Sunday, April 23, 2017


By Cash Michaels

            THE O’REILLY FACTOR – Science tells us that dinosaurs became extinct tens of millions of years ago when something huge happened to the world, forcing the big beasts to perish against their will.
            But that’s not what happened to one of our modern-day media dinosaurs named Bill O’Reilly. In his case, he became extinct on the Fox News Channel last week when the venerable New York Times  reported that both he and his employer paid $13 million to five women who alleged that “Billo” had sexually harassed them in the workplace. That was followed up by two women – one of them black and from North Carolina – who also accuse O’Reilly of the same prehistoric behavior, forcing upwards of sixty advertisers to desert his “O’Reilly Factor” program like the plague.
            That  exodus forced the Murdoch family, owners of Fox News, to decide to show their company’s biggest star (and money maker) the street after over 20 years.
            And the rest, as they say, is history.
            Without question, the O’Reilly ouster was among the biggest stories across the nation last week, and it was, indeed, a victory for those progressive forces who have been trying relentlessly for years to get Billo ditched. The problem was, until last week, despite clear evidence of O’Reilly being an alleged sexual harasser since 2004 when one of his female producers accused him of some clearly desperate behavior (and yes, Fox News paid her once the smell of lawsuit hit the air), the man was virtually invincible. And his arrogance of having the Number One channel in all of cable, let alone cable news, behind him made him even worse.
            But lets bring this O’Reilly thing for just us folks, shall we?
            Black folks have known for the longest time that whatever else Bill O’Reilly is, being racially intolerant was at the top of the list. Some have even called O’Reilly a “racist.” All we know is anytime the subject turned to the African-American community, rarely…indeed VERY rarely, did Bill O’Reilly have anything reasonable or sensible to say about us.
            Many thanks to comedian Trevor Noah of Comedy Channel’s “The Daily Show” for replaying clips of some of O’Reilly’s most infamous racially insensitive remarks during his tenor on-air.
            Who could forget (and this was from his short-lived national radio show) when O’Reilly was talking to his black “buddy” Juan Williams about the time years ago when he went to the world famous Sylvia’s Restaurant in Harlem to eat lunch with the Rev. Al Sharpton, and how amazed he was that black people, in this black restaurant, were sitting down and enjoying their meal, just like civilized people normally do. If fact, O’Reilly was so amazed, he remarked, “Nobody yelled out, “Hey m-f’er, how about some more ice tea!”
            When a powerful white man gets on the air and tells his audience that he actually had the unique experience of sitting done and having a meal with decent and civilized black people, and he still has a job after that, you know racism is alive and well in the old USA.
            Or how about when O’Reilly told one of his black guest TO HIS FACE that he looked like a drug dealer? Seriously?
            Or most recently when he went on TV and said Congresswoman Maxine Waters had a “James Brown hairdo” just because she spoke out against Pres. Trump?
            So hell yeah we’re glad Bill O’Reilly is gone, and we wholeheartedly applaud everyone who came together to make it happen. Given what we face over the next four years with Trump in the White House, it is a mall, but significant victory indeed. But let’s not rest on our laurels. There are plenty more battles to be fought, plenty more scoundrels to bring down.
            And more times than not, it will be their own careless, senseless behavior that will do the trick.
            But for now, let’s rejoice. Television’s biggest dinosaur is finally extinct!


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            Once again, black families across the state that have students graduating from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are preparing for May commencement exercises, where leaders in the fields of business, education, politics and entertainment come to deliver keynote addresses to new graduates about the world that awaits them, and how they should handle it.
            In Durham, the 2017 Spring Commencement for North Carolina Central University undergraduates in O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium on Saturday, May 13th at 8 a.m. will feature retired astronaut Joan Higginbotham. She spent 308 hours in space during the Space Shuttle Discovery mission in 2006, the third African-American woman ever to travel in space. Currently she is a Lowes Companies, Inc. executive, and serves on the NCCU Board of Trustees.     
            On Friday evening, May 12, Justice Mike Morgan of the NC Supreme Court will address the Graduate and Professional Commencement Ceremony in McDougald- McLendon Arena. Justice Morgan is an alumnus of the NCCU School of Law.
            Nationally syndicated radio host Tom Joyner will be the keynoter for Shaw University’s 2017 Commencement exercises Saturday, May 13 at the Raleigh Convention Center starting at 10 a.m.
            Also in Raleigh on Saturday, May 13th, St. Augustine’s University will hold its commencement exercises on the campus quadrangle, starting at 9 a.m..
            Lamell McMorris, the keynote speaker, is the founder and CEO of the Washington, DC-based group of companies bearing the Perennial name: Perennial Strategy Group, Perennial Sports and Entertainment, and Perennial Law Group. In his work, Mr. McMorris offers strategic insight and external affairs services to some of the nation’s leading decision-makers in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. 
At Bennett College in Greensboro, a familiar face will deliver the commencement address on Saturday, May 6. US Congresswoman Alma Adams, (D-12- NC) who had previously taught art at the all-female HBCU for over 40 years, will be speaking during the 10 a.m. ceremony on the campus quadrangle. Rep. Adams formerly served in the NC House for many years, before being elected to Congress in 2014.
 A few miles away on Saturday, May 13th, NC Agricultural and Technical State University will welcome undefeated boxing champion, author and TV hostess Laila Ali, daughter of legendary champion Muhammad Ali, as the keynote speaker during the main commencement ceremony, beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex.
            Ms. Ali, born in 1977 to her father and Veronica Porsche Ali in 1977, began her boxing career at the age of 18, turning pro at age 22. She retired undefeated after eight years with a record of 24-0. Her world-renowned father died less than a year ago at age 74.
Winston-Salem State University’s 2017 Commencement, scheduled for Bowman Gray Stadium on Saturday, May 19th at 9:45 a.m. will feature noted attorney and CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers as the keynote speaker.
            Sellers is a former member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, and a 2014 Democratic nominee for SC Lieutenant Governor.
            Sunday, May 21 at 8 a.m. is the date and time to see graduates walk to get their hard-earned degrees during commencement exercises for Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte. The ceremony will take place at the Irwin Belk Complex.
Suzanne Walsh, deputy director of the Postsecondary Success in the US program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is slated to be the keynote speaker.
            At Fayetteville State University, also on Saturday, May 13th, commencement exercises will be held at Crown Coliseum starting at 9 a.m.. Retired Brig. General Arnold Gordon-Bray will deliver keynote remarks.
            Brig. Gen. Gordon-Bray assumed command of the 2nd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division, known as the “Falcon Brigade.” He led the Falcon Brigade during the early months of the Iraq War in 2003, and then served a second tour of duty in Iraq from 2006 to 2007 as the principal advisor to the Iraqi Ground Force Commander.  He retired from the military in 2012.


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            An attorney representing the International Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro has filed a complaint with the North Carolina Utilities Commission against Duke Energy, alleging that the public utility has threatened to shutoff electrical service to the facility at 134 South Elm Street “…unless it posts an $18,224.00 deposit, in addition to paying the regular electric bill.”
            However, according to the complaint, filed Monday, the ICRM’s account with Duke Energy “…is now up-to-date and current…,” but that didn’t stop the utility from unexpectedly turning off the electricity for several hours without warning in February, a week after the museum paid its bill in full.
            The complaint asks the NC Utility Commission “…that the service be ordered to remain on until the Commission can rule on this complaint in a final ruling and that no deposit be required until there are further orders of the Utility Commission.”
            A top historic attraction in downtown Greensboro, the ICRM is housed in the former F.W. Woolworth Store that four NC A&T University students boldly ordered food at at the whites only counter on February 1, 1960, this reigniting the civil rights movement. The facility was reopened on the fiftieth anniversary of the sit-in as a civil rights museum in 2010, and opens its doors to school children, and visitors from around the world.
            Addressed to the commission’s chief clerk, the letter from Greensboro attorney Douglas S. Harris is on behalf of Sit-in Movement, Inc., a nonprofit corporation that runs the ICRM and owns the South Elm Street property.
            Harris tells the commission, which regulates public utilities in North Carolina, that the museum was “…under some temporary financial pressure due to financial charges associated with the successful completion of….” two federal tax credit programs related to historic properties and “financially distressed areas.”
Duke Energy as “working with” the museum during this time, atty. Harris continued, and was informed by the museum that “…all past due power bills  [would be] caught up by the end of February and be completely current…(which was accomplished),” he added.
            Duke Energy sent a written notice to the museum on Jan. 25, 2017 stating that if the bill was not caught up by February 16th, that power would be disconnected, the letter continued. So checks were sent to Duke “…the week previous to the due date which checks should have cleared and did clear…,” but on February 16 at 8 a.m. in the morning, power was cut off without any notice, written or otherwise to anyone at the museum.
            A source confirms that the museum’s checks were at Duke, which ended up putting the power back on at 11:30 a.m. that same day.
            “Our director, John Swaine, …contacted Duke Energy who confirmed that they did have the checks; two hours later, Duke Energy cut the power back on without a deposit or reconnection fees by reason that it was their rror and not the museum’s,” atty. Harris wrote.
            But the power interruption did force the museum to refund $765.00 to a “…large group of eighty-one disadvantaged school children” who had bused in from Union County to take a tour. A corporate conference had to be moved across the street, forcing the ICRM to refund $800.00 for that.
            And a group from Durham also had to have their tour cancelled and money refunded.
            “All of this happened because Duke Energy varied from its usual routine…” of informing Director Swaine that there was a problem,” Harris wrote in the complaint.
            The ICRM attorney further charged that that the museum was being treated differently from “other companies which used more power and had hundreds of thousands of dollars in electric bills overdue for months [and] did not have the power cut off and did not have to provide a deposit.”
            Atty. Harris charges that the Duke Energy liaison to the museum did not inform Director Swaine of the cutoff in order to “…help those forces who wished to take over the Museum…,” and in the past has expressed “concerns” about the ICRM’s leadership and direction.
            That Duke Energy liasion “…injected [himself] into the situation to help put financial pressure on the museum, embarrass the museum, and to hurt fundraising with the end result that the black-run Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro would collapse…,” atty. Harris continued.
            Paige Layne, a Duke Energy spokesperson, said, “Disconnecting a customer’s service is the very last step in our collections process and it’s an action we never want to take. We work closely with all customers who have difficulty paying their bills so service interruptions can be avoided, and we’ve worked with this customer for years. While it’s unfortunate that our efforts to assist the museum’s leaders with their delinquencies have resulted in a formal complaint to the NC Utilities Commission, we will cooperate fully within the process to ensure facts about the experience, including the basis for the deposit requirement, are presented.


            [CHARLOTTE] For the first time in eight months, North Carolina’s unemployment rate dropped below five percent in March. The February jobless rate was 5.1%. However, according to the NC Dept. of  Commerce, the state lost over 4,400 private sector jobs. That, however, was offset by the creation of 4900 government jobs statewide, along with 2600 manufacturing positions. Analysts say while North Carolina’s employment is improving, it’s happening at a slower rate than anticipated.

            [RALEIGH] Once more, legislative Republicans are daring Democratic Gov. Pat McCrory to take them to court, this time after they overrode his veto this week their law combining the state Elections Board with the NC Ethics Board. Cooper successfully sued over the first version of the law, saying that the new version is unconstitutional and does not protect voting rights. Republicans, however, say the new version encourages bipartisan cooperation because Democrats and Republicans would serve in equal numbers.

            [RALEIGH] When Republican state Appellate Court Judge Doug McCullough surprised everyone Monday by announcing his early retirement, Gov. Cooper wasted no time naming his replacement that same day – John Arrowood, a Democrat. Cooper three days earlier vetoed a GOP bill that would have cut the number of appellate court judges from 15 to 12. GOP lawmakers now have to override Gov. Cooper’s veto, meaning that this case may also end up in court between the governor and Republican lawmakers.


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