Black women face increased violence

— Black women were murdered at more than double the rate of White women in 2012 and almost all (92 percent) of these women knew their assailant, according a report titled, “When Men Murder Women” by the Violence Policy Center.

The annual study, now in its 17th year, “examines FBI data and “details the reality of homicides committed against females by single male offenders.” In homicide cases involving Whites and Blacks, most of the victims know their assailants.

According to the report, 11 times as many Black women were killed by a man they knew than by a stranger in 2012. More than half (56 percent) were married to or in relationships with the men who murdered them.

Tony Porter, co-founder and co-director of A Call to Men, believes that this statistic cuts to the heart of the problem.

“The vast majority of men are not violent; it’s the minority of men who are. While we as good men, well-meaning men, don’t hit, or abuse, or rape, or assault, we participate in a culture of manhood that allows the minority of men to perpetrate violence,” he said, adding that if women alone could end the violence in their communities, they would have already done so.

“If we can engage that majority of men to take this issue on, we might be able to have a much better chance of stopping and ending or putting a big dent in it.”

Porter’s domestic and sexual violence prevention organization tackles negative social norms and encourages more healthy and respectful definitions of manhood through training and education for men, boys and communities.

“We as a society would still allow me to stand by and watch something terrible happen to a woman. I’m not asking that I be held accountable by law, because I did not commit a crime, but…I am asking that I be held accountable by society on some moral level. I cannot walk away from that and still be seen as one of the good guys,” he said.

“We participate in promoting less value of women. We still treat women as the property of men. We don’t believe that women are the property of men, but we still use a lot of those tenets that were passed down from a time when women were the property of men.”

In addition to subconsciously acting on these beliefs, Black men often have the added layer of socioeconomic circumstances that that breed violence. Racial oppression, chronic joblessness, and income inequality, for example, can breed the hostility and desperation that lead to violence in Black communities.

“Where the value lessens, the violence increases. When we talk about induced self-hate, we’re talking about racial oppression. And when you concentrate poverty…when you put 6,000 financially poor people in a square four-block radius…you will have violence,” Porter said, adding that this doesn’t excuse personal responsibility, but are factors.

“So…there’s going to be a higher rate of violence, and that’s not just Black men on Black men, but Black men on Black women as well. There are many things going wrong that are creating this reality…in the Black community.”

According to Avis Jones-DeWeever, a gender, race and class researcher and former director of the National Council of Negro Women, similar conditions make gender violence more severe for Black women. For starters, living in such areas of concentrated poverty means Black women have less access to services, or poor-quality versions of those services.

“It’s a huge problem, because we have particular cultural challenges that maybe are not addressed in other programs that are aimed at women in general,” she said. For example, Black women, among the most religious of all Americans according to data from the Pew Research Center, may be receiving messages from the pulpit that encourage them to keep their families together, no matter the cost.

She explained, “Black women understand that Black men might be at higher risk of fatal encounters with police…so they might be less likely than their White counterparts to report their abusers to the police.”

There’s also the matter of guns.

“The number of Black females shot and killed by their husband or intimate acquaintance (111 victims) was more than three times as high as the total number murdered by male strangers using all weapons combined (33 victims) in single victim/single offender incidents in 2012,” the report states, adding that 57 percent of all Black female homicide victims had been fatally shot.

Francine Jones-James of Duluth, Ga., owner of Bubbas Gun Sales, is one of the few women – and even fewer Black women – in the U.S. to hold a federal firearm license, which authorizes her to run background checks and conduct interstate transactions on customers’ behalf.

Most of Jones-James’ clients are Black men, who, like her husband, enjoy hunting and target practice.

“Individuals with a background of domestic violence, perpetrators, should be prohibited or restricted from purchasing a firearm,” said Jones-James, who also believes in universal background checks.

“Second, I believe women should learn how to properly use and store a firearm for self-protection. When being abused, a woman should consider all means of self-protection, including a firearm. However, she must learn the responsibilities of firearm ownership in her state.”

The report cites research that finds that women living with a gun in the home triple their chances of being shot and killed. It cites another study from Harvard School of Public Health that found that “hostile gun displays,” usually against women, may be even more common than gun-related homicides in the home.

Avis Jones-DeWeever advises women in violent relationships to try to create a comprehensive escape plan and secretly save the money to execute it.

“What most people don’t understand is that when women do leave, that’s the most dangerous part of the relationship. Oftentimes when you hear on the news that somebody’s boyfriend has killed them, it’s because [the victim] has just left them or is about to leave them,” said Jones-DeWeever, who also serves on the board of directors for the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

“Leaving sometimes isn’t enough…you might need to be prepared to, frankly, start all over. As we’ve seen, unfortunately, many times having an order of protection is helpful, but it’s not going to save your life. It really requires developing a plan…it means connecting with your family, your friends, people you love and trust to help you do that.”

She also advises those who believe a loved is being abused try to maintain ties with the person, especially as the abuser attempts to isolate him/her; additionally, set aside money for the person, and let him/her know you can assist with an escape plan, financially and otherwise.

Jones-DeWeever said, “We need to think about ways in which the community, specifically, could take more responsibility around acknowledging the fact that our women and our girls are oftentimes in danger. We need to figure out ways in which we can be better about making sure that our girls, and the women in our communities can have a greater likelihood of living lives that are free of violence.”

Porter said, “What outrages me is how we as men still can live with the mindset that as long as it’s not me and mine…I don’t have any responsibility. Black men, our responsibility extends beyond our families, because we have a community of sons relying on us.”

He continued, “When we talk about prevention…how are we spending time with our sons and other boys? The more we promote and model healthy and respectful manhood, the more we decrease violence against women.”

Freddie Gray: Trial dates set for officers

— The first trial, that of Officer William Porter, is scheduled to start on November 30; the last officer’s trial in March.

Porter had previously been expected to go on trial in October. His defense pushed for a later date after prosecutors reportedly turned over additional material.

It’s unclear what that material entails because Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams has ordered that the defendants’ statements not be made public.

However, The Baltimore Sun reported that it was granted exclusive access to the police department’s investigation, which shows Porter allegedly told Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., the driver of the van in which Gray was transported after his arrest, that the police booking facility would not process Gray because of his medical condition.

Citing investigators who reviewed the officers’ statements as part of the departmental probe, the newspaper reported that Porter told investigators that he and other officers weren’t sure whether Gray was faking his injuries or being uncooperative.

Porter was the only officer not attending Tuesday’s hearing.

If the account is true, Porter’s testimony will shed light on a looming question in the case: Why wasn’t Gray taken to a hospital immediately after he requested medical attention and his inhaler following his arrest?

According to then-Deputy Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez, officers took Gray into custody at 8:40 a.m. on April 12. At 8:54 a.m., the officers stopped the van to place more restraints on Gray. A surveillance video captured footage of Gray conscious and speaking, Rodriguez said at the time.

At 9:24 a.m., police called an ambulance to pick up Gray at the Western District police station, Rodriguez said. At some point between 8:40 and 9:24, Gray asked for his inhaler and for medical attention, said Rodriguez, who has since resigned.

Gray, 25, was arrested on a weapons charge and suffered a severe spinal cord injury while being taken away in a police van, authorities have said. That injury led to his death seven days later.

State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby has said Gray’s injury happened because he was handcuffed and shackled — but not buckled in — inside the police van.

The six officers were indicted in June. They have pleaded not guilty. They face the following charges:

• Goodson is charged with one count of second-degree depraved-heart murder, involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, manslaughter by vehicle (gross negligence), manslaughter by vehicle (criminal negligence), misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. His trial is set to start January 6.

• Porter is charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.

• Officer Garrett Miller is charged with one count of second-degree assault, two counts of misconduct in office and one count of reckless endangerment. His trial is set to start February 9.

• Officer Edward Nero is charged with one count of second-degree assault, two counts of misconduct in office and one count of reckless endangerment. His trial is set to start February 22.

• Lt. Brian Rice is charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter, one count of second-degree assault, two counts of misconduct in office and one count of reckless endangerment. His trial is set to start March 9.

• Sgt. Alicia White is charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. Her trial is set to start January 25.

Nero, Miller and Rice have asked that their reckless endangerment charges be tossed out because they are based solely on the allegation that they didn’t put a seat belt on Gray, which their attorneys contest is not a crime in Maryland.

Police spokesman Capt. Eric Kowalczyk has said three of the officers were on bikes and initially approached Gray, another made eye contact with Gray, another officer joined in the arrest after it was initiated and one drove the police van.

The order of the trials, which Judge Williams has ruled will be held separately, is important because, for one, Porter is expected to implicate other officers.

After the judge pushed Porter’s trial back to November, the defense for the other five officers asked to have those trials moved up. The judge denied that request and scheduled their clients consistently after Porter’s trial.

Prosecutors have written Williams to say that if officers who incriminate their fellow officers aren’t tried first, they might refuse to take the stand to avoid self-incrimination in their own trials, The Sun reported.

Gray’s death sparked outrage and demonstrations, some of which were plagued by arson, vandalism and looting despite the Gray family’s pleas for peace.

The political fallout has been significant: Not only did Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake remove Police Commissioner Anthony Batts from his post, Rawlings-Blake has announced she won’t seek re-election because a political campaign would take away from the city’s ability to cope with a police brutality scandal.

“The last thing I want is for every one of the decisions I make … to be questioned in the context of a political campaign,” she told reporters.

CNN’s Aaron Cooper and Miguel Marquez contributed to this report.


™ & © 2015 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Ravens look to keep Steelers QB Mike Vick under wraps

For the first time in 12 years, the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers will face each other without Ben Roethlisberger or Terrell Suggs on the field. Mike Vick is the new face in the next chapter of the intense Ravens/Steelers rivalry. Vick will be called upon to keep the ship going in the right direction while Roethlisberger recovers from his injury last Sunday.

The Ravens are faced with the task of formulating a game plan to stop Vick, a more athletic quarterback than Roethlisberger. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has repeatedly said that the team will stick to their core offense despite having a new quarterback.

“We’ve got great confidence in him. We are going to run our offense, and we’re going to highlight what he’s comfortable with within our offense and go from there,” Tomlin said. “We’ll take the best game to him, in will-in terms of utilizing what he does best.”

John Harbaugh agrees that the Steelers will run their offense similarly to how it would flow with Roethlisberger. The Raven current quarterbacks coach Marty Mornhinweg was a part of the Philadelphia Eagles staff that helped revitalize Vick’s career. He could be a good source when it comes to finding ways to attack the sudden start. Either way, the game plan will remain the same according to Harbaugh. In his eyes, there isn’t much of a drop-off.

“It’s interesting, a lot of those things compare favorably with what Ben Roethlisberger does. He’s dangerous in the pocket; he’s dangerous out of the pocket – just like Ben is,” Harbaugh said. “So, a lot of those techniques that we’re practicing carry over to a guy like Michael Vick. You prepare for the protections, you prepare for their schemes, and you prepare for Michael Vick running those schemes.”

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees had high praise for Roethlisberger. He called him the best scrambling quarterback in the history of the NFL outside of Fran Tarkenton. Pees explained how it’s important to collapse the pocket against quarterbacks like Vick and Roethlisberger. He also said that the defensive backs have to stay with the receivers that break off their routes when a play breaks down.

“Vick is kind of the same guy but it’s a different kind of guy. This guy gets on the edge, he can outrun everybody – Ben couldn’t. But Ben sees everything downfield and throws, and that’s how he gets all his big plays,” Pees said. “There’s no team in the league that uncovers better as wide receivers than the Pittsburgh Steelers. Those guys have a knack, and it’s always been with Ben. I don’t think it’s going to be any different with Vick. I think we’ve got our hands full with him.”

Roethlisberger acknowledged that Vick is a better runner. He said that the offense will be similar with a few small tweaks to take advantage of Vick’s strengths. This is a sure sign that the pocket will move and Vick will see some boot action.

Vick is happy about getting the chance to play football again. Just over a month ago, he was looking for a job. Not he’s the starter in a prime time football game.

“It’s tough but as a professional you have to find a way to get it done. That’s what you sign up for when you play in this league. We have guys who are very talented and can make a lot of plays.” Vick said. “It’s not for me to try to go out and win the game by myself. I have to eliminate all of the things and plays I’m not comfortable with as of now. We have a ton of them and a ton of good ones.”

Black artists make waves at 2015 Toronto International Film Festival

— The Toronto International Film Festival has aged gracefully into its 40th year anniversary. Black directors, actors and writers have enhanced the celebratory occasion with fine performances and artistic contributions in indie films, big budget movies and life-affirming documentaries. Their work in films that are positioning themselves for the upcoming awards season is on display in movies that will be released this fall and on into next year in theaters, VOD, Netflix, VH1….

Black Films

Beast of No Nation * –This bleak drama follows the capture and indoctrination of a little boy named Agu (Abraham Attah), who becomes a child solider in an unnamed African country. He’s under the spell of an evil leader (Idris Elba). Beheadings, shootings, physical trauma, sexual abuse… The repulsive carnage of war is on view. It’s hard to upstage Elba, but Attah does and he won the ‘Best Young Actor Award’ at the 2015 Venice Film Festival. Credit director/cinematographer Cary Joji Fukunaga for helping shape the performance of a novice who shows more emotional range than a Shakespearian actor. “I am a good boy. From a good family,” says Agu, who then stabs someone to death. Brutal, unimaginable and nightmarish like Lord of the Flies.

Black * — Black and Moroccan teenage gangs in Brussels provide the backdrop for this Belgian version of a Romeo and Juliet urban drama that harks back to films such as Menace II Society. Directors/writers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah concocted a story that never seems real but is always engaging: Mavela (Martha Canga Antonio), a teenage girl of African heritage, belongs to a violent gang called Black Bronx. She meets Marwan (Aboubakr Bensaihi), a member of a rival Moroccan gang, at a police station. They flirt. They date. They make love. Several rapes, beatings and arrests later, drama builds to a tragic crescendo. Cast gives natural performances. Strong visuals (Robrecht Heyvaert, cinematography) and sound (Hannes De Maeyer, composer; Joeri Verspecht, sound engineer). Arbi and Fallah give production an extended music-video feel. Think City of God, but not as raw.

The Hard Stop * – In the age of Ferguson, it’s important to put police brutality in a global perspective. This informative non-fiction film does just that as director George Amponsah focuses on the death of Mark Duggan, a young Black man who was killed by armed police in London, on August 4, 2011. That tragedy sparked London riots. The footage profiles Duggan’s friends Marcus and Kurtis as they fight to keep his memory alive and deal with inner city life. Topical film starts with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “A riot is the language of the unheard.”

Miss Sharon Jones! — Veteran documentarian Barbara Kopple (Oscar win Harlan County U.S.A.) takes music lovers on a journey of discovery, survival and friendship with this touching bio of funk/soul singer Sharon Jones, lead singer of the retro music group Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. As Jones battles pancreatic cancer, friends, her management and band members support her. Inspirational – makes you appreciate life and the musicians who bring us joy. Bring a hanky and get blessed by her beautiful spirit.

Price of Love 1/2 — Hermon Hailay, one of Ethiopia’s top film screenwriters/directors, profiles women who sell sexual favors for money in this contemporary drama. A young taxi driver (Eskindir Tameru) comes to the aide of a prostitute (Fereweni Gebregergs) who is having difficulties with her pimp/john/boyfriend. While getting embroiled in her misery, he backslides into his own difficulties with alcohol and chewing khat (a flowering plant with amphetamine-type properties). The premise outweighs the film. Mulgeta Amaru’s dazzling cinematography gets the colors to pop and makes the city of Addis Ababa look chromatic.

Thru You Princess – Two disparate souls, worlds apart, meet on the Internet. Samantha Montgomery, a/k/a Princess Shaw, a down-on-her-luck singer in New Orleans, posts the acapella singing of her original songs on YouTube. In Israel, Ophir Kutiel, a/k/a Kutiman, a producer, edits together her performance with clips of other musicians and provides backup instrumentation to her sound recordings. Her music goes viral. Director/writer Ido Haar’s camerawork is invisible. It’s as if Princess Shaw and Kutiman accidentally left the cameras on their computers on and let the world peek in. Brilliant documentary. Completely fascinating. Singing to an empty room has never been so revealing.

Black Artists in Films

Being Charlie – A troubled son fights drug addiction. In rehab, he romances a whacked out girl and is guided by a street savvy counselor, played by Common. Rob Reiner directs from a script written by his son Nick, a former addict, and Matt Elisofon. Script is filled with 12-step clichés. Direction is tepid. Common’s regal, hip-hop demeanor keeps him above the fray.

Born to Be Blue * — Chet Baker (Ethan Hawke), a 1960s jazz trumpet player, was revered for his GQ looks and simplistic approach to the instrument. Miles Davis fractured melodies. Baker caressed them. He loved heroin, too. Jane (Carmen Ejogo, Selma), his girlfriend, helps him battle his demons. Director/writer Robert Budreau gets an able assist from cinematographer Steve Cosens in setting an entrancing retro mode. Hawke, physically miscast, acts his way out of trouble. Ejogo’s interpretation of his lover is angelic. Kevin Hanchard portrays Dizzie Gillespie. Jazz never sounded so sweet.

Eye in the Sky * — Collateral damage during the war on terror comes into play in this tense thriller directed by Gavin Hood (Tsotsi, Wolverine), written by Guy Hibbert and featuring superb ensemble acting. An unmanned aircraft is ready to bomb an African home filled with terrorists. A little girl sells bread just feet away from the house. To bomb or not to bomb? Cameras on drones depict graphic images. Army officials (Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman) are hawkish, but others (Aaron Paul, Babou Ceesay, Half of a Yellow Sun) balk. A soldier on the ground (Barkhad Abdi, Oscar Nominee Captain Phillips) intervenes. Absolutely riveting.

Keith Richards: Under the Influence 1/2 – Documentarian Morgan Neville (Twenty Feet From Stardom) spotlights Keith Richards in this thoughtful but superficial homage to the brains behind the Rolling Stones. When footage sticks to Richards talking, recollecting his life and musical influences, it’s in tune. When he’s walking down a street clothed like an aging runway model, it’s flat. Music producer and drummer Steve Jordan is the angel that guides the elder statesman of rock and roll through the production of a new album.

The Martian 1/2 – Flashback to the films Interstellar and Gravity, and hold that thought. An astronaut, (Matt Damon) is stranded on Mars after his crew (Jessica Chastain, Michael Pena, Kate Mara) leaves him for dead during a storm. He survives and contacts earth where a ground crew (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Donald Glover, Jeff Daniels) plots his rescue. You know where the script (Drew Goddard, based on a novel by Andy Weir) needs to go. And predictably it does, as Ridley Scott, on autopilot, directs the proceedings. More crowd-pleasing than Interstellar and not nearly as astonishing as Gravity.

Mississippi Grind *1/2 – A chronic gambler (Ben Mendelsohn) is still on the hunt for that big win. His quest takes him through the South, and he has a younger pal (Ryan Reynolds) in tow. The boys bet on everything except who has a weaker liver. Directed by the team of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson, Sugar), production feels like a pointless endeavor. Performances are earnest, but never electric. Drama is steady, but never climatic. Alfre Woodard has a supporting role.

Sicario — After a deadly explosion at an Arizona border town house, a possible drug depot, FBI field agents Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) and her colleague Reggie (Daniel Kaluuya, Kick-Ass 2) seek revenge. They team up with a smarmy Defense Department “contractor” (Josh Brolin), a brooding, imposing mysterious figure (Benicio Del Toro), and head into Mexico. Imagine Zero Dark Thirty tequila style. Genius direction (Denis Villeneuve, Prisoners), a perfect screenplay (Taylor Sheridan), and superb ensemble casting create a state of total amazement and sustained fear for 123 minutes. Very scary. Very.

Trumbo * — The 1940s/50s weren’t kind to Hollywood screenwriters like Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) who were blacklisted for their ties to the Communist party. From a book by Bruce Cook, screenwriter John McNamara crafts a very smart, glib retelling of the era. Diane Lane is the wife, Elle Fanning the daughter and Louis C.K. a fellow scribe. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Pompeii) plays a menacing burly convict and but his performance is only half as evil as Helen Mirren who is the powerful red-bashing gossip columnist Hedda Hopper.

Other Films of Note

Demolition — This misguided, meandering ode to widowers follows the narcissistic life of a rich investment banker (Jake Gyllenhaal) who hasn’t accepted the loss of his wife. Not outwardly. He forges a relationship with a blue-collar single mom (Naomi Watts) and her kid. The script, direction and acting don’t instantly reveal why this self-serving insular man’s existence is worth following. As the storyline drifts into mental disintegration, his deep sadness becomes apparent, but you won’t care. Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyer’s Club).

Freeheld * — So how does marriage equality offer people benefits in tangible ways? This heart-wrenching story provides back-story. Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore), a closeted lesbian New Jersey police officer, has a secret romance with a younger woman (Ellen Page). She contracts terminal cancer and tries to make sure her partner receives her pension. Her very straight colleague Dane (Michael Shannon) pleads her cause to unsympathetic fellow officers and the town board. A gay activist (Steve Carell) fights her case in the media. Director Peter Sollett (Raising Victor Vargas) establishes an intimate relationship between the two women that makes you want them to triumph. Carell overacts, like he’s doing vaudeville in a drama. Shannon’s understated performance is far more nuanced.

Remember — Benjamin August, a casting director turned screenwriter, created an ingenious script centered around a nursing home patient (Christopher Plummer) who has Alzheimer’s and is encouraged by a fellow patient (Martin Landau) to find and kill a former Nazi who murdered their families at Auschwitz. Canadian director Atom Egoyan breaks out of his one-dimensional non-emotional mold to convey the anger, fear, sadness and disorientation the central character feels. Very unique plotline.

Spotlight 1/2 – “Spotlight,” a special reporting unit at the Boston Globe, uncovers a wicked story of local Catholic priests systematically abusing children. The head editor (Michael Keaton) directs his staff (Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo) to investigate, interviewing lawyers (Billy Crudup, Stanley Tucci), victims, priests—all involved in the crime and cover-up. The movie unfolds like All The President’s Men, but is not up to that caliber. Fascinating, but feels dated.

Where to Invade Next — Documentarian Michael Moore is like the outspoken uncle you have to seat at the kids’ table at Thanksgiving dinners. This doc, with the misleading title, follows Moore overseas as he examines how other countries are doing a better job with education, penal systems, drug addiction, workers rights. It’s more obvious than ever before that he manipulates facts, or ignores truths, to construct his hypotheses. His opinions are provocative and worthy of discussion, but that comes at the expense of solid research. This doc stands in the shadows of Bowling For Columbine and Sicko.

Black artists, films of African descent and noteworthy movies were an integral part of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.

Free coffee marks National Coffee Day

Go ahead, have another cup of coffee. This week’s mug runneth over with days devoted to the beverage that wakes up nations and keeps industries humming.

According to Internet sages and the arbiters of faux holidays, September 29 is Coffee Day (also known as National Coffee Day or International Coffee Day).

The origins of this day of caffeinated celebration are largely unknown, but who needs an origin story to justify that second, third or fourth cup?

Coffee purveyors are offering freebies to mark the occasion.

Dunkin’ Donuts is giving away free medium hot or iced dark roast coffees on Tuesday.

Krispy Kreme is upping the ante with a free glazed doughnut and a free 12-ounce cup of coffee at participating locations in the U.S. on Tuesday.

A small cup of Major Dickason’s Blend is available for free at Peet’s Coffee & Tea locations with a food purchase.

True java devotees have a double shot at coffee festivities this week. According to the intergovernmental International Coffee Organization, October 1 is the “first official” International Coffee Day.

Statistics suggest that coffee-loving Finns will outdo the rest of the world.

Finland is No. 1 in the world for coffee consumption per capita, according to data collected by market research provider Euromonitor International. On average, each person in Finland consumed 9.9 kilograms (21.8 pounds) of coffee in 2014.

Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway and Slovenia round out the top five coffee-consuming nations.

The United States didn’t even break the top 10, ranking 25th for coffee consumption in 2014. Americans consumed 3.1 kilograms (6.8 pounds) of coffee per capita last year, the same amount as the citizens of France.

Italians consumed slightly more: 3.4 kilograms (7.5 pounds), coming in at No. 21 on the global list.


™ & © 2015 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Make money the old fashioned way

— As someone who has pursued business ventures since he opened his first lemonade stand as a kid, Randal Pinkett’s favorite television commercial growing up was from the financial firm, Smith Barney. It had a famous line, “We make money the old fashioned way, we earn it!” The underlying message was that while there are plenty of ways to make money, the admired way is to actually earn it.

And that tagline speaks to the work ethic of Randal Pinkett, who was the first African American winner of The Apprentice with Donald Trump on Season #4. With an educational background in engineering and business, Pinkett is both a Rhodes Scholar and a Walter Byers Scholar, holding five earned academic degrees. His MBA and Ph.D. are from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Before appearing on The Apprentice, Pinkett had already established a career in business. He is considered a “serial entrepreneur,” having founded his first company, MBS Enterprises – selling compact discs and cassettes out of his dormitory room in college.

From there, he went on to start and grow numerous businesses, then sell them and go on to his next venture. From his compact disc company, he moved on to start a business to improve the lives of high school students. This evolved into his second venture – a training and development company for emerging and seasoned professionals.

Next, there was the Inner City Consulting Group, where he helped small companies grow their profits and performance. From there, Pinkett co-founded Access One Corporation, with a mission to ensure that affordable housing was equipped for the 21st by implementing innovative, sustainable broadband network and telecommunications solutions.

All of this lead to his current consulting business that he co-founded called BCT Partners. This is a multimillion-dollar, management, technology and policy consulting services firm. They work with corporations, government agencies and nonprofit organizations to improve organizational effectiveness and support strategies for change.

BCT Partners is a minority-owned and operated, federal 8(a), small business enterprise. He has been a stalwart for sharing the excellence that small minority-owned businesses can bring to the marketplace. BCT Partners have positioned themselves as one of the leading firms in the country with expertise in the areas of: housing and community development, economic development, education, government and human services.

Randal Pinkett’s belief in God has always been his source of strength and kept him grounded. He grew up attending St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E.) in Hightstown, N.J. When he returned from England as a Rhode Scholar, he joined the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, and later, First Baptist Church of Lincoln in Somerset, N.J., where Pinkett is an active member today.

He is the author of three books: Campus CEO: The Student Entrepreneur’s Guide to Launching a Multimillion-Dollar Business (Kaplan Business 2007), No-Money Down CEO: How to Start Your Dream Business with Little or No Cash (Trump University 2008), and Black Faces in White Places: 10 Game-Changing Strategies to Achieve Success and Find Greatness (AMACOM Books 2010) with his college roommate and business partner, Professor Jeffrey Robinson of the Rutgers Business School.

In addition to his business ventures, Randall Pinkett speaks to corporations around the country, including Pepsi and Walgreens; universities such as Duke and the University of Virginia; government agencies, including the U.S. Small Business Administration, plus national conferences, including the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference.

Pickett has signed radio and television commercial deals; served as spokesperson for Autism Speaks and made regular public appearances on behalf of Verizon to support their “Fiber Optics Services” (FiOS) services and their “Verizon Shotcaller Showdown” business plan competition for minority high school students around the country.

During my SiriusXM interview with Pinkett, he shared lessons learned and earned as an entrepreneur and first African American winner of The Apprentice. Dr. Pickett says:

  • You can do anything you set your mind to do if you are willing to work hard to achieve it.
  • Start by envisioning your success on the inside and then go to work to create it on the outside.
  • You must create your own opportunity rather than waiting for it to appear.
  • Success is what we accomplish for ourselves, while greatness is the impact we have in the eyes of others. Strive for both.
  • The key to success is to bring value to world; then figure out how to monetize it.
  • Use your creativity, be resourceful and persevere! Never give up.
  • You must grow your courage. Courage makes you willing to take the first step. No first step, no ultimate success.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail because failure and success go hand and hand. The cleaner “Formula 409” was named 409 because it was the company’s 409th attempt. It happened after 408 failures!

Willie Jolley is America’s #1 Inspirational/Motivational Speaker/Singer/Author! He is the host of the #1 Motivational Show on Sirius XM Satellite Radio and the opening speaker on the national “Get Motivated Business Seminar Tour.” A member the National Speakers Association’s Hall of Fame, Jolley was named “One of the Outstanding 5 Speakers In The World” by Toastmaster International. He is the author of several best-selling books and can be reached through his website (

Ravens review: Three up, Three down vs Bengals

The Baltimore Ravens fell to 0-3 for the first time in their 20 year history. They had two leads late in the fourth quarter but gave up them up to the Bengals both times. There were some positives to pull from this game, but unfortunately there were some negatives as well.

Three Up

The continued excellence of Steve Smith Sr.

Steve Smith Sr. put the Ravens on his back and tried to will them to a victory. He turned the game around when he caught a five yard out on a fourth down with five yards to go for the first down. The play was designed to get the first down but Smith made the catch, broke a few tackles and raced 45 more yards to the end zone. Smith plays the game with aggression and really set the tone for the Ravens with his tenacious style of play. His 13 receptions tied a franchise record and his 186 yards were third most in Ravens history.

The defense was able to generate a pass rush

Dean Pees said that he chose not to try and manufacture a pass rush last week against the Oakland Raiders because he felt that the team didn’t play with energy. That wasn’t the case against the Bengals. Pees utilized both the corner and safety blitz multiple times. Will Hill was able to register his first career sack and it came on a safety blitz. His sack was also the first time Andy Dalton was sacked this season.

As per Pro Football Focus, Elvis Dumervil had six quarterback pressures to go along with his sack/fumble. The sack fumble led to a touchdown after C.J. Mosley picked up the ball and ran into the end zone. The defense was able to flush Dalton out of the pocket numerous times and sacked him twice. The Ravens had five hits on Dalton.

Michael Campanaro found success on punt returns

Campanaro was the sole punt returner for the Ravens against the Bengals. The team had been using Smith Sr. to return punts, which was a risk that Harbaugh wasn’t going to continue to take. Granted, Campanaro didn’t return a punt for a touchdown, that’s not something that happens frequently for anyone.

Campanaro did an above average job returning for the Ravens. His two returns for 35 yards gave him an average of 17.5 yards per return. One of his returns was for 21 yards. Some might question the fair catch inside the 10 yard line, but the ball carried him back and would have been downed inside the five yard line if he let it go.

Three Down

Defense still gave up chunk plays

The Bengals were able to connect on multiple big plays in the passing game. Marvin Jones abused Rashaan Melvin during the first two Bengal drives of the game. Jones had a 32 yard reception on a third down before Melvin was benched in favor of Kyle Arrington. Arrington did a solid job against Jones until late in the fourth quarter when Jones caught a 31 yard pass that set up the winning touchdown by A.J. Green.

Speaking of Green, his 80 yard touchdown sucked the life out of the stadium after Mosley’s return and eliminated the Ravens first lead of the game. The big plays against the secondary were a carryover from the previous game against the Raiders.

Defense couldn’t close out a game again

The Ravens defense gave up the go ahead score on the opposing team’s last drive for the third time this season. This time it was the Bengals scoring the go ahead touchdown with 2:16 left in the game. They haven’t been able to close the door on the opposing team after inheriting a lead late in the game. Closing out games is a problem that has to be solved if the Ravens have any chance of turning things around this season.

No commitment to running the football

The Ravens rushing attack was explosive last year. Justin Forsett averaged a league high 5.4 yards per carry and had 235 rushing attempts in 2014. Marc Trestman said the Ravens would still run the football and use similar concepts to the zone scheme that former offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak did last season.

Forsett only had ten carries against the Bengals. The team had 18 rushing attempts, one of them coming when Anthony Levine ran the ball on a fake punt. On the contrary, Joe Flacco had 49 pass attempts. Trestman used an unbalanced formation to create a favorable five blockers on four defenders match up, but they didn’t run the stretch plays that worked so well under Kubiak last season.

The running game requires patience on every rushing attempt. It also requires patience as a scheme. There will be times when it doesn’t yield a big gain but if the team sticks to it, that crease will open up and one of the running backs can break off a long run. This will only happen if the team sticks to the running game. It also can slow down a pass rush from the physical Ravens offensive lineman wearing down on the opposing defense.

Smooth start for Trevor Noah as he takes over ‘The Daily Show’

— A new satirical news era dawned on Monday night as Trevor Noah took over “The Daily Show.” But before getting started, Noah made sure to acknowledge the man he’s replacing: Jon Stewart.

“Thank you Jon… I’m not quite sure what you saw in me, but I’ll work hard every day to find it,” the 31-year-old South African comedian said during his opening remarks. “And I’ll make you not look like the crazy old dude who left his inheritance to some random kid in Africa.”

Noah then spoke directly to “Daily Show” viewers at home, thanking those both “new and old” for joining him as he continues the “war on bull” that Stewart waged.

Noah straddled old and new in his debut, seeking to win over Stewart’s longtime “Daily Show” fans while also trying to appeal to new viewers.

He started to row the boat without rocking the boat, with the possible exception of jokes about Whitney Houston and AIDS that some commentators thought were tasteless.

The first segment critiqued crazed media coverage of Pope Francis’ recent trip to the United States before transitioning to the other big news of the past week: House Speaker John Boehner’s resignation.

“No! Why leave now? I just got here!” Noah said to Boehner. “I learned how to pronounce your name.”

Comedian Kevin Hart was Noah’s guest — and marked the occasion by bringing ties as a gift.

Noah then ended the show the same way that Stewart had for 16 years with a “moment of zen.”

On social networking sites, there were some “mehs” and sighs about Stewart’s absence, but there were also cheers for Noah’s premiere and many admiring comments about his handsome, youthful appearance.

Bill Carter, the CNN analyst who has authored two books about late-night TV, said he thought Noah had a smooth debut. The show’s writers and producers are “easing him in,” Carter tweeted.

He added, “Noah looks at ease, which is large part of making it work.”

New York Times TV critic James Poniewozik commented that “the mission of that show was, ‘Trevor Noah can host the ‘Daily Show’ you’re used to and not burn it to the ground,’ and it worked.”

Variety’s Brian Lowry put it this way: “For now, anyway, it doesn’t look like anything here is cause to make that globe suddenly spin off its axis.”

Of course, the team had months to think about how to pull off Monday’s premiere.

Over time Noah will evolve the show and make it more of his own — breaking with some of Stewart’s norms.

Noah was briefly a correspondent on Stewart’s iteration of the show, but he is largely unknown to American audiences. He is replacing a beloved figure, so the pressure is enormous.

Past “Daily Show” correspondents like Larry Wilmore — now the host of “The Nightly Show” at 11:30 p.m. — and new “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert took to Twitter late Monday to wish the new host luck.

“20 min. to the new The Daily Show- Just set up my series recording!” Colbert tweeted.

Comedy Central also received promotional help from its parent company, Viacom, which simulcast the premiere episode on many of the company’s other channels, including MTV and BET.

Noah has said that he’s approaching his debut week as a “miniseries.” On Tuesday’s show he’ll interview Whitney Wolfe, the CEO of a dating app startup; on Wednesday he has Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie; and on Thursday musician Ryan Adams will perform.

Speaking about Adams, Noah told CNNMoney, “I think he’s, in essence, done what we’ve done with ‘The Daily Show, and that is, he’s taking something that people love…. something that’s very successful, and he’s gone, ‘This is my interpretation of it.’ People go, ‘Is it changed? Is it different?’ Yes. ‘But is it a thing we recognize?’ Yes. ‘Can I be a fan of both?’ Yes.”

Noah’s debut Monday night also officially closes a chapter on a summer that saw two of late night television’s legends, Stewart and David Letterman, sign off.

There has been a sweeping period of change. Now, with Colbert taking over the “Late Show,” and Noah taking over “The Daily Show,” the new faces are seated at their respective desks and seeking your laughs.


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Children battling cancer join Governor Larry Hogan to cheer on Ravens

— Governor Larry Hogan attended the Baltimore Ravens home opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, along with four children who are also battling cancer. At the game, Governor Hogan appeared on the field with his four friends, Adrian (6), Madison (15), Olivia (16), and Gregory (22), to recognize Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

(Photo: Office of the Governor)

“While receiving chemotherapy treatments from the University of Maryland Medical Center, I have met many amazing patients, doctors, and nurses,” Governor Hogan said. “The children, who approach their cancer diagnosis with unimaginable courage and positivity, have been especially inspiring. They are fighting a battle much more difficult than my own, and I am honored to have the opportunity to raise awareness with these extraordinary kids.”

Throughout his treatment, Governor Hogan has encouraged support for cancer research and organizations that assist people and families fighting this disease. Shortly after his diagnosis, the governor started HoganStrong to raise awareness and resources for cancer-fighting organizations.

Earlier this month, the governor joined with the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Redskins to raise awareness for childhood cancer and blood cancer. The governor’s office also held a blood drive and bone marrow registry at the State House with the American Red Cross, There Goes My Hero, and Delete Blood Cancer on World Lymphoma Day, September 15.

First person: I was in Cuba with the Pope

I have been to Cuba several times and my journey this time around was to witness Pope Francis’ visit.

Many Cubans were excited to see this Pope, who has earned the nickname, “The People’s Pope.”

I have been to Cuba many times, but this time, as I witnessed Cubans preparing for the Pope’s arrival, I saw an excitement I had never seen before. The streets and buildings were cleaned and new street traffic signs were re-painted in Habana.

During my first visit to Santiago de Cuba in January of 2015, I saw how the church was restoring and renovating many areas to prepare for Pope Francis. When I attended the Pope’s mass at Revolution Square I encountered many people from different countries, including Trinidad & Tobago, Puerto Rico, Panama, Argentina, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Angola, and the Cayman Islands. The United States was well represented as I met people from Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, Washington, DC, and Baltimore.

Everyone was in good spirits as Pope Francis presented his message of unity. He spoke of how the family should come together and how everyone should help each other and reject materialism. He preached that men should help those in need and not ignore the marginalized and poor.

I later attended Pope Francis’ encounter with the Cuban youth. His message to them was to dream. To dream big and not stop dreaming. His message of inclusion and unity has attracted a massive fan base.

From my vantage point at various places in Cuba, the Pope lived up to his nickname. Overall, the Cuban people seemed pleased with his message of peace and acceptance.