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Tracking the Killer’s Dark Mind

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Tracking the Killer’s Dark Mind

by William Covington
Special to the NNPA from Our Weekly

 

James Eagen Holmes
James Eagen Holmes

 

John Allen Muhammad
John Allen Muhammad

 

Tyrone Mitchell
Tyrone Mitchell

 

Not all mass murderers have the same racial makeup

In the aftermath of multiple murders like the one that occurred in Aurora, Colo., last weekend, the immediate reaction is to scrutinize the background of the culprit for underlying reasons behind the aberrant behavior.

Following the Fort Hood massacre, the shooter’s Middle Eastern background and Islamic faith fed into the deeply entrenched hysteria surrounding Muslims and ignited a rush to judgment about a potential nationwide Jihad, a phobia nurtured by the media.

Similarly, armchair psychologists expounding on the Virginia Tech rampage openly speculated about possible influences Asian culture may have had on the psyche of the shooter, and his decision to open fire on his classmates.

All these amateur psycho-sociological propositions fail to acknowledge the fact that most immigrants, regardless of their point of origin, work hard to fit into the fabric of American society, and are more likely to embrace the U.S. mantra of conspicuous consumerism than become embroiled in the tradition of violence that is part and parcel of Yankee folklore.

Conversely, people of color look upon the legacy of spree killing and surmise that, since most serial killers are White males, they have an inherent moral superiority to these members of the most privileged class. But in this belief, they conveniently ignore the body count amassed by D.C. sniper John Allen Muhammad, the California Bay Area’s Zebra killers in the 1970s, and the Los Angeles suspect Lonnie David Franklin Jr., alleged to be the notorious “Grim Sleeper.”

There is also the now largely forgotten Jefferson High School alumnus and follower of the Rev. Jim Jones, Tyrone Mitchell, who committed his carnage on the playground of 49th Street Elementary School in 1984, which dispells the notion that mass murder is the largely the province of White society.

While mass murder is not always the result of mental illness, authorities conclude that better, more efficient diagnosis and treatment could have prevented many of the tragedies in recent history. In the case of alleged Aurora, Colo., triggerman James Holmes, prior intervention was unlikely, since this suspect had no criminal record and had exhibited no deviant behavior consistent with legally defined psychosis.

Feb. 24, 1984, would have been the happiest day of the week for most kids attending grade school. It was the beginning of the weekend and that meant no school the next day and Saturday morning cartoons. But that Friday afternoon Mitchell had other plans. For some reason, he decided that Friday he would partake in an event that would label him the first mass shooter in California’s history and the first African American to commit such an act.

Mitchell began the morning by smoking PCP, according to various newspaper articles that covered the incident 28 years ago. Prior to the shooting, Mitchell positioned himself in a room on the second-story of his home and began firing several rifles at children and staff on the crowded campus of 49th Street School across the street.

Barbra Nickel, a former resident of East 49th Street and childhood friend of Mitchell’s cousins, “It ended four hours after the shootings began at 2:23 p.m.” Police reports indicate at least 16 canisters of tear gas were fired into the house in an attempt to subdue Mitchell.

Upon entering the house, the Los Angeles police found the body of a man they said was the sniper. They identified him as Tyrone Mitchell, 28 years old. Mitchell reportedly died from self-inflicted wounds.

The New York Times reported that Mitchell was a member of the People’s Temple and had been in Guyana the day that hundreds of Jim Jones followers perished in mass murders and suicides in November 1978. He reportedly escaped death at Jonestown by traveleing to Georgetown, the capital of Guyana, when the deaths occurred. But his parents and at least two other close relatives were believed to have died in the massacre.

Jones had opened the People Temples Church at 1336 S. Alvarado St. in Los Angeles in hopes of attracting Blacks from Watts, South Central Los Angeles, and Compton, according to a spokesperson from the Southern California Association of Seventh-day Adventists, which had leased the building to the People’s Temple.

Mitchell caused two fatalities—10-year-old female student Shala Eubanks and 24-year-old male playground supervisor Carlos Lopez. The injured included nine children and two adults (Lopez being one. He died about six weeks later, on April 13,1984), according to LAPD Public Information Officer Lyle Knight. Many in the media believed Mitchell chose to begin shooting as pupils were leaving for the day to ensure adequate targets. Police said Mitchell had a reputation as a habitual PCP user, and that relatives had told them he was under the influence of drugs the day of the shooting.

In an odd way, the Mitchells had been the envy of many kids at 49th Street School. During the 1960s when they were growing up, their home, although humble, was across the street from the school. If they forgot their homework or lunch they could retrieve them within minutes. They could get home early to catch afterschool cartoons, and they could avoid the older neighborhood jackers who would shake you down for money while enroute to and from school.

Growing up in the early ‘70s, Mitchell could be identified by his cross country flats—a lightweight, cushionless black-cloth running shoe—and his very large afro, known back then as a blowout. He was very popular, according to Carver Junior High and Jefferson High classmate Anthony Brooks. He was known throughout the neighborhood for his speed, and was a member of the Thomas Jefferson High School cross country team.

Brooks also remembers having a conversation with Mitchell at Tams Burgers located on 51st Street and Central Avenue one or two weeks before the shooting rampage.

Brooks said he muttered and at times his speech was inaudible. “It appeared he was complaining about how Mexicans had taken over the neighborhood,” Brooks said. (The San Ysidro McDonald’s massacre followed five months later. Its shooter James Oliver Huberty also targeted an area that was frequented by Mexican Americans.)

Even before the shooting, according to Reginald Smith, Mitchell had developed a bizarre, threatening behavior, and was known by friends and relatives to keep an arsenal of weapons in his home. Smith thinks Mitchell purchased his first rifle for protection—he was dating a girl whose former boyfriend was gang-affiliated.

According to the Los Angeles Times, he was not being treated for mental illness at the time of his attack, although county officials had declared him “unemployable” five years earlier because of an “anxiety neurosis” characterized by excessive fear or dread.

Police had been called to the Mitchell home several times in the years before the shooting, in response to reports from relatives and neighbors that Mitchell was threatening them or firing weapons into the air at passing airplanes, according to former classmate and close friend Lonnie McGregor.

McGregor believes Mitchell was probably prosecuted only once—for firing a gun into the air and, as a result, may have served a week in jail.

LAPD Newton Division records indicate that during Christmas of 1983, two months before the schoolyard shooting, police responded to a family dispute at the Mitchell home and confiscated a shotgun, but had to eventually return it when his uncle refused to press charges. Three weeks later, the same shotgun was found with two other weapons beside Mitchell’s lifeless body in the second-floor room from which he committed the state’s first mass shooting rampage.

Immediately after the Mitchell shooting,the LAPD formed a commission designed to create guidelines to help officers handle possible mental health offenders as well as other individuals needing assistance while ensuring that the public is protected. The plan provided extensive training to police officers in how to recognize the mentally ill, how to keep encounters with them from turning violent, and how to familiarize them with services that are available around the clock to assist them.

Officers trained to recognize symptoms of mental illness can arrest individuals who appear to be potential public safety threats. Such arrests are handled by two units—the LAPD Threat Management Unit, which handles cases of harassment or stalking (It was initiated in 1990, after the murder of actress Rebecca Lucile Schaeffer), and the Mental Evaluation Unit. Stalking suspects often suffer from some form of mental instability, and workplace violence suspects typically experience some form of mental health crisis.

The units utilize specially trained police officers and clinicians from the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. The goal is to minimize violent encounters with law enforcement agencies and to provide safe and humane treatment for the most vulnerable members of society—the mentally ill.

Before that, such offenders would be booked and jailed, if the root causes of their actions were determined to be psychiatric.

“Putting them in the criminal justice system is not going to prevent their antisocial behavior but psychiatric treatment might. In a 1985 interview, then-LAPD Cmdr. James Jones stated, “We’re trying to find a way to divert people would be more appropriately treated by mental health professionals away from the criminal justice system. This will give us a better chance of spotting the Tyrone Mitchells beforehand and preventing some of them,” said Jones, who represented the police department on the multi-agency committee that devised the guidelines for handling the mentally ill.

In 1985, Jones said that in the past the department had been in the position where “we did not know what to do or where to take people [who] appeared to be mentally ill). It was totally frustrating for us, as well as dangerous for the community.

“Now we’ll have a method to bring that person to the attention of the mental health system, hopefully before some kind of violence occurs. We won’t catch all of them, but if we can prevent just one incident like the school shooting . . .,” said Jones in 1985.

Mary Mesa, a long-time resident of East 49th Street, today appears to be more concerned with gang shootings than spree shootings. She feels living down the street from nearby South Park places her at ground zero in reference to shootings and homicides. She also believes gang members are no different than mass shooters.

Clinical psychologist Rhonda Hampton was asked to describe or compare the differences or similarities in thinking between an individual who would commit a violent act like the Colorado shooting to a gang member committing a drive-by with total disregard for innocent bystanders.

The short answer, Hampton said, is that gang members are typically sociopaths who engage in acts of violence as part of their need for group affiliation and in compliance with the rules of the gang. When gang members kill innocent bystanders, it may be incidental to the goal of killing a particular individual believed to have wronged the gang or someone in the gang. While the gang member may or may not be remorseful about the death of the innocent victim, it is typically not their plan to murder innocent bystanders.

In the case of massacres like the one in the movie theater in Colorado, it appears as though the accused shooter was experiencing some delusional belief system in which he has lost touch with reality and which caused him to act on this fantasy at an opportune time. While the delusions are not reality-based to other people, they appear logical to the individual experiencing them, and consequently, they feel their actions are justified as a result of their beliefs. Massacres such as this are intentional and well-planned out, and there may not be any particular intended victim.

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Gov. Desantis: ‘It’s The Internet’

FLORDIA COURIER — The El Paso and Dayton shootings could help fuel debate in Tallahassee about gun-control issues and ideas for preventing mass violence, starting with a Florida Senate review of factors such as White supremacist terrorism. 

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Fans carry a sign that reads, “Pray for El Paso & Dayton” during a march before a pro soccer match in Orlando on Tuesday.

By Wire and Staff Reports

TALLAHASSEE – The El Paso and Dayton shootings could help fuel debate in Tallahassee about gun-control issues and ideas for preventing mass violence, starting with a Florida Senate review of factors such as White supremacist terrorism.

The shootings come after years of debate in Florida about gun-control issues, including whether to ban assault weapons. The Republican-dominated Legislature has rejected proposals by Democrats to ban the semiautomatic weapons, though a political committee, Ban Assault Weapons NOW, is trying to get a proposed ban on the November 2020 ballot.

“This weekend, we saw yet two more mass shootings in our country take the lives of 31 fellow Americans, with both shooters armed with military-grade assault weapons,” Gail Schwartz, chairwoman of Ban Assault Weapons NOW, said in a prepared statement.

“These events highlight the harsh reality: These killings will continue to happen, here in Florida and across the country, until we take action and do what our elected leaders have failed to do. We must ban these weapons of war.”

Legislative review

Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, on Monday directed Senate Infrastructure and Security Chairman Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, to lead efforts to determine if any further action is needed after laws were enacted in the wake of the Feb. 14, 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

In the aftermath, the Legislature approved a wide-ranging measure that required schools to have safety officers, bolstered mental-health services and upgraded protections through school “hardening” projects.

The law also raised the minimum age from 18 to 21 and required a three-day waiting period for purchasing rifles and other long guns. The increase in the minimum age to purchase long guns drew a still-pending legal challenge from the National Rifle Association.

In May, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation (SB 7030) that built on the 2018 bill. Among other things, it expanded the controversial school “guardian” program to allow armed classroom teachers, put $75 million into school mental-health services and strengthened reporting requirements for potentially threatening incidents that happen on school premises.

State ‘red flag’

Part of the 2018 law established what is known as the “red flag” law, which allows law enforcement agencies to seize firearms from people they believe may pose a threat to themselves or others.

“With committee meetings resuming just one month from now, our focus should be on steps the Senate can take to review and better understand the various factors involved in mass shootings, in addition to, and also including, school shootings,” Galvano wrote in a memo to senators.

“This includes White nationalism, which appears to be a factor not only with regard to these recent mass shootings, but also with other acts of violence we have seen across the country in recent years.”

‘Focus on solutions’

DeSantis pointed to “recesses of the Internet” where people can share “vile” views and a need to look at White nationalism – along with other causes – when asked Wednesday about tackling mass violence.

But he also said, after a Purple Heart dedication ceremony at Tallahassee National Cemetery, that it’s not productive to any gun-safety dialogue to focus on partisan politics, as Democrats continued to criticize President Donald Trump after two mass shootings over the weekend.

“I have no interest in being part of people’s political narratives. I understand the narratives. I’ve seen it for years and years,” said DeSantis, an ally of the president. “I’m trying to focus on solutions, and that’s why we’ve been forward-looking on our threat assessment strategy.”

‘Never blamed Bernie’

DeSantis said delving into every word said by a politician as a way to find fault for a mass shooting only makes it harder to have discussions about preventive measures.

While Democrats have focused on Trump’s rhetoric, DeSantis, a former congressman, brought up a 2017 incident in which an activist who had worked on Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign shot four people, including Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise, during a GOP congressional baseball team practice.

“Absent of someone saying, ‘Hey, go do this,’ to try to cherry pick someone saying one thing and saying this led to that, I don’t think that’s productive,” DeSantis said. “That’s why I never blamed Bernie for (the) shooting (at) our baseball (practice), because as much as I disagree with what he (Sanders) says, what that individual did was not justifiable, and there was nothing that was said that would justify you doing that.”

DeSantis said that while it may still be too early to determine the impact of the mental-health aspects of the 2018 law – about 1,600 orders have been issued – he supports a proactive approach by law enforcement.

Various threats

“You have the guy in El Paso, which obviously that was like an ethno-nationalist motivation. Obviously, the Pulse nightclub (mass shooting in Orlando in 2017) was militant Islam. And then you have some people who are just crazy, there’s not necessarily a clear motivation,” DeSantis said.

“I think you have to be familiar with all of those types of threats and have the warning signs identified and then do something about it.”

Another area he said needs to be addressed, even though the government is limited in what it can do, is the Internet.

“You have these recesses of the Internet where people who may not have a lot of common compatriots where they live, now they can all congregate in this community online and spread a lot of the vile stuff,” DeSantis said.

House may not follow

The Florida House isn’t expected to engage in a similar review before the January start of the 2020 session. House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, released a statement in which he said “Racism, including White nationalism, is a vile, disgusting, un-American ideology.”

“We cannot lose sight, however, that those who subscribe to those beliefs are few and their ideas so rejected that their words and actions unify all Americans -– left and right, Black, White or Brown – in abhorrence and condemnation,” Oliva said.

Oliva noted that as a Hispanic American, he’s seen more generosity and inclusiveness than discrimination and hatred.

“What we know is; evil exists, all of us play part in either expanding hatred or loving our neighbor, and despite what we see on the news, America is a great place, filled with kind people, always willing to help a neighbor in need,” Oliva said. “We must ask ourselves more than ‘what to do’ we must figure out, as leaders and as a society, ‘who we are.’ ”

‘Deranged’ and ‘evil’

Attorney General Ashley Moody on Monday pointed to a need to prioritize public safety. Moody said during a news conference in Jacksonville that everyone should be “horrified, shocked and saddened” by the recent attacks and more needs to be done to detect “those that are mentally deranged, that would seek to do us harm.”

Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley said on Twitter that “the ideology of White supremacy is evil.”

“It is the antithesis of what our country stands for and it offends God,” Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said. “It must be confronted aggressively so that it cannot metastasize further.”

‘Republicans won’t act’

Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Fort Lauderdale, urged Floridians to back the 2020 ballot proposal to ban assault weapons. Backers of the proposed constitutional amendment still need to submit hundreds of thousands of petition signatures and get a key approval from the Florida Supreme Court before the issue could go to voters.

“Republicans in FL won’t act on our epidemic of gun violence,” Farmer tweeted.

The details

The proposed constitutional amendment seeks to ban “possession of assault weapons, defined as semiautomatic rifles and shotguns capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition at once, either in fixed or detachable magazine, or any other ammunition-feeding device.”

The measure, which would not prohibit handguns, includes an exemption for military and law-enforcement personnel “in their official duties.”

The proposal would allow people who already own assault weapons at the time the constitutional amendment goes into effect to keep them, if they register the guns with state law enforcement.

Moody is asking the Supreme Court to block the proposal from going on the ballot and reiterated Monday that she thinks the proposal’s wording is “misleading,” contending the proposal would ban possession of “about virtually every self-loading long gun.”


Ana Ceballos and Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared in the Florida Courier.

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Committee Chairs Request Information from Consumer Bureau on Efforts to Protect Student Loan Borrowers

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Former Student Loan Ombudsman Seth Frotman asserted in his August 2018 resignation letter that CFPB leadership “has abandoned the very consumers it is tasked by Congress with protecting.” The position of Student Loan Ombudsman has been vacant since Frotman resigned in August 2018.

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Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), is the Chairwoman of the House Committee of Financial Services

Chairs Also Request Documents from Education Department, Loan Servicers

WASHINGTON – Today, Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), and Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), sent a letter to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Kathleen Kraninger requesting information and records concerning the CFPB’s efforts to protect consumers from unlawful student loan servicing practices.

In the letter, the Chairs raise concerns that “…the Consumer Bureau has taken actions that weaken its ability to fulfill its mission to protect student loan borrowers,” and that the agency is “…providing potentially harmful and conflicting advice to student loan borrowers.”  The Chairs request records from the Consumer Bureau by no later than September 9, 2019.

Former Student Loan Ombudsman Seth Frotman asserted in his August 2018 resignation letter that CFPB leadership “has abandoned the very consumers it is tasked by Congress with protecting.” The position of Student Loan Ombudsman has been vacant since Frotman resigned in August 2018.

The Chairs also sent a letter to Betsy DeVos expressing deep concern over the Education Department’s failure to protect students and families from student loan companies. The letter addresses recent reports that the Department is shielding student loan servicing companies from state law enforcement and undermining the CFPB’s oversight of these companies. In March 2019, an independent watchdog found that the Department failed to establish policies to properly conduct oversight of student loan servicing companies.

“As Chairs of Committees with oversight responsibilities over the student loan industry, we are very concerned by reports that under your leadership, the Department of Education has failed to adequately oversee student loan servicers,” the Chairs wrote. “Reports indicate that improper practices by these servicers—including inaccurate determination of monthly payments, forbearance steering, and other practices—directly impact millions of Americans and have ripple effects on their families, communities, and the economy as a whole.”

In addition, the Chairs sent letters today to federally contracted loan servicers seeking information about their operations, including any strategies or policies that push students into more expensive repayment options.

The full text of the letter to the CFPB is available here.

The full text of the letter to the Education Department is available here.

The full text of the letter to Navient is available here.

The full text of the letter to Nelnet is available here.

The full text of the letter to Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency is available here.

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Ohio State Sen. Cecil Thomas: Tracie Hunter’s Conviction is Unlawful

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “No one is above the law, including judges and prosecutors,” Thomas said. However, in an Aug. 13 letter to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, Thomas said Hunter’s prosecution and subsequent conviction violated the law.

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“The judge refused a motion for a retrial after he refused to poll the jury, in clear violation of the law and at the request of my attorney,” Tracie Hunter told NNPA Newswire during the annual National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) annual convention in Cincinnati.
“The judge refused a motion for a retrial after he refused to poll the jury, in clear violation of the law and at the request of my attorney,” Tracie Hunter told NNPA Newswire during the annual National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) annual convention in Cincinnati.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Former Judge Tracie Hunter, who became Hamilton County Ohio’s first black juvenile court judge, is receiving support from Ohio State Senator Cecil Thomas, who argues that her conviction should be overturned.

Thomas said Hunter didn’t receive a fair trial and that she appears to have been the victim of corruption.

After being convicted of providing confidential documents to her brother in an attempt to help save his job as a corrections officer and exhausting her appeals, Hunter was literally dragged off to jail last month.

“No one is above the law, including judges and prosecutors,” said Thomas. However, in an Aug. 13 letter to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, Thomas said Hunter’s prosecution and subsequent conviction violated the law.

On Sept. 17, 2013, Prosecutor Joe Deters filed a motion requesting special prosecutors for the case against Hunter.

On that same day, Judge Beth Myers filed an entry with the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts appointing special prosecutors, to fully investigate Hunter.

“By filing the motion without due diligence, Judge Myers subsequently appointed Prosecutor Joe Deters’ lawyers and friends who have represented [Deters] in personal litigation,” said Thomas.

One of the attorneys is a partner in the law firm that represented Deters in his divorce, the senator noted, adding, “There are numerous examples that will show just how close these attorneys are to Deters.”

When publicly questioned regarding the appointments, Myers said she “dealt with things as they were presented to me. I will continue to do that,” according to Thomas.

Deters has maintained that he didn’t recommend the appointments and that they were done strictly by the Common Pleas Court. However, Thomas said the appointed lawyers have twice referenced Deters’ role in the appointments.

“Joe Deters requested a special prosecutor because he had a conflict. As such, by law, his only participation is to make the request and provide reasoning,” Thomas said.

“Judge Myers’ role is to decide whether to honor the request and if so, to appoint with the assurance that there are no conflicts,” he said.

“It appears neither Deters nor Myers followed the law to assure Judge Hunter received a fair trial, free of any biases and [Myers] appears to have played a role in unlawfully securing a public contract,” Thomas said.

By appointing Deters’ lawyers, any reasonable person can conclude there are inherent conflicts, Thomas continued.

“First, the mere personal relationship speaks for itself. Second, by honoring his recommendation to hire his personal lawyers, in essence, [Myers] played a role in using her public office to secure a public contract of approximately $700,000 for the personal lawyers of another public official,” Thomas said.

A spokeswoman for the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office said they hadn’t seen the complaint.

Yost’s office declined to comment.

As Thomas submitted his letter, attorneys for Hunter formally asked that she be released.

The judge who carried out her sentence is reportedly waiting for the special prosecutor in the case to respond before deciding.

Hunter, who’s also a church pastor in Cincinnati, has had the support of so many including The Coalition for a Just Hamilton County which is composed of members from the Interdenominational Ministry Alliance; the Cincinnati Chapter of the NAACP; the local chapter of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network; the Black United Front; the Southern Christian Leadership Council; the Nation of Islam and others.

“They’ve tried to stop me from telling my truth and all I have is my truth,” she told NNPA Newswire in June.

She said she had mostly refrained from giving interviews because the local media has only used sound bites to try and embarrass her.

“I’ve lost hope in the justice system which is why I became a judge in the first place,” Hunter said. “I’ve not lost faith in God even though they’ve tried to drive me out of this city.”

Stacy M. Brown

A Little About Me: I'm the co-author of Blind Faith: The Miraculous Journey of Lula Hardaway and her son, Stevie Wonder (Simon & Schuster) and Michael Jackson: The Man Behind The Mask, An Insider's Account of the King of Pop (Select Books Publishing, Inc.)

My work can often be found in the Washington Informer, Baltimore Times, Philadelphia Tribune, Pocono Record, the New York Post, and Black Press USA.
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COMMENTARY: What goes up must come down

DAYTONA TIMES — There is much to object to about No. 45’s presidency – his hateful racial rhetoric, his attacks on women and people of color, his appointment of extremely young and inexperienced members of the federal judiciary, his rollback of environmental protections, his attacks on public education, and more.

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By Julianne Malveaux

There is much to object to about No. 45’s presidency – his hateful racial rhetoric, his attacks on women and people of color, his appointment of extremely young and inexperienced members of the federal judiciary, his rollback of environmental protections, his attacks on public education, and more.

But his economic stewardship, an arena he claims to have mastered, is as repulsive as his noneconomic stewardship. Many of his minions have, albeit gently, criticized the ways he has managed the economy. His trade wars, especially with China, may stand at the top of the list.

China won’t pay

He says that China will pay when he, most recently, announced that he would impose a ten percent tariff on $300 billion worth of imports from China.  The Chinese won’t pay. U.S. consumers will. And U.S. producers and manufacturers will also pay when China retaliates against us, as they have promised to do.

To be sure, China has been a “bad actor” in trade relationships with the United States. But No. 45’s intemperate and ill-advised tantrum will not only affect many in the United States –including farmers, manufacturers, and consumers – but may also play a role in slowing down the world economy.

For the first time in a decade, the Federal Reserve has reduced the interest rate by a quarter-point. Cutting the interest rate during the early recovery from the Great Recession was an effective way to lower the cost of money and, theoretically, put more money into the economy for expansion.

No trickle-down

In reality, cheaper money didn’t trickle down to homeowners or consumers, but it did generate GDP growth. Now growth is slowing, partly because of Trump’s trade wars, and partly because his tax cuts have not trickled down, and people don’t have as much money to spend as they’d like. Interest rate cuts are a clear sign that our nation’s bankers are not confident that economic expansion will continue to be robust.

Many of No. 45’s allies tout low unemployment rates as evidence of economic strength. And the July 3.7 percent unemployment rate, unchanged from June is indeed a ten-year low. The Black unemployment rate is at an all-time low. And last month, 164,000 more jobs were created, labor force participation rose, and the number of discouraged workers declined.

Why no celebration?

Firstly, because wage growth is slow. In a tight labor market, with low unemployment rates, wages should be increasing by more than the 3 percent annual rate they are growing at now.

Further, although there is slight improvement in labor force participation, and fewer workers holding part-time work for economic reasons, tepid wage growth suggests that while jobs are available, they aren’t necessarily good-paying jobs.

Slow wage growth and a slowing economy are likely to lead to a new recession. Economist Heather Boushey says that increasing inequality makes a recession more possible than it otherwise might be.

And this administration does not mind increasing inequality. Most recently, they have proposed cuts to food stamp programs that will leave at least three million people – low-income workers and their children, people with disabilities and some older Americans, vulnerable to hunger. The Senate just passed a budget that will increase military spending by more than $750 billion and will cut spending on food.

Less to spend

Economic expansion depends on people spending money, and too many have little to spend. The food stamp cuts give some even less. Increased prices of goods imported from China gives them less to spend. And the administration team that touts economic strength on the one hand is undermining both growth and poverty alleviation, on the other.

What goes up must come down. Can the No. 45 economic team manipulate the economy to continue expansion through the 2020 election, or will attacks on the poor result in less spending, less expansion, and an economic catastrophe?


Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer. Her latest book, “Are We Better Off? Race, Obama and Public Policy,” is available at www.juliannemalveaux.com.

This article originally appeared in the Daytona Times.

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Obama decries leaders “who demonize those who don’t look like us”

THE WESTSIDE GAZETTE — In a rare public statement Monday about twin mass shootings that have rattled the nation, former President Barack Obama offered a forceful rebuke of the growing gun violence in America, denouncing not only the lack of federal gun control measures but public leaders who demonize marginalized groups and stoke racial divisions.

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President Barack Obama

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez

In a rare public statement Monday about twin mass shootings that have rattled the nation, former President Barack Obama offered a forceful rebuke of the growing gun violence in America, denouncing not only the lack of federal gun control measures but public leaders who demonize marginalized groups and stoke racial divisions.

Without naming President Trump or the divisive rhetoric of his successor on immigration and race — which some Democrats have said fans the hatred behind violent acts like Saturday’s massacre in El Paso — Obama urged the public to rebuff “leaders” who scapegoat certain groups and employ bigoted language.

“We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments; leaders who demonize those who don’t look like us, or suggest that other people, including immigrants, threaten our way of life, or refer to other people as sub-human, or imply that America belongs to just one certain type of people,” Obama said in his statement.

Mr. Trump, during his first official televised remarks about the shootings on Monday, denounced white supremacy and “racist hatred.” But he did not concede that his own inflammatory — and at times racist — rhetoric has come under criticism from many Americans.

The nation’s first African American president also directly referenced and condemned the apparent racist and anti-immigrant motives of the 21-year-old white man who authorities believe killed at least 22 people inside a Walmart in El Paso on Saturday.

Obama said “indications” suggest the actions of the suspected shooter in El Paso are part of a “dangerous trend” of mass violence fueled by racism and white supremacy. “Like the followers of ISIS and other foreign terrorist organizations, these individuals may act alone, but they’ve been radicalized by white nationalist websites that proliferate on the internet,” he wrote.

The deadly rampage in this predominately Latino border city is being treated as an act of domestic terrorism by the Justice Department and a potential hate crime by federal investigators, who are probing a racist, anti-immigrant document purportedly authored by the suspect. The alleged manifesto decries the growing political power of Texas’ large Latino community and denounces progressive positions on immigration.

Urging Americans to heed the lessons of the past, Obama stressed that there must be a broad acknowledgment that racist language has “been at the root of most human tragedy throughout history, here in America and around the world.”

“It is at the root of slavery and Jim Crow, the Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans,” he wrote. “It has no place in our politics and our public life. And it’s time for the overwhelming majority of Americans of goodwill, of every race and faith and political party, to say as much — clearly and unequivocally.”

In his statement — one of only a couple of public proclamations he’s made since leaving office in early 2017 — the former two-term Democratic president said he and former first lady Michelle Obama are grieving with all the families affected by the massacre in El Paso and another mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, that killed nine people.

The two massacres over the weekend have reignited the divisive debate around gun control and exposing the deadly threat of domestic terrorism, radicalization of youth and white supremacy.

“No other nation on Earth comes close to experiencing the frequency of mass shootings that we see in the United States,” Obama wrote.

“No other developed nation tolerates the levels of gun violence that we do.” 

Obama criticized the position of elected officials and members of the public who maintain that stricter gun laws will not stop a person determined to carry out mass violence, saying common sense measures can help prevent some killings and “save some families from heartbreak.”

“We are not helpless here,” he wrote. “And until all of us stand up and insist on holding public officials accountable for changing our gun laws, these tragedies will keep happening.”

This article originally appeared in The Westside Gazette.

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Stacey Abrams Says She’d Serve as Vice President

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “I’ve just come to the decision that my best value add, the strongest contribution I can give to this primary, would be to make sure our nominee is coming into an environment where there are strong voter protections in place,” Abrams told the New York Times.

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“I would not have publicly raised the possibility if it was not a legitimate thought,” Abrams said.
“I would not have publicly raised the possibility if it was not a legitimate thought,” Abrams said.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

The overcrowded Democratic presidential field has a record six women seeking the nomination.

But one prominent individual who isn’t running for the top job has thrown her hat into the ring for vice president.

Former Georgia Gubernatorial Candidate Stacey Abrams said she would be delighted to serve under one of the 22 candidates.

“I would be honored to be considered by any nominee,” Abrams told The New York Timeson Wednesday, Aug. 14.

“I’ve just come to the decision that my best value add, the strongest contribution I can give to this primary, would be to make sure our nominee is coming into an environment where there are strong voter protections in place,” Abrams told the Times.

“I would not have publicly raised the possibility if it was not a legitimate thought,” Abrams said.

She said the current field, which includes former Vice President Joe Biden; Calif. Sen. Kamala Harris; New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker; and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, is talented.

Earlier this year when Biden entered the race, he was reportedly considering Abrams as a running mate.

YAHOO! Newsreported that Abrams dismissed those rumors, noting that at the time, Abrams was considering a run for president.

Earlier this year, Booker said he believed that a woman should be on the ticket.

Another candidate, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, said he would find it “very difficult not to select a woman” as his running mate.

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