Category: Breaking News Written by Huffington Post
DETROIT, MI — Lisa Benson said in an overgrown alley about a block from her home on Allendale in Detroit is where a 13-year-old friend of her daughter was raped on her walk to school Tuesday morning.
It's not safe to walk alone here, says Benson, 36, whose 14-year-old daughter is a classmate of the victim at Sampson Academy, 4700 Tireman in Detroit.
"She was on her way to our house to walk to school with my daughter," said Benson. "And that's when it happened."
Benson said she or her mother usually walk the teens the remaining three blocks between her home and the school.
Detroit police say an unidentified man, whom the victim reported forced her into an alley near the Interstate 96 service drive at Pacific and assaulted her, fled in a small, light-blue, four-door Ford Taurus.
The teen ran to Benson's home after it happened, Benson said.
"He put her hand over her mouth and told her not to say nothing," Benson said, "and if she did, he was going to kill her.
"After he got done doing what he was going to do to her, he told her to count to 100 and don't look back or he'll shoot her."
When the teen arrived at Benson's home, Benson called the child's parents and police, who quickly responded with medics.
"She was scared, crying, everything, shaking," Benson said. "She was in shock."
The victim described the suspect to police as a 5-foot, 11-inch tall black male, medium build, with a light complexion, trimmed mustache, goatee, about 25, who was wearing a Detroit "Old English D" baseball cap, a navy Detroit Tigers jacket, dark jeans and boots at the time of the attack.
Detroit police Deputy Chief Benjamin Lee on Thursday said police have stepped up their presence in the neighborhood and hope it's an isolated incident.
Benson said parents of students who attend Sampson Academy on Tuesday received calls notifying them that "a rapist was on the loose."
Sampson Academy Principal Jason Patton on Thursday declined to comment about the incident and referred comment to Steve Wasko, spokesman for Detroit Public Schools, whom MLive could not reach for comment as of Thursday evening.
Benson's neighbor, Dorothy A. Gardner, 36, said she's often on her porch and watches out for kids on their way to school, then she waved her hand across a blighted panorama from her front porch, also on Allendale near Firwood.
"Look here," Gardner says and points. "The little girl was raped in the alley right here. The city's not doing anything. If you look around the grass is almost as tall as I am" and "the weeds done grown into trees."
The house next to Gardner's is vacant, the windowless brick house across the street is vacant and another that backs up to the alley where the assault occurred is vacant.
The windows there are smashed, the door open to its gutted and garbage-strewn interior.
"I saw her run to the house," says Gardner, referring to when on Tuesday she witnessed the victim run from the alley toward Benson's home kitty-corner to her own. "She was running, she was crying and I just went in and got my coffee... and when I came back out there were two cop cars there."
Gardner has three children 15, 13 and 11, who also attend Sampson Academy.
"None of them walk by themselves," she said. "I know people have seen on the news about the rape in the neighborhood and they still let their little kids walk by themselves."
The concrete alley in which the reported assault occurred is crowded with weeds and contains various debris and litter, including several discarded mattresses and box-springs.
A mixture of houses — some tidy and occupied and as many others dilapidated, filled with unruly weeds and vacant — back up to the alley.
Benson estimated her daughter passes at least 25 vacant homes during her three-block walk to school.
"I don't even want to think about" what could happen to my daughter, she says. "They're abandoned, they're empty. It's an easy target for them to grab one of them and take them into one of these abandoned houses."
Last Updated on Saturday, 09 June 2012 12:55
Category: Breaking News Written by Huffington Post
A plan is in the works to pump $38 million into Detroit's Masonic Temple and the surrounding desolate area.
The investment in the world's largest Masonic Temple, in the Cass Corridor, is being driven by a team of state and city economic power brokers who are working on the financing and declare the deal could be done by year's end, according to information that was posted online by the Michigan Magnet Fund.
"At this stage, it is expected the project will be able to close in six to eight months," according to the memo, written about a month ago, by the Magnet Fund. It's not clear how long the memo was online, but it was removed Friday after The Detroit News made telephone calls to fund officials.
Plans call for a $9.3 million parking garage, as well as $5 million in inside upgrades that include a new geothermal heating system and more women's rest rooms.
The 14-story complex has 1,037 rooms and multiple theater and entertainment venues. Jack White last month played two sold-out concerts at the temple's rarely used Scottish Rite Cathedral.
The once-grand facility has a storied past in Detroit entertainment history, often used by traveling companies of Broadway shows, as well as top musical acts of the day.
The project also calls for $4 million in upgrades to outdoor public lighting and improvements to Cass Park across the street.
The Magnet Fund is a super-committee of state and city economic officials, such as the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and Detroit, that identifies big projects around the state that need tax breaks to become a reality.
The nonprofit fund is run by the MEDC, Great Lakes Capital Fund and the state's Housing Development Authority. The Great Lakes Fund raises money from socially responsible companies and institutions that it then invests in affordable housing and community economic development projects, according to the Lansing-based fund's website.
Officials from the MEDC, Invest Detroit and Great Lakes Capital did not return telephone calls and emails to The News. Nor did officials from the Masonic respond. The building is owned by the Masonic Temple Association.
Among the other multimillion-dollar projects the Magnet Fund is working on are the David Whitney Building in downtown Detroit, the Knapp building in Lansing, the Cardinal Health Distribution Center in Detroit's New Center area and the Urban Market in Grand Rapids.
In the case of the Masonic, the Magnet Fund says the project can qualify for federal historic tax credits, federal new market tax credits, state grants and loans. But the Magnet Fund memo said $20 million of the $38 million will come from a "qualified equity investment," which usually means a private investor who often receives part ownership in the property.
Calls to the Magnet Fund were referred to John Fovenesi, who did not return telephone calls. Public records list Fovenesi as chief financial officer of Halberd Holdings LLC, which oversees projects for entertainment and conference facilities.
The Masonic facility at 500 Temple is in a lower Midtown area, where 22 property deals, often cloaked in confidentiality agreements, have taken place. The prices of some of the publicly disclosed deals have been well above prevailing market prices for an area that is among the poorest in the city.
Some and others in the area say they believe the area near Temple and Woodward Avenue — just east of the Masonic Temple — may be part of the land used for a new Detroit Red Wings hockey arena, which team owner Mike Ilitch says he eventually wants to build downtown.
Temple and Woodward has also been named as a stop for the proposed Woodward light-rail project.
In April 2010, the Masonic Temple and Ilitch-owned Olympia Entertainment ended a two-year arrangement in which Olympia Entertainment managed the venue. At the time, Olympia officials said the firm had invested millions of dollars in the facility and paid off and restructured the debt of the building's owners.
Masonic President Roget Sobran vowed then the terminated arrangement did not mean the end of the historic structure.
"We are not going anywhere," he said then.
Last Updated on Saturday, 09 June 2012 12:55
Category: Breaking News Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
Last Updated on Friday, 08 June 2012 10:29
Category: Breaking News Written by Leland Stein III
Last Updated on Friday, 08 June 2012 10:28
Category: Breaking News Written by Minehaha Forman
Last Updated on Friday, 08 June 2012 10:21
Category: Breaking News Written by Cornelius Fortune
Photo caption: CURTIS SMITH, a "Brand Ambassador," demonstrates the new "NBA Baller Beats" game at the E3 conference in Los Angeles, Calif. -- Cornelius Fortune photo
Can't teach an old ball new tricks?
"NBA Baller Beats," unveiled during this year's annual E3 conference -- featuring the best and latest innovations of the video game industry -- has all the makings of a hit game. The Majesco Entertainment title is slated for a September release and includes not only the game, but a full-sized Spalding basketball.
Let that sink in a moment.
Nothing says "serious about hoops" like packaging a full-sized ball with the game. And there's a reason for this: you're going to be dribbling this ball in real time, but your goal isn't to go for the three-point shot, or dunking on your opponent. Oh no, you've done that before.
In "NBA Baller Beats" you dribble, shift position, and move (and groove) to your favorite hip-hop, dance, or pop music. Think of it as "Guitar Hero" meets "Just Dance 4," greeting, and in some ways, overtaking the best NBA console games; that is, if you're into that sort of thing.
For awhile now, thanks to Nintendo's Wii game console (and Xbox 360's Kinect), the new alternative to sitting on a couch and hammering the buttons of a game controller has been, if not replaced, then at least given a newly polished image where physical activity is the sole driver behind the gameplay. Video games and physical games used to share a thickly constructed (almost impenetrable) wall between them, but now the wall is coming down.
Dribbling a basketball to a music beat might almost seem a descent into self parody. As a result, hardcore basketball gamers are going to look completely the other way with this one. But no matter: this Xbox 360 Kinect game wants to reach a larger family-based audience, and you don't even have to be a skilled player to master it. With three levels of difficulty, you can build your way up to an impressive score and some courtside bragging rights.
You'll find selections from Run-DMC, Kanye West, Common, Lady Gaga, LMFAO, and a healthy serving of other popular artists, both classic and new, that will simultaneously enhance and challenge your game experience.
Most games, by design, are all about game simulation, providing a list of favorite teams you can play with and compete against. "NBA Baller Beats" takes it one step further: You are the game; you are the center of attention; and if you're highly competitive, you can get your friends and family together for a match-off. You can start a different type of family game night.
"This game is extremely innovative -- the first motion based sports game that requires you to play using an actual basketball," said Tony Chien, senior product manager, Majesco Entertainment. "It requires you to get off the couch and play. You're not pretending to dribble, you actually have to get up be active and play the game of basketball. And it's also a brand new way to experience the basketball video game like never before."
Virtual basketball's are one thing, but dribbling the ball inside the house might give parents pause. According to Chien, if you have the gear, you're already covered.
"If you have a Kinect you can play in your house," Chien said. "It works on most surfaces. It won't work on super-shag and plush carpets. If you have dance game, or other games where you already play Kinect, it's the same parameters. It's the first of its kind. We're targeting basketball fans of all ages."
"NBA Baller Beats" is the ultimate in hybrid game forms and one of the most unusual announcements to come from E3 so far.
For more information, visit https://console.mxlogic.com
Last Updated on Thursday, 07 June 2012 19:14
Category: Breaking News Written by Cornelius Fortune
DANCERS SHOW E3 audiences how to use "Dance Central 3."
One of the most exciting aspects of E3 wasn't just all the innovation announcements and stunning demo play -- it was the pound of music and the act of dance; fully assembled groups, coordinated and visually tracked upon large screens moving to an infectious beat.
Two of these games, "Dance Central 3" and "Just Dance 4" were huge crowd pleasers.
"Dance Central 3" for Xbox 360 Kinect features more than 40 tracks including Usher, 50 Cent, Gloria Gaynor ("I will Survive"), and other popular artists. It's a really great blend of old school and new school jams.
"Just Dance 4" will be available on the Wii system from Nintendo, Microsoft Kinect for Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation Move for PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system. The game also will be released on the Wii U system from Nintendo at the systems launch. The game features more than 40 new tracks, ranging from pop, hip-hop, rock, R&B, country or funk. Artist highlights are: Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Pink, The B-52's and more.
Dancing games have gained in popularity in part because of the push for more video games that require physical activity, and, they're pure fun. Not only do you get to test out some serious moves, you can watch your avatar (digital representation) perform them on the screen. Both are due to hit stores this fall.
If you love to dance, whether you're a pro or an amateur, "Dance Central 3" and "Just Dance 4" should provide hours of entertainment this fall.
For additional information on Dance Central 3, visit https://console.mxlogic.com
Last Updated on Thursday, 07 June 2012 18:59
Category: Top News Written by Leland Stein III
Since it was race weekend in the Motor City, it is appropriate to recount that an African-American male is breaking barriers in one of the most segregated sports – NASCAR.
The young Black driver is Darrell Wallace Jr. He said he’s gotten a lot of support from the racing community, but he’s also had to deal with some prejudice.
Wallace, 18, said that some of his competitors in years past have resented him, assuming he only got his position because he was Black. Wallace said he’s also had racial slurs and taunts thrown his way from the grandstands.
But that type of criticism serves as motivation for him. He’s also reached out to the family of Wendell Scott (documented in the Richard Pryor movie “Greased Lightning”), a NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee and the only African-American to win a race in NASCAR’s top series.
“My goal is to look back at what Wendell Scott has done. Hearing all the stuff that he went through is definitely a lot different than what I go through now,” Wallace said. “I’m just trying to carry his torch further than he did and do it in the right way.”
For now, Gibbs Racing plans to have Wallace run the No. 20 Toyota in four nationwide races this season, including a return trip to Iowa in August and dates in Dover and Richmond.
“Right now, I’m just like, ‘OK, cool,’ you know? I don’t think it’s hit me yet. I don’t even know if it will. It takes a lot, and I mean a lot, to get me pumped up. But I mean, this is big,” Wallace said. “The mood I’m in right now is like ready to go. Just kind of ready to see what we’ve got.”
In a sport that’s been almost the exclusive domain of White male drivers, it’s impossible to overlook Wallace. He’s one of the most promising African-American drivers to come along in decades and arguably the best talent to come through NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, which was started eight years ago to give women and minorities a better chance of landing a NASCAR seat.
However, not to the surprise of those that know Joe Gibbs, the former Washington Redskins Super Bowl winning head coach, he has always been a inclusive person and after retiring and taking on NASCAR, the spirit of the man has not altered.
Thus Wallace finds himself with a golden opportunity.
“It’s different,” Wallace told reporters. “I get looked at a lot more and talked about a lot more, but it doesn’t bother me at all. It’s actually cool. I mean, some people see it as, this is given to me because of skin color. But others that have raced with me and have known me for a while have seen that I have the talent and skill, and what it takes to run in this series.”
There’s little doubt that Wallace has earned his shot in the Nationwide Series by what he’s done on the track.
Wallace grew up in Concord. N.C., just outside of Charlotte, where he got the nickname “Bubba” from his sister. He started running go-karts when he was nine at the urging of his father, and in 2005 jumped to bandolero cars, winning 35 of the 48 races he ran. He won 11 races in 38 starts in a Legends car circuit a year later and was in late models by 2007.
Wallace signed with Gibbs Racing in 2009.
“It’s not just all of a sudden,” Gibbs said. “Everything he’s done, he’s done it well. When you kind of do it as a younger kid, it usually kind of paves the way for a pretty good career. To have someone that’s really good and is African-American, it will be real valuable for the sport.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 June 2012 12:23
Category: News Briefs Written by Michigan Chronicle
Attorney General Bill Schuette has announced that the Attorney General’s Criminal Division will investigate allegations of possible fraud related to nominating petitions filed in Representative Thaddeus McCotter’s 2012 candidacy for the 11th Congressional District.
The decision to investigate follows a formal referral from the Secretary of State’s Bureau of Elections.
“We will follow the facts, without fear or favor,” said Schuette. “It’s our duty to maintain the integrity of our election process. We will conduct a thorough and comprehensive investigation. If evidence of criminal violations is uncovered, we will not hesitate to prosecute.”
Earlier this month, Representative McCotter submitted nominating petitions to the Michigan Secretary of State for his candidacy for the 11th Congressional District. A formal review by the Bureau of Elections revealed various discrepancies in the petition filing, including duplicate signatures and the appearance of altered petitions.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 June 2012 11:26
Category: Top News Written by Michigan Chronicle
The racial and ethnic diversity of juries in the region will be the focus of an upcoming community forum featuring senior members of the Justice System in the Eastern District of Michigan, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced on June 4.
The forum, titled “Inclusion and the Justice System: Why Jury Diversity Matters,” is open to the public and will take place Wednesday, June 27, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Wayne County Community College District (WCCCD), Downtown Campus, in the Multipurpose Room 236, hosted by the WCCCD Global Conversation Speaker Series.
The forum panel, which will be moderated by Bankole Thompson, editor of the Michigan Chronicle, will feature Chief Federal Judge Gerald Rosen of the U.S. District Court, Federal Judges Victoria Roberts and Denise Page Hood, U.S. Attorney McQuade, Chief Federal Defender Miriam Siefer and attorney and Rev. Bertram Marks of First Community Baptist Church, who is a member of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission. The session will include a period for questions and answers from the public. A reception will follow immediately after the forum.
The purpose of the forum is to educate citizens about the challenges and strategies in the Eastern District of Michigan to seat juries that represent the broad spectrum of citizens of the district.
Because racial and ethnic minorities have been historically underrepresented as jurors in trials held in federal and state courts in Southeast Michigan, Chief Judge Rosen formed a committee, led by Judge Denise Page Hood and Judge Victoria Roberts, to explore new ways to increase minority participation. The committee’s work has been documented in a report which includes recommendations to achieve a more diverse pool of jurors.
“Diverse representation on juries is important to public confidence in the criminal justice system,” McQuade said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 June 2012 11:15
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