You’ll find these names all over town, but who are they? Get to know these Charlotte icons

You see their names on buildings, streets and more all over Charlotte. But do you the person behind the name? Here are 11 Charlotte icons and what they’re known for.

(1) Blumenthal

Where you’ll see it: Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.

Herman and Anita Blumenthal, and I.D. and Madolyn Blumenthal formed the Blumenthal Foundation in 1953. Herman and I.D. were Charlotte businessmen who owned Radiator Specialty Co. and Herman has been called “the father of philanthropy in Charlotte.” In the 1980s, Herman gave a landmark $3.5 million gift for the uptown arts center that now bears the Blumenthal name.

(2) Levine

Where you’ll see it: Levine Children’s Hospital, Levine Center for the Arts, Levine Museum of the New South, Levine Jewish Community Center, and many, many other places.

As an ambitious 21-year-old, Leon Levine wanted to offer customers good value merchandise for less than $2, so he opened the first Family Dollar in 1959 in Charlotte. He started the Leon Levine Foundation in 1980, who focuses on healthcare, education, Jewish values and human services. The foundation, which Levine still leads, has made numerous donations to different organizations throughout Charlotte.

(3) Jerry Richardson

Where you’ll find it: Jerry Richardson Stadium at UNC Charlotte; On the statue outside of Bank of America Stadium.

We all have this man to thank for the Carolina Panthers. As a former NFL player himself, Jerry Richardson’s dream was to bring the NFL to the Queen City. And did just that in 1993 when the NFL awarded a franchise to Charlotte and Richardson became owner. After his football playing days ended in 1961, Richardson helped open the first Hardee’s franchise in Spartanburg, S.C., and also ran other restaurant chains during his business career. He was also the first person to be inducted into both the North Carolina and South Carolina Business and Athletic Halls of Fame.

(4) Bechtler

Where you’ll find it: The Becthler Museum of Modern Art.

The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art would not be around today if it weren’t for the inspiration of Andreas Bechtler’s parents, Hans and Bessie. The Swiss-born Andreas grew up around artists and became an artist himself as his parents’ collection of modern art grew and grew. Andreas moved to Charlotte in 1979 to work in one of his family’s manufacturing businesses. When his parents died, he inherited half of the family’s art collection. He decided to donate it, and some of his own collection, to the city of Charlotte.

(5) Romare Bearden

Where you’ll find it: Romare Bearden Park, 300 S. Church St., Charlotte.

Romare Bearden was born in Charlotte in 1911 and became one of the foremost African-American artists of the 20th century. The 5-acre park in uptown that bears is name is a tribute to Bearden and his art, and incorporates themes from his life and work.

(6) Gantt

Where you’ll find it: Harvey B. Gantt Center, 551 S. Tryon St., Charlotte.

Harvey B. Gantt was the first African-American mayor of Charlotte and the first African American to be admitted to Clemson University. He created his own architecture firm in Charlotte in the mid-1970s and was elected to Charlotte City Council before becoming mayor in 1983. The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture opened in its current Uptown location in 2009.

(7) McColl

Where you’ll find it: McColl Center for Art + Innovation, 721 N. Tryon St.

Hugh McColl grew regional North Carolina National Bank into the behemoth Bank of America, and was the bank’s Chairman and CEO before retiring in 2001. In 1995, the bank bought the former Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in uptown for the purpose of establishing an urban artists community. It became the McColl Center for Art + Innovation, which opened in 1999.

(8) Belk

Where to find it: Belk stores; Belk Bowl college football game; John Belk Freeway; Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St.

If you have ever visited SouthPark Mall, then you have heard of Belk. Founder William Henry Belk opened a small shop in Monroe in 1888, which grew into the biggest department store chain in America. The company stayed in the family for 128 years, and Belk’s son, John Belk, served four terms as Charlotte mayor.

(9) Johnson C. Smith

Where you’ll find it: Johnson C. Smith University, 100 Beatties Ford Road, Charlotte.

Biddle University opened in the late 1800s just outside of uptown Charlotte. In 1921, the late Jane Berry Smith made a very generous donation to the institution in order to build a theological dormitory, science hall, teachers’ cottage and memorial gate in memory of her late husband, Johnson C. Smith. In recognition of the gifts, the board of trustees changed the name of the institution to Johnson C. Smith University. The private liberal arts university now enrolls about 1,600 students.

(11) Billy Graham

Where you’ll find it: Billy Graham Parkway; Billy Graham Library, 4330 Westmont Dr., Charlotte.

Evangelist Billy Graham founded the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in 1950 and has preached to more than 215 million people in more than 185 countries. He has also counseled presidents and other world leaders. His library – fittingly located off Billy Graham Parkway – is styled after the dairy barn he grew up on in the outskirts of Charlotte.

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Baltimore Took Down Confederate Monuments. Now It Has To Decide What To Do With Them

If you walked into Baltimore’s Wyman Park Dell two weeks ago, a statue of Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson on horseback would have towered above you.

There’s an inscription on the base that reads, “They were great generals and Christian soldiers and waged war like gentlemen.” But now, there’s nothing atop the pedestal except for a few potted plants.

On Aug. 16, under the cover of darkness, Baltimore removed four statues of figures with Confederate ties in a five-hour operation ordered by Mayor Catherine Pugh.

The Lee-Jackson statue and three others are now in a city lot, covered and protected. The location is being kept secret. And Baltimore is trying to figure out what to do with them. Pugh says she has appointed a working group of city officials to weigh the options for where the statues should go.

Other cities across the U.S. that have taken down controversial monuments are grappling with the same questions.

“They’re coming down so fast, I don’t know if we have enough museums to house them or enough cemeteries to stick them in,” Pugh says of those works.

Baltimore’s mayor says she took action quickly and quietly because she was worried about violence in the aftermath of Charlottesville, Va., where plans to remove a statue of Lee became a rallying point for white nationalists.

Pugh says that because of safety concerns, only she and the contractor knew the removals were happening until right before the operation started.

The statues had already been a matter of city debate for years. In 2015, a panel of scholars heard comments from more than 200 people about whether the statues should stay or go and what should be done with them if they were removed.

“There were a wide variety of opinions about the statues and about how we should remember Baltimore’s complicated situation during the Civil War and how we should remember the Jim Crow era here,” says University of Baltimore history professor Elizabeth Nix, who was part of that commission. “Really, those statues are products of the Jim Crow era and not the Civil War.”

During the war, Maryland was a slaveholding state that never seceded from the Union. It had three times more soldiers who fought for the Union than for the Confederacy. And after the war, Nix says, many former Confederates moved to Baltimore.

“Those monuments that went up were definitely a message to the thriving black professional class that white supremacy still reigned in the city,” Nix said. In a deeply segregated city, these issues still resonate.

One of those four statues, for example, depicts Roger Brooke Taney, the chief justice of the United States who oversaw the infamous Dred Scott Supreme Court decision. While Taney wasn’t a Confederate figure, the statue is seen as having ties to the Confederate cause. His majority opinion in 1857 stated that African-Americans could not be considered citizens — and by extension the decision treated black people as property, not people.

“There is a difference between honoring people from history and having a memory of people from history,” Nix added. “So I think those statues can exist in the proper context, but where they were was not the proper context.”

She recommended placing the Lee-Jackson monument in context — at the Chancellorsville Civil War battlefield in Virginia. The monument depicts the generals prior to that battle, where Jackson was fatally wounded.

Pugh says Baltimore officials are considering sending the four monuments to museums or Civil War cemeteries.

City Councilman Brandon Scott doesn’t want Confederate statues put on any public land: “Because you’re saying we don’t want it here because it’s disrespectful to the black people here, the women here, etc., but you send it there and those people have to see it each and every day.”

He has a more radical idea. “Personally I think that they should be melted down and repurposed for statues that can show true Baltimoreans and true American, great American history,” Scott says.

The councilman suggests that the materials could be used to depict people such as abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass or Thurgood Marshall, the first black Supreme Court justice.

That’s unlikely to happen, though, because the mayor says she doesn’t want to destroy the statues. “I think that we should be pushing love, respect, how we work together and move our country forward. That does not come in the context of where I’d like to see us go,” Pugh says.

Whatever the city decides to do with the monuments, there’s also the question of what to do with the empty pedestals where they once stood.

Pugh likes the idea of using these public spaces to honor people who have made positive contributions to Baltimore. She also doesn’t want people to forget what stood there before.

“Because I think it is important that people know what did stand there and why. And the reasons for which they came down,” Pugh says. She says proposals are coming in from artists, and reads an email aloud off her phone from an African-American artist who wants to paint the pedestals in a way that would educate people about the site’s history.

“I think that’s an awesome proposal,” Pugh says, “But these kinds of decisions should not be made alone.” She says there is no timeline yet for determining what will happen to the statues or the sites.

Dereck Mangus works at the Baltimore Museum of Art, down the street from the Lee Jackson site. He eats his lunch here every day and says he has never seen so many visitors looking at the empty space.

“It’s just sort of funny in a way, people wanting to see that which is no longer there,” Mangus says.

Charles Hopwood, a retired city employee, is one of those visitors. “Keeping it empty makes a statement on its own,” he says as he looks up at the pedestal. “And have a little sign in front of it with a picture of what was here and what isn’t.

“That’s making a historical statement on its own.”

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit

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The war on standards — shoot the messenger edition

… acting white enough i.e. black Americans, Latino communities, and immigrants in … somehow racist, or somehow cause racism—contentions that I and my … said this: The charges of racism, white supremacy, etc. are, sadly … RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News

An upcoming exhibition grapples with 100 years of Chicago police violence

click to enlarge From the "Gone but Not Forgotten" series, a collaborative quilting project by Rachel Wallis memorializing victims of police violence - COURTESY OF SARAH-JI

  • Courtesy of Sarah-Ji
  • From the “Gone but Not Forgotten” series, a collaborative quilting project by Rachel Wallis memorializing victims of police violence

September 5 will mark 100 years since Chicago police officers and federal agents raided and pillaged the offices of the Industrial Workers of the World on West Madison Street. The CPD seized everything from political pamphlets to personal love letters as possible evidence of the Wobblies’ attempts to sabotage American participation in World War I. In leftist circles, the fishing expedition for “evidence” of treasonous activities was seen as a pretext for dismantling an organization that was successfully unionizing workers around the country and threatening government and business interests. And the police were, as always, serving to protect those interests.

For the members of For the People Artists Collective the IWW raid of 1917 is a point of departure for an examination of a century of police violence in Chicago. FTP is seeking artists’ proposals through September 3 for a monthlong show called “Do Not Resist? 100 Years of Police Violence in Chicago.” The exhibition is slated to open January 12 at the Hairpin Arts Center in Logan Square with satellite exhibits at Uri-Eichen Gallery in Pilsen, and Roman Susan Gallery in Rogers Park. FTP is encouraging self-taught artists and black artists in particular to submit proposals, and the organization has created a time line of incidents of Chicago police violence for potential subjects or sources of inspiration; artwork related to events not included in the time line is also welcome.

The goal of the show is “to extend the conversations around police violence in our city,” says Monica Trinidad, one of the cofounders of the collective. “Chicago has been in the headlines around Jon Burge torture and Homan Square, but we need to make the connections a bit deeper and go beyond these isolated incidents, to engage with Chicago’s history of police violence in order to understand what’s led us to our present circumstances. We really want to address the roots of police violence, how violence is inherent in policing.” The organizers also intend for “Do Not Resist?” to uplift and honor the victims of police violence and their families.

Trinidad hopes that by curating artistic representations of key moments in Chicago’s history of police brutality—whether through painting, photography, video installations, performance art, poetry, or sculpture—audiences will be better able to understand the ways in which police protection for some is built on violence against others, and might eventually imagine “new structures for community safety that aren’t reliant on policing anymore.”

“Do Not Resist?” extends the work of abolitionist artists and organizers who for years have sparked community conversations on alternatives to policing. Last year a group of activists, including members of FTP, camped out for more than a month on a vacant lot across the street from CPD’s Homan Square facility to demonstrate abolitionist ideas in practice.

click to enlarge An illustration of the 1937 "Memorial Day Massacre," when CPD killed ten unarmed demonstrators during a steelworkers' strike - MONICA TRINIDAD

  • Monica Trinidad
  • An illustration of the 1937 “Memorial Day Massacre,” when CPD killed ten unarmed demonstrators during a steelworkers’ strike

FTP was formed in December 2015 by artists who were also active in community-organizing efforts for racial and social justice. Since then they’ve created visuals for four large campaigns, including #ByeAnita, which was established to vote Cook County state’s attorney Anita Alvarez out of office. FTP also collaborates with social-justice-oriented organizations that seek visual material, like banners or leaflets, to augment their efforts. The collective is encouraging artists to consider participating in the upcoming exhibition, even if contributors have never created work on a political topic before or have had a hard time connecting their artistic practice with their activism.

Ruby Pinto, an FTP member who also works for the IWW, can relate to the challenge. While she’s made artwork for various organizations that approach FTP for help, the art she makes on her own—mostly glass and metal ornaments and jewelry—doesn’t feel as politically engaged.

“I’m gonna really try to make space to reflect on whatever incident I will make art about,” Pinto says. “I’m gonna have to sit with it for a while and really feel it before I know how to communicate that through art.” She encourages others, who might doubt their ability to create work informed by such grim subject matter, to do plenty of reading and research and just “try to connect with the loss of life that occurred and try to uplift the people who were left behind by the loss of the person to police violence.”

In addition to chronicling past instances of police violence, “Do Not Resist?” will include panel discussions with people who’ve either survived or organized against police brutality. Sections of the show will also feature artwork dedicated to resistance and action. “We want to give [audiences] something to leave with,” Trinidad says, “what people can do to challenge police violence in Chicago.”

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News and Views in the wake of Charlottesville

Demonstrators Pull Down Confederate Monument In Durham

“No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA!” the protesters chanted as they tore down the statue.

By Matt Ferner


POLITICS 08/14/2017 08:28 pm ET Updated 15 minutes ago

Demonstrators toppled a Confederate monument at a courthouse in Durham, North Carolina, on Monday night.

During a public protest, a woman climbed the statue and tied a rope around it about 7 p.m. local time, according to Derrick Lewis, a reporter at the CBS affiliate in Durham. The crowd then pulled the rope and the statue fell.

“No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA!” the protesters were heard chanting as the statue was pulled down to the ground. Some demonstrators then kicked or punched the fallen statue.

The monument stood in front of the Old Durham County Courthouse for decades, having been dedicated in 1924, according to a website maintained by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that documents Southern history.

The monument, about 15 feet in height, depicts an armed and uniformed soldier. “In memory of the boys who wore the gray,” reads the inscription on its granite base, which also bears the Confederate seal.

“It’s an awesome day. I’ve walked by this statue for the last six years ― I knew someone was going to topple it,” said Josh Reynolds of Durham, who dropped by with his 4-year-old daughter, Ida, after hearing about what had happened.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper responded to the incident Monday night, tweeting that even though the Charlottesville, Virginia, tragedy is “unacceptable,” there’s a “better way to remove these monuments.”

Durham County issued a statement late Monday:

“Our elected officials and senior staff understand the unrest in our nation and community, particularly following the senseless acts that took place in Charlottesville, VA. We share the sentiments of many communities around the nation that admonish hate and acts of violence as we believe civility is necessary in our every action and response. Governmental agencies dedicated to public safety will continue to work collectively to ensure Durham remains a community of excellence where all of our residents can live peacefully, grow and thrive.”

Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews said Tuesday that his office would seek charges against the individuals who’d toppled the statue.

“As the Sheriff, I am not blind to the offensive conduct of some demonstrators nor will I ignore their criminal conduct,” Andrews said in a statement. “With the help of video captured at the scene, my investigators are working to identify those responsible for the removal and vandalism of the statue.”

There are more than 700 Confederate monuments installed in public areas across 31 states, USA Today notes. They can be found in public parks, courthouses and capitols, among other locations. But those that remain have become increasingly controversial and are condemned by many as racist symbols.

A Confederate monument was at the center of weekend protests that turned deadly in Charlottesville. White supremacists descended on the Virginia city over the weekend to protest the city’s removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The protest exploded into violence and death on Saturday when a car plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring at least 19 others. A 20-year-old white supremacist, James Alex Fields Jr., has been charged with second-degree murder in the incident.

Acts of protest sprung up in other cities across the country Monday night. Hundreds gathered for “no hate” rallies in Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., where protesters could be heard chanting, “This is what democracy looks like.”

Outside Trump Tower in New York, thousands of protesters displayed their scorn for the president with slogans like “No Trump, no KKK” and “New York hates you.”

Yet in Boston, a 17-year-old allegedly threw a rock through one of the New England Holocaust Memorial’s glass windows. It’s the second time this summer that the monument has been vandalized.

Kate Sheppard and Willa Frej contributed reporting. The article has been updated to include comments from Durham County and Mike Andrews.

Fighting White Supremacy Means Owning Up to American History

Trump’s failure to swiftly condemn racist violence is appalling. But he’s right that it’s always been part of this country’s story.

By Collier Meyerson

The Nation, Aug. 15

On Saturday, the white-supremacist rally “Unite the Right,” which brought hundreds of white nationalists and neo-Nazis to Charlottesville, Virginia, garnered a sizable counter-protest. In the afternoon, after the rally was dispersed, a car came barreling down the street, ramming into a group of counter-demonstrators. “It was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Robert Armengol, a University of Virginia podcaster, told The New York Times. “After that it was pandemonium. The car hit reverse and sped and everybody who was up the street in my direction started running.” Heather D. Heyer, a 32-year-old woman who worked at a local law firm and had joined the counter-protesters, died. “It was important for her to speak up for people who were not being heard, to speak up when injustices were happening,” her mother said on Sunday night in a televised interview.

Later on Saturday President Trump tweeted his condolences to Heyer’s family and, in the same tweet, sent his regards to those who were injured, calling the situation “sad!” At a press conference earlier in the day, where he took no questions, Trump said, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides.” This remark has been widely derided, by both Democrats and Republicans, for failing to explicitly condemn white supremacists. A White House spokesperson later issued a statement reiterating the president’s message and naming the racist groups explicitly—“The President said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred and of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi, and all extremist groups”—but the president himself didn’t do so until today.

In his comments on Saturday, Trump said something else that has received not nearly as much attention as whether he was calling out hate groups specifically. But it’s important to take note. Trump said, “We must love each other, respect each other, and cherish our history.” Some outlets have pointed it out, identifying the call to “cherish our history” as a dog whistle. But calling it a tacit hat tip to his white-supremacist supporters doesn’t fully explain the import of this phrase. It’s something much more significant.

The justification of white supremacy has often rested on a veneer of civility. Blatant and unabashed white supremacist language has rarely been used to uphold slavery. Instead, the putrid racism that has always lived in America has often been cloaked by depictions intended to make it seem respectable. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Southern slaveholders said the Bible compelled them to hold slaves—that, in fact, civilizing black people was a good Christian way of “liberating” them from savagery. “Christians across the Confederacy were convinced that they were called not only to perpetuate slavery but also to ‘perfect’ it. And they understood the Bible to provide clear moral guidelines on how to properly practice it,” wrote Thom Bassett in The New York Times.

During the civil-rights movement, segregationists used the country’s history as a reason for preserving racism. “This nation was never meant to be a unit of one…but a united of the many,” said George Wallace in his famous 1963 “Segregation Forever” speech. “That is the exact reason our freedom loving forefathers established the states, so as to divide the rights and powers among the states, insuring that no central power could gain master government control.”

Virginia’s Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, spoke Saturday and directly addressed white supremacists, saying, “There is no place for you in America.” He expounded on America as a country of immigrants, saying, “Unless you’re Native American, the first ships that came to Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, and since that time, many people have come to our great country to unite us,” the governor said. “Our diversity, that mosaic tile of immigrants, is what makes us so special, and we will not let anybody come here and destroy it.” McAuliffe misses that slaves came to America in very different conditions than those evoked by the “nation of immigrants” phrase. And that is because America was founded on the idea that the white race is superior to all others. This is white supremacy’s home. There is nowhere for those white nationalists to go. White supremacists are of this country as much as the black people are who were brought here on slave ships. Instead, McAuliffe and all those who condemn white supremacy must acknowledge the country in which white supremacists’ ideology develops and takes root: America. That is the first step to their undoing.

On Monday, Kenneth Frazier, the black CEO at Merck, resigned from his position on the president’s American Manufacturing Council. “America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred,” he wrote in a statement. Trump fired back at Frazier in a tweet, saying that now that Frazier has stepped down from his post “he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!” Later in the day, the president finally explicitly admonished white supremacists. “Racism is evil,” Mr. Trump said. “And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.” But his censure came two days late and only after he publicly mocked a black man who had served his administration, reducing Trump’s comments to nothing more than lip service.

By urging us to nod to our fractious past to validate a stubborn racism woven into nation’s history as something to be justified, Donald Trump recognizes that white supremacy is woven throughout American history in the way that McAuliffe, who condemned it, failed to recognize. But in his world, it is not repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans, but inextricably tied to everything we hold dear as Americans. Trump’s comment that we must “cherish our history” is not a condemnation of hate but a vindication of it. He is using an age-old white-supremacist tradition, appealing to civility and America’s history to rationalize racism. “Loving one another” and “respecting one another” cannot be held in the same sentence as respecting our history. It is not a history of love or respect.

Collier Meyerson is a fellow at the Nation Institute, where she focuses on reporting about race and politics, and an investigative fellow at Reveal.

911 calls, records reveal tumultuous past for accused Charlottesville driver, family

Bob Strickley, Sarah Brookbank, Chris Graves and Chris Mayhew

Cincinnati Enquirer

Aug. 15, 2017

The mother of the man accused of killing one and injuring 19 in Saturday’s domestic terror attack in Charlottesville, Virginia called 911 from her Florence, Kentucky apartment at least twice reporting her son was attacking or threatening her.

According to records, authorities from the Boone County Sheriff’s Office and the Florence Police Department responded nine times from November 2010 through February 2013 to the condominium of Samantha Bloom, 49 and her son, James Alex Fields, Jr.

In 2011, Bloom called police to report her son “is being very threatening toward her. The mother is in a wheelchair and doesn’t feel in control of the situation and is scared,” according to police dispatcher notes.

The calls were among new details that emerged Monday regarding the family’s sometimes tumultuous past.

More: No bail for Charlottesville car attack suspect James Alex Fields Jr.

Authorities in Virginia say Fields, a Boone County native, drove his 2010 Dodge Challenger through a crowd of counter-protesters following a white supremacist rally, smashing into two other vehicles and throwing several victims into the air.

Killed was Heather Heyer, 32, of Charlottesville.

From 911 transcripts:

  • In November 2010, Bloom called police saying he took her phone and “smacked her in the head … put his hands over her mouth,” after she told him to stop playing video games. She locked herself in the bathroom and Fields had earlier told her that he would “beat her up.” She told the 911 operator that she was afraid of her son.
  • In February 2011, she called police at 5:20 a.m. to report Fields had not come home and she was worried about him because he was wearing a T-shirt and shorts. Bloom called police back two hours later to report he was home and acting “lethargic.” He threatened to run away if police came to the condo.
  • In October 2011, she called authorities again saying she felt threatened by Fields. She was “not assaulted tonight but he is being very threatening toward her. The mother is in a wheelchair and doesn’t feel in control of the situation and is scared.”
  • The next month, a woman called authorities back to the condo to report that Fields had threatened Bloom. She told dispatchers that he spat in her face, threatened her and pushed her in the past. That caller said they wanted authorities to take Fields to be assessed, saying Fields was afraid to take him herself in a car.

Records show Bloom and Fields Jr. lived at the Meadows of Farmview address for 10 years. Bloom told media she had recently moved to Maumee, Ohio for her job and that Fields had moved out recently.

Former classmates, teachers say they saw strange behavior

Caitlin Wilson, a graduate of Randall K. Cooper High School who went to school with Fields, said as early as middle school Fields would draw swastikas and talk about loving Hitler.

“When I saw his mugshot, I wasn’t shocked,” she said.

Wilson agrees with the assessment Cooper Principal Michael Wilson gave of Fields on Sunday: That he was quiet and kept to himself.

She said when Fields would speak up, it wasn’t friendly.

Boone County Schools spokeswoman Barbara Brady said school officials were not aware of any situation at Cooper High regarding Fields’ behavior at the time of his enrollment.

She also said that former Cooper teacher Derek Weimer never reached out to the administration about his concerns. Weimer had told The Enquirer there was a complaint filed by a teacher regarding an assignment Fields turned in that was “very much along the party lines of the neo-Nazi movement.”

Brady also called into question the trustworthiness of former Cooper students who had taken to social media to talk about Fields’ behavior.

“How can you trust that information now if they didn’t do anything about it then?” she asked via email.

Brady also said she wondered why students didn’t report Fields’ behavior at the time, adding, “Now they are crawling out of the woodwork to get their 15 seconds of fame to say they knew something back then.”

When asked, Wilson, the former classmate, said she and others didn’t report it.

“This is something I’m guilty of, too, I kind of brushed it off as just creepy,” Wilson said. “We thought it was all talk. No one ever thought he would do something so violent.”

Another student, Keegan McGrath, 18, told the Associated Press he was roommates with Fields on a class trip to Europe in 2015. He told the AP Fields referred to Germany as “the Fatherland,” had no interest in being in France, and refused to interact with the French.

“He had friends, he had people who would chat with him, it wasn’t like he was an outcast,” McGrath told the AP.

Boone County Schools did not provide exact enrollment dates for Fields despite multiple requests, but did say he graduated in 2015.

Bloom’s life filled with tragedy

Past newspaper reporting paints a bleak picture of Bloom’s life even before Saturday’s events and the 911 calls from Florence.

James Alex Fields Sr. died in an Erlanger crash Dec. 5, 1996, after a vehicle in which he was riding struck a utility pole, according to an Associated Press article from two days later.

He was 33 at the time of death. Fields Jr. would be born a little more than five months later.

The AP article said the driver was charged with murder in Field Sr.’s death after he and another passenger left Fields Sr. in the vehicle to return to a bar they had left.

More: Ex-neighbor of James Alex Fields Jr.: ‘Hope they put him where the sun doesn’t shine’

According to the article, responding officer Sgt. Tim Thames, said in an affidavit a motorist stopped him to tell him that he had recently stopped at the wreck to offer assistance to two men standing next to the car.

The article continues, “(the passing motorist) didn’t know Fields was still in the car, Thames said. At their request, the motorist took (the driver of the wrecked car) and (the passenger) back to the bar, where police later found them, Thames said.”

And, on Aug. 21, 1984 when Samantha Bloom was 16, her father killed her mother then himself, according to a Kentucky Post article from the time.

Marvin Bloom, 42, and Judy Bloom, 37, had recently divorced. Judy Bloom moved into an apartment on Davjo Drive in Cold Spring, Kentucky with Samantha four to five months before Marvin killed Judy and himself with a shotgun outside the apartment, according to the article.

A witness at the apartment complex told police they heard the screams at the time of the shooting. They were Samantha Bloom’s, police said.

Judge denies Fields’ bail, Sessions calls the attack ‘domestic terror’

Fields Jr. was denied bail in Virgina Monday, making his court appearance via video from jail.

The next hearing for Fields is set for Aug. 25. He has been charged with second-degree murder and several other counts.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, appearing on “Good Morning America” Monday morning, said the attack, “does meet the definition of domestic terrorism in our statute.”

“You can be sure we will charge and advance the investigation towards the most serious charges that can be brought because this is unequivocally an unacceptable, evil attack,” Sessions told ABC News. “Terrorism investigators from the FBI are working on the case as well as civil rights division FBI agents.”

Also Monday, President Donald Trump condemned white supremacists.

“Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans,” Trump said.

James Pilcher of The Enquirer and USA Today contributed.

Neo-Nazi hate website has links to Ohio

By Laura A. Bischoff – Columbus bureau

Posted: 2:43 p.m. Monday, August 14, 2017

Columbus — The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi hate group with ties to central Ohio, must find a new website host after it posted an article attacking Heather Heyer, the victim in the Charlottesville attack.

“We informed The Daily Stormer that they have 24 hours to move the domain to another provider, as they have violated our terms of service,” GoDaddy said on Twitter on Monday.

The notice came after The Daily Stormer founder Andrew Anglin posted an article that called Heyer “a 32-year-old overweight slob with no children” and the “definition of uselessness.”

“Childless women are black hole vortexes of public money and energy. Had she not died yesterday, hundreds of thousands of dollars would have been spent on propping-up this gross creature who had failed to do her most basic duty — her only real duty, in fact — and reproduce,” Anglin wrote.

Related: Daily Stormer moves to Google after being booted by GoDaddy

Anglin is a 2003 graduate of Worthington Kilbourne High School in central Ohio “who runs the world’s most visited white supremacist website.”

Donations to the website had been routed through Anglin’s father’s office in Worthington. After protesters staged pickets, The Daily Stormer now uses a Worthington post office box to accept contributions.

The website reported on Sunday that it had attracted 263,000 unique visitors in the previous 24 hours. The site claimed to have been hacked by Anonymous on Monday — a claim that was debunked as a hoax.

Meanwhile, James Alex Fields, Jr., 20, of Maumee, the man accused of ramming a Dodge Charger into a crowd and killing Heyer, was denied bond.

Related: Man accused of driving into counter-protesters is charged with second-degree murder

Bowing to pressure for not unequivocally condemning white supremacists and hate groups, President Donald Trump made brief remarks Monday, two days after the violence in Charlottesville.

Controversial Trump Aide Katharine Gorka Helped End Funding For Group That Fights White Supremacy

Life After Hate works to de-radicalize neo-Nazis. The Trump administration decided it wasn’t a priority.

By Jessica Schulberg, Foreign Affairs Reporter, HuffPost

POLITICS 08/15/2017 08:34 am

WASHINGTON ― Weeks before a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, led to three deaths and 19 injuries, the Trump administration revoked a grant to Life After Hate, a group that works to de-radicalize neo-Nazis.

The Department of Homeland Security had awarded the group $400,000 as part of its Countering Violent Extremism program in January, just days before former President Barack Obama left office. It was the only group selected for a grant that focused exclusively on fighting white supremacy. But the grant money was not immediately disbursed.

Trump aides, including Katharine Gorka, a controversial national security analyst known for her anti-Muslim rhetoric, were already working toward eliminating Life After Hate’s grant and to direct all funding toward fighting what the president has described as “radical Islamic terrorism.”

In December, Gorka, then a member of Trump’s transition team, met with George Selim, the DHS official who headed the Countering Violent Extremism program until he resigned last month, and his then-deputy, David Gersten.

Gorka told Selim and Gersten she didn’t agree with the Obama administration’s approach to countering violent extremism ― particularly the way the administration had described the threat of extremism, according to Nate Snyder, an Obama administration DHS counterterrorism official who was an adviser on Countering Violent Extremism efforts and was given a readout of the meeting. The Trump administration has repeatedly criticized the previous administration for avoiding terms like “radical Islam” out of concern that it could alienate Muslims in the U.S. and abroad.

“That was sort of foreshadowing what was going to come,” Snyder said of the December meeting.

Gorka and Selim did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“Katharine Gorka has been integral in helping the Department broaden efforts to focus on all forms of extremism. Her work includes efforts to address everything from global jihadists threats to domestic terrorists,” Anna Franko, a DHS spokeswoman, wrote in an email.

Gorka and her husband, Sebastian Gorka, also a Trump White House official, have collaborated on numerous writings about the threat of radical Islam. Though they have a large following within far-right circles ― they both have bylines at Breitbart News ― mainstream national security experts are either unfamiliar with or critical of their work.

The day after Trump won the election, Sebastian Gorka said, “I predict with absolute certitude, the jettisoning of concepts such as CVE.”

Once Trump entered the White House in January, the office of then-DHS Secretary John Kelly ordered a full review of the Countering Violent Extremism program. Kelly’s office wanted to re-vet the groups receiving a portion of the $10 million Congress had appropriated for the program — even though DHS had already publicly announced the grant recipients.

While that review was underway, DHS and the FBI warned in an internal intelligence bulletin of the threat posed by white supremacy. White supremacists “were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016 … more than any other domestic extremist movement,” the two agencies wrote in a May 10 document obtained by Foreign Policy. Members of the white supremacist movement “likely will continue to pose a threat of lethal violence over the next year,” they concluded.

Staffers in the Countering Violent Extremism program have long pushed for it to address threats from domestic terrorists, including white supremacists.

But when DHS published a new list of award recipients on June 23, there was no mention of Life After Hate.

DHS also revoked funding from the Muslim Public Affairs Council, an American Muslim advocacy organization that was told in January it would receive a $393,800 grant to create community resource centers throughout the country.

After publishing its new list of grantees, DHS told Muslim Public Affairs Council that it was now prioritizing organizations that worked with law enforcement. The money that was initially set aside for community-based groups like Muslim Public Affairs Council and Life After Hate will now go to several law enforcement agencies.

“Is this really just a front for targeting the Muslim community?” asked Omar Noureldin, Muslim Public Affairs Council’s vice president. Noureldin is now looking into whether the Trump administration’s use of the Countering Violent Extremism program’s funds violates congressional appropriation intent.

Less than two months after DHS announced it was pulling funding from Life After Hate, James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old Ohioan, traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia, to join white supremacists armed with long guns, waving Nazi and Confederate flags and protesting the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a local park.

Fields is now accused of ramming a Dodge Challenger into a crowd of pedestrians on Saturday, and has since been charged with second-degree murder for the death of 32-year-old counter-protester Heather Heyer. Dozens of others were injured, and two Virginia state troopers died in a helicopter crash while monitoring the violent demonstration.

Life After Hate was founded by former white supremacists who have renounced the racist ideology and who now help others transition out of hate groups and re-assimilate into society. Christian Piccolini, a former neo-Nazi and a co-founder of the group, told NPR on Sunday he was not surprised by the devastation in Charlottesville.

The white supremacy movement “has been growing, but it’s also been shape-shifting,” Piccolini said. “It’s gone from what we would have considered very open neo-Nazis and skinheads and KKK marching, to now people that look like our neighbors, our doctors, our teachers, our mechanics.”

“And it’s certainly starting to embolden them, because a lot of the rhetoric that’s coming out of the White House today is so similar to what we preached … but in a slightly more palatable way,” he added.

As the violence in Charlottesville unfolded on Saturday, Trump condemned “this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides,” adding that the problem existed during the Obama administration. The president ignored several calls to specifically denounce white supremacists and neo-Nazis who said they were working to fulfill Trump’s campaign promises.

It wasn’t until Monday, two days after the violent rally, that Trump specifically denounced “the [Ku Klux Klan], neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups.”

Trump’s hesitancy to disavow white supremacists echoes his practice of repeatedly dodging questions about David Duke, a former KKK grand wizard who supported Trump, during the 2016 presidential campaign. Facing public pressure, Trump eventually distanced himself from the infamous white supremacist.

Now in the White House, Trump has surrounded himself with an array of people tied to white supremacist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant groups.

Katharine Gorka, now an adviser in the Department of Homeland Security’s policy office, has pushed conspiracy theories about the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrating the government and media. Sebastian Gorka is a deputy assistant to the president and has described Islam as an inherently violent religion. He argued days before the Charlottesville attack that white supremacy is not “the problem” facing the country.

Stephen Miller, Trump’s speechwriter and policy adviser, has blamed the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on poor immigration enforcement, and accused black students of racial “paranoia.” National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton wrote under a pseudonym that Islam is “incompatible with the modern West,” and that diversity is “a source of weakness, tension, and disunion.”

And Trump himself campaigned for president on the platform of banning Muslims from traveling to the U.S. and building a wall to keep Mexicans out ― proposals that won him enthusiastic support from white supremacists.

DHS did not directly respond to a questions about why it cut funding for de-radicalizing neo-Nazis, and whether it views white supremacy as an extremist threat.

Sixteen of the 26 groups that received DHS funding “have applicability to all forms of violent extremism and as such will address the threat of domestic terrorism,” Franko, the DHS spokeswoman, wrote.

This story has been updated with an additional statement from DHS spokeswoman Anna Franko.

Obama’s Beautiful Charlottesville Tweet Is Most Liked Ever

The former president responded to the tragedy by quoting Nelson Mandela.

By Elyse Wanshel


POLITICS 08/15/2017 02:16 pm

It’s hard not to like this.

Former President Barack Obama’s response on Twitter to the violence that unfolded in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend is now the most liked tweet ever.

On Saturday night, Obama quoted former South African President Nelson Mandela in a series of tweets:

The first of the bunch, in which Obama is smiling at children of different ethnicities, topped 2.8 million likes on Tuesday night. A tweet by Ariana Grande following the deadly bombing in May at the end of her concert in Manchester, England, previously held the top spot with 2.7 million likes.

Obama tweeted the quote from Mandela’s autobiography Long Walk to Freedom a few hours after James Alex Fields Jr., 20, plowed his car into marchers protesting the “Unite the Right” rally attended by various white supremacist groups on Saturday, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. Also killed that day were two on-duty Virginia state troopers whose helicopter crashed on the outskirts of Charlottesville.

President Donald Trump responded to the clashes in Charlottesville in a very different way on Saturday, saying:

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides ― on many sides,” Trump said on national television. “It’s been going on for a long time in our country, not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It’s been going on for a long, long time.”

Trump also tweeted about the violence numerous times on Saturday. None of his tweets, however, specifically condemned any white supremacy extremist groups.

Trump’s most popular tweet addressing the events in Charlottesville on Saturday had not gotten more than 190,000 likes as of Tuesday morning. The others didn’t exceed 125,000 likes.

Facing bipartisan criticism over his initial responses, Trump on Monday was more explicit in comments he made at the White House. “Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, Neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to what we hold dear as Americans,” he said.

CORRECTION: This article initially misstated how many likes Trump’s Charlottesville tweets from Saturday received.

UPDATE: This article was updated on Tuesday night to show that Obama’s tweet is the most liked ever.

Hate groups in Ohio: How many are there, and where are they?

By Joe Gurnig – Staff Writer

Posted: 10:59 a.m. Tuesday, August 15, 2017

After the events of Charlottesville, Va., last weekend and the condemnation of hate groups, many people are asking, “What constitutes a hate group?” or “Are there any near me?”

In Charlottesville, a rally called ‘Unite the Right’ drew large groups either for the rally or to protest it.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is a domestic non-profit organization that tracks hate groups and extremists, exposes acts committed, teaches others to help reduce hate towards others and works to bring justice to those that would commit hateful acts.

The SPLC has a map of all the hate groups the United States. According to its database, there are 917 hate groups in the United States and 35 in Ohio.

What is a hate group?

Hate groups as defined by the SPLC are:

Groups that have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics

Is there a hate group in my city?

Possibly. To help answer that question, the SPLC compiled a list, and this news organization placed all of the known Ohio hate groups on the map below.

Each group has been categorized by its overall ideology and has been color-coded.

Note that all markers do not represent specific locations. Those that are statewide have been placed towards the center of the state for ease of understanding.

Seven black separatist (blue) groups, most notably The Nation of Islam, create the largest category of known hate groups (SPLC definition).

The Klu Klux Klan (black) has six groups listed, four of them being statewide groups (SPLC definition).

Five anti-Muslim (gold) groups with an ACT for America group operate in each of the three biggest cities of Ohio (SPLC definition).

There are four known anti-LGBTQIA+ (purple) groups, which say they are Christians stopping the “homosexual agenda” and often resort to crude ad hominem hate speech (SPLC definition).

Four neo-Nazi (red) groups, including the headquarters of the Daily Stormer and a motorcycle gang, are in Ohio (SPLC definition).

Three racist skinhead (green) groups are known for being violent factions of white supremacists with their shaved heads (SPLC definition).

Three white nationalist (orange) groups are in Ohio. White nationalist is mainly an umbrella term, and the groups are those that suggest some type of inferiority of nonwhites (SPLC definition).

Two Christian Identity (yellow) groups are anti-Semitic groups that claim to be Christian despite having little to do with the religion (SPLC definition).

A single radicalized Catholic (grey) group, known as Radical Traditional Catholicism, is a group of anti-Semites that subscribe to an ideology rejected by Catholics (SPLC defintion).

Most of these groups are in the three biggest cities, however there are two known black separatist groups in the Dayton area.

Confederate marker in Warren County won’t be removed, official says

By Ed Richter – Staff Writer Logo

Posted: 12:34 p.m. Wednesday, August 16, 2017

FRANKLIN TWP. — If you blink while driving south on Dixie Highway just outside of Franklin, you might miss one of a handful of markers honoring the Confederacy.

While these monuments and markers have sparked controversy and issues around the country, a 90-year-old marker in remembrance of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and the Dixie Highway won’t be removed, according to Franklin Twp. officials.

The marker is on a rock at the corner of Hamilton Middletown Road and Dixie Highway across from township-owned Woodhill Cemetery.

Franklin Twp. Trustee President Beth Callahan said today that the marker won’t be coming down and said she only became aware of it just in the past few days.

She said it’s history, but the story has to be told.

The memorial was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1927.

There’s No Denying How Trump Supporters Will Be Remembered in our History Books

By Allen Clifton

May 14, 2017

Before the election, I wrote an article that touched on some of the same points I’m going to talk about here. However, I felt as if it needed a bit of a “refresh,” of sorts, based on the absolute chaos we’ve seen since Donald Trump was sworn into office on January 20, 2017.

The words I used at the beginning of that article ring as true now as they did when I first wrote them:

There’s not even a shred of sane or rational logic anyone can use to defend Donald Trump.

Say what you want about him, and there’s plenty to say, but Trump knew what he was talking about when, over a year ago, he said his supporters were mindless sheep who’ll support him no matter what.

Sure, his approval numbers have hit historic lows, and most of the country thinks he’s doing a piss-poor job as “Commander-in-Chief,” but the overwhelming majority of Republicans still fully support him.

As I’ve said before, I don’t think most of his supporters care if he did collude with Russia during the election. He could admit he worked with Putin to undermine the integrity of our democracy and the vast majority of Republicans would still probably support him.

His supporters can’t even defend his campaign promises anymore considering we now know they were total bullshit. Mexico’s not paying for his border wall, he’s not going to prosecute Hillary Clinton, and the health care plan he supports isn’t anything that he said it would be prior to getting “elected.”

And just like I wrote several months ago, at this point, if you’re still a supporter of Donald Trump, here’s what you really are: You’re someone who’s cemented your place in history as an individual who we’re all going to look back upon with disgust and shame because you were ignorant enough to support the most corrupt, dishonest, vile, and incompetent “president” in United States history.

This is a man who’s:

Mocked a man with disabilities.

Attacked the parents of a fallen American hero.

Belittled POWs and the war record of Sen. John McCain.

Lied about how much money he raised for veterans.

Called a former Miss Universe “disgusting” and fat, telling his Twitter followers to find her non-existent sex tape.

Accused an American-born federal judge of being unfit to do his job because of his Mexican heritage.

Likely avoided paying taxes for nearly two decades.

Called most Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, even though that’s not remotely factual.

Lied about seeing “thousands and thousands” of Muslims celebrating in New Jersey on 9/11.

Lied about getting a letter from the NFL complaining about the debate schedule.

Tried to exploit the death of an African American woman in Chicago to say that’s why black voters will support him.

Found the “bright side” to tragedies because his poll numbers tend to go up.

Settled with the Department of Justice after his company was found guilty of racially discriminating against minorities.

Has cheated on at least one wife.

Was discovered on video admitting that he not only tried to cheat on his current wife, but he attempted to do so with another married woman.

Had his first wife publicly say that he did nothing when it came to raising their children until they were old enough to talk business.

Tweeted that women should have expected to be sexually assaulted when they mixed males and females together in the military.

Said he wants to target the families of terrorists.

Stated that he wants to ban an entire religion.

Praised a Russian president who obviously hates the U.S. and Americans.

Encouraged the Russian government to commit espionage against Americans.

Insinuated that another Republican’s wife was ugly.

Tried to implicate another Republican’s father in JFK’s assassination.

Sought out the help of former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes after he was fired following multiple allegations that he had sexually harassed women for years.

Made Breitbart’s Steve Bannon one of his top campaign people.

Had a former campaign manager abruptly resign after a report came out linking him to pro-Russian groups that were directly trying to undermine U.S. policy in eastern Europe.

Called Carly Fiorina ugly.

Has said climate change was a hoax created by the Chinese — then denied saying it.

Was a leading conspiracy theorist when it came to the racist-driven birther conspiracies against President Obama.

Dismissed nearly eight years of accusing the president of not being an American with a less than 30 second statement where he didn’t apologize for any of it.

Tried to blame Hillary Clinton for his racism.

Re-tweeted anti-African American propaganda created by a white supremacy group.

Played dumb about knowing who former Grand Wizard of the KKK David Duke was.

Skipped a presidential debate because he was scared of a moderator.

Has, on several occasions, suggested he finds his daughter attractive.

Called a husband doing things like changing diapers and helping with the children, a man “trying to be the wife.”

Has said he wants more countries to have nuclear weapons.

Said he can’t release his tax returns because they’re currently being audited — even though the IRS said that’s a lie.

Feels he has the right to sexually assault women.

Lied, in the face of indisputable photographic evidence, about the size of his inauguration crowd.

Continues to push the unfounded conspiracy that “millions of people voted illegally” because his ego can’t handle the fact Clinton received 3 million more votes than he did.

Disgraced the CIA’s monument to fallen agents by talking about his electoral college victory.

After frequently criticizing President Obama for playing golf, has spent nearly half his weekends since being sworn into office playing golf at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

On pace to cost taxpayers more on “extracurricular” expenses during his first 365 days in office than we spent on Obama during his 2,921 days as president.

Settled a $25 million lawsuit accusing him of purposely creating a fake university to scam people out of money.

Has already broken most of his biggest campaign promises.

Fired the head of the FBI for apparently not “swearing loyalty” and doing what he wanted in regards to the on-going investigations looking into his campaign’s ties to Russians.

Then threatened the former head of the FBI just after firing him in an attempt to intimidate him from speaking out publicly.

Pushed an unfounded conspiracy against Barack Obama, accusing him of ordering unconstitutional wiretaps placed in Trump Tower — without providing a shred of evidence to back it up.

Seems to have been working with the head of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, to undermine congressional investigations into his possible Russian connections.

Had said, despite promising to do so, he doesn’t plan to ever release his tax returns.

Said he didn’t know being “president” would be so hard.

Apparently needed the president of China to explain to him why dealing with North Korea is complicated.

Signed two travel bans against Muslims that were overturned as unconstitutional.

Allowed state-run Russian media to bring electronic and photographic equipment into the Oval Office — while denying entry to any U.S. press — at the request of Vladimir Putin.

Said his surrogates shouldn’t be held accountable for the dishonest or contradictory things they say.

Admitted Australia, which has universal health care, has better health care than we do, then doubled-down on those comments, yet still supports a bill that’s almost the complete opposite of their system.

Months after the election, continues to bring it up the electoral college, even hanging a large printout of it on a wall in the White House.

Didn’t mention the Jewish people once during his speech on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Blamed Democrats for the initial failure of the House of Representatives being able to pass Trumpcare — even though Republicans have a 44-seat majority.

Is now bragging about the very same jobs reports he called “fake” and “phony” prior to taking office.

Continues to call the talk about the investigations into his connections to Russia “FAKE NEWS!” even though the FBI has publicly admitted these investigations are, in fact, real.

Has the lowest approval rating for a president this early into their presidency — in history.

Admitted he lied when he publicly threatened that he might have recorded his conversations with the former head of the FBI he had just fired — in a clear attempt to intimidate James Comey into not speaking out about what the two men had discussed.

Apparently doesn’t understand what “collusion” or “obstruction” actually mean.

Called the very same health care plan he publicly celebrated and said he supports “mean.”

Launched a disgusting attack against “low I.Q” MSNBC’s Mika Brzeninski, accusing her of “bleeding badly from a face-lift” when he saw her back in January, while calling her co-host Joe Scarborough, and former U.S. congressman, “psycho.”

One man has done all of that, and much more.

I’m no mental health expert and I’m not involved in the medical field at all. But based on what I’ve read and can plainly see about Donald Trump, he exhibits nearly every characteristic linked to a sociopath. He:

Doesn’t believe the rules or laws apply to him.

Seems to have no concern about the consequences of his actions.

Is impulsive.

Shows frequent signs of being reckless.

Is unpredictable.

Lacks morals.

Is a narcissist.

Has proven to be hot-tempered and a bit of a loose cannon.

Lacks empathy or sympathy for others.

Is manipulative to get what he wants.

Almost never apologizes.

Often invents outrageous lies about his success or experiences.

Seems to believe that what he says is the truth, even if it isn’t.

He is essentially the textbook definition of a sociopath. However, despite the fact that he exhibits all of these signs without shame, millions of people support him.

Again, I’m not a mental health professional, but I don’t think you need to be one to see that there’s clearly something not right with Trump. This type of unhinged behavior is not normal.

So, at this point, after all that Donald Trump has said and done and factoring in the campaign promises he’s already broken, if you still support him, you’ve done nothing more than carved out your spot as someone we will all look back upon with disgust and humiliation that there were so many people like you who eagerly supported one of the most shameful embarrassments in United States history.

Feel free to hit me up on Twitter or Facebook and let me know what you think.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.

As Donald Trump tries to decide whether to fire white supremacist Steve Bannon, it’ll cost him either way

By Bill Palmer

Sun Aug 13, 2017

Donald Trump has been quietly marching white supremacist Steve Bannon toward the White House door for the past three weeks. You’d have to ask Trump what his reasoning has been. But it’s clear that he’s been looking to oust Bannon since well before, and independent from, this weekend’s deadly terrorist attack by white supremacists in Charlottesville which has led to intense public backlash against Bannon. Now Trump faces a no-win situation.

Let’s say Trump announces Monday morning that he’s parting ways with Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka, Stephen Miller, and the other white supremacists in his administration. What does he stand to gain? Everyone knows he’s had these monsters in top positions on his White House staff for eight months, and that he knew exactly what they were. During the latter stages of the election, he had Bannon officially in charge of his campaign. Trump can’t prove to the American mainstream that he’s not a racist by firing these racists. If anything, firing them in the wake of Charlottesville would merely be an admission that they are racists, and that he’s been allowing racists to run his White House this entire time.

In that sense, this is the worst possible strategic time for Trump to fire Bannon. In fact Trump is now backed into a corner partly because he’s been playing his usual games. If he had just fired Bannon when he first wanted to back in July, the racists in his base would have been upset for sure, but they might not have taken it personally. However if Trump fires Bannon now, in the wake of this racist terrorist attack, Trump’s racist base will interpret Bannon’s firing as a direct slap in the face. They’ll see it as a sign that he’s selling them out in a selfish effort to survive the Charlottesville crisis in his own right.

But Trump has a history of not wanting to fire people directly, instead choosing to berate them and steadily weaken their position, in the hope they’ll end up simply quitting (see also: Sean Spicer, Jeff Sessions, Reince Priebus, etc). Over the past three weeks Trump has signed off, one by one, on the firings of all of Steve Bannon’s closest allies on the National Security Council. And over the past week, Trump has leaked one negative story about Bannon after another – including a recent one in which Trump leaked the tidbit that he thought Bannon was a leaker.

None of that has worked of course, because Steve Bannon has no shame, and he’ll cling the last shards of his White House job until Donald Trump actually fires him. In the wake of Charlottesville, Trump will gain nothing by firing Bannon, and he’ll risk losing a portion of his base at a time when he’s so unpopular he can’t afford to lose anyone. And yet with the public pressure mounting by the hour, including the phrase “Fire Bannon” now trending on Twitter, Trump may have to take the self defeating step of firing Bannon anyway.

Bill Palmer is the founder and editor in chief of the political news outlet Palmer Report

Robert E. Lee monument in Greater Cincinnati removed. Will it be relocated?

Jason Williams, | Updated 11:39 a.m. ET Aug. 17, 2017

FRANKLIN, Ohio – On Wednesday morning, no one here seemed to know anything about the Robert E. Lee monument sitting amid shrubbery along a rural Warren County route.

By early Thursday, the monument was removed and plans were in the works to relocate it.

Now where to? Mount Rumpke seems an appropriate permanent new home for this bronze plaque honoring a slave-owning Confederate general who never stepped foot on this Union ground.

The decision on where the monument ends up next is apparently up to Franklin Township officials – and they aren’t talking.

“I think we should leave it up,” said Carl Bray, vice mayor of the city of Franklin.

More: Robert E. Lee’s great-great grandson ‘fine’ with removing Confederate statues

More: President Trump defends Confederate monuments: ‘You can’t change history’

More: Indianapolis’ monument barely noticed

But Franklin’s acting city manager sent a press release Wednesday night saying the city already has notified the township that the plaque and stone its affixed to are coming down. Jonathan Westendorf said the city would relocate it to wherever the township wishes.

His release capped a bizarre day of back and forth between city and township officials about who owns the monument.

The day started with Politics Extra driving up I-75 to see the monument. It was a timely trip considering nationwide debate has intensified about whether public monuments in honor of Robert E. Lee should be taken down after last weekend’s violent white supremacist protest in Virginia.

We started asking questions of residents, business owners, government officials. PX called or talked to a dozen folks. We caught up with Franklin city resident Earl Dalton at a convenient store hundreds of feet away from the monument.

“I’ve lived here all of my life,” said Dalton, 79. “I must’ve driven by it 20,000 times and didn’t know it was there.”

Dalton might as well have been speaking for everyone. Stop by Larry and Carol Etter’s house, is adjacent to the monument, located at the intersection of Dixie Highway and Hamilton-Middletown Road. The Etters have lived there for 50 years. They’ve mowed around the monument, but said they have no idea why it’s even there.

They only took notice of it after a drunk driver plowed into it years ago.

“On Memorial Day every year, some veterans come and play taps next to it,” said Carol Etter, 73. “But you really don’t even know it’s there.”

It’s one of four Confederate monuments in Ohio, according to the Cincinnati Museum Center, which tracks Civil War monuments in the state. It’s the only one in honor of Lee. The monument was dedicated in 1928 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

In short, someone in the area who admired Lee wanted to honor him and paid for the monument, an official with the Franklin Area Historical Society said.

The monument’s bronze is faded. There’s a small American flag standing next to it. A short, decorative white fence is in front of the monument. You couldn’t tell what the plaque says just driving by.

Then we started asking lots of questions. It sent government officials scrambling for answers. Here’s a look at their responses throughout Wednesday:

Jonathan Westendorf said the city would remove the monument and return it to Franklin Township after learning it was sitting in the city-owned right-of-way along Dixie Highway.

Full statement:

Recently, a monument ‘Erected and dedicated by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and Friends’ marking the Dixie Highway has become the subject of a great deal of attention for our small community. The plaque affixed to the rock foundation indicates that the monument was erected in 1927.

The City of Franklin recognizes this monument is the property of Franklin Township.

Shortly after Franklin Township officials announced earlier today that the monument would remain; the city was notified that a review of the site indicates that the monument is located within the city’s Right of Way for Dixie Highway. Dixie Highway was a court appointment annexation that occurred in the mid 1990’s, placing the roadway exclusively within the municipality of Franklin. This land, and the monument itself, was in Franklin Township’s control for six decades.

Until today, city of Franklin officials were not aware this monument was located within the Right of Way of the roadway. Right of Ways must remain clear to avoid the creation of a public safety hazard.

The City of Franklin has notified our Township neighbors that our crews will remove the monument and return their property to their selected location forthwith.

The township trustees and administrator did not return messages asking what’s next.

LATE AFTERNOON: Franklin Township officials now are saying the monument is the city of Franklin’s responsibility, and the vice mayor says nothing needs to be done .

“It’s never been a problem in the past,” Franklin Vice Mayor Carl Bray said. “I’m hoping it’s not going to be a problem in the future. I’m not entertaining doing anything it.”

Franklin Township Administrator Traci Stivers said the monument along Dixie Highway is located in city-owned right-of-way. She issued another statement late Wednesday afternoon:

After researching the annexations that have taken place over the years and inspecting boundary lines in relation to the historic monument located at the corner of Dixie Highway and Hamilton Middletown Road, the Warren County Engineer has reported it is his belief that this particular monument is in the City of Franklin’s jurisdiction.

We stand by our earlier statement on the importance of remembering the history of our beloved country, and wish the City of Franklin’s elected officials the very best while deciding how they will proceed.

Please direct any further questions to the City of Franklin.

EARLY AFTERNOON: A little-known monument in honor or Robert E. Lee located in rural Southwest Ohio has prompted local government officials to issue a statement.

Franklin Township Administrator Traci Stivers said early Wednesday afternoon in a statement posted on the township’s Facebook page:

“It has recently come to our attention that a historical monument located in Franklin Township is the cause of some controversy,” she said. “It is my understanding that this particular monument was erected in the 1920s and has been a part of our community, without interruption, since that time.”

Stivers continued: “Until recently, the historical monument has never been cause for concern or debate. At this time, Franklin Township Officials have not discussed removing this piece of history from our community. Whether events of the past may have been celebratory or unpleasant, it is important that we remember the culmination of all such events is what has transpired and shaped this great nation, including Franklin Township.”

Follow Enquirer political columnist Jason Williams on Twitter @jwilliamscincy and send email to

Trump Attorney John Dowd Forwards Bizarre Email Rant Defending Robert E. Lee

“There is literally no difference between” George Washington and Lee, email claims, which also attacks the Black Lives Matter movement.

By Ed Mazza


08/16/2017 10:42 pm Updated

An attorney for President Donald Trump forwarded an email to conservative media and government officials that said Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee “is no different than” President George Washington, and which claims the Black Lives Matter movement is “infiltrated by terrorist groups.”

The New York Times reports that the email forwarded by Trump attorney John Dowd came from conspiracy theorist Jerome Almon, and contains the subject line, “The Information that Validates President Trump on Charlottesville.”

Trump on Tuesday blamed the deadly white supremacist violence in the Virginia city on both white nationalist groups and counter-protesters, insisting that there are “very fine people on both sides,” despite the former being made up of neo-Nazis and KKK members.

An Ohio man named James Alex Fields Jr. on Saturday allegedly drove his car into the group of counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer and leaving many injured.

Several of the organizers of the white supremacist rally had come to Charlottesville to protest the planned removal of a statue of Lee from a local park.

The email cited by the Times compares the Confederate general with Washington, pointing out that both were slave owners who rebelled against government.

It goes on to say that both men “saved America,” among other wild claims, and concludes that “you cannot be against General Lee and be for General Washington, there is literally no difference between the two men.”

The email also claims without any basis that Black Lives Matter, a national civil rights movement that protests police violence against African-Americans, “has been totally infiltrated by terrorist groups.”

Reached by the Times, Dowd did not have much to say about the email. “You’re sticking your nose in my personal email?” he asked.

“People send me things,” he went on. “I forward them.”

Steve Bannon Gives Bizarre Interview Amid Departure Rumors

He called white supremacists “clowns,” despite having once run a website that caters to them.

By Alana Horowitz Satlin


POLITICS 08/17/2017 06:22 am

White House chief strategist Steve Bannon gave a strange interview with a progressive publication amid rumors that he’s on the outs with President Donald Trump.

American Prospect co-editor Robert Kuttner said that Bannon called him out of the blue following a column the journalist had written about Trump and North Korea.

Kuttner said that Bannon unexpectedly praised the column and outlined his plan for dealing with North Korea’s nuclear threats as well as China’s economic prowess. Bannon contradicted Trump, saying that “there’s no military solution” to North Korea, despite Trump’s repeated threats to attack the isolated nation.

When the subject of the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, came up, Bannon dismissed the group as “a collection of clowns” and claimed that the “media plays it up too much.”

Steve Bannon said it served his agenda if Democrats “talk about racism every day.”

“Ethno-nationalism ― it’s losers. It’s a fringe element,” Bannon said, despite having been cited as the driving force between Trump’s courting of the so-called alt-right ― a collection of far-right groups, including neo-Nazis and other white supremacists. As head of Breitbart News, Bannon, who has compared Islam to Nazism, led the website to become a mouthpiece for racism and sexism and a haven for white supremacists.

Trump’s response to the events in Charlottesville ― in which he blamed “many sides” for the violence and claimed there were some “fine people” among the neo-Nazis and other far-right groups ― has been resoundingly panned as sympathetic to the white supremacists. But Bannon hinted that such criticism may have been exactly what Trump was going for.

“The Democrats,” Bannon said, “the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”

According to Axios, Bannon didn’t know he was giving an on-the-record interview, a claim that The American Prospect seemed to dismiss.

“Steve Bannon is not exactly Bambi when it comes to dealing with the press,” Kuttner said. “He’s probably the most media-savvy person in America.”

Pressure on Trump to fire Bannon has increased in the days following the unrest in Charlottesville. Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci said earlier this week that “this sort of ‘Bannon-bart’ influence” on Trump “is a snag on the president.”

Scaramucci’s comments came a day after Axios reported that Trump believes that Bannon has been leaking damaging information about his White House rivals, including national security adviser H.R. McMaster. The president added to the speculation by telling reporters on Tuesday that “we’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon.”

A Divided Country Is Exactly What Trump Wants

He thinks it will save him. It explains his combative remarks about Charlottesville.

By Howard Fineman


POLITICS 08/16/2017 08:11 pm

WASHINGTON — Let’s be clear about what President Donald Trump was up to Tuesday during his press conference in Trump Tower, and what his longer-range plan is for surviving, if not prospering, in the White House for at least four years.

Speaking publicly in the family fortress in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, he wasn’t trying to convince anyone of the facts. There could be no dispute about them if you saw, say, the Vice video of hideous neo-Nazis, KKK members, generic white supremacists and rancid anti-Semites in the streets carrying torches and chanting “Jews will not replace.”

No, the president was doing something else: trolling the media, deliberately goading reporters he knew were waiting for him in his echoing marble lobby. He basked in their urgent outrage and determined focus on Charlottesville. He had scripted himself as the alt-right’s Daniel in a “fake news” lion’s den of his own devising.

Was he upset by the resulting headline and denunciations from the likes of the former presidents Bush, father and son? Hardly. He had sought them. In fact, word on Wednesday was that Trump had been in a good, almost celebratory, mood Tuesday after the confrontation he’d created. He had unleashed himself, perhaps once and for all. He was in the fight, and the fight is all.

Donald Trump seems perfectly willing to destroy the country to maintain his own power.

More broadly and big-picture, look for more of the same. Having risen to power by dividing the country, his party leadership and even, at times, his own campaign team, his aim now is to divide or discredit any institution, tradition or group in his way.

Donald Trump seems perfectly willing to destroy the country to maintain his own power. He is racing to undermine the federal political system — if not all American public life — before still-independent forces (for now, the federal courts, the press and Congress) undermine him.

The goal, as always with Trump, is to win amid the chaos he sows, to be the last man standing in rubble. And “winning” is rapidly being reduced to the raw, basic terms he prefers: brute survival. With a record-setting low approval rating, world crises everywhere and a special counsel on his tail, the main victory he can hope for is staying in office.

It’s not only an emotional imperative for Trump, it’s a deliberate ― and thus far successful ― strategy.

I am told by lawyers familiar with special counsel Robert Mueller’s methods and those of similar investigations that Mueller almost certainly obtained the president’s federal tax returns long ago. Whether Trump knows that directly or not, he has to assume it — and be driven wild by it. The counsel also has assembled an industrial-strength team of experts in international money-laundering, criminal tax fraud and forensic accounting.

So the survival urge is more urgent.

How does he do it? Here is some of what’s ahead:

More white-right protests

Trump doesn’t plan them (unless you consider his own rallies), but he also may not mind seeing more of them take place. He certainly hasn’t called for any group to cease and desist. San Francisco is next, with the Patriot Prayer group leading the way. Those who worry about the coming SF event note that it is scheduled for a park controlled by the National Park Service.

Focus on anti-Trump protesters

Trump avoided Vietnam with a medical deferment, which is perhaps why he now sees glamor in being The Leader Under Siege. Federal prosecutors have obliged this story-line by issuing sweeping subpoenas for the internet records of possible demonstrators at his inauguration.

Focus on ‘voter fraud’

This isn’t a substantial problem, but it is a substantial opportunity for Trump not only to try to limit Democrat-leaning votes, but also to force Democrats to spend extra time and messaging on the cause of minority rights. When he says “they” about the Democrats, he wants his own base to see what he means.

Goad the press

In his first tweet on Wednesday, Trump took aim at Amazon, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, also the owner of The Washington Post. The president accused the site of “doing great damage” to main-street retailers. But regulatory or tax threats aside, Trump will continue to troll the news pages and airwaves of the Post and other major outlets, knowing that the more righteous indignation they show, the less his hard-core base will believe them.

Muscle witnesses

Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, denied in a filing that he was “cooperating” with Hill investigators who are looking into whether the campaign colluded with Russia to influence the election. The message was meant for Trump. Manafort, who had extensive dealings with Vladimir Putin allies in Ukraine, didn’t want his vindictive (former) boss to think that he’d “flipped” to the other side. But the president’s allies sent a message back just in case. The National Enquirer, with close ties to Trump, recently published a long piece claiming that Manafort had had a “sick affair” with a younger woman and had somehow been “betraying his country.”

Stack the courts

This is far from the headlines, but it’s critical, and influences the places in which the Trump administration’s attempts to dismantle the regulatory state, civil rights laws and voting rights will literally be judged. It is also where Mueller will ask for any prosecutions of those in the Trump circle. And unlike most of the rest of the Trump administration, where disorganization and understaffing are the rule, the judge-picking process has largely been left to the Federalist Society, which is efficient in the extreme. As of now, Democrat-nominated judges still predominate, but in another year or two Trump could well have created a firewall for himself in most circuits.

Drain Obamacare

Even many Republicans want to infuse emergency cash into strapped health care markets; that is, to shore up Obamacare unless and until it is killed off. But Trump will favor benign neglect at the most, and not just because he wants Obamacare to “fail.” The program’s problems offer the added political benefit of dividing the Democrats on a key issue. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and company are now making support for a “single-payer,” Medicare-for-all system a litmus test for candidates. But it is a test that other liberal Democrats warn is divisive and unrealistic. Music to Trump’s ears.


Trump must keep the allegiance of this many Republican senators to defeat any attempt to convict him in an impeachment trial in the Senate, if there ever is one. You can be sure he knows this number, and that much of his strategy is made with it in mind. He’d rather have a small number of hard-core “locked and loaded” supporters than a larger number of unreliable moderates; it’s the impeachment version of his 2016 Electoral College strategy. Trump evidently regards Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, the GOP Senate leader, as too weak to be reliable. But the president had better think twice about trying to have him replaced. The Louisville-based senator is friends with a politician from across the Ohio River named Mike Pence.

Attorney General DeWine and Congressman Renacci Still Haven’t Disavowed Trump’s Presidency

This week, we heard Donald Trump embolden white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Yet Ohioans have only heard silence from Attorney General DeWine and Congressman Renacci on condemning Trump’s divisive and hateful words. Ohioans deserve better and should never have to wonder whether or not their elected officials will stand up to a President spewing hate.

“Until DeWine and Renacci forcefully condemn Donald Trump’s hateful words and hold him accountable, they are supporting Trump’s empowerment of white supremacists that has made Americans across the country feel frightened and disturbed. There are not many sides, there is only one side, and voters deserve to know why DeWine and Renacci still haven’t disavowed Trump’s presidency,” said DNC Spokesperson Mandy McClure.

Democrats have a message for Donald Trump and Republicans who to disavow his remarks. Do not lose hope. Do not give in to fear. And do not be intimidated. Now is the time to make your voice heard – Rise and Organize.

Ukraine Blasts NY Times Over North Korea Missile Link

U.S. expert suggests disgruntled Ukrainian workers could have sent rocket engines to Pyongyang.

15 August 2017

Ukraine’s space company Yuzhmash denies any connection to North Korea’s missile programs, the company said today, responding to a New York Times report suggesting recent successful North Korean missile launches made use of Ukrainian or Russian technology.

State-owned Yuzhmash, as cited today by Ukrinform, also said it is not the “main producer of missiles for the Russian Federation, and it does not supply to Russia any missiles, their parts and assembly units, including rocket engines.” However, both the Times article and the report by U.S. missile expert Michael Elleman it is based on allege North Korea may have obtained rocket technology illicitly, not by direct dealings with Ukrainian or Russian companies.

North Korea’s recent successful intercontinental missile tests were likely made possible by “black-market purchases of powerful rocket engines probably from a Ukrainian factory with historical ties to Russia’s missile program,” The Times reported yesterday, citing Elleman’s article and classified U.S. intelligence assessments.

“It’s likely that these engines came from Ukraine – probably illicitly,” Elleman said. “The big question is how many they have and whether the Ukrainians are helping them now. I’m very worried.”

An Interfax-Ukraine article yesterday repeated virtually unchanged statements in the Times story that Yuzhmash remained one of Russia’s primary producers of missiles even after Ukraine’s independence and that the company fell on hard times after former President Viktor Yanukovych was forced from office in 2014.

Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council head Oleksandr Turchynov denied the claims of the transfer of Yuzhmash missile technology to North Korea.

“This information doesn’t have a leg to stand on, is provocative in its content, and most likely provoked by Russian special services to cover their own crimes,” the council’s quoted Turchynov as saying on Monday, Interfax-Ukraine reports.

•In 2011, Ukraine jailed two North Korean nationals for attempting to obtain information about missile systems, liquid-propellant engines, and spacecraft and missile fuel supply systems from an employee of Yuzhmash’s design bureau Yuzhnoye, according to a UN Security Council report (pdf).

•North Korea’s new rocket engines are likely based on the Soviet-era RD-250 design, Elleman asserts. There are “almost certainly hundreds, if not more, of [RD-250] spares” at Yuzhnoye facilities in Ukraine and at Russian storage sites, he writes.

•Disgruntled employees or underpaid guards could have been bribed to ship the engines from Russia to North Korea, Elleman speculates.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer, Transitions Online 2017.

GOP Sen. Bob Corker: Trump Hasn’t Demonstrated ‘Stability’ Or ‘Competence’

The senator was an early supporter of Trump.

By Igor Bobic


08/17/2017 04:13 pm

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) offered some blunt comments about President Donald Trump on Thursday in the wake of the president’s widely criticized response to a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend.

“The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful. And we need for him to be successful, our nation needs for him to be successful,” Corker told reporters in Tennessee.

“He also has recently not demonstrated that he understands the character of this nation,” he added. “He has not demonstrated that he understands what has made this nation great and what it is today. He has got to demonstrate the characteristics of a president who understands that. And without the things that I just mentioned happening, our nation is going to go through great peril.”

Corker, an early Trump ally, added that he hoped the president would do “some self-reflection” so he could do “what is necessary to demonstrate stability, to demonstrate competence.” He went on to call for “radical changes at the White House.”

“He has not demonstrated that he understands what has made this nation great and what it is today.

—Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman also said Trump did not speak “appropriately” when he refused to explicitly condemn white nationalist groups.

“I would ask he take stock of who he is, as president of all the people in our nation, and that he condemn those things that are separating us,” Corker said, adding that he disagreed with the president’s stance on Confederate statues. Some of those monuments are being taken down across the United States, and Trump responded by tweeting that it was “sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart.”

“We want to keep our history, we don’t want to wash away our history. But let’s put it in a museum,” Corker said of the monuments.

The senator hasn’t shied away from criticizing the president or his administration. In May, for example, he responded to reports that Trump had shared classified information with high-ranking Russian officials by saying the White House was in a “downward spiral.”

Corker has been less vocal, however, about what specific changes he’d like to see in the administration. He demurred when asked by a reporter on Thursday whether he thought controversial White House chief strategist Steve Bannon should resign.

“There just needs to be a different approach,” Corker said. “I don’t get into personalities.”

Donald Trump ‘Sad To See’ Confederate Monuments Being Taken Down

“Who’s next, Washington, Jefferson?”

By Paige Lavender


08/17/2017 09:25 am Updated

President Donald Trump said he’s “sad to see” Confederate statues and monuments being taken down around the United States.

Confederate memorials are being removed around the U.S. after a white supremacist protest to protect a statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned into a weekend of racist violence in which one woman was killed.

According to USA Today, there are more than 700 Confederate monuments installed in public areas across 31 states. Washington, D.C.; Lexington, Kentucky; Memphis, Tennessee; Birmingham, Alabama; and other places are taking steps to remove their monuments.

Baltimore quietly removed its remaining Confederate monuments Tuesday night in the wake of the Charlottesville incident. On Monday night, protesters tore down a Confederate monument in Durham, North Carolina.

Trump previously expressed worry about the removal of these statues during an unhinged press conference on Tuesday.

“You really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?” Trump asked.

His tweets on the issue came after White House chief strategist Steve Bannon told The New York Times he thought Trump could win a battle with “the left” over the statues, arguing Trump’s rhetoric “connects with the American people about their history, culture and traditions.”

“The race-identity politics of the left wants to say it’s all racist,” Bannon said. “Just give me more. Tear down more statues. Say the revolution is coming. I can’t get enough of it.”

Ohio high school getting rid of Confederate mascot


Updated: Thursday, August 17, 2017

An Ohio high school is getting rid of its Confederate mascot in the wake of a deadly car attack at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend.

Superintendent Steve Thompson said Thursday that Willoughby South High School will drop its “Rebel” mascot — a man dressed in a gray Confederate military outfit — but keep the name. Thompson said he made the decision to support the school’s diverse student body.

“The Civil War was part of the history of the American story and that’s not going anywhere, but how we view it sometimes changes,” Thompson said. “We thought it was the right thing to do.”

The school is in Willoughby, 20 miles northeast of Cleveland. About 20 percent of its students are from minority families.

The sports teams still will be called the South High Rebels and will continue wearing gray and blue as their school colors. The school will create a committee do decide how to rebrand the term “Rebel.”

“Rebel can mean a lot of things. George Washington was a rebel,” Thompson said.

The Rebel has represented the school since it was founded in 1959. The move to replace it is the latest in a series of steps the school has taken to phase out Confederate iconography.

The Rebel mascot used to carry a Confederate flag and tout a gun, but school officials dropped both items from the mascot’s depiction after it stirred controversy. Four years ago, the school banned Confederate flags on campus. The school eventually will ban students from wearing school clothes depicting the Rebel mascot, Thompson said.

The city of Dayton’s top executive spent part of this week’s commission meeting defending the city’s spending on downtown redevelopment, evidently in an effort to quash criticism about the city’s financial priorities.

Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein gave a presentation intended to highlight the economic importance of downtown to the entire city and how the city invests a small fraction of its budget into downtown projects.

“There’s a lot of conversation about the city of Dayton putting too much money into downtown,” she said. “Let me be very clear that about 1 cent out of every dollar — or less than 1 percent of our annual general fund — is strategically invested in downtown economic development efforts.”

Some citizen activists have said the city is neglecting many of its neighborhoods by overly focusing on building up the center part of the city.

Downtown’s vitality and redevelopment is crucial to the entire city, because it generates more than half of the income taxes the city collects, which is about $70 million annually, Dickstein said.

Dickstein said that 75 cents of every dollar of income tax collected from downtown workers and businesses goes toward support services in Dayton’s neighborhoods.

“Without the income tax earned from downtown jobs, $53 million annually in services to Dayton neighborhoods would be lost,” she said.

In the last six years, the money the city has spent downtown — about 1 percent of its annual general fund budget, which this year was $164 million — has leveraged $152 million in private investment, Dickstein said.

The greater downtown has about 51,000 employees and 20,000 residents, which increase the appeal and value of other neighborhoods, she said.

Downtown has 1,400 housing units and 600 more in the pipeline, and the hot demand for housing is fueling consumer activities and growing jobs and wealth that support the city’s tax base, Dickstein said.

Downtown has 60 restaurants and 30 night clubs that make it the social epicenter of the region, which also drives new investments and activities, she said.

Each resident in Dayton “should be cheering for the investment” and for downtown to be as strong as possible because it drives investment into the neighborhoods, she said.

Dayton City Commissioner Joey Williams said the city often has to leverage its dollars where the developers want to go, and they want to invest downtown.

“While we’ve tried to push them to other certain parts of the city, a lot of developers want to come downtown,” he said. “But we are starting to see more go into other parts of the city, which is a very positive development.”

Third organization joins charities leaving Mar-a-Lago

By: Kristina Webb, Jennifer Sorentrue, Alexandra Clough – Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Updated: Thursday, August 17, 2017 @ 8:34 PM

Three major philanthropic organizations said Thursday they are pulling their events from President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, with one already in discussions to move its 2018 fundraiser to another A-list oceanfront setting.

Thursday afternoon, the Cleveland Clinic and American Cancer Society announced they were leaving the president’s Palm Beach estate.

Late Thursday, the American Friends of Magen David Adom, an organization supporting Israel disaster relief programs, told The Palm Beach Post it is canceling a planned fund-raising gala at Mar-a-Lago, set for Sunday, Feb. 25.

“After considerable deliberation, AFMDA — an apolitical and humanitarian aid organization — will not hold its 2018 Palm Beach Celebration of Life Gala at Mar-a-Lago,” the brief statement said. Magen David Adom is Israel’s ambulance, blood services and disaster-relief organization.

Last season’s gala, held Feb. 26, featured more than 600 attendees who paid $650 per ticket.

Also Thursday, a prominent business leader in Palm Beach urged other charitable organizations sticking with Mar-a-Lago to reconsider their commitment to the president’s club. Laurel Baker, executive director of the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce, told those groups and their deep-pocket donors to “have a conscience” and seek another venue for their events.

The decisions by the American Cancer Society, Cleveland Clinic and the AFMDA were three of the latest examples of pushback to Trump in the days since the president’s off-the-cuff, combative and controversial news conference on Tuesday at Trump Tower, where he renewed his statements that “both sides” were at fault in the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, sparked by marches by neo-Nazis and white supremacists last weekend.

“Our values and commitment to diversity are critical as we work to address the impact of cancer in every community,” the American Cancer Society said in announcing it would move two 2018 events, a dinner for sponsors and its 60th anniversary gala, from the president’s Palm Beach estate. “It has become increasingly clear that the challenge to those values is outweighing other business considerations.”

That announcement followed a decision by Cleveland Clinic, a leading research hospital in the United States with a location in West Palm Beach, to move its event, possibly to the Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa.

Nick Gold, the public relations director of the oceanfront Eau Palm Beach , said it is working with the hospital in hopes of hosting next year’s event.

“Their first call was to us,” Gold said. “We are talking to them. … We certainly want to work with The Cleveland Clinic.”

The American Cancer Society said it has not settled on a new location and is evaluating venue options. No further information was available about whether AFMDA would try to hold an event elsewhere in Palm Beach County during the season.

The Cleveland Clinic’s move follows previous assertions its event would go on at Trump’s Palm Beach estate as planned, despite protests and letters of concern from some who demanded the venue be changed.

The hospital has hosted the fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago for the past eight years, according to The Associated Press, raising anywhere from $700,000 to $1 million a year.

A representative for the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach said the nonprofit has no plans to move its fundraising event — The Palm Beach Wine Auction — which is scheduled to be held at Mar-a-Lago on Feb. 1. Tickets to the auction are $1,000 a person.

The Big Dog Ranch Rescue in Loxahatchee Groves also still plans to have one of its major fundraisers at Mar-a-Lago. The “Wine, Women and Shoes” event is scheduled for March 10, said Robin Friedman, Big Dog Ranch’s director of development.

“Most of our supporters know that we do what we do for our dogs, and that just happens to be the best venue,” Friedman said of Mar-a-Lago. “In fact, it’s one of the only venues where we can do an event of our size in the daytime.”

The president’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, is co-chairing the Big Dog Ranch Mar-a-Lago event with Georgina Bloomberg, daughter of billionaire Michael Bloomberg.

The animal-rescue group is expecting 600 attendees — up from 450 last year. The group raised $1.1 million at its Mar-a-Lago event last year, and Friedman said “we are definitely expecting more” for 2018.

Nonetheless, Palm Beach County event venues have made clear they would be receptive to discussing opportunities with charities considering a move.

The Eau, located on a 7-acre site with ocean views and lush tropical gardens in Manalapan, underwent a major transformation in 2013 — dropping the Ritz-Carlton name and rebranding itself as a beachfront getaway for out-of-town guests and locals looking for a beachfront retreat. The property consistently ranks among the best resorts in the state. This spring, Chinese President Xi Jinping stayed at the resort during his two-day summit with Trump at Mar-a-Lago.

Gold said the resort can accommodate as many as 500 guests for a seated dinner. In addition to the Cleveland Clinic, the Eau has received inquiries from other charities looking to move events away from Mar-a-Lago, Gold said.

“We do see a lot of charities that are checking spaces to see what can be done,” Gold said.

Dave Anderson, the general manager of the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, said the venue is also hearing from groups who may be interested in moving events previously held at Mar-a-Lago. The convention center can host groups of roughly 1,000 people.

“We have a beautiful ballroom,” Anderson said. “We have a fantastic chef. … It is a great venue for social events. The only thing I can’t provide is an ocean at my doorstep.”

One leader in Palm Beach’s business community urged the charitable groups to consider a change of venue.

The Palm Beach Chamber’s Baker minced no words Thursday about whether charities should abandon Mar-a-Lago this season.

“If you have a conscience, you’re really condoning bad behavior by continuing to be there,” Baker said. “Many say it’s the dollars (raised at the events) that count. Yes. But the integrity of any or organization rests on their sound decisions and stewardship.”

She added: “Personally, I do not feel that supporting him, directly or indirectly, speaks well of any organization.”

Baker’s comments are the strongest yet from Palm Beach County’s business community in the wake of Trump’s conflicting and, to many, polarizing statements made in the aftermath of the weekend violence.

Last Friday night, neo-Nazis and white supremacists marched through the northwestern Virginia town that is home to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. On Saturday, a suspected white supremacist rammed a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring 19.

In response, Trump first blamed Saturday’s violence “on many sides,” but zeroed in on specific criticism of the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis two days later after a backlash to his initial statement.

However, Trump doubled down on his first set of comments during Tuesday’s volatile news conference — and then tweeted support for Confederate monuments on Thursday.

No one from the Palm Beach County business community had spoken out publicly — until Baker.

Baker also expressed no patience for charities that will try to keep a low profile during this turbulent period.

“I hope that people will not maintain their neutrality,” she said. “This is the best time ever for people to show their backbone.”

Baker encouraged all charities to re-examine their core purpose for guidance about how to react to Trump’s comments.

In particular, she called out charities that advocate for social justice, the disabled, the poor and the sick.

“Look at your mission statement,” Baker said. “Are you living up to it?”

The Cleveland Clinic’s departure from Mar-a-Lago was no surprise after CEO Toby Cosgrove distanced himself from Trump following Tuesday’s comments. Cosgrove was one of a number of CEOs who stepped down from two White House business councils.

Trump later said he was disbanding that council and another after a rash of defections by other business industry leaders, including the CEOs of 3M, Campbell Soup Co. and United Technologies.

“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both,” the president tweeted. “Thank you all!”

But the pressure for the Cleveland Clinic to move its event from Mar-a-Lago started this past spring, with petitions and backlash against the Ohio-based hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute as each planned lavish galas on the Palm Beach resort’s grounds during the first months of Trump’s presidency.

Gore’s advice for Trump: ‘Resign’

“We’ve never had a president who’s deliberately made decisions the effect of which is to tear down America’s standing in the world,” Al Gore said of President Donald Trump.



8/17/2017 06:48 PM

Al Gore says it’s time for President Donald Trump to leave office.

“Resign,” the former Democratic vice president told the website LADbible in an interview published Thursday. He was asked what single piece of advice he’d give Trump.

Gore, who is currently on a promotional tour for his new movie, “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power,” has been highly critical of Trump in recent interviews over the president’s moves to dismantle several high-profile Obama administration environmental policies.

“I thought, actually there was a chance he might come to his senses,” Gore said earlier this month during an appearance on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” referring to his own December visit to Trump Tower to meet with the president-elect on climate issues.

Since that pre-inauguration meeting, Trump has pulled the United States from the Paris international climate agreement and also moved to dismantle Environmental Protection Agency rules aimed at curbing greenhouse gases from power plants and automobiles.

During a July interview on NBC’s “Today” show, Gore said Trump had “undermined our alliances, such as NATO.”

“We’ve never had a president who’s deliberately made decisions the effect of which is to tear down America’s standing in the world,” Gore said.

Gore’s new film is a follow-up to his 2006 Oscar-winning original documentary, which featured the onetime Democratic presidential nominee delivering a slideshow presentation designed to raise awareness about climate change.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Gore’s advice to the president.

Six Flags theme parks will stop flying Confederate flag

Austin Statesman

The theme park chain, which started in Texas, is named for the six flags that have flown over the state. After public outcry following the events in Charlottesville earlier this month, corporate decided to fly only American flags at locations in Texas and Georgia, where the Confederate flag had formerly been a staple.

I went to Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington many, many times as a kid. I always resented the Confederate flag.

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Gaps exist in California hospital care for babies from different ethnicities

Across California, the racial and ethnic backgrounds of tiny infants are influencing the quality of medical care they receive in hospitals’ neonatal intensive care units, a new Stanford-led study has found.

The research, which appears today in Pediatrics, focused on babies who weighed less than 3.3 pounds at birth, a category known as “very low birth weight.” The scientists analyzed medical records for more than 18,000 such infants born in 134 California NICUs between the beginning of 2010 and the end of 2014. California has one of the most comprehensive efforts anywhere to track and improve newborn care, thanks to the California Perinatal Quality Care Collaborative, which provided the data for this study.

The findings show a mixed picture, with better care for white infants at some hospitals and better care for babies from vulnerable populations at others. In general, however, hospitals that did the best job of caring for their patients also tended to have better outcomes for white infants than for black or Hispanic infants, and babies from vulnerable populations were more likely to be treated at lower-performing hospitals. From our press release:

‘There’s a long history of disparity in health care delivery, and our study shows that the NICU is really no different,’ said the study’s senior author, Jochen Profit, MD, associate professor of pediatrics. ‘Unconscious social biases that we all have can make their way into the NICU. We would like to encourage NICU caregivers to think about how these disparities play out in their own units and how they can be reduced.’

The study used an index to measure NICU performance that Profit’s team had previously developed and validated. Called Baby-MONITOR, the index measures nine different aspects of hospital care and health outcomes, and aims to give an overall picture of how well the baby’s hospital stay went. The Baby-MONITOR scores in the new study were adjusted for several factors, such as how sick the babies were to begin with, since some hospitals specialize in caring for the sickest infants and the scientists did not want that fact to skew their results.

The biggest takeaway, Profit said, was that there was a lot of variation between hospitals. Although he believes all caregivers want to give the best possible care to every one of their patients, the data reveals that some hospitals are doing quite well at treating infants from all groups equitably, but others are struggling. Again, from the press release:

‘It’s really important for NICUs to individualize care to the patient population they see,’ [Profit] said.

For instance, Hispanic families who are primarily Spanish-speaking may be experiencing language barriers that make it harder for parents to ask questions and act as advocates for their infants. ‘For them, having access to translation and personnel who speak Spanish is really critical,’ he said.

Hospitals serving a larger proportion of African-American infants may have different issues they need to address.

Profit and his collaborators are now planning how they can give each participating hospital regular updates on their performance. They intend to ask hospitals that are doing the best job of treating high-risk infants to share their successful strategies with others.

Previously: Feeding practices and activity patterns for babies vary with families’ race and ethnicity, study shows, Study identifies socioeconomic and ethnic disparities for gallstone surgery and Helping families navigate the NICU
Photo by Carlo Navarro


Film reviews: Detroit | Logan Lucky

… dissection of police brutality, systemic racism and appalling injustice that’s … segregation that continued unchecked after black Americans moved en masse from the … a powerful indictment of institutionalised racism, both then and now. Largely … RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News

Does Race Matter in Care ‘Preemie’ Babies Receive?

MONDAY, Aug. 28, 2017 — Race and ethnicity can make a difference in the quality of care a premature baby receives in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), a new study finds.

Top-quality hospitals in California tend to deliver better care to white babies compared with black or Hispanic newborns, researchers report.

In addition, black and Hispanic infants are more likely than white newborns to receive care at poor-quality NICUs, the study found.

While these trends are real, they were not present across the board, the researchers added. Some California hospitals provided better care to minority babies than white infants, for example.

The disparities in care are caused by many social, economic and organizational factors in the hospital and its surrounding community, said lead researcher Dr. Jochen Profit. He’s an associate professor of pediatrics with the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Profit does not believe racism is one of those factors.

“I don’t think any health care provider in the NICU or anywhere else goes to work and says, ‘I’m going to provide worse care to African-American babies than white babies,'” Profit said. “Their goal is to provide the best care to all patients they see.”

But these results show that some hospitals have not adapted to their specific patient populations well enough to adequately meet the needs of the community, Profit added.

“There’s opportunity for improvement,” Profit said.

For the study, Profit and his team reviewed data on premature births in California. They included more than 18,600 babies born with very low birth weight — less than 3.3 pounds — between 2010 and 2014.

The research team evaluated the NICU care each newborn received based on a set of nine yes/no questions. These included whether anyone died as a result of the birth, whether the baby suffered health problems such as infections or chronic lung disease, how quickly the newborn grew in the NICU, and whether the baby received a timely eye exam.

Although racial and ethnic differences in NICU care were fairly small across California as a whole, some hospitals had large gaps in how they care for babies of different backgrounds, researchers found.

Some of those disparities could result from the community in which the hospital is located, said Dr. Deborah Campbell, chief of neonatology at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York City.

“Hospitals with higher percentages of uninsured or Medicaid-insured patients may have fewer resources available to them,” said Campbell, who wasn’t involved in the study. “It’s not necessarily intentional.”

For example, medical teams in poorer communities may not be able to afford specialists that could improve care, such as respiratory therapists or nutritionists, Campbell said.

While that may be one factor, Profit does not believe it explains all the disparities found by his research team.

“There are some hospitals like that that actually do really well, even though their population would predict them to be one of our more lower-performing centers,” Profit said. “The main message from this paper is it’s not that simple.”

Instead, Profit believes every hospital needs to individualize care.

One question used as a quality measure was whether newborns had received any mother’s milk by the time they left the hospital, he noted.

“It requires a lot of team and parental engagement to support a mother who spends months of time after this traumatic birth in the NICU, and help her pump breast milk throughout that entire time,” Profit said. “It’s an arduous process, and requires a lot of education and support.”

Traditionally, black mothers breast-feed at a lower rate than other ethnic subgroups, and likely require more counseling and assistance, he said.

“As expected, we find that babies of African-American moms receive less human milk by hospital discharge than their white counterparts,” Profit said.

Another quality question involved whether moms were provided steroids prior to delivery, to better mature the lungs of their infants and provide them with other health benefits.

Researchers found that Hispanic women received these steroids less often than white women, Profit said.

That could be chalked up to insufficient communication and coordination between the expecting mother and her doctors, especially if she doesn’t speak English, he said. Hispanic mothers simply may not have grasped that they needed to get to the hospital sooner so they could receive the steroids.

“Even though you may have language services available, parents may not receive the same level of information flow that they would get if communication was easier,” Profit said.

Closing these gaps in care will require a lot of effort from hospitals and doctors, Profit said.

“A lot of the solutions to addressing these disparities in care require extra work by providers beyond the busy care for the baby’s illness and keeping the baby stable and thriving and growing,” he said. “You must go out of your way and address the needs of the vulnerable families.”

The findings were published Aug. 28 in the journal Pediatrics.

More information

For more on premature baby care, visit the American Pregnancy Association.

Posted: August 2017

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OPINION: The First Amendment doesn’t guarantee a platform

Shideh Ghandeharizadeh | Daily Trojan

Earlier this month, the organizers of a white supremacist rally at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville aimed to spark a national dialogue about the perceived oppression of the contemporary heterosexual, white male. But their march seems to have spurred another debate — one about free speech and whether the First Amendment protects hate speech.

The question is certainly being asked and hotly debated at universities across the country. In the wake of the Charlottesville rallies that killed one anti-racism protester and resulted in numerous injuries and violent confrontations, Texas A&M University and, more recently, the University of Florida denied requests for Richard Spencer, a self-identified leader of the “alt-right” movement who has called for ethnic cleansing, to speak on their campuses. But UC Berkeley is preparing for a week in which both conservative pundits Milo Yiannopoulos, who has likened black people to apes and feminists to Nazis, and Ann Coulter, who has argued against women’s voting rights, will both be speaking per the invitation of the school’s conservative newspaper, The Berkeley Patriot.

The issue of free speech has been widely discussed on college campuses since the Vietnam War era. Since then, young people have been at the forefront of peaceful protests and political expression. But today’s dialogue on college campuses tends to be laced with misinformation and ignorance about Supreme Court cases and constitutional laws that define free speech. Notably, one thing many self-identified free speech advocates who are quick to take up arms at the first challenge to a provocative speaker seem to forget is that the First Amendment guarantees freedom from censorship — it does not guarantee a platform to spew hate.

The First Amendment guarantees that Yiannopoulos or Coulter could speak their minds in a public place; it does not guarantee them a stage and an audience at a university. In the same way, the federal government and public schools cannot censor nonviolent statements, but simultaneously owe no obligation to stream individuals on Facebook Live or bring them to speak before the White House lawn. Refusal to offer this platform is not a violation of someone’s First Amendment rights. Newspapers have no obligation to publish op-eds or letters to the editor that they are disinclined to for whatever reason, and the federal government cannot censor newspapers.

And in the same vein, Twitter and many other websites, social media platforms and hosting servers are private domains and it is fully up to their discretion how hate speech and harassment are dealt with. The First Amendment delineates the obligations of government institutions; these same obligations are not shared by private companies.

Google had the right to terminate an employee whose speech directly targeted a demographic of employees and established a hostile workplace environment earlier this month. The argument that a private company violated the First Amendment is a moot one, and the argument that individuals can say and do anything in their places of work without consequences is the same argument that justifies — and even encourages — sexual harassment and bullying.

Circling back to college campuses, UC Berkeley has been the epicenter of the campus free speech debate since a violent riot predominantly led by anarchists unaffiliated with the school unfolded when Yiannopoulos last tried to speak earlier this year. But it’s important to note that students who protest speaking appearances by the far-right are not violating anyone’s free speech rights either. If anything, young people who protest provocative speakers are simply putting their own free speech rights to use, and learning important lessons about speaking their minds and fighting for their convictions.

In either case, it’s often not universities but campus organizations that are inviting controversial speakers. And if universities deny the appearances of these speakers, more often than not this is out of safety concerns rather than malicious attempts at censorship. Doing so is certainly not a violation of anyone’s rights.

The free speech debate can seem polarizing on college campuses, where people who have never been the subject of racial hatred and stereotyping, nor of sexual harassment and bullying, argue that individuals should be allowed to say anything without consequences, and people who suffer from this ambivalence toward racism argue the opposite.

Still, there is one bipartisan line of thought, which suggests that speech that is simply advocating contrarian ideals — that women are biologically inferior to men as intellectuals, that African Americans are biologically inferior to white people — but isn’t overtly violent, ought to be respected and even given a platform. This suggests that any comments, as long as they’re short of directly calling for violence, are protected.

However, this should raise the question of how taking away women’s right to vote or be in the workplace, or removing minorities from the country and implementing ethnic cleansing — the concepts demanded by much of the speech of the “alt-right” — could be done without violence or the threat of it. And welcoming these ideas on campus may not celebrate or glorify hatred, but doing so certainly contributes to normalizing it. In the same vein, equating this hate speech to “left-wing extremism” — the alt-right’s term for calls to respect the pronouns of trans people and establish a national health care system — is a ploy to equate a vocal movement for equality to a vocal movement for inequality.

Too often in the  campus dialogue around free speech are the most direct stakeholders marginalized. In society today, individuals of marginalized demographics are intimidated and pressured into silence when high-profile speakers come to preach about white supremacy and patriarchy. Their voices are excluded from a media narrative told by majority white reporters, and their experiences are undeniably being overlooked by a U.S. Congress that is 80 percent white, 80 percent male and 92 percent Christian.

The exclusion of minorities and marginalized Americans from our collective national dialogue remains a troubling issue in itself. But all of this is sidelined in a current free speech dialogue dominated by white men who feel victimized by being discouraged from saying the “N-word.”

SZA and Tinashe Under the Same Spotlight


Ctrl album cover

Ctrl album cover

Ctrl album cover

A late night wind-down is nothing without the accompaniment of the ultimate chill down playlist- or album. When it comes to the ethereal new sounds of R&B produced by the SZA and Tinashe, who will be the one to fuel an evening of divine introspection or inspiration-based action?

The eclectic SZA released her debut album, Ctrl, early June and played to the beat of the entire summer. The album gained traction fast and was put beside “2 On” R&B singer, Tinashe, as a comparison.

Although claims of a rivalry are false, these two female black artists do share similar qualities in their music. In SZA’s interview with the Breakfast Club, she quickly gives credit where it is due and leaves room for Tinashe to be dope in a world that is stuck on creating competition between women.

SZA’s Ctrl and TInashe’s Nightride, have one thing in common: they branch away from the traditional world of R&B. By using different approaches to create music, both artists involve sounds that evoke an ethereal quality over lyrics that reflect the highs and lows of their romantic lives.

Ctrl houses a range of songs that reflect the good, bad and downright ugly when it comes to growing into one’s own power and the not-so-healthy relationships that came with it for her. She includes indie rock and neo-soul influences, which can be heard from the chimes and drums heard in “Doves in the Wind” to the almost undetectable whispers from Pharrell at the end of the introductory song “Supermodel.”

In comparison, Tinashe released her EP, Nightride, late 2016, courageously singing about love and romance with an umbrella of dark, breathy tones that invite you to stay for the night ride. Her album maintains sultry, light-dimmed atmospheric music that almost feels woozy to the ear. Her voice uses a breathy vocal to create a spacey sound that fogs you out of reality.

While Tinashe takes you out of this world, SZA brings you back down to earth with unexpected lively instrumentations and sounds from nature. The experience of listening is enhanced with the sun beaming down and ear buds allowing one to hear the intricate details that change from song to song.

Even though the artists do compare in many ways with one being the color of their skin. The world of young female rappers and singers is more difficult to break into but the boundaries are pushed by artists like Tinashe and SZA alike. As SZA’s creative debut project release demonstrates, there is still room to grow on an individual basis to innovate the R&B industry in the future.

Alejandra Solorio can be reached at [email protected] or @alesolorio8 on Twitter.

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