Kim Davis is currently in jail over her refusal to grant marriage licenses to gays or straights as she protests the very existence of same-sex marriage. Luckily, before heading to the Carter County Detention Center, Kim talked to us about the gays, her four marriages, her Christian rebirth, redemption.
Probably not. But I’m there, I swear! As I was taking the crosstown bus in Manhattan this afternoon, a friendly man told me that a bunch of people were going to form a human peace sign at 12:30 in Central Park’s East Meadow to celebrate John Lennon’s birthday and, while they were at it, attempt to break the Guinness World Record. The celebration, organized by the non-profit John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, in partnership with the City of NY and the Mayor’s office, was a little early–Lennon would have been 75 this Friday–and breaking the record would require the participation of over 5,800 people, the number of people who formed a human peace sign at the Ithaca Festival in 2,008. So, how did it go?
Well, it was a beautiful event and people were refreshingly cooperative when told to stand in the peace sign instead of outside of it to take photos. Some people had selfie sticks to help them capture the moment. I didn’t, so here are some photos and videos I took from the peace sign and some I snagged from a nearby rock before being asked to step down by one of the patient organizers. We were a few thousand short, according to the AP, which counted 2,000 people. But Yoko Ono, who spoke over a loud speaker, thanked everyone and said, “This is the best birthday present for John.”
And below is a volunteer leading volunteers to the peace sign. I guess they were trying to take photos. He’s very dedicated and puts his legs into it!
It turns out that Martin Shkreli, the former hedge manager turned pharmaceutical businessman who jacked the price of a life-saving drug from $13.50 per tablet to $750, is actually worse than we thought.
His tweets can be broken down into three sometimes overlapping main categories: (1) Tweets about how rich he is, (2) Tweets in which he compares himself to rapper Eminem and rapper Chamillionaire and describes his critics as jealous haters who shouldn’t f*** with him, (3) Retweets of other people’s tweets which praise him and attack his critics. Let’s take a look, shall we?
(1) Tweets about how rich he is:
I donated a total of $5,000,000 to various causes recently. Looking forward to telling you all about it. — Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) September 15, 2015
A woman was honored by New York City Council members and Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer on Monday, September 28th, on what would have been her 100th birthday. But she didn’t make it to 40. She died at the young age of 37, in an electric chair in Sing Sing prison on June 19, 1953, minutes after her husband was electrocuted. Her sons–Robert, 6 and Michael, 10–were now orphans. Her name was Ethel.
Ethel and her husband, Julius Rosenberg, were the only civilians in American history ever executed for espionage during peacetime and their trial took place during the Cold War at the height of Red Scare hysteria. The case is extremely complicated and controversial, but here are some of the facts that aren’t disputed and that are key to understanding the story. In 1950, Klaus Fuchs, a German-born British scientist who worked on developing the atomic bomb was arrested for passing top secret information to the Soviet Union. Fuchs named American Harry Gold as his liaison with the Soviets. Gold in turn, named David Greenglass and his wife, Ruth. And Greenglass named his brother-in-law, Julius Rosenberg, the husband of David’s sister Ethel. Julius was arrested on June 17, 1950, and Ethel was arrested on August 11.
While it appears true that Julius Rosenberg and David Greenglass had been involved in sharing information with the Soviet Union, the U.S. Ally during World War Two, Julius’s role was much more minor than the government stated and it certainly did not deserve the death penalty. This isn’t just a moral or ethical position, but a legal one. The Rosenbergs were indicted for “conspiracy to commit espionage,” which doesn’t carry a death sentence.
And even more egregious is the fact that Ethel was arrested and charged to pressure her husband into naming names. And the entire case against Ethel was based on the testimony of her brother David, who would later admit that he lied about his sister to protect his wife. Greenglass himself admitted this to journalist Sam Roberts in the 1990s:
I told them the story and left her [Ethel] out of it, right? But my wife put her in it. So what am I gonna do, call my wife a liar? My wife is my wife. I mean, I don’t sleep with my sister, you know.
And previously sealed grand jury records, that were only released this summer, corroborate that Greenglass did perjure himself when he implicated his sister. While testifying in front of the Grand Jury, Greenglass said he had no knowledge of Ethel’s involvement: “My sister has never spoken to me about this subject,” he said at one point. On another occasion he stated, “I never spoke to my sister about this at all.” He had also confessed to handing information to Julius on a New York street corner. But right before and during the actual trial, David sang a very different tune. Only ten days before the start of the trial against his brother in-law, David claimed that he handed off the documents in the Rosenbergs’ apartment. Then Ruth told FBI agents that “Julius then took the info into the bathroom and read it, and when he came out he told [Ethel] she had to type this info immediately. Ethel then sat down at the typewriter … and proceeded to type the info which David had given to Julius.” And that was the version they stuck to during the trial. It was Ethel’s alleged typing of notes that got her charged, convicted, and ultimately executed.
But what is more disturbing is the fact that the government was aware that they lacked sufficient evidence against Ethel. According to then FBI Director (and Martin Luther King-hater) J. Edgar Hoover, “There is no question… [that] if Julius Rosenberg would furnish details of his extensive espionage activities, it would be possible to proceed against other individuals. [P]roceeding against his wife might serve as a lever in this matter.” In the same vain, Assistant U. S. Attorney Myles Lane told a Joint Congressional Committee on Atomic Energy,
One of the things that makes Jon Stewart so irreplaceable is how much he made himself replaceable. Except for on one issue.
The world is waiting to see how Trevor Noah will do when he replaces Jon Stewart in the news desk chair he occupied for the past 16 years. But the replacement has been a work in progress for Stewart. From the start, Stewart showcased correspondents who would go on to create their own shows that shared the same mission: using humor to inform audience about important stories demonstrating hypocrisy, dishonesty, racism, exploitation, bigotry and ignorance of politicians, the media, corporations, and powerful individuals. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart became, and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah will be, just one of a constellation of shows that are guided just as much be a sense of justice and empathy as by a sense of humor.
Stewart has always maintained that his politics are secondary to his comedy, “I’m a comedian first… My comedy is informed by an ideological background… But . . . I’m not an activist. I am a comedian,” he once said. But there are a number of times when he has explicitly dropped his comedic intentions and framing. Most recently, following the Charleston shooting in which a white supremacist killed nine African Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church Church, Stewart was unable or unwilling to bring the funny to his opening monologue:
Maybe if I wasn’t nearing the end of the run or this wasn’t such a common occurrence, maybe I could have pulled out of the spiral, but I didn’t… So I honestly have nothing other than just sadness once again that we have to peer into the abyss of the depraved violence that we do to each other and the nexus of a just gaping racial wound that will not heal, yet we pretend it doesn’t exist… I’m confident, though, that by acknowledging it, by staring into that and seeing it for what it is, we still won’t do jack shit. Yeah. That’s us.
Stewart acknowledged his departure from the comedy monologues which usually start the show, finishing up by saying, “Sorry about no jokes.” He had similarly earnest responses to 9/11 and to the Tucson shooting in 2011, which injured 13 people including Gabby Giffords.
Donald Trump may be asking the FBI for protection against Joaquin Guzman Loera, the notorious Mexican drug lord known as el Chapo, who recently escaped from prison, again. But The Donald has already been attacked by a more formidable adversary who also hails from The Mexico. And his weapon of choice? Not bullets, not machetes, not gruesome torture…… Butt plugs!
Meet Fernando Sosa, the 32-year old 3D artist based in Orlando, Florida, who was born and raised in Puebla Mexico. Sosa, who came to the United States when he was 11, was enraged when he heard Donald Trump spew his racist vitriol about Mexican rapists. So he decided he would turn his anger into a product… a butt plug, made of “fully colored material with a coarse finish and a delicate feel,” more specifically, as his website explains. In case you don’t know, a butt plug is a sex toy that does exactly what it sounds like it does.
In an interview with me on this week’s The Katie Halper Show, Sosa explained that he was initially incredulous that Trump had said what he had about Mexicans.
In case you missed it, the Donald peppered his presidential announcement speech with the following:
When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.
I asked Sosa how he felt when he heard that and he said, “I was really enraged and I was like, what better way to insult him back than to make a Donald Trump Butt plug.”
For black and white americans, the difference between life and death is literally worlds apart. Although we may know this on some level, Nate Silver, the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight, has the startling statistics that demonstrate this reality.
As he explained to me on the latest episode of The Katie Halper Show, “If you’re a white person your chance of being murdered every year is 2.5 out of 10,000… If you’re a black person it’s 19.4, so almost eight times higher.”
To put this into context, Silver explained, the murder rate for white Americans is similar to the murder rate for people living in Finland, Chile or Israel. The murder rate for black Americans, on the other hand, is similar to the rate found “in developing countries that are war zones even, like Myanmar, or Rwanda, Mexico, Brazil, Nigeria, places that have vast disorder. To me that stat was so striking that I thought this was a case where even if you kinda zoomed out, that was a data point that helped to inform the discussion.”
A recent CNN/ORC poll found that the majority of Americans still believe that the Confederate Flag is a symbol of Southern pride and not racism. Among the 1,017 people polled, 57% saw the flag as an expression of pride. Not surprisingly, more white participants, 66% of them, considered the flag to be about Southern pride, while only 17% of the Black participants did. 27% of the white participants and 75% of the Black participants saw the flag as racist. That’s a pretty big discrepancy. It must be that a lot of Black people are delusional and/ or Highly Sensitive Persons. Or it could be that a lot of white people don’t understand or pretend to not understand racism. I’m going with option two.
we have engaged in what I called a translucent lie. We know what the symbol [the Confederate Flag] is and we know the circumstances under which the symbol came into existence. When people would say this is heritage, not hate I would always respond by saying what makes you think those two things are mutually exclusive? Because the racial hatred that we’re talking about is a cornerstone of the heritage that people are trying to avoid or the heritage that people are trying to photoshop. Why does the Confederate flag have the appeal that it has to right wing, white supremacist organizations? If this is in fact about such a benign southern heritage, then why do we see it cropping up in such close proximity to organizations that are avowedly racist.
Cobb’s point about the white supremacist tendencies found among the most avid defenders of the Confederate flag reminded me of Anna and Nathan Robb, the married couple of Branson, MO, who own Dixie Outfitters, which sells confederate souvenirs, T-shirts and memorabilia. Business at Dixie Outfitters is booming now that retailers like Walmart, Amazon, Sears and eBay have stopped selling Confederate flag merch. Anna is adamant that there is nothing racist or hateful about her store’s confederate tchotchkes. (A tchotchke is the Yiddish word for a trinket. Cobb and I decided it was probably not kosher to combine “confederate” and “tchotchke” but let’s file it under subversive.) Instead, insists Anna, her store is about
Reporter/entertainer Geraldo Rivera is famous for speaking truth to power, and shifting blame away from racism and onto Black people. Who can forget when he spoke the uncomfortable truth that nobody wanted to say, but that everyone who has ever seen a sweatshirt with a hood knew and felt: “I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was.” So true.
Well, now, Rivera is back with more cultural critique and reality distortion. Appearing on the Fox News program, The Five, on Monday night, Rivera indicted Hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar’s performance of “Alright” on Sunday night’s BET Awards, in which he rapped, “We hate the po-po, wanna kill us dead in the street fo sho.” Rivera described the performance and song as
not helpful, to say the least. This is why I say that hip-hop has done more damage to young African-Americans than racism in recent years. This is exactly the wrong message.
I think we can all agree that, over the past few years, hip-hop and their lyrics, especially their critique of police brutality, have claimed way more lives than actual police brutality, AND institutionalized racism combined.I’m not sure how, exactly. But I feel it. In my gut. And my gut is never wrong. Except when it’s full and I feel hungry.