All posts by Larry Buford

Larry Buford is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer, and author of Book/CD titled "Things Are Gettin' Outta Hand" (Steuben Pub.) He writes Human Interest articles and entertainment reviews for various newspapers across the country. He is also an editor, and provides services for press releases, interviews, business letters, resumes, etc. A native Detroiter, he is a former Motown songwriter.
John F. Banzhaf III

Botched Arizona Execution May Halt Lethal Injections – Lead to Pills

John F. Banzhaf III

John F. Banzhaf III

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Another apparent botched execution, this time in Arizona, in which inmate Joseph Wood reportedly snorted and struggled to breathe for nearly two hours – and in which a federal judge has ordered physical evidence from the body to be preserved, presumably for some future legal proceeding – may halt legal injections for an indefinite period.

This, only the most recent in a string of apparent botched lethal-injection executions, may finally push authorities to consider switching to lethal barbiturate pills, of the type used in “Death With Dignity” states and procedures, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf.

Virtually all of the problems associated with using drugs to execute convicted murderers occur because the drugs are being injected. These many problems include finding a suitable vein, positioning the needle, making sure the catheter is properly located, being sure it doesn’t come out, using a syringe, problems with tubing which may crimp or clog, etc.

Problems also include finding people with medical training competent to start and maintain intravenous lines who are not prohibited from participating in executions by ethical and professional guidelines, locating sufficient quantities of injectable drugs now that many drug companies are trying to prevent them from being used in executions, and a federal judge who has barred the importation of most of those injectable drugs because the FDA hasn’t found them both safe and effective to kill people – an obvious contradiction for drugs used in executions, says Banzhaf.

Fortunately, there appears to be a simple, easy, and inexpensive means to avoid most all of these problems, including drug company restrictions on injectable drugs, expiration dates on injectable drugs now faced in several states, and the Arizona and other so-called “botched executions” involving injecting lethal drugs cited by death penalty opponents – putting the condemned on the pill.

Since most of the concerns of using drugs for capital punishment involve problems with injecting the drugs, an obvious alternative probably meeting constitutional muster would be for states to simply use pills rather than injections to administer drugs such as barbiturates, which are readily available and whose lethal properties are well known and very clearly established.

“Providing the condemned with barbiturate pills to cause a quick painless death does not require any trained (much less medical) personnel, and could avoid the many medical problems with injections, as well as restrictions and expiration dates on injectable drugs,” suggests Banzhaf.

Barbiturate pills are approved for certain medical uses, and are even covered by Medicare Part D.   So the common practice of prescribing drugs for “off-label use” – using a drug approved for one purpose to do something else – would seemingly permit states to use barbiturate pills in executions, says Banzhaf.

Oregon’s death with dignity program helps terminally ill patients end their lives simply and painlessly by providing prescriptions for Seconal (a barbiturate) pills which the patient takes himself.

“If this method is appropriate and permissible for totally innocent elderly persons simply seeking death with dignity, it should be good enough for condemned murderers,” Banzhaf argues.

If the prisoner refuses to take the pills, or only pretends to swallow them, he can hardly complain later about unconstitutional “cruel and unusual punishment” if the state thereafter has no choice but to use lethal injections with all the risks involved.   To paraphrase an old legal saying, he had the key to his own freedom from pain, says Banzhaf.

Since only a few grams of certain barbiturates are necessary to cause death, and pills may be much harder for drug companies to restrict than liquid injectable drugs, the amount necessary to cause a quick and painless death might be administered in several easy-to-swallow pills.

Concerns that the convict would fill his stomach with food to slow the absorption of the ingested drug aren’t valid because condemned prisoners are usually kept under constant watch at least 24 hours before the time of execution. Also, any such ploy would likewise make the condemned himself responsible for any pain he might suffer if a subsequent drug-injection execution became necessary.

Likewise, since oral administration takes somewhat longer for the drugs to reach the system than with injections, this method of capital punishment is much less likely to trigger the sudden reactions lethal injections have sometimes been said to cause – perhaps also Wednesday in Arizona.

For example, in another recent execution in Arizona, a 63-year-old convicted killer reportedly shook for several seconds upon receiving a lethal injection of pentobarbital.

In another execution in Ohio, the condemned man loudly gasped for air several times during his execution, and took an unexpectedly long 25 minutes to finally die. Lethal-injection executions were actually halted in Oklahoma and Ohio after problems apparently occurred.

Using well-known, more easily available pills rather than injections for executions might overcome any constitutional objections, avoid the major problems with lethal injections highlighted by death penalty opponents, eliminate the need for medically trained personnel (who often refuse on ethical and/or professional grounds) to participate in executions, and have many other advantages, suggests Banzhaf, who has not taken a public position on capital punishment.


Professor of Public Interest Law
George Washington University Law School,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
Fellow, World Technology Network,
Founder, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)

2000 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20052, USA @profbanzhaf

George McKenna

Betty Pleasant: The Assassination of George McKenna

George McKenna - target of smear campaign

George McKenna – target of smear campaign

Another smear on Los Angeles politics within the LA Unified School District – the following article (released 7/22/14) is re-printed in its entirety by permission of CityWatch news editor:

The Assassination of George McKenna  - by Betty Pleasant

VOICES-THIS IS IT! — For the past seven months, the people of Los Angeles County have been engaged in a great war against the politicians we elected to represent us. For the most part, our battles have been pity-pat encounters to make our local politicians respond to our needs — rather than to their own obsessions to reign over us as little kings doing everything they can to create and/or perpetuate rich dynasties for themselves, their kin and their sycophants.

Well, nuclear war was declared this week when residents of LAUSD’s District 1 received two sets of campaign mailings in support of the election of Alex Johnson, King Mark Ridley-Thomas’ chosen minion, to the district’s seat on the Board of Education. These mailings are the worst pieces of campaign literature I’ve ever seen in my lengthy career. They are full of boldface lies about the people’s candidate, George McKenna (photo), and constitute the nastiest smear campaign money can buy. I did not believe King Mark could stoop that low.

Sentinel publisher Danny Bakewell and I have not agreed on a single thing in almost 50 years — until now. We both wholeheartedly support the election of McKenna — who last week received the overwhelming endorsement of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, and today was endorsed by LAUSD board member Monica Ratliff, who, like everyone else, maintains that McKenna’s “years of experience as a dedicated and successful teacher, principal and administrator will continue to serve the students and parents of District 1 well.”

It’s time to fight nuclear bombs with nuclear bombs. The only people who support Johnson are preachers who tow King Mark’s line because they have charter school and preschool contracts with LA County which they believe would be jeopardized if they didn’t back Johnson. They told me that and told others in the community as well. It’s now common knowledge, particularly in view of what reportedly happened in one of our largest black churches a couple of Sundays ago when the pastor refused to interrupt his service to allow Johnson and King Mark to speak to his congregation. The preachers are getting bold, as they come to realize that the election of the truly qualified candidate, McKenna, would set them free.

The first batch of smear literature against McKenna sported the disclaimer that it was not sent by the candidate or his campaign committee. It did state, however, that it was sent by the African American Voter Registration, Education, Participation Project (AAVREP), which, as we all know, is King Mark’s pet organization. He founded it and he is, therefore, responsible for viciously maligning McKenna’s stellar career.

The offending document lists as supporters, King Mark, Rep. Diane Watson (ret.), Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke (ret.), Congresswoman Janice Hahn, L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson and SEIU #99, Education Workers United. Now, it really upsets me when people I like do something I hate.

So I called them for an explanation. I called Hahn in Washington D.C. and Watson at her house and both women were appalled that their names appeared on such a raunchy piece of campaign literature.

“You know I’ve never participated in anything like that!” Watson said. “Johnson came to my house and presented himself well and asked for my support if he ran for the school board,” Watson explained.

“This was early when the election was finally agreed upon and I wanted McKenna in the seat, but he said he did not want to run for it. So I agreed to support Johnson, not realizing that McKenna would change his mind,” Watson said.

“Now that he’s in the race, I definitely support McKenna and I do not like having my name on campaign pieces that attack him. I’m going to get to the bottom of this,” Watson said.

Like Watson, Rep. Hahn said she made an early commitment to support Johnson when he took her to lunch, where he made a decent impression on her. “Politics can get really dirty sometimes and this looks like one of those times,” Hahn said. “I must call over there,” she added.

The other supporters named are obvious, as Burke’s support of Johnson is quid pro quo for King Mark’s support of her daughter for the Assembly, and Wesson’s support may have something to do with the rumors that Wesson has been anointed to replace King Mark on the Board of Supervisors when he terms out. We will speak of this, and related matters, some more.

(Betty Pleasant writes Soulvine for the WAVE newspapers … except for this column which they refused to print. She is a longtime urban and South LA voice.)

- cw

lynn manning & ron brewington

Poet/Playwright/Actor Lynn Manning on ActorsE Chat with Ron Brewington

Lynn Manning and Ron Brewington

Lynn Manning (left) and Ron Brewington

On July 17 poet, playwright and actor Lynn Manning was interviewed on ActorsE Chat by host Ron Brewington.

It’s a very interesting and insightful interview as Manning tells the story of how, in 1978 at age 23, he was shot while hanging out at his favorite local Hollywood bar by someone who disliked him for reasons he never knew. He was blinded as a result. The person who shot him has never been brought to justice.

Manning views his blindness not as a handicap, but rather a turning point. He admits that the worst possible thing that can happen is to lose your sight, but his inner-strength has taken him through doors he otherwise would not have entered. He says he had to learn patience, how to plan ahead, and how to trust people. He’s learned to use his other senses better after being freed from what he calls ‘lookism.’ In the dialog in his one-man show he says, ‘In the process of learning to use those other tools [senses] I recognize what a distraction sight is…we are very visual creatures…we miss so much…we don’t hear, we don’t smell, we don’t feel the world around us.’

Watch the interview as Manning tells how after losing his sight, he re-directed his energy and focus to writing. He describes his very interesting technique for memorizing his work.

Lynn Manning and Ron Brewington

You’ll be thrilled to hear Manning recite one of his poems titled ‘Where Does It Hurt?’ which is included (in part) in his autobiographical solo show called ‘Weights.’

Listen to the story of how, in 1990, Manning became the World Champion of Blind Judo.

Manning’s new play, ‘Hollywood in the ‘Hood’ opens this weekend July 26, and 27 at 11AM. It’s a literal ‘tour play’ whereby the audience is tour-guided to four different locations where the scenes are played out in the city of Watts, California. Tickets are available online. For further information please visit

Watch entire interview below:

ActorsE Chat is a live chat show on Actors Entertainment, a channel on the Actors Podcast Network, a Pepper Jay Productions LLC, with PR-Marketing-Sales by Live Video Inc.

The program is rated “PG” and is an informational program about the guest. It is not a gossip show – no dishing.

ActorsE Chat (Actors Entertainment on IMDb) is now in its 6th season, and has had over 1,200 guests and almost 6 million viewers. The one-hour program is seen live Monday through Friday worldwide on the internet.

Detroit skyline

R&B Music Hall of Fame Museum ‘Can’t forget the Motor City!’


*Detroit– The city of Cleveland has the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and Nashville has the Country Music Hall of Fame, so it makes sense that Detroit – the home of Hitsville USA – should be the mecca for rhythm & blues, right? And with powerhouses like mortgage lender Quicken Loans, and Ilitch Holdings – owner of the Detroit Tigers, the Red Wings, and the Fox Theater – as potential investors and supporters, the possibilities seem endless. That’s exactly what the purveyors of the Official R&B Music Hall of Fame Museum (R&BHOF) are hoping for, and the reality seems to be in the offing.

On July 16, 2014 at 10:30AM, a press conference will take place at Detroit’s Charles Wright African American Museum. Music legends from Detroit and around the world are invited to show their support in having the Official R&B Music Hall of Fame Museum built in the ‘Motor City’ to preserve the national history of rhythm & blues and Detroit’s music legacy. The conference will be facilitated by popular WPON radio host David Washington. In addition, the organizers will have a mobile music hall of fame museum on display.

R&B HOFM Detroit Support Flyer

One of the components of the proposed museum concept will be the Motor City Music Experience Center/Motor City Music Walk of Fame designed to tell the complete story of Detroit’s music history from the artists, to the legendary record companies, to the night clubs where all those show-stopping performances took place. The project will boast: State of the Art; Highly Interactive; Virtual Reality; 3D; and Hologram Experience. The R&BHOF – a non-profit organization registered in the state of Michigan – will bring jobs; promote tourism, economic development, cultural awareness, diversity, and education, say officials.

R&BHOF Executive Chairperson Cheryl Ruffin – daughter of the late, great David Ruffin of The Temptations – says, “I believe the R&B Music Hall of Fame Museum should be in Detroit right along with the Motown Museum, United Sound Studios, and other historical sites.” Over the past year Ms. Ruffin has been contacting and getting thumbs up from many Motown alumni, other Detroit music legends, and the families of the departed.

R&BHOF officials maintain that of the thousands of abandoned buildings in the Detroit area, one of those buildings – all factors considered – could very well become the home for their project. Provided that the land or building is donated by the city, state or county, the cost could run from 10 to 15 million dollars. As it stands, there is not a rhythm & blues hall of fame museum anywhere in the world dedicated to the history of rhythm & blues artists. This will be the first.

Earlier this year it was reported that Canton, OH city officials had given the green light to build in that city – which will still host the 2014 induction ceremony – but the first choice had always been Detroit.

On August 17, 2013 at Cleveland State University in Ohio, many Detroiters and Motown alumni were inducted into the R&BHOF inaugural class such as The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Dramatics, and Jackie Wilson to name a few. This year’s induction ceremony will be held August, 24th in Canton, OH at the Canton Palace Theater, and will include Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, The Whispers, Marvin Gaye, The Funk Brothers, Gene Chandler, Joe Jackson, and The Sweet Inspirations. Confirmed attendees (among others) are Duke Fakir (The Four Tops), Kim Weston, Cissy Houston, Martha Reeves, Joe Jackson, and the families of Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke, and David Ruffin.

Says Ms. Ruffin, “Detroit’s music legacy made it the music capital of the world so we feel this is the right place for the R&B museum…we hope that we can soon make an official announcement that our project has found a home here in Detroit where we are planning to hold the 2015 induction ceremony.”

For further details on this project please call (248) 763-5892.

Rondalis Tandy and family members

Summer Fun with Tandy!


Summer Fun! L.A. resident Rondalis Tandy enjoys summer fun with daughter Adrienne (rear) and twin granddaughters Amaya (left) and Anaya.

Tandy who was lead singer of the ‘60’s R&B group The Van Dykes (‘No Man Is An Island’) still performs at church, in musicals, and on cruise tours. H

e will be performing in a musical at Los Angeles’ New Providence Baptist church, August 23rd at 4PM. (Photo: Margie Stites)

detroit high school t-shirts

Signature T-Shirts Connect Detroit Pride in the City of Angels and Elsewhere


*Most Americans have fond memories of their high school years – fond memories that take us back to the innocent days of our youth. Friendships forged in grades nine through twelve are the ones which generally last forever.

Sadly, many Detroit area public high school buildings have recently fallen into disrepair. Some have closed, others have been re-named and even others have been demolished.

These changes have brought about protests and bitter tears to the eyes of many graduates. In response, a Detroit-based company called The School Shirt Shop has created T-Shirts that will help those memories live on forever.

They are embarking on a tour exhibit called “Signatures” a Collection of Autographs from Proud Alumni. The collection consists of celebrities and others who rose out of the Detroit Public School (DPS) system, and embraces the “In the Spirit of Detroit” (ITSOD) banner.

The traveling tour will begin in the spring of 2015 and will consist of more than 35 custom T-Shirt lines with photographic images of Detroit’s public high schools. These archived images are of buildings that are currently operating, permanently closed or have been razed to the ground. Each shirt will be enclosed in an individual acrylic box with an electronic tablet that will display historical facts about the school. Before the tour begins, alumni from all DPS high schools and all graduating class years, are invited to sign their names and the year they graduated, on their school’s shirt. The exhibit will travel the metro area’s museums, shopping malls and office complexes. The project is hoping to raise funds for the purchase and conversion of an old school building to be named the “Museum of High School Preservation.”

To help support the project, non-signature T-Shirts are being sold in general for individual proud alumni and for class reunions. Graduates (alums) wanting to take the trip down “Memory Lane” can click this link – – to purchase their school’s T-Shirt. This program is likely to bring a bright smile to the faces of the many transplanted Detroiters now living in other states all across the country.

Los Angeles, for instance, has long been a hub for Detroiters seeking new opportunities and a change in environment. Those planning to attend the annual L.A. Detroiters and Michiganians Picnic on July 19th ( can display their school’s shirt if an order is received before July 14th and requested EXPRESS DELIVERY. Shirts will arrive via U.S.P.S. on/or before July 18th.


To date The School Shirt Shop has collected more than 12,000 autographs from proud DPS alumni. Signatures date back to the class of Mackenzie High School 1932, Miller High School 1939, Eastern High School 1940 and Northeastern High School 1941. Though this event is for all graduates, some notable Detroiters have joined us in signing their names.

These include:

Carmen Harlan: Mumford graduate and long-time WDIV Local 4 News Anchor.

Fred Hammond: Mumford graduate and internationally known gospel singer.

Carl Levin: Central graduate former Detroit City Councilmember and United States Senator

Martha Reeves: Northeastern graduate and lead singer of Martha and the Vandellas

Carol Gist: Cass Tech graduate and first Black Miss USA (1990)

Craig Strong: Cass Tech graduate and Circuit Court Judge

Kwame Kilpatrick: Cass Tech graduate and former Mayor of Detroit

Greg Mathis: (ITSOD) star of the “Judge Greg Mathis” television show

George Clinton: (ITSOD) member of the Parliament Funkadelics

Tyree Guyton: (ITSOD) creator of the “Heidelberg Project” an urban art installation; and many, many more.

Also, due to repeated requests from non DPS graduates, The School Shirt Shop has added shirts for many Catholic and suburban high schools. The complete list of available schools is on their website:

For additional information please contact Michael Williams (313) 446-2262