Monday, April 17, 2017



By Cash Michaels

THE SMELL OF WAR IS IN THE AIR – I don’t know about you, but last weekend…Easter weekend…a time where Christians around the world were supposed to rejoice that Christ had risen after his crucifixion, I virtually slept with one-eye open.
Hadn’t done that since I was a kid growing up in the People’s Republic of  Brooklyn, NY, where every night there were gunshots, loud traffic and fire sirens 24/7.
But starting on Friday night, reason for my inability to get a good night sleep – a malady which would continue onto Saturday night – was the loud, and I do mean very loud saber-rattling between that small country run by that crazy maniac of a North Korean leader, Kim Jong Um, and that rather large country with the world’s most recent crazy loudmouth maniac on the world stage, US Pres. Donald J. Trump (and the “J” stands for jackass).
These two clowns began sending signals to each other  that if the other one so much as blinked, they would be scooping what was left of their country after a nuclear attack off the ground.
Indeed, the whole world was watching these two to out-macho each other, with Trump pointing toward his worthless Syria airstrip bombing – you know, the one where Trump first told the Russians to warn the Syrians to head for the hills while we bomb most of their old planes – while Jong Um basked in the glow of one over-sized missile after another during a colorful parade of arms and soldiers through the streets of the North Korean capitol.
And that was followed by a promised missile launch that “luckily” blew up before it got five feet in the air.
But in between the missile parade and the faulty missile launch was a very bold threat from the North Korean leader to our US president that a nuclear war was more and more possible than not.
And, of course, what does Trump do? He starts taunting the North Koreans to chill out, or else he’ll start some mess they won’t be able to handle.
It’s been my experience that when someone is crazy enough to talk smack to you, ALWAYS be ready for the worst, but don’t antagonize them, especially if they’re crazy. That’s what Pres. Obama did for eight years. Does anyone doubt that he was always ready to put North Korea out of business, but never wanted to rachet up tensions unless absolute necessary.
Why, you may ask?
Primarily so that decent citizens like yours truly could get so sleep, knowing that the president in charge has the good judgment not to do anything stupid. With Obama in the White House, a good night’s sleep was had by all.
But with Trump as the new commander-in-chief, you doze off at your own risk. This man could literally tweet all of us into World War III without us knowing it.
No, this is NOT what I want. It’s not what anybody wants, anybody with sense, that is. But right now, Donald Trump is trying to show the world that he’s Tough Guy Number One. That’s a big problem. He’s trying to bully someone who is committed to proving that he can bloody the big bully’s nose cause he has the weapons to do it with, and he’s ready to rumble.
Yes, it started Easter weekend, but this is what reality will look like for all of us for the next four years.
This is shaping up to be the biggest nightmare ever, whether we sleep or not!


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            Several weeks ago, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper unveiled his 2017-18 budget proposal, the first of his new administration, that called for increased state government spending by $1.1 billion in order to primarily improve education – pre-school to college - making the state a national leader in education by 2025.
            The Cooper $23.4 budget would also give teachers a ten-percent raise over two years,  expand Medicaid coverage for over 600,000 North Carolinians, and restore tax credits
            Democrats in the legislature, naturally, applauded the governor for his vision and budget priorities.
            “Governor Cooper’s budget makes investments in North Carolina’s greatest resource: its people,” said state Democratic Senate Whip Terry Van Duyn in a March 1 statement. “
            “We are very encouraged to see Governor Cooper’s people-first agenda,” Sen. Van Duyn continued. “These priorities reach out to groups that have been marginalized by the Republican leadership over the past six years in favor of corporate tax breaks. It’s added up to a big payday for corporate bosses, but has left workers struggling to make ends meet.”
            Legislative Republicans, for their part, weren’t as impressed with Gov. Cooper’s budget proposal, accusing Democrats again of “overspending,” with Senate Leader Phil Berger (R- Rockingham) saying that the GOP believed in “…returning hard-earned tax dollars to our taxpayers.”
            State GOP legislative leaders are expected to release their budget plans shortly now that Easter has passed, and Democrats are indeed expecting more of the same as in previous years – massive tax cuts for corporations and the rich, meaning more cuts to education and less social investments to help pay for them.
            Last year, the state budget from the Republican-led NC General Assembly featured $400 million in income tax cuts, which were offset by new sales taxes on repair, installation and maintenance services paid mostly by low-to-moderate income families.
            During his district town hall meeting last month in Raleigh, Senate Minority Leader Sen. Dan Blue (D-Wake) also said he expected Republican leaders to lean towards more tax cuts for the wealthy and increasing taxes for the working class.
            On April 5, Sen. Blue wrote on his Facebook page, “The Senate just passed the "Billion Dollar Middle Class Tax Cut" bill. Sounds good, right? But I voted against it for several reasons. Here's the reality of the bill.”
            Blue continued, “The tax cuts average out to $80 per person, going from a $55 tax reduction for those making less than $55,000 and up to $680 for those making $200,000 or more. It also reduces the corporate tax rate to one of the lowest in the nation.”
            “If this were truly a middle class tax cut, corporations and those making over $200,000 a year would be excluded from this bill. My colleague, Senator Ben Clark, tried to run an amendment to this point and Republicans voted against it.”
            “Beyond that,” Sen. Blue continued, “…this bill truly outlines our ideological differences. We have been operating under recession-level funding over the past six years - state employees are facing premium increases and are in need of substantial raises; school districts are weighing the decision to lay off art and PE teachers in order to adhere to smaller class size standards.”
            “At the end of the day, I believe that a billion dollars can have a greater impact on the 10 million people of this state than $80 can have on a single person.”
            “The bill will go to the house for final approval.”
What has been evident when Republican leaders have cut social programs like Medicaid in the past, is that North Carolina has been running higher and higher budget surpluses. Two months ago, state officials projected $552 million in budget surplus revenues. In 2016, the amount of state income taxes collected was $425 million, while 2015 saw about $400 million.
            House Republicans say the surpluses are a result of “…a commonsense, conservative approach to state government.” Translation, say Democrats, leaner social programs, and even more taxes for the low-to-moderate income taxpayers.
            “Lawmakers’ fiscal strategy of flawed rigid formulas and persistent tax breaks is holding back our economy by leaving many investments that support thriving communities unmet or underfunded,” wrote Tazra Mitchell, policy analyst with the NC Justice Center, a nonprofit progress advocacy group in Raleigh. "This approach hampers North Carolina's ability to generate improved economic outcomes today and in the future through proven strategies—strategies like investing in public services and programs that expand opportunity, build pathways to the middle class, and connect people to jobs and communities to markets.”


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            A national gathering of students from historically black colleges and universities [HBCUs], co-organized by an alumnus of Winston-Salem State University, is slated for next week in Washington, DC, targeting lawmakers to do more to help their schools survive.
            Scheduled for next Thursday, April 27th, the “HBCU Day of Action” is a rally at Capital Hill geared to “urge the White House, members of Congress, and state and local officials to maintain funding and increase resources for the hundreds of thousands of students enrolled at HBCUs every year,” says the event sponsor, The HBCU Collective.
            Alumni and students play an integral role in preserving and growing our HBCUs,” Winston-Salem State University 2008 alumnus Robert Stephens, a co-leader of the Collective, told The “We’re here to make sure our elected officials see and feel the importance of HBCUs—and we’re here to hold them accountable for their support.”
            Stephens was WSSU student body president for 2007-08 and has served as a board member for the WSSU Young Alumni Council.
            Joining the other over 100 HBCUs from across the nation that will be sending student representatives for the “Day of Action” will certainly be many of the schools from North Carolina, which boasts of at least ten of them.
            Prominent among them will be Robert Stephens’ alma mater, Winston-Salem State University.
            “At Winston-Salem State University, we are motivated by our motto ‘Enter to Learn. Depart to Serve,’” said WSSU Chancellor Elwood Robinson, in a statement. “From the time they are freshmen, we instill in our students the need to be active and thoughtful citizens.”
Chancellor Robinson continued, “Our alumni and students play a critical role in ensuring our elected officials understand the important role of HBCUs. We appreciate that they feel passionately enough about what we do at WSSU to advocate on our behalf.”
This year’s “Day of Action” is particularly relevant, given the recent HBCU Fly-in Conference at the end of February, where over 80 presidents and chancellors went to Washington, DC, at the invitation of NC Rep. Mark Walker of Greensboro (R-NC-6), to discuss how the Republican-led Congress, and Pres. Donald Trump, could partner with historically black schools to increase financial support.
However, after the Trump Administration released its budget proposal weeks later, it became clear that HBCUs would not be getting what some felt they were led to expect. While Congress has not yet released its budget for the coming fiscal year yet, thus far, HBCUs are not realistically expecting any more support than what the Obama Administration offered.
Jack Minor, communications director for Rep. Walker, cautions, however, that it’s still too early determine exactly what HBCUs are in store for.
For us, most of what we are looking for can and would be done outside the scope of the budget,” Minor said in a statement. “For instance, expanding Pell grants to year-round, and focusing on fostering private-public relationships to help HBCU students with more opportunities after school. One other area of interest is any transportation bill that would come through Congress. The [Trump] Administration has noted that this is a place where HBCUs could see advancements to invest in their campuses.”
Shambulia Gadsden Sams, an alumna of another North Carolina HBCU, Shaw University, is also a co-organizer of the HBCU Collective’s April 27th Day of Action.


            [RALEIGH] A progressive advocacy group is calling for a criminal investigation into false claims of voter fraud by former Gov. Pat McCrory and the state Republican Party after the 2016 election.  Democracy NC Executive Director Bob Hall told reporters Tuesday that his organization was calling for a probe “ …by state and federal agencies into wrongdoing related to preparing, filing and promoting bogus charges of voter fraud. Hall released a report after a five-month investigation “…into false allegations of voter misconduct and uncovers a pattern of unsubstantiated claims of election fraud and irregularities, made without regard for the harassing and harmful impact on innocent voters.”

            [DURHAM] Police Chief Odetta Johnson of North Carolina Central University is no longer on the job, according to published reports. There is no explanation for why Chief Johnson is no longer in charge. She has been chief since December 2015. Johnson, a black female, has been replaced by Connie Bullock. Chief Johnson was lauded for being a role model for African-American females wanting to enter law enforcement.

            North Carolina is back in business with the NCAA being threatened with losing any bids to host championship games in coming years because of the state’s controversial HB 2 “bathroom” law which restricted members of the transgender community from using restrooms contrary to their birth certificates. The NCAA demanded that the law be repealed, and two weeks ago, it partially was. Now, beginning in 2020, men’s Division I basketball tournaments  will be played in Greensboro, and the first and second rounds hosted in Raleigh the following year.
In all, Raleigh, Cary, Greensboro and Winston-Salem were granted 24 men’s and women’s NCAA events ranging from basketball to indoor track and field championships.


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