July 28th, 2010
10:35 AM ET

Wednesday's intriguing people

James Lee Witt

The Clinton administration’s FEMA director is slated to join BP to advise new CEO Bob Dudley on the company’s response to the oil disaster. Witt was appointed in June by Dudley to conduct an independent review.

Whether that report is complete is uncertain, but the Los Angeles Times now reports contract negotiations to hire Witt as a consultant are occurring.

From 1993-2000 Witt oversaw government response to the Oklahoma City bombing, the Northridge Earthquake, the devastating Midwest floods of the mid-1990s, and more than 300 other disasters. Since leaving government, he has advised Louisiana Post-Hurricane Katrina and recently traveled to Haiti with President Clinton.
Los Angeles Times: Gulf disaster a boon to Washington lobbying

ABCnews: BP Enlists Washington Elite to Help Image

Ellianna Placas

She is the first white fashion director of Essence magazine. The New York Post reports that Placas was hired by Essence editor-in-chief Angela Burt-Murray after spending six months as a freelance editor. Placas previously worked with O magazine and US Weekly.

“I understand I have struck an emotional chord,” Burt-Murray told the Post’s Media Ink columnist Kevin Kelly.

Kelly goes on to say that another prominent black fashion editor is expressing disappointment online about the hiring. Michaela Angela Davis, who was the founding fashion director at Vibe magazine and a former editor-in-chief the black fashion magazine Honey, wrote on her Facebook page: “It's with a heavy heart I've learned that Essence magazine has engaged a white fashion director. The fashion industry has historically been so hostile to black people - especially women. The seat reserved for black women once held by Susan Taylor, Ionia Dunn-Lee, Harriette Cole (+ me) is now - I can't. It's a dark day for me."

New York Post: Some see red as Essence hires a white editor

John Boyd

The fourth generation farmer and founder of the National Black Farmers Association will meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this morning in an attempt to salvage settlement payments owed to plaintiffs from a 1990s lawsuit.

Boyd is expected to see Reid this morning to urge a resolution. Black farmers are owed millions of dollars as a result of a lawsuit that affirmed the USDA's discriminatory practices. However, a Senate vote is needed to issue payments.

Boyd formed the organization in 1995 and is a prominent civil rights activist originally from Virginia. In a recent article by The Hill, Boyd is described as a long-time farmer and civil rights activist who was denied a loan by the USDA in 1996. “Seeing his loan application torn up and his shirt being spat on with tobacco juice,” Hill reporter Kevin Bogardus wrote, “Boyd later had to foreclose on the farm to save it.”

Boyd, like Shirley Sherrod, is a claimant in a case against the USDA, Pigford vs. Glickman. The suit was settled for some $13 million in 1999, yet many of the claimants have yet to be paid. A Senate vote may be considered as early as Thursday, the Hill reported.

The Hill: Sherrod firing conjures up USDA’s history of civil rights struggles

National Black Farmers Association

Irshad Kassim

He chose not to take his usual twice-weekly flight to Islamabad, Pakistan, this morning on AirBlue, and avoided being among the more than 100 people killed on the flight.

Kassim, who is director of KASB Bank, told CNN that rain and a need to review some banking regulations convinced him to delay the flight a day. He found out about the crash when AirBlue called his home to confirm that he was not on the flight.

“I thank God I did not take this flight," he said.

CNN: Plane with 152 on board crashes in Pakistan; no survivors

Ray Cason

The Georgia fisherman witnessed a rare feeding frenzy in the Okefrenokee Swamp that involved hundreds of alligators. Cason tells CNN it was “the awfulest ruckus” when an estimated 300 alligators surrounded his boat during an early morning July fishing trip.

The gators were consuming bowfish in the swamp. A second fisherman on another boat videotaped Cason, who returned the next day to film more of the gators. Biologists tell CNN such feeding is a rare occurrence.

CNN: Fisherman catches alligator 'feeding frenzy' on video

soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. BreakingNewsBlog.us

    has been BP deliberately KILLED from its inside???
    as you can read in my iReport (linked below) BP has had a tool to easily, quickly and cheaply STOP the oil spill from the EARLY DAYS of May:
    but they haven't used it, leaving this giant disaster to happen for TWO MORE MONTHS !!!
    so, "could" have "someone" inside BP deliberately done that to see the company's value to FALL very much and very quickly, to take over the company or sell it to another company for a few cents price???
    will, the Press, investigate on this hypothesis???

    July 28, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Shane

      "Could" you be more "nuts"?
      I don't think, the Press, will investigate your insane ramblings.

      (This was written in the style of your post...learn grammer and punctuation, please.)

      July 28, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  2. Michelle

    Folks, this is the time when I think we can all put aside our political differences and collectively agree that we're screwed. This act of stupidity has transcended political bounds. So let's shake hands, bend over, and kiss our backsides goodbye.

    July 28, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dex

    I'm tired of the race issue dominating the news. So what if Essence has a white fashion director?!?! The black community needs to stop acting offended and oppressed all the time and spend more time trying to help the community grow and succeed.

    July 28, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. sagebrush

    The more things change the more they stay the same.

    July 28, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rowland

    It is insane to ramble about someone's grammar instead of looking at the issue being discussed. This kind of government corporation insest is what's destroying our country and creating an even grater rift between the rich and everyone else. There needs to be some real and serious penalties backed by law (sharing a cell with Bubba) against the rich buying government control. Wake up, there is no real difference between political parties. They all do the will of those who put them in office. Don't be fooled into petty discrimination between the political parties, that is what they do to play on people's emotions in order to keep the people divided and preoccupied while they take further control of the nation.

    July 28, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |