Stembridge News Digest

  • Actually, Wilbur Ross did nothing wrong Mon, 21 Jun 2021 16:00:30 GMT
    Wilbur Ross is being treated unfairly.
  • Biden should cool efforts to make gig workers employees Mon, 21 Jun 2021 13:39:15 GMT
    The Biden Labor Department recently blocked a regulation concerning gig workers and independent contractors, and as Bloomberg reported last week, “The Biden Administration faces mounting pressure from the left to launch an enforcement investigation against a gig power.” The goal: forcing gig companies to classify gig workers as employees who can join a union and pay union dues.
  • At long last, Congress rightly moves to withdraw war authorization Mon, 21 Jun 2021 13:30:24 GMT
    For nearly two decades, the Washington foreign policy establishment has dragged us into unchecked, unilateral, never-ending conflicts overseas. These wars cost taxpayers trillions of dollars and leave tens of thousands of service members and their families with both visible and invisible scars.
  • Big spending is making our inflation problem worse Mon, 21 Jun 2021 13:09:32 GMT
    From groceries to gasoline, prices are higher almost everywhere these days. Last month, the consumer price index rose 5% from a year earlier, which is the highest jump since 2008. There are a variety of reasons for these rising prices, many of which are industry specific. However, it’s important to remember that big government spending is only making the problem worse.
  • Will Biden grant Iran's Ebrahim Raisi a visa to attend the UN General Assembly? Mon, 21 Jun 2021 13:00:50 GMT
    In August, Ebrahim Raisi will become the Islamic Republic of Iran’s next president after surpassing the 50% threshold in the first round of voting.
  • Why the culture war matters Mon, 21 Jun 2021 12:07:07 GMT
    The Left and some factions of the Right often eschew the culture war as irrelevant, unwinnable, unnecessary, even silly. A look back at the last few days alone proves it is far more imperative.
  • Balkan stability requires Serbia-Kosovo agreement Mon, 21 Jun 2021 10:00:54 GMT
    Negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo, which restarted in Brussels on Tuesday under the auspices of the European Union, hold the key for stability in the Western Balkans.
  • The 'green jobs' fallacy Mon, 21 Jun 2021 04:00:53 GMT
    Everyone is at it — Joe Biden, Boris Johnson, the G-7, the United Nations. All are in the business of “creating” green jobs. Johnson wants 250,000 of them, to be “created” by clean energy technologies. Biden promises no fewer than 10 million. Everything, I guess, is bigger in America.
  • AOC is right about highways and racism Sun, 20 Jun 2021 16:55:35 GMT
    Her proposed solution is both impossible to fund and impractical to implement, but in her push to propose mass high-speed rail development as a solution, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez correctly diagnoses a problem: namely that expanded highway construction, both in the past and right now, exacerbate racial inequality.
  • Supreme Court issues a win for religious liberty, but just barely Sun, 20 Jun 2021 13:00:17 GMT
    The Supreme Court this week took one small step for religious freedom. Unfortunately, it failed to take the giant leap needed to fully protect religious practice.

  • IRS rejects Christian nonprofit's tax-exempt request because 'Bible teachings are typically affiliated with the Republican Party' Mon, 21 Jun 2021 17:00:00 +0000

    The Internal Revenue Service last month denied a Christian nonprofit organization tax-exempt status by arguing its mission of educating and empowering Christians to engage in America's civic process necessarily benefits the Republican Party.

    What are the details?

    In a May rejection letter sent to Christians Engaged, the IRS wrote that the group is disqualified from the status because the "Bible's teachings are typically affiliated with the Republican Party and candidates."

    "Specifically, you educate Christians on what the Bible says in areas where they can be instrumental including the areas of sanctity of life, the definition of marriage, biblical justice, freedom of speech, defense, and borders and immigration, U.S. and Israel relations," IRS exempt organizations director Stephen Martin wrote in the letter. "The Bible teachings are typically affiliated with the Republican Party and candidates. This disqualifies you from exemption under IRC Section 501(c)(3)."

    Christians Engaged says on its website that it "exists to awaken, motivate, educate, and empower ordinary believers in Jesus Christ to: pray for our nation and elected officials regularly, vote in every election to impact our culture, [and] engage our hearts in some form of political education or activism for the furtherance of our nation."

    In its letter, the IRS does not appear to dispute the group's claims or argue that it does not carry out its mission honestly. However, according to the Treasury agency, the very fact that the group promotes biblical teachings makes it de facto engage in "prohibited political campaign intervention."

    "You operate for a substantial non-exempt private purpose and for the private interests of the Republican Party," Martin concluded.

    Under federal law, to receive tax-exempt status as a religious organization, an organization must operate exclusively for charitable or educational purposes and must "not attempt to influence legislation" or "participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates."

    What else?

    In response to the decision, the group's legal counsel, First Liberty Institute, filed an appeal last week.

    In a press release about the appeal, Counsel Lea Patterson said the claims "that Biblical values are exclusively Republican ... might be news to President Biden, who is often described as basing his political ideology on his religious beliefs."

    Patterson added: "Only a politicized IRS could see Americans who pray for their nation, vote in every election, and work to engage others in the political process as a threat. The IRS violated its own regulations in denying tax exempt status because Christians Engaged teaches biblical values."

    In its appeal letter, First Liberty argued, "By finding that Christians Engaged does not meet the operational test, Director Martin errs in three ways: 1) he invents a nonexistent requirement that exempt organizations be neutral on public policy issues; 2) he incorrectly concludes that Christians Engaged primarily serves private, nonexempt purposes rather than public, exempt purposes because he thinks its beliefs overlap with the Republican Party's policy positions; and 3) he violates the First Amendment's Free Speech, and Free Exercise, and Establishment clauses by engaging in both viewpoint discrimination and religious discrimination."

    Anything else?

    According to the press release, Christians Engaged president Bunni Pounds lamented, "We just want to encourage more people to vote and participate in the political process. How can anyone be against that?"

    The group was formed in July 2019 as a Texas nonprofit organization and describes itself on its website as educational, Christian, and nonpartisan.

    As a major part of its efforts, Christians Engaged helps organize statewide and local prayer gatherings in which participants make supplications and petitions to God on behalf of elected leaders.

  • Waitress abducted, beaten, tossed from vehicle after confronting diners who left restaurant without paying $70 bill Mon, 21 Jun 2021 16:45:00 +0000

    A waitress was abducted, beaten, and tossed from a vehicle after she confronted a group of diners who left a New Jersey "family restaurant" without paying their $70 bill Saturday night, WPVI-TV reported.

    Image source: WPVI-TV video screenshot

    What are the details?

    Washington Township police said five suspects attempted to leave a Nifty Fifty's restaurant without paying at about 11:15 p.m., and a waitress tried to stop them — only to be pulled inside a white Dodge Durango and assaulted as the vehicle drove off.

    Surveillance video shows the 20-year-old waitress, dressed in a red shirt, exiting the restaurant and running toward the vehicle in question — only to get pulled inside it, WPVI reported.

    Image source: WPVI-TV video screenshot

    "They pulled her into the vehicle and assaulted her inside the vehicle," Washington Township Police Chief Patrick Gurcsik told WPVI.

    A passenger also appears to exit the vehicle and run off as the abduction takes place.

    What happened next?

    "The vehicle headed north on Route 42, made a U-turn, and was heading south toward Monroe Township, and pushed her out of the vehicle," Gurcsik added to the station.

    Image source: Washington Township (N.J.) police

    Washington Township is about 30 minutes south of Philadelphia.

    The waitress was able to run back to the restaurant and call authorities, police told WPVI, which added that she was taken to a local hospital with bruises and a possible concussion and then released.

    Image source: Washington Township (N.J.) police

    "They're having trouble finding wait staff due to the pandemic, and she came out to confront them," Gurcsik also told the station.

    'Say it ain't so'

    John Hill, a Nifty Fifty's employee, told WPVI he's shocked by the incident.

    "Say it ain't so," Hill told the station. "As an employee, that makes me feel bad. And mad."

    WPVI added that restaurant customers the following evening said they were shocked by the incident.

    "This is such a family restaurant; oh, this is crazy," Stacie Garris-Oliver of Lindenwold, N.J., told the station.

    Anything else?

    Police told WPVI that restaurant employees should try to take down license plate information of those who leave the premises without paying for their meals.

    "Do not chase after accused suspects and confront them yourselves," Gurcsik told the station.

  • Trans weightlifter officially headed to Olympics to compete in women’s events Mon, 21 Jun 2021 16:30:18 +0000

  • Democratic senator confronted over membership in elite, all-white beach club: 'It's a long tradition' Mon, 21 Jun 2021 16:06:00 +0000

    Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) was confronted Friday about his family's continued membership in an exclusive, all-white club in Newport, Rhode Island.

    In response, Whitehouse defended his membership in the club despite publicly denouncing systemic racial discrimination.

    What are the details?

    According to GoLocalProv, Whitehouse and his wife are members of the all-white private Bailey's Beach Club in Newport.

    From GoLocalProv:

    Both Whitehouse and his wife Sandra as well as their families have been members of the club for decades. Whitehouse did transfer his shares in the club to his wife years ago, and she is now one of the largest shareholders in the all-white club. The club's membership is a who's who Newport, Palm Beach, and New York wealth.

    Whitehouse was confronted one day before Juneteenth, the newest federal holiday that annually commemorates the abolition of slavery.

    When confronted about the lack of diversity inside the exclusive club, Whitehouse said, "I think the people who are running the place are still working on [diversifying membership] and I'm sorry it hasn't happened yet."

    The reporter then asked, "Your thoughts on an elite, all-white, wealthy club, again, in this day and age— should these clubs continue to exist?"

    "It's a long tradition in Rhode Island and there are many of them and I think we just need to work our way through the issues, thank you," Whitehouse responded.

    U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse responds to questions about family's membership in an all-white club.

    Friday was not the first time the Democratic lawmaker was confronted about his membership in the all-white club. In 2017, Whitehouse said he would not pressure the club to change its demographics.

    "I think it would be nice if they (Bailey's Beach Club) changed a little bit, but it's not my position," he said at the time.

    Whitehouse's continued membership at the club comes despite reportedly promising to quit "his memberships in Bailey's, as well as the all-male, all-white Bellevue Avenue Reading Room" during his campaign for U.S. Senate in 2006, GoLocalProv noted.

    Isn't this hypocritical?

    Despite maintaining membership in the all-white club, Whitehouse has not shied away from denouncing racism and systemic discrimination.

    Amid racial unrest last summer following the death of George Floyd, Whitehouse said, "Our country is at a crossroads. ... We can and must do better to root out systemic racism in its many forms and meet America's full promise of justice for all."

    Whitehouse even celebrated Juneteenth on social media, one day after he defended his family's membership in what many would consider a racist entity.

    "Across the country, Americans will join their friends and neighbors to celebrate #Juneteenth as a federal holiday. This is a meaningful and historic acknowledgement of our past to help carry us forward toward justice," Whitehouse said.

  • Report: Biden considers ending Trump-era COVID-19 border policy to expel migrant families Mon, 21 Jun 2021 15:51:15 +0000

    President Joe Biden has reportedly reviewed a plan to end a Trump-era public health order that permitted border officials to speedily turn away migrant families seeking entry to the U.S.

    Trump's order, Title 42, was intended to prohibit asylum-seekers who potentially were carrying COVID-19 from entering the country and spreading the disease. Tens of thousands of migrants were turned away at the border and sent back to Mexico under the policy.

    As COVID-19 cases have fallen nationwide and vaccine distribution has led to falling numbers of deaths, hospitalizations, and infections, immigration activists have called on the Biden administration to end Title 42.

    On Monday, Axios reported that Biden was briefed on a plan for ending family expulsions by the end of July, either through executive action or by letting a court strike down the policy. The American Civil Liberties Union has challenged the order in a lawsuit that claims the Trump administration usurped Congress to "bypass the entire immigration statutory scheme" by using public health law to "set aside the immigration laws."

    According to the report, Biden's administration has been negotiating with the ACLU, which has put a temporary hold on its lawsuit. Top administration officials are reportedly urging Biden to be proactive and end Title 42 before the ACLU resumes its lawsuit and the Biden administration is forced to defend Trump's policy in court. There appears to be a worry that a court battle over the policy "could result in sensitive information being released through the litigation process" that "could be seen as contradictory to Biden's commitment to asylum," Stef W. Kight reported.

    A White House official who spoke to Axios said ending Title 42 would be "a public health decision that will be made ultimately on those grounds." The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will ultimately make a determination on the policy, which Biden will then act on.

    In the past four months, migrant adults have been denied entry to the U.S. at least 350,000 times under Title 42. Even so, Axios reported that since March, the policy has been applied to fewer than half of family encounters. This is because of limited space in Mexican shelters to house migrants turned away from the U.S. Additionally, some Mexican states are refusing to take in families with young children.

    In May, the Biden administration also made it easier for asylum-seekers to claim a humanitarian exemption to the Title 42 policy.

    White House officials admitted there is a chance ending Title 42 for families could lead to a surge of migrant families arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.

    In the first months of Biden's administration, the president sought to repeal several of his predecessor's restrictive immigration policies, leading to the largest wave of migrants attempting to enter the U.S. in two decades. President Biden appointed Vice President Kamala Harris to lead the administration's response to the crisis, but her handling of the situation — and her bizarre refusal to visit the southern border — has been heavily criticized.

    In May, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported 112,302 border encounters under its Title 42 authority, the highest number of encounters reported since the order was enacted in March 2020.

  • LOUDER WITH CROWDER: Who ACTUALLY divides Americans? Don Lemon pushes race-baiting narrative Mon, 21 Jun 2021 15:37:41 +0000

    Dave Landau fills in for Steven Crowder and will discuss why Don Lemon says America is racist. Dave and the "Louder with Crowder" crew say Don Lemon is an idiot. Who's right? Then they discuss why fans of Greta Thunberg appear to be racist, and why Megan Rapinoe may want to "Stop Asian Hate" on her own Twitter feed. That and more on today's show.

    Want more from Steven Crowder?

    To enjoy more of Steven's uncensored late-night comedy that's actually funny, join Mug Club — the only place for all of Crowder uncensored and on demand.

  • Horowitz: Merck rejects ivermectin for COVID treatment after getting $1.2 billion gov’t contract for expensive, unproven drug Mon, 21 Jun 2021 15:00:00 +0000

    For those trying to follow the science and the law, it's been impossible to ascertain a modicum of consistency in the government's COVID response. However, when you follow the money, everything officials are doing (as well as what they are not doing) makes perfect sense.

    The same government that has the power to use COVID to shut down our lives and our breathing also has the power to determine to which pharmaceutical company it will send billions of taxpayer dollars, a decision that is governed 100% by money and politics, not by sound medicine. We already understand why the vaccine companies have been funding a war against cheap, effective therapeutics such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, but many have wondered why Merck would oppose a drug that the company itself has made for many years.

    On Feb. 4, Merck came out with a shocking statement warning against the use of ivermectin to treat COVID. The statement claimed there was "no scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against COVID-19 from pre-clinical studies" and that there was "a concerning lack of safety data in the majority of studies."

    This was quite a bizarre assertion given that 59 studies, including 30 randomized controlled trials, have shown the drug to be extremely effective at all stages of the virus. The statement regarding safety concerns was even more ludicrous given that nearly 4 billion doses of this drug have been dispensed for parasitic ailments, it won the Nobel prize, and it is listed among the WHO's most essential drugs. There is no logical reason why someone would somehow begin experiencing dangerous side effects if he happens to use ivermectin for COVID instead of for scabies or river blindness.

    Nonetheless, Merck's statement served as a strong blow to the use of ivermectin, because Merck was a large dispenser of this drug. After all, why would the company dump on its own drug?

    Well, now we have an answer. On June 9, Merck announced that it had entered into a procurement agreement. Merck will receive approximately $1.2 billion to supply approximately 1.7 million courses of molnupiravir to the United States government. Molnupiravir is a new drug Merck is currently evaluating in a Phase 3 clinical trials to serve as the wonder drug to treat COVID. The estimated cost of the drug per treatment is $700!

    So now we can understand why the company would swap out its own drug that has already been proven safe and effective for something new and experimental. Without the government sending a penny to Merck, I can buy a lifesaving dose of ivermectin for just $26 through GoodRX.

    Well, that's if the pharmacy would actually dispense it to me and a doctor would prescribe it to me. We can now understand why Big Pharma has colluded with big government to pressure doctors and pharmacists away from prescribing and dispensing ivermectin. This historic business deal would be moot.

    Also, let us not forget that expedited approval of experimental new drugs runs into the same problem as the experimental vaccines. Approval for "Emergency Use Authorization" can be granted by the FDA only if there is "no adequate, approved, and available alternative to the product for diagnosing, preventing or treating" a disease. That's why already-approved drugs like ivermectin have to vanish from discussion. Can you imagine how much ivermectin the feds could have dispensed for a fraction of the cost of expensive experimental drugs and mRNA shots?

    What is particularly disturbing is that it appears that molnupiravir contains some of the same molecular qualities as ivermectin, which makes you wonder if Merck knows that ivermectin is effective and just sought a more expensive drug that could be marketed as exclusive and new for COVID, thereby justifying another budget blowout by Washington policymakers.

    One of several antiviral qualities to ivermectin is that it disrupts viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) enzymes. Two Italian doctors in a study published in Nature described the process as follows:

    The RdRP residing in nsp12 is the centerpiece of the coronavirus replication and transcription complex and has been suggested as a promising drug target as it is a crucial enzyme in the virus life cycle both for replication of the viral genome but also for transcription of subgenomic mRNAs (sgRNAs) [34]. Ivermectin binds to the viral rdrp and disrupts it. The highly efficient binding of ivermectin to nsp14 confirms its role in inhibiting viral replication and assembly. It is well known that nsp14 is essential in transcription and replication.

    Dr. Pierre Kory, the president of Frontline Covid19 Critical Care Alliance and one of the most prominent advocates of ivermectin, believes that the new drug developed by Merck acts in a similar way.

    Dr. Syed Mobeen, who hosts a daily medical show and often hosts Dr. Kory for discussions about COVID treatment, told me that "it seems that molnupiravir is a copy of one of Ivermectin's mechanisms."

    "This mechanism is to disrupt the SARS-COV-2 virus' RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) enzyme," said Dr. Mobeen, who runs a medical education center. "Copying this mechanism will give Merck a way to earn from an existing cheap drug's action by relabeling it; however, I believe that molnupiravir will continue to be less effective as studies show that ivermectin has more mechanisms to disrupt the SARS-COV-2 replication and spread. Hence, ivermectin will continue to be a superior choice over molnupirivir or other RdRp disrupters."

    Aside from disrupting the viral RdRp, ivermectin supporters believe the cheap drug inhibits the spike protein from binding to the ACE2 enzyme and disrupts the importin alpha and beta.

    Merck has yet to explain why its new drug would be more cost effective and score better in a risk-benefit analysis than ivermectin. Just over the weekend, a Cochrane-standard (the highest level review) meta-analysis of ivermectin against COVID-19 by Bryant-Lawrie, which has been published in the American Journal of Therapeutics, concluded that the "apparent safety and low cost suggest that ivermectin is likely to have a significant impact on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic globally."

    Thus, with a non-invasive, cheap, and safe drug that doesn't require one to lock down or wear a mask, we could largely solve the problem. Why would the medical establishment not take yes for an answer? As the study concludes:

    Ivermectin is not a new and experimental drug with an unknown safety profile. It is a WHO "Essential Medicine" already used in several different indications, in colossal cumulative volumes. Corticosteroids have become an accepted standard of care in COVID-19, based on a single RCT of dexamethasone.1 If a single RCT is sufficient for the adoption of dexamethasone, then a fortiori the evidence of 2 dozen RCTs supports the adoption of ivermectin.
    Now we know, in the case of Merck, there are 1.2 billion reasons why not. For some of the larger special interests, that number is exponentially higher and is all backed by the Fed's printing press and guaranteed by the media they have paid and influenced. Welcome to science and medicine.
  • Immigrant Jewish vendor removed from immigrant street food festival following pressure from anti-Israel bigots Mon, 21 Jun 2021 14:45:00 +0000

    In what appeared to be a blatant display of anti-Semitism, the organizers of a popular street food festival in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, decided to remove a Jewish vendor from its "Father's Day" event following pressure from anti-Israel activists.

    The event, called "A Taste of Home," was designed to celebrate international cuisine from immigrant communities. But following rumors of protest, one immigrant-based business, Jewish vendor Moshava, was told it was no longer welcome.

    What happened?

    In a social media post over the weekend, one of the event's organizer's, "Eat Up the Borders," announced that "in order to best serve our guests, we decided to remove one of our food vendors for Sunday's event so that we could deliver an optimal experience for all," adding that "this decision came from listening to the community we wish to serve and love."

    Notwithstanding its decision to disinvite Moshava from the event, EUTB reiterated its commitment to "give vendors from all nationalities a platform to showcase their talents."

    Moshava responded to the news in an Instagram post on Saturday, expressing that it was "deeply saddened" by the organization's decision.

    "We have some unfortunate news to share with all of you. We won't be attending 'The Taste of Home' event, this Sunday, on Father's Day. We are deeply saddened by this," the restaurant said. "The organizers of the event heard rumors of a protest happening because of us being there and decided to uninvite us from fear that the protesters would get aggressive and threaten their event. We were really hoping that the organizers [EUTB and Sunflower Philly] would step up to the plate and defend local, small and immigrant based businesses, no matter where they are from (as per their so called 'mission statement') but By the looks of it fear, violence, and intimidation got the best of them."

    "We really do hope that in the future you don't succumb to such antisemitic and dividing [rhetoric] and keep true to your words of a safe environment for all religions and nationalities- not just all of them except Israeli and Jewish ones," Moshava added.

    What else?

    News of Moshava's removal sparked immediate backlash online, as thousands of commenters replied to the Israeli restaurant's post with varying degrees of outrage.

    The news even caught the attention of Democratic Pennsylvania Rep. Brendan Boyle, who called the organizers' decision to surrender to the "threats of bigots" and remove Moshava "completely unacceptable."

    Following the blowback, EUTB and fellow organizer Sunflower Philly, a local art-centered nonprofit, decided to pull the plug on the entire event.

    "Our mistake this time, with not only our event partners, but in general was not educating ourselves. And not properly making sure that everyone is properly represented. So that's where we made the decision to cancel the event," said Melvin Powell, the executive director of Sunflower Philly, in a statement.

    Anything else?

    In a follow-up post after the event's cancellation, Moshava thanked all those who reached out in support of their cause and noted that the restaurant is "actively working" with event organizers to try to "educate and grow together in a safe space for everyone."

    "Although we were disappointed with how the situation was greatly mishandled we do not believe the organizers intention came from an antisemitic place but the threats they were receiving to their event were," the restaurant added.

  • 'Sesame Street' introduces two gay dads and their daughter for 'Family Day' episode — the first married gay couple to appear on iconic children's show Mon, 21 Jun 2021 14:29:46 +0000

    "Sesame Street" introduced two gay dads and their daughter for a recent "Family Day" episode — and it was the first time the iconic children's TV program has shown a married gay couple, according to Yahoo Entertainment, which called it "a bold statement for LGBTQ visibility."

    What are the details?

    The outlet said in a separate story that the episode's two gay dads are Frank (Alex Weisman) and Dave (Chris Costa), the brother of bike-store owner Nina (Chris Costa), and their daughter is Mia (Olivia Perez).

    In the clip of the episode, the couple arrives onscreen at about the 2-minute mark, announcing in unison, "We're here!"

    After some hugs, Nina excitedly says, "OK, everybody, everybody! I want you to meet my brother Dave, his husband Frank, and my sobrina [niece] Mia!"

    Image source: YouTube screenshot

    From there it's your garden-variety "Sesame Street" stuff, but toward the end of the episode, Frank tells the group that "there's all kinds of different families, but what makes us a family is that we love each other."

    Image source: YouTube screenshot

    'Love is love'

    "Sesame Street has always been a welcoming place of diversity and inclusion," cast member Alan Muraoka wrote on Facebook. "So I'm so excited to introduce Nina's Brother Dave, his husband Frank, and their daughter Mia to our sunny street. Our Family Day episode drops today on HBOMax and on YouTube ... I am so honored and humbled to have co-directed this important and milestone episode. Love is love, and we are so happy to add this special family to our Sesame family. Happy Pride to all!!!!"

    'Undeniable trend of inclusion'

    "The 'Family Day' episode of Sesame Street sends the simple and important message that families come in all forms and that love and acceptance are always the most important ingredients in a family," GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis told Yahoo Entertainment. "Frank and Dave, as Mia's dads, are the latest characters in an undeniable trend of inclusion across kids & family programming, one that allows millions of proud LGBTQ parents, and our children, to finally get to see families like ours reflected on TV."

    Here's the episode:

    Sesame Street: Family Day | Full Street Story

    Anything else?

    While the "Family Day" episode may have been historic for "Sesame Street," it was far from the first time it's touched on LGBTQ issues.

    Last year, Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) blasted the program for a Pride Month tweet:

    "Sesame Street" posted a similar tweet this month:

    Yahoo Entertainment also noted that the narrator for an "Elmo's World" segment in the show's 2017 Father's Day episode acknowledged same-sex couples by saying, "You might have a stepdad, or even two dads." The outlet added that a "Sesame Street" episode in August 2017 ("Hello Rudy") had a child saying "I love my moms" just before getting kissed by both of her moms.

    In addition, Yahoo Entertainment noted that "Sesame Street" has also "stood up for equality by welcoming several out celebrities on the show — including Ellen DeGeneres, Billy Eichner, Billy Porter and recently Lil Nas X."

  • Top Biden official admits US will not pressure China or issue 'threats' over COVID-19 origins Mon, 21 Jun 2021 13:19:15 +0000

    National security adviser Jake Sullivan admitted Sunday that President Joe Biden will not pressure China to cooperate with investigations into the origins of COVID-19, but instead will rely upon the intelligence community and the World Health Organization.

    The theory that COVID-19 originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology is now a leading theory of the pandemic's emergence, despite the idea being dismissed as a "conspiracy theory" during the height of the pandemic.

    What are the details?

    Speaking with CNN host Dana Bash on "State of the Union," Sullivan revealed that the Biden administration will not, at least right now, take action against Beijing to force China's cooperation.

    "We are not, at this point, going to issue threats or ultimatums," Sullivan said. "What we're going to do is continue to rally support in the international community."

    "And if it turns out that China refuses to live up to its international obligations, we will have to consider our responses at that point, and we will do so in concert with allies and partners," he added.

    Instead, Sullivan explained the Biden administration is relying on diplomacy, the American intelligence community, and even the WHO to get to the bottom of COVID-19's emergence.

    "One track is an intelligence community assessment that President Biden ordered. That has a 90-day clock on it. And, in August, the intelligence community will report back," Sullivan said. "The second track is an international investigation led by the World Health Organization, for which President Biden has rallied democratic partners to say there must be access to China to be able to get the data necessary to understand what happened here."

    Bash, however, pointed out the obvious: It sounds like the Biden administration is "lying down" and giving China more time.

    "I will repeat what I said before. We're not going to simply accept China saying no," Sullivan conceded. "But we will work between now and when this second phase of the WHO investigation is fully under way to have as strong a consensus in the international community as possible, because it is from that position of strength that we will best be able to deal with China."

    Why does this matter?

    The Biden administration's refusal to take action against China is significant because the U.S. government may be the only body capable of exerting enough pressure on Beijing to make inroads on investigations into COVID-19.

    China has demonstrated thus far that it will not cooperate with investigations by international bodies like the WHO, making America's reliance on the WHO highly questionable.

    In fact, the WHO already has conducted an investigation into COVID-19 and Wuhan, concluding that COVID's emergence from the Wuhan bio lab was "extremely unlikely."

    Jamie Metzl, an advisory board member for the WHO, later revealed China has engaged in a "massive cover-up" and that WHO investigators simply accepted what Beijing told them about COVID-19.

    "The Chinese have engaged in a massive cover-up that is going on until this day, involving destroying samples, hiding records, placing a universal gag order on Chinese scientists and imprisoning Chinese citizen journalists asking the most basic question," Metzl said on Fox News.

    On CBS, Metzl explained of the WHO investigation, "Everybody around the world is imagining this is some kind of full investigation. It's not. This group of experts only saw what the Chinese government wanted them to see."

  • Fla. man pulls gun on Starbucks employee after she gets his order wrong. She turns out to be the police chief’s daughter: Report Mon, 21 Jun 2021 13:00:09 +0000

    Authorities arrested a Florida man after he reportedly pulled a gun on a Starbucks employee after she got his order wrong.

    The Starbucks barista in question turned out to be the daughter of Miami Gardens Police Chief Delma Noel-Pratt.

    What are the details?

    Police said they arrested Omar Wright, 38, after he angrily pulled out a gun on the unnamed Starbucks employee, who is 23 years old.

    The incident took place at the Starbucks drive-through in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Wednesday.

    Wright, clearly disgruntled, ended up pulling out his weapon on the worker after he discovered she'd forgotten to put cream cheese on his bagel, authorities said. After she gave him cream cheese, he drove away and left the scene of the incident.

    Authorities arrested and charged Wright with armed robbery and assault on Thursday.

    An arrest report on the incident stated that Wright's action "caused a well-founded fear in the victim leading her to believe that if she didn't give him the cream cheese, whether he [paid] for it or not, her life was being put at risk."

    Chief Noel-Pratt said that her daughter is "traumatized" following the incident, according to the Associated Press.

    "She felt in fear of her life," Noel-Pratt added. "It was upsetting to me to know that someone would go to that extreme not having cream cheese on his bagel."

    A spokesperson for Starbucks acknowledged the incident in a statement to WPLG-TV.

    "The safety of our partners (employees) and customers is always our top priority, and we are grateful to learn that no one was injured," the statement said.

    Noel-Pratt told the station that she immediately went into "mom mode" when she heard the news.

    "Forget about the badge, forget about the title, that's my child," she said. "And I thought about, am I going to see her again? Is she OK? Of course, she was upset, she was crying, and so I had to go into mom mode."

    She added that the suspect was able to be taken into custody due to surveillance footage in the area.

    "It's thanks in part to the witnesses, to the real-time crime center that we have," Noel-Pratt said. "Because of the various cameras that they have in that system, they were able to get a partial tag."

    WPLG also reported that Wright appeared in court on Friday, where he said that he doesn't believe he should be facing armed robbery charges because he "just wanted some cream cheese."

  • CNN's Don Lemon says Americans don't see black people as 'human beings,' proclaims US is racist Sun, 20 Jun 2021 23:45:00 +0000

    CNN anchor Don Lemon had some unfavorable remarks about the United States and Americans in a new interview. The left-wing cable TV host made a bizarre claim that Americans don't see black people as human beings, and declared that the U.S. needs to "realize just how racist it is."

    Lemon gave an in-depth interview for the Washington Post Magazine's Sunday feature. Reporter Eric Easter asked Lemon, "You've suggested that Trump was the president we deserved and probably a necessary and revealing wake-up call. Do you still think that?"

    Lemon responded, "Considering people's apathy to get involved in the political process, to pay attention to the political process, to go to the polls, their willingness to give so much attention to celebrity, I think that's what I meant by 'the president we deserve.'"

    "But there's also this false reality that we're living in a post-racial world after the election of Barack Obama. That was all bulls***," Lemon asserted. "It was a wake-up call to White people who thought we were living in a nonracist world. We're living in two different realities as Black and White people."

    "We knew, as Black people, what was lurking beneath the surface," the CNN host said. "I still believe that [Trump] was the necessary wake-up for America to realize just how racist it is."

    Easter then asked Lemon about his new book, "This book seems to be part of an ongoing process of putting yourself out there — bit by bit, revealing more personal things about yourself. Is that something you've wanted to, or something you've felt like you've had to do?"

    Lemon replied, "I feel like I've had to do that because I don't think America has seen enough people like me. I don't think America intimately knows enough people like me."

    The CNN host then stated, "I would love America to see Black people, especially Black gay men as — and I hate this word — normal, and as human beings and as part of the culture."

    "I don't know if America sees Black people and especially Black gay men as fully human, and as deserving of the American Dream," Lemon said.

    Despite his claims of living in a racist America, full of people questioning if he is a human being deserving of the American Dream, Lemon has achieved quite a bit of success, and lives in a neighborhood in the Hamptons area of Long Island.

    Lemon claimed that "we're living in two different realities as Black and White people," but as the Daily Mail pointed out, "He lives in a $4.3 million four-bedroom cottage in Sag Harbor on New York's Long Island, where 80% of the population is white and just 3% are black."

    "He also owned a three-bedroom condo in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan, where 54 percent of residents are black," according to the Daily Mail, but he purportedly sold the property for $1.5 million in February.

    Lemon reportedly earns a $4 million annual salary from CNN, and has a net worth of $12 million.

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott defunds Texas Legislature after Dem lawmakers blocked election integrity bill Sun, 20 Jun 2021 22:45:00 +0000

    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott followed through on a promise to defund the Texas Legislature after Democratic lawmakers staged a walkout to protest legislation meant to strengthen election integrity. The bill was championed by Republicans, including Abbott.

    What is the background?

    During the final moments of a legislative session in late May, Texas House Democrats staged a walkout to protest SB7, a sweeping election reform bill. The move, which broke decorum, was meant to block the bill's passage.

    The Texas Tribune explained:

    Senate Bill 7, a Republican priority bill, is an expansive piece of legislation that would alter nearly the entire voting process. It would create new limitations to early voting hours, ratchet up voting-by-mail restrictions and curb local voting options like drive-thru voting. Democrats had argued the bill would make it harder for people of color to vote in Texas. Republicans called the bill an "election integrity" measure — necessary to safeguard Texas elections from fraudulent votes, even though there is virtually no evidence of widespread fraud.

    In response, Abbott threatened to veto funding for the Texas Legislature, which prompted questions about the separation of powers.

    "I will veto Article 10 of the budget passed by the legislature. Article 10 funds the legislative branch. No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities. Stay tuned," Abbott said.

    What did Abbott do?

    Abbott made good on his promise, vetoing a portion of the state budget that funds the Texas Legislature.

    "Texans don't run from a legislative fight, and they don't walk away from unfinished business," Abbott said. "Funding should not be provided for those who quit their job early, leaving their state with unfinished business and exposing taxpayers to higher costs for an additional legislative session."

    More from the Dallas Morning News:

    The dramatic action effectively chokes off pay for lawmakers, their staffers and a host of other legislative functions starting Sept. 1, when the state's next two-year budget begins.
    Not only could the veto wipe out lawmakers' $7,200 annual salaries and pay for their personal staff members, but it could also force a group of other experts and support staff on the legislative branch's payroll to get pink slips.

    As expected, Democrats were outraged over Abbott's decision.

    House Democratic Caucus Chairman Chris Turner accused Abbott of an "abuse of power," and said Democrats are "exploring every option, including immediate legal options, to fight back," the Texas Tribune reported.

    "Texas has a governor, not a dictator," Turner said. "The tyrannical veto of the legislative branch is the latest indication that [Abbott] is simply out of control."

  • District attorneys drop most looting cases from last year's riots in NYC, leaving business owners 'disgusted' Sun, 20 Jun 2021 22:00:00 +0000

    District attorneys in New York City have dropped looting cases against hundreds of suspects, who were charged during last summer's riots in the wake of George Floyd's death, according to a new report. Allowing the looters to get off scot-free has disgusted some NYC business owners who had their stores ravaged by last year's protests and riots that occurred on a regular basis.

    According to NYPD data analyzed by WNBC-TV, there were 118 arrests made in the Bronx in early June last year — during the worst of the looting from riots. Despite many of the suspects being caught on surveillance footage or bragging about committing crimes on social media, Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark has reportedly dismissed 73 of those cases, more than 60% of the cases. There have been 19 convictions for mostly lesser counts, like trespassing, which carries no jail time. There are 18 cases that remain open.

    Jessica Betancourt owns an eyeglass shop that was looted and destroyed in the Bronx last June.

    "Those numbers, to be honest with you, is disgusting," Betancourt said of so few looters being prosecuted. "I was in total shock that everything is being brushed off to the side."

    "They could do it again because they know they won't get the right punishment," she said.

    Betancourt is also the vice president of a local merchants association, where other business leaders are upset over the criminals getting away with ransacking businesses.

    In Manhattan, where there was nearly nightly unrest, there were reportedly 485 arrests for looting and burglary. But 222 cases have been dropped, 73 had the charges reduced significantly, and 128 cases remain open, according to the data. There were 40 cases involving juveniles that were sent to family court, according to the report.

    "If they are so overworked that they can't handle the mission that they're hired for, then maybe they should find another line of work," former NYPD Chief of Patrol Wilbur Chapman said of the district attorneys. "It allowed people who committed crimes to go scot-free."

    NYPD Deputy Inspector Andrew Arias noted that painstaking work went into proving each case.

    "We had to analyze each case individually and see if, in fact, we could prove the right person had committed the crime," Arias said, adding that follow-up investigations into looting were tedious.

    In an internal memo, Vance allegedly said there were over 600 commercial burglary arrests in addition to over 3,500 unindicted felony cases waiting to move forward in the courts, but were put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Before dropping the cases, Vance purportedly instructed his prosecutors to review the criminal histories of the defendants, whether police could really place the suspects at the scenes, and if the suspects caused "any damage to the store."

    Vance allegedly told his office, "For many of these commercial burglaries, you will be asked to reduce the initial felony charge to a misdemeanor and to dispose of the case … with an eye towards rehabilitation."

    The Manhattan DA also told prosecutors that they should strive to reach the "continued goal to achieve consistency and equitable treatment in these cases."

    WNBC reported, "Bronx DA Darcell Clark declined repeated requests for an interview, as did Manhattan DA Cy Vance, whose office has been busy with a team of prosecutors investigating separate allegations of tax fraud surrounding President Trump's businesses – allegations Trump denies."

  • Chicago alderman debunks Dem mayor's claims that racism is to blame for Windy City's major problems Sun, 20 Jun 2021 21:15:00 +0000

    A Chicago alderman is firing back at Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's claims that racism is responsible for major problems in the Windy City, explaining that generational gang violence is actually what plagues Chicago.

    What did Lightfoot claim?

    Lightfoot announced last Thursday she would divert more than $9 million earmarked for COVID-19 pandemic relief to address racism, claiming the pandemic has "laid bare" racial disparities and systemic discrimination.

    "At almost every point in our city's history, sadly, racism has taken a devastating toll on the health and well-being of our residents of color, and particularly those who are Black," Lightfoot said. "Without formally acknowledging this history and reality, and the continuing impact of that infamous legacy, looking at the root causes of today's challenges, we will never be able to move forward as a city and fully provide our communities with the resources that we need to live happy, vibrant, and fulfilled lives."

    She added, "COVID laid bare a lot of disparities. When we started looking at the disproportionate impact of COVID on communities of color in particular, there's a straight line to the lack of access to safe, affordable, high-quality healthcare."

    "We can no longer allow racism to rob our residents of the opportunity to live and lead full, happy, and healthy lives," Lightfoot said.

    What did the alderman say?

    Alderman Raymond Lopez (D), however, contents that gang violence is the real problem wreaking havoc on Chicagoans — and Lightfoot is intentionally ignoring the issue.

    "Generational gang life isn't just something that's encouraged. It's almost revered in some neighborhoods," Lopez told the Washington Examiner. "If you really want to get to what is at the heart of a lot of this, it is gangs, and it is the borderline collapse of the family unit in many of our neighborhoods ... [Lightfoot] has avoided calling out gangs in our community as a source of violence in our city."

    "I think it's a foil to avoid having to deal with [gang and other issues], period. Two hundred-plus murders in the city of Chicago, none of them were committed because of racism," he added. "I can tell you last week's gang shooting had nothing to do with racism. The shooting in Englewood Monday morning, four people shot, three others injured, was not about racism."

    In fact, according to Lopez, Lightfoot's focus on racism, as opposed to gang violence, as the city's problem is meant to appease her "white, lakefront, liberal, woke supporters."

    The result, according to Lopez, is that his constituents, who are mostly mostly Hispanic and black, "feel the city doesn't give a s**t" about them and the real problem of gang violence in their neighborhoods.

    There have been 294 homicides in Chicago as of June 12, according to the Chicago Tribune. That is 21 more homicides compared to the same time period in 2020, and 60 more than 2019.

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