Sunday, February 19, 2017


            ATTACKING THE PRESS – You know if Pres. Donald Trump was normal, then one would be tempted to take his cowardly attacks on the news media of this country seriously. There’s no doubt that rabid Trump supporters believe everything he says, even though they see his month-old presidency already crumbling under the extraordinary weight of his foolishness. No sooner had Melania replaced the drapes in the Oval Office, did a federal appellate court tell Trump his Muslim ban was never going to fly, and the president’s national security advisor, a former three-star US Army General named Michael Flynn ( a prime candidate for the more-than-one –screw-loose award if I’ve ever seen one ) proved to possess the unique talent of allegedly lying to the FBI to coverup something Trump said he would have directed him to do anyway.
            Oh, did I leave out that several of the president’s Cabinet appointees are certified whackos, matched only by the certified white nationalist whacko Trump has as a senior policy advisor. There’s a lot more, but you get the picture. There is plenty this president needs to held accountable for, and it will take skilled investigative reporters at the nation’s major national news media to expose the Trump administration for all of the harm it’s in the process of doing.
            But Pres. Trump doesn’t want to be held accountable for what he does, and that’s why he’s attacking the press with abandon, hoping that their collective knees will knock, and they’ll back off just enough to pull tons of wool over everybody’s eyes (and ears).
            The strategy is really quite simple – delegitimize the press in the minds of his supporters so that when he does something there’s clearly no excuse for, those numbskulls will believe him first, despite ten-ton facts the media is reporting proving the president is all sorts of crooked. He successfully demonized his 2016 Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, just like he did his 16 Republican primary foes.
            You see Trump believes that demonizing people for personal gain is as American as apple pie ( one in which he clearly is the worm ).  He knows that there are plenty of people, mostly white, who continue to believe that this country belongs to them, always has, and always will. These are folks who really don’t care what happens to anyone else, just as long as they are on top, and remain there.
            That’s why Trump is able to get away  (or at least try to) with running his mouth about keeping Muslims from seven particular countries out of the United States. Mind you, Christians from those countries are more than welcomed, probably because, in Trump and his supporters minds, they’re not likely to be terrorists,
            Apparently the Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, ardent supporters of trump during the presidential elections, don’t qualify  bon-a-fide violent terrorists  in Donald’s book.
            In Trump’s world, those who refuse to acknowledge his self-proclaimed “greatness” – even to the point agreeing with him that his was the greatest election victory in modern history (NOT), and that 3 million people voted illegally against him, costing the Trump the popular vote (NOT), are not “true” Americans.
            In fact, he says, they are “enemies” of the American people.
            No, Donald, a vibrant American press is an enemy only of the ignorant. So I guess you and your followers will be at odds with reality for at least the next four years.


By Cash Michaels

            On Tuesday, Feb. 28th, the presidents of many of the 106 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) across the nation will convene at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. for what is being called a “Fly-in” conference with various members of Congress, and officials from the Trump Administration among others, to discuss how the federal government, under Republican control, can be more supportive.
The Journal reached out to the president’s office of all ten HBCUs in North Carolina, only receiving  confirmation of attendance from Winston-Salem State University, and Bennett College in Greensboro, where Interim Pres. Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins presides. 
            I think I can safely speak for all of my colleagues in saying we expect and hope to have dialogue and actions regarding infrastructure support, Pell Grant increases to build a pipeline of college-ready students, Title III funding and other support structures to strengthen HBCUs for the future,” Dr. Dawkins said. “Speaking for myself, I am excited about the chance to meet with members of the Trump Administration to discuss HBCUs and ways we can strengthen them for posterity.”
Dr. Dawkins continued,  “I think it is great that our new president is reaching out to HBCUs just a few [weeks] after taking office, and I sincerely hope his administration will work to ensure HBCUs are given their fair share of federal funding. HBCUs are vital to the fabric of American education, and I hope next week’s meeting is the first of many productive meetings in Washington.”
            According to Jay R. Davis, director of Communications and Media Relations for WSSU, “Chancellor [Elwood] Robinson has accepted an invitation extended to HBCU leaders from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to attend a meeting with leadership in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 28.”
            Davis did not express what Chancellor Robinson hoped to hear while attending the meetings. Robinson is traveling this week and could not be contacted directly for comment.
The convener of the two-day conference in Washington, DC next week is Republican Rep. Mark Walker [R-NC-6], a white conservative congressman who wants to see the “full repeal” of the Affordable Care Act; strongly supports North Carolina’s controversial HB2 “bathroom law,” and when once asked if starting a war with Mexico was appropriate in order to secure the border, joked that it was, though he seriously added that the National Guard should be utilized.
And yet, despite his ultra-conservative rhetoric, Rep. Walker, chair of the House Republican Study Committee, apparently has a soft spot for HBCUs.
His wife, Kelly, graduated from Winston-Salem State University with a degree in
nursing; summer interns from local HBCUs work in the congressional offices of  Walker and NC 12th District colleague Rep. Alma Adams; NC A&T University in Greensboro is in his district; and he is a member of the Congressional HBCU Caucus.
Walker has invited House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Ws), South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, Sen. Marco Rubio and other influential Republican leaders to take part in the conference Tuesday to meet with HBCU leaders, and, according to a spokesman, understand the history of HBCUs and their unique role in higher education, and why the Republican-controlled federal government should continue to support their future.
The event is supported by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit group that helps needy students attend the HBCU of their choice. It’s president, Johnny Taylor, says HBCUs have no choice but to work with whomever runs Congress, and whomever is in the White House.
To that end, it is also expected that the Trump Administration will issue a new executive order next week, moving the HBCU Initiative from under the US Dept. of Education, to direct supervision of the White House. There have been unconfirmed reports about what else the Trump executive order contains, but at least one NC college president is optimistic.
“UNCF and The Thurgood Marshall College Fund have pushed for the White House Initiative on HBCUs to be removed from the Department of Education and placed directly under The White House, led by an executive director; therefore, we are happy to hear this is being strongly considered,” Bennett Interim Pres. Phyllis Dawkins said. “This move, should it occur, will provide direct access to a senior adviser who reports to the President, thereby identifying policy priorities that are important to HBCUs.”
HBCUs reportedly comprise only three-percent of all colleges and universities in the country, yet are responsible for 27 percent of African-Americans with bachelor’s degrees in science, technology, engineering and math, according to the US Dept. of Education.
While there is naturally some caution, hopes are high that a positive bond can be forged with President Trump. There are still hard feelings from eight-years of the Obama Administration that, while HBCUs ultimately saw more funding , also saw Pell Grants cut for black students, and parental qualifications for the PLUS Loan program for college students changed, ultimately disqualifying many parents on the credit bubble, and resulting in many black college students being forced to drop out of school.
HBCU enrollments dramatically dropped, and many schools are still recovering, officials say.
Dr. Ontario S. Wooden, Associate Vice Chancellor for Innovative, Engaged and Global Education at North Carolina Central University in Durham, whose interim chancellor is not attending next week’s meeting, hopes the baggage from the Obama Administration can now be fixed.
“We should be making the same [demands] of the Trump Administration that we did of the Obama Administration – restoring Pell Grants so students have the opportunity  to use them in summer school; looking at the creditworthiness of parents in the PLUS Loan program; and doing something about the relatively high interest rates on those loans,” Dr. Wooden said.
Harold Martin, chancellor of NC A&T University, told this paper last month that HBCUs have to forge a strong relationship with the Trump Administration if they are to survive.
"It is vital that North Carolina A&T State University maintains a healthy relationship with the executive branch,” Martin, named the nation’s most influential leader of an HBCU by HBCU Digest, said.

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            A bill that, if enacted, would require the NC Division of Motor Vehicles to begin producing driver license handbooks that instruct motorists, especially young drivers, on how to properly and legally conduct themselves while engaging with law enforcement during traffic stops, is getting bi-partisan support in the state House by two members of the Forsyth County delegation.
            The proposed measure is important, at least one law enforcement official says, because while police, sheriff’s deputies and state troopers are rigorously trained on how to act and react during traffic stops, much of the driving public, especially young people, don’t realize that the slightest provocative move could be mistakenly interpreted as a threat by that officer, and end fatally.
            It’s one of the reasons many black parents say they have “the talk” with their driving age teenage children on how to follow the instructions of law enforcement when stopped on the road, the first rule being keep your hands plainly in sight, and don’t move unless the officer either instructs you to, or you advise the officer accordingly. If passed, “…at the request of the Department of Public Instruction, the Division shall provide free copies of the handbook to that Department for use in the program of driver education offered at public high schools."
            While Section 1 of the bill, once signed into law, becomes effective January 1, 2018, the remaining sections become effective beginning with the 2017-2018 school year.”
House Bill 21, also known as “Driver Instruction/Law Enforcement Stops,” is co-sponsored by Forsyth County members Ed Hanes Jr. (D-Dist. 72) and Debra Conrad (R-Dist. 74), among others. It was filed January 25th, passed first reading on January 30th, and referred to the House Committee on Transportation that same day.
“With all the recent media stories about interactions between citizens and police, I agreed with the bill sponsors that basic guidance on how to react to traffic stops for speeding or for any reason deemed necessary by a law enforcement officer would be helpful to mitigate the escalation of the situation,” Rep. Conrad told The Chronicle. “It should enhance safety for all involved and be a reassurance to officers that citizens are better prepared to co-operate in providing information or following instructions during such encounters with law enforcement officers just trying to do their job.”
            HB21 needs to be passed in committee, and then heard and voted on by the full House and Senate process, before it can be sent to Gov. Cooper for his signature to become law.
            Among other requirements, the bill states, “ The driver education curriculum shall include…instruction on law enforcement procedures for traffic stops this is developed in consultation with the State Highway Patrol, the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association, and the North Carolina Association of the Chiefs of Police. The instruction shall provide a description of the actions of that a motorist should take during a traffic stop, including appropriate interactions with law enforcement officers.”
            From the law enforcement point of view, the proposed law could be a needed asset towards helping the public understand the constant stress officers are under every time they make a traffic stop.
            “I do think it’s a great idea to educate the public about what’s going through an officer’s mind,” Col. Glenn McNeill, new commander of the state Highway Patrol, told The Chronicle. Just prior to being appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper, McNeill was head of training for the SHP, has read the bill, and supports it.
            Col. McNeill said when officers stop a motorist, “We don’t know whether they’re a law abiding citizen or not. We’re trained to treat every stop as if it’s our last.”
            “When someone reaches for something, because they’re nervous as a result of being stopped, …we don’t know that that’s why they’re nervous. Are they nervous because they’ve just committed a crime? Our troopers are placed in harm’s way day after day regarding all of the dangerous traffic stops that they conduct, and we don’t know who we’re stopping. So any opportunity our troopers have to educate the public is a good thing regarding how they should interact,” McNeil said.
            Health care professional Larnettra Richardson of Winston-Salem agrees that the instruction is needed.
            “Yes, unfortunately I think it's probably going to be necessary for everyone, especially people of color,” Ms. Richardson told The Chronicle. “It probably should include steps like slowing down, maybe even turning on flashers, remaining in the car, sitting upward with hands on steering wheel at "10 and 2" to keep hands in sight. Sad that it has come to this.”
            However, Mutter D. Evans, Winston-Salem community activist, consultant and former local broadcast owner, added this cautionary.
            ‘Generally speaking, any attempt to educate is a plus; however, because these guidelines are included in the handbook does not mean they will be read, retained and regularly reviewed.  In order for it to be productive, I feel it should be included in driver's ED instruction classes and at least one question should reflect this on the written exam.” she said.                                                  


            [HILLSBOROUGH] Orange County parents say they want Confederate flags and Confederate flag symbols that are either worn or displayed by students in public schools there banned. They say they see too many students wearing tee-shirts with the Old South symbol, or displaying it on their cars on school property.
School system officials say while there is a policy prohibiting disruptive clothing, displaying the Confederate flag is not considered a violation. Concerned parents are expected to confront the school board at a later date.

            [KERNERSVILLE] A national Muslim civil rights group is asking the FBI to investigate several conservative NC activists who met last Thursday in Kernersville to discuss perpetrating violence against Muslims, published reports say. According to the Triad City Beat, a meeting at a local seafood restaurant had members of the Tea Party, white patriots and other right-wing members  discussing how to kill Muslims, “shed blood” and “start killing the hell out of them.” A spokesman for the  organization CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations says, “Calls to violence against members of any minority group warrant a criminal investigation by state law enforcement authorities and the FBI. We call on President Trump to repudiate the growing bigotry in our nation targeting Muslims, Hispanics, immigrants, refugees and other minority groups.”

            [RALEIGH] According to the NC Dept. of Health and Human Services, eight people died of flu-related illness last week – the most in one week, bringing the death toll this flu season to 32 in North Carolina. Officials say they’re dealing with Influenza A H3N2, which is known to affect elderly people more than others. Thus far, 22 of the flu-related deaths were of people 65 or older.

            [RALEIGH] Gov. Roy Cooper and state Attorney Josh Stein formally withdrew a request of the US Supreme Court to review a federal appellate courts ruling last year that North Carolina’s voter ID law deliberately targeted African-Americans with “surgical precision.” That review request was originally made by Gov. Pat McCrory before he was voted out of office. McCrory and GOP leaders in the legislators believed that North Carolina’s voter ID law was needed because of unproven voter fraud. In a statement, Gov. Cooper said, “We need to make it easier for people to exercise their right to vote, not harder, and I will not continue to waste time and money appealing this unconstitutional law. It’s time for North Carolina to stop fighting for this unfair, unconstitutional law and work instead to improve equal access for voters.”




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