greatest Story Never Told to @#*$ Al Sharpton. I hate Al Sharpton. This is the kind of @#!* that I'm talking about. They're killing kids in New Jersey and all across the country and all a @#*$% got to talk about is rap lyrics? … He's [Sharpton] a permed-out pimp. Him and Jesse Jackson are out here charging people to do rallies with them … @#*$%s talk a good game about we need to clean up the hood and the lyrics and all that. But I'm out here doing it.

By "doing it," Banner may be referring to his sponsorship of a neighborhood children's program's annual Six Flags trip (pointed out by This Recording) or being honored by the National Black Caucus of the Mississippi state legislature after his work for victims of Hurricane Katrina. But, one wonders if perhaps pulling back on the expletives might have been a good idea just this once.

By the way, to all you commenters who think any reference to sexuality in hip-hop music is "sexist," go give "My Neck, My Back" a listen.