CNN Names Ivanka Trump Most Powerful U.S. Jewish Woman. Twitter Says Hell No.

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Ah, no. That was Twitter?s reaction Friday after a CNN story dubbed Ivanka Trump America?s most powerful Jewish woman. Tweets came up with other lists of more powerful Jewish women, including possibly the most popular: ?My mother.? Others frequently named were Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen, Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan, singer Barbra Streisand and Facebook exec Sheryl Sandberg. 

The Jerusalem Post snorted that CNN didn?t ?offer much evidence to back up its headline.?

MarketWatch almost instantly countered with an article naming Yellen. ?Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen can, on certain days, be considered the most powerful person, male or female, Jewish or gentile, in the entire world,? said the piece by Steve Goldstein, who quipped that the CNN story was ?fake news.?


Others commenters criticized the choice because Trump is hardly self-made, having her Trump Organization title and White House position handed to her by her father. Besides, some noted, she?s not even powerful enough to convince her own dad not to do controversial things like yank the country out of the Paris climate accord.

Actor Zach Braff nominated Wonder Woman ? or maybe he was pitching the film?s Israeli star, Gal Gadot, who lives in America.

It?s been a bad Twitter week for the first daughter. The LGBTQ community slammed her for hypocrisy after she tweeted a ?joyful #Pride2017? on Thursday.

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We Will Continue To Fight The Hate Deep In The Heart of Texas

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By Thomas Kennedy

In 2011, the Florida legislature attempted to pass an Arizona-style ?show me your papers? law at the behest of Republican Governor Rick Scott. The proposal generated a hugely controversial and heated debate in the legislature and ultimately failed after the Senate was unable to broker an agreement.

In the same year, Georgia actually enacted a bill inspired by the SB 1070 Arizona bill to disastrous consequences. Georgia farmers lost millions of dollars as blueberries, onions, melons, tomatoes and other and crops were left unharvested and rotting in farms. As undocumented workers fled the state in fear of the new harsh immigration measure, these agricultural jobs were simply not being filled in time to harvest crops, doing severe damage to Georgia?s agriculture sector.

More than six years later, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law what many immigration activists and groups consider to be the most discriminatory, anti-immigrant law inspired by SB 1070. Texas proposed Senate Bill 4 (SB4) enables local police officers to question the immigration status of individuals detained with ?reasonable suspicion? of breaking the law. The bill would also preempt local municipalities from passing legislation that would conflict with SB4 and force police departments to comply with federal requests to detain suspected undocumented immigrants.

The Texas SB4 law essentially goes along with Trump administration efforts to go after ?sanctuary cities? and would embolden other states with anti-immigrant legislators to take similar measures to target immigrants by transforming police officers into immigration agents.

These measures have had a chilling effect on immigrant communities by eroding the trust between the community and police departments, as there is fear that any encounter with police officers could lead to detainment and possible deportation. Police departments themselves have spoken out against these type of anti-immigrant laws.

The Los Angeles police department said in a statement: ?While there is no direct evidence that the decline is related to concerns within the Hispanic community regarding immigration, the department believes deportation fears may be preventing Hispanic members of the community from reporting when they are being victimized.?

Interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley has told legislators that SB4 will make police work harder. ?I think that we will create situations where the trust we?ve worked so hard to build can be eroded,? he said at a press conference last week.

Over a 1000 immigration activists staged a large protest on the Texas House Floor during the final day of the legislative session. As legislators were discussing SB4 and the protestors that had gathered that day, House Rep. Matt Rinaldi told fellow lawmakers ?fuck them, I called ICE? regarding the activists gathered there and threatened to put a bullet in a fellow lawmakers head.

The fact that a Republican legislator saw people which he assumed were Hispanic and undocumented and called ICE on them due to a political disagreement, not only demonstrates how laws like SB4 will inevitably result in racial profiling but also how these types of discriminatory proposals can be abused in order to persecute individuals who engage in political activism.

Discriminatory legislation like SB4 hurts our communities by making police officers jobs more difficult, hurting the economy, and persecuting hard working immigrants and separating families which contribute to our society.

Now more than ever, we all need to stand up and fight this hate – not just in Texas, but across the country.

Thomas Kennedy is a writing fellow for the Center for Community Change.

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Climate Finally Gets TV Spotlight, But Science Experts And Advocates Are Scarce

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President Donald Trump?s decision Thursday to break with more than 190 other nations in abandoning the Paris Agreement, a move widely condemned as damaging to the environment and America?s economic future, finally pushed climate change directly onto the radar of cable news producers. 

But despite the uptick in attention, those individuals most knowledgeable about environmental effects weren?t part of cable?s conversation. No climate scientists appeared on CNN, MSNBC or Fox News from shortly after 4 p.m., when Trump wrapped up his rambling Rose Garden announcement, to the end of primetime at 11 p.m. on Thursday, according to a search using monitoring service TVEyes. 

None of the heads of major environmental organizations, like Sierra Club and Greenpeace, appeared during this time period either.

Public opposition to leaving the Paris accord was striking in that it included both climate activists and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. But no major executives were interviewed Thursday on the three cable news networks, even as several, including the heads of Apple, Goldman Sachs and General Electric, voiced their opposition on Twitter.

The framing of their climate change coverage on Thursday was a missed opportunity for cable news, which ? like TV news more broadly ? focused little on the urgent global issue during the 2016 election. On Thursday, Vox editor-in-chief Ezra Klein wrote that historians will ?look back on the 2016 campaign in horror? when they compare the intense focus on Hillary Clinton?s emails to the lack of attention to climate change.

Television anchors didn?t ask any climate change questions during the presidential debates between Trump and Clinton. The issue also received short shrift on the evening newscasts and Sunday shows, as progressive watchdog Media Matters pointed out Thursday.

Although there has long been a scientific consensus around global warming, the president has the ability to muddy the waters, whether by continuing to push a conspiracy theory that climate change is really a hoax created by the Chinese or by promoting climate skepticism to his tens of millions of Twitter followers. Trump also knows how to use the presidential bully pulpit, as he did Thursday in publicly speaking about the Paris pullout. Appearing live on channels across the country, Trump took the opportunity to make several false or misleading claims about the deal. 

Given the misinformation coming from the White House, climate experts who can separate fact from fiction are needed more than ever on TV news.

But across the top three cable news networks, the focus Thursday centered more on the political ramifications of Trump?s decision than the environmental or economic impacts, with dozens of political reporters and pundits weighing in on panels.

Of course, Trump?s decision is a big political story and the fallout merits attention. And it?s important to have anchors like CNN?s Jake Tapper challenge the claims of Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, who along with White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, reportedly advocated most strongly for leaving the accord. Paris Agreement supporters within the administration thought Bannon and Pruitt were presenting Trump with data that was ?either erroneous, scientifically dubious, misleading or out of date,? according to The Washington Post. 

The on-air panels Thursday often veered heavily toward sizing up the competing factions in the White House ? the ?populists? versus the ?globalists? ? or the political implications. Most of the guests booked to discuss the decision primarily write and comment on politics, though some ? like CNN?s Van Jones, a former ?green jobs czar? in the Obama administration ? may also have experience in environmental issues. 

The coverage Thursday wasn?t uniform, with MSNBC focusing as much, or more, on the ongoing Russia investigation and the news that former FBI Director James Comey would testify next week. CNN also spent considerable time on Russia, while Fox News covered that investigation less and featured more voices in support of the president?s climate move. 

MSNBC?s Chris Hayes provided a good look into the economic dangers of leaving the Paris accord, noting that the future is not in fossil fuels like coal, but rather green technology. Both CNN and MSNBC interviewed mayors and governors about their plans to reach climate goals even as the White House retreats into an isolationist crouch. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto (D) ? who disputed Trump?s comment that he was elected to represent ?Pittsburgh, not Paris,? a dog whistle to the president?s nationalist base ? appeared on CNN and MSNBC. California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) was interviewed on the latter.

Fox News host and self-identified climate ?agnostic? Tucker Carlson interviewed Philip Levine, the Democratic mayor of Miami Beach and a supporter of the Paris accord. But the conservative host aggressively pushed back on the mayor?s views throughout the interview. ?Is there a single person watching this show stupid enough to be convinced by what you?re saying?? Carlson asked at one point. 

Carlson also mocked the news media and the left?s ?hysterical? reaction to the decision, a familiar theme on Fox News as other commentators cited the ?hysteria? and ?hyperbole? coming from critics of the move. Several Fox News hosts and guests praised Trump?s decision, with ?The Five? star Kimberly Guilfoyle ? who revealed that the president had called her Thursday morning ? describing it as ?brave and courageous.?

One Fox News program also turned to former coal miner and Trump supporter Bo Copley, who said the president was standing up ?for people like me and the West Virginians who voted for him.?

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Gwyneth Paltrow Responds To Criticism In A Very Gwyneth Paltrow Way

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It appears that Gwyneth Paltrow ? actress, mother of a daughter named Apple and impassioned critic of Parisian concierges ? will always be 100 percent unadulterated Gwyneth Paltrow.

In 2014 Paltrow received a ton of backlash when she decided to ?consciously uncouple? (aka separate) from her now ex-husband Chris Martin after 11 years of marriage.

In a recent interview with Net-a-Porter?s The Edit, the actress decided to reflect on the infamous term that sparked many hilarious think pieces ? and her reaction is just as eye-roll-inducing as saying that she?d ?rather smoke crack than eat cheese from a tin.?

She told the site:

People are coming around. I know it?s a dorky term, but it?s very worthwhile. I?m always the person who gets s? at first, but then later people say, ?Hey, maybe that?s a good idea.? I don?t mind.

Speaking of good ideas, the actress also shared the brilliant way she now dodges the paparazzi:

?They passed laws a couple of years ago about [paparazzi] not harassing children, so I take them everywhere with me like a shield ? they?re good for something!? she joked withe the outlet.

Ha. Ha. Hope that earns them more than one Coke a week.

To read the entire article, head over to The Edit.

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Bounty Hunters And Fugitive Die In Fierce Car Dealer Gunfight

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They had their man ? until all hell broke loose.

Two bounty hunters, along with the fugitive they had found, died during a shootout Tuesday at a Greenville, Texas, car dealership, the Dallas Morning News reported.

Officials said the suspect drew his gun from his waist band when confronted by the two men, the paper noted. He dropped the gun on a desk but was able to retrieve it and fire at the bounty hunters.

The bounty hunters shot back in an exchange of gunfire that lasted about six seconds and 20 shots, according to the Morning News. When it was over, Fidel Garcia Jr., 54, and Gabriel Bernal, 33, were dead. So was the suspect, Ramon Hutchinson, 49. 

Please note that footage of the encounter is intense:

According to CBS Dallas, the bounty hunters were dispatched from Corpus Christi to find Hutchinson, wanted on drug and police-assault charges in Minnesota. Authorities suspected Hutchinson was hiding in Greenville because he had a girlfriend there, so the bounty hunters placed a tracking device on a car they thought belonged to her.

It turned out that Hutchinson?s girlfriend was going to trade the car in at a local Nissan dealer, the station said. Garcia and Bernal waited hours for Hutchinson to arrive on Tuesday evening. When Hutchinson got there and sat in an office, the bounty hunters made their fatal move.

?Mr. Garcia felt the defendant would ultimately appear at that dealership,? Stew Peters, a bail investigator in Minnesota who previously had contact with the bounty hunter, told Associated Press. ?Unfortunately Mr. Hutchinson was more prepared for a gunfight.? 

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Pippa Middleton Proves She’s Not Afraid Of Heights On Her Honeymoon

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One honeymoon location just isn?t enough for Pippa Middleton and her new husband, James Matthews. 

The two jetted off to Tetiaroa, French Polynesia ? one of Obama?s recent vacation spots ? after their wedding last weekend. Apparently they?ve had their fill of South Pacific sun, as Middleton and Matthews were recently spotted in Sydney, Australia. 

On Wednesday, Middleton and her hubby climbed the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge at night. The bridge offers 360-degree views of Sydney and stands about 440 feet in the air.

The night climb costs around $253 – $388 for adults and can take up to 3.5 hours to complete. 

The couple is staying at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Sydney, which offers views of the Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House, according to a press release.

So far, they?ve explored the city by way of a water taxi and a sea plane. The two recently flew a seaplane to lunch at the Cottage Point Inn, which looks like a cute spot for the newlyweds: 

Sunday morning vibes #nature #beautiful #photography #restaurantaustralia #weekend #sydney #eatout #seeyousoon

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#weekend #lunch #finedining #food #eatout #sydney #seeyousoon

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Haven't dined with us in a while?! Come see what's new! #eatout #sydney #finedining #newchef #newmenu #seeyousoon

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Where will they jet off to next?

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U.S. Might Ban Laptops On All Flights Into And Out Of The Country

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May 28 (Reuters) – The United States might ban laptops from aircraft cabins of all flights into and out of the country, John Kelly, Secretary of Homeland Security, said on Sunday.

In an interview on Fox News Sunday Kelly said the U.S. plans to ?raise the bar? on airline security, including tightening screening of carry-on items.

?That?s the thing that they are obsessed with, the terrorists, the idea of knocking down an airplane in flight, particularly if it?s a U.S. carrier, particularly if it?s full of U.S. people.?

In March the government imposed restrictions on large electronic devices in aircraft cabins on flights from 10 airports, including the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Turkey.

Kelly said the move would be part of a broader effort to tighten airline security to combat what he called ?a real sophisticated threat.? He said no decision has been made as to the timing of any ban.

?We are still following the intelligence,? he said, ?and are in the process of defining this, but we?re going to raise the bar generally speaking for aviation much higher than it is now.?

Among the enhanced measures will likely be tighter screening of carry-on items to allow Transport Security Administration (TSA) agents to discern problematic items in tightly stuffed bags.

The reason, Kelly said, is that in order to avoid paying a fees for checking bags, people are stuffing them to the point where it is difficult to see through the clutter.

?The more stuff is in there, the less the TSA professionals that are looking at what?s in those bags through the monitors can tell what?s in them.?

The TSA has begun testing certain new procedures at a limited number of airports, requiring people to remove additional items from carry-on bags for separate screenings.

Asked whether the government would expand such measures nationwide, Kelly said: ?We might, and likely will.?

On Friday Kelly told Fox News that if most people knew the extent of the security threat to the United States some people would ?never leave the house.?

(Reporting by Toni Clarke and Doina Chiacu in Washington; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

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As winter approaches and temperatures drop, households will be spending more on heating. Electric and gas bills can rise by up to five-fold during winter due to heating


Travel Ban Challengers Demand Trump Hand Over Rudy Giuliani’s ‘Muslim Ban’ Memo

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A team of lawyers challenging President Donald Trump?s travel ban in Detroit asked a federal judge there to compel the Trump administration to turn over a memorandum that former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is believed to have written in support of the travel restrictions.

U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts had already ordered Department of Justice lawyers to come up with the document by last Friday, but the government offered ?a laundry list of objections? and refused to comply, according to a motion filed Friday by a coalition that includes the Arab American Civil Rights League and the ACLU of Michigan.

The motion was filed a day after a federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, largely upheld a national injunction forbidding the Trump administration from enforcing the travel ban, which a majority of judges found ?drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.?

Since the White House rolled out the first travel ban in late January and a watered-down version in March, courts across the country have prevented it from going into effect, concluding that the executive order is likely unconstitutional.

The plaintiffs in the Michigan case believe Giuliani?s memo is ?central? to their similar argument that Trump and his team crafted the travel ban with the intent to discriminate against Muslims ? a claim that, if proven, would mean the government violated the Constitution?s prohibition on expressing disfavor for a religious group.

?The Government is engaged in a shell game to keep the Giuliani Memo out of reach of Plaintiffs and the Court, variously resorting to breathtaking assertions of presidential immunity, threats of future claims of privilege, and bizarre contortions of normal discovery practice, all while refusing even to search for a single document or respect this Court?s May 11 Order,? read the challengers? motion.

A number of judges, including those who ruled against the travel ban on Thursday, have taken notice of a Fox News interview ? conducted one day after Trump signed his original executive order ? in which Giuliani said Trump consulted with him on how to ?legally? enact the Muslim ban he promised during his campaign.

?Giuliani was quite clear that the President wanted to enact a ?Muslim ban? and had assembled a commission to study how to create a ?Muslim ban? legally,? wrote U.S. Circuit Judge Stephanie Thacker in a concurring opinion agreeing that statements made after a president takes office are relevant to the case.

In a strange twist earlier this week, Giuliani told a judge in an unrelated New York case that he played no role in crafting and drafting the executive order banning travelers from several predominantly Muslim nations from entering the country ? an apparent contradiction that could raise suspicions for Judge Roberts, who is handling the dispute over the memo.

Jason Raofield, an attorney with the legal team trying to get hold of the memo, suggested in an interview that the government?s claim the document is beyond their reach and had no bearing on the content of the executive order is an attempt on Trump?s end to take them for fools.

?How gullible does he think we are, and what is he hiding?? Raofield said.

A ruling from Roberts is expected in the coming days or weeks, as is another ruling in a separate travel ban challenge brought by the state of Hawaii.

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Global Warming Is On Pace To Cause Many Sleepless Nights By 2099, Study Finds

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Nick Obradovich couldn?t sleep. It was October 2015, and a surprise heat wave sent thermometers across San Diego soaring 7 degrees Fahrenheit above average. The window air-conditioning unit in his living room wasn?t powerful enough to cool the bedroom. So the climate impact researcher lay on top of his sheets, fixated on the idea that global warming could forecast many more nights like that one.

Turns out that may be the case. Surges in nighttime temperatures correspond with an increase in self-reported nights of restless and insufficient sleep, according to a study Obradovich published Friday in the journal Science Advances.

?Human sleep relies on ambient temperature for its regulation,? Obradovich, now a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University?s John F. Kennedy School of Government, told HuffPost by phone this week. ?When that ambient temperature is unusually warm, when it?s not expected to be, that can predict disruption in sleep patterns.?

To test his theory, he and three other researchers compared U.S. responses from 765,000 people surveyed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 2002 and 2011 to local weather data. On hotter-than-normal nights, more people said they struggled to fall or stay asleep.

That bodes ill for the future: Temperatures are forecast to rise more than 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century as burning fossil fuels, industrial farms and deforestation emit more planet-warming gases into the atmosphere. An increase that large would yield catastrophic results as ice caps melt and glaciers retreat. Antarctic ice melt alone could send sea levels surging by up to 49 feet by 2500, a study released in March 2016 found.

Lack of sleep is linked to heart disease, obesity and mental health diseases. In the more immediate term, sleep deprivation impairs motor and cognitive functions and leads to rash behavior, so it makes sense that poor sleep patterns hurt job performance. Sleeplessness costs the U.S. economy about $411 billion in lost productivity each year, according to a study released last year by the RAND Corp.

Climate change already affects low-income people disproportionately, as rising sea levels destroy low-lying homes, pollution worsens costly diseases and droughts make food and water scarcer and more expensive. Now add poor sleep to that list.

?Poorer people are more likely to have disruptions in their sleep, probably due to the fact that they don?t have air conditioning or, if they have it, can?t afford to use it the whole night during summer,? said Obradovich, who also works as a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology?s Media Lab.

?It?s not just sleep,? he added. ?It?s sleep in the bigger picture of the other factors climate change is likely to impact.?

Obradovich said he would like to replicate the study with data from hotter, poorer countries closer to the equator.

?If we were to have data from India or Brazil on the relationship between unusually warm nights and sleep, we might observe substantially larger effects,? he said. ?If we do see larger effects in those countries, that?s an even further example of how climate change is going to affect people across the world.?

Aggressive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions could limit the rise in global temperatures. But, even as carbon emissions plateaued over the past two years, that seems unlikely in the near term. President Donald Trump has already scrapped policies crucial to meeting U.S. commitments under the Paris Agreement, the first climate deal to include China and the U.S., the world?s biggest emitters. But the White House is considering pulling out of the accord amid its massive push to increase fossil fuel production across the country. Without U.S. participation, the deal ? a symbolic first step toward slashing emissions, but not enough to halt the calamitous temperature increases forecast by most climatologists ? could fall apart.

Improvements in air conditioning that make the technology cheaper and more widely available could help stave off some effects of warming temperatures. But air conditioning sucks up a lot of electricity, and the utility sector ? dependent on burning coal and natural gas ? remains the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, at least in the U.S. So that solution may be like feeding a hungry snake its tail.

?Sleep is just one of many other factors that ultimately combine into the broad perspective on human well-being,? Obradovich said. ?Take into consideration that temperature may affect exercise patterns and mood, too, and you get this cornucopia of factors that, when we combine them all, you realize climate is going to really affect human behavior.?

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Seth Meyers: Donald Trump Should Name His Handshakes After Dance Moves

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President Donald Trump?s bizarre way of shaking hands continues to amuse and amaze in equal measure.

After Trump twice engaged in epic handshake-offs with France?s newly elected president Emmanuel Macron at the NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday, ?Late Night? host Seth Meyers joked that Trump should name his varying techniques after dance moves.

?I call this one the lawnmower,? said Meyers. ?He grabbed it like he was going to keep it. If you get a body part close to Trump he thinks it?s a gift.?

Check out the full segment above.

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Miss Black Texas Says Police Chief Illegally Arrested Her In Fit Of Racist Road Rage

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Miss Black Texas 2016 is calling for a North Texas police chief to be removed from his job after he allegedly called her a ?black bitch? and unlawfully arrested her for passing his 14-year-old daughter on the road.

Carmen Ponder, an intern at the Hunt County district attorney?s office and a recent graduate of Texas A&M University, tweeted Tuesday that she experienced ?road rage? from Kerry Crews, the police chief in Commerce, Texas.

Ponder says she was on her way to a local Walmart when a black truck cut in front of her and began driving erratically. She says she decided to pass the vehicle to avoid a potentially dangerous situation because she believed the driver to be drunk.

She had parked her car outside the Walmart before realizing the black truck had followed her, she says. Crews, who had not identified himself as a cop, apparently yelled at Ponder for passing his daughter, whom he had been teaching to drive at the time.

?Whatever, you black bitch,? Crews allegedly told Ponder after she reminded him that it?s ?illegal? for a 14-year-old to drive.

It?s just a reminder that our skin color … is seen as something hostile, dangerous and illegal.
Lee Merritt, civil rights attorney

Ponder says she walked away from the confrontation and made her way into the store. She alleges that Crews, his daughter and at least one other man were waiting for her when she returned.

One of the men allegedly informed Ponder that Crews is a police chief and that she should apologize to him for being disrespectful. Ponder refused and began walking to her car, apparently prompting the man to grab her by the arm and tell her she was going to be detained.

When more police arrived on the scene, Ponder approached them for help. But she claims the man who initially grabbed her told the officers that she was resisting arrest and instructed them to detain her.

Ponder was handcuffed, put in the back of the a police car, and detained for roughly 24 hours. She was released but still faces a charge for evading arrest.

Read Ponder?s description of the ordeal below.

Crews did not immediately respond to HuffPost?s request for comment. He told a local NBC affiliate that his attorneys had advised him not to speak.

The Commerce Police Department declined to comment on the incident. 

Ponder?s attorney is Lee Merritt, a civil rights lawyer. He told HuffPost that a Walmart employee heard Crews swear at Ponder and apologized on his behalf. Walmart did not immediately provide a comment.

Merritt said Ponder suffered bruising on her arms and is hesitant to leave her house because she?s afraid of being threatened by Crews? supporters.

?If this is how [Crews] behaves when he feels someone disrespected him … how does he handle people who he suspects of committing real crimes?? Merritt said. 

Ponder is calling for the charge against her to be dropped, for Crews to be fired and for the other involved officers to face disciplinary action.

?It?s just a reminder that our skin color, speaking specifically about the African-American community, is seen as something hostile, dangerous and illegal,? Merritt said. 

Merritt also represented Jacqueline Craig, the black mother from Forth Worth whose arrest went viral after being captured on a cellphone video. A white cop arrested Craig and her two daughters in December after they called the police to report a neighbor for attacking Craig?s 5-year-old son.

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Watch A Store Owner Fight Two Knife-Wielding Robbers With Baseball Bat

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This guy brought a baseball bat to a knife fight ? and won.

Watch blade-brandishing assailants attempt to rob a convenience store in Rotterdam, New York, on Monday, only to meet up with owner Gurchran Singh and his bat.

Singh said he bopped one of the suspects, and his wife followed with a rod of some sort to help chase both crooks out of the store.

?No mess with Singh, you know?!? the owner told News 10.

You got that right.

According to WGRB, Singh then jumped in a truck with a neighbor and tracked the men, helping police find and arrest them.

Now Ryan Kelly Jr., 21, and Brandon Ehlers, 20, face robbery charges, the station reported. 

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Aly Raisman Shows Her Mettle In Blasting Airport Body-Shamer

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Aly Raisman, a three-time Olympic gold medalist in gymnastics, just slammed a judge.

And with good reason.

This judge wasn?t officiating a competition. He was some guy at the airport apparently making unsolicited negative comments about her body.

Raisman recounted the incident on Twitter Wednesday, saying it all started when a female TSA agent said she recognized Raisman was a gymnast by her biceps. That?s when the man broke into the conversation, rudely proclaiming he didn?t see any muscles and proceeding to stare at her, according to the London and Rio Olympics hero.

?I am so sick of this judgmental generation,? she wrote.

We?ll let Raisman take it away from here:

Raisman spoke out in January about maintaining a positive body image before she appeared in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

?I of course like everyone else have my days where I feel insecure and not at my best,? she wrote on Instagram with one of her S.I. photos released as a preview. ?BUT I think it is that much more important we love our bodies and support each other.?

h/t People

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Supreme Court Puts States On Notice About Using Race In Redistricting

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The Supreme Court has made it overwhelmingly clear that when states draw new boundaries for electoral districts after the 2020 census, they must have a strong justification if they want to use race as a factor.

In a significant ruling earlier this week in a case called Cooper v. Harris, the high court threw out two congressional districts in North Carolina after determining Republican lawmakers improperly packed African-American voters into them. The decision, authored by Justice Elena Kagan, was the latest in a series of recent rulings from the court showing an unmistakable skepticism from the justices on the practice.

States redraw electoral districts every 10 years after a new census. The Constitution prohibits lawmakers from using race as the predominant factor in redistricting considerations, but the Voting Rights Act allows them to take race into account to a certain extent, in order to protect the voting influence of minorities. That leaves courts to figure out if race was improperly or too overwhelmingly used when lines are redrawn.

The North Carolina decision is unlikely to prompt a flood of new litigation before the next redistricting cycle. But experts say that it puts states on notice for when they draw new lines that could dilute the votes of minorities.

The court is sending a clear signal that states needed to ?be careful? and ?do their homework? when using race as a factor in drawing district boundaries, said Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles who served as deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice Civil Rights Devision from 2015 to 2017.

?The use of race in redistricting requires some precision tools, and legislatures in this last cycle were operating with blunt machinery. Sometimes intentionally, and perhaps sometimes unintentionally, but what the court is essentially doing is telling them to stop it,? he said. ?You have precision tools, do your homework.?

?The use of race in redistricting requires some precision tools, and legislatures in this last cycle were operating with blunt machinery.

Levitt noted the North Carolina case fit in with recent Supreme Court gerrymandering decisions dealing with districts in Virginia and Alabama. In March, the court largely sided with Democratic plaintiffs in a case that charged that Virginia lawmakers had placed too much emphasis on race when drawing district lines. In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled Alabama lawmakers too had given unfair weight to race when drawing district lines in a 2012 state redistricting.

?I think this is one of a series of cases from the 2010 round of redistricting that give plaintiffs more tools to challenge unconstitutional racial gerrymanders,? Richard Pildes, an election law expert and professor at NYU Law School, wrote in an email of the North Carolina case.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder, who is now leading the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, a redistricting reform effort, called the latest decision a ?watershed moment in the fight to end racial gerrymandering,? in a statement Monday. The group will use the ruling to challenge future gerrymanders, said Marc Elias, who argued both the Virginia and North Carolina cases at the Supreme Court in December and is an NRDC senior adviser.

?This builds upon Supreme Court precedent striking down racial gerrymandering in North Carolina and twice in Virginia. Based off this ruling, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee will aggressively pursue new cases to end similar illegal racial gerrymandering in other states,? he said.

One significant aspect of the North Carolina decision was that the majority opinion turned down North Carolina?s argument that it needed to pack black voters into one congressional district in order to comply with the Voting Rights Act. The landmark 1965 law says states cannot block the ability of minority voters to elect a preferred candidate. North Carolina ? echoing a strategy employed by other southern states ? said this was why they increased the number of black voters in the district to over 50 percent.

The Supreme Court unanimously rejected the argument for District 1, noting that the district had a history of electing black voters? preferred candidates even when its black voting-age population was under 50 percent.

?The Court is not going to let jurisdictions use compliance with the Voting Rights Act as an excuse, when what they?re doing has nothing to do with the Voting Rights Act, and more to do with their simply wanting to shift around populations on the basis of race in order to achieve partisan ends,? Ezra Rosenberg, co-director of the Lawyers? Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said in an email.

?The Court did not say that any line-drawing that creates a majority-minority district is suspect. And they?re not. What is suspect is when race is the predominate and uncompromising factor, to the exclusion of all else, and there?s no good reason for that to be so,? he said.

In considering the other congressional district in the case, District 12, the court dismissed North Carolina?s argument that politics, not race, was responsible for the gerrymander.

In his dissent, Justice Samuel Alito took issue with the fact that the court didn?t require plaintiffs in the case to provide an alternative map showing the state could have drawn the lines without using race as the predominant factor. The court required an alternate map in a previous challenge to District 12, so not asking for one now was akin to tossing away Supreme Court precedent like a ?paper plate or napkin,? Alito said.

Not requiring an alternate map will make it easier to challenge racial gerrymanders, said Rick Hasen, an election law expert and professor at the University of California, Irvine.

The latest decision could immediately impact two race-based gerrymandering cases, one in Texas and a separate one from North Carolina, moving their way through the courts. Both cases call into question whether lawmakers unconstitutionally drew congressional and state legislative maps.

The North Carolina decision came as observers are closely watching a different case out of Wisconsin in which the court is expected to consider whether a gerrymander based on partisanship, not race, was too extreme.

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Trump Launches Another Assault On ‘Sanctuary Cities’ In Budget

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WASHINGTON ? The Trump administration wants to change the law so it can more easily force cities and counties to detain immigrants at the federal government?s request, even if local officials believe it would be damaging to public safety efforts, costly and even unconstitutional.

The proposal is buried several hundred pages deep in President Donald Trump?s budget, which was released Tuesday and is chock-full of measures to help increase deportations. The budget plan includes a $144.9 million boost to the Justice Department?s immigration enforcement efforts.

The budget itself is unlikely to become law, but provisions of it might ? and both Trump and Republicans in Congress have given every indication that the conservative principle of leaving local decisions to local officials doesn?t apply to immigration.

Under the proposal, jurisdictions that receive federal law enforcement grants would be required to comply with requests from the Department of Homeland Security to hold undocumented immigrants for up to 48 hours or provide ?reasonable notification? before releasing anyone who is subject to a detainer ? a temporary detention request.

If approved, it would be a drastic expansion of the statute the administration is using to define ?sanctuary cities,? which Trump attempted to punish with a January executive order aimed at cutting off federal funding for noncompliant localities. A federal judge blocked the order last month, then Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a memo Monday clarifying that it would apply only to jurisdictions that violate 8 USC 1373, a narrow requirement that local governments allow police to share information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

That memo was a belated acknowledgment that current law doesn?t allow Trump to go after cities and counties for not agreeing to hold individuals for ICE. But the budget document indicates Trump isn?t giving up.

?What we see in this budget is them basically admitting under current law they can?t actually go after sanctuary jurisdictions like they want to, so what they want to do is change the law,? said Philip Wolgin, who works on immigration policy at the left-leaning Center for American Progress, adding that those changes would be ?radical and drastic.? 

Justice Department official Lee Lofthus, assistant attorney general for administration, acknowledged Tuesday that the proposed budget ?makes some changes to some of the rules regarding cooperation with immigration officials.? 

Lawyers for Santa Clara, California, one of the two localities that won a national injunction against Trump over his sanctuary cities order, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Late Monday, the Justice Department asked a federal judge to reconsider the scope of that injunction, citing Sessions? memo as ?new authority? in the case.

?The authoritative position set forth in the AG memorandum squarely contradicts the court?s determination,? lawyers for the department wrote in a filing submitted in San Francisco.

At the time that Trump signed an executive order promising to deny grants for ?sanctuary cities,? the government had no definition of what that term meant. There isn?t a blanket definition anywhere. Some jurisdictions adopt it on their own to state they are pro-immigrant, but most often it?s used by experts and media to mean jurisdictions that decline to fully cooperate with ICE detainers. Trump and Sessions often state or imply that detainers are mandatory ? even though they are not ? and that jurisdictions that don?t comply with them are breaking the law.

?Sanctuary cities, like San Francisco, block their jails from turning over criminal aliens to Federal authorities for deportation,? read a White House statement lashing out at the April ruling against Trump?s order. ?These cities are engaged in the dangerous and unlawful nullification of Federal law in an attempt to erase our borders.?

What we see in this budget is them basically admitting under current law they can?t actually go after sanctuary jurisdictions like they want to, so what they want to do is change the law.
Philip Wolgin, Center for American Progress

On Monday, Sessions tried to make it clear that ?sanctuary cities? are those that violate 8 USC 1373. The law says nothing about detainers and relates only to basic information about a person?s immigration status.

In 2014, then-DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson called for discontinuing detainers, in part because a number of courts had concluded that their use and abuse by states and local governments violated the Fourth Amendment, opening them up to civil liability. In a shift, Johnson requested that local governments notify ICE only of pending releases.

Those court decisions have provided guidance to ?states and localities that have said they don?t want to simply jump when ICE says jump and detain people,? said Cecilia Wang, the deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union. ?They have been burned both by violating people?s rights and by being financially responsible for violating constitutional rights.?

Another addition to the law in Trump?s proposed budget would require disclosure of more information about a detainee, including nationality, address and scheduled time of release. Noncompliance could lead to the loss of federal funding ?through any lawful means,? the budget document says.

Even if jurisdictions are strong-armed into changing their policies to keep federal grants, Trump?s budget would deal a blow to the coffers of local law enforcement agencies. It?s expensive to hold individuals whom police would otherwise release (officials in Florida?s Miami-Dade County estimated they saved ?hundreds of thousands of dollars? by limiting cooperation with ICE). And Trump?s budget eliminates State Criminal Alien Assistance Program grants, which reimburse local law enforcement agencies for detaining some undocumented immigrants.

Congress allocated $210 million for the program in fiscal year 2016. Trump?s budget brings it down to zero, passing the burden on to state and local taxpayers.

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Iran’s Election Marks The Deepening Of Democratic Culture, Says Former Iran President

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Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, the first president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, came to power in 1980 following the revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini. He spoke to The WorldPost from his home outside Paris, where he lives in exile.

In Iran, the main pillars of power are controlled by the unelected supreme leader. And President Hassan Rouhani has declared that the president must be submissive to the supreme leader. Given the president?s limited power, what is the role of elections in Iran?

As you said, the main pillars of power are under the control of the supreme leader, who also dictates overall socioeconomic and foreign policy. Despite this, elections, especially the presidential election, are regarded with the utmost importance because it is obvious that, without them, a theocratic regime on its own lacks popular legitimacy. More importantly, elections provide an aspect of legitimacy domestically and internationally, especially in a region ruled largely by oil-fueled monarchies.

Elections also register the balance of power within the body politic. Though not a democracy in the Western sense, when reformist forces turn out strongly and win at the polls, it provides them with a margin to maneuver. Still, one has to accept that the main winner of the election is the regime of the ayatollahs since, irrespective of who gets the vote, it is they who claim legitimacy for it.

Many millions voted out of fear, partially over more economic sanctions and even war if Raisi had been elected.

By all accounts, the turnout was huge ? reportedly over 40 million people. Why did Iranians vote in such numbers now?

First, the claim of 40 million who voted should not be taken at face value. After all, the counting took place behind closed doors without observers. However, there is no doubt that many millions voted ? and the main reason is fear.

The main fear was that Ayatollah Ebrahim Raisi could become president. His nickname is ?Ayatollah Death? since he was the head of one of the teams who, in the summer 1988, executed thousands of prisoners who were already sentenced and were serving their sentence. In this respect, the current supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, took Iranians hostage, telling them that they either have to get out and vote or ?Ayatollah Death? would become their president.

There was also the fear of poverty. During the presidential debates, it was revealed that around 18 million Iranians are living in shantytowns. Further, there were related fears over more economic sanctions and even war if Raisi had been elected. In short, there was fear of a change for the worse.

For the first time since the early days of the revolution and the rule of Mossadegh, the core debates were about human rights, the rights of citizenship and democracy.

Can we say that this election is a major marking point on the path toward democracy in Iran?

Democracy is a culture in which people have the habit of exercising their rights, something that doesn?t occur without constant struggle in a theocracy like Iran?s. In this election ? for the first time since the early days of the revolution itself and the rule of our democratic Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, back before the shah ? the core debates were about human rights, the rights of citizenship and democracy. I am a good barometer to measure this shift, after all, since I was forced out of office in those early revolutionary days by the ayatollahs for promoting these values.

This gives us reason to believe that democratic culture is spreading and deepening in Iran. In effect, the public forced the candidates to address these game-changing issues.

Also, the mere fact that the hardliners, the so-called principlists, could not find anyone to nominate except ?Ayatollah Death? shows that the regime has reached a dead end. Ayatollah Khomeini?s revolutionary concept of ?velayat-e-faqih? ? absolute rule by a religious leader ? has become so discredited within the traditional Islamic mainstream that it cannot be used as an excuse for despotism anymore.

Khomeini?s concept of absolute rule by a religious leader has become discredited within the traditional Islamic mainstream.

During his visit to Saudi Arabia, President Donald Trump made it clear that America?s goal was to counter Iran?s influence. How do you think the victory of Rouhani affects such a policy?

Former President Barack Obama?s policy was to create a balance of power between Iran on the one hand and Saudi Arabia, Israel and Arab sheikhdoms in the Persian Gulf on the other. Trump has reversed that policy, embracing an anti-Iran alliance with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf sheikhdoms.

If Khamenei understands the criticality of the situation and lets Rouhani implement his regional foreign policy, then Iran?s situation in the world will change drastically and such alliances will become irrelevant. It would avoid what I call the six wars ? terrorism, economic war, religious war between Sunni and Shiite, propaganda war, diplomatic war and military war through direct intervention by outside powers.

Let?s also remember that Trump made two moves that favored Rouhani?s policies in recent weeks. Just a few days before the election, the American president signed the suspension of certain sanctions, which was part of implementing the Vienna nuclear agreement. At the same time, he increased the sanctions directly related to the regime?s missile program, which was a warning to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

These actions both align with the reform side in Iran. I would venture to say that the reelection of Rouhani makes it more difficult for Trump to make things harder on Iran.

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Watch The Speech That Should End The Confederate Monuments Debate For Good

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Hours after a crane lifted a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from its pedestal in New Orleans? Lee Circle on Friday ? where it had loomed over the black-majority city for 133 years ? Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) delivered a speech on race that many are already hailing as historic. 

?These statues are not just stone and metal,? Landrieu told a crowd at Gallier Hall. ?They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy, ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement and the terror that it actually stood for.?

The Lee statue was the fourth and final Confederate statue Landrieu had slated for removal from public property in the city. He received death threats over the decision, as did the city contractors he hired to remove the statues.

But in his speech Friday, Landrieu didn?t shrink away from calling these statues what they are: symbols of white supremacy and white terror. 

?Best part about Mitch Landrieu?s speech is how he outlines how most existing Confederate iconography arose as part of campaigns of terror,? said Atlantic writer Van Newkirk.  

?Please read this profound speech…? tweeted Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). 

?Remarkable speech… on Confederate monuments and why they must come down,? said Washington Post journalist Wesley Lowery. 

Author and former NPR host Michele Norris called the speech a ?must-read.?

?This may rank with LBJ?s Howard commencement as 1 of the most honest speeches on race given by a white Southern pol,? tweeted Jamelle Bouie, Slate?s chief political correspondent. 

In his 1965 ?To Fulfill These Rights? speech at the historically black university, then-President Lyndon Baines Johnson acknowledged America?s long history of racism by arguing that ?equal opportunity is essential, but not enough.? The speech is widely regarded as laying the groundwork for affirmative action.

Bouie also tweeted that people should ?take the time? to read Landrieu?s speech in its entirety. You can do that here:  

Thank you for coming. 

The soul of our beloved city is deeply rooted in a history that has evolved over thousands of years; rooted in a diverse people who have been here together every step of the way?for both good and for ill. It is a history that holds in its heart the stories of Native Americans?the Choctaw, Houma Nation, the Chitimacha. Of Hernando de Soto, Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, the Acadians, the Islenos, the enslaved people from Senegambia, Free People of Colorix, the Haitians, the Germans, both the empires of France and Spain. The Italians, the Irish, the Cubans, the south and central Americans, the Vietnamese, and so many more.


You see, New Orleans is truly a city of many nations, a melting pot, a bubbling cauldron of many cultures. There is no other place quite like it in the world that so eloquently exemplifies the uniquely American motto: e pluribus unum: out of many we are one. But there are also other truths about our city that we must confront. New Orleans was America?s largest slave market, a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were bought, sold, and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor, of misery, of rape, of torture. America was the place where nearly 4,000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined ?separate but equal?; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp. So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well, what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth.


And it immediately begs the questions, why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame ? all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans. So for those self-appointed defenders of history and the monuments, they are eerily silent on what amounts to this historical malfeasance, a lie by omission. There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it.


For America and New Orleans, it has been a long, winding road, marked by great tragedy and great triumph. But we cannot be afraid of our truth. As President George W. Bush said at the dedication ceremony for the National Museum of African American History & Culture, ?A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.? So today I want to speak about why we chose to remove these four monuments to the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, but also how and why this process can move us towards healing and understanding of each other. So, let?s start with the facts.


The historic record is clear: The Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard statues were not erected just to honor these men, but as part of the movement which became known as The Cult of the Lost Cause. This ?cult? had one goal?through monuments and through other means?to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity. First erected over 166 years after the founding of our city and 19 years after the end of the Civil War, the monuments that we took down were meant to rebrand the history of our city and the ideals of a defeated Confederacy. It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America. They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots. These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy, ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement and the terror that it actually stood for.


After the Civil War, these statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone?s lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city. Should you have further doubt about the true goals of the Confederacy, in the very weeks before the war broke out, the Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens, made it clear that the Confederate cause was about maintaining slavery and white supremacy. He said in his now famous ?corner-stone speech? that the Confederacy?s ?cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery?subordination to the superior race?is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first in the history of the world based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.?


Now, with these shocking words still ringing in your ears, I want to try to gently peel from your hands the grip on a false narrative of our history that I think weakens us, and make straight a wrong turn we made many years ago. We can more closely connect with integrity to the founding principles of our nation and forge a clearer and straighter path toward a better city and a more perfect union.


Last year, President Barack Obama echoed these sentiments about the need to contextualize and remember all our history. He recalled a piece of stone, a slave auction block engraved with a marker commemorating a single moment in 1830 when Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay stood and spoke from it. President Obama said, ?Consider what this artifact tells us about history. ? On a stone where day after day for years, men and women ? bound and bought and sold and bid like cattle on a stone worn down by the tragedy of over a thousand bare feet. For a long time the only thing we considered important, the singular thing we once chose to commemorate as history with a plaque, were the unmemorable speeches of two powerful men.?


A piece of stone?one stone. Both stories were history. One story told. One story forgotten or maybe even purposefully ignored. As clear as it is for me today ? for a long time, even though I grew up in one of New Orleans? most diverse neighborhoods, even with my family?s long proud history of fighting for civil rights ? I must have passed by those monuments a million times without giving them a second thought. So I am not judging anybody, I am not judging people. We all take our own journey on race.


I just hope people listen like I did when my dear friend Wynton Marsalis helped me see the truth. He asked me to think about all the people who have left New Orleans because of our exclusionary attitudes. Another friend asked me to consider these four monuments from the perspective of an African American mother or father trying to explain to their fifth-grade daughter who Robert E. Lee is and why he stands atop of our beautiful city. Can you do it? Can you look into that young girl?s eyes and convince her that Robert E. Lee is there to encourage her? Do you think she will feel inspired and hopeful by that story? Do these monuments help her see a future with limitless potential? Have you ever thought that if her potential is limited, yours and mine are too? We all know the answer to these very simple questions. When you look into this child?s eyes is the moment when the searing truth comes into focus for us. This is the moment when we know what is right and what we must do. We can?t walk away from this truth.


And I knew that taking down the monuments was going to be tough, but you elected me to do the right thing, not the easy thing and this is what that looks like. So relocating these Confederate monuments is not about taking something away from someone else. This is not about politics. This is not about blame or retaliation. This is not a naive quest to solve all our problems at once.


This is, however, about showing the whole world that we as a city and as a people are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile and most importantly, choose a better future for ourselves, making straight what has been crooked and making right what was wrong. Otherwise, we will continue to pay a price with discord, with division and, yes, with violence.


To literally put the Confederacy on a pedestal in our most prominent places of honor is an inaccurate recitation of our full past. It is an affront to our present, and it is a bad prescription for our future. History cannot be changed.  It cannot be moved like a statue. What is done is done. The Civil War is over, and the Confederacy lost and we are better for it. Surely we are far enough removed from this dark time to acknowledge that the cause of the Confederacy was wrong.


And in the second decade of the 21st century, asking African Americans?or anyone else?to drive by property that they own; occupied by reverential statues of men who fought to destroy the country and deny that person?s humanity seems perverse and absurd. Centuries-old wounds are still raw because they never healed right in the first place. Here is the essential truth: We are better together than we are apart.


Indivisibility is our essence. Isn?t this the gift that the people of New Orleans have given to the world? We radiate beauty and grace in our food, in our music, in our architecture, in our joy of life, in our celebration of death; in everything that we do. We gave the world this funky thing called jazz, the most uniquely American art form that is developed across the ages from different cultures. Think about second lines, think about Mardi Gras, think about muffaletta, think about the Saints, gumbo, red beans and rice. By God, just think.


All we hold dear is created by throwing everything in the pot; creating, producing something better; everything a product of our historic diversity. We are proof that out of many we are one ? and better for it! Out of many we are one ? and we really do love it! And yet, we still seem to find so many excuses for not doing the right thing. Again, remember President Bush?s words. ?A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.?


We forget, we deny how much we really depend on each other, how much we need each other. We justify our silence and inaction by manufacturing noble causes that marinate in historical denial. We still find a way to say, ?Wait, not so fast.? But like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, ?Wait has almost always meant never.? We can?t wait any longer. We need to change. And we need to change now.


No more waiting. This is not just about statues, this is about our attitudes and behavior as well. If we take these statues down and don?t change to become a more open and inclusive society this would have all been in vain. While some have driven by these monuments every day and either revered their beauty or failed to see them at all, many of our neighbors and fellow Americans see them very clearly. Many are painfully aware of the long shadows their presence casts; not only literally but figuratively. And they clearly receive the message that the Confederacy and the cult of the lost cause intended to deliver.


Earlier this week, as the cult of the lost cause statue of P.G.T Beauregard came down, world renowned musician Terence Blanchard stood watch, his wife Robin and their two beautiful daughters at their side. Terence went to a high school on the edge of City Park named after one of America?s greatest heroes and patriots, John F. Kennedy. But to get there he had to pass by this monument to a man who fought to deny him his humanity.


He said, ?I?ve never looked at them as a source of pride ? it?s always made me feel as if they were put there by people who don?t respect us. This is something I never thought I?d see in my lifetime. It?s a sign that the world is changing.? Yes, Terence, it is. And it is long overdue. Now is the time to send a new message to the next generation of New Orleanians who can follow in Terence and Robin?s remarkable footsteps.


A message about the future, about the next 300 years and beyond: Let us not miss this opportunity, New Orleans, and let us help the rest of the country do the same. Because now is the time for choosing. Now is the time to actually make this the City we always should have been, had we gotten it right in the first place.


We should stop for a moment and ask ourselves: At this point in our history ? after Katrina, after Rita, after Ike, after Gustav, after the national recession, after the BP oil catastrophe and after the tornado ? if presented with the opportunity to build monuments that told our story or to curate these particular spaces, would these monuments be what we want the world to see? Is this really our story?


We have not erased history; we are becoming part of the city?s history by righting the wrong image these monuments represent and crafting a better, more complete future for all our children and for future generations. And unlike when these Confederate monuments were first erected as symbols of white supremacy, we now have a chance to create not only new symbols, but to do it together, as one people. In our blessed land we all come to the table of democracy as equals. We have to reaffirm our commitment to a future where each citizen is guaranteed the uniquely American gifts of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.


That is what really makes America great and today it is more important than ever to hold fast to these values and together say a self-evident truth that out of many we are one. That is why today we reclaim these spaces for the United States of America. Because we are one nation, not two; indivisible with liberty and justice for all, not some. We all are part of one nation, all pledging allegiance to one flag, the flag of the United States of America. And New Orleanians are in ?  all of the way. It is in this union and in this truth that real patriotism is rooted and flourishes. Instead of revering a four-year brief historical aberration that was called the Confederacy, we can celebrate all 300 years of our rich, diverse history as a place named New Orleans, and set the tone for the next 300 years.


After decades of public debate, of anger, of anxiety, of anticipation, of humiliation and of frustration. After public hearings and approvals from three separate community led commissions. After two robust public hearings and a 6?1 vote by the duly elected New Orleans City Council. After review by 13 different federal and state judges. The full weight of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government has been brought to bear and the monuments, in accordance with the law, have been removed. So now is the time to come together and heal and focus on our larger task. Not only building new symbols, but making this city a beautiful manifestation of what is possible and what we as a people can become.


Let us remember what the once exiled, imprisoned, and now universally loved Nelson Mandela and what he said after the fall of apartheid. ?If the pain has often been unbearable and the revelations shocking to all of us, it is because they indeed bring us the beginnings of a common understanding of what happened and a steady restoration of the nation?s humanity.?  So before we part let us again state the truth clearly.


The Confederacy was on the wrong side of history and humanity. It sought to tear apart our nation and subjugate our fellow Americans to slavery. This is the history we should never forget and one that we should never again put on a pedestal to be revered. As a community, we must recognize the significance of removing New Orleans? Confederate monuments. It is our acknowledgment that now is the time to take stock of, and then move past, a painful part of our history.


Anything less would render generations of courageous struggle and soul-searching a truly lost cause. Anything less would fall short of the immortal words of our greatest president, Abraham Lincoln, who with an open heart and clarity of purpose calls on us today to unite as one people when he said, ?With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation?s wounds ? to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.?

Thank you.



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This Mom’s Food Art For Her Kid Looks (Almost) Too Good To Eat

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Worried about her daughter?s eating habits, one mom turned mealtime into a fun art display.

California mom Kim Anh Chang began creating food art in April for her 2-year-old daughter, Sam. Chang told HuffPost she was concerned about Sam?s ?finicky appetite? so she set out to help spark her interest in food in a healthy and creative way. 

?I figured if I plate her dishes into something cute she will show more interest in eating it,? she said. ?My goal is to create artful dishes to help my finicky eater share the same meals as the rest of the family. I want her to grow up getting use to eating what everyone else is eating and not have to make a separate meal just for her.?

Chang?s dishes include Lambie from ?Doc McStuffins? made out of chicken and noodles and Rapunzel made out of noodles, ham and cheese. Chang told HuffPost she takes inspiration for her food art from Sam?s interests, which include teddy bears and Disney characters. The toddler also helps her mom come up with ideas. 

?The Lambie one was actually her idea,? she said. ?I was Googling cute characters to see what I should make next. Sam was sitting next to me and showing a lot of interest. She then grabbed the Lambie toy from her playpen and gave it to me. I immediately knew what to do and prepared dinner shortly after.?

Sam also helps her mom out in the kitchen, just like Chang helped her family as a kid. 

?I grew up taking turns with my sister making dinner for the entire family (10 total) since I was 12 or 13,? she said.

Chang shares her tasty creations on Facebook and Instagram under the name Plate Art for Kids. She also shares tutorials for the dishes that feature Sam on YouTube.

Since starting her food art journey, Chang has noticed her daughter taking an interest in cooking with her.

?She absolutely loves it!? she told HuffPost. ?Especially when I take out the pasta maker machine.?

The toddler?s eating habits have improved, and most importantly, the project has given the mom and daughter an opportunity to spend time together. 

?Having her help me cook and showing her to do these things herself gives her a sense of accomplishment and I noticed she?s wanting to eat more and more and looks forward to the time we can spend in the kitchen together,? Chang said.

See more food creations from Chang and Sam below and check out their Facebook, YouTube and Instagram for more dishes.

The HuffPost Parents newsletter, So You Want To Raise A Feminist, offers the latest stories and news in progressive parenting. 

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The Absolute Worst Song Ever Is More Terrible Than You Ever Imagined

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Here?s yet another reason to hate the media: We?re making you listen to the worst song ever recorded.

This past weekend, a HuffPost writer found a ditty called ?Fast Food Song,? which rose to No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart in 2003 for a group called the Fast Food Rockers.

Music is a subjective thing, but we?re pretty certain that no one can listen to this and not realize it?s a recording so terrible that playing it to others without warning might constitute a violation of the Geneva Convention.

The song?s chorus is annoyingly catchy ??Pizza Hut, Pizza Hut/ Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut/ Pizza Hut, Pizza Hut/ Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut/ McDonald?s, McDonald?s/ Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut.? 

We guarantee that anyone who hears it is going to have this earworm stuck in their noggin for the next 24 hours.

Although this song was a pretty big hit in jolly old England, the Fast Food Rockers were never foisted on Americans ? yet another reason to appreciate our British allies.

The British trio (four people if you count ?Hot Dog,? a non-singing person in a giant blue dog suit who joins in the video romp) freely admitted to the BBC its music was cheesy. So much so, that the follow-up single was called ?Say Cheese!? 

We haven?t listened to that one yet. We don?t have the guts. If you?re more daring, here?s the link.

Please forgive us. ?Fast Food Song? is the musical equivalent of the Mealbreakers gallery below.

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8 Things The Happiest Couples Do Before Bed

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We live in a busy world and between work, kids, bills and other daily stressors, many couples struggle to find time to connect.

That?s why it?s so important for couples to make the most of whatever alone time they have together ? whether it?s an hour or just 10 minutes. We asked relationship experts to tell us what the happiest couples do before bed to keep their bond strong. See what they had to say below.

1. They exchange ?I love yous.?

?Despite all the hassles of the day, the quirks and annoyances you experience from one another and ominous feelings about the day ahead, make the effort to let your partner know they are loved. And rather than just heave it out with your last sigh of the night, say it like you really feel it.? ? Ryan Howes, psychologist

2. They go to bed at the same time if possible.

?Too many couples go to bed at different times, leading disconnected lives in the evening after already having spent all day apart. Happy couples, however, are intentional about coming back together at bedtime and reconnecting, if only for the few minutes of brushing teeth and getting under the covers. Going to bed together builds connection and provides opportunity for more intimate connecting.? ? Kurt Smith, therapist who specializes in counseling for men

3. They unplug from their phones and other devices. 

?We live in a wired world, and more often than not, this takes away from the time couples could spend connecting through dialogue, affection or intimacy. What?s more is that when your partner is on their phone, you feel like they?re not in the room and are somewhere else instead. In my therapy practice, couples who become aware of this intrusiveness sometimes create general rules such as ?no phones past 9 p.m.? or ?no phones in the bed? to counter such dopamine-inducing but oxytocin-suppressing social media habits. This can really set a couple up for feeling close throughout the entire next day.? ? Kari Carroll, couples therapist

4. They prioritize getting a good night?s sleep.

?Although this isn?t very romantic, beyond the usual advice ? i.e. kiss goodnight, have sex, and say, ?I love you? ? getting a solid night?s sleep fosters good mental health, which in turn, makes people more emotionally available during the day. If sleep is hard to come by, get professional advice to develop good sleep habits.?  ? Michele Weiner-Davis, therapist and author of Divorce Busting

5. They take a few minutes to practice gratitude. 

?Gratitude has been shown to have a wonderfully positive effect on mood and mindset, so why not share that together? Whether it?s something specific you appreciate about one another or a positive experience from the day, share something you?re thankful for to end the day on a bright note.? ? Howes  

6. They don?t try to settle arguments that aren?t easily resolvable. 

?It may not seem logical, but happy couples don?t actually settle disagreements before going to bed. We?ve all heard the adage, ?do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,? but it?s actually misunderstood. Trying to address heavy subjects, especially those you disagree on, at the end of the day when you?re both tired and short on patience is not smart. Too many couples make the mistake of starting fights at this time of day when they should be building connection ? not creating division.? ? Smith 

7. They set aside time to chat about the day and open up about their feelings. 

?The happiest couples regularly discuss the external stressors in their life and allow their partner to vent often. This doesn?t mean going into negativity overload all evening, but it does mean setting aside 15 to 30 minutes to unwind and lean into the relationship by showing support for the other relationships and experiences in your partner?s life. In my practice, I help couples listen to their partner?s stresses without feeling the need to take them on or problem-solve. Their partner tends to be appreciative of this opportunity and just feeling understood empowers them to be ready to tackle the next day?s stresses.? ? Carroll

8. They keep the kids out of the bedroom. 

?Your bedroom should be a sanctuary for the two of you. Although nightmares and illnesses might trigger children to climb into bed with you, in general, if intimacy and connection is your goal, encourage children to stay in their own rooms. Couples need privacy and boundaries to stay connected.? ? Weiner-Davis

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Socialism Is So Hot Right Now. Thank Bernie Sanders.

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WASHINGTON ? Consider the Bernie Bro (Wellus actuallius), an aggressive subgenus of Sen. Bernie Sanders? supporters.

In the year since Sanders lost the Democratic primary, members of this species have been pushed out of their native habitat and forced to migrate to new ecosystems. Some nested down in social media, encroaching on classmates? Facebook posts and female journalists? Twitter updates with condescending diatribes about Slavoj ?i?ek. Others made their way to the hostile environs of Donald Trump?s campaign, finding sustenance in the idea that there was no difference between the Republican and Democratic nominees for president. Still more found their way to your dinner table, nourishing themselves on ponderous expositions of neoliberalism, where and how they refill their beer growlers, and why Bernie would?ve won.  

Herds of other Bernie Bros, however, have staked out a far more hospitable environment: the Democratic Socialists of America, or DSA. For the uninitiated, DSA ? the inheritor of the American Socialist Party, co-founded by Eugene Debs and instrumental in the progressive reforms of the early 20th century ? is a chapter-based national political advocacy organization that crusades for policies such as a higher minimum wage, safer working conditions and universal health care.

DSA openly uses the big, bad, scary s-word that countless Republican consultants have used to smear Democrats over the years. And despite decades of efforts to stigmatize it, socialism is kind of in right now.

This was partly fueled by Sanders? underdog presidential campaign ? he identifies as a democratic socialist but caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate ? as well as by an economic recovery that has left many working people in the dust, experiencing a growing sense of disillusionment with the Democratic Party.

?We were highly visible in the Sanders campaign,? Joseph Schwartz, a DSA national vice chair and professor of political science at Temple University in Philadelphia, told HuffPost. Schwartz said DSA?s growth began to accelerate as the Sanders campaign picked up steam in mid-2015, and has continued since Trump took office.

DSA has rooted itself in the millennial psyche with astonishing speed. A quiz posted on Reductress earlier this month was titled, ?Is He Into You, Just a Friend, or Trying to Get You to Join the Democratic Socialists?? Comedian Rob Delaney regularly promotes the group on social media. And that rose emoji you keep see popping up on Twitter? It?s likely a reference to both DSA?s logo and that of Socialist International, the global consortium of socialist organizations. Along with #resist and #NeverthelessShePersisted, the rose emoji has remained one of the more enduring social media trends since last November.

?The real massive influx was starting with the day Trump was elected,? Schwartz recalled. ?Many people want to fight back against Trump, but they also realize that the centrist, pro-corporatist views of the Democratic Party are partially what gave rise to him.?

DSA officials say their member rolls shot up from around 8,500 on Election Day to about 21,000 as of early May, and they?re getting upwards of 10 requests a week to help open new chapters. New members are overwhelmingly young and tech-savvy, thanks in no small part to the groundwork the Sanders campaign laid by bringing millions of young people into politics.

This engagement was on full display at a May Day rally in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. Around noon, some 100 or so activists from a variety of progressive organizations gathered in a small park in D.C.?s Mount Pleasant neighborhood. Making small talk near the obligatory drum circle were around 10 members of DSA?s D.C.-area chapter, nearly all of whom had signed up to join DSA on or after Election Day.

DSA?s contingent was one of the largest on hand, but was nearly all white and male ? contrasting sharply with the rest of the crowd, which was far more diverse and representative of the neighborhood?s large Salvadoran community. The DSA attendees who spoke with HuffPost said they had joined DSA since November and were first drawn to it through the Sanders campaign.

?Ever since Trump won, I think people have been feeling very scared and want to do something, and DSA is a great organization to channel that,? said Nick from Poughkeepsie, New York, who declined to give his last name. ?I had an awakening during Sanders campaign. I was monitoring the growth of all these organizations and saw that DSA was gaining all these members and felt like DSA spoke to me.?

James Mathias, 25, from northern Virginia, had previously volunteered for Barack Obama?s first presidential campaign and later participated in the Occupy Wall Street movement. After voting for Sanders in the 2016 primary, he voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the general election. While he wasn?t wild about Clinton?s policies, he felt compelled to vote for her out of political necessity, given Virginia?s swing state status.

Mathias said political realism drew him to DSA and that he has yet to experience the organizational or political disappointment he did with Occupy and Obama.

?Each time, I kind of drifted in and out, because both of those things petered out, either literally or philosophically,? Mathias recalled. ?Occupy wasn?t focused on engaging with existing political structures. DSA is focused on building power for political ends. I really see a bias for action and not shying away from political structures.?

Indeed, DSA doesn?t fashion itself as a vehicle for high-level political office ? most of its members who have run for office have run in municipal elections ? but rather as ?America?s largest Socialist organization,? per its website. This isn?t a wishy-washy expression of being (The Socialist International was in our hearts all along!), but an acknowledgement that its foundational work is in lending organizational support to candidates from other parties and organizations whose policies align with its agenda.

This includes other liberal advocacy organizations and economically progressive politicians like Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Sanders.

DSA didn?t endorse Clinton in the 2016 general election, but its chapters actively organized a ?Dump Trump? movement targeted at the Republican nominee. That left open the possibility of voting for Green Party nominee Jill Stein or even Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, but DSA officials told HuffPost they expected a large number of their supporters would back Clinton.

Despite DSA?s often antagonistic attitude toward the Democrats, Democratic officials say they?ll happily accept DSA?s support whenever it?s willing to offer it. 

?We welcome the help of groups across the country who are fighting to defeat Republicans and elect progressive leaders that stand for the same values that make our party so great,? DNC spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa told HuffPost in an email. 

While a membership of 21,000 is still small as political entities go ? progressive advocacy group MoveOn.org touts over 7 million members, for example ? DSA members? engagement has caught the attention of the progressive community. They showed up in large numbers at May Day rallies across the country this year, including a New York City rally that attracted well over 1,000 DSA members.

?The people who are joining DSA are people who are extremely active,? said Bob Master, a veteran labor activist and the co-founder and co-chair of the Working Families Party of New York. This gives the group tremendous leverage, Master said: Having a young, energized and tech-fluent base of volunteers is a welcome addition to any political coalition.

DSA?s willingness to adapt to the current political framework and engage with other organizations has drawn plaudits from other progressive activist and organizations.

?DSA has been an excellent ally, joining with our members in canvassing area businesses; they hosted a fundraiser party that raised $1,000 and helped us expand our operations,? said Hannah Kane, an organizer at Many Languages One Voice, a Washington, D.C., immigrant community group that led the May Day protest. ?They?ve just been all-around excellent partners.?

George Goehl, the co-director of People?s Action & People?s Action Institute, a Chicago-based advocacy organization, partly attributes DSA?s rise to ?the Democratic Party and its constant tacking toward the middle and feeling like the answers to its problems lay in a more moderate, less-structural set of reforms.?

?We failed in the last election because we had a candidate who was unable to tap into the anger that people are feeling,? echoed Master. ?The Democratic Party cannot limit itself to saying ?Trump is a bad guy because he fired James Comey.? [It] has to speak to the growing sense of economic stagnation and diminishment.?

Naturally, Democratic officials disagree with this assessment. Hinojosa, the DNC spokeswoman, said the party and its new chairman, Tom Perez, possess ?an unwavering commitment to workers and will continue to fight for working families on behalf of the Democratic Party.?

We failed in the last election because we had a candidate who was unable to tap into the anger that people are feeling.
Bob Master, co-founder and co-chair, Working Families Party of New York

DSA naturally draws comparisons to the Green Party, a fact that is not lost on DSA members or leaders. But DSA officials see major differences between the organizations ?  particularly in the Green Party?s complete separation from other political parties and what they see as the Greens? inordinate focus on presidential elections.

?We?re more flexible in terms of tactics,? said Schwartz. ?We prioritize doing social movement work, and we see electoral politics as coming out of that.? The Green Party?s emphasis on its presidential tickets, he added, ?is not an intelligent way to build an independent third party.?

Green Party officials dispute that. In an email to HuffPost, Scott McLarty, media director for the Green Party of the United States, noted that ?the Green Party runs hundreds of candidates for local and state office every election cycle.?

?One of the main reasons we run presidential candidates is the support they give to state parties and to state and local candidates,? added McLarty.

DSA has several challenges as its membership balloons, including what to do with all those new members. Although individuals unable to pay membership dues are still allowed to join, DSA relies on dues to maintain operations, which includes paying the salaries of the eight full-time employees in its national office. Right now, only two DSA chapters employ part-time employees, but DSA officials expect that number to grow considerably as large chapters in places like Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco continue to add members.

Activists outside DSA also say it?s imperative that the group not lose focus on its overarching mission, or let the Democratic Party?s decidedly less-than-socialist views dilute its platform.

DSA?s biennial convention in Chicago this August will be a major test of both its organization and focus. The group?s 2015 gathering in Baltimore featured roughly 150 attendees, but organizers expect this year?s convention to attract 500.

Organizers hope to avoid what transpired at last year?s Green Party convention, which got so bogged down by ideological infighting and poor planning that it ultimately devolved into one giant lightbulb joke.  

?Managing growth is really hard, and when organizations grow, it?s hard to stick with your principles,? said Goehl. ?A little too much power or access can pollute things.?

An arguably greater challenge for DSA is diversifying its ranks and combating the growing impression that it is merely a refuge for wayward Bernie Bros. Indeed, most DSA members interviewed for this article were white men.

DSA officials acknowledge that this overwhelming whiteness is inherently limiting. ?We have to make space for diverse voices, including from immigrant communities,? said Schwartz. ?If we don?t tackle things like mass incarceration, police brutality and the lack of economic opportunity for people of all races, we won?t unite working people.?

In addition to promoting an agenda that it believes appeals to communities of color, DSA officials argue that the group?s focus on economic matters has the potential to appeal to female voters, who tend to back Democratic candidates and prioritize social welfare issues such as paid maternity leave and access to affordable health care.

Julia Griffin is a 21-year-old DSA member from northern Virginia who works in the service industry and who attended the May Day rally in Washington. She said her Christian faith helped draw her to DSA; she sees in socialism a helping-thy-neighbor ethos that?s central to her religious beliefs.

?After the election, I was so frustrated with the Democratic Party and so disappointed with everything that went on, I definitely needed to feel part of an organization that was actively working to make people?s lives better,? said Griffin.  

Ultimately, activists outside DSA say that if it wants to transcend its status as yet another outside group hoping to influence Democratic politics, it?ll need to establish itself as a real third party ? not only by notching some wins with local candidates, but also by enacting reforms once they take office.

?If you?re attracting working-class and low-income members, you got to deliver some tangible victories,? said Goehl, of People?s Action & People?s Action Institute. He listed the establishment of local credit unions as an example of the type of policy reforms he believes locally-elected DSA members could achieve.   

?You can deliver a wide range of victories ? they can be electoral, they can be narrative, but they have to be tangible after a while,? Goehl added. ?This is not theoretical to people; this is about having a place to live and having health care.?

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Australian Cafe Introduces Avocado Lattes As A Joke, But Not Everyone Got It

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Avocados have peaked. They?ve gone from toast to boats to roses and now, they have reached latte status.

An Australian-based cafe, Truman Cafe, posted a video of their avocado latte creation, and the world reacted passionately.

Combing two of Melbourne's obsessions – lattes and avo

A post shared by Truman Cafe (@trumancafealbertpark) on

Even though prices are on the rise, avocados are generally beloved. But Twitter had choice words about this creation. 

Here?s the thing, the latte was just a joke. Barista Jaydin Nathan told News.com.au, ?It was actually just a joke. We weren?t actually selling them but then someone came in today and wanted one. I think it?s ridiculous. It?s literally coffee in a piece of rubbish.?

The joke that no one thought was funny. Except for this one Twitter user:

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