Pride Month

Since it’s June, it seems to be a good time to write about Pride Month and its history!

June is Pride Month for the LGBTQ+ community. June was chosen because it’s the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which began on the early morning of June 28th, 1969. The Stonewall Riots took place in New York, and are often considered the start of the modern gay rights movement. The Stonewall Inn was owned by the Mafia at the time, and was one of the only places to openly cater to the gay community, including its most marginalized members, such as transgender people, drag queens, butch lesbians, and homeless youth. Police attempted to raid the inn, and tensions went up when transgender women refused to go to the bathrooms with police officers to have their biological gender checked. A crowd gathered, drawn by the commotion, and were sparked into action when a woman resisted arrest, fighting with police officers.

Rainbow flag proudly waving

There are two other very important anniversaries to the LGBTQ+ community that also take place in June. The first is the anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting last summer, which was on June 12th. The shooting was a hate crime that killed 49 people attending a gay and lesbian club in Orlando, and was both the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter and the deadliest hate crime against LGBTQ+ people in US history.

On a substantially happier note, the final noteworthy date, June 26th, marks the anniversary of same-sex marriage legalization in the United States! The Supreme Court ruled in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex couples could indeed get married, a goal that the LGBTQ+ community had been working towards ever since the Stonewall Riots started the Pride movement. It just goes to show, even though we still have a long way to go, we’ve come very far since the days of Stonewall.

(Cool side note: If you Google any word related to Pride Month during June, such as ‘gay’ or ‘bisexual,’ Google will add rainbows to the search results.)

Manchester bombing

Aftermath
Image Via Wikipedia.org

On the 22nd of May, a suicide bomber targeted the Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena, in Manchester England, in the second terrorist bombing the city has seen (The first being the 1996 IRA bombings). Of the 22,000 people at the concert, the bomb killed 23, including the 22 year old terrorist, and injured 116 more. Immediately afterwards, many tried to flee the arena, quickly leading to widespread panic across the city.

However, the immediate response from both citizens and emergency services was commendable. Concert goers where offered free rides, and lodging, over Twitter, or even just a place to charge phones so they could contact their parents. In particular, local Sikh communities and temples helped to respond; providing meals and safe places to stay.

Shortly after the bombing, police investigated a suspicious package near the arena. It turned out to be clothes, and was the last major cause for alarm that night. After the attack, the UK’s terror threat level was raised from Severe to Critical, though it has fallen back to Severe as of May 27th. As a further response, several members of the British Parliament proposed an automatic death penalty for suicide bombers.

The attacker was determined to be 22 year old Salman Abedi, a British Muslim of Libyan Descent. Well, at first, it was thought that Abedi had been supported (ISIS even claimed responsibility for the attack), but after a raid on his apartment, and further investigation, it was determined that he was largely acting alone. It is certainly possible that he sympathized with ISIS and their goals though.

Whatever the precise motives behind it, the bombing was a tragedy, and we hope it won’t be repeated.

The firing of James Comey

Earlier this month, President Trump fired the Director of the FBI, James Comey, in a move that has proven to be very questionable and controversial. In the days immediately following the incident, a number of conflicting stories emerged, from many people involved, muddying the truth further and further.

The choice caused backlash from both the Republican and Democratic parties, as well as many Americans, some of whom suspect that Comey was fired due to his investigating Russia, and President Trump’s potential connections to them. In fact, a recent poll by Quinnipiac University showed that a majority of Americans, more than fifty percent, do not believe his story about the firing, and think that he is abusing the powers of his office.

At first, the White House claimed rather straightforwardly that Trump was acting on the recommendations of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Supposedly, Comey was fired due to the way he had handled an investigation into Hillary Clinton. Later, however, the president rejected this version of events and instead stated that he had fired Comey himself, and that he had been losing confidence in the Director of the FBI since taking office in January.

What actually happened, at this point, is up in the air, but something else that lends a new perspective to the story is Comey’s own version of events, which is that he refused to pledge his loyalty to the president, instead promising his honesty, when pressed at a dinner party.

Many Americans are of the belief that Trump asked Comey to stop investigating possible ties between National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and Russia, and by proxy, between Russia and the Trump Administration. These ties have been a cause of great concern, since before Trump was elected, due to rumors of Russians manipulating the election to get Trump into office.

California family kicked off Delta flight

On April 23, 2017, a California family of 4 were kicked off a Delta flight en route from Maui to Los Angeles. Brittany and Brian Schear from Huntington Beach, CA boarded a Delta flight with their two small children. Issues began when the family was asked to give up their two-year-old son’s, Grayson, seat. The family refused, seeing as they had payed for the seat they didn’t see a reason to give it up.

The Schears originally purchased the ticket for their 18-year-old son Mason, but then decided to send him home early so their 2-year-old could have a seat. The family had explain the situation to the ticket agent and the ticket agent accommodated the families needs and arranged for the four of them to sit together.

A flight attend had ask the Schears to give up their 2-year-old’s seat, and when they refused the Delta flight attendant demanded they give up the seat. Again refusing, the family was then threatened with jail time and having their child put in foster care.

Brittany Schear began filming the encounter on her cellphone. You can hear the flight attention repeatedly asking them to move their child, and Brian clearly distraught and trying to stay calm and reason with the Delta staff. You can hear a female employee say as the Schears refused to exit the plane, “You have to give up the seat or you’re going to jail, your wife is going to jail and they’ll take your kids from you.”  While Brian told a Delta staff member, “You’re saying you’re gonna give that away to someone else when I paid for that seat? That’s not right. You need to do what’s right. I bought the seat and you need to just leave us alone.”

After The video was released Delta responded saying, “We are sorry for the unfortunate experience our customers had with Delta, and we’ve reached out to them to refund their travel and provide additional compensation. Delta’s goal is to always work with customers in an attempt to find solutions to their travel issues. That did not happen in this case and we apologize.”

New school lunches requirements

Many children complain about the healthy school lunches and how to change them, but a lot of parents with children in schools are very happy with the healthy school lunches. Michelle Obama’s campaign “Let’s Move” was an attempt to lower the child obesity rates by putting nutritional standards in school lunches, and encouraging kids to be active. She set many bars in food safety as well for kids, making sure that all food packaging was properly labelled so it was safe for kids with allergies or other medical conditions. According to the American Medical Association, this campaign actually worked. The child obesity rate in kids ages 2-5 has decreased by 5.4%. It may not seem like a big change, but it definitely helped the child obesity problem. Now with a new president, and new ideas, the standards for school lunches have changed once again.

Some specific changes that are going to happen are to whole grains, salt and milk. As far as whole grains go, states with trouble meeting the 100% whole grain rule (100% of grains served must be whole grains or grains that contain an endosperm, bran, and germ) can get an exemption to only serve 50% whole grains. Salt requirements are being lessened so schools don’t have to meet sodium requirements, and live up to what some believed to be unrealistic standards. In regards to milk, the only changes that are occurring are to the type of milk that can be served. The standard previously was that if the milk was flavored (chocolate, strawberry, etc.) it had to be fat-free, but now it can be 1% instead.

President Donald Trump has changed the standards for school lunches under a new slogan labelled “make school meals great again.” According to PBS’s Newshour his argument for this change is that it will lower the cost of school lunches. The USDA reports that school lunches in 2012 (after the increased health requirements were enacted) cost a total of $11.6 billion dollars, but before healthier school lunches were put into schools, the cost was $6.1 billion in total.

Making the school lunches less healthy would decrease the cost of school lunches, but it could also increase the child obesity rates. The USDA also said that the amount of waste from raw, and cooked, vegetables has risen in the years since the new restrictions have been implemented, so the standards are perhaps defeating themselves because kids aren’t even getting the full nutritional value of the lunch.

Another argument made by the president, in favor of changing the school lunch restrictions, was that by having only healthy options it put the agriculture industry in a bad place. This was created by forcing them to conform to unrealistic standards and constant quality checks. In an official statement, on the now president’s campaign website, it even went as far as to call the FDA the “food police” and regulation of school food “overkill.” The FDA didn’t fire back at the comments on the website, only saying that the repeals of health regulations for school foods would be unpopular because people are now much more concerned about healthy food.

GOP starts second push on healthcare

Ryancare
image via wnd.com

Despite the first version of the GOP health bill, meant to replace Obamacare (often dubbed either “Trumpcare” or “Ryancare,” after the president and the speaker of the house respectively), being pulled off the House floor before a vote, the Republicans are making another push at healthcare reform. This time around, the bill is much less controversial among Republicans, and thus passed through the House, promoting declarations of victory from both Republican leaders in congress and the Trump administration.

However, while getting such a high profile bill through the House might constitute the biggest legislative achievement yet for the Trump administration, it hardly constitutes a victory. In fact, at the very least, the existing bill has to make it through the Senate, and that is unlikely to happen; indeed, some Senate Republicans have already declared they are working on redrafting the bill. Even if the Senate version of the bill passes, it will then bounce back to the House, and potentially move between the two Houses of Congress for months.

And then, even if the Bill passes both Houses of Congress, and President Trump signs it into law, it still has one more hurdle – its staggering unpopularity. While Obamacare (for the first time in its lifetime) has a majority approval, the GOP replacement has had 40% at most, and perhaps as low as 30%. Furthermore, according to FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten, healthcare has been one of the most damaging issues to Trump’s approval ratings, and a move this unpopular could effectively extinguish what little political capital the administration has left.

Whatever the case, it will certainly be interesting to see how this situation develops, and what the end result is.

Wiki tribune

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales recently launched a new website that wants to stop the spread of fake news. He wanted a place were people could view real news and believable things that aren’t fake. Wales said, “The news is broken, but we’ve figured out how to fix it.”

On April 25 the the website, which is called Wikitribune, launched and is free to the plublic. He didn’t want Wikitribune to be complicated because he wants it to be easy to access. Wikitribune is similar to Wikipedia, but Wales wants professional journalists, reporters, and a crew, instead of random people who could just add random things to the website.

The website is having a co-founding campaign, which has over 1,000 supporters. The website might go live first in the U.K. Wales told the news that many of the news websites would twist the information so that the viewers might find it interesting, and that sometimes they do it for the views because they know what the views are looking for.

Facebook murderer

The Facebook/Cleveland Killer, and former job-counselor for teens, Steve Stephens, posted a video of an apparently “random” murder of 74 year-old Robert Godwin Sr. When the police finally caught up with Stephens in Erie, Pennsylvania, he committed suicide following a police chase.  

Godwin was shot Sunday, April 16, while walking home from an Easter meal with his children, in Cleveland, Ohio. Stephens posted video of the elderly man’s death on Facebook saying, “I snapped, I just snapped.”

Later Sunday, Stephens uploaded a video to his Facebook page showing a gun pointed at a man’s head: Robert Godwin.

Stephens claimed on Facebook that he had killed more people, but police aren’t aware of any other victims. Stephens had many traffic violations but no criminal record, police said.

A McDonald’s employee, in Erie, Pennsylvania, spotted Stephens’ white Ford Fusion in the drive-thru and called authorities on Tuesday, April 18, 2017.

The employee called the police, telling the authorities, “I think that’s the guy.” The Mcdonald’s employee later told the press that he “looked suspicious” and drove off before he received his full order. According to CNN Stephens led the police in a chase for five miles, before being hit with the PIT maneuver by one of the police officers that were dispatched.

“As the vehicle was spinning out of control, from the PIT maneuver, Stephens pulled a pistol and shot himself in the head,” Pennsylvania police said.

For two days, authorities across the country struggled to find Stephens, the man wanted for the death of Robert Godwin, a self-taught mechanic and grandfather of 14.

Cleveland Police Chief, Calvin Williams, told the press,”We’re grateful that this has ended…We would prefer that it had not ended this way because there are a lot of questions, I’m sure, that not only the family, but the city in general would have had for Steve.”

The Tuesday after Stephen’s death, his former girlfriend, Joy Lane, who was identified in the video of Godwin’s death, met with two of the victim’s daughters, Debbie Godwin, and Tonya Godwin-Baines. A CNN affiliate, WJW, or Fox8 News Cleveland, reported the women hugged each other and cried together.

Through their tears, several of Godwin’s children said they held no animosity toward Stephens. “Each one of us forgives the killer, the murderer,” Godwin-Baynes said Monday. His children remembered how their father taught them the value of hard work, and how to love God and forgive.

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Image from CNN.com

“They don’t make men like him anymore,” said his daughter Debbie Godwin. “He was definitely one in a million.”

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, discussed Godwin’s death at the company’s annual developer’s conference.

“We have a lot of work, and we will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening,” Zuckerberg said on stage. “Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Robert Godwin Sr.”

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Image from CNN.com

 

Trump’s first 100 days

Trump

Image Via Slate.com

Ever since the groundbreaking social welfare programs that Roosevelt rolled out during his first 100 days, this period has been one of the first points at which the public (mostly the media if we’re being honest) passes judgement on a new president. It is a mostly arbitrary number, but it’s round, and roughly corresponds to when the president’s honeymoon period ends. President Trump recently passed his 100 day mark (on April 28th), so despite the problems with just looking at the first 100 days, now seems as good of a time as any to review his progress so far.

As many have noted, Trump has hardly had the traditional honeymoon period that a president receives; in fact, according to Nate Silver, his popularity hovers around 40%, which is down from around 50% immediately after he was elected. For reference, after 100 days, Obama was at 65%, George W. Bush was at 62%, Bill Clinton was at 55%, and George H.W. Bush was at 54%. So, clearly, the public doesn’t think he’s doing a great job, but 40% is still 120 million people, so he does have some support.

In terms of actual achievements during his first 100 days, Trump again scores relatively low. While he passed 29 laws, more than Obama’s 14 in the same time period, this figure is somewhat misleading. Most of the laws he passed lacked substance, or where minor measures in the first place. As a result, only 133 pages were included in these laws, compared to Obama’s 1,602.

Executive orders have also been ineffective for Trump, with many being struck down by the courts, or amended until their original purpose wasn’t really fulfilled.

Arguably, the most successful, or at least most decisive, aspect of Trump’s presidency was his attack on a Syrian air base. This strike was ostensibly a response to Bashar Al-Assad’s continued use of chemical weapons against his own citizens. However, the PR disaster that surrounded it somewhat diminished the posturing.

Overall, it’s probably fair to say Trump isn’t a very effective president, but it’s also probably not fair to say he isn’t trying. He has pushed stuff forward, and as he catches on to Washington politics, may become more and more effective.

Bill O’Reilly: Dropped from Fox News

Recently, Bill O’Reilly was dropped from Fox News, and lost his slot at 7 pm with his show The O’Reilly Factor. Mr. O’Reilly had reportedly sexuallly harrased many different female colleague at Fox News. After the story began to spread, more than 50 advertisers removed their ads from his show, including popular Fox advertiser, Jenny Craig.

Shortly after the show started losing many of its sponsors, Fox decided to let go of O’Reilly. He responded, “Over the past 20 years at Fox News, I have been extremely proud to launch and lead one of the most successful news programs in  history, which has consistently informed and entertained millions of Americans and significantly contributed to building Fox into the dominant news network in television.” He also was dissapointed in having to leave as he said: “It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims.”

After O’Reilly was let go from Fox News, he decided to start his own new podcast called “No Spin News.” The podcast is only available to premium members of his website.

According to Rupert Murdoch (the head of 21st Century Fox) he was the one who decided to let him go, but also had much praise for his show:  “By ratings standards, Bill O’Reilly is one of the most accomplished TV personalities in the history of cable news,” Murdoch wrote, “In fact, his success by any measure is indisputable.”

Many people have praise for Bill O’Reilly, and his conservative views on his popular talk show, but Fox was right to take action in this situation.