Friday, June 20, 2014

New York close to settling Central Park jogger case, reportedly for $40 million

The proposed settlement of the racially sensitive case needs approval from the federal court and from city agencies including the office of Comptroller Scott M. Stringer.
From the archives

“The Comptroller’s Office has received the proposed settlement between the City and the Central Park Five,”  Eric Sumberg, the comptroller’s press secretary, said in an email. “As with all proposed settlements, under our Charter-mandated authority, we will do our due diligence and provide feedback to ensure that any settlement we approve is in the best interests of the City.”

Sumberg and other city officials would not discuss details of the proposed settlement, but a variety of media reports put the cost at $40 million. The New York Times first reported on the case on Thursday.
lRelated Republicans blame Obama policies for immigration crisis on border

The proposed settlement averages roughly $1 million for each year of imprisonment for the five black and Latino men convicted in 1990 of raping and brutally beating a white woman jogging in Manhattan’s Central Park a year earlier. One defendant, Kharey Wise, served 13 years in prison and his share would be the largest such payout in the city’s history. The defendants became known as the Central Park Five.

The sensational case came at a time when New York was back on its heels at the tail-end of the Mayor Edward I. Koch years. Crime was a major issue and city services, including police, were still reeling from lack of funding caused by the city’s financial problems.

Middle-class whites were feeling besieged and dispossessed. They were angry at minorities who were being blamed even as blacks and Latinos were pushing for a piece of the political pie. The city’s first black mayor, David Dinkins, would be elected and take office in 1990 after a bitter Democratic primary and a tough polarizing race against Republican Rudy Giuliani, who would take the office four years later.

It was with race, crime and politics heavy in the air that a white woman who worked at a Wall Street investment bank went for her nighttime run on April 19, 1989, a practice that she had done before. She was found, badly beaten and raped, at 1:30 a.m. the next day and officials said they feared she would die. She eventually recovered.

Throughout the night, police said there had been roving bands of some two dozen black and Latino youths rampaging through the park, looking for victims in an earlier version of the so-called Knockout game that became infamous years earlier. In the modern version youths, usually minorities, were accused of attacking innocent victims, usually white, with a punch, trying to score points by knocking them out. In 1989, the youths, police said, were wolf packs and in a word that became part of the urban lexicon, said the blacks and Latinos had gone “wilding.”

The case was like a spark inflaming passions and fears -- and was fed by the tabloid press, mired in a fierce newspaper war. The mainstream media printed names and addresses of many of the suspects, which civil rights leaders said they did only because the defendants were minorities. In retaliation, the press that served the black community printed the name of the woman, whose identity was protected by the mainstream press.

Eventually, authorities narrowed the field to five suspects who were charged in the crime. From the beginning there were questions about the arrests and the police investigation.

“The first thing you do in the United States of America when a white woman is raped is round up a bunch of black youths, and I think that's what happened here,” the Rev. Calvin O. Butts of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem told the New York Times at the time.

Authorities charged Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson and Wise. All were teenagers when convicted, largely because of statements they made to police. They served from 6 3/4 to 13 years in prison.

Their convictions were overturned in 2002, when Matias Reyes, a convicted serial rapist and murderer serving a prison sentence of 33 years to life, told authorities he alone attacked the jogger. DNA tests confirmed the confession. Reyes has not been prosecuted in the case because the statute of limitations had passed.

The five men filed a civil lawsuit against the city in 2003, saying their confessions were coerced. Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's administration fought the lawsuit for 10 years and police insisted they acted properly in their investigation.

The Bloomberg years turned into the new government of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who ran against many of his predecessors’ positions including on race and police stop-and-frisk rules. Taking office in January, De Blasio said he wanted to settle the case.

Follow @latimesmuskal for national news.
Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Google may kick indie musicians off YouTube

Google may kick indie musicians off YouTube

Jack White performs at the Roskilde Festival in Roskilde, Denmark on July 6, 2012.  GETTY
Google (GOOG) says it has sealed deals with labels representing 95 percent of recorded in launching a pay music-streaming service. But reaching agreement with independent labels, producers and musicians could provider stickier.
The indies say Google's terms for including their music in the new subscription service are unfair. Playing hardball, Robert Kyncl, YouTube's head of content and business operations, told the Financial Times that the company will begin to block their music videos (paywall) "in a matter of days," with only those who have agreed to the streaming deal allowed to use YouTube's free services.
With the ubiquity of music marketing on the web, those free offerings are a major way consumers learn about new groups and musicians these days. Some of the musicians that could find their work removed include Adele, Arctic Monkeys and Jack White.
"Our goal is to continue making YouTube an amazing music experience, both as a global platform for fans and artists to connect, and as a revenue source for the music industry," Google said in a statement. "We're adding subscription-based features for music on YouTube with this in mind -- to bring our music partners new revenue streams in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars YouTube already generates for them each year."
The company also said it is excited to be partnering with "hundreds of major and independent labels" on the new music service.
Kyncl also told the Financial Times that Google was "paying [labels] fairly and consistently with the industry." However, according to the Worldwide Independent Network, a trade organization of independent music companies, contracts offered to indie artists and labels aren't the same as those offered to the major labels.
Instead, WIN said in a blog post, its members have been presented with standard non-negotiable contracts that the group says "undervalue existing rates in the marketplace" from such streaming services as Spotify and Rdio. WIN members have also allegedly already received termination letters from YouTube.
WIN and two other groups -- the Featured Artists Coalition and European independents associated IMPALA -- have brought their complaints to the European Commission. They argue that YouTube is using market dominance to force the smaller labels into accepting "highly unfavorable terms."
Some high-profile musicians are also rallying against Google's new streaming service. English singer-songwriter Billy Bragg was quoted in the statement from the three groups as saying that "YouTube are shooting themselves in the foot with their attempt to strong-arm independent labels into signing up to such low rates," adding that without the innovation of independent artists, music services will stagnate.

One reason Google is pushing ahead with streaming music is because some of its biggest competitors, Apple (AAPL) and Amazon (AMZN), are also moving into the business. Apple bought Beats Electronics and has deals with the three major music labels, Warner Music Group, Sony Music and Universal Music Group.Amazon also started a music service this month. It's free to members of its Amazon Prime shopping club, although the new offering isn't offering music from Universal, the largest of the three big labels.
Amid such stiff competition, Google could suffer if fails to come to terms with independent music companies. Many big names in music start as unknowns before going on to enjoy mainstream success. Apple or Amazon could also erode YouTube's dominance in online videos by creating online hubs for the indie music scene.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Voxer Instant Voice Anywhere Anytime

All New Voxer for iOS

We’ve made instant voice messaging faster and more elegant than ever. We rebuilt and redesigned Voxer on iOS from the ground up for easier navigation and performance. The big update is officially out in the wild and available for download now. Go get it in the App Store!

Real Walkie-Talkie Action

Did you know that Voxer can stream live audio out loud from your phone without even being in the app? This is a special feature we call "Walkie Talkie Mode" and it even includes headset integrations. Want to give it a try?

Stake Your Claim:
New Usernames Feature

Voxer usernames are here! After receiving many requests, we’re excited to announce that usernames for Android, iOS and Windows Phone 8 are now available. Ready to claim your custom name?

Hello, Voxer for Web

Listen, respond and monitor multiple conversations from your desktop browser using Voxer for Web. It's exclusively available with a subscription to Voxer Business, our new push-to-talk service for companies.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Sara Smith of Marlin Texas

Sara Smith, Marlin Texas, circa 1936
MEMPHIS TN (IFS) -- When thinking about one's ancestry, its with great comfort to know that one day each and everyone of us will replace the next one as an ancestor.  If you have just breathed for just one day, you qualify as an ancestor.

I am so very thankful to my grandmother Sara Smith and my Grandfather Gus Smith for having my dad, and then he in return gave me a chance at this great life I live and share in this country we call the United States of America.

While following the news of the day, I can not believe that I am so blessed and lucky to have been born here.  I tried to follow Tienanmen Square in China on this anniversary date that their government refuse to acknowledge even existed.

We take so very much for granted as it may be here indefinitely.  What we failed to see, is that we are very shorted lived as individuals, and our follow country who gave their lives so that we may have life in abundance, do our ancestors and in justice of causing trouble, hating our fellow man, and just plain not caring about the next generation.  For some of us, it's just let's take what we can now, and to hell with the rest of the population.  It's all about me, me, me!!