Americans were collectively traumatized when Philando Castile’s death was live-streamed on Facebook. The eerily calm pleas from Castile’s girlfriend Diamond Reynolds have haunted black americans as she recounted in real time, the compliant actions of her dying boyfriend. We learned from Diamond that Officer Jeronimo Yanez pulled the couple over for a broken tail-light. Castile informed the officer that he was a licensed and legally armed citizen yet when he followed the officer’s instructions and attempted to retrieve his license, he was shot 5 times at close range. The officer shot wildly, nearly striking Diamond and her daughter in the car. Despite video evidence that corroborated the frightening series of events, Officer Yanez was acquitted. Philando’s mother Valerie Castile declared “Damn, what is it going to take?” “The system continues to fail black people and it will continue to fail you all”. It would be possible to view her comments as the lamentations of a grieving mother but to many her declaration is the unavoidable conclusion drawn from a host of similar events throughout the country. Peaceful protests have begun in St. Paul Minnesota. Philando Castile was a fully employed cafeteria worker without a prior history of violence.
On Friday, President Donald Trump will travel to Miami to announce a major shift in U.S. policy. The President will end Obama-era policies that have allowed Americans to liberally travel to the island of Cuba. In an attempt to correct a policy the Obama administration deemed a 55 year failure, President Obama began communicating with the leadership of Cuba through Pope Francis. The result of the back channel has been a rebirth in Cuban commerce as Americans have flocked to the island, filling it’s once empty hotels. Many of those hotels however, are operated under the direction of the Cuban Military which is also benefiting from the boost in tourism. While the primary beneficiaries of new commerce have been the Cuban people, the Trump administration wants to end any commerce that might benefit the military. In Miami, President Trump will announce that the Cuban administration under President Raul Castro has failed to make pivotal reforms in human rights. He will declare that the Obama policy has been a catastrophic failure and he will reinstate travel restrictions that will halt much of the recent tourism to the island-nation. Americans and American businesses will be forbidden from supporting entities affiliated with the military which will effectively end the new tourism. The change in policy is opposed by business leaders and human rights groups. Embassies in both nations will remain open in the hopes that future communications will lead to reform on the island and improve the relationship between both current administrations.
The Russian military is reporting that it may have killed the enigmatic leader of ISIS. The international terrorist group has risen as a world scourge under the captaincy of a religious leader named Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. As the leader of ISIS, Al-Baghdadi declared himself to be the ruler of the global Islamic community. By declaring himself to be the “Caliph” or Pope of all Muslim’s worldwide, Al-Baghdadi was able to attract militant Islamic fighters from all over the world. The Russian Defense Ministry is reporting that on May 28, the Russian Air-force struck a gathering in the Syrian city of Raqqa, potentially killing the Islamic State leader. The Russian statement however, seems tentative suggesting that the Russians themselves may have doubts about the success of the strike. Sources suggest that the Russians may have been acting independently, without the coordination of the U.S. backed Kurdish forces on the ground. The Russians may have only learned about Baghdadi’s presence at the gathering after the strike. Their ability to confirm his death is therefore limited.
It is worth noting that this is not the first time that rumors have swirled about the death of Baghdadi. In 2015, the Iraqi Military hit a convoy ushering the Islamic State leader and reports of his demise were circulated. In January (2017), a U.S. led strike in northern Iraq’s Al-Ba’aj injured Baghdadi, leading to more reports of his death. After several brushes with death, coalition forces are once again hoping that the mastermind of the most destructive terrorist organization in history has finally met justice.
In the world of YouTube, there are very few stars that are bigger than Rich Piana. The Bodybuilding phenom has one of the largest followings in the fitness community on YouTube but a recent audio recording has many wondering if their favorite fitness YouTuber is also a racist. The audio recording was taken by an ex-girlfriend over ten years ago. The incident, ten years ago, was prompted when the ex-girlfriend took a public photo with former basketball star Magic Johnson. Piana was incensed because his girlfriend was seen in public with a “N-word” and allowed Magic Johnson to kiss her on the cheek. Piana suggested that his ex-girlfriend was a “Dirty f-ing N-word-lover”. In the audio, he adds a lynching reference suggesting that she should be hung from a rope. Piana was never a first class body-builder but he found fame by openly discussing his personal steroid use, confirming the widespread usage of the entire body-building community. His honesty on the once-taboo subject earned him a rabid cult following. He parlayed his popularity into a supplement line called 5% Nutrition, meal prepping services, and apparel lines. His trademarked phrase became “Whatever it Takes” a reference that flaunted his liberal use of steroids. Piana’s fitness channel boasts over 943,000 regular subscribers with individual videos that score up-to a half-a-million viewers. How his following will be impacted by this incident remains to be seen.
The Audio is below (WARNING: Graphic content, containing 27 uses of the N-word). We have also posted Rich Piana’s apology.
Bill O’Reilly’s protege, Jesse Watters is under-fire for sexual comments he made during a recent segment of “THE FIVE”, a popular show in Fox’s Prime-time line-up. O’Reilly himself was dismissed from his lucrative perch at Fox News for sexually harassing his co-workers with comments like “Hot Chocolate” and allegedly tying on-air-time for guest spots to a willingness to provide him with sexual favors. During Tuesday’s episode of “The Five”, the Fox News panel discussed Ivanka Trump’s recent appearance at a Women’s forum that featured Germany’s Angela Merkel. Trump was booed at the forum when she suggested that her father was a great defender of families and women’s issues. While Jesse Watters initially seemed to be defending Ivanka Trump, his comments soon turned toward vulgarity. At the conclusion of his laudatory remarks, Watters added that he “liked the way she [Ivanka Trump] was speaking into that microphone”. The comments were immediately interpreted as sexual and Watters demeanor on camera seemed to confirm this impression. Watters responded to the eruption on twitter by denying that the comments possessed any overt sexual intent and added that he was actually praising the smooth intonation in Ivanka Trump’s speaking voice. The consensus on twitter did not accept the Fox host’s claim of innocence. Determine for yourself with the video and leave comments below.
Some people never seem to learn from their mistakes. Unfortunately for our country, Vice President Mike Pence appears to be one of those stubborn personalities. On Thursday, Vice President Pence cast the tie-breaking vote that cut federal funding to Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood provides health services to women which range from HIV screenings to counseling for family planning. But this isn’t the first time Mike Pence has cut Planned Parenthood’s funding and you would have thought Mr. Pence learned his lesson from his last bite at Eden’s apple. As the Governor of Indiana, Pence similarly shuttered the doors on Planned Parenthood clinics throughout his state and the result was a massive HIV outbreak. Scott County is one of the poorest counties in Indiana. Health studies ranked Scott County as the most unhealthy county out of all 92 counties in the state. Prior to Pence’s pursuit of the deceptively appealing goal of gutting Planned Parenthood funding, there was only one HIV testing center in the entire county. When Pence shuttered the facility, there wouldn’t be any testing available in the county for another two years. The result was an explosion of 20 new HIV cases per week in a community with a population of less than 20,000 people. A mushroom cloud of HIV infections swept across one of Indiana’s poorest communities and was directly linked to Pence’s decision to place the long sought after goal of attacking a political enemy, above common sense and intelligent health policy.
The obsession with cutting Planned Parenthood’s funding finds its justification for eliminating the group’s vital services, in the war against abortion services offered by Planned Parenthood. The saddest of ironies in this cautionary tale is that the Planned Parenthood clinic in Scott County didn’t provide abortion services. As the Vice-President and the GOP prepare to cut even more funding for drug treatment programs, they risk turning the entire country into Scott County. Some people never learn from their mistakes.
Is Cory Booker running for President? We could read the tea-leaves in all of his impassioned Instagram posts; We could place his populist speeches under a micro-scope; Orrrr We could speculate wildly and with very little reason, that Cory Booker is Dating Mindy Kaling. The universally loved star of the Mindy Project is apparently also LOVED by Cory Booker himself. The two interacted on social media and after a few smooth texts from Booker, made plans to meet in the real world.
The interaction began when Booker expressed that his heart was broken by Kaling when she told an insulting joke involving his beloved city of Newark, New Jersey. The two exchanged declarations of mutual love, Booker then asked for a date and ultimately offered to send a car for Kaling (instead of letting her take the PATH Train system).
In the world of campaigns, this is literal Electoral Gold! The famous love stories of politicians have been pillars in the election efforts of every successful Presidential contender in history. Mindy Kaling is a magnetic starlet with an approachable disposition and penchant for social justice. Stump speeches by the would be “First Lady” would be both epic and electric. Mindy is also a trained actress and her phenomenal sense of humor and excellent comedic timing would be excellent attributes in the rigorous campaigning required during Presidential elections. Are we getting carried away and over analyzing harmless flirting on Twitter? OFCOURSE We Are! It is still fun to consider the possibilities.
Today, the House of Representatives will vote on the American Healthcare Act. Despite, holding both Houses of Congress and the White House, the Republicans are expected to vote down their own bill. The reform will cost 24 million Americans their healthcare. It slashes Medicaid and will raise premiums on all but the young and healthy. After 7 years of opposing Obamacare, the Republicans have managed to write a bill that fails to satisfy any of the ideological metrics that Republicans have used to assault Obamacare. Most prognosticators are certain that the AHCA will fail in a fantastic display of legislative pyrotechnics. TrumpCare, if you ask Paul Ryan or RyanCare, if you ask the Whitehouse, is so unpopular that the Whitehouse and Speaker of the House have publicly jousted regarding which Nom De Plume will go on the bill, with neither side desirous of having the dishonor. As the Republicans tempt fate and court decimation in the midterm elections, where are the Democrats? An article in The Politico offers an answer. “The Democrats New Obamacare Strategy: Get Out of The Way”. As a legislative strategy, this is largely the right approach. Democrats should not try to stall republican attempts to vote on a bill that reveals how their party has abdicated its core principles and were perhaps never sincere in their criticism of Obamacare. However, “Get Out of The Way” also seems to be the ethos of the national party. In an epic failure to capitalize, Democrats nationally have not used the disastrous AHCA as a mobilizing tool. Together, with the equally reviled Trump-Budget, the Democrats could easily assemble the ultimate Megazord to fight the GOP in the midterms. And yet, the Democrats have not begun to lay the foundation for an effective mid-term effort. The Democrats should have already hired new organizers and deployed them in the backyards of rural Republican districts. Organizing wins’ elections but Organizing isn’t about phone-calls or door to door. The foundation of Organizing is about building relationships and as Republicans turn their backs on the voters that elected them by offering policies that gut the programs those voters depend on, Democrats have an unprecedented opportunity to build new relationships with rural voters. As these rural Republican voters are forced to confront the reality that they need government programs just as much as the inner cities Republicans often lampoon, the Democrats have a chance to expose the core Republican obsession with the gutting of government programs as fundamentally flawed. Never before have Democrats had such an obvious opportunity to bring about a fundamental collapse of Republican orthodoxy by laying siege to the foundations and overly simplistic principles of the GOP. As rural Republican voters suddenly realize that they are just as dependent on government funding as liberal bastions and minority communities, Democrats have a real chance to batter the intellectual pillars that have buttressed conservative thought since the era of William F. Buckley. And what are Democrats doing instead: They are Getting Out of The Way. Democrats should have been using this time to reconstitute their army of Organizers and begin deploying them to the rural communities that roundly rejected their message in the last election. They can now show those voters the true cost of Republican cuts and argue forcefully for the power of government to improve their lives. The Dems should be giving Organizers the time it takes to build bonds with these new prospective voters who often hail from regions where being a Democrat is socially synonymous with being a communist. Democrats cannot afford to implement the “tried and failed” strategy of waiting until shortly before the mid-term or the Presidential election to deploy Organizers in the hope of making gains in communities that have believed for generations that being a Democrat is akin to being a traitor. The achilles heel of the Democratic Party is a lack of a sustained presence in these communities that nurtures and builds relationships with these votes. For the first time in a long time, these voters have eyes and ears to hear the message of the Democratic Party. The Democrats cannot afford to miss this opportunity.
President Donald J. Trump’s first budget slashes funding to programs like Meals on Wheels and After School Programs that feed children in America’s public schools. After acknowledging that these programs are designed to feed kids that “can’t get a meal at home”, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney claimed that “there is no demonstrable evidence” programs that feed children “help kids do better in school”. Mick Mulvaney and his budget live in contradiction with the real world.
The finest example of increasing productivity by providing healthy lunches can be found in Silicon Valley where technology hubs have become famous for their comfortable cafeterias filled with delectable dishes like Ceviche, Quinoa Salads, Gourmet Pizzas, Espresso Bars (w/ Energy Drinks) and even Deserts. The costly extravagances reflect the well-established, and quantitatively verifiable link between feeding workers and increasing their productivity. The World Health Organization’s studies have proven a 20% increase in brain power and productivity as a result of a healthy lunch. Entrepreneur Magazine sighted a study showing a 150% return on productivity for companies that invested in providing high quality lunches. Harvard Business Review, a school which ironically counts Budget Director Mick Mulvaney as an alumni, published that “food has a direct impact on our cognitive performance, which is why a poor decision at lunch can derail an entire afternoon. Just about everything we eat is converted by our body into glucose, which provides the energy our brains need to stay alert. When we’re running low on glucose, we have a tough time staying focused and our attention drifts. This explains why it’s hard to concentrate on an empty stomach”. It seems reasonable to conclude that although these studies were conducted on adults, they apply to children who obviously don’t have a greater capacity to contend with hunger than their parents. Until now, no one has ever been craven enough to deny children food so that we can measure the decline in their performance. If feeding workers in Silicon Valley, where workers make substantial salaries makes sense, then feeding children who have no control over their economic situations is even more reasonable.
The budget put forth by President Trump and Director Mulvaney is cruel and short sighted. It induces a decline in performance and courts the academic failure of our children which creates ripples in the pool of workers from which our businesses draw.
A recent incident involving Chris Christie, the NFL Draft and a bong mask seem to exemplify everything that has been wrong with the drug war. Chris Christie has been among several notable Republicans that seem to have changed their party’s stance on the drug war, emphasizing treatment and rehabilitation instead of the party’s traditional law and order stance that promoted incarceration. Christie said at a recent New Hampshire GOP Debate, hosted by ABC News that drug addiction was not a “moral failing” which was a direct rebuke of the party’s most popular rhetoric that viewed drug use as a failure of personal responsibility. “It is a disease” Christie barked as he voiced his support for programs designed to help rather then lockup those engaged in hardcore drug use like heroine addicts. Christie is hardly alone in his sudden shift. As the demographics around drug use have shifted, the feelings regarding how we treat users have also shifted, seemingly due to the rise of Methamphetamine use in poor white communities and the growth of heroine use that now ravages white communities of every class standing. The GOP no longer wishes to “throw away the key” with drug users. GOP Governors all over the country are now even becoming more amenable to restoring voting rights for some felons. And it is hard to ignore that this shift seems to coincide with the rising drug use of the GOP’s traditional voting base. GOP Presidential Contender Ted Cruz sadly lost his sister to an overdose and long battle with drug use. The shift would be hypocritical but forgivable as the GOP finally sees the humanity in addicts that are within their own families now but Chris Christie recently demonstrated that the bias that has incarcerated a full generation of black sons and fathers persists in his heart.
NFL Draftee Laremy Tunsil recently suffered a catastrophic decline in his draft standing when a hacker posted a picture of the young man smoking marijuana from bong and mask. The picture proved to be costly for Tunsil but Chris Christie wants it to be even more devastating. He has called for Tunsil to be arrested. “When I was a prosecutor, I would’ve gone in and cuffed this guy” said Christie, further exemplifying the judicial bias that has stalked black men and resulted in an obscene rate of incarceration. The comment is noted for the zeal and enthusiasm to pursue prosecution against an African American male but it is punctuated by Christie’s own recent comments calling for leniency for hardcore heroine users. The interest of a former U.S. Attorney in prosecuting a young man taking bong hits in his dorm room is emblematic of the obsessive pursuit of African Americans by law enforcement in policies like Stop and Frisk which in defiance of statistical reality focused almost entirely on scrutinizing black men. It also answers the often asked and insincere question regarding the high rate of black male incarceration. Blacks comprise so much of our prison population because men like Chris Christie have enforced existing law with extreme prejudice against minority communities. Christie is a Trump supporter and potential Vice Presidential pick. Hopefully he can recognize his bias before America entrusts him with another position of authority and more power over minority communities.