Jussie Smollett

Jussie Smollett was born on June 21, 1982, and is an American actor and singer. Jussie Smollett grew a big following after appearing on the famous show Empire. He plays Jamal Lyon.

On the night of January 29, 2019, Jussie Smollett tells the police that at around 2 a.m. what he believed were two white males, wearing masks and a MAGA (make America great again) hat, had attacked him. According to Smollett, the two men hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him. They then tied a rope around his neck and poured a chemical substance on him.

Smollett says he went home and one of his close associates had to call and tell the police 40 minutes after the incident had occurred. Sources say that Smollett was hesitant to call the police because of his status.

After the attack was shared to different media outlets, there were a lot of A-list celebrities that offered their support to Jussie Smollett.

After the investigation, police noticed that some things that Jussie was doing after the incident were odd. For example, the night of the attack, Smollett said that he had broken ribs, two days later he was seen at a concert dancing and jumping. It didn’t make sense as to why someone who had broken ribs would hold a concert.

On February 1, Jussie released his first public appearance on Good Morning America, he said, “Let me starts off by saying that I’m O.K. My body is strong but my soul is stronger.”

During the interview, people noticed how Smollett was getting defensive when Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts asked why didn’t he give the police his phone. Smollett said he had personal pictures and information that he didn’t want the police to see. People thought that if you are innocent, and have nothing to hide, you’ll just give the police your phone.

A few weeks after the incident, it came out that police think that Smollett hired two brothers to stage the attack, and the reason why he did this was because he wasn’t getting paid enough. For his role on the show Empire, he only gets paid $20,000 an episode and he thought that wasn’t enough, so he thought that by staging this attack, he would get a raise and get donations for the hate crime that happened to him.

A lot of people were hurt that he could have lied about a situation like this, feeling that he’s making it harder for people of color to come out in the future and tell their hate crime stories.

Snow storms on the West Coast!

The U.S. has been going through a rough winter so far this year. With the polar vortex hitting the Midwest in late January, and the heavy snow storms on the Northern Eastern coast, the newest area to be affected with this snow storm is the West Coast. Squaw Valley, in California, had its snowiest month on record, according to The Guardian. Snow was also seen falling near Pasadena and West Hollywood.

More snowfalls have also took their tolls in areas in Oregon.

Going back to California, a state that is mainly familiar to sunshine and low precipitation, it had one of its snowiest Februaries the state has ever seen. Although it saw massive snow storms hitting many parts of the state, it didn’t break the record of the snowiest month of all time for the state of California. Tamarack, California holds the record of the snowiest month in the state, 390 inches of snow fell back in January 1911, and it holds that record according to Theweather.com.

Not only California and Oregon were hit with tremendous amounts of snow. Arizona and Las Vegas, yes, Las Vegas, were hit with an uncommon weather storm. In Flagstaff, Arizona, the region was buried in snow, exactly 35.9 inches according to CNN. The city was under a state of emergency. The snow that fell that day became the snowiest single day in recorded history in Flagstaff, Arizona. Breaking the previous record of 31 inches back in 1915.

The roads in Northern Arizona were so bad that the Arizona Department of Transportation was urging everyone not to travel through that region. Arizona State troopers say they responded to more than 400 calls for stranded vehicles and slide-offs in 24 hours.

Now, in Las Vegas, we don’t see as much snow compared to the nearby cities and states, but the fact it even snowed in Sin City was trending nationwide. Las Vegas had over 4 inches of snow. Due to the residents not being used to snow, or never witnessing snowfall in their lives, travel became slick and hard in Las Vegas. Schools in Las Vegas were closed due to the snow according to Accuweather.

We’re only 3 months into 2019, but this year alone, for weather across the nation, has broken so many records in unusual places, and it still may have more records to break.

Some of the United States presidential candidates running in 2020

The United States is currently in the third year of Donald Trump’s presidency. This means that next year 2020) is the next election for United State’s president. So far, there are a handful of candidates running for office.

Today, I will be listing a couple candidates and their backgrounds from both of the political parties.

Elizabeth Warren is one of the democratic candidates for the next presidency. She was formerly a Harvard law professor in Massachusetts. She is specifically known for advocating for more regulations on Wall Street and other big corporations.

Another candidate for office is democratic, New Jersey, U.S. Senator, Cory Booker. He was a graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School. He was elected as mayor of Newark, New Jersey, in 2006, serving until he was elected to the Senate, and assumed office, in 2013.

One of the republican candidates running for office in 2020 is the former governor of Massachusetts, Bill Weld. His beliefs are very libertarian based (he was a libertarian nominee for Vice president in 2016). Even though he is running on the republican side of the political spectrum, he believes in LGBTQ rights along with being pro-choice.

Another one of the republican candidates running is the President, Donald Trump, himself. He will try to be re-elected for office in 2020.  According to the Washington Post, he was spending money on 2020 efforts as early as Nov. 24, 2016. Trump is also confident he will be re-elected, depsite his constant low approval ratings.

Muslim woman in Congress

Rashida Tlaib is the mother of two boys, and the oldest among 14 children born to immigrant parents. Tlaib was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. She attended and graduated from Southwestern High School. She went to Wayne University in Detroit and earned her bachelor’s degree there. She then earned her law degree from Western Michigan University. After that, she married Fayez Tlaib whom she later had two sons with.

In 2008 Tlaib won her race to be a State Representative. She became the first Muslim woman to serve in the Michigan Legislation. While being a state representative, Tlaib helped secure millions of dollars, for education, for people as well as seniors. She wrote laws to protect homeowners and stop thieves. After serving three terms in the legislature she couldn’t run for her seat again, because she had reached the term limit.

On January 3, 2019 Rashida Tlaib was sworn into Congress. She is the first Muslim American woman to serve in the House of Representatives. Tlaib chooses not to wear a headscarf, but she doesn’t let that stop her from committing to her religion.

Democrat Rashida said in her campaign biography that: “She is focused on getting more money for better education, free health clinics, after school programs for students and, programs for seniors.” Tlaib is trying to solve how the world views Muslims, and she tries to help her community. While in office, she opposed tax breaks for billionaires, and wealthy corporations, and forced the the state to fund causes such as helping students pay for college instead.

Tlaib has worked against campaigns such as, anti-Arab and anti- Muslim bigotry. She showed people that she isn’t scared to say what the issues in world are. Tlaib has earned respect from many people because she wants to help people and fight for them to get things that they need.

2019 State of the Union Address

By: Daniela Fernandez

Image taken from: lhttps://www.snopes.com/fact-check/trump-sotu-super-bowl/

On February 5, 2019, President Trump gave his State of the Union Address. The State of the Union Address was originally supposed to be given on January 22, but was canceled because of the government shutdown.

This year’s speech was overshadowed by a series of exchanges between the President and the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. Their series of exchanges consisted about when he was to give his speech. The President wanted to give his speech on January 29, but Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, made it clear that in order for him to give his speech, he must first be invited by Congress, and then only the Speaker of the House can call for a joint session between the chambers. Finally, they came to an agreement to have his speech after the government reopened according to CNN.

At this year’s State of the Union Address, President Trump discussed immigration, the economy, infrastructure, drug prices, national security, and governance according to CNN.

On the topic of immigration, the President claimed that his petition for the wall is justified because El Paso, Texas used to be a dangerous city with high crime rates, and that now with a wall in place, it has become one of the country’s safest city. According to CNN, who analyzed and reviewed data from the FBI and city law enforcement, while there was high violent crime in El Paso in 1993 it fell long before a wall was built in 2008-2009.

Next, the President discussed the economy. He claimed that there are more people working in the United States than ever before. He also claimed that 157 million are working. Again, according to CNN, who analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics this month, 156,694,000 are working. They also stated that compared to the population percentage, the number of people working is still lower than before the recession.

The President also discussed drug prices. He claimed that drug prices are too high for Americans to pay, and wants to work towards lowering them. He also claimed that because of his administration, drug prices where lower than they had been in 46 years in 2018. CNN analyzed the consumer price index for prescription drugs, and they found that while prices did drop 0.6%, which is that largest drop since 1973, the prices rose 3.2% later that year.

Last, the President discussed National Security. He made many claims on international relations such as reducing support for NATO. He also claimed that ISIS was defeated. While most of their territory was recaptured, they still have control over around 20 square miles according to US Central Command, General Joseph Votel. The President also made a call for international support.

This year’s speech brought a lot of scrutiny by the media, and political analysts, and a lot of controversy.

2018-2019 U.S. Government shutdown: Things that are actually affected

A government shutdown happens when nonessential government offices can no longer remain open due to lack of funding. The lack of funding usually happens when there is a delay in the approval of the federal budget. The shutdown continues until parties can reach a compromise and a budget bill passes.

The last government shutdown, that began on December 22, 2018, is due to a disagreement, in the budget, for the President’s wall. Congress had offered President Trump $1.7 billion towards building his border wall, but he had a different amount in mind. He asked for $5.7 billion and when he was denied the money, he declared he’d be “proud to shutdown the government for border security.”

This will be the 21st government shut down since first one, after the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act was passed in 1976.

Even though some people probably didn’t even notice the inconvenience of the partial shut down, around 800,000 people lived without income.

When the shut down was announced, I expected to feel effects directly. Since I still saw police and got my mail everyday, I didn’t really think anything had actually changed because of it. But even though our mail still came, this didn’t mean that everything was just fine. Many things stopped running as usual, such as Homeland Security, the Environmental Protection Agency, and NASA.

Other things that had been affected by the government shut down were:

Airport security

During the shutdown, the airport workers who are responsible for screening passengers and their luggage, were out of work. The number of sick calls continuously rose, and more and more people quit their jobs all together given their lack of an income.

National parks

Some parks were shutdown, and others were still open. Some of the parks that remained open decided on a partial closure due to the fact that they were under staffed.

Public health and science

Inspections of chemical factories, power plants, water treatment plants and other industrial places stopped because the Environmental Protection Agency had to send home most of its employees in charge of inspecting pollution and making sure laws were followed.

Some government research labs had also been shut down, and its researchers were sent home. Funding for the research had been affected by the shut down as well.

Other services have been shut down, such as the Fish and Wildlife Service, National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Food inspection and financial aid

The Food and Drug Administration stopped its normal inspections of foods with a high risk of contamination.

Food assistance programs for women, children and Native Americans were still operating on the state level until the funding provided by the federal government runs out. After funds run out it will shut down too until the shutdown is officially over.

The Internal Revenue Service

Most IRS operations stopped. Only 12% of the employees were still working. In an effort to not interfere with annual tax returns, the White House said it would bring back the other IRS employees, but it was unclear if they had the authority to make that happen.

Law enforcement and immigration courts

Many workers from the F.B.I., Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Prisons, Customs and Border Protection, Coast Guard, the Secret Service and others, were out of work because of the shut down.

Even though immigration court was backlogged before, after the government announced the shutdown, the courts also shut down. No cases were being moved forward and people will have to continue to wait for their hearing.

With all these services and citizens being affected by the shutdown, it’s sad to think our government let it go on as long as it did. It lasted over a month and people were ready for it to be over.

Crash at Interstate 75 in Alachua County, Gainesville, Florida

On January 3rd, there was a multi-vehicle crash on Interstate 75 near Gainesville, Florida. There were at least eight people injured from this crash and 7 people died. The crash was reported around 3:33pm and it involved two tractor-trailers and a passenger van.

According to FHP Lt. Patrick Riordan, 5 of the victims that died were from the passenger van, and around 59 gallons of diesel fuel was spilled. The injured victims were taken to UF Health Shands Hospital under a trauma alert.

The crash backed up traffic for hours on Interstate 75. A student at Western University, named Nicole Towarek, recalled what she saw by saying, “Black smoke billowed. People were laid out near vehicles, there was long skid marks across the roadway, and emergency workers were just getting to the scene. We kept seeing these little explosions and fire. The heat, it was insane.” A law enforcement helicopter was sent aloft to see if there were any injured victims in the woods, along the crash scene.

The 5 victims from the passenger van were children who were on their way to Disney World according to Riordan. The names were released on January 4th, around 5pm. The children’s names were: Joel Cloud, Jeremiah Warren, Cara Descent, Brieana Descant, and Cierra Bordelan. The van’s driver, Amy Joffrion, was critically injured but survived the crash.

Disney’s spokesperson, Jacquee Wahler, said, “There are no words to convey the sorrow we feel for those involved in yesterday’s tragedy. We extend heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones impacted by this tragic accident.” There were around 7 other children in the car that were injured and taken to the hospital.

The investigation determined that the collisions started around 3:40pm. The northbound tractor-trailer truck, driven by 59 year old Steve Holland, struck the northbound car, driven by Robyn Rattray. Both of the vehicles flew into the guardrail, across the median, and into the southbound lanes where they had struck the passenger van.

Douglas Bolkema was a passenger in the northbound tractor-trailer truck. A spokesperson for a Florida Department of Transportation stated that it was too soon to say whether the guardrail failed or the impact was too great for the barrier when he was asked about the guardrail.

About a week after the crash, the mother of Jeremiah Warren filed a lawsuit at the Palm Beach County Circuit Court. Attorney Joseph Fred found, as he was investigating Holland and Bolkema, that Steve Holland has been receiving traffic citations since 2003, including speeding and careless driving in: Palm Beach County, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Virginia.

In the lawsuit, Fred blames Holland’s employer, Eagle Express Lines and New Prime Inc., and he is also suing Robyn Rattray. Officials at Eagle Express Lines were not immediately available for comment but had stated on their Facebook page that the company was devastated by the crash and will cooperating fully with investigation. They also stated, “Our thoughts and prayers are with families affected by this incident.”

Government shutdown: 2018-2019

Going into winter break, the government had been shut down. This was the 3rd shutdown of 2018, and it is now continuing into 2019. The main reason for this shutdown is the funding for President Trump’s border wall.

Trump wants $5.7 million dollars to fund the border wall, but it is not being approved. His only solution for this was to shut down the government.

Government shutdowns affect the people of the United States in many ways. Many agencies such as the Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, Department of Disease, Department of Defense, and Congress are all affected by this shutdown. Also, people on government aid and welfare will have scaled back benefits.

Luckily, over 150 Veteran Affairs hospitals will stay open along with most national parks (but with no working employees and buildings, such as information and research centers, will be closed).

As of early morning, on January 4th, 2019, House Democrats voted to reopen the government without the funding of the border wall. The bill would reopen funding for 8 closed United States departments. Congress would still keep 9 other departments closed, along with no funding for the wall.

The U.S. Capitol stands in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019. Congress returns to Washington Thursday with a new Democratic House majority gaining leverage over President Donald Trump, and the partial government shutdown first on the list of problems to solve. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

George H.W. Bush

After George H.W. Bush served as the 41st President, he and his wife both suffered from Graves‘ disease. In the early 2000s, he started to have an irregular heartbeat, and started to faint in public, and he would immediately go to the hospital but was released the next day each time.

Bush was diagnosed with a rare form of Parkinson’s called vascular Parkinsonism. Over the years, he has been accused of groping women. His office released a statement saying his Parkinson’s may be the reason of his touching.

Since 2012, Bush was forced to ride a scooter because of his Parkinson’s disease. In 2015, Bush suffered from a neck injury and couldn’t attend Trump’s inauguration. In January of that year, he was in the intensive care unit with a respiratory problem from pneumonia.

On Novermber 30, 2018, Bush died due to his health conditions, at his home in Houston. Bush’s funeral was held on December 5th and all of the former presidents attended, including Donald Trump. Bush was buried next to his wife, Barbara, who died in April of 2018.

When Bush turned 94, he was the only president to live up to that age, but in March 2019, Jimmy Carter will be the oldest living president.

Laura Loomer and Twitter

Laura Loomer is a far-right political activist who just got herself spun into yet another controversy.

Her activism has sparked controversy, especially this time when she chained herself to the doors of the Twitter HQ.

She did this after Twitter banned her for calling Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota state representive, “anti-jewish” and part of an oppressive religion.

Loomer had handcuffed herself just a week after her ban while wearing a yellow Jude patch. A police officer used bolt cutters to un-handcuff her, and she was not arrested.

This isn’t the first time she got herself in a controversy. In her senior year at Barry University, she taped a conversation between her and college officials. She was given criminal charges and was suspended from the university for violating the student code of conduct. She has dressed in burqas twice for her activism, and even interrupted two book signings. She went to the trial of Noor Salman with press credentials, which were revoked after she started to harass Salman’s family.

Let’s just hope she doesn’t get herself caught up in anything else.