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Manny Otiko

Stories by Manny

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Creator of Afro-Latino Spider-Man celebrates success of animated film

From the mind of Brian Michael Bendis

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” has garnered an...

Kanye West’s embrace of ‘MAGA’ destined to fail

I hate to admit it, but I have been sucked into the Kanye West-Donald Trump media storm. At..

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College course ‘Black Minds Matter’ draws sharp conservative criticism

A San Diego State University (SDSU) course based on the Black Lives Matter movement has raised the ire of some Republicans.

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Black-owned law firm honored

Named Top 10 for criminal defense, immigration, personal injury work

The Law Office of Zulu Ali, based in Riverside, has been named as one of the top 10 law firms in criminal defense, immigration and personal injury in the area of client satisfaction. The firm recently received the designation from the American Institute of Legal Counsel (AIOLC). AIOLC’s yearly list recognizes outstanding law firms in California.

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Blind Dance Company allows non-sighted performers to showcase their talents

The newly-formed Blind Dance Company recently gave its first show on Aug. 12 at the Lazarus Experience in downtown Los Angeles. The Dance Company is made entirely of blind or sight-impaired dancers. According to Hydeia Muhammad, director and choreographer, the show which is titled “Emotions,” featured a diverse collection of dance styles including hip hop, contemporary, salsa and ballroom.

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Leland Melvin: Astronaut and professional football player

A lot of little boys dream of growing up to be an astronaut or a pro football player, but Leland Melvin is the only person who has done both of those things. Melvin was a wide receiver for the University of Richmond. He was also on the roster for both the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys before being cut. Melvin was recruited by NASA while he was in grad school. He eventually qualified for the astronaut program and flew in space. Melvin details his journey from the football field to the International Space Station (ISS) in his new book “Chasing Space.”

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Former CIA Officer: War on Drugs is a failure, targets minorities

When former CIA officer John Kiriakou received 30 months in jail for exposing the agency’s torture program, he went into prison prepared to survive in hostile environments.

Ivy-League trained attorney details his experience surviving corporate America

With many colleges recently holding their commencement ceremonies, thousands of bright-eyed Black graduates will soon head into Corporate America, looking to forge their careers. However, Stephen M. Graham, an Ivy-league-trained lawyer, has a warning for them. Be prepared for a hostile environment. Graham is a corporate partner at Fenwick and West, and founder and managing partner of the firm’s Seattle office.

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Emmy nominee Jabari Ali is a Crenshaw High graduate

“Shots Fired,” the recently-aired FOX mini-series was groundbreaking for several reasons. Firstly, it took a close look at police shootings, but it was also one of the first TV dramas to create its own original music. The show features music from artists such as BJ The Chicago Kid, Aloe Blacc, Swizz Beats, NAS and Anthony Hamilton. “Shots Fired” was created by Reggie Bythewood and Gina Prince-Bythewood.

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Single-payer health bill passes senate but critics question how to fund it

California has long been a national leader in healthcare innovation, and if Senate Bill 562 (which seeks to establish a Medicare-for-all system) passes, the state could change the direction of health care in the nation. SB 562 is sponsored by the California Nurses Association (CNA.) According to a CNA press release, the primary goal of the new single-payer system is to save money and provide more efficient health care.

Critics claim proposed new tax agency gives governor too much power

A plan to radically reshape the State Board of Equalization (BOE) has both Democrats and Republicans up in arms. Plans for the changes are contained in SB 86. According to the

Deathstroke comic shows there are no easy answers to Chicago violence

Comic book movies are currently hip in Hollywood. But comic books, long-regarded as geared towards children, have taken a darker turn in recent years, dealing with adult issues and featuring brooding heroes. Issue #11 of Deathstroke is as dark as it gets. The comic tackles violence in Chicago. A group of mothers hires Deathstroke, a super villain in the DC universe, to avenge the murders of their children. But the comic also shows that more violence and guns don’t necessarily solve the problem.

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San Francisco city ordinance targets flavored tobacco products

The city of San Francisco has announced a new ordinance last week that cracks down on tobacco sales. The tobacco control ordinance, which was authored by Supervisor Malia Cohen and Supervisor Ahsha Safai, targets flavored tobacco products. “This is the most comprehensive municipal restriction on flavored tobacco in the country,” said Cohen. According to Cohen, flavored tobacco is targeted towards young Black consumers and is designed to make them long-time customers.

State lawmaker wants to tax companies that profit from private prisons

With the current national focus on law and order, some statewide organizations and lawmakers are working on what they say are solutions that promote investment

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LeVert2 continues group’s R&B legacy

Older R&B fans will be pleased to hear the group LeVert is still around and producing new music, even though original band members Gerald and Sean Levert passed away.

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Vallejo School Board Fires Black Female Superintendent, Offers No Reasons

The Vallejo City Unified School District Board of Education in a 3-2 vote opted to fire Superintendent Dr. Ramona Bishop during its March 15 board meeting. Exercising the “no cause” clause of Bishop’s contract, Vallejo School Board Trustees offered little to no reason for her termination.

Proposed tax on services may hurt small business owners

A proposed state bill designed to restructure California’s tax system could end up hurting small businesses. Senate Bill 640, which was introduced by State Sen. Robert M. Hertzberg (D-Los Angeles), would raise taxes on services such as haircuts, and beauty shop and veterinary visits.

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Kimberly Ellis says California Democratic Party needs new blood

When former Labor Sec. Tom Perez defeated Rep. Keith Ellison in the race to head the Democratic National Committee, it was seen as another defeat for progressives. (Perez later named Ellison deputy chair.) Some progressives are still seething over the fact that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, their favored candidate, lost the presidential nomination to former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton. But the California Democratic Party may be on the verge of electing a party outsider candidate Kimberly Ellis. If she wins the election in May, Ellis would be the first African American and only the third woman to hold the post.

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‘Burning Sands’ tackles hazing in the Black Greek system

Former child star Imani Hakim from the hit TV sitcom “Everybody Hates Chris” appears in “Burning Sands,” a Netflix original film that tackles a controversial issue, hazing in the Black Greek system. The film follows a young man Zurich (Trevor Jackson) who goes through Hell Week and begins to question the hazing process. Hakim plays his love interest. “Burning Sands,” also stars Alfre Woodward and was executive produced by rapper/actor Common. The film is directed by Gerald McMurray, who was a producer for the critically acclaimed “Fruitvale Station.” McMurray is a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity.

SoCal Muslims prepare for hostile Trump-led America

For Southern California Muslims, the election of Republican Donald Trump was the worst case scenario.

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Trump presidency causing African Americans to look into self protection

In the age of president-elect Donald Trump, it’s not unusual to hear news stories of Black people being targeted by racial attacks. And that’s the reason why some Black Americans are deciding to exercise their Second Amendment rights and carry firearms for protection.

Black Republicans have mixed reaction to Trump victory

California Black Republicans have expressed mixed reactions to the shocking election of Donald Trump. His election has sparked nationwide protests and the Southern Poverty Law Center has recorded more than 700 incidents of racial attacks. John Wood Jr., former second vice chair of the Los Angeles GOP, previously said he would not support Trump. He cast a ballot for Gary Johnson and admitted he was surprised by Trump’s victory.

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Black-owned store provides quality extensions to diverse clientele

Black women are known to spend thousands on the billion-dollar hair industry, but very few of them are buyers or suppliers in this industry. Riqua Hailes, owner of Just Extensions, is one of few Black women who supplies hair extensions. Hailes has a salon called Just Extensions, which also has an online store.

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Kathryn Barger faces off against Darrell Park in 5th District Supervisor’s race

The race for the Fifth District Supervisorial seat features Kathryn Barger, who is currently chief deputy to outgoing Supervisor Mike Antonovich, and Darrell Park, who previously worked in the White House Office of Management and Budget.

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Loretta Sanchez stands 20-year political career, record to make her an asset in D.C.

Rep. Loretta Sanchez is hoping to take her 20-year political career to the next level with a seat in the U.S. Senate. A Democrat, Sanchez faces off against California Attorney General Kamala Harris, also a Democrat. They were the two leading candidates in the open primary.

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Warren Furutani, Steve Bradford compete for state senate position

The race for State Senate District 35 (San Pedro) will feature a faceoff between Democrats, Warren Furutani and Steve Bradford. Furutani is a civil rights activist and educator. He served on the Los Angeles United School Board District and the Los Angeles Community College District school board. Furutani also served for three terms in the California Assembly.

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Janice Hahn faces Steve Napolitano in 4th District Supervisor’s race

The contest for the Los Angeles County 4th Supervisorial will feature veteran politician Janice Hahn and Supervisor Don Knabe’s chief deputy Steve Napolitano in a non-partisan race.

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Proposition 67

Seeks to uphold plastic bag ban

Proposition 67 is proof of how difficult it is to pass environmentally-friendly laws, even in a liberal state like California. A yes vote on Prop. 67 would uphold Senate Bill 270 (passed in 2014) which banned grocery stores from using single-use plastic bags. The measure would also provide $2 million to plastic bag manufacturers to help retain jobs and transition to making thicker, recycled bags.

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Proposition 66

Seeks to speed up death penalty process

Proposition 66 would change the state’s death penalty process. A “yes” vote on the initiative will speed up the process; a “no” vote will leave the current system unchanged. With the current system, prisoners sentenced to death can file appeals which can take decades to resolve.

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Sen. Isadore Hall celebrates endorsements for Congressional run

State Sen. Isadore Hall said he first went into politics to right wrongs in his community. He has a track record of proposing legislation to effect positive change, such as proposing laws that led to the first “green” football stadium, building a new senior center in Compton and sponsoring legislation that would ensure equal pay for people of color and women.

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Nanette Barragan feels she can better represent the people of the 44th district

Nanette Barragan never planned on a career in politics. It was something she fell into when she was at USC Law School. As the child of immigrants, her parents taught her to go to school to study a career that would net a good salary, and so she chose law.

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‘Concussion’ raises awareness about football-related illnesses

Sports, especially a career in football, for decades has been seen as the ticket to higher education or a lucrative career that could get many Black families out of the ’hood. But with the Will Smith movie “Concussion,” and the work of Dr. Bennet Omalu raising awareness about brain injuries, are some families rethinking letting their sons play football?

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Some Blacks say images in slave movies are too painful

With the reboot of “Roots,” the success of the Oscar-winning “12 Years a Slave” and the much anticipated “Birth of a Nation,” it seems as if movies with slave themes are seeing a resurgence. But some Black people are saying they’ve had enough.

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California native creates natural organic hair product line

Mahisha Dellinger launches career

When California native Mahisha Dellinger had a baby, she decided to go natural with her hair. She was concerned about chemicals from hair products being absorbed by her baby.

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Star of ‘Sisters in Law’ showcases different side of legal field

When Jolanda Jones, one of the stars of the new WE tv show “Sisters in Law,” agreed to do a show about black women working in the legal field, she wanted to show a different side of the law and bring some balance to the way black women are portrayed on reality TV.

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Leaders of the new school

Veteran activists train and mentor next generation of pacesetters

The stereotype about young people is that they’re glued to their cell phones, obsessed with social media and generally clueless about politics and social activism. But that’s not always true.

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Black families must continue to teach sons how to survive police encounters

In the Black community “the talk” doesn’t mean a conversation about the birds and bees. It means parents telling their sons how to survive encounters with the police and make it home alive.

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Black Trump supporters like his leadership skills, promise to crack down on illegal immigration

Although Republican frontrunner Donald Trump is drawing the praise of White nationalists, who say he has energized their movement, his presidential campaign does have some Black supporters.

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New technology will allow more Black people to tell their own historical stories

February is Black History Month. This is a recognition that has been around since 1926, when it was created as Negro History Week by Carter G. Woodson.

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Issues concerning African Americans draw little interest from presidential hopefuls

With the results of the Iowa caucuses now history —the winner on the Republican side was Texas Sen. Ted Cruz while Hilary Clinton narrowly edged out Bernie Sanders for the Democrats—the attention of presidential candidates is now trained on the New Hampshire primary and then shortly afterward South Carolina,

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Muslims say current hostile climate is worse than post-9/11 bias

These are reportedly scary times for Southern California Muslims. Several of the leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination have made insulting and inflammatory remarks about Muslims. In addition, mosques have been targeted for vandalism.

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Trump confused by rise of ‘gaffe-prone,’ ‘super low-energy’ Ben Carson

Going into Wednesday’s Republican debate, Donald Trump had been usurped by retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson. Inspite of a string of highly-publicized gaffes, including saying he wouldn’t vote for a Muslim running for president and comparing abortion to slavery, Carson was still riding high in Iowa polls.

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Fresh face

Supporters see Carson’s campaign as bringing new blood to America’s broken political system

Barack Obama is not going to be on the ballot in 2016, but there is a Black presidential candidate. His name is Dr. Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, who was thrust into the national spotlight after he gave a speech criticizing tax policy at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013.

Trump disappoints in crowded GOP debate

Candidates struggle to take front-runner status

People tuning into the much-anticipated GOP presidential debate last week were not disappointed. The lively FOX News debate featured 17 candidates and had to be split into two events, one for the top-rated candidates in the evening, and another for second-tier candidates earlier in the day.

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Group wants more Blacks involved in $1.7 billion water-saving effort

As California faces its worst drought in recorded history, Gov. Jerry Brown, by executive order on April 1, allocated $1.7 billion in new funding for water conservation. That money is part of a $7.4 billion fund dedicated to solving the state’s water shortage over a 20-year period.

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NFL player suing BofA for $20M losses

Dwight Freeney was living the American dream. He starred as a football player in high school, college and was drafted to play with the Indianapolis Colts. He later played for the San Diego Chargers and is now a free agent. Along the way, Freeney scored several multi-million dollar contracts.

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Afrika Fifty6 plans benefit projects across continent

Many African Americans take living in a developed country for granted. They don’t realize a decent education, school books and new clothes are seen as luxuries in some of the more deprived parts of the world, including Africa. Cedric Idudu and Sam Desalu, two Nigerian natives currently living in Southern California, are both aware of some of the problems facing Africa. They launched Afrika Fifty6, a nonprofit with a goal of organizing benefit projects in all 56 African countries.

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Relatives of murder victims seek answers and closure

They meet with law enforcement officials in Monterey Park

Their family members, some wearing T-shirts with the likenesses of their deceased loved ones on them, gathered Saturday in Monterey Park at the Los Angeles County Sheriff Headquarters to meet with law enforcement to discuss their cases and somehow wring out justice concerning their murdered family members...

Blacks and clinical trials

Common knowledge holds that African Americans are reluctant to take part in clinical trials for...

Rep. Linda Sanchez a staunch supporter of the president

Rep. Linda Sanchez is the sixth of seven children born to Mexican immigrants in the...