- Created on 11 May 2013
When Detroit’s most notable citizens, dignitaries and government officials gathered at the Max M. Fisher Music Center next to Orchestra Hall on Friday, May 10 for the 15th annual Ford Freedom Awards, the event took on an historic air all its own. The celebration of "Quiet Heroes," moderated by WXYZ Channel 7 news anchor Linda Lewis commemorated t...
- Created on 10 May 2013
With "Motown: The Musical" doing so well on Broadway, once again there is a focus not only on the legendary record company, but on the relationship between Motown founder/president Berry Gordy and the superdiva Diana Ross as well.
There are those who believe that the Supremes, the most successful female vocal group of all time, received the most
- Created on 09 May 2013
WASHINGTON — Making history, America's Blacks voted at higher rates than whites in 2012, lifting Democrat Barack Obama to victory amid voter apathy, particularly among young people, new census data show. Despite increasing population, the number of white voters declined for the first time since 1996.
Blacks were the only race or ethnic group to show an increase in voter turnout in November, most notably in the Midwest and Southeastern U.S., the Census Bureau said Wednesday. The analysis, based on a sample survey of voters last year, is viewed as the best source of government data on turnout by race and ethnicity.
The Associated Press reported recently that Black voter turnout surpassed whites for the first time, based on an analysis by experts of earlier data.
In all, about 66.2 percent of eligible Black voters cast ballots in 2012, up from 64.7 percent in 2008, according to census data. That compares with non-Hispanic white turnout of 64.1 percent, which fell from 66.1 percent four years earlier. As recently as 1996, Blacks had turnout rates 8 percentage points lower than non-Hispanic whites.
Latino turnout dipped slightly, from 49.9 percent in 2008 to 48 percent, while Asian-American turnout was basically unchanged at 47 percent.
Voter turnout across all race and ethnic groups fell for a second consecutive presidential election, from 64 percent in 2004 to 62 percent in November, according to the census figures.
"Obama's win in 2012, despite the important Democratic constituency of young voters not participating at a high level, is good news," said Michael McDonald, a George Mason University professor who specializes in voter turnout. "The bad news is that voting is a habit — and the fact that we saw turnout declines among younger African-Americans suggests Democrats will have to work even harder to excite these voters in future elections."
The data underscore how turnout plays an important role in elections for both whites and Blacks, who will remain the two largest racial groups of eligible voters for the next decade. While Hispanics are now the fast-growing demographic group, they currently make up a smaller share of eligible voters because many are children and non-citizens, limiting their electoral impact for the immediate future.
In 2012, the number of Blacks who voted rose by 1.7 million. Hispanics added 1.4 million and Asian voters increased by 550,000.
Meanwhile, even though the white population is slowly increasing, the number of white voters dropped by 2 million — the first drop in absolute terms for any race or ethnic group since 1996.
By age, youth enthusiasm for voting fizzled in 2012.
About 41 percent of voters age 18-24 cast ballots in November, down 7 percentage points from 2008. The drop was greatest among whites, whose turnout fell from 49 percent to 42 percent. But young Black voters also saw big declines, from 55 percent in 2008 to 49 percent. That's compared with a decline among young Hispanics from 39 percent to 34 percent.
The only subgroups showing increases in voter turnout were among Blacks ages 45 to 64 as well as those 65 and older.
"Blacks have been voting at higher rates, and the Hispanic and Asian populations are growing rapidly, yielding a more diverse electorate," said Thom File, a census sociologist who wrote the voting analysis. "Over the last five presidential elections, the share of voters who were racial or ethnic minorities rose from just over 1 in 6 in 1996 to more than 1 in 4 in 2012."
"We do know the population is growing more diverse, and the electorate is growing more diverse in a different way," File added.
Other census findings:
—White turnout declined in 39 states from 2008 to 2012, including presidential battleground states such as Ohio, Virginia and Florida.
—The gender gap in voting persists, a trend since 1996. About 64 percent of women voted, compared with 60 percent of men.
—Declines in voter turnout also were seen most notably among single people, the unemployed, renters and those with only a high school education or some college, suggesting in part voter disenchantment amid a sluggish economy.
—Black voter turnout surpassed that of whites mostly in the Midwest region, which covers Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan, as well as the Southern U.S. region including Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
Demographers say the numbers pose long-term challenges for Republicans, given that 80 percent of nonwhites voted for Obama in November.
Analyses by Brookings Institution demographer William H. Frey show that Republican Mitt Romney would have barely won the presidency if whites and other race groups had turned out at the same rates as they did in 2004, when Black turnout was below its current historic levels. But if Democrats can replicate 2012 turnout rates in 2016, they would win the presidency, given current population trends, Frey said.
Paul Taylor, executive vice president of the Pew Research Center, indicated the economy will be an important factor in future elections, noting that Hispanics and young people were among the hardest hit during the high unemployment years of 2008-2012.
"Given what we know about the youth bulge in the population, Millennials and Hispanics will become ever more important voting blocs in upcoming presidential elections," Taylor said. "But in 2012, both groups left a lot of votes on the table."
The census figures are based on the Current Population Survey as of November 2012. Since Hispanic is defined by the government as an ethnicity and not a race, census figures for "Blacks" and "Asians" may include Hispanics. Census data for "white" refer to whites who are not of Hispanic ethnicity.
- Created on 10 May 2013
LAS VEGAS — O.J. Simpson will return next week to the Las Vegas courthouse where he was convicted of leading an armed sports memorabilia heist to ask a judge for a new trial on the grounds that his lawyer botched his case.
Simpson will take the witness stand to testify that the Florida lawyer who collected nearly $700,000 is to blame for his armed robbery and kidnapping conviction in 2008 and his failed appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court in 2010.
Simpson's testimony in open court will offer a first look at the aging 65-year-old former football star since he was handcuffed and sent away to prison more than four years ago. Simpson didn't testify at his Las Vegas trial or in the historic case that led to his 1995 acquittal in the slayings of his ex-wife and her friend in Los Angeles.
Instead of an expensive suit and tie, Simpson will be dressed in blue Nevada Department of Corrections clothing — grayer, heavier and limping a little more from long-ago knee injuries, friends say. He is now Nevada inmate No. 1027820, a far cry from his playing days when Simpson wore jersey No. 32, won the Heisman Trophy, earned the nickname "The Juice" in the NFL and gained induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Simpson is scheduled to be in Clark County District Court beginning Monday for the entire five-day hearing. He could testify Wednesday before a judge who has agreed to hear 19 separate points, mostly claiming that lawyer Yale Galanter provided such poor representation that Simpson deserves a new trial.
Simpson is serving a nine-to-33-year sentence that makes him first eligible for parole at age 70.
If he wins a new trial, prosecutors would have to decide whether to retry him for an incident that happened in September 2007 or offer a plea deal sparing the time and expense of another trial.
In a sworn statement outlining his upcoming testimony, Simpson said he told Galanter in advance that he planned to confront two collectibles dealers in Las Vegas and retrieve what he expected would be family photos, heirlooms and personal sports mementoes items that he believed had been stolen from him after his "trial of the century" in Los Angeles.
"I fully disclosed my plan to Yale Galanter, and he advised me that I was within my legal rights," he said.
Simpson said the two even had dinner the night before in Las Vegas, and Galanter told him he was within his legal rights as long as he didn't trespass on private property or use physical force.
Simpson claims that at trial, Galanter told him he didn't need to testify because prosecutors failed to prove their case, and didn't tell him about a plea offer by prosecutors that would have gotten him a minimum of two years in prison.
"Had I understood that there was an actual chance of conviction, I would have accepted such an offer," Simpson said.
Galanter, who is expected to testify Friday, declined to comment ahead of his appearance.
Throwing trial attorneys under the bus on appeals is a common legal tactic for people convicted of crimes — but rarely successful.
The burden of proof in a post-conviction writ of habeas corpus is on the defendant to convince a judge — not a jury — that the first trial was tainted and new evidence might yield acquittal. It's not yet clear whether Clark County District Court Judge Linda Marie Bell will make an immediate ruling or issue a written decision later.
Bell didn't handle the trial, and both prosecutors have retired. Most of the colorful cast of characters involved in Simpson's first trial won't be involved in next week's hearing. Attorneys put the number of expected witnesses at 16 — including lawyers, experts, Simpson friends and his 44-year-old daughter, Arnelle.
Some legal observers think Simpson has a chance at getting a new trial.
"If Mr. Simpson can establish that the strategy of the defense was motivated by his lawyer's self-interest, and that it compromised Mr. Simpson's trial rights, he could overcome the defendant's burden and establish the claim of ineffective assistance of counsel sufficient to get him a new trial," said Las Vegas attorney Michael Cristalli. The veteran lawyer handled the successful appeal, retrial and 2004 acquittal of a former stripper in the 1998 death of wealthy casino executive Ted Binion.
Simpson's 94-page petition for a new trial exempts trial co-counsel Gabriel Grasso from the conflict-of-interest question. It says Grasso wasn't made aware of Galanter's pre-incident advice, wasn't privy to private strategy discussions between Galanter and Simpson, and was rebuked when he tried to advise Simpson without Galanter's approval.
Former District Attorney David Roger is due to testify. In an interview, he recalled discussing a possible plea with Galanter during trial, but said discussions didn't yield "negotiations in the legal sense."
Galanter said Simpson might be willing to serve 24 months in prison, Roger recalled. Prosecutors countered with 30 months. Galanter later said Simpson wanted no more than 12 months. Roger said he thought Galanter had spoken with Simpson.
"That's where the conversation ended," the former prosecutor said.
H. Leon Simon, the chief deputy district attorney now handling the case, said Simpson isn't owed a new trial. Evidence was overwhelming, he said.
Hotel security video showed Simpson and five other men arriving at the Palace Station casino-hotel with middleman Thomas Riccio, and leaving with boxes of items. Jurors heard audio recordings of Simpson and others talking about the plan ahead of time and of the five-minute confrontation involving nine men crammed around a big bed in a small room. Two of the men said they had guns.
Simpson trial co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart served more than two years of a 7½-to-27 year prison sentence before the state Supreme Court overturned his conviction. The justices ruled Simpson's fame tainted the Las Vegas proceedings and Stewart should have been tried separately.
Stewart took a plea deal to avoid a retrial and was convicted of felony robbery and conspiracy but set free.
"As far as Simpson is concerned, I wish him luck," said Stewart, now 59 and driving limousine in New Orleans. "He needs to tell the truth about Yale Galanter. Yale only represented him to protect himself, to make sure his name didn't come up."
- Created on 08 May 2013
CLEVELAND — Cleveland's police chief says the three women held captive in a house for nearly a decade were restrained with ropes and chains and allowed out into the back yard occasionally.
Chief Michael McGrath said in an interview on NBC's "Today" show Wednesday that the physical condition of the three women rescued Monday was "very good considering the circumstances."
McGrath says he was "absolutely" sure police did everything they could to find the women over the years. He disputed claims by neighbors that officers had been called to the house before for suspicious circumstances.
McGrath says the three men who have been arrested in the case "are talking" but he wouldn't say if they have confessed. He says a charging decision could come later Wednesday.