Freddie Gray book reviews full of snark, vitriol

Freddie GrayThe book Freddie Gray, My Childhood Friend by Kitria Stewart is billed as “an illustrated storybook of memories that were shared with Freddie Gray growing up in Baltimore City.”

The reviews of the book on Amazon.com have hovered around the 1-2 star range with a number of snarky, non-serious reviews mocking Freddie Gray and the premise of the book. Amazon has been cleaning them up since last night, with the reviews down from 118 to 82 to 58 at last inspection. The vitriolic reviews have been making the rounds via email and on social media over the past few days.

I’m including some of the reviews below for informational purposes. I don’t endorse any of them, good or bad since I haven’t read the book. I’m generally against using Amazon and Yelp reviews for political purposes. If you find any of the reviews distasteful, you can let Amazon know on the “Report Abuse” link under each review.

One serious reviewer recently said, “This book is Awesome it shows the real Freddie.. The side the media wouldn’t speak about! Great Job Kitria” while another wrote, “Wow! #MustRead This is such an amazing book that reflects upon Kitria’s childhood memories with Freddie!!!”

Purchase the book here.

Those types of reviews are few and  far between however.

One reviewer even used the nom de plume of “Marilyn Mosby” to leave a review while another left a 5-star review entitled, “Follow up Novel coming soon ‘2 page of Priors'” with a listing of all of Gray’s criminal charges from the online Maryland Judiciary Case Search. One amateur poet even left a review parodying “Green Eggs and Ham” with the title “Seen Drugs and Scram,”

A sampling of some of the reviews:

  • “This book was given to me by a friend, and I honestly read it objectively. However, there was no way I could stomach the tissue of lies that attempted to make a troubled youth and a concordant criminal out to be a Sunday morning choir boy. What a waste of time. Biased, politically motivated and obviously slanted to support an agenda that due to recent events has proven flawed and skewed. Lousy book. Don’t waste time or money.”
  • “It should have been called, Freddie Gray, My Friend the Criminal Drug Dealer.”
  • “Nothing like glorifying the criminal. Great example for inner city kids to read but then again liberal democrats have to fan the flames of hate to keep the inner city poor voting for their candidates.”
  • “Good to see the entrepreneurial spirit exist even in the depravity of West Baltimore. When life gives you lemons, make up a bunch of crap and put it in a book, or was that supposed to be lemonade?”
  • “Spoiler alert: he dies at the end”
  • “Ah yes Freddie gray my childhood friend with a rap sheet a mile long and constant priors. Great for kindling.”
  • “This is the sequel to the book, ‘Charlie Manson, my childhood buddy..’ Apparently someone trying to make a fast buck!!! Shame on you, Amazon for selling this trash!!”
  • “Depolorable that Amazon would allow the sale of this book, and even more so that it was even written. Propaganda at it’s finest.”
  • “Great for starting a fire pit. Or Charcoal grill.”
  • “Read this in the back of a van on a short trip. Really had me shaken up.”
  • “If I wanted to read a fairytale, I would just pick up a Disney book. What a joke. The book should be free too since the family was paid 6 million to go away.”

More on Freddie Gray, My Childhood Friend

Kitria StewartThe author of the book, Kitria Stewart attended Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School in Baltimore City and then went on to attend college at the University of Texas-El Paso (UTEP), where she ran track.

The Amazon “About the Author” blurb notes that, “Kitria Stewart is a native of Baltimore, Maryland who holds a bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Journalism from the University of Texas at El Paso. Her love for writing grew after being a freelance writer for online publications through Borderzine.com. As a former track athlete, she enjoys getting involved in the community to engage the youth through sports and reading.”

Her Borderzine author page only shows four pieces with her byline.

You can follow her on Twitter here:
@KitriaStewart

You can purchase a copy of Freddie Gray, My Childhood Friend here:

Baltimore may require warning labels on soda

BaltimoreBaltimore is trying to add to its street cred as an agent of the nanny state by possibly requiring warning labels to be placed on all sweetened drinks. A vote on the measure takes place Tuesday.

Additionally, the measure would require the warnings to be placed on advertisements, restauarant menus, and posted in stores selling sweetened drinks.

Sugar Free Kids Maryland supports the measure, which was proposed by City Councilman Nick Mosby before he abandoned his campaign for mayor.

Here’s what Robi Rawl of Sugar Free Kids Maryland told WBAL:

Rawl told Maryland’s News This Week that the labels would help consumers make informed choices about buying the beverages, warning people that over consumption of the drinks may cause obesity, diabetes and other health problems.

Opposition to the proposal includes the Maryland Retailers Association, the Restaurant AssItociation of Maryland, and the Maryland-D.C.-Delaware Beverage association:

“At a time when Baltimore City is struggling to retain grocery stores and supermarkets this new mandate, which exists nowhere else in the nation, will have a chilling effect on attracting new merchants to the city,” said Cailey Locklair Tolle, president of the Maryland Retailers Association. “What proponents of this legislation cannot grasp is that the environment for retailers in the city is already fragile. It is shortsighted and takes the city in the wrong direction.”

Melvin Thompson, the Restaurant Association of Maryland’s senior vice president of government affairs and public policy, was equally critical saying: “We are concerned that this proposed legislation goes too far and will not only deter the formation of new businesses, such as restaurants, but send a negative message that will discourage people from eating, shopping and enjoying Baltimore City.”

“Forcing restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores and vending machines to carry misleading and inaccurate warning signs about popular beverages such as lemonades, sweet teas, fruit juices, fruit drinks, sports drinks and soft drinks misses an opportunity to teach and lead with a right message – lifestyle choices matter; new government bans, restrictions or for that matter “warning labels” for lemonade don’t,” said Ellen Valentino, executive vice president, Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Beverage Association.

“The beverage industry has developed a number of real solutions that are having an impact and we are making sure there are dozens of options for everyone. Maryland beverage makers recognize that all calories count and are committed to helping consumers be more mindful of the beverage choices they make.”

Baltimore Not Alone

Michael Bloomberg tried to ban large sodas, and was shot down in court. DC tried to do the same and it never went anywhere. Mexico banned advertising for sodas and Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro has proposed a tax on sugar by the teaspoon. Former County Executive Ken Ulman enacted a ban in Howard County that resulted in private vendors only being allowed to sell diet sodas at a 4th of July event. Thankfully, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman repealed that ban upon taking office.

It’s good to see that Baltimore City has solved all the problems associated with rampant violence and urban blight that have been long-term problems. Now that they’ve fixed those they can move forward on the important things, like requiring labels on drinks with sugar added.

Army spending $200K on transgender bathroom?

ArmyA congressman from South Carolina tonight posted on Facebook that the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is constructing a bathroom and shower for a transgender employee that will reportedly cost $200,000. The construction is reportedly taking place at Hartwell Dam, which is a dam in the Savannah River between South Carolina and Georgia.

Congressman Jeff Duncan made a public post on Facebook earlier this evening (screen capture below) reporting that he was informed of this news and is looking into it further. USACE’s facility at the  dam is in South Carolina’s Third District (which Duncan represents) and the nearest municipality of any size is Anderson.

duncan

A couple of questions  come to mind:

  • Is there a women’s bathroom/shower in existence at the USACE facility at Hartwell Dam already?
  • Or is this bathroom and shower being built because there is only a men’s facility already there?

Without knowing these facts, the initial reports are hard to totally digest. No matter what your position on the transgender issues that are in the news lately, it seems like a bit of overkill financially to accomodate one person.

I hope Congressman Duncan will follow up with these details later after he speaks with the commanding general of USACE.

Read More…

Elijah Cummings doesn’t drive for Lyft in DC

Elijah CummingsRep. Elijah Cummings isn’t driving for Lyft… but his daughter is.

She has been driving his car with Congressional license plates, which allow special parking privileges, reportedly to make money until she finds a full-time job.

POPville, a DC blog, first took note of it last week after a report someone was driving a car with congressional license plates in the Mt. Pleasant section of the District. Today, WMAL filled in some facts on the initial report.

His daughter is a recent graduate of Howard University and looking for full time employment. This appears to be the same child that was the subject of a paternity suit against Cummings filed by Debora Ricks in 1995.

More from WMAL:

“In an effort to earn some extra money to pay her expenses at school, she signed up for a part-time position with one of the ride-sharing companies,” Cummings said. “They, in turn, gave her a sticker to apply to the windshield of the car.”

Cummings added that he has asked his daughter to remove the congressional plates, which afford special parking privileges for members and staffers.

The congressman says he’s told her she can continue to use his car without the tag while she pursues full-time employment.

Cummings apologized in a statement for not removing the license plate before loaning the vehicle.

The Hill and The Washington Post have more.

Elijah Cummings’ financial woes

There was a time when Cummings himself might have wished for an avenue for extra money like Lyft or Uber.

In light of Rep. Elijah Cummings’ spirited defense of the IRS during recent hearings about a scandal in the agency during the Obama administration, I wrote about his own checkered financial and tax history on more than one occasion, and the things he said about the Internal Revenue Service in The Baltimore Sun and another publication.

Reports that I detailed noted that Cummings had severe financial problems that included:

  • owing the IRS more than $30,000 (he eventually paid it all back)
  • violating campaign finance laws by having a donor co-sign a $15,000 loan
  • creditors filing suit for around $24,000 in overdue debt
  • owing child support following the birth of two children out of wedlock

One report from 1999 indicated that Rep. Elijah Cummings had paid about $30,000 in child support in tuition payments the previous year. The same report noted that he had a college-aged daughter, a teenage son, and a 4-year old daughter back then. The story noted that the younger two children were born out of wedlock.

Presumably this four-year old daughter in 1999 is the one who has been driving his car around DC for Lyft and was the subject of the paternity suit in 1995.

Ad attacks Rep. Renee Ellmers on abortion

Renee EllmersAn ad released today by the Black Conservatives Fund encourages voters in North Carolina’s Second Congressional District to vote against Rep. Renee Ellmers in the June 7 primary.

Ellmers was first elected in 2010 with the support of pro-life groups and Tea Party groups. This year, after late redistricting, she faces another member of Congress, Rep. George Holding, and Greg Brannon in the primary.

Ellmers has Tea Party groups including Americans for Prosperity, Club for Growth, and Citizens United opposing her. She also now faces opposition from pro-life groups as well after her actions in 2014.

In 2014, the day before the March for Life, Rep. Renee Ellmers helped derail pro-life legislation, a 20-week abortion limit called the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, that was expected to pass the day of the March. After being criticized for this by pro-life groups and voters, she called the pro-life groups “abhorrent and  childish” in an editorial that blasted them.

The 20-week limit ultimately passed the House in 2015 and later died in the Senate. Pro-life leader Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) was quoted the passage of the bill in a newspaper op-ed in her district:

“While the derailment of the Pain Capable bill in January 2015 was a great disappointment to me, I am now convinced that the reworked version of the bill, if signed into law, will be more effective at preventing suffering and death among America’s unborn children than the original bill. Renee Ellmers was a strong advocate and supporter of the reworked version which helped the bill actually make it to the floor and ultimately pass the House in May 2015.”

Despite this, the bad blood still remains, and pro-life groups have mobilized against Ellmers as well with GOTV efforts and direct mail, among other tactics.

The Black Conservatives Fund PAC launched their new ad today. The Fund’s board members include Anita Moncrief, Ken Blackwell, Princella Smith, Sonnie Johnson, and Rev. C.L. Bryant.

Watch the ad against Rep. Renee Ellmers

From the ad’s Youtube page:

Renee Ellmers betrayed conservatives when she threw a temper tantrum and got the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act bill pulled from the House floor. She’s facing a tough primary (June 7th) and it’s time to abort her political career.

A tweet from the fund would seem to indicate that the ad is online-only and targeting the 2nd District in NC.