Monday, June 30, 2014

Blogs on the news – 06/30/14

Nyang’oro update

 Word count: 548
On Monday last week The News & Observer whet its readers’ appetite about the upcoming hearing involving former UNC-CH African Afro-American Studies Department chairman Julius Nyang’oro.  The hearing was scheduled to take place on Wednesday, however on Tuesday, the day prior to the hearing, the media (mainly McClatchy newspapers which are obsessed with bashing the reputation of Nyang’oro) announced that Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall was having second thoughts about following through with the felony criminal prosecution of the former professor because he had been so cooperative with the investigation into the athletic-academic scandal lodged by Kenneth Wainstein. 
Although the UNC system under President Tom Ross prides itself in recouping the $12,000.00 paid to Nyang’oro for teaching a summer class which did not physically meet, it promptly set about paying Mr. Wainstein $990.00/hour and his associates in a range from $440-750/hour to conduct an investigation into whats/whys/whens/hows of the scandal.  This investigation, which has already chalked up more than four months, has been estimated to last until this fall… and why not since the attorneys are getting paid by the hour.  They’re going to milk this golden cow for all it’s worth!
Wainstein and his legal comrades evidently assured the Orange County D.A. Woodall that Nyang’oro was thoroughly cooperating with the investigation… a disclosure which seemed to shock the district attorney.  Had Woodall, or his assistant D.A.s taken the effort to question the black professor prior to criminally indicting him, then perhaps Woodall mightn’t’ve been so awed that Nyang’oro’s behavior was sincerely helpful. 
However, in North Carolina it is a common practice to arrest and even indict African American suspects without bothering to question them during an initial investigation.  That’s what happened to Crystal Mangum, the Duke Lacrosse victim/accuser, in the stabbing of Reginald Daye.  Bull City officers did not approach her an ask her for her side of the story surrounding the early morning physical confrontation.  Instead they handcuffed her (arresting her for assault and battery in the stabbing of Daye), took her to police headquarters, read her her Miranda Rights, then began to interrogate her.  A similar scenario played out in the murder charge against Knightdale resident Carletta Alston who spent a year in jail for the murder of her stepfather before being released with the charge dropped and without explanation.
Now it seems as though Woodall is going to be forced to drop his ill-advised charge against Julius Nyang’oro… and not for the reasons touted by the D.A.  Woodall could care less about Nyang’oro’s cooperation with Wainstein.  His concern is the unexpected collateral damage to administrators and others in UNC-CH upper echelon that a criminal investigation would expose.
The News & Observer last published that Woodall was in serious self-deliberation about dropping the criminal charge against Nyang’oro and that the hearing was still scheduled to take place on Wednesday.  However, it was The Herald Sun, a Durham daily that informed the public that the hearing had been cancelled.
So it appears that this politically charged felony prosecution to destroy the reputation and life of Julius Nyang’oro (described by local media as being at the center of the UNC-CH academic scandal) is going to dissipate with a whimper instead of taking down another innocent victim with a bang.  nn

UNC-CH Hairston scandal
Word count:  835
As far as scandals go, the one involving the abhorrent mistreatment of UNC-CH round-baller P. J. Hairston far outweighs that which was spawned by the media about the African and Afro-American Studies program that was put in place by powers at UNC-CH to surreptitiously enable academically challenged athletes to remain academically eligible to compete in sports… particularly basketball and football.  The real scandal in the latter is that UNC system President Tom Ross is allowing the private law firm to conduct a worthless investigation at exorbitant hourly rates… this leading naturally to an increase in student tuition.
However, the P. J. Hairston saga was without doubt a tragedy that should never have happened… and one that could have been averted had the athletic department at UNC had a bulldog-like athletic director from the mold similar to NC State’s Debbie Yow.  The NCAA wouldn’t dare to pull such shenanigans with State knowing that Yow would stand up for her players… especially star players the caliber of Hairston who are capable of bringing championship trophies to school showcases and meeting incentives that increase her compensation.
As it was, UNC-CH allowed the parasitic, morally-lacking and avaricious NCAA intimidate it and invoke a season-long suspension of the Tar Heels’ leading basketball scorer P. J. Hairston.  The end result of this ridiculous ruling by that self-centered organization was that UNC-CH was removed from contention in the ACC and NCAA tournaments.  As well as the team did without Hairston, it would’ve done a heckuvalot better had he been on the hardwood.  Not only did the NCAA ruling destroy the Tar Heel season, but it was detrimental to Hairston himself.  Despite being selected in the first round, his prospects would’ve been much better had he been allowed to perform during his senior year… possibly propelling him into a top ten selection.  It is apparent that his play is NBA caliber, but the NCAA and the mainstream media have elected to represent Hairston as an irresponsible troublemaker lacking character.
What is sad is the phony reasons given for demeaning this student-athlete (who attended classes) and did everything he possibly could to appease the NCAA and be allowed to play his final season on the Tar Heel team he loved.  Evidently the NCAA was not impressed and imposed the season-long suspension for the following:  1) an arrest during a traffic stop for possession of marijuana (the charge later being dropped); 2) driving a rental car which is considered by the money-crazed NCAA as being a dreaded impermissible benefit; and 3) speeding.  Can you believe that?  What a joke!
The media is now trying to justify Hairston’s NCAA suspension by writing that he’s owning up to his mistakes.  A recent headline on the sports page of The News & Observer reads, “P. J. says he’s a better person:  Hairston says mistakes are in the rear-view mirror.”  What’s the big revelation about that?  Face it, everybody makes mistakes.  I made plenty of mistakes when I was younger… and with time, I matured… somewhat.  Driving a rental car paid for by someone else and speeding are not what I would consider serious violations worthy of draconian punishment meted out by the collegiate athletic overseer.  The action taken against Hairston by the NCAA was arbitrary, baseless, and cruel.
The same newspaper of June 28, 2014, contained another article titled “Manziel won’t tone it down,” in which Johnny Football, the star quarterback from Texas A & M, was unapologetic about his off-time weekend drinking and partying.  He claimed he was going to live life to the fullest.
NCAA parasites went easy on Manziel when it was disclosed that he had signed sports memorabilia and earned a reported $7,500.00.  For this violation he was suspended the first half of the first game of his last college football season at A & M.  Part of the laxness of his punishment might have been due to the fact that the NCAA was making big bucks off of selling Manziel’s jersey on its online site… a lucrative business transaction which it apparently stopped after it was revealed in the media.  But, that’s the creed of the NCAA – it’s okay for the NCAA to make big bucks off of Manziel, Hairston, and other college athletes but it would be considered an illegal impermissible benefit for the athletes themselves to do so.
I believe that the all colleges and universities would be better off by kicking the NCAA to the curb and building from scratch its own regulatory agency… one that would have the best interests of the athletes in mind and one that would do away with the “impermissible benefits” concept which is ethically conflicted.  Also, I believe that some of the enormous profits generated by college sports programs should go towards compensating those responsible for it… the athletes.
Unfortunately, under the NCAA, P. J. Hairston and subsequently UNC-CH’s basketball team needlessly suffered.  Even media articles directed towards justifying the barbaric treatment of Hairston by the NCAA cannot conceal that fact.  nn

Change the name!
Word count:  399
Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has been unyielding in his determination to retain the “Redskins” name for his NFL professional football team.  And it seems as though he has picked up a few supporters including former Redskins manager Joe Gibbs who claims the name has been positive for him.  In an Associated Press article by Gary B. Graves, Gibbs is quoted as saying: “Never once did I hear anybody ever say anything negative about the name Redskins.  It was always prideful, it was courage involved.  We have a song, ‘Hail to the Redskins,’ and so everything, everything, about that name has been positive for me and my past.”
Also circling the wagons around Snyder on this issue are three Virginia legislators (Sen. Chap Petersen, Delegate Jackson Miller, and Delegate David Ramadan) who are forming a “Redskins Pride Caucus.”  What a pathetic waste of time and effort… sounds like something North Carolina legislators might do.
The majority of civilized America, including a vast number of politicians and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office find that the Redskin name is disparaging to Native Americans and should be changed.  Most important, Native Americans find the name to be demeaning and offensive.
What the Native Americans believe is overwhelmingly what should be taken into consideration.  What Joe Gibbs thinks is irrelevant as he is not a Native American.  So what if he finds the name Redskins to be prideful…?  Who cares?  And the three member Redskins Pride Caucus, to my knowledge, is not comprised of any Native Americans.  But this threesome professes to be standing for the all-important principle of “commercial freedom”… which in a capitalistic society readily trumps morality, compassion, and common sense.  Again, I say who cares what the Redskins Pride Caucus thinks.  It is without Native American representation and therefore its position on the issue is irrelevant.
What I would propose to Mr. Snyder is changing the name from “Redskins” to “Warriors.”  Washington Warriors… that has a catchy sound, and it would enable the team to retain its current logo.  It is the word “Redskins” after all that is problematic, and a reasonable person would be able to understand that.  Being an African American, I am naturally more empathetic with the Native Americans’ position than is Mr. Snyder… however, it’s past time for him to walk a mile in someone else’s moccasins and re-evaluate his stubborn position.  nn

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

UNC academic-athletic probe doesn’t make sense

Word count:  1,761

It’s been a while since Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall set his prosecutorial sights on former UNC-Chapel Hill Professor Julius Nyang’oro, head of the school’s African and Afro-American Studies Department in what has become to be known as an “academic” scandal enabling academically challenged athletes to remain academically eligible to play inter-collegiate sports.  The biased media, with emphasis on The News & Observer, has placed Nyang’oro at the center of this brouhaha and painted him as the mastermind behind the unscrupulous practice of enrolling scholastically under-performing African American students in “no-show” classes and having tutor engage in ghost-writing reports and other class assignments.

With sickening relish in destroying the life and reputation of an African American professional, the N & O, as recently as Sunday, June 22, 2014, heralded the upcoming court appearance by Nyang’oro in a felony criminal case brought by the Orange County D.A. Woodall.  It seems that Nyang’oro accepted $12,000.00 for teaching a class which did not meet and which was heavily enrolled by black student-athletes.  After the media pounced on this apparent misstep by the professor, Nyang’oro stepped down as department chair, was forced into early retirement, and UNC-CH recouped its $12 grand salary by deducting it from Nyang’oro.   

D.A. Woodall was all set to prosecute the head of the African American studies program when things happened which took the air out from under his wings… namely, the light of truth started to shine.  The truth, which is plainly obvious to most Tar Heelians, is that Nyang’oro was in reality a very small cog in a very large academic turbo-engine which was designed to make UNC-CH competitive in football and basketball by making sure that the athletes remained academically eligible.  To begin with, many of these athletes, as exposed by UNC whistleblower Mary Willingham, were not academically of college caliber… some close to being illiterate.  Although they represented UNC on the gridiron and basketball court, these students were not recruited by Nyang’oro, and he did not advise them to enroll in his classes.  Nyang’oro was nothing more than acting as a good soldier… following orders handed down to him by his superiors.  Nyang’oro did not devise or implement the academic-fraud system… he merely executed it as demanded by those in high places.  As a result of the athletic successes and championships, millions of dollars were brought to the school.  It’s a fact that winning college sports teams bring in big bucks to the institutions they represent.

It is evident, especially with recent revelations by former UNC roundballer Rashad McCants that the 2005 NCAA national championship Tar Heel team owes its success in great measure to Nyang’oro whose classes allowed McCants and other star players on that team to remain eligible.  UNC-CH should have given Nyang’oro an award for his fidelity to the school instead of forcing him out and using him as a scapegoat… fodder for a district attorney who has no scruples about criminalizing an innocent African American man.  Truth be told, Julius Nyang’oro should be repaid his $12,000.00 salary because he conducted his class courses as demanded by those high up in the university’s chain of command… he enabled the athletes who struggled in the classroom to remain eligible.  In no way did he defraud the school or the student-athletes.  McCants, and other student athletes in his position were aware of how the academic-eligibility game was played and that their diploma would not be worth more than the sheepskin upon which it was printed.

        In the June 21, 2014 issue of The News & Observer, Dan Kane begins the article “Wainstein probe reaches back” by stating “UNC-Chapel Hill wants to move forward, so Kenneth Wainstein first has to look back.  In this case, way back.”  I disagree with this premise totally.  I have no problem with the university moving forward, but to hire an expensive legal firm to investigate the past is nothing more than a waste of money.  According to the article, Wainstein has been conducting his investigation for at   least four months with Wainstein personally being paid $990.00 an hour and three of his associates being paid anywhere between $440.00 and $775.00 an hour.  How do they get away with demanding such outrageously high compensation?  UNC system President Tom Ross tries to give assurances that the money going to pay these overpriced avaricious attorneys is not coming from taxpayer funds.  I don’t believe that; and if that is the case, where is the money to pay them coming from?  Undoubtedly the legal tab has risen far beyond the million dollar mark and the UNC system will logically recoup the amount spent on this ridiculous investigation by raising tuition.  Although there may be no specific taxpayer fund footing the bill, the state institution can’t help but bilk Tar Heelian taxpayers out of millions of dollars.  Well, at least, $12,000.00 of Nyang’oro’s pay will go towards paying for the investigation.  Comforting to know, isn’t it? 

        Ross has given Wainstein and his firm free rein in the conduct of the investigation… and no wonder it is stretching back so far.  The investigation is so encompassing because those doing the investigation are being compensated on an hourly basis.  Nothing is to be gained by the Wainstein investigation.  Everyone knows what happened… UNC-CH steered academically at risk athletes to “no- show” classes to assure their academic eligibility.  By doing so, it made UNC-CH competitive in the high revenue generating NCAA basketball and football programs.  What difference does it make who was responsible for putting together this academic-athletic fraud?  Instead the UNC system should move forward and put in place measures to assure their athletes are qualified to do college level work, remove no-show classes, and see that athletes, and not tutors, read their assignments and write their reports.  By doing so, however, UNC-CH will more likely than not become permanent cellar dwellers in the basketball and football standings… that is, unless all other universities in the ACC adopt the same standards.
        Orange County D.A. Woodall, has likewise wasted taxpayer money by instigating the worthless felony prosecution of Nyang’oro.  Facing the prospect of drawing in other high-ranking officials into the criminal prosecution of the black professor is the major impetus for Woodall to fall back from his prior aggressive stance in this case.  Evidently, from the Wainstein investigation thus far, Woodall has learned what most Tar Heelians already knew… that Nyang’oro was merely acting in concert with a system which was already well established to insure the university fielded talented football and basketball teams.  For Wainstein to proceed with the Nyang’oro prosecution would only reveal the true folly of the action taken by him against the dedicated and loyal university professor. 
        In order to save face, Woodall is claiming that he’s considering dropping charges because Nyang’oro is being cooperative in Wainstein’s investigation.  Woodall would’ve found Nyang’oro cooperative had he conducted an investigation instead of prematurely jumping forward to indict Nyang’oro as a felon for accepting $12,000.00 in compensation for heading up “no-show” classes for the benefit of UNC-CH.  In The News & Observer article of June 24, 2014, titled “Nyang’oro charge may be dropped,” Woodall actually seems to be shocked by Nyang’oro’s interaction with the Wainstein investigation saying, “It appears that Nyang’oro has cooperated fully with them and actually, I think, maybe gone over and above what was expected from him.”
        UNC-CH history professor Jay Smith, who for some reason has been pressing for an in-depth investigation into the scandal, admitted that it struck him as odd that Nyang’oro is the only person facing a penalty for the scandal.  It’s not so surprising when one considers that Nyang’oro is black.  Unfortunately in this state in this post-civil rights era, race does matter.  Of course, that is clearly evident in the Crystal Mangum case.
        D.A. Woodall had absolutely no compunction about investigating then Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Clay Nichols for mishandling evidence in a Cumberland County murder case.  But he has refused to investigate Nichols for proven allegations of perjury in Mangum’s trial (testifying that Reginald Daye’s spleen was removed at surgery eleven days prior to autopsy and therefore wasn’t available at autopsy, and yet describing the organ in detail in his autopsy report on Daye) and production of a false and fraudulent autopsy report.  However, Woodall is in league with others, including Durham D.A. Leon Stanback, and the NC Attorney General’s Office in refusing to investigate the work product of Nichols in the Mangum case.  That’s because it is too political and the Powers-That-Be who have hijacked the state’s justice system are sworn to see Mangum suffer retribution for her claims of being sexually assaulted at a March 2006 party hosted by Duke lacrosse players.
        Make no mistake about it… Woodall is the type of district attorney the Powers-That-Be want at the reins of the important criminal/legal position.  A district attorney who is malleable to the every whim of those in control, and a district attorney who is not moved by issues of morality and fairness.  Former District Attorney Mike Nifong would never have indicted Professor Nyang’oro, and dollars to donunts he most definitely would have investigated Medical Examiner Nichols for his actions in the Crystal Mangum case.  The reasons I believe Nifong would act thusly is because he has proven himself to be a man of integrity who is guided by precepts of ethics, fairness, and justice… a man possessing the independence and courage to fully commit to his conscience in doing the right thing.
        These qualities with which Mike Nifong has been endowed marked him as a major obstacle in the takeover of the justice system, and that is the reason that he was forced from his elected position in the powerful district attorney position.  To dissuade others from following in his footsteps, the State methodically persecuted Nifong while the biased mainstream media crucified him.  The State and media collaborated in a demonization enterprise against Nifong that is not dissimilar to that used against Crystal Mangum.
        To Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall I say: “I have the privilege of knowing Mike Nifong, and you, Mr. Woodall, are no Mike Nifong.”  And that is the reason medical examiners will selectively not be prosecuted for producing fraudulent autopsy reports and committing perjury at trial.  That is the reason why innocent African American professionals will be preyed upon solely for the purpose of ruining their lives and reputations.  That is why all Tar Heelians are currently living under a legal system in which justice has been corrupted and hijacked.  