Leland Stein III

Archive for December, 2012|Monthly archive page

Guns: Will Obama be able to score a touchdown for common sense?

In Uncategorized on December 30, 2012 at 1:54 am

By Leland Stein III

Before I start this discourse let’s take a look at the words of The Second Amendment. It says: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

belcher wife

KASANDRA MICHELLE Perkins, Jovan Belcher‘s dead girlfriend, with daughter Zoey Michelle Belcher. Right, Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs.

When any human looks at the words of the Second Amendment, which was ratified in 1791, in a historical context it should be obvious that the country did not have a valid military, just finished a war with Britain, was in a constant war with Native Americans as we took their land, did not have immediate communication modes and roads to connect people as they moved across America, they needed guns to hunt for food and keep bandits at bay.

All that has changed as America has become the biggest military conglomerate in world. The National Guard was founded in the early 1900’s and the goal and purpose of the Second Amendment in reality was changed forever. We now have the marines, army, air force and city and state police.

No way in the Founding Fathers’ wisdom could they have envisioned that this country would have nuclear weapons, planes that can fly and drop bombs in one’s doorway, food available in close by stores, refrigerators to store food and the ability to just pick up a phone and talk to a person a thousand miles away.

President Obama speaks in Newtown, CT.

President Obama speaks in Newtown, CT.

I was covering the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China when a mentally deranged man lost it and stabbed two people in a crowed area before he got his butt kicked. By the way, our communist Chinese brothers’ police, like the democratic British Bobbies, do not carry guns. Imagine police that do not even have to carry a weapon to police its populace; that concept is unthinkable in American society where cops routinely get killed.

Later in the media press tribune in Beijing when the word got back to us, almost all concurred: “If this has been in the United States that guy would have shot at least 10 to 20 people before he was stopped.”

We all said that matter of factly and went back to our business of covering the 2008 Olympic Games. This is just business as usual in my beloved country.

Recently one of my media colleagues, Bob Costas, during halftime of “Sunday Night Football” pushed for gun control following Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher’s killing of his 22-year-old girlfriend and himself. That gun left a young baby mother and fatherless.

Reading from an article written by another sportswriter Costas said: “If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kassandra Perkins would both be alive today.”

Just as fast as one can say Jumping Jack Flash, the Tea Party Republican conservatives blasted Costas on social and the national media.

“I think Bob Costas owes America an apology,” former South Carolina GOP executive director Todd Kincannon tweeted, “and I think he should be fired from Sunday Night Football,”

Herman Cain called Costas’ remarks “sanctimonious dreck” on Twitter, linking to an article called “Excuse me, Bob Costas, but you’re an idiot, so shut up.”

“Shame on NBC & Bob Costas for that embarrassing anti-gun screed,” tweeted 2008 Romney staffer Ted Newton.

People wrote in and said they tuned in to watch a football game and not listen to Costas rant about gun violence. What is happening in America? When the word gun comes up a vocal populace of America seems to control the discourse, and, in fact, has our elected leaders scared to even mention gun control.

Just like the now misguided holding on to the Second Amendment, one hears people all the time say that, it’s not guns that kill people, it is the people. I submit, that just like in Beijing, if there were no guns involved, mass killings that have become chic in America could never happen.

Now after the tragic Newtown, Connecticut carnage where a heavily armed man walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and within minutes, 26 people were dead at — 20 of them children.

With the death toll at 26, the Newtown shooting is the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, behind only the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech that left 32 people dead. This one brings the assault weapons charge into greater focus as it only took a couple minutes to blast off shot after shot. Reports note he even had enough clips to fire another 100 rounds.

Facts: The United States has the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world, twice that of the country with the second highest rate. The United States also has the highest homicide rate of any affluent democracy, nearly four times higher than France or the United Kingdom, six times higher than Germany. Guns are involved in two-thirds of all murders in the U.S.

I do not want peoples’ guns for hunting and protection, but assault weapons have no place in a civilized society. The rest of our close friends (countries) have already figured this out . . . why can’t we?

“It’s our first job,” said President Barack Obama, referring to protecting the young. “If we don’t get that right, then we won’t get anything right. That is how we will be judged . . . Can we honestly say we are doing enough to keep our children, all of us, safe from harm? If we are honest with ourselves, the answer is no . . . we are not doing enough and we have to change.”

It is crazy a 1791 law rules our 2012 sensualities and now its consequences leaves us with a professional athlete and girlfriend dead and a school full of dead innocent people. And that is not to mention that in America’s inner cities youth are dying every day at a rate that is mindboggling.

When will the debate over the Second Amendment yield to a debate about violence, people and living in a real civilized society?

Can Obama bring a real common sense perspective to this killing machine called America? The facts are we regulate food production, toys and car manufacturing more than we do to gun control. In a nation that has enlightened the world in so many ways, but is a coward in confronting that we have 15 times more gun violence that any other country in the world.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com or Twitter @LelandSteinIII

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Proposed Ilitch Downtown Detroit arena could be linchpin for area.

In sports column on December 18, 2012 at 11:46 pm

Detroit a sports entertainment venue, get Ilitch development done

Ford Field hosted Super Bowl and Comerica hosted MLB All-Star Weekend.

Ford Field hosted Super Bowl and Comerica hosted MLB All-Star Weekend.

By Leland Stein III

Wake up Detroit movers and shakers! This is a crucial time that calls for bold moves and long-term vision, not only for Detroit, Michigan’s largest city, but the entire state.

Now that the Ilitch organization has finally put it out on the table their vision for building a new entertainment district downtown anchored by a multipurpose arena that would be home to the Ilitch-owned Red Wings, and hopefully the Pistons, I say make it happen with the quickness.

As Detroit continues to dig itself out of the economic disaster of 2007 that sent the city, state, country and the auto industry on a precarious and uncertain future, this proposed venue would give the Motor City an enormous shot in the arm.

All of Detroit leaders need to look at transformation Indianapolis and San Antonio undergone. Two smaller cities that were both seeking to define themselves. Each city recognized and acknowledged the future and regenerated themselves as sports entertainment venues.

Leland Stein III

Leland Stein III

Indeed sports and walkable entertainment collectively is the new model to ensure a city’s rotation in hosting the mega-sporting events like the Final Four, Super Bowl, NBA All-Star Weekend and many other sports and entertainment events.

Sure there are those that will Detroit’s finances, the many vacant homes, and the continued Urban American homicides. Distracters will talk about the neighborhoods needing special attention and rightfully so. However, the dynamics of inner cities in America is a national problem of economics, employment, shifting population, and old infrastructure.

But one problem is no reason to hold up another potential uplift. If indeed the proposed multipurpose arena is commenced, it would not only host hockey and basketball, it would host a range of shows, concerts and other events, while the broader district would include residential housing, retail shopping, office space and more.

What more needs to be said? The City Council, Mayor’s Office, and state government needs to all get on board and help turn this vision into a reality.

I have been to both San Antonio and Indianapolis and seen how the new model of building all their sports venues in a walkable proximity. In conjunction with the arenas and stadiums hotels, eateries and housing have evolved.

Take the Los Angeles Staples Center for example. I was in LA when the developers started building the arena and many said who will perform there and that it was a waste of money and resources.

Well, the Lakers and Clippers and Kings after seeing the venue quickly abandon their arenas. The Staples Center has galvanized a three block district called LA Live that has clubs, restaurants, theaters and hotels.

The LA downtown area before the Staples Center and LA Live was built was a waste land of poverty.

A number of cities have shown us how a city came use the sports entertainment model to regalvanize a downtown and city.

An Ilitch family’s Olympia Development news release quoted George W. Jackson Jr., the city’s top development official and president and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., as saying the plan “makes good” business sense.

“It’s not a plan for an isolated, single-use structure,” Jackson said in the statement. “Instead, it builds on the clear successes we’ve already had downtown integrating districts that feature entertainment, and support commercial, retail and residential development around them.”

The Ilitch organization pegged the probable price tag at $650 million. Legislation introduced in Lansing would create a new “catalyst development project” that could benefit from support from the Michigan Strategic Fund and also from the use of Downtown Development Authority tax revenues that support projects in the central business district.

“It’s always been my dream to once again see a vibrant downtown Detroit,” said Mike Ilitch, chairman of Ilitch Holdings, in the statement. “From the time we bought the Fox Theatre, I could envision a downtown where the streets were bustling and people were energized. It’s been a slow process at times, but we’re getting there now and a lot of great people are coming together to make it happen. It’s going to happen and I want to keep us moving toward that vision.”

I too had this vision. So let’s keep it moving Detroit.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com or Twitter at LelandSteinIII

Gun violence knocks out Camacho

In sports column on December 18, 2012 at 11:35 pm
Hector Camacho in Vegas before a title fight. – Jon Gaede photo

Hector Camacho in Vegas before a title fight. – Jon Gaede photo

By Leland Stein III

In many cases tragedy seems to shadow the practitioners of the Sweet Science. It is my hypotheses most of those that engage in professional fisticuffs are on that stage to uplift their lives or families from an entrenched placement in the lower-socio economics of life.

Living and fighting to get out of the lower-socio economic conundrum of humanity, the escapees seem to find misfortune at some point – financially, domestically or professionally.

Unfortunately, the numbers of great boxers that have endured tragic endings are too many for me to recount. Vernon Forrest, Alexis Argüello, Arturo Gatti, Steve McCrory, Michael Dokes, and Joe Frazier just to name a few.

The latest of the Sweet Science champions to have the 10-count rung is Hector “Macho” Camacho. On November 20, 2012, Camacho was shot once in the jaw while in his hometown of Bayamón, Puerto Rico. Several news agencies reported that Camacho, 50, was seated in the passenger seat of a friend’s Ford Mustang when he was shot by unknown individuals from a passing SUV.

The driver of the car, Adrian Mojica Moreno, a childhood friend of Camacho, was killed in the attack. Camacho was taken to San Pablo Hospital in Bayamón, where he was reported to be in critical condition.

Leland Stein III

Leland Stein III

The bullet pierced Camacho’s left cheek, and fractured his fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae, lodging in his right shoulder, and causing a lesion to his carotid artery which restricted blood flow to his brain. At one point, doctors announced that Camacho was expected to survive but might be paralyzed; however, after he suffered a cardiac arrest during the night, the next morning doctors reported that Camacho was clinically brain dead. Dr. Ernesto Torres said in response to his family’s request, he was taken off life support and died shortly thereafter.

I wrote from three of Camacho’s title fights. The first was a loss to Julio César Chávez in 1991 at Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nevada. Again I scribed in 1994 at the Las Vegas MGM Grand Garden Arena, where Félix Trinidad gave him his third professional loss. And finally, in 1997 at the Convention Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where he beat legend Sugar Ray Leonard with a fifth round TKO.

Camacho also fought at the Detroit Joe Louis Arena, in 2000, where he earned a victory against Bobby Elkins.

My personal remembrance of Camacho was that he was a unique athlete. He learned from Muhammad Ali that one could milk the genre while adding, along with pure skill of being a combatant, the entertainment value of the sporting event.

I made sure I was at his big title fights, because he gave one a show. His in ring garb, his good looks, ring savvy, and his charisma were things that made him standout.

Before being taken to the United States, Camacho’s body laid in state at the Puerto Rico Department of Sports and Recreation in Santurce. During the two days Camacho’s body was on viewing, hundreds of people visited the facilities to pay tribute to the fighter.

Camacho was truly a Puerto Rican sports icon who many boxing journalist put in the conversation as one of the “Top 5 Puerto Rican boxers” of all time, along with Trinidad, Wilfredo Gómez, and Wilfredo Benitez..

The boxing historian, Mario Rivera Martinó, said Camacho, was a “complete fighter” in the Lightweight division.. World Boxing Council president José Sulaimán noted that Camacho “revolutionized boxing during his time.”

Ed Brophy, director of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, acknowledged Camacho’s talents in attracting an audience. He said, “Camacho brought a lot of excitement to boxing. He was bright, colorful, and always gave something to talk about with his walks to the ring, with his unique style of entering, and the costumes he wore.”

I will always remember Camacho’s flamboyant approach to the ring, with his extravagant and exaggerated costumes, feather crests, bright clothes, and the loud rhythm of the Latin music he chose.

Hiram Martínez, senior editor of ESPN Deportes, said about Camacho’s training: “He transforms himself into a hungry, focused, and dedicated boxer, that works hours and hours polishing his speed, his wit, and the style that turned him into one of the greats of all time. That’s the only way you can explain why all those great hitters he faced during the best moments of his career never knocked him down.”

Maybe Camacho was not the greatest fighter ever, but he uniquely combined a contagious charisma, impressive boxing skill, a child’s soul, a salesman shrewdness, and a superlative confidence in himself . . . that created a bigger than life “Macho Time” persona.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com or at Twitter @lelandsteinIII