Monday, July 17, 2017


By Cash Michaels

            DANGEROUS DENIALS – We have been seeing something troubling and dangerous on our television screens since the news broke last week that Donald Trump Jr. took a meeting with Russian nationals a year ago to get dirt on Hillary Clinton last year during the 2016 presidential elections.
            Led, no less by the president of the United States himself, there has been a steady chorus of “What’s the big deal?” and “So what?” We’re hearing these extraordinary pronouncements from various Republican congressmen, friends of Pres. Trump, and of course, some at Fox News.
            One glaring example at Fox, however, has been newsman Shepard Smith, who has called the slimy explanations of why then presidential candidate Donald Trump’s son would meet with Russians  (along with brother-in-law Jared Kushner and campaign manager Paul Manafort) “Lies, lies, lies…”
            Remember, it was Shep’s twisted Fox News colleague, Sean Hannity, who had Donald Jr. on his show to offer alibi after alibi for the hopefully dubious world to swallow. It was on that broadcast where Don Jr.  said there was nothing else to tell when questioned.
            Funny that just days later, there was plenty to find out, whether Don Jr. was telling it or not. Like the fact that Russian attorney he was meeting with had strong ties to the Russian government and was accompanied to the meeting by a Russian counter-intelligence against agent, along with at least two other believed to be Russians.
            So why does any of this matter to us “simple folk?” Because this is what happens when people who mean us no good take over our government for their own designs. And it is very clear after putting up with Donald Trump’s racist presidential campaign, followed by the clowns he’s put in his administration to run the government (Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Education Sec. Betsy DeVos to name two of them), in addition to racist policies coming forth like the travel ban against Muslim countries, proposed federal social safety net budget cuts, the elimination of Obamacare and various other rollbacks to Obama Administration policies that helped the poor.
            Being black and poor under  President Trump is something you don’t want to be, because he sees his main mission as getting rid of you, and using your own government to do it. But the evidence is clear is that Russian President Vladimir Putin is no friend of Black America either, and the fact that he was willing to influence the outcome of an American presidential election just to put a willing dupe into office, should scare the socks off of everybody.
            So here it is, just a few weeks after Independence Day, when we were supposed to be celebrating our patriotism as a nation, and instead, we’re watching American citizens getting on our television screens making excuses for what Don Jr. did.
            “He didn’t break any laws,” they say. “What’s wrong with colluding with the Russians?” others openly ask. “Hey, what about when the Ukrainians met with the Democrats during the election (Ukraine wasn’t trying to skew an election; they were trying to get assistance in getting Russian boots off their necks in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of the country).”
            This stuff may seem far away, and more “their “ business than ours, but make no mistake, is we don’t pay attention to what “they” are doing with, and to our government, one day we won’t have a government to complain about.
            Better to have one to complain about, than none at all.


                                                            ATTY THOMAS FARR

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

             Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of the NCNAACP, is alarmed that Pres. Trump is nominating a prominent Republican attorney to the federal bench for the Eastern District who fought to uphold North Carolina’s racial gerrymandered redistricting maps and 2013 voter suppression laws. 
            According to a federal appellate court last year, those laws targeted African-American voters with almost “…surgical precision,” while the US Supreme Court recently ruled the maps to be “unconstitutional.”
Attorney Thomas Farr, best known for representing Republican legislative leaders in court is up for the lifetime seat, and Rev. Barber called that “dangerous.”
“Farr has been the lead attorney on racist voter suppression,” Rev. Barber said in an interview Tuesday.  “He’s wasted millions of North Carolinian’s dollars  (defending against NCNAACP lawsuits).
The civil rights leader vowed to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify against Farr’s confirmation.
Farr is a labor and constitutional law litigator with Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak and  Stewart law firm in Raleigh.
Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-12-NC) also made it clear in a statement last week that he opposes the Farr nomination.
            “I’m disappointed that President Trump nominated a lawyer who has been at the forefront of defending the North Carolina Republican legislature as it has repeatedly engaged in political gerrymandering of state legislative and congressional district boundaries, and has passed regressive voting laws that had the intended effect of diluting the voting rights of minority groups,” Rep. Butterfield said in a statement.
            “The counties in the Eastern District have a substantial African American population (27%) , but the Court does not reflect that diversity.  The Court should include African American judges and this appointment simply maintains the status quo in a district with a large population of African American citizens.
            “President Obama attempted to integrate this Court by nominating two African American females for this position (federal prosecutor Jennifer May-Parker and former NC Supreme Court Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson), but their nominations were blocked by a Republican Senator (Richard Burr). 
            Butterfield concluded, “I urge the United States Senate to carefully scrutinize the record of Thomas Farr and determine if he can impartially serve as a judge in cases involving voting and civil rights.”
            The judicial seat in question has been open for the past eleven years. The Eastern District covers 44 counties in North Carolina, from Raleigh in Wake County, to the coast. The seat has been vacant since 2005 – the longest federal judicial vacancy in the nation.
            “There has never been an African-American to sit on that court,” Rev. Barber says.” It looks like the civil rights movement never happened.”
            Farr has the backing of both Republican US senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis. Both, who say that Farr is “well qualified,” are expected to push hard for Farr’s confirmation in the US Senate.
            Farr has been down this road before, having been nominated by Pres. George W. Bush in 2006 and 2007, but the Senate Judiciary Committee never took up his nomination.
            Farr has defended both the Republican-led NC legislature’s 2011 redistricting maps, and voter ID restrictions, both later thrown out by the federal courts.
Rev. John Mendez and Emmanuel Baptist Church in Winston-Salem were plaintiffs in the NCNAACP lawsuit against the 2013 voter ID laws. He did not return two calls for comment to his church Tuesday prior to press time.
Attorney Irving Joyner, chair of the NC NAACP Legal Redress Committee, said of Trump’s nomination of atty. Farr, “A pure simple case of stacking the judicial deck against voting rights and political participation by African Americans and other racial minorities.”
            “Stacking” the federal judiciary with Republican judges is just one way critics like Joyner say Pres. Trump is attempting to prepare to win re-election in 2020.  Others also see the president’s controversial “Election Integrity Commission” as another attempt to control the voting in 2020 in a many states as possible to his liking.
            However, at press time, at least 45 states have balked at the commission’s request for personal information about voters registered to vote, fearing that information will be misused by the Trump Administration. A series of complaints and lawsuits have forced the commission to stop its data collection.
            Farr is expected to be heading up the legal team representing Republican legislative leaders on Thursday, July 27th when a federal three-judge panel for the US Middle District reconvenes to hear arguments about when legislative voting districts will be redrawn, and when (if possible) special elections could be held this year before November, based on those maps.

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            Unless the $200,000 Gov. Cooper appropriated the state Freedom Monument project in his proposed, but rejected budget is replaced , the tribute to African-American contributions to North Carolina history may not see the light of day as long as Republicans don’t see it as necessary.
            Just this week it was announced that the NC African American Heritage Commission was awarded a $148,450 grant from the National Institute of Museum and Library Services to support the commission’s “Green Books’ Oasis Spaces: African American Travel in NC, 1936 – 1966” project.
            “The Negro Motorist Green Book” (the “Green Book”) was an annual guidebook for African-American travelers, published from 1936 - 1966, to help them avoid business owners who refused to serve them. The guidebook compiled listings of “oasis spaces,” welcoming hotels, restaurants, auto repair shops, gas stations and other businesses from throughout most of the U.S…,” the NC Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources stated.
            According to a commission spokesperson last week, there is no such private funding slated for the Freedom Monument project.
GOP leadership won’t answer questions about why they decided not to fund the further planning and design of the monument which was originally supported by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, and had multiple public hearings across the state last year.
That the project was originally conceived and pushed under a Republican governor should make it nonpartisan, observers note.
The fact that there is a failure to recognize the significant and vital contributions of African Americans to this state should motivate voters who care about these matters to vote a difference in the upcoming elections,” Guilford County Democrat Rep. Amos Quick said.
 “We must vote the Republicans out of office.”
Sen. Angela Bryant (D-Nash), chair of the NC Legislative Black Caucus, maintained that the monument project was still a priority of caucus, though right now, its prospects are slim.
Sen. Bryant did clarify two points made last week, one from her previous email about the commission.
Last week, in a story titled, “Senate Wanted to Gut Funding for NC African American Commission,” Sen. Bryant was quoted from an email she sent to this paper stating, “While funding for the monument was a priority for the Legislative Black Caucus, we were not successful in securing funding this cycle – instead we were relegated to fighting to continue the staffing for the African American Heritage Commission, which was cut in the Senate Budget, and restored in the House Budget, and the final conference report.”
            Subsequent to publishing that statement, Sen. Bryant further clarified it in a follow-up email stating, “the Senate did not intentionally gut the Commission – the position was cut because it had been vacant over 18 months and had not been filled.  It is often the case in the budget process that all vacant positions for a certain period of time are scooped up to provide funding for other priorities.  So rather than there being some kind of intentional opposition to this project, it is more the case that the project has been neglected and has not had the consistent leadership and support to keep it on the forefront and we all have to take some ownership of that reality…”
            Secondly, regarding the upcoming abbreviated General Assembly sessions coming up in August and September, Republican legislative leaders have indicated that those are designated to specifically address redistricting issues, based on what is ordered from a federal three-judge panel scheduled to hear arguments on July 27th in Winston-Salem.
            Thus, the two sessions would properly be referred to as “special sessions” as opposed to the more literal “short sessions.” Technically, the next legislative “short session is scheduled to begin May-July 2018 to consider budgetary matters as a supplement to the “long session” that just ended two weeks ago when the state budget was crafted and passed.
            That does not mean, however, that Republican legislative leaders couldn’t, if they wanted to, reconsider the Freedom Monument appropriation during this August and September sessions. Since they are in control of the legislative agenda and rules, they, “…can consider whatever [they] decide…,” says Sen. Bryant.
            Speaking on behalf of Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue (D-Wake) and the NC Senate Democratic Caucus, Sen. Blue’s Chief of Staff Fred Aikens said the Freedom Monument project was not discussed much by them, even though the Legislative Black Caucus touted it as one of their priorities.
            And Aikens believes that Senate Republicans wanted to “punish” Senate Democrats for challenging many of their budget priorities.
            “Obviously if it’s a priority for the Legislative Black Caucus, the Senate Caucus will be in synch with them,” Aikens said. “But at the end of the day, [we] don’t have the votes to force the Republicans to do what they don’t want to do.”
            Aikens recalled how angry Republicans took budgeted money for schools away from one black Democrat’s district “just to be spiteful” to illustrate their contempt for African-Americans.
            “You can rest assured that if there’s anything that Democrats are going to propose, Republican’s aren’t going to be in favor of it, especially when it comes to African-American issues,” Aikens added, saying that the $5 million funding for the $65 million Civil War Center in Fayetteville by Republicans, versus zero funding for the $200,000 for the Freedom Monument is “racial and political.”
            “[Republicans] don’t have anybody up there that looks like us, so they’re not sensitive to those issues,” Aikens said, alter saying, “It’s just an effort to just punish folks.”
            Aikens said Minority Leader Blue and the Senate Democratic Caucus will speak to Senate Republican leaders about funding for the Freedom Monument, but, “…I’m not sure, unless the governor puts it back in his budget [proposal] that we’ll get resolution of that until the next time around.”


            [NEW ORLEANS, LA] NCNAACP Pres. Rev. Dr. William J. Barber will be consecrated as a “Bishop” and become a part of The College of Affirming Bishops for his work with Repairers of the Breach, Inc. (Repairers) and Justice Live In Ministry (JLAM). After deep consideration of his prophetic calling, credentials, his body of spiritual and justice work, his incessant care and concern for the poor and vulnerable and his experience as an exceptional pastor and leader of pastors, our Chief Consecrator, Bishop Yvette Flunder, with the full support of the College of Affirming Bishops, will oversee his examination, counsel and consecration. The consecration will take place Saturday, July 22 in New Orleans, La.

            [WILMINGTON] Local and county leaders came together Monday to say they aren’t hearing enough from state and federal officials concerning how much GenX chemical contamination there is the Cape Fear River, a prime source of drinking water for the region. Recent water test results show the levels of GenX have dropped since Chemours, the Dupont plant on the Cape Fear, stopped releasing the chemical. Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo and NHC Commission Chair Woody White said either they nor other local leaders should have to “beg” for updated information for the citizens they serve.
            Meanwhile the New Hanover Chapter of the National Black Leadership Caucus hosted a community forum titled “Crimes Against Humanity: Gen X Part 1” at the NHCPublic Library Tuesday. Citizens expressed their concerns about the Gen X contamination, and what it means for their families.

            [RALEIGH] In the aftermath of the announced resignation of Tashni-Ann Dubroy, president of Shaw University, the historically black university has named Paulette Dillard, vice president of academic affairs as the interim president, until the Trustee Board can name the next permanent president. A search committee will begin that process shortly. Dubroy, who was just named “female president of the year” by HBCU Digest, has been at Shaw for two years, and is credited with streamlining the operation and raising the level of contributions to the school. She leaves to serve as a vice president and chief operating officer at Howard University in Wash., DC in October.
            Ms. Dillard has been at Shaw for just five years.

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