Aysha Qamar

North Dakota’s longest-serving GOP lawmaker quits after texting a convicted child abuser

One of North Dakota’s most powerful lawmakers announced his plans to resign Monday after reportedly exchanging texts with a jailed man facing child pornography charges. According to the Associated Press, the Republican senator identified as Ray Holmberg is the state’s longest-serving senator. His career spanned more than 46 years. While his term was expected to end on Nov. 30 and he had no intentions to rerun, he said Monday he would resign effective June 1.

"Recent news stories have become a distraction for the important work of the legislative assembly during its interim meetings," Holmberg wrote in an email announcing his resignation. "I want to do what I can, within my power, to lessen such distractions. Consequently, in respect for the institution and its other 140 members, I shall resign my Senate seat effective June 1, 2022.”

He added: "This date will give District #17 leaders enough time to go through the process and select a replacement."

The decision comes days after a report was published about his text message exchange with an imprisoned man. Initially, Holmberg had announced that he would step down on April 20 from his role as head of the panel that oversees the legislature’s business between sessions. His decision to resign from office comes less than a week later.

The text message exchange was first reported by the Forum of Fargo on April 15. According to that investigative report, Holmberg exchanged at least 72 text messages in August with Nicholas James Morgan-Derosier. Morgan-Derosier is serving charges of possessing thousands of images and videos of sexually abused children. Prosecutors allege that Morgan-Derosier not only possessed pornographic images of children, but also took two children under the age of 10 from Minnesota to his Grand Forks home with intention of abusing them.

While Holmberg first told the Forum he was aware of a local story about the charges, in an interview later he denied this.

When asked about the text messages, he told the Forum that his text messages with Morgan-Derosier were related to “a variety of things,” including patio work Morgan-Derosier did for him. He also claimed he no longer had the messages. He said: “They’re just gone.” The Forum obtained the jail log that recorded the text message exchange through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request—the text messages themselves were not public.

But this isn’t the first time Morgan-Derosier’s text messages have made headlines. Pulling from a transcript of proceedings, the Forum of Fargo reported comments made by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Puhl during a Jan. 4 detention. In that hearing, Puhl referenced text messages from August to a “77-year-old man from Grand Forks.”

While the man was not identified in court, the text messages requested Morgan-Derosier to bring his boyfriend over for a massage. Since Holmberg was 77 at the time and represents that area, questions were raised if he could be the man in question.

Following the report, Democratic Party Chairman Patrick Hart called for Holmberg to step down from Legislative Management and release the text messages. According to the AP, Holmberg chaired the Legislative Management Committee, which decides committee assignments and chooses topics that often inspire legislation. Amid chairing this committee, he served on multiple others, making him a powerful legislative.

But while some called for his resignation, GOP state Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner defended Holmberg and told the AP that he is only guilty of bad judgment.

”He sent 72 messages to a bad, bad person," Wardner told the AP. “That’s not illegal, and until there is more information, I think [his committee resignation] is a step in the right direction… If there is any evidence of any wrongdoing, we will act, and we will act quickly. Right now, all we have is that it looks bad.”

Prior to announcing his resignation, Holmberg planned to retire this year due to medical reasons.

Tennessee GOP drafts 'completely ridiculous' bill to eliminate age requirements for marriage

As abortion ban proposals make their way nationwide, some GOP states are taking the opportunity to propose other horrific laws. A bill, HB 233, has been proposed in the Tennessee state legislature that would establish a common-law marriage between “one man” and “one woman,” WKRN reported.

Bill sponsors claim the proposed bill would add a new marriage option for residents. “So, all this bill does is give an alternative form of marriage for those pastors and other individuals who have a conscientious objection to the current pathway to marriage in our law,” Tom Leatherwood said. “There is not an explicit age limit.”

However, while the sponsors claim it expands marriage options, they fail to mention the consequences of having no age limit. Since the bill eliminates an age requirement for marriage, child advocates believe it opens the door for child sex abuse. This is because, without an age requirement, there is a possibility of child marriages.

The move is clearly a step back for the state because the state only signed laws prohibiting the marriage of minors under the age of 17 in 2018. According to The Tennessean, the 2018 bill prohibited anyone under the age of 17 from marrying in Tennessee and anyone under 18 from marrying someone who is four or more years older.

Previous laws before this one allowed a judge to waive the minimum age limit for marriage if guardians of a child consented.

Various state representatives have pushed back on the bill, including Rep. Mike Stewart, who said he didn’t understand the motivation behind removing the age requirements. “I don’t think any normal person thinks we shouldn’t have an age requirement for marriage.”

He added the potential increase in sex abuse. “It should not be there as it’s basically a get out of jail free card for people who are basically committing statutory rape—I mean it’s completely ridiculous, so that’s another reason why this terrible bill should be eliminated,” Steward said.

According to state data obtained by Unchained at Last, Tennessee granted at least 37 marriage licenses to 17-year-old girls in 2014, the only minors in that year. Additionally, UNICEF found 300,000 girls and boys were married before 18 in the U.S. between 2000 and 2018.

Removing an age limit only opens up doors for these statistics to grow. GOP states are clearly making moves to take the country in the opposite direction.

“The Sexual Assault Center does not believe the age of consent for marriage should be any younger than it already is. It makes children more vulnerable to coercion and manipulation from predators, sexual and other,” the Sexual Assault Center of Middle Tennessee said in a statement to WKRN.

'71% of Democrats wouldn't go on a date with someone with opposing views.' That's not a problem

Dating is tough. Having to navigate dating someone who has different political views is even tougher. Let’s be real: If we’re allowed to be “choosy” about what it is about our partner’s appearance that attracts us, why not their mind and views? Apparently to some conservatives, it’s okay to be “picky” when it comes to choosing a partner appearance-wise, but god forbid you have an issue with their political views.

As always, conservatives have made simple things into a bigger issue. After a poll earlier this month revealed Democrats are less likely to date someone or befriend someone with different political views than Republicans, conservatives are in a frenzy.

They are obsessing over the fact that nearly a quarter of college students wouldn't be friends with someone who votes for the other presidential candidate. Not to mention 71% of Democrats wouldn't go on a date with someone with opposing views.

Many think this is ridiculous, but honestly, you can’t blame them. Unfortunately we are in a time in which many Republican views threaten the livelihood of communities, especially those who identify with marginalized ones. The case, as many argue, is it’s no longer about policy and views on legislation but fundamental human rights.

Why would I want to date someone who disagrees with not only my values but my mere existence? That may sound extreme, but in some cases it’s true. I’ve heard countless stories in which individuals have spoken beyond negatively about DREAMS only to realize they are dating one.

I have also befriended many people who make Islamophobic comments only for them to realize I am Muslim. Apparently since I do not always fit the stereotypical Muslim appearance, many do not realize I identify as such and think it’s okay to speak ill of Islam. Newsflash: Whether or not I identify with a specific faith should not matter. You shouldn’t be so ignorant in the first place to bad mouth an entire religion. Even if I weren’t Muslim, it definitely would not make it okay to make Islamophobic or xenophobic comments.

Sorry not sorry, but I am one of those people who avoids dating and befriending individuals who voted for Trump. I merely cannot understand how one could support someone who has contributed to so much hate across the country. I am sure there are some “nice” people who voted for Trump, but they are not compatible with me. If I see Trump on your dating profile, it’s an automatic swipe left.

While some may think befriending someone from another party or with different views allows one to have dialogue, that’s not always the case. Sometimes it can negatively impact one’s mental health or create further conflict. It shouldn’t be your job to defend your views to someone constantly, especially if you care about them. Just like you have the ability to have your own views, you should have the ability to choose who you allow into your circle.

Yes of course, it does create a partisan divide as Axios has noted, which could result in distrust in the U.S. However, the reality is even if people have not admitted this before, politics has always impacted dating.

Millennials and college students may be more open to admitting it, but this has been a trend for generations. Identity has always impacted the way one goes about dating or befriending individuals.

Historically, even interracial relationships were looked down upon in the U.S. A 1958 Gallup poll found that just 4% of Americans approved of interracial marriages. That number increased to 94% this year.

With time all things change, and who knows—if Republicans get their act together, maybe a divide can be avoided. Kos has asked this before, but would you date someone with an opposing political view, or someone who voted for Trump?

Study finds 1 in 5 nurses want to quit their careers as pandemic takes extreme toll on mental health

While health care workers have been providing care for thousands across the country, little to no care is available for them—especially mental health care. In the past two years, hospitals nationwide struggled with a rise in hospitalizations due to the COVID-19 virus, alongside reports of continuous staff shortages. As unvaccinated individuals continue to fill hospitals and fight with health care professionals, exhaustion and lack of support have left health care workers struggling with their own problems. States with the highest COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates were seeing more resignations than any others, Daily Kos reported.

In an effort to help community members and local caregivers facing stress and other issues, Seattle therapist Shelley Green started taking appointments with health care workers in fall 2020. Green, who felt fortunate that she could do her teletherapy work from the comfort of her home, offered therapy services free of charge.

During this time, she learned that health care workers were not only afraid of bringing the coronavirus home but felt unsupported and “left to die” by public officials. Most recently, Green told the Seattle Times these workers’ grief and pain had turned to anger, as people across the nation refuse to wear a mask or get vaccinated.

Green’s clients are not alone in how they feel. According to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine on Thursday, repeated exposure to sickness and death, along with a sense of fear and anxiety during the pandemic, contribute to mental health issues of people in the workforce.

The study surveyed more than 500 frontline workers across 47 states between September 2020 and February 2021. While researchers didn’t formally diagnose the participants, they asked them to complete four standardized psychiatric assessments, a pandemic-specific questionnaire, and questions about their professions.

The study noted that more than half of frontline health care workers and about 40% of first responders, like firefighters and paramedics, say the pandemic has decreased their willingness or ability to stick with their careers. Additionally, one in five nurses say it’s “not at all likely” they’ll still be working in their field in five to 10 years; about 17% of first responders say the same.

“Everyone is quitting,” Laura Wood, a social worker at the Swedish Cherry Hill medical campus in Seattle, told the Seattle Times. She noted that nurses, emergency department technicians, respiratory therapists and social workers are leaving “left and right. Our staff is so burned out. We’re just so tired.”

Researchers hope that the survey and other data will allow for more resources and support to be available for health care workers.

“We don’t need to protect people from every aspect [of their jobs],” Dr. Rebecca Hendrickson, a physician and researcher at VA Puget Sound Health Care System and assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine, said. Hendrickson helped lead the study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

“If you can increase the amount of support people have … you can make a really big difference in people’s experiences and people’s ability to recover and cope effectively with the trauma they’re experiencing as part of their job.”

But this news is not new, as health care workers have been pleading for help for months.

Multiple studies have found that health care workers are feeling burnout and stress at accelerated rates due to the pandemic. Since the start, health care workers have expressed that hospitals are not only overcrowded but short-staffed, with many nurses and others having to make quick and difficult decisions, including who to treat first, Daily Kos reported.

The study also found that more than 12% of health care workers, and nearly 20% of first responders, reported thinking about hurting themselves or that they would be better off dead at least several days during the past two weeks.

“It was just kind of overwhelming and a red flag,” Hendrickson said. “We have an urgent need to address these issues both because there’s just a really high level of suffering and distress … and we have a moral obligation as a society to address this type of suffering in people who have worked hard to protect all of us during this pandemic.”

Many health care workers feel a sort of stigma about taking care of themselves because they feel as though they have a duty to help others, Green noted. So even as they experience burnout they continue to work, to the detriment of their own mental health.

“She was like, ‘It’s just so hard for us. We’re always the last ones to seek what we need because we see ourselves as providing what other people need,’” Green said about one person she talked to.

Health care workers need our support. No one should feel like they have been “left to die,” especially those who are working day and night to support the well-being of others. If you have any ideas about how to support local health care workers, drop a comment below.

An Alabama judge just got removed from the bench for racist and sexist conduct in a rare unanimous ruling

Accountability is on the rise. Days after a well-known North Carolina judge was accused of attempting to drive over Black Lives Matter protesters, another judge made headlines for not one but numerous allegations. Talladega County Probate Judge Randy Jinks was suspended for making sexist and racist comments to employees, according to a 78-page complaint filed by the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission.

But that's not the end of it. Jinks has made headlines again, this time because a court ruled that he must be removed from the bench. He was removed after the Judiciary Court ruled he had violated numerous Canons of Judicial Ethics and created a hostile work environment by demeaning both employees and citizens. The Friday ruling was not only unanimous but very rare in the state of Alabama, as judges almost never get removed.

The decision follows a complaint issued in March in which Jinks was accused of "frequent inappropriate demeanor," with more than 100 allegations of creating a toxic and hostile environment. Jinks allegedly not only initiated racist conversations, including remarks about the Black Lives Matter movement, but talked about pornography and women, NBC News reported.

His remarks were caught on a tape in which he not only spoke openly about his political views (including supporting the 'Stop the Steal' movement), but repeatedly made inappropriate comments to the office's only Black employee, a clerk. He even apparently had a tantrum over a missing sandwich, which he allegedly blamed the clerk for stealing.

According to the complaint document, in one instance Jinks allegedly minimized the police killing of George Floyd.

"I don't see anything wrong with the police killing [Floyd]," Jinks told an employee during a phone conversation, the report said. He allegedly also referred to Floyd as "just another thug" and said "he pretty much got what he deserved." The complaint report also noted that Jinks would mouth the n-word when referring to Black people and told a deputy clerk that Black people get benefits and welfare "because of the color of their skin."

Prior to his suspension, Jinks denied that he made that remark, telling the commission, "There exists no excuse for the killing of George Floyd, that watching the video is sickening, unconscionable, inhumane and horrifying."

In an interview in March with WOTM-TV, he said: "I'm the same Randy you know — the same Randy you voted for and supported two years ago. I am a decent person. I am very respectful around women. I do not use racial slurs. I do not go off on tirades in the office. I do get mad if someone steals my food."

He added that while he has "made some errors...the majority of these vicious, vile and vulgar accusations are nothing to fear." Apparently unfazed by the possible consequences, he continued: "They can say what they want, they can't hurt me."

Yet recordings confirmed otherwise.

Additionally, when Jinks' only Black employee bought a new car in 2019, the judge allegedly asked him if he sold drugs to afford it. "What you doing, selling drugs?" he asked Darrius Pearson, who had testified that in May 2019.

He also reportedly agreed when another employee referred to the same Black employee as a "typical lazy, good-for-nothing Black man," the complaint stated.

The complaint also highlighted allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior in the workplace, stating that the judge's "inappropriate demeanor disgusts, embarrasses, and upsets those employees who have routinely witness it."

According to the document, the judge frequently spoke about his sexual preference to employees and detailed his physical relationship with his wife. He even allegedly sent a video of a woman performing a striptease to an employee and insisted that he watch it even though the employee said he was busy with work. In another incident, he told an employee he liked the way a woman "burnt his sausage."

While Jinks claimed his comments were made during private conversations, evidence showed that they were made during work hours and at the workplace.

Jinks was infamous for unprofessional conduct, including often cursing at his employees.

In its ruling Friday the court said that while Jinks had been accused of having a "racially insensitive demeanor," the court felt as though his actions far exceeded that. It ordered that Jinks not only pay for the hearing but be removed from the bench immediately. "Although the complaint alleges 'racially insensitive demeanor,' this Court is of the opinion that Judge Jinks' conduct rose above racial insensitivity," the court said in its final judgment.

Jinks, who was sworn into office in 2019, has overseen adoptions and guardianships, mental health commitments, and the issuing of marriage licenses. He does not have a legal background. According to NBC News, having a legal background is not a requirement for probate judges in nearly all counties in Alabama.

Despite the evidence, numerous complaints, and March suspension, Jinks failed to acknowledge what was wrong with his behavior. In a Saturday statement, his lawyer claimed that prior to being in office and openly identifying as a Republican he had "never been accused of being racist"

"Judge Jinks' remarks were taken completely out of context and cast in a light calculated to besmirch the judge's character and further the accusatory employees attempts to remove him from office," Jinks' lawyer Amanda Hardy said.

She added that "closer scrutiny should have led to a more measured response to this case." According to Hardy, Jinks is still deciding whether to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Alabama.

Ill-informed Miami school says vaccinated students must stay home for 30 days after each shot

The situation with anti-vaxxers is just getting worse and worse. Across the country, anti-vaxxers have been targeting school district and health officials who promote masks in schools under the guise of protecting their 'rights' as parents. But these misguided parents aren't the only ones targeting the vaccinated: Some actual schools are targeting not only parents who support masks, but teachers and students who wish to be vaccinated.

After making headlines in April for barring teachers who got the COVID-19 vaccine from interacting with students, a Miami private school announced last week that children who are vaccinated will have to stay home for 30 days after each shot.

The announcement first reported by local news outlet WSVN was shared via an email to parents, warning them that if they are "considering the vaccine for your Centner Academy student(s), we ask that you hold off until the Summer when there will be time for the potential transmission or shedding onto others to decrease."

According to school officials, the quarantine is being placed because of concerns of vaccine side effects and spread of COVID-19, in addition to fears that children who are vaccinated pose a threat to those who are not.

"Because of the potential impact on other students and our school community, vaccinated students will need to stay at home for 30 days post-vaccination for each dose and booster they receive and may return to school after 30 days as long as the student is healthy and symptom-free," the letter to parents from Center Academy read.

In a statement to The Washington Post, David Centner, one of the school's co-founders, reiterated the concern over COVID-19 spread, claiming the policy was based on "numerous anecdotal cases that have been in circulation." "The school is not opining as to whether unexplained phenomena have a basis in fact, however we prefer to err on the side of caution when making decisions that impact the health of the school community," Centner said.

While these false claims and myths have been debunked multiple times by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which noted that coronavirus does not "shed or release any of their components" through air or skin contact, such conspiracy theories are rampant, especially in Florida. Additionally, since none of the three vaccines authorized by the Food and Drug Administration use live viruses, the CDC has confirmed that they cannot make one sick with COVID-19.

"What happens 30 days after they get vaccinated? What kind of nonsense is this?" Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease expert at Florida International University, said. "Where did they get that? There's nothing in the recommendations to that… they made that up. That's science fiction, not even science fiction because it's pure fiction."

In April, the Centner Academy said employees who got the vaccine after April 22 would not be allowed to return to work at the school. However, the private school later told WSVN that teachers and employees who did decide to get vaccinated would not be fired, just not allowed to work with students.

That letter sent in April also included misleading claims that unvaccinated women have experienced miscarriages and other reproductive issues from standing near vaccinated people.

Despite its anti-vaxx ideology and targeting of those who get vaccinated, school officials claimed they are not anti-vaxx.

In the letter to parents regarding the vaccine quarantine, school officials referred to COVID-19 vaccines as "experimental vaccines" and claimed that while they respect the choice of individuals to get vaccinated, they were concerned about the entire school community.

"Centner Academy's top priorities are our students' well-being and their sense of safety within our educational environment. We will continue to act in accordance with these priorities. The email that was sent to families today was grounded in these priorities," a co-owner of the school told WSVN.

The letter follows various recommendations from health officials and research proving that vaccines are the most efficient way to not only stop the spread of COVID-19 but prevent one from getting it.

"I don't find the letter interesting, I find it sad," Marty said. "I find it terrible that there's all this misleading information coming out of an institution that allegedly is an educational institution." Marty continued: "The technology is not new. The technology is well established and it's based on the best science we have."

Children nationwide are being infected with COVID-19 at alarming rates, causing many schools to close down within days of opening. In Miami alone, more than 2,000 students have been infected with the virus.

As of this report, Florida has one of the highest rates of COVID-19 infection nationwide with a daily average of 2,600 new cases reported, according to data compiled by The New York Times.

'I know where you live': Hospital workers face daily threats and violence

At one point, health care workers here and abroad were receiving standing ovations and loud cheers for helping to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Now, these same health care workers and professionals on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 are facing consistent harassment and threats from imbittered COVID-19 deniers.

Across the country, doctors, nurses, and other health care staff are dealing with violence and threats from patients over rules designed to keep the virus at bay, and worse, for not administering unapproved treatments that some patients demand.

"A year ago, we're health care heroes, and everybody's clapping for us," Dr. Stu Coffman, a Dallas-based emergency room physician, told the Associated Press. "And now we're being in some areas harassed and disbelieved and ridiculed for what we're trying to do, which is just depressing and frustrating."

Coffman isn't alone. Thousands of health care workers nationwide have reported abuse. Due to pandemic stress, burnout, and constant violence, some are even leaving their jobs—resulting in widespread hospital staff shortages nationwide.

According to data compiled by the CDC, nearly a quarter of public health workers said they felt bullied, threatened, or harassed because of their work since the pandemic began. Additionally, of the 26,174 public health workers surveyed across the U.S., 23.4% said they'd been threatened or harassed, and 11.8% said they'd received job-related threats.

"I get threatened every day at work," Tom Kelsch, an emergency department nurse, told the Michigan Advance. "They say, 'I know where you live; I'll be visiting you.' They say they're going to come and kill me; they say, 'I know where you park and what you drive.' It's pretty awful what we deal with. I've been spit on."

While Kelsh shared that such incidents are not new to him and that even patients facing extreme and life-threatening pain can lash out, he noted that the violence has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I started working in the [emergency room] 11 years ago, and every year it was slightly getting worse with patients verbally assaulting us, physically assaulting us — but since the pandemic started, it has gone up tenfold," he said.

While assaults on health care workers are not a new phenomenon and have been a concern for years, hospitals nationwide have reported higher rates of violence since the start of the pandemic. Some hospitals have even resorted to supplying staff members with panic buttons in light of the situation. A Missouri hospital provided its employees with panic buttons that immediately alert hospital security after assaults on health care workers increased drastically, the Associated Press reported.

According to a February report by the Geneva-based Insecurity Insight and the University of California, Berkeley's Human Rights Center, more than 1,100 threats or acts of violence against health care workers or facilities were reported in 2020. Almost half of those attacks were related to COVID-19, researchers found.

Health care workers are attributing the rise to misinformation about the pandemic and its "miracle" cures.

"When our staff experiences cursing, screaming, physical abuse, 'I am going to get my gun,' a knife pulled on them—it is terrifying," Jane McCurley, chief nurse executive for Methodist Healthcare System, told local CBS affiliate KENS 5. McCurley noted that hostility mainly came from guidelines for masking, visitation policies, or wait times.

The situation is even worse for Asian American health care workers, who face hate not only because of their profession but also for their race, thanks to heightened xenophobia and racist messaging attributed to the pandemic in conservative circles. One Filipino American registered nurse and a specialist in nursing informatics in Floral Park, New York, told CNN that the rise in crimes against both health care workers and Asian Americans made her feel unsafe, prompting her to stop taking public transportation and begin carrying pepper spray.

While Kathleen Begonia shared that she's experienced racism her whole life, she said it is disheartening that those she treats could be her perpetrators. "I actually signed up to take self-defense classes because I still carry my childhood experiences of racism with me," Begonia said. "I don't trust that anyone else can take care of me, not even police, so I make sure that I can defend myself. I run every day and keep fit in case I need to defend myself."

"Thinking about how we are nurses taking care of anyone who comes into the hospital—it can be infuriating. The very people who insult us in public can also become vulnerable themselves and require our care," Begonia said. "So, when I see people hurting the Asian American community, it saddens me because we are also your health care providers."

Health care professionals outside of the hospital are also facing hate and threats with anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers threatening and attacking them just for encouraging children to wear masks in schools. Health care workers should not have to face violence for saving individuals and helping to stop the spread of a pandemic.

Anti-vaxx couple dies of virus after claiming they survived pandemic despite being unvaccinated

Another day, another anti-vaxxer death. As the delta variant continues to spread across the country, anti-vaxxers are not only filling up hospitals but facing death. Almost every day, news of a popular anti-vaxxer being hospitalized or dying as a result of COVID-19 seems to make headlines.

In the most recent incident, two YouTubers from Alabama who were popular for online resale tips died as a result of COVID-19 days after they posted a video confirming they would never get vaccinated, AL.com reported. "We are ALIVE and still Reselling on eBay," the couple said in their last video.

The couple, Dusty Graham and Tristan Graham, known as "Alabama Pickers," posted quite a few videos on their YouTube channel denying COVID-19.

The channel has since then been taken down, but their last video remains online reposted through other accounts, including the channel "Vaxx Mann." That channel belongs to the website sorryanitvaxxer.com, which is dedicated to resharing social media posts from people who publicly opposed the COVID-19 vaccine only to later die from the virus.

According to a GoFundMe page set up by their children, Dusty died Thursday after battling COVID-19 for three weeks. His wife had "passed suddenly in her sleep" weeks earlier due to coronavirus complications on Aug. 25.

"Unfortunately Dusty and Tristan have both passed away," the couple's daughter, Windsor Graham, said. "Thank you for all the kind words and helping us during this difficult time. We will be using the money to pay for funeral expenses." The announcement of their deaths follows an announcement from Dusty weeks earlier that he was in the ICU "battling it [COVID-19] out."

The 90-minute video came days before his announcement and addressed in detail why the couple would never get vaccinated and their stance on other COVID-19 measures. "Still haven't gotten the you know what," Dusty said before mimicking a syringe jab. "Still not planning on getting it."

"I've got my own passport. It's called the 'Bill of Rights.' I think this will be all behind us in a couple of years," Dusty continued, referring to his birth certificate. His comments were made around the 41:30 mark.

"I think this will be all behind us in a couple years," Dusty added. "Then they'll be like you don't need that anymore," referring to vaccine passports.

Dusty Graham also claimed that the COVID-19 vaccine is "technically not" a vaccine and called it an "immunity therapy." He noted that both he and his wife survived without a vaccine for a year alongside friends who had contracted the virus. They even spoke about Tristan's cancer trauma and that being a reason why they did not need to be vaccinated.

We are ALIVE and still Reselling on eBay www.youtube.com

Sadly, like others who have refused to get vaccinated, the couple died shortly after their anti-vaxxer comments. Stories like this should be a warning to anti-vaxxers, but unfortunately, they're not. While many have regretted not being vaccinated on their deathbed, some did not have that opportunity.

At this time, more than 90% of all coronavirus-related hospitalizations are made up of unvaccinated individuals. While getting the COVID-19 vaccine does not prevent coronavirus, reports have indicated symptoms are less severe for those who are vaccinated. As a result, health care professionals are urging individuals to get vaccinated before it's too late.

'Just as flawed': Sen. Whitehouse questions FBI probe of Kavanaugh after failed Larry Nassar investigation

Talk about perfect timing. During a hearing on the FBI's mishandling of allegations against Larry Nassar, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse raised questions about whether the Nassar investigation was the only FBI case that was bungled. Whitehouse used the investigation of former USA Gymnastics team doctor and convicted pedophile Nassar to question the legitimacy of the FBI's 2018 background check into Brett Kavanaugh, wondering if that investigation might have been "just as flawed."

"It strikes me very strongly as we sit here today, and as we heard the powerful testimony earlier this morning, that the last time a woman came forward in this committee to testify to her allegations of sexual assault in her childhood, the witness was Christine Blasey Ford," Whitehouse said.

"It appeared to me then, and it appears to me now that her testimony was swept under the rug in a confirmation stampede," he added. "It is very possible that the FBI investigation of her allegations was just as flawed, just as constrained, just as inappropriate, as the investigation in this case."

Whitehouse demanded answers regarding the non-investigation of then-Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh and called out FBI Director Christopher Wray over the bureau's investigation of Ford's allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers.

Whitehouse noted that he repeatedly requested more information about the FBI's investigation into Ford's allegations but had been ignored for two years before finally receiving a response yesterday.

"Not coincidentally, I suspect, on the eve of your appearance today," Whitehouse said to Wray.

During the testimony against Nassar, Wray said that he felt "heartsick and furious" once he learned of the agency's failures toward pursuing justice. However, he didn't acknowledge the fault he or the agency as a whole had in the botched investigation and blamed individuals who "betrayed the core duty that they have of protecting people." But he did vow to "make damn sure that everybody at the FBI remembers what happened here in heartbreaking detail."

Whitehouse took this as an opportunity to raise questions about Kavanaugh.

"Let's just make sure there's wasn't also a botched handling of another allegation in this committee with regard to Dr. Ford," Whitehouse said after questioning the legitimacy of investigations in the case.

But Whitehouse was not the only one. Other lawmakers also questioned Wray over the bureau's handling of the Kavanaugh probe, including the claim that the FBI lacked the authority to conduct a deeper background investigation into the then-nominee.

Kavanaugh was confirmed to his lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court in October 2018 by a vote of 50-48, helping secure a conservative majority on the bench.

According to The Guardian, the bureau claimed that a 2010 Memorandum of Understanding prevented it from performing a deeper investigation into allegations of misconduct. According to a letter to Whitehouse and Sen. Chris Coons at the time, the FBI said that it did not have the authority under the MOU to "unilaterally conduct further investigative activity absent instructions from the requesting entity." It claimed special instructions were needed from then-president Donald Trump under 2010 guidelines on how such investigations could be conducted.

But despite this, Whitehouse has stood his ground and even told The Guardian he would not stop asking questions until the director answers them.

"In its years-late response to our questions, the FBI leaned hard on the notion that this MOU limited its authority to be the FBI and investigate wrongdoing. Now that we have the MOU, it's even harder to understand the Bureau's excuses for ignoring credible information it received. Director Wray ought to be ready to answer my questions about this episode – I won't stop asking until he does."

Whitehouse made a promise to Ford in 2018 following Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation to pursue the thorough investigation of her sexual assault allegations. He said he would do "whatever's in my power to make sure your claims get a full and proper investigation." Whitehouse was suspicious that the tip line set up for information about Kavanaugh's background was "not for real." After issues found in Nassar's investigation, his suspicions grew stronger.

"This wasn't a tip line — this was a tip dump," Whitehouse told the Boston Globe in July. "It was a garbage chute from the tip line to the White House counsel's office, where they had no interest in conducting an investigation."

"For those of us in the Senate, it raises questions about the trustworthiness of FBI background investigations for nominees. If this is going to turn into a situation where the FBI can tank a background investigation by sending derogatory information to the White House and Congress never finds out, that is a poor setup for Senate trust."

Whitehouse added that the issue is still relevant three years after Kavanaugh's confirmation because that's how long it took for the FBI to respond to his questions. "It's not my fault — it's their fault," he said. "This should have come out immediately."

'He looks better than our president': Fox News guest compliments dictator Kim Jong Un

It seems like tabloids and magazines aren't the only ones concerned with just appearances. North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has become the talk of the town after making an appearance at a military parade this week, looking a lot slimmer.

Of course, one of the first outlets to report on his new look and focus solely on that rather than his numerous human rights violations is Fox News. "He's fit, he's fun, and he's fascist!" Rachel Campos-Duffy said on "Primetime." She continued in what sounded like the commentary for a fashion show. "Take a look at Kim Jong Un flaunting his new tan and slim physique at the North Korean military parade." She even showed images of the dictator, noting that "after this photo op, many might start calling him Slim Jong Un."

The show's guest Jimmy Failla, a comedian, said he didn't buy it, to which Campos-Duffy argued he not only looked good but said: "I'm sorry, he looks better than our president!"

According to Human Rights Watch, North Korea is "among the world's most repressive countries."

A 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry found that the government committed violations amounting to crimes against humanity, including extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, rape, and forced abortions. North Korea operates secret prison camps where presumed government opponents face torture, forced labor, and starvation.

Various reports have been written on the human rights abuses committed by Kim Jong Un's regime, including one by the United Nations calling the abuses "unspeakable atrocities."

That Fox focused on his appearance instead of his list of violence was outrageous, but it didn't come as a surprise given their reporting history and lack of focusing on the facts. What came as a bigger surprise is they were not the only ones.

Outlets across the country focused on Kim Jong Un's appearance, including CBS News, Bloomberg, and the Associated Press.

And the biggest of all surprises— to me at least— CNN! "Shows off dramatic new weight loss" sounds like the headline of a magazine you'd find at the side of a grocery store cash register if you ask me.

Of course, the praise didn't go unnoticed. Many chimed in on the comments, especially those by Campos-Duffy— focusing on his weight loss is one thing but comparing him to Joe Biden another.




The reactions on Twitter are endless, but while most are focusing on Fox News, some are questioning what the other outlets were thinking.

The question most Twitter users are asking is, how much are outlets getting paid or threatened for this coverage?

Rep. Matt Gaetz finally disclosed his book profits. Laughter ensued

After making headlines for allegedly being part of a sex trafficking investigation, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz is making headlines again and not just for his marriage. Days after reports of Gaetz eloping with Ginger Luckey, the congressman who confirmed he was under investigation in April on allegations of trafficking a minor for sex made headlines this week for failing to report his book sales—a minor federal violation.

Gaetz committed the crime when he failed to include information about advances, royalties, or terms of agreement with the publisher of his book in a recent financial disclosure submitted on Aug. 10. After questions arose about the missing information, Gaetz amended the disclosure and refiled it on Aug. 16.

Members of Congress must file their annual House financial disclosure reports by Aug. 13, Business Insider reported.

"The law is clear that book royalty income must be disclosed," Kedric Payne, general counsel and senior director of Ethics at Campaign Legal Center, told Insider. "Indeed, it is difficult to think of a recent example when a lawmaker did not disclose such income. It is well established that voters have a right to know all sources of income for their elected officials."

In 2020, Gaetz published Firebrand: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the MAGA Revolution, celebrating not only the MAGA movement but with insight into his "fun loving" bachelor days in Congress. In the book, he not only describes himself as having an "active social life" but advised members of Congress not to date their staff.

"It's risky to date in a town where there's potentially a thin line between love and blackmail, or at least love and bad PR," Gaetz wrote. "I knew going in how many people had been brought down by sexual missteps in this town, so I set some rules to help me err on the safe(r) side."

"In Washington, safe sex means in part: no dating lobbyists, no dating your staff members, and I should have added no dating reporters, but I didn't at first," he continued. "I'm a representative, not a monk."

It is ironic that Gaetz would offer dating advice from the perspective of a successful ladies' man since he's accused of paying a minor for sex—an allegation for which his former friend and associate Joel Greenberg provided evidence to prosecutors in the case. Gaetz denied and defended himself against in an op-ed published in April.

The book was promoted by Donald Trump and his minions, with idiots like Donald Trump Jr. describing the book as a "must-read." But despite the praise, it seems Trump's fan base didn't buy it—literally. According to the amended disclosure, Gaetz made $25,000 in royalties. Firebrand is currently ranked #69,486 in Amazon's Books category.

The number comes as a surprise since the RNC often boosts book sales of its members. Even Tom Cotton a Republican from Arkansas made $202,500 in royalties from his book, Sacred Duty: A Soldier's Tour at Arlington National Cemetery.

It's clear now why Gaetz didn't include his book sales—he was probably embarrassed. But of course, his office gave no reason for why the information was initially missing despite inquiries from different news outlets.

"There was additional documentation needed from the Congressman's book publisher," Jillian Lane Wyant, chief of staff to Gaetz, told Insider. "We are in the process of receiving that information and amending the Congressman's financial disclosure now."

Not only were the reported royalties low, but according to a breakdown by The Daily Beast, the amended document itself raises questions. According to the amended financial report, Gaetz was awarded 60% royalties by his publisher, more than double the typical hardcover royalty rates. Not only do the numbers not make sense, but if Gaetz did only earn $25,000, that means he sold 6,000 copies or fewer of his book over several months. It's also worth noting that Firebrand was released at an industry-standard $27; less than one year from its on-shelf date, hardcovers cost around $8 on Amazon.

While Gaetz's sales may be low, he's not the first member of Congress not to disclose where he's making money outside of his congressional salary. The Ethics in Government Act requires members of Congress to disclose where they're making money for everything from book deals to stock trades; despite this, many Republicans have a history of failing to disclose their financial earnings. Additionally, for lawmakers to accept royalties, permission must be granted ahead of time by ethics officials under "usual and customary contractual terms," The Daily Beast reported.

In the end, it is unlikely Gaetz will suffer any consequences for failing to include the book earnings in his original report now that he has belatedly filed an amendment.

"Filing an incomplete financial disclosure report is a violation of both the Ethics in Government Act and the House rules," Brett Kappel, an attorney who specializes in government compliance at Harmon Curran, said. "The fact that Rep. Gaetz quickly filed an amended report, however, likely means he will suffer no consequences."

Biden administration approves the largest increase to food benefits in SNAP program history

With food insecurity already present in the U.S., the coronavirus only worsened the issue nationwide. According to NPR, food insecurity more than doubled due to the economic crisis COVID-19 inflicted, impacting as many as 23% of households this year. Joe Biden and his administration announced changes to the United States' food stamp program and its nutrition standards Monday to address the issue.

The changes will increase average benefits for food stamps in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program by more than 25%. This permanent increase in the levels of assistance is the largest single increase in the program's history. Average monthly per-person benefits will rise from $121 to $157. Starting in October, the changes will be available indefinitely to all 42 million SNAP beneficiaries, The New York Times reported.

"It's in our collective best interest to make sure that we're helping folks through difficult times," Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Monday. According to the Times, enrollment in SNAP has more than doubled since the early 2000s, and about 43% of beneficiaries are children. Throughout the pandemic, people relied on government assistance to feed their families.

Activists noted that previous levels of pre-pandemic SNAP assistance weren't enough for families to survive and be healthy. Many households were forced to choose cheaper, less nutritious options or simply go hungry to have enough food. According to the Times, more than three-quarters of households in the program report using up their benefits in the first half of the monthly cycle.

Additionally, nearly 90% of SNAP recipients report running out of benefits by the end of the month. Advocates say this figure depicts the disconnect between the program calculations and its recipients' lived experience.

"This outmoded food plan has limited SNAP's purchasing power and made unrealistic assumptions about the cost of food, the time it takes to plan and prepare meals, and the constraints faced by time-strapped working families," Lisa Davis, senior vice president of hunger charity Share Our Strength, said. "An updated Thrifty Food Plan would better reflect the way families live today, where working households do not have unlimited hours to prepare food from scratch, and modern dietary guidelines advise a wider variety of foods."

Benefits are awarded on a sliding scale; the adjustments raise the maximum amount to $835 a month for a family of four, an increase of 21%.

The changes come at a time where multiple coronavirus relief bills will be ending. But while coronavirus relief bills increased the number of people receiving the maximum amount of benefits, they did not expand SNAP funding for the 40% of recipients who already qualified for this maximum, The Washington Post reported.

Monday's announced revisions come under the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Thrifty Food Plan, a list of 58 food groups the government uses to estimate the cost of an economical and nutritious diet. Vilsack noted that changes to the algorithm were needed since families now have different consumption patterns than when the program was last updated. The program was last updated in 2006. Before that, it relied on data from 1999.

They follow a law passed by Congress in 2018 that ordered the Agriculture Department to complete a program review within four years. In his first month of office, Biden told the department to speed up the process so that benefits "reflect the true cost of a basic healthy diet."

"We know this is a program that reduces poverty, we know this is a program that improves health outcomes for kids, we know based on the data that it also results in better educational achievement because kids are fed," Vilsack said.

The new plan will increase the program's costs by about $20 billion a year, Vilsack confirmed. He added that the program's $79 billion annual costs would help "stabilize our democracy."

Increasing SNAP benefits not only works to end national hunger but severely impacts the overall health of children. Balanced nutrition is proven to improve testing scores and lower hospital admissions and other troubles children face.

"Plain and simple, this is totally a game-changing moment," Jamie Bussel, a senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a philanthropy focused on health, said. "The changes have enormous potential to reduce, and potentially eliminate, child hunger and poverty in this country. This will reflect much more accurately what food actually costs in communities."

Republican says he wasn't involved in fatal crash despite motorcycle stuck to the front of his car

I hate to stereotype them all, but Republicans across the country have garnered reputations for their lack of empathy towards humanity. However, one GOP official has allegedly taken it to the next level. A Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate is under investigation in connection with a fatal motor vehicle accident in which he claims he wasn't involved … although a motorcycle was found stuck to the front of his car.

According to the Associated Press, Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Charlie Gerow, who announced his candidacy last month, shared Friday that he is cooperating with police in an investigation into an accident during which a motorcyclist was killed. While Gerow claims he had no involvement, he apparently drove several miles with the motorcycle stuck to the front of his car, a witness told Spotlight PA.

The witness, a highway construction worker, was working on the turnpike when he saw that a motorcycle was "sitting upright, with the side stuck into the front of the car." He said he and his crew watched in disbelief as sparks flew from the car, which was traveling at a high rate of speed.

"It was a big motorcycle, too. There were a bunch of sparks. And it was very loud," Nicholas Forgette, the witness, told Spotlight PA. As a result of the accident, the highway was closed for several hours.

Forgette also told the outlet that he saw Gerow's Mercedes pulled over by state police several miles down the road from where he first saw the car pass. He said Gerow was sitting on a guardrail, stone-faced and "kind of disconnected."

Pennsylvania state police officials have released little to no information about the incident outside of confirming a vehicle belonged to Gerow. The accident occurred Wednesday night, but how the crash happened has not yet been made public.

According to a police news release, the victim—identified a 30-year-old Logan Carl Abbott—died as a result of multiple blunt impacts. Toxicology tests on the victim are pending.

In a statement to the Associated Press, Gerow said he "looks forward to the State Police completing their investigation and is confident that the investigation will confirm that he was not the cause (of) the accident." He did not comment on the motorcycle being stuck to his car or why he did not notice it while driving for several miles.

According to the AP, Gerow's gubernatorial campaign is his first statewide campaign after running unsuccessfully for Congress and the state legislature. Driving for miles without realizing he had a motorcycle attached to his grill is not a good look.

Protesters gather outside Kyrsten Sinema's office as she refuses to end the filibuster

Republicans are doing all they can to block a historic voter rights bill. Called the For the People Act, the bill aims to not only set up automatic voter registration but expand early voting, ensure more transparency in political donations, and limit partisan drawing of congressional districts. Republicans are blocking the legislation under the guise that it will increase electoral fraud. Similar claims were made by former President Donald Trump who still refuses to accept his defeat in the 2020 presidential election.

While the House passed its version of the bill in March, the bill is up for a Senate vote, which Republicans consistently vowing to vote against it. In order to advance, the bill will need 60 votes in the Senate. But Republicans are not only the ones who are coming under fire for their stance on the bill. As a legislative filibuster continues, two Democrats are being criticized for refusing to end the filibuster: Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

Advocates are not only urging the two to end the filibuster but calling for the Democratic Party to abolish the current 60-vote threshold. By doing so, the bill will pass with a simple majority. Since Democrats currently hold only 50 seats in the upper chamber, votes from at least 10 GOP senators are needed to overcome a filibuster.

"This landmark legislation is needed to protect the right to vote, ensure the integrity of our elections, and repair and strengthen American democracy," the Biden administration said.

The measure is needed to ensure that people of color are not consistently impacted by GOP officials attempting to strangle their voice. In the last year alone, GOP officials nationwide have worked to stop people of color from voting by limiting access to polling locations and passing laws that disproportionately impact communities of color by reducing early voting and closing voting locations. States like Georgia and Florida, specifically, have made it more difficult to vote absentee and have limited ballot drop-off boxes.

While calls to eliminate the filibuster continue, Sinema and Manchin oppose its elimination.

As Sinema continues to defend the filibuster, hundreds gathered outside her office to protest in an attempt to change her stance. But according to Sinema, "We have more to lose than gain by ending the filibuster."


"Instability, partisanship and tribalism continue to infect our politics," Sinema wrote in an op-ed published by The Washington Post. "The solution, however, is not to continue weakening our democracy's guardrails. If we eliminate the Senate's 60-vote threshold, we will lose much more than we gain."

"To those who want to eliminate the legislative filibuster to pass the For the People Act (voting-rights legislation I support and have co-sponsored), I would ask: Would it be good for our country if we did, only to see that legislation rescinded a few years from now and replaced by a nationwide voter-ID law or restrictions on voting by mail in federal elections, over the objections of the minority?" Sinema wrote.

She urged her colleagues to debate it and referenced incidents when Republicans controlled the Senate and Democrats used the filibuster to block bills.

"My support for retaining the 60-vote threshold is not based on the importance of any particular policy. It is based on what is best for our democracy," she wrote. "The filibuster compels moderation and helps protect the country from wild swings between opposing policy poles."

But her reasoning behind maintaining the filibuster does not take away from the importance of the For The People Act and the need for it. Activists and others came together Tuesday in efforts to change her stance, and even shared stories about why the bill is needed.

Through the bill, "we have a chance to put in place federal standards for our elections and pass legislation that would really protect our democracy," Emily Kirkland, executive director of Progress Arizona, told The Copper Courier.

According to The Copper Courier, police officials began arresting protesters outside of Sinema's office, but the calls for the filibuster to end continue.

At least eight Royal Caribbean crew test positive for COVID-19 despite vaccinations

At the start of the pandemic, multiple cruise lines made headlines for having passengers or crew members on board who tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, the cruise lines were forced to either dock at the nearest port or delay their trips. The struggle continues, with a Royal Caribbean International cruise delaying its inaugural sailing of the Odyssey of the Seas cruise ship after eight crew members tested positive for COVID-19. But the twist is that all eight members who tested positive were vaccinated, officials said Tuesday, according to NBC News.

In a statement posted to Facebook Tuesday, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean Michael Bayley said the situation was "two steps forward and one step back." All crew members were to be fully vaccinated by June 18; however, before the date of departure could arrive, at least eight tested positive, two with mild symptoms and six who were asymptomatic. Bayley noted that the "positive cases were identified after the vaccination was given and before they were fully effective."

All eight have quarantined and are being closely monitored by a medical team, but the company has delayed the ship's first trip from July 3 to July 31 in order for all crew members to observe quarantine and prevent further infection."While disappointing, this is the right decision for the health and well-being of our crew and guests," Bayley said.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) it is rare for people to test positive for COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated, but not impossible. Such cases are known as breakthrough infections. Out of more than 130 million people who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus in the U.S., only 10,262 have reported breakthrough infections, the CDC said in May, NBC News reported.

While many Republican governors are against companies requiring passengers to prove they have been vaccinated, the CDC and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission support their ability to do so. While Royal Caribbean has set up guidelines for its cruises, including it being mandatory for all guests over 16 to be fully vaccinated, the rules do not apply in Florida. Florida's exception follows Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' executive order that bans companies from asking people for proof of vaccination.

According to the company, starting August 1 the age requirement for vaccinated guests will be 12 years or older. Younger passengers who are not yet eligible for the vaccine will be allowed to sail with a negative test as long as they follow safety regulations.

"Guests eligible but not fully vaccinated or able to show proof of vaccination will be subject to testing and additional health protocols at their own expense," the company said. "Children not eligible for vaccines will be subject to complimentary testing and health protocols."

This isn't the first time Royal Caribbean has faced a similar situation. Last week the company's first cruise ship from Miami had two passengers test positive for coronavirus despite the entire ship being filled with "fully vaccinated" crew and adult guests, CBS News reported. Guests were required to show proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before sailing from St. Maarten.

Cruise ships have been considered superspreaders for the novel coronavirus since the start of the pandemic and were not given the go-ahead to resume operations until May, according to NBC News. In order to avoid being a superspreader ship, CDC guidelines require that 95% of ship passengers should be fully vaccinated prior to sailing. Additionally, everyone on the ship, whether or not they are vaccinated, is advised to wear a mask.

The incident goes to show that just because you're vaccinated doesn't mean you cannot be infected by the novel coronavirus. Despite things opening up and safety regulations easing down, we are still in a global pandemic.

Federal judge dismisses anti-vaxxer lawsuit — sides with Texas hospital

After a hospital followed through on its warning to suspend and terminate any employee who did not abide by its mandatory vaccination policy, anti-vaxxers attempted to pursue a lawsuit. The employees involved in the suit claimed that it violated their rights to be told by an employer that they must be vaccinated. But, despite their confidence that the Houston Methodist hospital did not have the right to require them to be vaccinated in order to work, they were wrong.

In the country's first ruling on vaccine mandates, a Texas judge dismissed the lawsuit creating a precedent for similar cases nationwide. In the lawsuit employees of the Houston Methodist, one of the first hospital systems in the country to require all employees to be vaccinated, attempted to challenge the company's mandatory vaccination policy. The company suspended more than 170 employees last week after months of warning them that they had until June 7 to be fully vaccinated. Once suspended, the employees were told they would have until June 21 to complete their vaccinations or risk termination, Daily Kos reported.

Despite the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission supporting policies that employers could require "all employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19," at least 117 employees of the company attempted to sue the hospital claiming it violated state policy and made them "human guinea pigs."

According to the plaintiffs, federal law prohibits employees from being required to get vaccinated without full U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of the vaccines. While the lawsuit was filed in Texas state court, it was moved to federal court at Houston Methodist's request. As a result, U.S. District Judge Lynn N. Hughes ruled Saturday that federal law does not prevent employers from issuing that mandate because the law in question did not apply to private employers.

"The hospital's employees are not participants in a human trial," Hughes wrote. "They are licensed doctors, nurses, medical technicians, and staff members. The hospital has not applied to test the COVID-19 vaccines on its employees."

He continued that the mandate was a way to make the environment safer for both employees and patients. "This is not coercion. Methodist is trying to do their business of saving lives without giving them the Covid-19 virus. It is a choice made to keep staff, patients and their families safer."

Hughes' ruling addressed each and every one of the plaintiffs' arguments including the vaccination requirement violating Texas law and a comparison to forced medical experiments in Nazi Germany. "Equating the injection requirement to medical experimentation in concentration camps is reprehensible," Hughes wrote. "Nazi doctors conducted medical experiments on victims that caused pain, mutilation, permanent disability, and in many cases, death."

Ultimately Hughes concluded that the plaintiffs "misconstrued" the law and "misrepresented the facts" and "will take nothing" from the hospital. If they had an issue with the policies in place, they should seek employment elsewhere, he wrote.

Upon hearing the ruling, lead plaintiff Jennifer Bridges noted that she would continue to fight her case. "This doesn't surprise me," she told USA Today. "Methodist is a very large company, and they are pretty well-protected in a lot of areas. We knew this was going to be a huge fight, and we are prepared to fight it." Bridges has also started a petition against mandatory vaccinations by employers.

In response to the ruling, attorney and conservative activist Jared Woodfill who represents her and the other 116 plaintiffs said: "We took the position that it shouldn't be dismissed for a whole host of reasons and we believe that forcing an individual to participate in a vaccine trial is illegal."

"This is the first battle in a long fight," Woodfill continued. "There are going to be many battles fought. Not just in this courtroom, but in courtrooms all across the state. There are battles that are going to be fought in the higher courts, the 5th Circuit, the Texas Supreme Court, even the United States Supreme Court. So this is just one battle in a larger war. It's the first round, if you will."

Woodfill confirmed that they would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court "if necessary."

So despite the judge noting and clearly addressing that they had no case, the plaintiffs refuse to back down.

The employees who were suspended from their roles made up only 1% of the hospital's total number of employees, according to Houston Methodist CEO Marc Boom. Boom noted that many other hospitals are working on similar initiatives but were only waiting on this case's verdict to take action. "We can now put this behind us and continue our focus on unparalleled safety, quality, service and innovation," Boom said after the ruling. "Our employees and physicians made their decisions for our patients, who are always at the center of everything we do."

According to CBS News, as of this report, nearly 25,000 Houston Methodist employees had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and at least two employees who worked in management chose to leave rather than receive the vaccine.

'ConspiracyTok’: The right-wing’s newest attempt at spreading conspiracy theories on social media

As social media platforms finally take to cracking down on conspiracy theories, right-wing propaganda has found a new home. Conspiracy theorists are flooding TikTok, a popular social media application known for its short videos, with misinformation and alt-right propaganda.

While this seems harmless as propaganda is not new to social media, the issue is these videos are making their way to a number of audiences because of TikTok's recommendation algorithm. The algorism encourages users to follow accounts that are in their area or similar to their interests, by pushing multiple conspiracy theory accounts, TikTok's algorithm is spreading extremist misinformation at a rapid rate, according to Media Matters. As a result, far-right conspiracy theories are creating massive communities on and offline.

The videos are mostly known on the platform as "ConspiracyTok" come from a community that regularly discusses conspiracy theories. According to Media Matters, while some accounts are dedicated to theories of why the earth is flat others are more harmful and spread misinformation about cultures and identities, including COVID-19. That in itself is harmful to the country specifically, Asian Americans who have been discriminated against and targeted due to these theories, however as TikTok's algorithm promotes these videos more harm is done as misinformation reaches broader and often more vulnerable audiences.

A majority of TikTok users are GenZ users that are subject to influence from social media, as algorithms target youth members misinformation can have dire consequences. A fact it seems many alt-right TikTok users are taking advantage of. It only takes one video for a person's entire feed to be filled with "ConspiracyTok." The way TikTok's account recommendation algorithm works is individual users are recommended to one another by not only distance but potential interest.

Meaning if you accidentally even stumble on one video you most likely will end up seeing more in the future. Additionally, if a user follows someone they are more likely to get recommendations of similar accounts. This has caused the massive spread of not only anti-vax misinformation but, QAnon-related theories, COVID-19 denial, and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

Of course, TikTok is working to ban and has banned many alt-right users from spreading misinformation but the issue is that this misinformation is not always easy to catch.

According to Media Matters, many conspiracy theorists pose as harmless users by posting a variety of content. This prevents them from being flagged as not all their content is controversial. For example, "Conscious Content" is an account with over 11,300 followers, whose bio reads: "Learn and inspire!" With videos about TV shows and other random information, one would never assume that this account belonged to a conspiracy theorist, but a deeper dive shows that the user suggests conspiracies such as believing that Jeffery Epstein was an Israeli spy.

This is not a sole example, other users have similar patterns of camouflage, Media Matters reported. As TikTok and other social media platforms crack down on alt-right individuals, they are coming up with more unique ways to push their agenda.

Under the guise of anything, alt-right community members are spreading misinformation and pushing conspiracy theories on not only the government but health and other issues. An easy way to find these users is by noting the hashtags they commonly use on videos, but again the issue comes down to these users cleverly diversifying their feeds to include different types of content and different tags as well. Doing so not only protects them from being tagged as a conspiracy account but also allows them to reach a broader audience.

If an account describes itself as a lifestyle account, a person who follows similar accounts may unknowingly follow it not realizing it is meant to spread conspiracy theories. In this way slowly when the account does post the theories in its agenda, a user will see them without having had the intention to.

This has been documented throughout TikTok's history with COVID-19 misinformation especially being a huge documented problem. While at first videos focused on COVID-19 and its spread they now focus on misinformation to do with the vaccine. "This shot will rearrange your DNA. They've planned this for one hundred years, it is the mark of the beast," one user ember_inside_me1 said. The account has over 27,500 followers.

According to research published in 2014 by the University of Chicago, about "half of the American public consistently endorses at least one conspiracy theory." So one is likely to come across conspiracy theories in one way or another, but the issue is how harmful they can be to the development of some individuals, especially if they are not aware. Studies have found that many youth and young adults get their news from social media, with the spread of misinformation poses a risk of whether or not some understand the difference between fact and conspiracy. Because many conspiracists gain the trust of social media users by depicting a multitude of content, conspiracy theories are more likely to be accepted by them when shared.

By not addressing the issue more thoroughly, TikTok is failing its users. According to Media Matters, while many extremist users on the app, including the ones mentioned in this report, are banned it does not prevent their content from being circulated. TikTok needs to do better, especially to protect its youth. Of course, it is impossible to remove all conspiracy from the view of social media users, more needs to be done to make users aware of what content they are seeing. TikTok's algorithm does more harm than good and needs to be redeveloped to consider the potential risks it poses.

State lawmaker forced to apologize after he said Asian Americans 'have never been discriminated against'

A Connecticut lawmaker is under fire after making a xenophobic comment during a public hearing before the Planning and Development Committee meeting on Monday. The public hearing was meant to discuss potential legislation that addressed segregated housing.

In response to a discussion on why Greenwich doesn't have a larger Black population and the Greenwich Housing Authority board chairman Sam Romeo arguing that minorities make up 37% of the city's population, Democratic Rep. Michael Winkler said: "You count Asians and other minorities that have never been discriminated against." Winkler made the comment in an attempt to argue with Romeo, who claimed racism was not a reason why the town had housing segregation because minorities accounted for 37%. But while doing so he erased the discrimination minorities including Asians have faced.

According to CNN, the comment left other officials and lawmakers shocked and outraged that a state representative would downplay the racism Asian Americans are currently facing and have faced throughout history.

"I will just pause just for a moment and say I think that there have been a number of minority groups who have faced discrimination over time, and particularly, I think, in light of what happened in Atlanta last week," Rep. Cristin McCarthy Vahey, a Democrat who chairs the committee, said in response to the comment.

Others chimed in including Republican Sen. Tony Hwang who called the comments absolutely "unacceptable." "Let me be clear, racism against anyone, and bias, is never acceptable," Hwang said demanding an apology.

While Winkler did eventually apologize, he initially did not have any intention to and stood his ground. He claimed that every immigrant group in the country has been discriminated against but his focus is on "the most oppressed." He failed to realize the xenophobia present in his comment which erased discrimination faced by Asian Americans and other groups.

"Every immigrant group that has come in has risen through and above the Blacks, while other immigrant groups, one after the other—the Polish, the Irish, whatever—came in and rose up. Blacks have always been at the bottom and remain there." Winkler said. "And so, they're the group that I look to when I'm trying to judge how well people are doing for the most downtrodden, the most oppressed."

The exchange continued with Hwang sharing he was "appalled" that Winkler didn't "feel a compulsion or an understanding to apologize to Asian Americans that you just disparaged because you believe they have been discriminated less."

Later in the meeting when Winker finally apologized, he noted that "discrimination against Asian Americans is very real. And I never meant to indicate otherwise."

But despite this late apology, what Winkler said cannot be erased. In a statement released on Tuesday, Attorney General William Tong called Winkler's comments ignorant and said he "cannot believe that Representative Winkler would say that Asian-Americans do not count and have not been discriminated against."

"Let me assure you that Asian-Americans count and the hate and discrimination against us is real, and it has gotten people hurt and killed," Tong said. "The history of bias and hate against Asian-Americans in this country is long and largely visible, an unfortunate reality that has been highlighted by the ignorant comments made by Rep. Winkler," he continued.

Tong referenced historical examples of discrimination and racism the AAPI community has faced including the Chinese Exclusion Act, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, and the beating death of Vincent Chin, alongside the horrific Atlanta shootings from last week.

"The myth of the so-called 'model-minority' is a dangerous fiction that for too long has allowed this country to erase and ignore this shameful history. I invite Representative Winkler to seize this moment as a teaching opportunity, to educate himself by speaking to his Asian-American neighbors and colleagues, and to commit to joining me and others in fighting discrimination in all forms," Tong said.

Following the backlash from community members and lawmakers, Winkler shared the following statement with CNN in an effort to apologize to the APPI community: "My comments are inexcusable, especially with the recent rise in violence against Asian Americans," he said. "There is a long, painful history of Asian-Americans experiencing racism in this country, and I sincerely regret that I ignored that history and those experiences in my comments.

"Moving forward, I want to work to ensure that I truly understand and recognize the experiences of those who unfortunately know what it's like to be discriminated against in areas such as work, education, housing and more," he added.

The AAPI community has faced generations of violence in the U.S. Stereotypes can be traced to what scholars call the "yellow peril," an ideology from the 19th century, where white folks claimed things from Asia were a great threat to the white world. Historians and other academics found that this ideology, amongst other xenophobia, influenced U.S. policies on the basis "that Chinese people as a race, no matter where they are, are disease carriers." As a result, anti-Asian laws such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 were enacted to block Asian immigration, Daily Kos reported.

While the Black community has no doubt faced extreme and consistent discrimination in this country and continues to be victim to state-sanctioned and other violence, that does not mean other communities are not being discriminated against. In order to highlight and address the discrimination one community is facing we do not need to downplay what others have or are experiencing. The ranking or judging of one group's experience of discrimination to another is not appropriate and not the right way to address issues faced by minority communities. Black Lives Matter and the fight for justice for Black communities will continue despite efforts to address issues faced by other minorities as well. Claiming a group has "never been discriminated against" just to highlight the injustices Black people have historically faced is unacceptable. There are other and better ways to address violence against Black people without minimizing the trauma of other communities. America must do better.

India officials target Rihanna and Greta Thunberg for showing support of Indian farmers’ protest

Things in India just seem to be getting worse as officials resort to violence in response to the ongoing farmers' protest occurring nationwide in the country. Internet access restrictions, cellphone signal restrictions, and media restrictions have been enacted for several days in multiple districts as the government cracks down on advocates and others protesting injustices under the guise of "maintaining public safety and averting public emergency."

For months, thousands of farmers have marched and protested against three bills passed in India's parliament in September. Protests have spread from the Indian capital of New Delhi to other parts of the country and garnered global attention with well-known icons like Rihanna and Greta Thunberg tweeting about the issue. While thousands have applauded the two for engaging prominent Western figures in the cause silenced by many Indian stars, Hindu nationalists, and conservatives in India have launched campaigns against the two celebrities for spreading misinformation and propaganda.

Within hours of Rihanna's tweet linking to a CNN story on the issue and questioning why people weren't talking about the protests, the ministry of external affairs released a statement criticizing "celebrities and others" for their "neither accurate nor responsible" comments. In support of the Indian government, some Bollywood celebrities tweeted against "propaganda" that threatened India's unity and body-shamed Rihanna.


The worst of it comes from Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut, a vocal supporter of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a Hindu-nationalist group one could say is equivalent to the Proud Boys. In a series of tweets, Ranaut not only criticized Rihanna's work, but her appearance and even her skin color. Honestly, Ranaut's disgusting behavior should have gotten her removed from Twitter.

"Before rushing to comment on such matters, we would urge that the facts be ascertained, and a proper understanding of the issues at hand be undertaken," Anurag Srivastava, a spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, said in a statement on Wednesday. "The temptation of the sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible."


But the negative and false narratives right-wing conservatives spread in India, including calling Rihanna a "porn star," did not stop her tweet from going viral and spreading awareness of the farmers' protests. Both Western celebrities and athletes followed suit in sharing that this issue should not only be spoken about but supported. Wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers Juju Smith-Schuster even donated $10,000 to provide medical assistance to farmers in need, many of whom have been protesting outside despite deadly cold temperatures.

Rihanna was also supported by Thunberg, who tweeted that she stood "in solidarity with the #FarmersProtests in India," and that "no amount of hate threats or violations of human rights will ever change that." Thunberg even shared a link to register objections to the new laws and a toolkit, in response to which Delhi police said they were investigating whether there was an international campaign to damage India's reputation. The toolkit, Thunburg said, was to "enable anyone unfamiliar with the ongoing farmers protests in India to better understand the situation and make decisions on how to support the farmers based on their own analysis."

In response to the support Rihanna and Thunberg created online for the farmers protesting, India's government and alt-right officials resorted to violence, as they have done in the past. Indian government officials not only burned photos of Rihanna and Thunberg, but issued arrest warrants for them on the basis that they were inciting terrorism. Tweets shaming the two from Bollywood celebrities quickly gained attention, and headlines in local Indian newspapers highlighted the two by saying they were inciting propaganda and trying to negatively impact India.

Rihanna's tweet couldn't have come at a worse time for India's government. In the last few weeks, global attention towards the farmers' movement has resulted in criticism towards India's handling of the protests by both the United Kingdom and Canadian officials. Additionally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repeatedly been criticized for his support of Donald Trump and similar tactics of encouraging violence at peaceful demonstrations. According to NBC News, as farmers are not only a key part of India's economy but one of the most influential voting blocs in India, Modi faces challenges in any upcoming elections.

Rihanna's tweet has resulted in the issue becoming a topic of conversation in the U.S. and more awareness being created. Advocates have consistently urged that action to be taken to no avail. hile it is sad that it took a Western celebrity tweeting about the issue for it to garner more attention, it is also laudable that Rihanna took the time to do so. It sheds light on the fact that injustice cannot go unremarked upon.

It also gives activists hope that change can come and that there is support at all levels. While multiple Indian celebrities have been silencing the issue and calling the protests terrorism for their own comfort, Western celebrities raising their voices puts pressure on Indian officials to take action because of the global attention.

As of this report, an injunction issued by India's Supreme Court has temporarily paused implementation of the new laws, but farmers stand strong in demanding total appeal.

"The government treats us like thieves but we are fighting for our rights," Harbachan Singh, a farmer from Punjab who is managing a community kitchen at the Singhu border, told The Guardian. To learn more about the bills in question, check out this quick explainer on why the protested laws are not just an Indian issue but a global issue.

Did the Proud Boys know that their leader was an FBI informant? They do now

In a weird turn of events, Enrique Tarrio, a chairman for the extremist organization Proud Boys, who organized a massive event in Portland, Oregon, last year, has a past as an informer for federal and local law enforcement, Reuters reported. A federal court proceeding transcript from 2014, obtained by the outlet, found that Tarrio had been working undercover for investigators since his arrest in 2012.

During the Miami hearing, a federal prosecutor, a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent, and Tarrio's lawyer detailed Tarrio's undercover work and claimed he had helped authorities prosecute at least 13 people in multiple cases involving drugs, gambling, and human smuggling.

However, in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, Tarrio denied working undercover and providing information on others. "I don't know any of this," he said, referring to what was shared in the transcript. "I don't recall any of this."

According to the transcript, both the prosecutor and Tarrio's defense attorney requested a reduction in Tarrio's prison statement due to his involvement as an informant. While Tarrio acknowledged the reduction in his sentence from 30 months to 16 months, he insisted it was made because he and his co-defendants cleared up questions about their own case.

In regards to a smuggling case, Jeffrey Feiler, Tarrio's attorney, said that Tarrio, "at his own risk, in an undercover role met and negotiated to pay $11,000 to members of that ring to bring in fictitious family members of his from another country. "

Oddly enough, not only do the court transcripts contradict Tarrio's denial, but so do statements from the federal prosecutor.

"He cooperated with local and federal law enforcement, to aid in the prosecution of those running other, separate criminal enterprises, ranging from running marijuana grow houses in Miami to operating pharmaceutical fraud schemes," prosecutor Vanessa Singh Johannes confirmed to Reuters.

Tarrio gained public attention after becoming the national chairman for the Proud Boys in 2018. The group began gaining further national attention after Donald Trump mentioned the hate group during a presidential debate. Instead of denouncing white supremacy as he was asked to do, Trump gave the group orders: "Proud Boys: Stand back and stand by," he said. "But I'll tell you what, somebody's got to do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem, this is a left-wing [problem]."

As a violent Trump supporter, Tarrio organized protests and other events and encouraged a "war" after Trump lost the election last year. While he was arrested on Jan. 4, two days before the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, by Washington police, at least five Proud Boys members were charged in the riot. Tarrio was charged with possessing two high-capacity rifle magazines and burning a Black Lives Matter banner during a protest in December. It's interesting how convenient it was that he was arrested before other serious crimes took place. While there is no evidence that he has cooperated with federal authorities since his Miami hearing, the timing of his arrest makes one wonder if he was still working with the FBI.

Additionally, the documents discovered by Reuters shed light on the fact that the leader of the Proud Boys group has repeatedly said in interviews he would never let police know of Proud Boys' plans, but he may have been collaborating with criminal investigators on multiple occasions in the past.

"Well if you're in the Proud Boys, you've gotta be pretty nervous," said Kendall Coffey, former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, according to NBC News. "Because if this person was working as a confidential informant, almost like an undercover agent or secret agent, you are wondering, 'What is it that he could be saying about us some day?'"

If he was, there is no doubt that Tarrio has now denied helping law enforcement out of fear of backlash.

In a statement to Reuters, Johannes noted that she was surprised to see that the defendant, who she prosecuted in the past, has been a key contributor to violent political movements. "I knew that he was a fraudster, but had no reason to know that he was also a domestic terrorist," she said.

Officials are still in the process of investigating the role extremist groups like the Proud Boys played in the insurrection of the Capitol. While Tarrio wasn't present during the incident, he did make a trip to Washington, D.C. days prior. Who knows what his plans were then. Even if he did help investigators in the past, that does not dismiss the actions he has carried out or encouraged in these last few years.

So far, at least 150 people have been charged in association with the crimes committed at the Capitol at the start of this month. Despite what charges the rioters who invaded the Capitol on Jan. 6 face, the conspiracy theories, groups, and ideology they followed still remain. Until those factors are addressed, violence of this nature will continue.

Off-duty cops across the US identified as participants in Capitol insurrection

Following the violent Capitol takeover on Jan. 6, members of the FBI and Washington, D.C. police are asking people to identify anyone who may have been involved in the attack. As names and photos continue to be shared on social media and other platforms, the truth that the rioters were not only working-class or "blue collar MAGA" is coming to light. Some Trump supporters who wreaked havoc have been identified as not only lawyers and CEOs but off-duty police officials. Off-duty and former law enforcement officers were identified from at least six states including Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, California, Texas, Virginia, and Washington State. The individuals have either faced suspensions or been referred for internal reviews following social media posts, The New York Times reported.

Many of the posts in question were made and shared by the officers themselves. According to The Root, the increasing number of investigations into officer attendance and conduct follows an announcement from the Seattle Police Department on Friday. The announcement confirmed that two officers were placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into their involvement in the Capitol invasion.

While being present outside the Capitol building while riots took place is not a criminal activity, those who participated in invading the building did take in criminal actions. Investigators are working to examine whether or not the officers identified took part.

According to Politico, a current Metro D.C. police officer shared a Facebook post in which he noted that off-duty officers and members of the military who participated in the riots flashed their badges and I.D. cards in an attempt to invade the building. "If these people can storm the Capitol building with no regard to punishment, you have to wonder how much they abuse their powers when they put on their uniforms," the officer wrote on Facebook. Capitol police noted that more than 50 law enforcement officers who responded to the violence on Wednesday were injured by the white supremacists.

Additionally, two Black officers who were on duty during the attack told BuzzFeed News that off-duty officers were among the rioters. One of the Black officers, who requested to remain anonymous, shared that off-duty officials not only flashed their badges but attempted to explain that this movement was supposed to help them.

"You have the nerve to be holding a Blue Lives Matter flag, and you are out there fucking us up," the officer said he told one group of protesters inside the Capitol. "[One guy] pulled out his badge and he said, 'We're doing this for you.' Another guy had his badge. So I was like, 'Well, you gotta be kidding.'"

The second officer recalled that he and other officers engaged in hand-to-hand combat in an attempt to fight off mob members and were outnumbered 10 to one. "We were telling them to back up and get away and stop, and they're telling us, they are on our side, and they're doing this for us, and they're saying this as I'm getting punched in my face by one of them … That happened to a lot of us. We were getting pepper sprayed in the face by those protesters, I'm not going to even call them protestors, by those domestic terrorists," the officer told BuzzFeed News.

Police officials were not the only public service members found taking part in Wednesday's riots. NBC News reported that the names of multiple members of the New York Fire Department have been turned over to the FBI based on photographs of them participating in the failed coup. Members of the Sanford Fire Department in Florida are also being investigated after photos emerged online.

According to Reuters, at least one firefighter has been placed on administrative leave. Dozens of people have been criminally charged as the FBI seeks more information from the public to identify the criminals involved. Officials have urged media companies to preserve photos, videos, and other data related to the riots and crime scenes.

'Murder the media': Photographers release terrifying video of the mob attack outside the Capitol gates

As violent Trump supporters terrorized the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, members of Congress were not the only people they were looking to intimidate. These terrorists also targeted journalists and press under Donald Trump's message of declaring the news and media an "enemy of the people."

"Murder the media," was written on a door of the Capitol while terrorists took over and attacked a group of reporters. In one incident John Minchillo, a photographer of the Associated Press, was attacked by a mob of Trump supporters outside the Capitol building. The violent incident was captured on video and shared by another photographer on Twitter. Local photographers and reporters were present at the break of the horrific violence that took place Wednesday. Footage shared on social media depicts the consequences of words bigots like Trump use to incite violence on communities and spaces.

"Please use this moment to reflect on the importance of journalism as a conduit between us. We tell stories. That's our mission. We have the privilege to shepherd moments over time and space. Please subscribe to your hard working local papers, support their vocation," Minchillo replied to the video of his attack being shared on Twitter.

(WARNING: This story contains violent video, photos, and language that may not be suitable for all readers.)

In a thread of photos posted on Twitter, BuzzFeed News reporter Paul McLeod captured photos of equipment left behind by the Associated press after crowds attacked reporters. According to McLeod, one man yelled "We are the news now, as a crowd damaged the equipment. McLeod also reported that a noose was fashioned from a camera cord and hung from a tree.

The Associated Press confirmed that its equipment had been stolen and destroyed and noted that none of its staff members had been injured.

In another video posted on Twitter, the terrorists again attempted to target individuals they thought were from CNN. While it is unclear whether the journalist was from CNN, the fact that these journalists were assaulted is not okay.

But the violent Trump allies were not the only ones after journalists on Wednesday. Reporters for The Washington Post were shortly detained by police while reporting on Tuesday night, following a pattern of law enforcement officials arresting reporters for doing their work throughout this year.

The reporters arrested were identified as Zoeann Murphy and Whitney Leaming. The two shared on Twitter that they were safe after quickly being released. "I have heard from so many journalist friends/colleagues who were at or around the Capitol today that they are 'fine'. This is a lie," Leaming tweeted. "They are not fine but they push aside their physical safety and mental health to focus on the story at hand [because] one of the most important rules of journalism is that the story is not about you. Just please remember that and maybe not threaten their life, I beg you."

According to The New York Times, media officials were threatened and surrounded for hours, those inside the Capitol building were forced to find shelter in secure locations to avoid assault. A reporter with The Los Angeles Times recalled her experience hiding in the House gallery during an armed standoff.

Sarah D. Wire of The Los Angeles Times wrote:

I heard a ruckus behind me and turned and saw a dozen reporters being ushered into the gallery from press offices. Then police shut and locked the doors. Police interrupted the proceedings to announce that tear gas had been deployed in the rotunda.
A staff member handed me an evacuation hood, a cumbersome plastic bag that filters out tear gas and chemicals. She told me to pass it and others down the row until everyone had one. Reporters were not the only ones in the gallery. Staff members were monitoring the proceedings. More than a dozen lawmakers had also taken seats in the public galleries overlooking the House floor. Now we were locked in the room together.

The rioters driven by Trump's hate clearly had no fear of police involvement. CBS News reporter Chip Reid, who has worn protective gear he last wore while covering conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, noted that a rioter told him law enforcement officials would not protect journalists. "There were no police around us—we were on our own," Reid said. "We high-tailed it out of there."

Of course, Trump later addressed the crowd in a video statement Wednesday but continued on his claims that the election has been "stolen." The video removed by many social media outlets including Facebook and Twitter is predicted to incite further violence. As Trump continues to target anyone who calls out his lies, his zombies continue to ready for battle.

"Rioters at the Capitol called for violence against members of the news media, destroyed news equipment and verbally harassed journalists as the 'enemy of the people's—actions that not only pose a dire threat to those working tirelessly to bring information to our communities, but also to the press freedom that is a bedrock value of our nation," Bruce Brown, the executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said in a statement.

"These actions are the direct result of years of this language stoking fear and hate for one of our most vital institutions. Our free press is crucial to democracy, and indeed, one of the pillars that will help keep it standing beyond this moment."

Here's why you should care about the thousands of farmers protesting in India

2020 has been a year of ongoing protests and demonstrations for change across the globe. It has also been the year the world saw not only the largest but longest single protest to date. For almost a month now, tens of thousands of farmers in India have marched and protested against three bills passed in India's parliament in September. Since their start in late November, the protests have spread from the Indian capital of New Delhi to other parts of the country and garnered global attention. More than 250 million people across India have participated in not only the ongoing protest but in 24-hour strikes to show solidarity. According to Reuters, nearly 30 people have died as a result of freezing temperatures and at least 10 have died in accidents near protest sites

Despite the severe cold weather, farmers from the northern states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan have vowed to stay camped outside of national highways until the laws are repealed. "It's very difficult to camp out in this weather, but we aren't scared," Balbir Singh, an octogenarian from the Patiala district of Punjab, told Reuters. "We won't go back until our demands are met. Even if we have to die here, we will."

The bills in question include the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act. While the first two laws expand on the marketing infrastructure provided by India's state-level governments and enable direct marketing of farm products to processors, aggregators, wholesalers, large retailers, and exporters, the third law works to facilitate the production, movement, and distribution of farm produce by removing existing regulatory barriers. As a result, farmers' already depressed wealth is further reduced.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi argues that under these laws the agricultural system will be streamlined and farmers will have more freedom to sell their goods at any price directly to private businesses, as opposed to having to sell their produce through auction, known as the "mandi system." However, farmers argue that these bills will collectively privatize the agricultural system, making them vulnerable to corporate exploitation.

Additionally, under the new laws large corporations can dominate the market by driving down prices and diminishing any advantage farmers had at setting their own produce prices. This will add to India's growing unemployment and the debt the farming community is already facing.

According to Al Jazeera, many farmers argue the current state-controlled "mandi system" needs reform within the food supply chain to give farmers more options to sell their crops to make a profit, and that these new laws will only further disempower farmers economically and within the agricultural system as a whole.

Despite consistent development in the tech sector, agriculture still remains the largest source of income for most Indians, employing more than one-half of the subcontinent's workforce. However, despite feeding a significant portion of India's economy and people, farmers themselves have struggled for years, often bearing debts and losses as a result of not only marketed goods but severe weather changes resulting from climate change.

While Modi and his corrupt government maintain that these laws will protect farmers, these farmers, who are often elderly, refuse to stop protesting until their demands are met. "We're worried no one will buy our produce, and that we'll go into debt," Harinder Singh, general secretary of a Punjabi farmers union, told NPR. "We want the government to repeal these laws."

Similar to protests in the U.S. in which peaceful demonstrators are met with police-induced violence, protesters in India have faced harsh and violent retaliation from the government. At the start of the protest on Nov. 25 when marchers first reached New Delhi, police officials not only used tear gas and water cannons against protesters but damaged roads outside the city to prevent them from entering. Photos and videos went viral on social media depicting the brutal tactics police officials were using, including beating protesters. Despite this, farmers and their allies continued to march on and were even filmed feeding some of the officers who beat them.

As a result of global attention and the ongoing protest being the largest and longest one in human history, talks between representatives of a farmers union and government officials are scheduled to take place this week. This has come as a shock to many South Asians, as the Modi government is not known to talk about issues and instead inflict violence on protesters of its policies.

While these protests are taking place mainly in India and are in favor of Indian farmers, it is important to note that they impact conditions and people outside of the country. "The pandemic has shown us that there are two economies," Simran Jeet Singh, a scholar of religion and history currently teaching at Union Seminary, told CNN. "Essential workers across the world are suffering. The farmers in India represent all of them, and their resistance to unjust legislation that privileges the uber-wealthy corporations is a resistance that speaks to so many of us all over the world."

Not only is India one of the world's largest producers and exporters of spices, but the places in which these protests are happening lead the world's export in Basmati rice and milk. Outside of food, these herbs are used for homeopathy and medical practices as well. Odds are that something in your home was made in India and would not have been had these farmers been protesting earlier. These protests impact not only the livelihood of farmers in India but also how you receive the goods you use on a daily basis, whether it be spices or cotton found in your clothing or bed sheets.

"Even if you don't feel a personal connection to India or the farmers out there like many of us do, as a human being who lives on earth you should be concerned about exploitation of the people who feed you everyday," Ramanpreet Kaur, a Sikh Punjabi woman in New York, told CNN.

People from all across the world including the U.S. are partaking in solidarity movements with these farmers because even if you do not consume the goods they produce, this is a humanitarian issue. Human beings should always be valued over corporations. A number of nonprofit organizations like Khalsa Aid are working to provide protesters and organizers with food and other supplies. Even if you cannot protest, you can help these farmers in a number of ways, including donating to organizations that help the families impacted such as Sahaita. Whether you are Indian or not should not matter: Exploitation should not be ignored.

A Black man was shot three times for carrying a Subway sandwich outside of his home in Ohio

After a 23-year-old Black man was killed outside of his home in Ohio by a veteran SWAT deputy, local activists are questioning what really happened that led to the incident. The man killed, identified as Casey Goodson Jr., was neither a suspect nor the focus of any investigation, according to Buzzfeed News.

Officers were said to be looking for a suspect nearby when Goodson drove by, said Peter Tobin, the U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Ohio, on Friday at a press conference. The Franklin County Sheriff's Office confirmed in a statement Sunday that veteran and Franklin County Sheriff's deputy Jason Meade shot Goodson for allegedly waving a gun from his car. However, Goodson's family said that Goodson was shot three times in the back while entering his home carrying a Subway sandwich after returning from a dentist appointment.

Tobin claimed that Goodson was outside of his vehicle when he was approached by deputies, who ordered him to drop the gun. After refusing to drop his weapon, he was shot and taken to Ohio Health Riverside Methodist Hospital where he later died, Tobin said according to USA Today. He added that Goodson was not the suspect the task force was looking for, but the shooting was justified. Tobin's narrative not only failed to mention where Goodson was shot, but left out other details essential to the incident.

The inconsistency in the recollection of events has caused outrage across the country. Activists are demanding the release of body cam footage, police reports, and an investigation into the incident in order to hold officers accountable. While the sheriff's office statement did not clarify whether or not Goodson drew his weapon at officers or was holding one when shot, it was claimed that the weapon was found at the scene, but the statement failed to specify where.

Additionally, a spokesman for the sheriff's office, Marc Gofstein, alleged that officers do not have body cameras, USA Today reported.

"Casey was not a target of that task force and his death is completely unrelated to that investigation," Walton + Brown, the law firm representing the Goodson family, said in a statement Sunday. "While police claim that Casey drove by, waving a gun, and was confronted by the deputy after exiting his vehicle, that narrative leaves out key details that raise cause for extreme concern."

Goodson not only had a clean record but was licensed in Ohio to carry a concealed weapon. Family members shared that Goodson only carried a gun for protection and had not used it for "violence or ignorance."

"At this point, witness testimony and physical evidence raise serious concerns about why Casey was even confronted, let alone why he was shot dead while entering his own home," the law firm said.

Goodson's sister, Sani Payne, told BuzzFeed News that Goodson's grandmother and two children witnessed his death. "They ran in the kitchen to my brother on the floor bleeding," Payne, who wasn't home at the time of the incident, said. Payne added that at the time that her brother was shot, he was carrying a Subway sandwich, his keys, and a mask while opening the door to his home.

"Even hours after his death, the keys that he used to let himself in the house as he was shot and killed hung in the door – a reminder to his family of how close he was to safety," the family's attorneys said in a statement.

Kaylee Harper, Goodson's other sister, created an online fundraiser for his funeral and posted on Facebook to share her thoughts on the incident. "My brother literally walked across the yard, walked into the back fence to get to the side door, had his Subway (sandwich) and (COVID) mask in one hand keys in the other, unlocked and opened the door and stepped in the house before (police shot) him," Harper wrote. "If he was such a threat," she continued, "why did you wait so long to shoot?!"

Activists are not only concerned about the inconsistency the authorities have been prone to in this case, but about the rising number of Black folks killed by the police nationwide. "He had a family ... and was living his life as a person and was shot down by the police," said Aramis Sundiata, executive director of the People's Justice Project.

A White House spokesman let slip a damning admission of callous disregard for Trump's own voters

We're less than a week away from election night and the Trump administration is set on spreading the novel coronavirus to anyone it can get its hands on. Nationwide the U.S. is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases following visits from Donald Trump's campaign. As rallies for Trump continue daily, some states are reporting more than 50% increases in COVID-19 cases.

Despite this, the White House claimed Tuesday that Trump has ended COVID-19 and does not plan to take any action on stopping the spread. Interesting how rising hospitalizations and the country facing its highest number of per average cases a day is equivalent to ending the coronavirus for the Trump administration. The reality is Trump isn't ending the coronavirus pandemic, he's spreading it.

The only break Trump has taken in visiting states to campaign is when he himself was diagnosed with COVID-19. Mike Pence, however, took a different approach: instead of quarantining responsibly as one of the nation's leaders, he continued to campaign despite having been in close contact with individuals who tested positive for COVID-19.

When asked about Pence's visit to a state with increasing cases and full capacity hospitals, a member of the Trump administration told CNN Wednesday that an increase in cases and lack of hospital space will not deter the Trump campaign or Pence from visiting.

CNN's Alisyn Camerota: "Hospitals in Wisconsin are near capacity. Does that give you any pause about going there and holding a big rally?"
Trump 2020 Press Sec. Hogan Gidley: "No, it doesn't … the VP has the best doctors in the world around him. ...The fact is we are seeing some good news about coronavirus."
It's mind-boggling that the Trump administration is calling increases in cases across the country "good news." Additionally, answering CNN's question with only acknowledgment of Pence and his safety as opposed to the American people who will be present at this rally is disturbing. It shows the clear lack of concern the Trump administration has for not only the American people but even its supporters. The lack of masks, social distancing, and the potential of spread at these categorized as "high risk" rallies is extreme. Ignoring the safety of Wisconsin residents and thinking only of Pence, who has access to "the best doctors," is profound.

As of Oct. 27, at least 5,331 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Wisconsin. The state's average has increased by 46% in the last two weeks resulting in an average of 4,221 new cases per day. As of this report, there have been at least 217,447 cases and 1,896 deaths in Wisconsin since the beginning of the pandemic, according to The New York Times database.

CNN's Wednesday interview follows an interview with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Sunday during which he said the White House is "not going to control the pandemic." That statement is probably the only truthful thing the Trump administration has told. The rising number of cases nationwide is proof that the Trump administration has done nothing to and will do nothing to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The U.S. has seen an increase of 39% in its average from two weeks ago in cases per day. More than 8.8 million Americans have been infected with coronavirus since the start of the pandemic in March. With an average of 73,094 new COVID-19 cases per day the U.S. is failing to protect its citizens from this virus. The deadly coronavirus pandemic is far from over and if elected again Trump will only increase this death toll and infection numbers.

Nashville confirms more than 200 new cases of COVID-19 within 24 hours of maskless religious event

Despite increases in COVID-19 cases across the country, some people are committed to large gatherings. Christian pastor Sean Feucht has once again hosted a prayer protest at which he claims thousands were in attendance. The Sunday protest entitled "Let Us Worship" included live music with no social distancing between packed, unmasked crowds. Individuals gathered at the city's Public Square Park to protest safety measures in place in religious institutions in efforts to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Footage of the event has gone viral on social media with no masks in sight as people gather around what looks like a concert stage. "We had THREE venue changes and so much resistance BUT THE CHURCH WILL NOT BE SILENCED!" Feucht said in a tweet Sunday about the event.

According to The Tennessean, California-based Feucht hosted the event in Nashville despite not having a permit to do so. As a result, the Metro Public Health Department is investigating the incident. "We have worked very hard to slow the spread of COVID by taking a measured approach to protect the community," the health department told The Tennessean. "The Health Department is very concerned by the actions that took place at the event and we are investigating and will pursue appropriate penalties against the organizer."

Nashville has limited gatherings without city approval to 25 people, CBS News reported. Approved events can have a maximum of 500 people, but masks are required. Dr. Alex Jahangir, leader of the city's coronavirus task force, expressed concern about the gathering, especially during a time when the state has seen an increase in cases. Jahangir told The Tennessean he was unaware of the event until Monday morning. "Any time there are a lot of people together, without masks, I have concerns, and that holds true in this scenario," Jahangir said. "From the pictures I saw online, good Lord, did you see people wearing masks? I didn't. That is not helpful to our cause."


Police Chief John Drake also noted the irresponsible behavior as the police department was not present at the event. "I am greatly disappointed that the organizer of Sunday's event and those in attendance did not better prioritize their health and the health of others through social distancing and the wearing of face coverings," he said Monday, according to NBC News. "Personal responsibility is a necessity regardless of the purpose for a public event."

Last month Daily Kos reported on other events hosted by Feucht, including an event described as a rock concert in California where thousands attended without COVID-19 precautions. According to Feucht's website, he also hosted an event in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday and plans to host more in South Carolina, Missouri, and Washington, D.C. Feucht's "Let Us Worship" tour is spreading more than freedom of faith across the country—it's spreading COVID-19.

As my colleague Marissa noted, some religious leaders across the country have resorted to ignoring coronavirus regulations. COVID-19 cases nationwide have been linked to these events, which often violate public health rules, including social distancing, mandatory masks, and limits on those in attendance. Just a day after the event's occurrence, The Tennessean reported an increase of more than 250 cases within 24 hours; this has resulted in health officials being "very concerned" about the increase in numbers this event will bring.

A video from the event shared on YouTube depicts a crowd of all ages gathered at the Nashville courthouse Sunday:

#LETUSWORSHIP - Sean Feucht - Nashville, TN youtu.be


The Squad questions why death threats against Republican lives are taken more seriously than theirs

Tweets hoping that Donald Trump dies have been circulating on Twitter since last Friday, after Trump tweeted confirming he tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 2. But instead of ignoring them, as Twitter does for many comments and threats directed at people of color, the social media giant retweeted a post mentioning that tweets referencing death wishes are against its policies. "Tweets that wish or hope for death, serious bodily harm or fatal disease against *anyone* are not allowed and will need to be removed," the post said.

The post quickly garnered criticism, with many accusing Twitter of having a double standard when it comes to threats affecting white individuals and people of color. Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib—known as 'The Squad'—joined the conversation to express their views on the issue as well. All four women of color serving in the House have faced a number of threats due to their identity and ideology. "So... you mean to tell us you could've done this the whole time?" New York Rep. Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in reply to the announcement.



Minnesota Rep. Omar, who has received countless threats as the first hijab-wearing member of Congress, replied to the same announcement with a gif that read, "Excuse me?" Omar has made headlines throughout her fledgling career in Congress for being targeted by Trump, his supporters, and other Republicans for not being American enough. False tweets have consistently been aimed at her, in which she has been depicted not only as burning the American flag but as a perpetrator of the Sept. 11 attacks.

While Twitter claims that anyone who encounters abuse should report it immediately in order for it to be addressed, according to The Hill, Omar has repeatedly taken to Twitter to share death threats, including one in August 2019. The policy is not new and death threats have always fallen under the category of abuse behavior policy on the site. However, disparities are clear when it comes to which posts get removed and flagged, and how often. "We hear the voices who feel that we're enforcing some policies inconsistently. We agree we must do better, and we are working together inside to do so," Twitter's Safety account noted.

Additionally, Trump has repeatedly called for Omar and other members of the squad to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came" in his history of racist and xenophobic tweets. Yet no action has come as a result of his and his supporters' repeated racist attacks, nasty language, and threats. Although it should not matter, while Rep. Omar came to the U.S. as a young refugee, Reps Pressley, Tlaib, and Ocasio-Cortez were all born in the U.S.—meaning the 'disastrous' country Trump would like them to return to is his own.

"Seriously though, this is messed up," Michigan Rep. Tlaib said in her own response. "The death threats towards us should have been taking [sic] more seriously by @TwitterComms."

According to CNN, a quick search on Twitter still results in tweets from users calling for the death of the four congresswomen, with a majority specifically addressing Tlaib and Omar. "I hope you both hang for TREASON!" one tweet said.

Members of the Squad weren't the only ones noticing the difference in how the social media site responded to alleged threats against Trump. "Does this also go for Black and Brown women who have long been and continue to be harassed and threatened with assault and death on this platform or nah? I think no. Because I see those same accounts still up. Still causing harm. Your *anyone* is disingenuous," filmmaker Ava DuVernay said on Twitter.

A spokesperson for Twitter addressed the criticism to CNN and said: "At Twitter, it is our top priority to improve the health of the public conversation, and that includes ensuring the safety of people who use our service. Abuse and harassment have no place on Twitter." Additionally, they said their policies "do not tolerate content that wishes, hopes or expresses a desire for death, serious bodily harm or fatal disease against an individual or group of people. If we identify accounts that violate these rules, we will take enforcement action."

Funny how a quick search on Twitter finds abuse against the congresswomen easily, but the social media site claims that such content is removed when seen. Twitter clearly has a double standard. If that weren't true, content about the Proud Boys and other hate groups would also violate their terms and conditions. Violence isn't tolerated in most spaces—until it comes to Black and brown lives. Twitter needs to do better. We, as America, need to do better.

At least 3 businesses in North Carolina forced to close for ‘deep cleaning’ following Ivanka Trump visit

Days after mocking former Vice President Joe Biden for wearing a mask during the presidential debate, Donald Trump tweeted he tested positive for COVID-19. Trump has continuously downplayed the severity of the virus and who is susceptible. Having denied the importance of social distancing and mask-wearing, it only serves him right to go be infected. But while Trump shared the news of his test results Friday, days before he fundraised and made visits across state lines as part of his presidential campaign, potentially putting thousands at risk.

But Donald wasn't the only Trump family member who made local visits; Ivanka Trump visited three North Carolina businesses less than 24 hours prior to the announcement as well. The news of Trump and the first lady testing positive has resulted in at least three businesses to close for "deep cleaning," including one that reportedly houses immunocompromised or individuals with Down's Syndrome, the Daily Beast reported.

Holy Angels, the local nonprofit that owns the three businesses Ivanka visited, announced on Facebook Friday that the Cherubs Cage, Cotton Candy Factory, and Bliss Gallery would close for the day in order to sanitize the spaces. According to the Charlotte Business Journal, Holy Angels provides a number of services including medical assistance, housing, education, and employment opportunities for disabled individuals.

"As a precaution, we will be performing a deep cleaning of Cherubs Café, Cotton Candy Factory and Bliss Gallery today. While our protocols have always exceeded the CDC Guidelines, we want to ensure the safety of our employees and customers," Holy Angels posted on Facebook, after learning of Trump's diagnosis. The organization added that they voluntarily chose to close to "conduct this deep cleaning" although they were not required to. "When we reopen on Saturday, rest assured that we have done our very best to protect our loyal customers and our dedicated employees," Holy Angels said.

But while Holy Angels seemed comfortable enough to reopen so quickly despite the potential risks associated with Ivanka's visit, others felt differently. "She went to all of those places knowing that two people in her innermost circle, including her own father who she'd been around with no mask, tested positive for covid," comedian Fortune Feimster tweeted of Ivanka's visits. The tweet has since been deleted.

In a statement Saturday, Trump's doctor expressed the president was in day three of his illness raising concern that both Trump and his family knew of the illness and gave it no concern while going about their daily lives. Following backlash of his comments, Trump's doctor conveniently tried to correct his earlier statement adding that Trump just learned of his diagnosis Friday.

White House officials shared Friday that both Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, tested negative for coronavirus but whether the couple took a test prior to their trip to North Carolina is unclear. According to Penn Medicine, depending on when you take the test could impact your chances of getting a negative result despite having the virus. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also stated that a person has the ability to transmit the virus during a time period where a test can not detect the infection.

According to NBC News affiliate WCNC, journalists who covered Ivanka's visit to the Holy Angels establishments received a call from the White House Saturday confirming that a member of the press who covered the event tested positive for COVID-19. This news increases the number of possible exposures as a result of Ivanka's visit to North Carolina. According to WCNC, almost everyone present during Ivanka's visit was wearing a mask, however, it is important to note that Tuesday during the presidential debate Trump's family and supporters including Ivanka took off their masks during the event.

After denying the severity of the coronavirus pandemic and failing to implement a national plan to fight it, members of the Trump administration who test positive for COVID-19 continue to grow.

‘We will kill you’: Video shows what the Proud Boys 'gang' is really like

White supremacist and far-right group the Proud Boys has garnered more attention this week after Donald Trump mentioned the hate group during Tuesday night's presidential debate. Instead of denouncing white supremacy as he was asked to do, Trump gave the group orders: "Proud Boys: Stand back and stand by," he said. "But I'll tell you what, somebody's got to do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem, this is a left-wing [problem]."

Since its inception in 2016, the Proud Boys group has engaged in politically motivated violence. Trump's words were taken as a call to prepare for action by many members, who also happen to be his supporters. Both the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center have noted that the "gang" is violent and hateful, with "anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric." In a video that resurfaced and went viral Thursday, multiple clips of Proud Boys co-founder Gavin McInnes depict the reality of the group. McInnes is depicted not only openly calling "for violence generally" but emphasizing that he encourages members to use violence to express themselves. "We need more violence from the Trump people," he says in one of the video clips.

But of course, as he does with most of his statements, Trump denied knowing who the Proud Boys are Wednesday—a day after mentioning them in the debate. It seems like Republicans wanted him to distance himself from the violence the group perpetuates.

"I don't know who the Proud Boys are. You'll have to give me a definition because I really don't know who they are. I can only say they have to stand down and let law enforcement do their work. ... As people see how bad this radical liberal Democrat movement is and how weak, the law enforcement is going to come back stronger and stronger. But again, I don't know who Proud Boys are, but whoever they are, they have to stand down and let law enforcement do their work."

Yet the foundation of the Proud Boys lies in the fact that they believe they should commit violence and be strategically ignored by law enforcement. "I think it's our job to do it and the cops to turn a blind eye," McInnes can be heard saying in the video. Throughout the gruesome video, acts of violence performed on behalf of members of the group in addition to audio with McInnes clearly instigating violence are portrayed. "Choke a motherfucker, choke a bitch, choke a tranny," McInnes encourages.

The video first made appearances on Twitter in September following an interview Joe Rogan conducted during which he spoke of McInnes as a "mostly fun" guy. Popular video editor Vic Berger IV shared the video with commentary, including a recollection of the Proud Boys allegedly visiting his home to threaten and scare him. Berger IV notes that Rogan, in addition to other popular media hosts, often introduce people like McInnes with a "soft" image that ultimately, whether they know it or not, normalizes their behavior. While McInnes has publicly disassociated himself from the group since 2018 following advice from his legal team, his words and mission for the group still remain.

Since Trump's statement at the debate, white supremacists and other members of the alt-right group have taken the words as a call to action. A current chairman of the group, Enrique Tarrio, who also serves as Florida state director for Latinos for Trump, wrote: "I will stand down sir!!! Standing by sir. So Proud of my guys right now," on the alternative discussion network Parler on Wednesday. Other members also took to Parler to express their reaction, the Daily Beast reported. "Trump basically said to go fuck them up! this makes me so happy," Proud Boys leader Joe Briggs said.

Tarrio was one of the organizers of a recent event in Portland, Oregon. Hundreds of people gathered in Portland last week, many of them wearing military body armor and no masks, for a rally organized by the Proud Boys. While local law enforcement claims the rally ended without serious violence, footage shared on social media shows an assault, including an incident during which a man allegedly kicked another man who was live-streaming the rally. Just like the Proud Boys want, law enforcement in Portland seem to turn a blind eye to their violence while creating violence and fear in peaceful spaces where anti-ICE and Black Lives Matter demonstrators gather.

Interest in the Proud Boys group reportedly increased following the election of Trump and continuous sexist and Islamophobic comments made by McInnes. By the end of 2017, more than 20,000 people joined the group, which had started only a year before, according to Forbes. While the group emphasizes the importance of being "American" and proud of it, McInnes himself isn't American. That's right—the man encouraging violence in the U.S. in the name of Trump is actually Canadian.

According to BBC News, because of its nature and advocacy for violence, the group has been banned from social media sites including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Trump's statement to the group acknowledges that not only does he know what Proud Boys are, but that he supports them and knows he has an influence over them. Official shirts and gear endorsed by the Proud Boys quickly made it to the market following the debate with a reply to Trump's words: "Standing by."

The video speaks for itself: The Proud Boys are a violent and terroristic organization.

Nebraska bar owner finally charged months after allegedly shooting a Black Lives Matter protester

Calls to end racial injustice continue across the country following the brutal murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who was killed by the police. Floyd’s death has sparked a global movement and brought awareness to other violent deaths. While protesting racial injustice in Omaha, Nebraska, a young Black man was killed by a white bar owner on May 30. While police took the bar owner, Jake Gardner, into custody for shooting and killing 22-year-old James Scurlock, Gardner did not face any charges. Prosecutors of the case argued that evidence depicted that Gardner was acting in self-defense, Daily Kos reported.

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Jon Stewart joins veterans in DC to demand attention for a deadly policy killing US troops

For years the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been criticized for neglecting the issues of some veterans, including those affected by toxic fumes inhaled during deployments. Veterans advocates have launched a campaign to raise both awareness and aid for those millions of veterans exposed to toxic burn pit fumes while deployed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. While the department acknowledges little tracking has been done to provide a true analysis of the poisons in the air, it has insisted that individuals must prove a connection between rare diseases and the fumes inhaled, the Military Times reported.

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