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  • Leroy Smith, who was sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment, for the shooting of two police officers in Brixton

    Out of the Box is the story of Leroy Smith, who was sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment, for the shooting of two police officers in Brixton in 1993. Out of the Box will take you on a tour of the gangster lands of London, New York and Kingston, Jamaica, before showing you inside the Box that is the British prison system today, where all previous pecking orders, criminal or political, have been superseded by the rule of the Deen, highly organised and disciplined convicts, who answer to neither gangster nor governor, but only to God. Out of the Box will also take you outside of these Boxes and provide you with some eye-opening analysis and insights into the activities of those who rule over us.
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  • Barbie debuts Rosa Parks doll as part of series honoring iconic women

    Barbie debuts Rosa Parks doll as part of series honoring iconic women

    Civil Rights activist and Alabamian Rosa Parks is the latest iconic woman to garner a doll in her likeness as part of Barbie’s Inspiring Women series.

    Mattel announced today Parks would be one of the latest additions to the series, which launched in 2018 and features dolls based on women who have played significant roles in history, including Frida Kahlo, Amelia Earhart.

    “Rosa Louise Parks led an ordinary life as a seamstress until an extraordinary moment on December 1, 1955,” Barbie’s description of the dolls reads. “When she refused an order to give up her seat to a white passenger and move to the back of the bus, Mrs. Parks’ act of defiance became the catalyst for the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Rosa Parks’ quiet strength played a notable role in the civil rights movement, but it would still take another nine years and more struggles before the 1964 Civil Rights Act overruled existing segregation laws.”

    Mattel said the women chosen for the series are all female role models and heroines of their time who took risks and paved the way for the next generation of girls and women. A doll of astronaut Sally Ride was also announced today.

    The Rosa Parks doll is dressed in fashion from the era and comes with a doll stand, certificate of authenticity and educational information about her role in history.

    The doll, which is priced at $30.00, is available for pre-order online now. It is expected to ship in early September.

    For more information, visit the Barbie website.

     

     

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  • Saying yes to happiness means learning to say no to the desires that drain you.

     

     

    They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.  I don’t think anything could be closer to the truth, and yet all too often we find ways of complicating things for ourselves.  We look for happiness where it does not exist .... in shallow goals and desires ... in possessions, quick thrills, and impressing the wrong people.

    So say it out loud with me:

    “To be happier, I do NOT need…”

    1. To please everyone – Be careful not to give so much of yourself to others that you end up completely losing yourself.  When you go around pleasing everyone but yourself, you are the one that gets hurt in the end.  The late and great Herbert Bayard Swope said it like this: “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”  That is spot on advice if you ask me.  Because truthfully, you are never going to please everyone anyway.  At some point you will hold an unpopular opinion – one that gives you meaning and makes you feel alive.  And when you do, you ought to hold on tight, tune out the noise, and make it count.
    2. Everything to be easy – You have to do hard things to be happy in life.  The things no one else is doing.  The things that frighten you.  The things others can’t do for you.  The things that make you question how much longer you can hold on and push forward.  Because those are the things that define you.  Those are the things that make the difference between existing and living – between knowing the path and walking the path – between a life of mediocrity and a life filled with happiness and success.
    3. Certainty and guarantees – Some people build too many walls in their lives and not enough bridges.  It sounds crazy, but they would rather be certain they’re miserable, than risk being happy.  Don’t be one of them.  Open yourself up.  Take chances.  Run free.  To accomplish amazing things, you must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe.  Be a dreamer, a believer, and a courageous and cheerful thinker.  Be a positive motivator, a productive doer, and a go-getter who keeps her head in the clouds and her feet on the ground.  Let the spirit of passion and possibility ignite a fire within you to do something worthwhile today and every day, and don’t forget to spread your enthusiasm to those around you.  
    4. To be better than others – The size of our universe shrinks dramatically when we place ourselves at the center – when we think everyone is our competition – when we think we have to be richer, smarter, and more attractive than the person sitting next to us.  Such a goal just keeps a person alienated and tirelessly running in place.  Now, on the flipside, take someone who doesn’t keep score, who’s not looking to be richer, or smarter, or more attractive, who has not the slightest interest even in being better than anyone else: she’s free.  Bottom line: Compete with yourself only.
    5. More control over everything and everyone – Sometimes we put too much interest into trying to control every tiny aspect of our lives.  Learn to relax and ride the path that life takes you sometimes.  Incredible change will happen in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you do not.  Freeing yourself from trying to control the insignificant and uncontrollable things lets you experience more of the goodness around you.  In fact, the greatest joys are often the unexpected surprises that arrive when you are flexible and open to life’s twists and turns.
    6. Immense moments of glory – Graduations, wedding days, lavish vacations – these times are often fun-filled and deeply celebrated, but these times pass, because time passes.  This is something we rarely grasp at first.  True, lasting happiness is found in the appreciation of all the small things.  For me, there are random moments – making a beat, coming home to my wife and children, playing chess with my sons, standing in the kitchen watching my wife cook, hearing a giggle from my sons who’s playing PS4 in the other room.
    7. Relationships that are “supposed to” provide happiness – Relationships are essential, but happiness originates from within.  It is not dependent on external validation or on other people.  You become vulnerable and can be easily hurt when your feelings of security and happiness depend entirely on the behavior and actions of others.  Keep this in mind.  Never give all your power to anyone else.  Until you make complete peace with who you are, you’ll never be content with what you have or who you’re with.  Learn to love and respect yourself first, before loving the idea of other people loving and respecting you.
    8. Perfect harmony in all relationships at all times – Harmony in relationships is nice when it’s sincere, but too often we try to fake it.  Effective communication is king.  You have to talk it out sometimes.  After all, the only way to be happy in life is to live with integrity.  This means: Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships.  Being clear and asking for what you want and need from others.  Speaking your truth, even though it might create occasional tension.  Behaving in ways that are in agreement with your personal values.  Making choices based on what you believe, and not just what others believe. 
    9. A superior time and place – The reason many people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be.  The key, of course, is to do the opposite.  Appreciate your past without reliving it, handle your present with confidence, and face your future without fear.  Life is simply too short to spend at war with yourself.  Letting go of the past and future is your first step to happiness and peace in the present.  Realize that you are today where your thoughts and actions have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts and actions today take you.  Bottom line: You can’t stop the future.  You can’t rewind the past.  The only way to live is to press play, and Rap over the beat.
    10. Happiness 24/7 – Absolutely no one is happy all of the time.  Because you simply can’t be happy unless you’re unhappy sometimes.  This is a harsh truth, I know.  Just keep in mind that it’s perfectly normal to experience considerable fluctuations in your level of happiness from day to day, month to month, and even year to year.  Believing and expecting otherwise will only lead to disillusionment.  But even when life is less than blissful, you are still in charge of how you respond.  The greatest act of faith some days is to simply get up and face the day, with a smile.

     

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  • Woman jailed for murdering daughters who 'got in way' of her sex life

    Louise Porton described as ‘evil’ and ‘calculated’ for killing three-year-old and 17-month-old girls

    A mother who murdered her two young daughters 18 days apart after they “got in the way” of her living the life she wanted has been jailed for at least 32 years.

    Louise Porton, 23, killed Lexi Draper, three, and 17-month old Scarlett Vaughan last year. Both deaths were consistent with deliberate airway obstruction, and doctors could not find “any natural reason why either, let alone both, should have died”, prosecutors said.

    She suffocated Lexi in the early hours of 15 January, and was heard “laughing” at a funeral parlour two days before killing Scarlett on 1 February.

    A jury heard that Porton, who described herself on a dating app as a model, accepted 41 friend requests from men the day after Lexi’s death.

    After Scarlett’s death, she had delayed calling an ambulance, even filling up with petrol as the toddler lay dead or dying in her car, and was described as being “calm and emotionless.”.

    Her children “got in the way of her doing what she wanted, when she wanted and with whom she wanted,” Oliver Saxby QC, prosecuting, said.

    Porton, of Skiddaw, Rugby, Warwickshire, denied killing the girls, but was unanimously convicted following a five-week trial.

    Jailing her for life with a minimum term of 32 years the judge, Mrs Justice Yip, described Porton’s actions as “evil” and “calculated”.

    “One way or another you squeezed the life out of each of your daughters, only calling the emergency services when you knew they were dead. I am sure at the time of the deaths, you intended to kill each of your daughters. Why you did so, only you will know.”

    Evidence pointed to Porton having made two previous unsuccessful attempts on Lexi’s life. She had twice been taken to hospital but was sent home with antibiotics for an apparent chest infection.

    The judge said she was sure Porton had been responsible for events leading to Lexi’s earlier admissions to hospital on 2 January and on 4 January when her life was saved by skilled resuscitation by paramedics.

    Porton had made “sinister” internet searches at the time about death and breathing and drowning. She had researched how long it took for body parts to go cold, Birmingham crown court heard.

    The crown alleged Lexi had been dead for some time before a 999 call was made. Of Lexi’s death, the judge said: “I am left in no doubt that you delayed calling for an ambulance until you were sure she was dead and could not be resuscitated.” Scarlett “had signs of prior airway obstruction”, the judge said.

    When Lexi was ill in hospital, Porton took topless photos in the hospital toilets and was arranging to perform sex acts for money with a man she had met through a website, the jury heard.

    After Lexi’s death, it appeared to the funeral arranger present that Porton was “using FaceTime and that she was speaking to a man.”.

    Porton’s former landlady, when she lived at an address in Willenhall, near Walsall, told police she spent “more and more time” caring for Lexi and Scarlett while their mother was “doing social things” instead of looking after them. Porton would do “whatever she could not to have them with her”, she said.

    Porton had denied wrongdoing throughout, telling police in a prepared statement: “My children were never an inconvenience to me and I accommodated my lifestyle and personal life around them. I still don’t know how my daughters died, or what caused it.”

    The judge said she had carried out the “grossest abuse of trust” against her girls. “Those who loved Lexi and Scarlett have been left bewildered as to how and why you could have done something so evil.”

    The children’s father, Chris Draper, who never met Scarlett, said in an impact statement he felt “broken” with “nothing to live for”.

    “I sit and think, day and night, and I can’t understand why my two little girls were taken away because Louise wanted to sleep around. Maybe if social services had listened to me, my girls would still be alive today.”

    Det Supt Pete Hill, of Warwickshire police, said: “I will never be able to understand why Louise Porton murdered her children; Lexi and Scarlett. Not content with killing one of her children, she did exactly the same to her other daughter.”

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  • 2 Chicago mothers working to stop gun violence shot dead

    Two women involved with a group called Mothers Against Senseless Killings were shot dead Friday on a South Side Chicago block where moms gather to help curb gun violence. Police say they don't believe the two young mothers were the intended targets.

    The deaths of Chantel Grant, 25, and Andrea Stoudemire, 35, in the Englewood neighborhood served as a grim reminder of the kind of violence that led them to participate in neighborhood activities organized by Mothers Against Senseless Killings. The anti-violence group launched five years ago following the shooting death of another young mother at the same corner. The group began with moms "occupying" the corner, reports the Chicago Sun-Times — hanging out and offering food and counseling for youth in response to violence in the community.

    "That's why we're out here seven days a week ... trying to create a safe place where people can learn to be neighbors and not kill each other," said the group's founder, Tamar Manasseh.

    The gunfire on Friday night was meant for a man who is affiliated with a Chicago street gang and recently got out of prison, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. 

    The 58-year-old man, who was struck in the arm in the shooting and whose name hasn't been released, is not cooperating with police, Guglielmi said.

    "We have no information to suggest they were the intended targets," he said Tuesday, adding that police are still seeking leads in the case. No arrests have been made.

    Manasseh said she's not willing to accept the notion that Grant, a mother of four, and Stoudemire, who had three children, were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

    "They killed mothers on a corner where mothers sit every day," Manasseh said. "You don't have mothers killed in a place that is sacred to mothers and not take that as a message."

    The drive-by shooting followed what has become a familiar pattern in Chicago, where more people are fatally shot than in any other city in the U.S. Though homicides have decreased in recent years and are on a pace to drop again this year, police statistics show there have been 281 in 2019 as of July 28. And during the weekend in which the two women died, 48 people were shot in the city, nine of them fatally, reports CBS Chicago. The dead reportedly included a three-year-old child who was killed in an apparent gun accident.

    A 23-year-old woman was shot in the leg, back and face on June 25 by someone in a black vehicle in the same block where Grant and Stoudemire were gunned down, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.The woman survived, and police said there is no indication that shooting was connected to the one that killed the two mothers.

    Grant and Stoudemire were found lying on the sidewalk after a spray of bullets came from inside a blue SUV, police said.

    Manasseh said the women had been on the corner for hours Friday handing out food to other mothers and keeping watch over a vacant lot the group has turned into a play area for neighborhood children. She said Grant and Stoudemire had finished up for the day and had begun walking to a store to get food for themselves and their children when they were shot.
     
    "They can't even walk to the store without getting killed," said Manasseh. "They were killed for parenting."

    Manasseh called the women's deaths "terrifying" and "heartbreaking."

    "I haven't slept because I am trying to figure out how we can stop this," Manasseh told the Chicago Sun-Times. "Who's next? I just keep thinking, 'Who's next?' 

    The group has started a GoFundMe campaign aiming to raise $5,000 for a reward for information in the case. By Wednesday morning, it had raised more than $16,000.

    "The murder of a woman brought us to our corner on 75th & Stewart so there's no way we're going to let the murder of more moms drive us away," the fundraising page says. "We deserve to live without fear and the young women, Chantel Grant and Andrea Stoudemire who were torn from their children families tonight, deserve justice."   

    This story has been updated to clarify the women's role with Mothers Against Senseless Killings. 

     

     

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