Monday, October 16, 2017


By Cash Michaels

            AFTERMATH – In the aftermath of the horrific alleged sexual harassment/abuse stories about Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, it has been simply amazing how many women on social media – both on Facebook and Twitter – have adopted the hashtag moniker “#me too.”
            Suddenly, women from all over, young and old, black, white and others, are coming forward in their own way, admitting that at least once in their lives, they too were the victims of some man’s craven sexual abuse.
            On Monday on my Facebook page, I felt compelled to write the following to these women, whoever they were, wherever they were:
            I am simply overwhelmed by the sheer number of women here on FB who have adopted the "me too" moniker when it comes to being a victim of sexual harassment of ANY sort.
Yes, it was, and IS wrong, and should not have happened. As the father of two talented and gifted young ladies, I certainly don't want to see ANY female demeaned in ANY way, for ANY reason. As a father I don't tolerate it, as a Christian I won't tolerate it, and as a man, I CAN'T tolerate it. The most important human beings in my life in formulating who I am and have come to be, have been women, starting with my late mother, some of the best teachers I've ever had, close friends, and finally the two outstanding young women who pruodly know me as "Dad."
So I proudly stand with you, Sistahs of every color and creed, on this. You'll recall when the Bill Cosby controversy was raging, I didn't hesitate to hold him accountable, because as much as I loved the man, I knew, deep down, that the allegations against him were true.
The Weinstein controversy is shameful, but I believe it is just the tip of the iceberg. We have the same kind of degenerates in every facet of life, including, unfortunately, the church.
As men, we need to stand with our women in demanding a change in our culture. You see who is president....and we know his history. 
That tells ALL of us that we have a lot of work to do to make this nation a place that our children - female and male - can proudly and safely grow up in.
The chickens ALWAYS come home to roost, brothers and sisters.
I mean, just think about it…to treat ANY human being, let alone a female, as if she were just a possession ripe for the picking, regardless of her basic human rights, is sick, AND sickening. That kind of depraved behavior is certainly the product of a rotting culture. No man would approve of their mother being treated like a piece of meat by anybody. No man would tolerate their female child to be violated or used solely for the pleasure or exploitation of others.
So why do so many men…so many powerful men in particular, engage in this type of crass behavior? Because our culture, by and large, has allowed men to get away with it. Indeed, our American culture has openly promoted this gutter behavior.
To expect a woman, ANY woman, to sell herself to you for any reason, is wrong and ungodly. If a woman willingly gives herself to a man, that is her right. She should never be forced, pressured or blackmailed to do it.
American men, we’ve got to get ourselves together on this, and promote the dignity of our women.
Our children…ALL OF OUR CHILDREN….are watching!
Especially the females!


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            North Carolina Republicans say the state’s judicial districts have not been fine- tuned in 60 years, and as a result, some districts have too many judges, while others have too few. It’s time to correct that imbalance so that all North Carolinians are treated “fairly and equitably,” Republicans say.
            “This gets them back closer to similar size districts,” says Rep. Donny Lambeth (R-Forsyth).
            Indeed, there is general consensus that new district lines need to be redrawn, and the process of judges being elected or appointed deserves a long overdue look, with judicial input.
            But what state House Republican lawmakers have done per judicial redistricting in their third Special Session of the year goes beyond any “fine tuning,” Democrats, NCNAACP leadership and others insist. They see a plot by the GOP to systematically take over North Carolina’s court system so that more Republican judges and prosecutors can be elected, and Republicans ultimately have a better chance of winning cases involving legislative policy disputes, like voting rights and redistricting.
            “They’re bullies…,” declared Bob Hall, executive director of the nonpartisan Democracy: NC, a Durham-based issues-advocacy group that’s been monitoring what GOP legislative leaders have been up to.
            “They’ve gone after the executive branch, now they’re going after the courts, very deliberately and systematically.”
            It has been a burr in the side of Republican legislative leaders that they’ve spent over $10 million in litigation fees over the past decade, only to have their laws either overturned as being unconstitutional, or their power grabs struck down by both state and federal courts.
            A scheme to maintain a Republican majority on the state Supreme Court failed miserably last year, resulting in the election of Democrat Judge Mike Morgan, an African-American, and with that, a Democratic majority.
            Republicans still hold the majority on the NC Court of Appeals, but that isn’t enough. The GOP majority in both the House and Senate have put party labels back on local judicial races, and there are plans to add more seats to the state Supreme Court so that Republicans can return to the majority there.
With a new judicial redistricting plan that has even members of the judiciary up in arms, the GOP has laid out a scheme that many district and superior court judges, a good number of whom are both Democrat and African-American, in counties like Durham, Forsyth, Mecklenburg and Guilford, will be “double-bunked” in newly drawn districts, meaning they will have to face one another in elections in order to remain in office.
“They’re going to eliminate a lot of African-American judges, “ Hall with Democracy: NC insists. He added that a lot of the programs that counties shared that were alternatives for incarceration for many people,  would now be ended where there are large urban centers.
“It’s a conspiracy on a number of levels,” Hall continued. “They’re trying to find a way to elect more Republican judges; a conspiracy against African-American judges who have gained more stature and seniority; and it’s a conspiracy against the people who are served by the courts.”
Observers say it is no accident that the GOP judicial redistricting plan was concocted by Rep. Justin Burr (R-Stanly), a bail bondsman who stands to benefit from changing the court system. Burr, however, counters that the judicial redistricting is needed.
“This thing is a mess,” opined Sen. Paul Lowe (D-Forsyth), one of the counties where black judges would be affected by the judicial redistricting if it passes when the legislature reconvenes next January.
“It sounds like the real goal is to shift things in the urban areas, pretty much guaranteeing that the number of African-American judges will go down dramatically – whether they’re intending that or not.”
            The hue and cry from Democratic and NCNAACP leaders is almost deafening.
            Based on what we have seen produced from the House plan on judicial redistricting, I am gravely concerned over the rejection of insight and input from the courts.,” Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue (D-Wake) said Monday, noting that members of the state’s judiciary had no say in the Republican judicial redistricting maps.
 “It is critical for the health of the judicial system to support and encourage diversity on the bench and to promote the peoples’ right to a fair and speedy trial,” Sen. Blue continued.  “The plan pushed forward in the House erodes that diversity and obstructs justice.”
Published reports indicate that Republicans in the state Senate have a different idea on how judges should elevated to the bench, suggesting that they prefer the merit selection of judges by lawmakers, thus eliminating judicial elections. To give themselves more time to flesh out the details, the Senate passed SB656 last week, cancelling the 2018 judicial primaries. Gov. Cooper vetoed the law, but the GOP House and Senate overrode his veto with their supermajorities this week before going home.
“While some of the provisions of S.B. 656 were good steps toward reforming our judicial elections, the elimination of primaries is an unnecessary and chaotic step that will only hurt the public’s ability to choose justices,” said Rep. Cecil Brockman (D-Guilford).
Attorney Irving Joyner, chair of the NCNAACP Legal Redress Committee, was scathing in his assessment of what the Republicans are up to.
Present efforts by the N.C. General Assembly to reconfigure judicial districts are, once again, designed by right wing ideologues to destroy democracy in North Carolina and further diminish the participation of African Americans, racial minorities and women in the State's justice process,” Joyner, who is also a professor at North Carolina Central University’s School of Law in Durham, continued. “The redistricting proposals have the goal of stacking the District and Superior Courts with people who are loyal to an ultra conservative political point of view and who will undermine constitutional protections that all people are supposed to enjoy in North Carolina.”
 “As proposed, the projected district lines will eliminate the judicial position in which African Americans have been elected and deliberately create districts which will force some African American judges to run against each other,” Joyner, who also called the Senate’s merit selection plan, “…just a further attempt to strip citizens of the right to vote and place the power to elect Judges in the hands of a few right wing legislators…”, said.
“What the General Assembly seeks to do now in the judicial realm is exactly what they unsuccessfully sought to do with legislative and congressional districts. The NC NAACP is preparing to challenge these unconstitutional districts in federal court as soon as they are enacted,” Prof. Joyner concluded.
The newly elected president of the NCNAACP, Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman of Greensboro, echoed Joyner’s concern.
No matter which type of judicial selection process is used--Appointment, Merit Selection, or Election--a judiciary truly “Of, By, and For the People…” must be selected by a process as blind as possible to race, gender, or political affiliation. We advocate for a process that--in intent and effect--removes judicial selection from the control of anyone who would use the justice system for political advantage or racial discrimination,” Rev. Spearman added.
Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford), joined the chorus.
“The GOP clearly has designs on remaking our judiciary to elect more Republican judges, at a time when North Carolinians want less partisanship in our judiciary,” she said in a statement Tuesday.
“They had already eliminated our exemplary judicial public financing program. This year they added legislation making us the first state in a century to move to partisan judicial races.  They have reduced the size of the very busy Court of Appeals and then shifted some of the workload to the Supreme Court, presumably to justify packing that with Republican appointments (to undo the shift in balance caused by Mike Morgan's 2016 win).”
“This latest effort to redraw the local races by carving up blue (Democratic) counties while leaving similarly sized Republican counties alone is clearly an attempt to elect more Republican judges at the local level. It has been done hastily and without proper deliberation. And today's vote to eliminate the judicial primary (in anticipation of legislative selection) is a further assault on our judicial system and will likely lead to chaos,” Rep. Harrison concluded.
“Republicans are saying…] ‘We’ll make sure we remain in power,’ Sen. Lowe remarked, feigning what the ultimate GOP goal is. “And they want to make sure that they’ve got the right folks in place.”
Sen. Lowe added that people must take what’s happening seriously, and commit themselves to voting for a change in 2018.
House Republicans went home Tuesday after voting Monday night to override Gov. Cooper’s veto of SB 626, which canceled the 2018 judicial primaries. The Senate also ended its Special Session this week, scheduled to return Jan. 10th to decide ballot amendments on voter ID, and the appointment of judges by lawmakers for 2018.
“It’s a serious crime against democracy,” Bob Hall of Democracy: NC insists. “It’s a serious crime that [Republicans] are committing.”

By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            As a federal hearing in North Carolina’s own partisan gerrymandering case involving congressional districts commenced this week in Greensboro, a three-judge panel still reviewing redrawn legislative redistricting maps seemed to hint that they aren’t pleased with what Republican lawmakers came up with, especially with race not being considered in the equation, and have asked both the state and plaintiffs to recommend possible special masters who would ultimately redrawn fairer voting districts in time for the 2018 midterm elections.
            Day One of the partisan gerrymandering hearing saw expert witnesses taking the stand, testifying how much of an “extreme statistical outlier” the 2016 congressional maps dawn by Republican voting district mapmaker Tom Hofeller are.
            Hofeller also drew the 2011 NC legislative maps that were found to be unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court because they “stacked-and-packed’ NC black voters into 28 out of 170 voting districts, thus lessening their influence in elections.
            In the case of the 2016 congressional elections, out of 13 NC congressional districts, Republicans were elected to 10 of them. Blacks were drawn into the First Congressional District, currently represented by Congressman G. K. Butterfield; the Fourth with Rep. David Price; and the Twelfth District with Congresswoman Alma Adams, all three Democrats.
            Expert witnesses testified that based on their studies, a 10-3 Republican majority congressional map had to be deliberate, given that, using the same information and calculations, they were able to come up with many more maps that allowed 7-6 Republican to Democrats, or 7-6 Democrat to Republican congressional combinations.
            Partisan gerrymandering is legal, unlike racial gerrymandering, but that could change per upcoming rulings.
            The North Carolina Leaguc of Women Voters and the nonpartisan group, Common Cause, are the plaintiffs suing  the state of North Carolina, claiming, similar to the partisan gerrymandering case in Wisconsin that the US Supreme Court s considering, that allowing Republican legislatures to draw partisan majorities deprives citizens of fair and equal representation in government, resulting in severely lop-sided electoral results.
            Observers say it should be impossible for a state like North Carolina, which is evenly divided politically, to still lave anything like a 10-3 Republican-leaning congressional delegation.
            The US Middle Court hearing in the 2016 partisan gerrymandering should hear final testimony today.
            Also in Greensboro last week, the federal three-judge panel currently deciding whether the redrawn 2011 NC legislative maps in the Covington v. State of North Carolina case submitted by the Republican-led NC General Assembly in late August pass legal muster, have signaled, as plaintiffs have charged, that the legislative effort has fallen short, and an independent “special master”  designated by the court may have to be brought in to redraw the redrawn maps.
            Nineteen state House districts and nine state Senate districts in the original 2011 redistrict maps were found to be racially gerrymandered by the federal courts. When Republican lawmakers finally redrew the maps this summer, they removed race as a consideration in the criteria, but plaintiffs suing the state countered that the new maps were just as bad.
            After a hearing and a barrage of questions for both sides, the court seemed to side with the plaintiffs that the state could not be trusted to correct their maps, and asked both sides to submit the names of three experts they all agreed could serve as special masters to redraw the maps.
            That list of names was due to the court Wednesday.
            Regardless of this court’s decision, observers say expect it to be appealed to the US Supreme Court, possibly eating up more time before the February filing deadline for legislative candidates for the 2018 midterm elections.


            [WILMINGTON] Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) filed suit in US District Court Monday against the chemical companies Chemours, and it’s parent,  DuPont, alleging that they knew the chemical discharge of GenX into the Cape Fear River since 1980 would be hazardous to human health. Until recently, GenX has been released into the Cape Fear, the New Hanover County region drinking supply. CFPUA further alleges that Chemours and Dupont are in violation of several federal environmental laws as a result of the GenX discharge. CFPUA is suing for damages in excess of $75,000, the final amount to be determined when the lawsuit is heard at trial. Neither Chemours nor Dupont had an immediate response after the suit was filed.

            {WILMINGTON] The Wilmington City Council delayed a scheduled vote this week on purchasing $42,000 worth of riot batons, canister grenades and other riot equipment for the Wilmington Police Dept’s Mobile Field Force Team D (MFF-D).  Official say the riot equipment would help the force to disperse demonstrations.  Approximately 30 current officers will be assigned to the MFF-D. The council vote was delayed, however, to allow for more public comment on the purchase. Officials say the MFF-D would be paid for through funding of the N.C. Drug Tax. The next council meeting is scheduled for Nov. 8th.

            [CLINTON] Sampson County authorities are investigating the shooting of an infant girl who fell victim to a random bullet which hit the child in the torso. Authorities say  shots were fired at 25 Bumpy Lane Tuesday night when two armed men approached a man attending a birthday party, and an argument commenced. As the man ran away, the two apparently fired shots, with one of the bullets striking the home, and hitting the child. The infant was eventually airlifted to UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill for treatment.



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