Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Flawed Justice

“It’s an old time tradition when they play their drums at night in Congo Square.” "Congo Square," Sonny Landreth, Mel Melton and Dave Ranson
 Congo Square sculpture by Nigerian Adewale Adenele
For Mardi Gras (French for “Fat Tuesday”) WXRT featured New Orleans music as a tribute to the celebrations taking place on the eve of the Lenten season.  I heard Sonny Landreth’s “Congo Square,” also the name of an area now within Louis Armstrong Park where slaves once gathered to sing and dance on Sundays, their lone day off from their labors as mandated by the 1724 Code Noir.  Congo Square is considered the birthplace of America’s most important indigenous music and dance traditions and for years the site of the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
 Robert and Carrie Blaszkiewicz celebrate Mardi Gras at Yats Cajun Creole in Valpo; 
below, Timmy Donald with mother Lillie
Willie T. “Timmy” Donald, 47, was recently released from prison 24 years after falsely convicted of carrying out robberies and a homicide in Glen Park.  After one of the victims was shown his photo, Donald was put into a police lineup and identified by two woman as the culprit. Later one recanted her testimony after seeing the actual killer near her home, but Donald’s defense team was not notified of this revelation.  Even though Donald had an alibi as to his whereabouts at the time of the robberies, the jury did not believe those testifying on his behalf.  Jerry Davich wrote: Three years ago, prosecutors offered to drop the robbery charge if Donald would drop his challenge to the murder charge. Donald rejected the offer, which would have set him free immediately.” Describing his decision to act on principle at the price of freedom, Donald, the nephew of IUN poet laureate and Physical Plant employee Hollis Donald, said, “I knew I was innocent and I have my faith in God.”  Last month, wrote Davich,  “Donald’s convictions were overturned, his charges, dropped, his name cleared.”  Defense attorney Thomas Vanes, Donald’s advocate for over 20 years, told Bill Dolan of the NWI Times: “These kind of victories are rare, and I savor them when they occur.”

When the Chicago Innocence Center announced on Facebook that Donald was free, hundreds replied with expressions of both thanks and outrage.  Nasuf Cunningham wrote: “It’s a shame how the system gets away with ruining a man’s life.  If I were him, I would sue the pants off the state.  I would have the state so broke that they would not be able to afford to lock up any more [innocent] black people.”

As expected, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders won big in the New Hampshire primaries.  Republican John Kasich finished a strong second.  Chris Christie, who hurt Marco Rubio by calling him the “boy in the bubble” and ridiculing him in debate for repeating a canned comment about Obama four different times, finished sixth and suspended his campaign, as did Carly Fiorina.

In duplicate bridge Charlie and I finished at the top despite my blowing a slam bid of six Diamonds.  My hand consisted of six Diamonds (Ace, King, Queen, and three little ones), Ace spot of Clubs, one small Spade and Ace, Queen, Jack, spot of Hearts.  Charlie had Jack and two little Diamonds, two small Clubs, four Hearts to the Ten, and the Ace, Queen and two little spades.  Using a two-Club “steps” bid, I learned he had 7 to 9 points and then using Gerber found out that he had the fourth Ace.  Opening lead was a Diamond.  After a second round of trump I should have tried the Spade finesse, leading from my hand to the Queen, which would have worked.  Even had it failed, I could have thrown off my losing Club on the Spade Ace.  As it was, I first tried a Heart finesse, and when it failed and Rich Will, sitting to my left, led a small Spade, I panicked and put on the Ace rather than the Queen, leaving me with no chance to get rid of the losing Club trick.  That others also went down in six Diamonds was no consolation.  At home I set up the cards for Toni, and she played the hand properly.

My best bridge maneuver came holding only three high card points, a Queen and Jack of Hearts, part of a six-card suit.  When Charlie bid one Spade, I was void in that suit and passed, but after the person to my left bid two Diamonds and Charlie passed, I bid two Hearts.  Everyone passed, I took nine tricks, and we got top board. 

With gas at $1.25 a gallon, I filled up the Corolla for less than 12 bucks.  The price slump has saved American consumers billions and, hopefully, scuttled the Keystone Pipeline scheme.

I’m watching the seven-hour “Godfather Epic” on HBO, which edited the first two “Godfather” films into chronological order, adding scenes cut from the original movie versions.  As always, Brando is unbelievably compelling as Don Vito Corleone, both the ruthless patriarch and the doting grandfather.  Controlling judges, legislators, and police chiefs, mobsters like Corleone perverted he American justice system.

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