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Thursday, March 31, 2011

How accurate are census and unemployment figures?

Ever wonder if the U.S. Census correctly counts Blacks and Hispanics living in prisons or Native Americans living on reservations? And are all census forms filled out truthfully and accurately?

It was reported in 2009 that controversial Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) told the Washington Times she and her family would not complete the 2010 census forms in their entirety. Bachman said her family would only indicate the number of people in their household, for "the Constitution doesn't require any information beyond that."

An important fact to note from the 2010 Census is that one out of every ten Americans lives in Los Angeles or New York.

According to Mike Gregorio in the U.S. Census Bureau's Public Information Office (PIO), the April 1, 2010 Census counted everyone in the country based on residency status. This included the U.S. prison population. The census questionnaire did not ask the question whether the person was in the country legally or illegally.

Derick Moore, public affairs specialist in the same office, said that persons living in tribal homelands are also counted, and the goal of the U.S. Census is to count everyone in everyplace living in the United States.

As for how many people are unemployed, those figures are kept by the U. S. Department of Labor. The unemployment numbers are derived from counting people actually looking for work and eligible to work under certain guidelines and would not include the incarcerated, housewives, or most college students.

For more facts about the U.S. Census, go to

©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Preparing for disasters - are you ready?

I have a friend who is a conspiracy and disaster watcher. She spends her free time surfing the Internet, like many people (including myself), trying to find explanations for and a game plan to follow in the event of a major catastrophe.

She watches for gas and silver price increases, earthquakes, nuclear melt downs, and wars which she says will make life difficult on planet Earth. In preparation for a horrible future, she is freezing water and preparing her kids for a time when they cannot play outside.

Many of her predictions have come true, so I took her advice and started stocking up on food and water and even tried to buy some potassium iodide pills at the pharmacy. They were out of stock.

Then, last night I watched "The Secret of the Seven Seals" on the History Channel which explained several biblical verses related to the end times recorded in the Bible's "Book of Daniel" and "Book of Revelations."

This episode, which continues the explanation of the Nostradamus predictions, delves into a document being opened by Jesus and the breaking of the seven seals holding it closed. 

It sets up a time-line of man-made and natural catastrophes which may occur leading up to the appearance of a grand prevaricator known as the Antichrist who will facilitate the final destruction of Earth and all mankind.

It is predicted that there will be seven seals, trumpets, and plagues each. The episode focused on several uncontrollable events which would lead up to one final disaster, which could be an asteroid collision.

That is when I made up in my mind that the only way I can prepare for the end times is to get right with God, for judgment day is surely coming, whether I like it our not. It may not come to me in the form of pestilence or a falling sky, but I will surely die one day and have to account for my time spent here on Earth.

I then turned off the television, consigned myself to stop worrying about the future, and thought about what I can do to enjoy the time I have left with family and friends. I then went peacefully to sleep. 

This morning, I woke up. The sun was still shining, the birds were still singing, and my dog was still begging to be fed. Thanks be to God for another wonderful day! 

May this message brighten the space in which you live.

©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Arlene Holt Baker, AFL-CIO plan walk to Georgia State Capital

Labor leaders and politicians will be walking from Atlanta's King Center to the State Capital with AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker on April 4, 2011. The "Day of Solidarity" will commemorate the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"She is AMAZING," said Melissa Pike, chair of the Cobb County Democratic Party, about Baker in an email.

According to the AFL-CIO website, Baker's "commitment to activism on behalf of working families has been a source of strength that has empowered her to overcome challenges and disappointments that might have deterred a leader of lesser mettle."

Baker grew up in Ft. Worth, Texas and remembers the day when she heard President John F. Kennedy speak briefly before heading off in his motorcade.

“There was so much hope vested there,” Arlene recalls. “Because we had a president who believed in making things better.” Arlene was back in school by noon, where she heard over the intercom that President Kennedy had been shot. “By the time I got to geography class, they announced he was dead.”

One of seven children, Baker was inspired by her mother, Georgia Louise Leslie, a domestic worker who never dwelled on the fact that “we didn’t have much. She would always remind us that others were worse off. She sacrificed to pay her poll tax, her church tithe and her NAACP dues, and she really believed in volunteerism.”

Baker began her work in the labor movement with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) in Los Angeles in June 1972. She moved through the ranks as an organizer and international union representative and successfully organized public-sector workers in California, helping them win contracts that provided better wages and pay equity for women.

On September 21, 2007, Baker was unanimously approved to become Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO, becoming the first African American to be elected to one of the federation’s three highest offices.

“We have the opportunity right now to ring in a new day for working people, especially women, people of color, the young, and all of those who have been shut out of the middle class by Wall Street,” she says. "We have the chance to bring new energy and new approaches to the challenges we face – to be as dynamic as possible in engaging young people and today’s diverse workforce at every level of our movement.”

In 2008, it was reported that the AFL-CIO had over 11 million members. The national organization is asking people across the U.S. to support workers fighting for middle-class jobs in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and other states. For more information on the walk, contact the Georgia State AFL-CIO at 404-525-2793.

(Photos - AFL-CIO and Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.)
©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Obama gives energy policy speech at Georgetown University

President Barack Obama gave an update today on a plan concerning the United States’ independence from foreign oil. The major networks cut the live feed of the speech short but continued coverage with analysis and debate about the President’s remarks.

Obama said the nation has known about the energy crisis since Richard Nixon’s presidency, and none of the following administrations had done anything substantial to curb oil dependence. “We can keep going from shock to trance,” he said concerning our observations of gas prices. “We hit the snooze button,” he said after each crisis.

“It's time for us to do what we can to secure our energy future...a plan that is achievable.”

Other sound bites from Obama’s remarks include: “This is a tumultuous time for the world…we are heartbroken by lives lost…people are anxious over cost and security of energy…we have been down this road before…there are no quick fixes…we will keep on being victims of energy...unless we think long term on energy policies.”

His plan includes cutting oil dependence by 1/3, harnessing American ingenuity to solve problems, creating greater fuel efficiency, reducing dependence on fossil fuels and oil imports, learning from the BP oil disaster, placing more restrictions on off shore drilling, and expediting approvals of shallow and deep water driling permits.

Obama was accompanied by several political dignitaries who included members of his cabinet and executive staff as well as mayors who support the President’s energy plan: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, Calif.; Mayor Scott Smith of Mesa, Ariz.; Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, and Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley.

The speech in its entirety can be viewed by going to the video library at

©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 planning "Day of Solidarity" on April 4

Calling it "one of the most important progressive days of action in nearly a decade,", a political action group, is planning a "Day of Solidarity" to mark the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"The entire labor movement has called for a massive national day of protests, vigils, and work site events on April 4," said Daniel Mintz of in an email today.

To find events closest to you, go to

Michelle Obama will speak at Spelman 2011 Commencement

First Lady Michelle Obama will be the guest speaker at Spelman College's Commencement in Atlanta, Ga. Her address will be held May 15, 2011.

According to Spelman's website, "Only graduates are guaranteed tickets for Commencement, and can request additional tickets. A limited amount of tickets are reserved for registered alumnae attending Reunion. Unfortunately, the College is not able to accommodate requests outside of the intended scope of this event."

The White House website notes that Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama was born on the South Side of Chicago and is a product of Chicago public schools. She went on to study sociology and African-American studies at Princeton University and later graduated from Harvard Law School in 1988. She joined the Chicago law firm Sidley & Austin where she met Barack Obama.

Mrs. Obama served as assistant commissioner of planning and development in Chicago's City Hall and was the founding executive director of the Chicago chapter of Public Allies, an AmeriCorps program that prepares youth for public service. She later became Associate Dean of Student Services and Vice President of Community and External Affairs for the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Now as First Lady, Mrs. Obama champions the Let’s Move! Campaign against childhood obesity. She continues working on issues close to her heart — supporting military families, helping working women balance career and family, encouraging national service, promoting the arts and arts education, and fostering healthy eating and healthy living for children and families across the country.

Michelle and Barack Obama have two daughters: Malia, 12, and Sasha, 9.

Spelman College was founded in 1881 by Sophia B. Packard and Harriet E. Giles who, after visiting the South, "returned to Boston...determined to start a school ...for black females." (Photo from Spelman: a centennial celebration)

For more information about upcoming commencement festivities at Spelman, contact Terri Simmons at (404) 681-3643.

©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Consumers Use $250 in Economic Recovery Payments

Wonder how consumers spend money it gets back from the government? The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps up with this kind of data and released the latest numbers in a report today.

In 2009, the Social Security Administration administered the delivery of one-time economic recovery payments of $250 for most recipients of Social Security, Railroad Retirement, Supplemental Security Income, and Veterans' Benefits. Individuals who qualified for or received any of these benefits anytime from November 2008 through January 2009 were eligible to receive this one-time economic recovery payment. The payments were sent by the Department of Treasury during May 2009.

Here's how the money was spent by race:

* For Whites, 41 percent reported using the payment mostly for spending, 26 percent mostly for saving, and 32 percent mostly for paying off debt.

* For Blacks, 34 percent reported mostly spending, 13 percent reported mostly saving, and 51 percent reported mostly paying off debt.

More information was gathered on Hispanic spending of Recovery payments.

* Hispanics (37 percent) were less likely than non-Hispanics (41 percent) to have reported mostly spending the payment. Hispanics (48 percent) were much more likely to use the payment mostly for paying off debt than they were to use it mostly for spending, and a smaller proportion (33 percent) of non-Hispanics used the payment to pay off debt. This meant that Hispanics were about half as likely (12 percent) as non-Hispanics (25 percent) to use the payment mostly for saving.

The report also gave information on how older Americans used Recovery money.

* Exactly half—50 percent—of recipients under age 62 used the payment to pay off debt. For those 62 or older, the proportion that used the payment for paying off debt ranged from one-fourth (25 percent) for those age 85 and older, to almost one-third (33 percent) for those age 66 to 74 years. Within those age ranges, about 32 percent for those age 62 to 65 and 28 percent for those age 75 to 84 used the payment to pay off debt.

* The percentage reporting saving the payment increased with age: Exactly 1 in 10 of the youngest group saved the payment, compared with almost 22 to 23 percent of those age 62 to 74, and 32 percent of those age 75 to 84, and 39 percent of those 85 and older.

* The oldest group was the least likely to spend the payment (33 percent), followed by recipients age 75 to 84 years and under age 62 (39 percent each). The other groups (62 to 65 and 66 to 74 years old) were similar to each other—43 to 44 percent reported mostly spending the payment.

* Small proportions of each age group either did not know or refused to report how they mostly used the payment (1 percent to 4 percent); the values for each group are included in the tables for reference, but because of the small amounts they are not discussed further in this report.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Time to prepare for your wedding day!

With all the media hype surrounding the upcoming wedding of Prince William and Lady Kate, wedding planning is becoming a major project; but it doesn't matter whether you are planning a wedding in an abbey, on the courthouse steps, on a beach, or while skydiving, weddings are special and celebrate loving relationships.

Despite what some folks believe, couples are still falling in love and making plans to live together forever. Some weddings are frugal, while others are outrageously expensive. Any budget is o.k. if you're creative with your money and have friends and family to help.

Here are some snapshots focusing on weddings. The couples pictured are still married or were married until death parted them.

The blogger's parents, Thomas and Ruth Morris, had their wedding reception in the bride's family home in Elkins, W. Va. in 1952. The blogger was born 10 months later. (Photographer unknown)

Photo by Doug Smith, Sr.
In 1980, Ruth Morris helped her own daughter prepare for a walk down the aisle. The bride made her wedding dress and veil, and her future mother-in-law helped her pick out the material. Cost: $250. Her grandmother, Minnie Daniels who was a seamstress, helped her with the zipper.

Photo by Tomi Johnson
A photo of one bride's rings somewhere in the United States...drop dead gorgeous!

Flowers are special and can be either live or artificial. Brides and grooms with allergies to flowers may opt to have fake flowers which add a special touch to the special day. (Photo by Tomi Johnson. Flowers arranged by Wanda Brown.)

Cakes are important, too. The one pictured here was featured at a craft show inspired by art in metro Atlanta. (Photo by Tomi Johnson)

Some cakes are more whimsical, but delicious, none the less. (Photo by Tomi Johnson)

Using the day's events and stained glass windows as a backdrop from one wedding could be creatively turned into thank you cards. (Photos and stain glass design by Tomi and Ilea Johnson)

©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Quote for today...

"You can not help someone if you do not respect them." ---The 14th Dalai Lama

Thursday, March 24, 2011

U.S. Census reports jump in Hispanic population due to immigration

Hispanic and Asian Populations Grew Fastest During the Decade

(Check out Rev. Samuel Rodriguez's speech suggesting Hispanics and Blacks unite at:

Newspaper Publisher Victoria Chacon, originally from Peru. Photo by Kurk D. Johnson.

The U.S. Census Bureau released today the second in a series of 2010 Census briefs, Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin: 2010, which looks at our nation's changing racial and ethnic diversity and provides a snapshot of the racial and Hispanic origin composition of the United States.

The examination of racial and ethnic group distributions nationally shows that while the non-Hispanic white alone population is still numerically and proportionally the largest major race and ethnic group in the United States, it is also growing at the slowest rate. Conversely, the Hispanic and Asian populations have grown considerably, in part because of relatively higher levels of immigration.

Hispanic Population Growth
More than half of the growth in the total U.S. population between 2000 and 2010 was because of the increase in the Hispanic population. Between 2000 and 2010, the Hispanic population grew by 43 percent, rising from 35.3 million in 2000 to 50.5 million in 2010. The rise in the Hispanic population accounted for more than half of the 27.3 million increase in the total U.S. population. By 2010, Hispanics comprised 16 percent of the total U.S. population of 308.7 million.

The non-Hispanic population grew relatively slower over the decade at about 5 percent. Within the non-Hispanic population, the number of people who reported their race as white alone grew even slower (1 percent). While the non-Hispanic white alone population increased numerically from 194.6 million to 196.8 million over the 10-year period, its proportion of the total population declined from 69 percent to 64 percent.

Tomi Johnson interviews Rene Diaz, CEO of Diaz Foods, while his father listens. They are both originally from Cuba. Photo by Kurk Johnson.

Race Distribution
The overwhelming majority (97 percent) of the total U.S. population reported only one race in 2010. This group totaled 299.7 million. Of these, the largest group reported white alone (223.6 million), accounting for 72 percent of all people living in the United States. The black or African-American population totaled 38.9 million and represented 13 percent of the total population.

Approximately 14.7 million people (about 5 percent of all respondents) identified their race as Asian alone. There were 2.9 million respondents who indicated American Indian and Alaska Native alone (0.9 percent). The smallest major race group was Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone (0.5 million), which represented 0.2 percent of the total population. The remainder of respondents who reported only one race, 19.1 million people (6 percent of all respondents), were classified as "some other race" alone.

Nine million people reported more than one race in the 2010 Census and made up about 3 percent of the total population. Ninety-two percent of people who reported multiple races provided exactly two races in 2010; white and black was the largest multiple-race combination. An additional 8 percent of the two or more races population reported three races and less than 1 percent reported four or more races.

Three quarters of multiple race combinations were comprised of four groups in 2010: white and black (1.8 million), white and "some other race" (1.7 million), white and Asian (1.6 million), and white and American Indian or Alaska Native (1.4 million).

The population reporting their race as white, either alone or with at least one other race, was the largest of all the alone-or-in-combination categories (231.0 million) and represented about three-fourths of the total population. About 14 percent of the total population reported their race as black, either alone or with at least one other race, which was the second-largest of the alone-or-in-combination categories (42.0 million). There were 21.7 million people classified as some other race alone or in combination and 17.3 million people classified as Asian alone or in combination in the 2010 Census, making up 7 percent and 6 percent of the total population, respectively. The two smallest alone-or-in-combination categories were American Indian and Alaska Native (5.2 million) and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander (1.2 million), making up 2 percent and 0.4 percent of the total population, respectively.

Employees of La Vision de Georgia. Photo by Kurk D. Johnson.

Asian Population Growth

The Asian alone population grew faster than any other major race group between 2000 and 2010, increasing by 43 percent. The Asian alone population had the second-largest numeric change (4.4 million), growing from 10.2 million in 2000 to 14.7 million in 2010. They gained the most in share of the total population, moving up from about 4 percent in 2000 to about 5 percent in 2010.

Geographic Distribution
In the 2010 Census, just over one-third of the U.S. population reported their race and ethnicity as something other than non-Hispanic white alone (i.e. "minority"). This group increased from 86.9 million to 111.9 million between 2000 and 2010, representing a growth of 29 percent over the decade.

Geographically, particularly in the South and West, a number of areas had large proportions of the total population that was minority. Nearly half of the West's population was minority (47 percent), numbering 33.9 million. Among the states, California led the nation with the largest minority population at 22.3 million.

Between 2000 and 2010, Texas joined California, the District of Columbia, Hawaii and New Mexico in having a "majority-minority" population, where more than 50 percent of the population was part of a minority group. Among all states, Nevada's minority population increased at the highest rate, by 78 percent.

Race and Hispanic Origin Dat
The Census Bureau collects race and Hispanic origin information following the U.S. Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) standards for collecting and tabulating data on race and ethnicity. In October 1997, the OMB issued the current standards, which identify five race groups: white, black or African-American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. The Census Bureau also utilized a sixth category - "some other race." Respondents who reported only one race are shown in these six groups.

Individuals were first presented with the option to self-identify with more than one race in the 2000 Census, and this continued in the 2010 Census. People who identify with more than one race may choose to provide multiple races in response to the race question. The 2010 Census results provide new data on the size and makeup of the nation's multiracial population.

Respondents who reported more than one of the six race groups are included in the "two or more races" population. There are 57 possible combinations of the six race groups.

The Census Bureau included the "some other race" category for responses that could not be classified in any of the other race categories on the questionnaire. The vast majority of people who reported only as "some other race" were of Hispanic or Latino origin. Data on Hispanics or Latinos, who may be of any race, were obtained from a separate question on ethnicity.

xxx Full U.S.Census press release

For an explanation on what the statistics mean to Hispanics in Georgia, view an article on the LaVision de Georgia newspaper website:

Photos taken by Kurk D. Johnson. ©All rights reserved.

Affordable Care Act: What's in the fine print?

As we celebrate the one year anniversary of the passage of health care reforms, ConsumersUnion®, the non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports, has detailed the "fine print" in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Referring to the health care debate, CU President and CEO Jim Guest said, " need to know about the benefits—and when they become active—to actually take advantage of them."

That said, you need to look at the negatives which mostly hinge on the fact that states could trump the new law's provisions. "States are responsible for reviewing health insurance rate increases. But many states don’t closely examine an increase to make sure it is justified."

Here are some points to pay close attention to regarding insurance plans under the new Act, according to the report.

• Some plans received temporary waivers delaying the requirement that they end annual benefit limits. Ending lifetime and annual limits applies only to “essential” health benefits as determined by the federal government.

• Insurers can still cancel your policy for fraud or intentional misrepresentation.

• New rights of appeal, free preventive care, and phased out annual limits don’t apply to many grandfathered plans.

• Until 2014, insurers can still charge higher premiums for sick children, so insurance for them may not be affordable. State laws may restrict access to new coverage for sick kids to specific open-enrollment periods. Insurers in some states have threatened to stop selling child-only policies.

• Your costs will vary by state, but all options include comprehensive coverage with no out-of-pocket costs for preventive care.

• Premiums are not based on income, so a PCIP may still be unaffordable for some, and premiums for small-business owners and their families do not qualify for the tax credit. Tax credits vary for small businesses.

• Some states where insurers have very high administrative costs may ask for the new standard to be phased in. Check with your state insurance department to find out if your state has been granted a waiver.

• Employers and insurers that offer policies with very limited coverage may be given at least an extra year before being subject to this rule.

For more information, go to:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor, Jewel of Hollywood Age

It has been said that violet-eyed Elizabeth Taylor was a woman known for her superb acting ability, multiple marriages, gorgeous diamonds, and compassion. Her purple eyes displayed royalty on stage and integrity in public. In the end, her heart failed, a major cause of death and disability in women.

Dead at 79 from congestive heart failure, Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was perhaps most remembered for her roles in National Velvet, Cleopatra, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

(Pitcher used in the movie National Velvet, hand painted and made in Czechoslovakia.)

Or maybe you remember her from her close relationship with the late Michael Jackson, who was 27 years younger. Or maybe you have been told that she received a big payout doing films, becoming the first Hollywood actress to make $1m from a picture.

Taylor was no saint and admitted it. But she lived life 'til the end, admired by her friends and adored by movie goers, young and old.

On the other hand, no one wants to lead a glamorous life just to live their last years languishing in poor health. Taylor, like many 79 year olds, had heart disease and hip problems. One wonders whether her lifestyle and schedule played havoc on her health, and whether not having stable relationships and a life-long companion in the end was bad. Last year, it was rumored that Taylor was engaged to Jason Winters, 49, an entertainment manager.

According to PubMed Health, if you have heart failure, it means your heart is not pumping properly. Your weight has to be checked daily. "Weight gain can be a sign that your body is holding onto extra fluid and your heart failure is worsening."

Other important measures include:
* limit salt and sodium intake,
* quit smoking,
* stay active,
* get enough rest,
* use oil and vinegar rather than bottled dressings on salads,
* and eat fresh fruit or sorbet when having dessert.

Whether good or bad, Taylor's life exemplified one glorious ride to the finish line.

(Elizabeth Taylor's "Passion" dusting powder is still sold in many drug stores.)

©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 21, 2011

New unemployment data released

The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that unemployment rates were lower in January than a year earlier in 282 of the 372 metropolitan areas, higher in 73 areas, and unchanged in 17 areas.

"El Centro,Calif., recorded the highest unemployment rate, 25.1 percent, followed by Yuma, Ariz., 23.2 percent. Among the 16 areas with January 2011 jobless rates of at least 15.0 percent, 12 were located in California. Lincoln, Neb., registered the lowest unemployment rate, 4.1 percent."

Data for January also indicated that "employers took 1,534 mass layoff actions involving 149,799 workers. The number of mass layoff events increased by 51 from the prior month, and associated initial claims increased by 11,807. Layoff activity in the manufacturing sector also increased over the month."

For more employment news, go to:

Obama's Women Warriors

The Obama administration's "women warriors" are not a cadre of chesty, female body guards, but instead are policy makers, advisors and envoys. They are Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power, and Susan Rice.

According to the New York Times, it was Clinton, Power and Rice who persuaded President Obama that the U.S. and other world leaders should attack Libya's Col. Muammar Qaddafi in an attempt to save civilians.

Who are these women, and how did they persuade Obama to wage war against Qaddafi? Do you have any personal or professional information on Clinton, Power, and Rice which is not already recorded on the White House website or in the news?

Please reply.

(Photo of Obama and Clinton from White House website.)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Are you close to a nuclear power plant?

Please comment on your opinion of living near nuclear power plants.

This is the Bellefonte Nuclear Generating Station owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

These photos were taken this weekend in Hollywood, Ala., located at 34°43′1″N 85°57′56″W, considered part of Huntsville, Ala., home of Redstone Arsenal.

According to Wikipedia, the population of Hollywood, Ala. is 950 (2000 census).

Photos by Tomi Johnson. ©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 18, 2011

On this day in history...

1942 - War Relocation Authority established in the U.S. which eventually rounded up 120,000 Japanese-Americans and transported them to barb-wired relocation centers. Despite the internment, over 17,000 Japanese-Americans signed up and fought for the U.S. in World War II in Europe, including the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most decorated unit in U.S. history.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared Executive Order 9066 earlier on February 19, 1942, stating that all Japanese-Americans were to be rounded up and sent to live in an internment facility. Given a mere 48 hours, families had to either sell or abandon everything that could not fit in a backpack and begin the journey of a bleak existence. Japanese-Americans had to board trains with no idea of their destination, bringing only what they could carry.

These facilities were not called concentration camps, but “War Relocation Centers.” Two were located in California, and eight were spread across the desert areas of the Southwest. Their neat rows of long wooden huts were guarded by floodlights and watchtowers with machine guns. There were hunger strikes and riots in several camps. Tule Lake, California was sealed by tanks and put under martial law for three months.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Obama speaks on Japanese disaster

The President writes in a condolence book at the Embassy of Japan. (White House Photo, Pete Souza)

Here are a few notes from President Obama's remarks today concerning the Japanese disaster.

Available resources are being used to monitor the situation in Japan and keep Americans out of harm's way. Decisions to evacuate American citizens within a 50 mile radius of the Japanese nuclear power plants affected by the tsunami have been made after careful scientific deliberations. Americans should remain prudent and use cautionary measures when necessary. Voluntary evacuations of Americans and their dependents in northeastern Japan are recommended.

Harmful radiation levels are not expected to reach the United States or it's territories. Advice is coming from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the CDC, and other industry experts, but citizens must stay informed.

U.S. nuclear plants are safe, but we must learn from this experience. A comprehensive review of our plants is being recommended. We support Japan and have sent search and rescue, response teams, military, and delivered food, shared experts, and technology. We have opened up our hearts and given generously to the American Red Cross and urge people to go to

This is a time of great trial. We share with Japan family, culture, and commerce. Japan will recover because of the spirit of the Japanese people. We have to help each other. Our common humanity is shared.

©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Pelourinho, Brazil: home of beautiful women and capoeira

Brazil has been selected as the country to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. It is also the second country after Nigeria with the largest population of people of Black African descent. The Games will take place in Rio de Janeiro and other surrounding venues.

Eleven hundred miles (1773 Kms) from Rio is Pelourinho, Brazil, once the site of slave pens and auction blocks. In the 1990's, a major restoration effort resulted in making Pelourinho a highly desirable tourist attraction. It has been placed on the national historic register and has been named a world cultural center by UNESCO.

Pelourinho, also known as Bahia, means "place to lash the slavors" in Portuguese which is the national language. Today, there is something colorful to see along every street in Pelourinho, including churches, cafes, restaurants, shops, pastel-hued buildings, and beautiful women.

Slavery was abolished in Brazil in 1850, but before then, the slaves had created a form of dance that was really a self-defense method known as capoeira. Capoeira Brazilian Pelourinho, a form of martial arts, was founded by Mestre Lazaro da Bahia in 1995.

Capoeira is also practiced in the United States, and instructors often visit Atlanta. Ayron Johnson of Marietta, Ga. trained in Capoeira Angola with Brazilian instructor Mestre Moraes, co-founder of the Grupo de Capoeira Angola Pelourinho (GCAP), in 2002.
(Capoeira photo property of Atlanta WingChun.)

©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Are unions good for African Americans?

Here is one organization’s opinion based on research and historical data that details the positive aspects of labor unions and why they should be supported. This information was excerpted from an email from James, Gabriel, William, Dani, Matt, Natasha and the rest of the team.

“There was once a time in this country when Black folks would work 12-hour days for less money than their White co-workers who worked only eight. The key to leveling the playing field for Black workers was collective bargaining — and now Republicans around the country are attacking this basic right.

“The right of workers to negotiate as a group for better wages, benefits, and working conditions has been important for everyone, but it's been especially meaningful for Black Americans. Before we could collectively bargain, we had little control over our working conditions and no protection from racial discrimination in the workplace.

“That's why it's critical that we stand with the workers in Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey, and everywhere else collective bargaining is coming under attack. Collective bargaining has helped Black workers vulnerable to workplace discrimination win needed on-the-job protections.

“More than just protection from discrimination, collective bargaining has won Black workers fairness in pay and advancement, access to health insurance and retirement savings, and basic worker safety protections. This is especially true for Black public-sector workers.

“Twenty-five percent of all Black college graduates work in the public sector, and government work is second only to health and education services in concentration of Black workers. Now, Republicans in state legislatures around the country are attacking public employees' collective bargaining rights.

“Wisconsin is one of many states where collective bargaining is under attack. Republicans in Ohio just passed a law similar to Wisconsin's, and states from Indiana to New Jersey are prepared to follow suit.

“For Republicans, the economic well-being of Black folks (and all workers) is only collateral damage in a political battle. It's shameful. That's why it's important that we stand with the brave workers around the country fighting to preserve the right to collectively bargain in their states.”

For more information on this subject, read Black Americans And Organized Labor: A New History by Paul D. Moreno.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Update on Japanese earthquake disaster has donated 50,000 potassium iodide pills to Japan. In a news release issued today, the North Carolina company announced it has sent the pills to Tokoyo's Tokushukai Hospital.

"We are very pleased that these tablets will be given to people directly affected by the nuclear crisis," stated Troy Jones, president of Their website says they are currently out of stock of tablets and liquid potassium iodide. The company is an internet-based supplier of radiation emergency preparedness products.

Wingcom Watchdow contacted family in Santa Monica, Calif. to see if they were in danger of radiation poisoning. "No, we are no where near the radiation poisoning now," said Ingrid Johnson in an email. "If we were in Alaska or Hawaii maybe, but not Cali."

It was reported in a Fox News interview with Karl Rove, former senior advisor to George W. Bush, that GE was the builder 40 years ago of the nuclear power plants now rumored to be undergoing meltdowns in Japan.

More about GE's response to the disaster can be read at

"Japan will be an architect's heaven...People have the energy, courage, wisdom, superpower and resilience to move forward...We have a big  challenge...we will have big, beautiful results," said singer Yoko Ono last night in a CNN interview.

Follow earthquakes and aftershocks as they happen:

©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Craft show celebrates beautiful creations

The American Craft Council Show 2011 culminated its three day event Sunday in Atlanta. Held in the Cobb Galleria Centre, the show featured over 280 artists from all over the United States.
At the entrance of the exhibit, wedding cakes were featured, using crafts as inspiration.

Wingcom Watchdog selected four artists to highlight in this article because of their eye-catching exhibits and charming personalities.

Don Tran, the youngest of 13 children and native of Vietnam, has continued his traditional family artwork in handcrafted silk embroidery. "It takes me about two days to complete most pieces," Tran said from his booth in the Centre.

An MBA graduate of Webster University in St. Louis, Tran says his creations start "with simple, light, chalk lines. With my imagination, patience, and skills, I create one of a kind true works of art." Tran won 1st Place in Fiber 2010 presented by the Columbia Art League of Columbia, Mo.

nancy kubale, a ceramic and mixed media artist, displayed her Tim Burton-like pieces. "I began participating in shows about 20 years ago and try to create elongated figures that have no visible cultural contexts." Headquartered in Rutherfordton, N.C., kubale's pieces range from $57 - $6,000.

"My sculpture addresses our pursuit of Truth and the nature of our humanness." Her art uses text and metaphor. "I am intrigued by what we think, do, and say, by who we are and how we live - primarily at the soul level," kubale said.

Dan Neil Barnes from Lexington, Ky. recently completed the awards presented at the World Equestrian Games 2010. "I have been working as a glass sculptor for 30 years," said Barnes who is a UK basketball season ticket holder.

"I was honored to be chosen by the World Equestrian Games Foundation as their Legacy Awards artist, and was delighted to meet four past governors." One of Barnes' larger pieces features glass, stainless steel, and copper.

Jennifer McCurdy designs and turns porcelain vessels. Her creations remind you of sea creatures. "Many people think what I do is difficult, but it's easy for me because I've been doing it for so long," McCurdy said.

She gilds many of her pieces with 23 ct gold leaf. McCurdy "throws her porcelain on a potter's wheel and alters the form while it is still wet to achieve a sense of softness and movement." Fired at 2350 degrees Fahrenheit, her creations are non-porous, translucent, and hard. McCurdy is from Vineyard, Mass. (Photo by Gary Mirando - use authorized by artist.)

All other photos by Tomi Johnson. ©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chain saw accidents increase

Spring-like weather is here, and homeowners who remember how many leaves they had to rake and push into disposal bags are out trying to cut down a few trees in their yards. And with major natural disasters occurring, there are untrained people out with chain saws trying to clear away downed trees and debris.

Do not use without permission.
This means accidents from chain saws will increase. When using a chain saw, always have two or three people working with you to monitor the situation. Never work for more than 45 minutes per job so as not to become fatigued and careless. Have a phone, emergency kit, and transportation available.

Recently, an accident occurred in Marietta, Ga. The person was cutting trees in the front yard. Not feeling the cut, the victim didn't realize his leg was severed until he noticed his pants were sheared in two places.

The accident required the victim undergo eight stitches in the emergency room, antibiotics, a tetanus shot, and pain medication. Fortunately, this was a clean cut, for many accidents result in gnarled skin, muscle tears, and cut limbs.

Dr. Charles Moore, the emergency room doctor at Kennestone Hospital, said, "This one was not as bad as some we've seen." Dr. Moore, who uses a chain saw on his own farm, suggests that chain saw chaps be worn to lessen risk of leg injuries. He said he has seen some chain saw wounds require up to 140 stitches.

Do not use without permission.

Cutting down trees should be left to experts who sometimes do not wear proper attire.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that "approximately 36,000 people are treated in hospital emergency departments for injuries from using chain saws" each year.

Anyone operating a chain saw should wear the following protective clothing:
hard hat, cut-resistant legwear (such as chain saw chaps) that extend from the waist to the top of the foot, safety glasses, hearing protection, heavy work gloves, and boots which cover the ankle.

According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, more than 36% of chain saw accidents involved injuries to legs and knees.

Do not use without permission.

©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Pray, pray, pray for our world.

I woke up in the middle of the night. I put my head in my hands and started praying for the world. I did this because the events of the past few weeks have alarmed me.

At 6:30 a.m., I woke up, turned on the T.V., and learned from watching CNN that Japan had been hit by an earthquake, creating a tsunami. It was also reported that it could cause damage to the California coast.

As I watched live footage of the tsunami's waves rolling over homes and farms, I wondered are all these events leading up to a 2012 disaster?

Pray for our world. Stop arguing. Come together. Ask for God's guidance.


California receives most federal contracts over 10 year period

According to, Texas received $60 trillion in federal contracts in 2008, the most recent year data was collected. But California, which only received $50.9 trillion during same period, had the most contracts between 2000 and partial year of 2009 ($374.4 trillion).

California's 14th Congressional district led by Anna G. Eshoo(D) received $5,412,462,028 in federal contracts in 2008. The top ten contracts in her district which includes Silicon Valley went to:

Texas' 12th Congressional district led by Kay Granger(R) brought in $25,785,988,367 in federal contracts in 2008.

The top contracts in her district which includes the Fort Worth stockyards went to:
LOCKHEED MARTIN CORP $10,595,462,465
ELBIT SYSTEMS LTD. $127,907,215
CRANE CO $ 57,376,324
TEXTRON, INC. $ 46,942,163

Georgia received $10.9 trillion in contracts in 2008, most coming from Rep. John Lewis' 5th Congressional district ($2.7 trillion). Companies with the largest contracts in his district are led by drug organizations and include:
MERCK & CO., INC. $518,524,679
WYETH $262,369,536
SANOFI-AVENTIS $151,184,038
GEORGIA TECH $137,120,451

Tomi Johnson with Cong. John Lewis (D) Georgia.

Looking at the statistics, Lockheed Martin was a top ten contractor in these three districts.
For more information on federal spending, go to:

Photo by Kurk D. Johnson. ©All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Resolution to stop helping homeowners passes in House

On March 9, there was debate on H.R.836 and related H.Res. 151 in the U.S. House of Representatives. H.R. 836 rescinds "the unobligated funding for the Emergency Mortgage Relief Program" which provides mortgage assistance to unemployed homeowners. Pete Sessions(R) from Dallas, Texas said rescinding the bill was an attempt to save taxpayers money. H.Res. 151 passed.

"This nation is overrun by overspending," Sessions claimed. He said the resolution would eliminate wasteful government expenditures, and the money saved would help small business create jobs. Sessions called the resolution a "common sense and balance" issue.

This resolution joins others passed this legislative session focused on cutting funds to schools and other programs geared to helping the poor.

On March 3, the Dallas Morning News reported that foreclosures in Dallas-Fort Worth fell in 2010, but numbers remain high. The paper also advertised homes for sale for 50% off current values.

Elijah Cummings(D) from Maryland voiced an emotional debate rejecting Sessions' argument, saying it was not "common sense and balance" for Republicans to spend time cutting Pell grants and other programs geared to helping the nation's needy.

Cummings said that 9,000 people showed up at a job fair in his district, money was not available to help his friend obtain chemo for cancer, and people were suffering all over the country. "What is going on in the House is not common sense and balance," Cumming shouted.

"I rise today in strong opposition to H. R. 836 ... We don't get our authority by might, but by how we treat each other." Cummings said that there was 25% unemployment in his 7th district. "We need to work this out like family," he concluded.

For more information on H.R. 836, go to and

©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

News from The White House on Inventions

On March 8, President Obama announced Senate passage of the America Invents Act. “Creating new jobs and new opportunities in a fiercely competitive world demands policies that encourage and support American innovation and ingenuity. So I’m pleased that, on a bipartisan basis, the Senate has passed the most significant patent reform in over half a century.

This long-overdue reform is vital to our ongoing efforts to modernize America’s patent laws and reduce the backlog of 700,000 patent applications – which won’t just increase transparency and certainty for inventors, entrepreneurs and businesses, but help grow our economy and create good jobs. I want to thank Senators Leahy, Grassley and Hatch for their leadership on this issue, and I look forward to working with the House of Representatives to pass patent reform legislation I can sign into law.”

Sally Hemings: sex slave or Presidential lover?

Would you consider Sally Hemings a sex slave to American President Thomas Jefferson?

"Sally Hemings (c. 1773 – 1835) was an American slave owned by Thomas Jefferson, believed to be the mother of several children belonging to him. She was also reportedly the illegitimate half-sister of Jefferson's deceased wife, Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson...Sally Hemings lived at Monticello while Jefferson was alive." --New World Encyclopedia

There is no official portrait of Sally, but this portrait of Jefferson is on the U.S. White House website.

Author Barbara Chase-Riboud wrote about the relationship between Hemings and Jefferson in a book published in 1979. "Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States and author of the Declaration of Independence, had a mistress for thirty-eight years, whom he loved and lived with until he died, the beautiful and elusive Sally Hemings." --jacket cover of book, Sally Hemings: a novel by Barbara Chase-Riboud.

It is believed that at the age of 15, Hemings began a sexual relationship with Jefferson when he was on official government business in Paris, France. Jefferson never freed Hemings or her children.

Monticello, Jefferson's home in Virginia
The following critic of Jefferson is posted at
"His phrase 'all men are created equal' is seen as inconsistent with his beliefs about specific groups. According to Charles A. Miller, while Jefferson felt all humans were morally equal, he believed that blacks, Native Americans, and women were not culturally, physically, or intellectually equal to white males. The fact that he owned slaves himself while professing a deep abhorrence of the institution is equally troubling to modern day scholars." (

©Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Woman sues large PR firm over sex discrimination

Attorney Jeremy Heisler has filed a class action complaint for Monique Da Silva Moore “on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated” against Publicis Groupe and MSLGroup in U.S. District Court in New York.

Moore is the former global healthcare director at MSLGroup whose parent company is Publicis Groupe. The complaint alleges that Publicis Groupe, one of the world’s top advertising firms, has a special “place” for female employees. “All employees have their place: males come before females,” the complaint alleges.

As relief, the 36-page complaint challenges the legality of the firm's job policies and procedures and asks for damages in excess of $100 million as well as other demands for changes in employment rules and decisions towards female employees.

According to Wikipedia, Publicis Groupe was founded in 1926, has its headquarters in Paris, France, and employed 45,400 in 2009, with 70% being female. Maurice Levy is the CEO, and Elisabeth Badinter is the Chairman.

To view the complete complaint, go to

To learn more about Publicis Groupe, go to

Images from O'Dwyer's News Staff email and Publicis Groupe Media Library.
©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Phrase of the Day:

“To be an electable Republican today you don’t have to be racist, you just have to convince racists that you’re not going to make them feel uncomfortable. You have to genuflect, speak ambiguously, and hope that independent voters forget all that by the general election.”
---Leslie Savan re: Mike Huckabee

Senator Johnny Isakson responds to health care inquiry

I emailed Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson about the health care debate, and below is his email response.

"On February 2, 2011, I voted for an amendment to repeal the terribly flawed health care law that was passed by Congress and signed into law by the President last year. Unfortunately, the amendment failed by a vote of 47 to 51. The measure to repeal the law was offered by Republican Leader Senator Mitch McConnell, R-KY, as an amendment to the FAA Re-authorization Bill, and it needed 60 votes to pass. My Republican colleagues and I will continue to offer such amendments, as well as work to strike specific provisions of the law, such as the individual mandate. I am a co-sponsor of S.192, a bill that would effectively repeal the health care reform law. 

"During the same debate, I also voted to repeal a section of the health care law that would have imposed an overly burdensome new tax reporting requirement on small businesses. The amendment to repeal the 1099 reporting requirement passed 81-17. Specifically, Section 9006 of the new health care law requires business owners to submit a separate 1099 reporting form for every single business transaction that totals more than $600 in a given year. As a result, small business owners would have had to complete and submit 1099 forms for basic business expenses, including phone and internet service, shipping costs, and office supplies.

"In my judgment, the Affordable Care Act has little or nothing to do with affordable care. Since its passage, we have seen increase after increase in costs – both in terms of insurance premiums as well as the application of the law to the practice of medicine. This law is not about affordable care. It is about rising health care costs. The fact that over 70 waivers have been issued by Health and Human Services is proof that the bill is flawed and proof that we will continue to see exemptions in order to make a bill that is designed to fail, work. 

Thank you again for contacting me.  Please visit my webpage at for more information on the issues important to you and to sign up for my e-newsletter.

Johnny Isakson"

©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Hate groups in U.S. increase 7%

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of hate groups in the U.S. stands at 1002, with an additional 70 groups being organized since the beginning of 2010.

States with the largest number of hate groups in the continental United States are California (68), Texas (59), Florida (49), Mississippi (40), and Georgia (39). States with the fewest hate groups (2 each) were Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Vermont. Alaska and Hawaii were not listed.

In its Spring 2011 Intelligence Report, the Center states, "The hate groups listed in this report include neo-Nazis, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, Klansmen and black separatists. Other hate groups on the list target gays or immigrants, and some specialize in producing racist music or propaganda denying the Holocaust."

For more information on this research, go to:

©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Women in America: newest government data

Tara Johnson, Erica Johnson, Tobie Brown, and Ashley Johnson

U.S. Economist Steven Rondone has forwarded the latest government statistics related to women in the workforce. The information comes from a larger report, Women in America, released by the White House Council on Women, the first in-depth study done in 50 years.

The report, found at, focuses on families, education, income, employment, health, crime, and violence.

By 2018, the number of women age 65 to 74 in the civilian labor force is projected to increase more than the number of women in any other age group.

Women are disproportionately more likely than men to be affected by certain critical health problems, including mobility impairments, chronic health conditions such as asthma, arthritis, or depression. Women are less likely to be physically active and are more likely to be obese.  Females age 12 and older are more likely than males to report experiencing depression.

In 2010, over 66 percent of women in the labor force had either attended some college or graduated with a degree. More women were employed in the education and health services industry than in any other industry; in the 1960s, manufacturing employed the most women.

Women working as personal financial advisors earn 58 percent of what men earn—lower than the overall ratio of women’s to men’s earnings (81 percent).When they were 23 years old, about 23 percent of young women held a bachelor's degree (or higher), compared with about 14 percent of young men. Single women spend about 25 percent of their annual expenditures on shelter.

The BLS Spotlight on Statistics combines related data from various Bureau programs into a succinct and visually appealing presentation for the media and the public.

If you have any questions or need additional information on this subject, please contact the Atlanta Economic Analysis and Information Office at 404-893-4220 or

Kurk D. Johnson's photo of nieces in 2005.
©2011 Tomi and Kurk Johnson. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Would any other U.S. president born in Hawaii face birth certificate challenges?

Although President Obama has a valid certificate of live birth and notices were published in two newspapers after his parturition at Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu, there is still a controversy surrounding his citizenship.

And even though Honolulu Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo has confirmed that Obama's name is found in its alphabetical list of births available for public view, some still want to deny Obama was born in the U.S.

Do you really think Obama's parents, who lived on Kalanlanaole Highway in Honolulu, were savvy enough to convince the Advisor and Star Bulletin to fake a birth announcement in 1961 because they perceived one day their bi-racial son would become president of the United States?

Or entertain this conspiracy theory: maybe someone had Obama's grandmother smothered on the eve of his election so she couldn't tell the truth about his birth...that really sounds crazy, doesn't it? Would make a great screenplay...

One wonders if anyone else elected president born in Hawaii would meet such challenges. And what about other states admitted to the union in the 20th century, like Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma?

And what about presidents elected from the once rebel states which seceded before and during the Civil War and were later readmitted to the Union? By the way, how were they readmitted, and how do we prove that the former confederate states are a part of the United States?

If some are still stewing over the validity of Obama's birth certificate, let them prove that the states they represent are truly "American." Having to provide this would be ludicrous and a waste of time as is the railing about Obama supposedly growing up in Kenya. He is "our" president and will remain so until the voters decide otherwise.

The only fodder this makes is great media sensationalism!

Photo:Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
©2011 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.