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Mark Ciaravella Sentenced to 28 Years for “Kids for Cash” Scandal

Mark Ciavarella, Jr., a former judge in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, is heading to prison for his involvement in the “Kids for cash” scandal. Ciavarella was charged and convicted of mail fraud, racketeering, tax evasion, and money laundering. Ciavarella received millions of dollars from private prison builder, Robert Mericle, in exchange for giving juveniles harsher and longer sentences. Another judge, Michael Conahan participated in the scandal, but pleaded guilty to charges:

Since 2003, Ciavarella received millions of dollars in bribes for condemning minors to maximum prison sentences. In one case, Ciavarella sentenced a 10-year-old to two years in a detention facility for accidentally bottoming out his mother’s car.

According to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, over 5,000 young men and women were unjustly sentenced to prison and denied their constitutional rights. Many of them have now been released and cleared of their charges.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has overturned some 4,000 convictions issued by him between 2003 and 2008, claiming he violated the constitutional rights of the juveniles – including the right to legal counsel and the right to intelligently enter a plea. Some of the juveniles he sentenced were as young as 10-years old.

Ciavarella was convicted of 12 counts, including racketeering, money laundering, mail fraud and Black Star Journal.

Ciaravella has been sentenced to 28 years in prison. Is the punishment severe enough? How can people who are charged with crimes expect a fair hearing if such corruption exists in the justice system? Should the youth who were sentenced by Ciaravella receive some kind of compensation from the state? Thoughts on this case? Sound off below!!!!

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Hip-Hop Meets Labor Day in Jasiri X’s New Video, “We Coming”


“We Coming” was inspired by the Dream Defenders, BYP100, and the movement of fast food and low wage workers to get $15 an hour and the right to form a union. “We Coming” was shot on location in Milwaukee, WI during the 8/29 Strike that took place in over 50 cities around the country. “We Coming” was produced by GM3, shot by Paradise Gray, and based off of a chant by Artist and Activist Jazz Hudson. Young people are rising up all over the country and the world, believe me when I say, “WE COMING”!

Featured Article

Human Rights Group Calls on Dunkin Donuts to Remove Racist Ad

A human rights group is calling on Dunkin’ Donuts to remove an ad that they say is offensive.

The ad, currently running in Thailand, features a woman covered in black with only her lips colored pink, similar to that of the popular Minstrel Show images of early 20th century America. 

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Dave Chappelle Heckled, Walks Off Stage

Perhaps the Dave Chappelle “comeback” many of us have been clamoring for is going as swimmingly as planned. At a stop in Hartford, Connecticut last night, Chappelle was heckled before he walked off stage to the boos of some crowd members:

Chappelle, who was headlining the Funny or Die Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Tour, was on stage at the Comcast Theatre in Hartford for just a few minutes, when he suddenly stopped his routine and said the audience was making too much noise, one witness said. For the next 25 minutes, he sat on a stool, read from a book, told the crowd he was still getting paid and then eventually walked off the stage, a witness said.

Some fans are upset and want a refund.

Read more at NBC Connecticut.

The tour continues tonight in Pennsylvania before heading to Chicago. Have you seen Chappelle’s latest show? Were you disappointed in his performance and apparent change in style? Should the audience have complied to Chappelle’s request to quiet down? Should Chappelle do performances that satisfy audience’s expetactions? Thoughts? Sound off below!!!!

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Lessons From Bayard: A Radically Inclusive and Intentionally Intersectional Youth Movement Stirring in the Shadows of the March on Washington

As young millennials construct a path to travel into a radical space of direct action and youth led social change, it is imperative that we critique and learn from many of the mistakes that were so blatant in our 1960’s civil rights movement and with the 1963 March on Washington. Bayard Rustin –being the visionary that he was— understood the necessity to be radically inclusive. His life not only stood at the intersections, but his message declared the criticality of coalition building between groups who stood at the margins.

The March on Washington commemoration (I use “commemoration” very purposefully) this week served as a moment for us to reflect on the last 50 years. Some say we have come a long way since Bayard Rustin organized the first March on Washington in 1963—btw, he did so without the technological capabilities that we take for granted today (no facebook, no twitter, no instagram….not even a cell phone and he still brought out 250,000). However, as many remain wedged in their nostalgia, I assert that we “aint” came as far as many would like to conclude. And young people for the first time in a generation, have decided to do something about that.

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Esteria Smith, 9-Years-Old, Drives Father to Hospital

Esteria Smith might be seven years away from having a driver’s license, but she’s already shown skills behind the wheel. The nine-year-old guided a car to the hospital when her father, who had been driving, fell ill:

“I took my daughter to karate class and was there and right as class was winding up. I started feeling not myself. Not a headache, but not myself” [John Smith, Esteria's father] explained. Esteria said she also noticed something was off.

“I start thinking to myself, ‘well what’s wrong with him? He’s not fussing. He’s not telling me how to do this. He’s not telling me how to do that’ Esteria said laughing. “Then, we got to the car and he was mumbling when he told me where we was going [the hospital] and he was walking really fast. I was like, ‘what’s happening?’ So, we got in the car and he started driving, but he was driving crazy!”

It wasn’t long before the situation took a turn for the worst.

“He told me he couldn’t see and started panicking saying, “‘I don’t know what to eat, I don’t know what to eat”‘ Esteria recalled. “Then, he gave me his phone, but didn’t tell me what to do! I didn’t know if I needed to call the ambulance or what I needed to do!”

But, she quickly figured it out. “I took over the whee!” she said with a proud smile.

Read more at WHJG.

Once at the hospital, doctors discovered that John Smith  had golf ball-size tumor. He will begin treatment soon.

Kudos to Esteria for remaining calm and getting her father to the hospital. We wish Mr. Smith a successful treatment.

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Shellie Zimmerman Offers Apology to Trayvon Martin’s Parents

Shellie Zimmerman, the wife of George Zimmerman, has been in the news recently. She faced perjury charges, which she received one year probation for after striking a deal. In an interview Zimmerman talked about the charges, and offered a message to Trayvon Martin’s parents:

“I’m so deeply sorry for their loss,” Shellie Zimmerman said, referring to Trayon’s parents. “I can’t even begin to understand the grief a parent experiences when they lose a child.

Read more at Global Grind.

What do you think of Shellie Zimmerman’s condolences to the Martin family? Of her interview? Thoughts? Sound off below!!!!

Featured Article

17-Year Old Victoria Duval Shocks U.S. Open; Defeats Former Champion in Opening Round

17-year old Victoria Duval upset 2011 champ Samantha Stosur, winning her opening round bout at the U.S. Open.

Duval defeated Stosur despite ranking 296th worldwide; Stosur is ranked 11th.

From Clutch:

Duval, who was born in Miami, but spent most of her childhood in Haiti, has a harrowing story.

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News Flash

List of ’25 Smartest Women on Twitter’ Excludes Blacks, Tweeters Respond

The latest “accidental” form of discrimination to hit social media is Fast Company’s list of “25 Of The Smartest Women On Twitter.”

Out of all of the wonderfully creative women of color on the social media site, not one was selected for the list.

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News Flash

Thousands Expected at 50th Anniversary of March of Washington

Photo: USA Today

Today commemorates the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

The historical civil rights demonstration, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is hailed as the most successful peaceful protest in American history. 

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