Official Army Twitter Account Likes Anti-Trump Post

On Saturday, the U.S. Army’s official Twitter account liked a tweet from actress Mindy Kaling, apparently mocking President Donald Trump’s claim that he’s “like, really smart.”

This tweet comes after Trump defended his mental fitness by claiming to be “Like, really smart” and “a stable genius.”

The Army later unliked the tweet and stated,

An operator of the Army’s official Twitter account inadvertently ‘liked’ a tweet whose content would not be endorsed by the Department of the Army. As soon as it was brought to our attention, it was immediately corrected.

This isn’t the first time a government social media page expressed anger over Trump. In early 2017, the National Park Service retweeted two photos of small crowds from Trump’s inauguration. Those retweets were later investigated.

Kaling later responded to the Army in a tweet using their signature slogan “Army strong.”

Now We Burn Art

Mansoor Adayfi, a freed prisoner from Guantanamo, said:

Everyone who could draw drew the sea(…) the sea means freedom no one can control or own, freedom for everyone.

The John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York City has put up a controversial art exhibit called “Ode to the Sea” that features 36 paintings, drawings and sculptures, all stamped with the words “Approved by US Forces.” The art was made by prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and the exhibition gained worldwide news coverage due to its artists. In November, the government stopped releasing any art from Guantanamo Bay, reportedly in response to the exhibit. Art from Guantanamo was already censored. No art that revealed anything about Guantanamo or that portrayed the United States negatively would be released, and the art was inspected by experts for secret messages. The US government gave no explanation for its change in policy. Apparently, it doesn’t have to, because, according to the Army, the government owns art created in Guantanamo, despite the fact the artists were held there without trialagainst their will. Because of this policy, the government can do what it wants with the prisoner’s art. Prisoners cannot take their art with them when they are freed, so instead, the army burns it. A lawyer representing three Guantanamo Bay prisoners said, as quoted by the New York Times, said:

One of my clients was told that, even if he were ever to be released, that he would not be able to take his art with him, and that it would be incinerated.

Art in Guantanamo has never fared well. It has been forbidden, censored, and now it will be burnt.

The Third Reich hated modernism (what it called degenerate art). They deemed it insane and insulting to morality and society. The Nazis removed over 20,000 pieces of art from German museums and put them in a special museum created to mock the art. The “museum” showed the art as corrupt, evil, and nonsensical. Some of the art the Nazis sold, but much of itthey burned. Art made by Jewish artists faced the same fate. The Soviet Union also practiced strict censorship against art, it had a whole office dedicated to deciding what books and paintings the Soviet public could or could not see. Religious art and the books or paintings of people the government had killed or exiled were banned. More recently, ISIS has destroyed tons of art in order to destroy messages they don’t agree with. They burned books from libraries in Mosul that they believed promoted infidelity or disobeyed Allah and destroyed statues they believed promoted following false idols.

Governments destroy and censor art in order to get rid of its message. The Nazis hated modernism because it didn’t focus on an idealized image of Anglo-Saxon society. It blurred the lines between good and bad. It scorned the absolutes that the Third Reich was built upon. The Soviet Union censored any art that criticized the government or didn’t perfectly fit communist ideals. ISIS destroys art that promotes anything but following their beliefs. Governments also censor art because it connects and humanizes people, making it much harder to demonize an enemy. Nazis mocked and burned Jewish art, the Soviet Union banned the art of exiles and religious people, ISIS destroys the art of so-called sinners.

The United States government is censoring the art of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay for the same reasons. First, the United States didn’t release any art they didn’t agree with. Now, no art can leave their island “dungeon.Our government would rather burn art made by prisoners than let it leave Guantanamo because it proves that the prisoners are humansnot monsters. Because the art depicts the views of the Guantanamo Bay prisoners and humanizes them, it makes the public ask questions about Guantanamo thatthey couldn’t when the prisoners were just “the worst of the worst.” The government has no good answers. 779 people have been kept at Guantanamo—forty-one remain. The Trump administration has freed none. Eight have been convicted in illegal military commissions. Of these eight, these three were completely overturned, and one was partially overturned. Only one prisoner was found guilty in a legal court case. Lawrence Wilkerson, a former senior State Department official, declared:

There was no meaningful way to determine whether [the prisoners] were terrorists, Taliban, or simply innocent civilians picked up on a very confused battlefield or in the territory of another state such as Pakistan.

The government offered thousands of dollars to anyone who brought in a person they said was a member of ISIS, and some prisoners weren’t even vetted by any Americans before being sent to Guantanamo to be tortured. Wilkerson testifies children as young as twelve and thirteen years-old were shipped to Guantanamo alongwith men in their 90s.In Guantanamo, prisoners were beaten by guards, forced into ice baths, and waterboarded. No communication with families was allowed, even for prisoners who had been found innocent and were just being heldsometimes for yearsuntil a country would take them. Even with extreme security measures and constant supervision, seven prisoners managed to commit suicide. Yasser Zahrini was taken to Guantanamo when he was sixteen. He committed suicide at twenty-one, becoming the youngest person to die at Guantanamo. Many other prisoners attempted suicide, Majid Khan reported trying to commit suicide by chewing through his own arteries because the conditions at Guantanamo were so bad. On top of that, according to a Senate committee investigation, torture was a completely ineffective means to gain truthful information, and the CIA lied about the about gaining helpful information from torture.

The United States committed war crimes, now it is demonizing its victims. The Guantanamo Bay prisoners’ art is their best way to connect with the public, but our government would rather burn their art than let it reach the eyes of American citizens.

This City Just Got Buried Under Five Feet of Snow

Image: NBC 

After two days of non-stop snow, the city of Erie, Pennsylvania is buried under more than five feet of snow, a new record for the city, which sits along the shores of Lake Erie, just south of the Canadian border. Residents in Erie are used to large amounts of snow, with an annual snowfall of 100 inches in the city thanks to lake effect snow, but an amount like this is unprecedented in such a short time, with the city receiving 34 inches on Christmas day, beating the previous record for the city of 20 inches on Thanksgiving Day in 1956.

The city declared a disaster emergency in order to receive the necessary supplies for the storm, and the Governor of Pennsylvania also deployed 21 members of the Pennsylvania National Guard to the city. Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper stated:

We’re used to a lot of snow here in Erie, but this is unprecedented, the amount we got.

Many of the residents, although snow veterans, were shocked by the amount of snow the city received and began to share pictures and videos of the storm all over social media.

Believe it or not, the person standing in the above photo is 5′ 10″!

While the “snow machine” did stop, more than a foot of snow is predicted to hit the city in the coming days.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BdLlKdlgywh/

Even dogs got in on the winter fun!

As an Erie resident, I can confirm that this is what it’s like when you open your windows.

While the city may have been snowed in, many Erieites knew how to have a good time in the winter wonderland they were gifted.

Erieites know how to get a good tan, whether it’s on Presque Isle during the summer or in a giant snow pile during the winter.

The storm caused a collapse at a local sports complex and forced the local airport to shut down. However, no injuries have been reported. While the city may currently look like an arctic tundra, life carries on as usual in the city, just with a little more snow than usual.

#MeToo Is Having Some Trouble Reaching Italy

Image: Buzzfeed

In the United States, ever since the “Weinstein scandal” in October, women have felt empowerment to share their own stories of sexual harassment and assault. The rise of the #MeToo movement has led to countless other public figures—including actors, musicians, journalists, executives, and politicians from both sides—being forced to resign in the utmost disgrace. The movement has been so incredibly influential, it has led TIME Magazine to name “The Women of the #MeToo Movement” as the TIME’s People of the Year.

Laura Boldrini, the president of Italy’s lower House of Parliament, talked about the way that the Weinstein scandal had begun a revelation of sexual harassment and misconduct all around the world—except Italy.

More than 600 women were listening to her as she said, “In Italy, it certainly hasn’t had the same effect. In our country, there are no harassers.” Her sarcasm elicited chuckles from others in the room.

Boldrini let it be known that harassment was no stranger to their nation, but the only difference between them and the rest of the world was that their women were too afraid to speak up due to the fierce prejudice that they face.

Their fear is justified. In Florence, two young women who accused parliamentary police officers of rape were asked if they were wearing underwear by the defense attorneys. No, that’s not a joke. In Sicily, a court even found a man innocent of sexual harassment charges because his groping of his colleagues was motivated by “sophomoric humor” instead of “sexual intent.” No, that’s not a joke either.

Even worse, former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is legitimately attempting a comeback after he was forced out of power six years ago in the thick of mass protests and trials on his role in “Bunga Bunga” bacchanals with prostitutes and minors.

After being cleared of charges of soliciting underage prostitutes but continuing to fight related charges that he had bribed a witness, Berlusconi said:

For us, defending women is a priority and it always has been.

Do not think that the eighty-one-year-old man with the thirty-two-year-old girlfriend has changed his ways in any way. Just two months ago, he bragged in front of his supporters that he had introduced the bidet to the late Libyan leader, Muammar el-Qaddafi and that he “taught these lusty Africans that there’s also foreplay” by doing so. The crowd cheered.

Lorella Zanardo, a filmmaker, and a women’s rights advocate said that Berlusconi was at fault for much of the country’s perception of women as simply decorative objects.

It is not as if the United States is that respectful to women who speak out. Asia Argento, a proclaimed actress and the daughter of Italy’s most successful horror movie director, has described her life as a living nightmare ever since she came out against Harvey Weinstein. She says that she fears leaving her home and plans to leave the United States following the villainous slander from the media.

Vladimir Luxuria, a former Italian member of Parliament, transgender actress, and a self-described feminist, made a tweet that blames Argento for not “saying no to Weinstein as other actresses did.” She went as far as to say that Argentobasically should have expected it to happen after she agreed to give him a massage.

According to Lorella Zanardo, the best way forward is to begin teaching to treat women equally to children. Whatever the best course of action is so that women can be treated with respect, dignity, and equality, it is important that the people of Italy implement it as soon as possible.

Will Michael Flynn be Prosecuted by the Logan Act?

Image: Toronto Star

On November 30th, Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. This raised questions about the Trump administration and the “Logan act.” The Logan Act forbids Americans from unauthorized negotiations with foreign governments, especially those that seek to “defeat the measures of the United States” aimed at those same countries. In short, it protects the ability of the U.S. government to conduct foreign policy without interference from private citizens.”

The Logan Act accusations started in the summer of 2016 when Donald Trump told Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s missing emails. In February, the White House said that they were confident Michael Flynn didn’t say anything that violated the Logan Act. Should the Trump administration be worried? No, no one has ever been prosecuted through the Logan Act. It’s mainly just used as a political scare tactic. Newsweek wrote about how Michael Flynn probably won’t be convicted:

What the Act criminalizes is an unusually harmful subset of communications with foreign governments: ones intended to “defeat” concrete “measures” of the United States, or to undercut the authority of a sitting President by altering how foreign governments will resolve pending “disputes or controversies. In other words, the Logan Act’s limited domain ensures that transitional figures won’t be jailed for swapping pleasantries with foreign leaders or even engaging in substantive foreign-policy discussions with the United States.”

I don’t think Michael Flynn intended to do any of this especially since he’s a decorated general and was on the transition team.

Early Tuesday morning, a U.S District Court judge ordered Robert Muller to turn over any information on Michael Flynn tbe used for sentencing. A sentencing date has not been yet announced, but people have been speculating sometime in February. The majority of political sites are saying that it is going to be hard to prosecute Michael Flynn.

If they would try to prosecute Michael Flynn they would also have to prosecute Nancy Pelosi For violating the law when she went to Syria against the State Department’s wishes. Last year Robert F. Turner chimed in:

Ms. Pelosi’s trip was not authorized, and Syria is one of the world’s leading sponsors of international terrorism. It has almost certainly been involved in numerous attacks that have claimed the lives of American military personnel from Beirut to Baghdad.

Jimmy Carter also violated the Logan act. The OPU blog stated when he visited Hamas in 2008. He said that no one from the State Department told him not to, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had said:

The State Department had explicitly informed Mr. Carter that it opposed his plans to meet with leaders of Hamas.

Will these two ever be tried under the Logan Act?

Stop Pretending That Hanukkah is so Important

Image: My Jewish Learning

Let me start with this: I am a Jew (with a bar mitzvah and all). Now that I have put it on the record, I am safe from hate and people automatically jumping to the conclusion that I am anti-Semitic before they even reach the next paragraph (or even past the title). Of course, it is possible for a Jew to be anti-Semitic just any other self-loathing person, but then again, I am on the board of my congregation, the president of my congregation’s youth group, a new member of NFTY, and I just got back from the URJ Biennial in Boston last weekend. I think that just about sums it up.

While many people continue to compare Hanukkah and Christmas from organizations like Jews for Jesus (an extremely offensive pretense to convert Jews to Christianity without them even knowing it), Affinity Magazine, FOX News, Independent, The Religion News, it is ignorant to jump to the conclusion that they are alike just because they fall within the same month (typically). The Independent went as far as to say:

Hanukkah is often known as Jewish Christmas.

I am really only here to vent my frustrations with this common belief. It is not.

I am not one of those people who will get mad when somebody tells me “Merry Christmas,” because I assume that they probably just do not know I am Jewish (How would they with a name like “Romero?”). I take it just as any Christian would: a compliment. That is what it is meant to be after all. While I may correct them if I know them well enough, I would almost never get offended—unless it was intentional, knowing that I am Jewish, to show disdain over the fact that I just do not celebrate Christmas. On the other hand, I do get angry about people who go ballistic whenever they hear “Happy holidays,” because it is the same principle. It is just a compliment, so just take the compliment for crying out loud! Hats off to the person who said it for making an effort to be more inclusive as well!

What you need to understand about Hanukkah is that it is not even a holiday— it is a festival. That is right, and to add to it, Hanukkah is not even the most important of the festivals—Pesach is. You might be shocked, but it is true.

First, let’s go over the history behind Hanukkah.

During the period of the second Temple, Israel was controlled by the Greeks. The Greeks were cruel, robbed Jews of their property, and set up idols in Beit HaMikdash. They accepted the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament, as a book of wisdom, but not as something holy that connects us to God. In turn, they made Torah learning illegal, and outlawed Mitzvot (good deeds) like Shabbat (the Sabbath), Rosh Chodesh (first day of every Jewish month), Brit Milah (baby-naming ceremony), and the holiness of Jewish marriage. The Maccabees, the ancient Jewish army, revolted against the Greeks to keep the Torah and Judaism alive and won.

When the Greeks had stormed their land, they had ruined everything in Beit HaMikdash—including the oil—and making it impure. Miraculously, the Maccabees found one last jar that had been overlooked, but it only had enough oil for one day. Again, God performed another miracle and made the oil last for eight whole days—not just one! That is the reason why the chanukiah (not a menorah) has eight candles on it and one shemash.

Not one of the things in the story of Hanukkah is ever mentioned in the Torah. The name, “Hanukkah,” is not even said once—proving its unimportance again. Instead, the story comes from the books of the First and Second Maccabees.

You will probably meet Jews that will tell you that I am wrong and that Hanukkah is “the Jewish Christmas,” but I really consider myself to be well-versed in my religion—educated enough to, as I mentioned earlier, be on the board of my congregation at age fifteen, be the president of my congregation’s youth group, and very active in my Jewish community. I must be doing something right. Yet again, you could just as quickly say that I don’t know what I am talking about and turn off your computer right now, but I trust you take what I say at face-value (or at least after checking my resources and doing the research yourself as I did).

When you think of Hanukkah, what else do you think (things that have not been mentioned yet)? Presents? Latkes?

When it comes to food, from my understanding of the Catholic tradition, people have big Thanksgiving-like feasts for dinner on Christmas. Hanukkah, against what you might believe, is a pretty forgetful time for most Jews (I cannot speak for everybody.). At least for my family, we eat dinner as usual, we go to work as usual, we go to school as usual, and much more. None of those things apply to Christmas (for most families), where people have big get-togethers with their extended family.

For Jews, that big get-together happens during the High Holidays. The High Holidays are the two most important holidays in Judaism (hence the name), Rosh Hashanah (Jewish new year) and Yom Kippur (day of atonement). It is kind of funny that nobody talks about the most popular holidays of the religion.

As for presents, I can tell you that Jews do exchange small gifts for Hanukkah, but never to the extent of what is exchanged on Christmas. Jews will exchange smaller presents on the holidays, and the gift-giving is even somewhat outgrown once children get older. In fact, the entire origin of gift-giving is extremely modern.

It was always customary for Jews to exchange small gifts on Pesach, Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University, explained that gift-giving among American Jews shifted from Pesach to Hanukkah in the late nineteenth century. Christmas itself became enlarged in the late nineteenth century when it became a national holiday in America, and the Jewish custom just shifted in imitation of Christmas, as the Christian holiday’s consumerism grew.

Gifts and gift-giving are not the measures of a holiday, and just because Jews exchange small gifts on Hanukkah as Christians give gifts on Christmas, it does not mean that they are equivalent in terms of importance.

While it would make our lives so much easier to have every major religion’s biggest holidays at the same time, we cannot pretend that is the case at hand. Christmas is in December; Easter is in April; Ramadan is in May/June; Rosh Hashanah is in September/October; Yom Kippur is ten days after Rosh Hashanah; Vesak is in May; Diwali is in October; The Asian Lunar New Year is in February. If you couldn’t tell, the biggest holidays/festivals in most religions do not fall at the same time.

I say that we should never stop trying to be inclusive, and I love hearing people tell me “Happy holidays!” It shows me that people are making a conscious effort to be inclusive of everybody, and it is greatly appreciated. My goal is to just educate everybody so that they understand that Hanukkah is not “the Jewish Christmas,” not so they think that they should ignore Hanukkah.

For what it is worth, anything people say about Jews is almost unanimously bad, but the fact that people are changing their traditions to be more accepting towards any aspect of Judaism, even if not the one that we would like could be considered a win in the sense that it may help popularize the fact that Jews are just human beings like you and—well—you. Who knows? Maybe this can help end the anti-Semitism that sadly engulfed Europe during the Bubonic Plague, Spain during the Spanish Inquisition, Nazi Germany during the Shoah, and what looks like could even be America in the near future.

The Fight for Net Neutrality

Image: CNBC

Do you have an idea that you want to develop? Do you fancy yourself an entrepreneur? Good for you! Your future is bright! Here in the Land of the Free, we are fortunate to be able to access information with ease. Just think of the treasure trove of help you can find with your budding business on the internet! But wait! Maybe not! Have you heard of Net Neutrality? Sounds boring? Well, stop snoring and take notice! The business you save may be your own!

The Facts

Net Neutrality is the idea that internet service providers (ISPs)—think of companies like Verizon, Spectrum, AT&T, and more—will provide the same access to an open internet, no matter the status of an individual. So when you question the almighty Google from your phone, you get the same results as some big shot company executive from her corner office. That sounds like a good idea for a variety of reasons. For example, if you really are trying to start your own business, the internet is a great place to advertise and sell your products or services. If you are a social activist, the internet gives you a platform to organize and communicate. These notions are dependent on a vital and open internet.

We currently have strong net neutrality protections here in the United States. In 2015, thanks to the strong support of millions of net neutrality activists, the Obama administration was able to draft net neutrality regulations, getting the ISPs classified as “common carriers” under Title II of the Communications Act. This allowed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the authority to draft strong regulations protecting access to the internet. Now, however, these regulations are under attack, led by the current administrations FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. A vote by the FCC to rescind these regulations are currently scheduled for December 14. The Democrats have asked for a delay in the vote, but the FCC has denied that request.

What would happen if these protections are rescinded? Your internet access may begin to look more and more like your cable TV access. That means you may have different packages from which to choose, with each package providing you a different level of access to the internet. Additionally, an ISP may determine the speed at which the content is delivered. For example, the more you pay, the faster you play.

It is also critical to remember that in many areas of the US, ISP providers may not even exist. According to Dr. Brian Whitacre of Oklahoma State University, just over ½ (55%) of people living in rural areas of the United States can access internet speeds considered to be broadband! This percentage suggests there aren’t a heck of a lot of ISPs out there in rural America. If net neutrality goes out the window, and ISPs can dictate access, who is the competition in rural America? These folks will have to simply take what they are offered.

Proponents of rescinding the net neutrality regulations, AT&T being one of the most notable, indicate the current regulations hinders ISPs investments in innovation. Yet the evidence we see around us each day is that technology is improving. This argument seems to be lame when compared to the stifling effect rescinding can have on budding entrepreneurs, start-up businesses, activists, and others in dorm rooms and garages, dreaming big dreams and making great strides, thanks to our open internet.

What You Can Do

There is a wide variety of options for people like you—people who want to save net neutrality and save our internet—the first being signing this petition: Save the InternetSave the Internet is an online petition with one simple goal: protecting our rights and providing every person that browses the internet equal access to every site that they browse. You can also even donate to their cause here.

You can call your senator by using this simple tool: Call My Congress. It will help you find all of the contact information of all of your elected officials. You must use it to urge your representatives and senators to vote net neutrality.

The truth is, we have almost no time left. The vote in the FCC is today, so we must act now. Now is our time to be heard before it’s too late.

The First Thanksgiving… and Diplomatic Empathy

Image: Faith and History

In late September or early October 1621, the Pilgrims hosted a celebration of their first harvest. The Native American tribe, Wampanoag, that had helped them through the spring came with twice as many people, making it an overwhelmingly Native American celebration. While there was turkey, deer was the main course, it was a multi-day affair and there was not enough tables nor chairs to seat everyone. This celebration has been heralded as the first Thanksgiving, despite the fact, Puritans defined a Thanksgiving as a period of prayer and devotion to God, not a meal or celebration. Every year, Thanksgiving is held throughout America with a turkey dinner on the fourth Thursday of November commemorating that celebration. Despite the historical fallaciousness, the sentiment shines through. In modern America, Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for what you have, the first Thanksgiving was the Pilgrims celebrating their first harvest and possibly was their way of thanking the Wampanoags. The Pilgrims owed the Wampanoags not only for single-handedly saving the Pilgrims lives that wretched first year but also for the political connection to the Native American tribes that allowed the Pilgrims to be active diplomatic players in North America and would continue to help them for years to come. The political bond formed between the Wampanoags and Pilgrims was an incredible feat given the huge cultural difference between the groups and that the Wampanoag’s past experiences with white settlers had been overwhelmingly negative. In fact, the Wampanoags and other Native American tribes had at very least discussed killing the Pilgrims when they first arrived. In the end, the Wampanoags helped them out of their own necessity. They were a small tribe, weakened by diseases and increasingly threatened by the stronger more populous tribes surrounding them. They decided to become allies of these new settlers who brought technology the Native Americans were familiar with but didn’t have a source for. For the Wampanoags, it was a risky bet that they hoped would have a high political and financial payout.

The Pilgrim-Wampanoag alliance was an extremely beneficial one. They both benefited in trade and were much safer than they would have been alone. Amazingly this alliance lasted nearly 50 years, and so did peace between the Pilgrims and Wampanoags despite the fact that everything about the culture of Native Americans and Pilgrims was different, their languages, their traditions, their religions. The alliance was an incredible feat of diplomacy between the two groups, created primarily by mutual necessity and opportunism but also an incredible amount of empathy. The Pilgrims came from Europe in the 17th century, where people were seen as less for having a different religion or race, but in this new world, the Pilgrims couldn’t afford to be intolerant. The two peoples coexisted in a way future settlers wouldn’t even be able to imagine. The Pilgrims hired Native Americans, stayed in their Wigwams during diplomatic meetings and a few Native Americans even lived with the Pilgrims. The Pilgrims treated Native Americans and their ways with respect, they were even subdued in their Puritan evangelism. Possibly the best account of how much respect the Pilgrims had for the Native Americans was a trial. In 1638 four European settlers robbed and killed a Native American. The Pilgrim’s court found the settlers guilty and executed them. The Pilgrims saw a Native American life as equal to a European’s.

Leading up to King Philip’s war in 1675, the European settlers became less and less empathetic to the Native Americans. Missionaries began converting tribes to Christianity, a religion Philip, the new leader of the Wampanoags, was increasingly wary of. More Europeans poured over from Europe and they bullied the Wampanoags into giving up more land than the tribe could survive without. The Europeans provoked the Wampanoags more and more until one event finally sparked King Philip’s war. Three of Philip’s men were accused of killing a European educated Native American. The three were found guilty despite the fact only one witness had seen the alleged events and the law required two witnesses. The Pilgrims hung the three Native Americans, the last of the three hangings failed because the rope broke and the Pilgrims forced a confession from the third Native American after already hanging the other two, securing their second witness. It was a demolition of justice and started the war Philip had already been preparing for. A war that the Europeans had forced upon the Native Americans by trying to take over and bully them. The Pilgrims had treated their neighbors as subhuman. The result was a war. One that the Europeans won, but not without paying a heavy price. One in ten soldiers on both sides was killed and 1,200 homes of colonists were destroyed. The colonists lived in terror during the war and felt its financial effects long after.

That war might have been inevitable for America due too the number of Europeans coming in who needed to take land from someone and the natural clash between government and cultures, but if the Pilgrims had been more respectful, diplomatic and empathetic with their neighbors they could have left that war for another group of colonists. As it was, they put themselves in a similar situation to the one they had been in 55 years prior, months before the first Thanksgiving when they were low on supplies and terrified. That Thanksgiving was the Pilgrims reaping the benefits of a win-win alliance they created with the Wampanoags when they had been in that dark desperate situation. In the modern world, our countries need win-win solutions. Life is better in a peaceful world. Any conflict, whether physical, economic, or political, hurts civilians. Also, bullying may have worked for America’s forefathers but the world is different today, the United States can’t force Mexico to pay for a wall, or North Korea to give up its weaponry or China to stop building islands, we need diplomatic win-win solutions and we need people who have empathy, who can look at thing from other people’s point of view, to create those win-win solutions.

This Thanksgiving let’s be thankful for the leaders around the world working in governments, nonprofits, and privately to make the world safer. Let’s be thankful the UN exists, as an organization that is dedicated to creating diplomatic solutions. Let’s be thankful the United States and any other country that signed the UN charter into law must seek diplomatic solutions before starting a war. Let’s be thankful the world has come a long way in diplomacy since 1675.

A Dictator Damned

Image: CNN

Since 1987, Robert Gabriel Mugabe has been the President of Zimbabwe, a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. At the old age of 93, Mugabe was the oldest active head of state and government in the world, but that all changed after a military takeover resulted in his resignation on 21 November 2017.

On 14 November 2017, armored personnel carriers were seen on the outskirts of the African nation’s capital, Harare. That night the military took over the nation’s state-run broadcaster, ZBC. The next day, while Mugabe was under house arrest, the military announced via a spokesperson on ZBC that Mugabe is safe and that they are only arresting criminals around him. Their statement did not settle any rumors of the coup and just added fuel to the fire. Over the next few days, anti-Mugabe demonstrators gathered in Harare to protest the dictator, a move that would have cost them their life just days before the coup.

Mugabe’s government has been known to silence any critic of the President and was even accused of abducting a protester back in 2015, but ever since the coup took place, millions of Zimbabweans have taken to the streets to show solidarity with the nation’s military. This coup, however, has nothing to do with free speech, something guaranteed in the nation’s constitution. Instead, it’s politically driven—a grudge against the elites of the country. Just days before the coup, Mugabe fired his Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, the favorite to replace Mugabe. His reason for removing Mnangagwa was disloyalty, but the nation’s ruling party ZANU-PF believed it was to make room for Mugabe’s wife to succeed him.

Grace Mugabe, also known as “Gucci Grace” by the people of Zimbabwe for taking lavish shopping trips to South Africa, married Mugabe on 17 August 1996. This came after Mugabe had a secret affair with Grace, who worked as his secretary at the time. The couple married after Mugabe’s first wife, Sally Hayfron, passed away from kidney failure. Ever since then, Grace Mugabe has moved up in the ranks of the ZANU-PF party despite criticism from other party leaders. Many leaders of ZANU-PF despise her for being a foreigner, her inexperience, and that she’s only there because of her relation to Mugabe, but these critiqued failed to silence the woman they call “Gucci Grace.”

Grace Mugabe has very little support in the ZANU-PF party, where many of the party leaders call her “Mad Women” and mock her openly. However, she does have support from the party’s youth league and the G40 Faction, but this support isn’t enough for the First Lady of Zimbabwe, just days before the coup began she attended a ZANU-PF rally on 4 November 2017 where her own party booed her. Instead of leaving the stage or remaining silent, Grace Mugabe began to shout back at the protesters.

The only person ruling this country is the President!

Grace Mugabe wasn’t in Zimbabwe the night of the coup, however. She reportedly fled to Namibia and hadn’t returned since or made any public comment on the situation. President Mugabe, unlike Grace, did speak to the public. While under house arrest he made a public appearance at a graduation ceremony and made a statement on ZBC. He managed to cause chaos with his ZBC appearance. Thousands of people around the country waited in anticipation for Mugabe’s arrival, where he would reportedly resign as President, but that moment never came. Instead, the President asserted his power and stated that he would stay in office. This triggered the nation’s elites to give Mugabe 48 hours to resign, or they would move to impeach him.

Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe for over 37 years and stopped anyone who came in his way. Over his tenure, he fired two vice-presidents who he considered disloyal and muzzled the independent press. To many Zimbabweans his resignation seemed unlikely, that is until 21 November 2017. On this day something unexpected came, Robert Mugabe announced his resignation.

My decision to resign is voluntary on my part and arises from my concern for the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe and my desire for a smooth, non-violent transfer of power.

All over Zimbabwe, millions began to celebrate, the day they’ve been waiting for finally came. Over his reign, Mugabe crushed the countries economy, silenced the press, and jailed opponents of his. But the incoming President, Mnangagwa aka “The Crocodile,” is just as bad as Mugabe. While many Zimbabweans believe that they have found new freedom in their country, they might have just pushed themselves into a corner.

Alabama: A Man Who Allegedly Molested Eight Minors Is Probably Your Next Senator

Image: ABC News

A man who convicted a man of the murder of four children is currently losing to a man who allegedly molested/dated eight minors in a Senate race in Alabama—what a time to be alive!

It has been such a crazy month with the countless sexual assault allegations ever since #MeToo started trending. The charges of sexual assault on Roy Moore dropped a little over a week ago, but there’s no sign of them slowing down. Just last night, four more women came forward with claims against the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama.

Moore, born in 1947, was the oldest of five. Following high school, he attended the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in 1969. He subsequently served in the US Military, stationed in Vietnam, returning to his hometown of Gadsen in 1977.  That year, Moore began working for the office of the district attorney. He quit his job to run for the county’s circuit-court judge as a Democrat. He overwhelmingly lost in the primary to a fellow attorney, Donald Stewart. Shortly afterward, Moore left Gadsden to live in Australia for a year. He returned to Gadsen in 1985, the same year he got married.

In 1986, Moore decided to give it another shot and run for Etowah County’s district attorney, but he lost to fellow Democrat Jimmy Hedgspeth. Following his defeat, he decided to simply return to private practice in the city.

In 1992, the year that he had switched to the Republican Party, Etowah County’s circuit judge, Julius Swann, died in office, and the Governor of Alabama was to make a temporary appointment to fill the vacant seat. Jimmy Hedgspeth, Moore’s former political opponent who ran the D.A.’s office, recommended Moore, and Moore was installed in the position that he had failed to win in 1982. Moore ran as a Republican in the 1994 Etowah County election and was elected to the circuit judge seat.

Roy Moore was known as the “Ten Commandments Judge” for his refusal to take down a  plaque of the Ten Commandments that hung behind his bench. In 1995, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued him over the religious plaque and Moore’s tradition beginning sessions with prayers, saying such actions were unconstitutional and disregarded the separation of church and state. Moore told NPR:

Separation of church and state never meant to separate God from government. The First Amendment never meant to divide our country from an acknowledgement of God. It’s time to stand up and say, we have a right under our Constitution to acknowledge God.

The original case was dismissed, but in 1996, a Montgomery County Judge, Charles Price, initially ordered Moore to stop the prayer but he allowed the Ten Commandments plaque to be displayed. However, Price ordered the plaque removed after visiting Moore’s courtroom the following year. The case was again dismissed.

When Moore was elected to the Alabama Supreme Court in 2000, he took his fight over the Ten Commandments even further. Now, he was designing and planning a two-and-a-half ton granite obelisk inscribed with the Ten Commandments to be placed in the lobby of the Alabama Judicial Building. The Montgomery Advertiser states:

Moore had not told his fellow justices he was planning to install the monument, but brought a company into tape the installation of the monument in the Heflin-Torbert Judicial Building. Sales of the tapes later helped pay for his legal defense fund.

In 2002, a federal district judge ruled that the new statue was unconstitutional, violating the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. A deadline for removing the monument was instated and ignored by Moore in August 2003. A panel ruled that Moore had violated the judicial ethics code, and Moore was removed from the bench.

Just after a decade after being removed from the bench, Moore successfully won back his seat on the Alabama Supreme Court in 2012. No, he didn’t resurrect his Ten Commandments monument, but with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2015 that legalized same-sex marriage, Moore ordered state judges to protest it and enforce the state’s ban on same-sex marriages instead. In response to Obergefell v. Hodges, Moore wrote:

The Court’s opinion speaks repeatedly of homosexuals being humiliated, demeaned, and being denied ‘equal dignity’ by a state’s refusal to issue them marriage licenses.

That attempt to defy yet another court order resulted in another appearance before Alabama’s Court of the Judiciary, and he was suspended for the rest of his term in 2016, however, Moore’s age has prevented him from any chance of running again in 2018.

Now, Moore has decided to run for Senate in Alabama, and many shocking and revealing allegations have been put against him. He has been accused by eight women of sexual assault, and people are not happy.

This story was broken by the Washington Post, but the saddest part of all this is that Moore will probably still win.

Nate Cohn, a writer at the Upshot and the New York Times’ political data guru, said:

I don’t see any reason to assume Moore is in serious jeopardy.

When asked how much does he think this scandal might affect Moore’s chances to be elected, Cohn said:

My honest answer is that I don’t know. Alabama is an extremely conservative state that is deeply polarized along racial lines. Hillary Clinton might not even have received 15 percent of the white vote in Alabama last year. For Doug Jones to win, he might need to double that number. So this is not an easy task at all for the Democrats.

Cohn was asked by Slate whether there is any other state in the union that would be more likely to elect Roy Moore than Alabama. To that, he responded:

No. In Mississippi, the white vote is more conservative, but black voters are a much larger share of the electorate. If you had a revolt against a Republican candidate and black turnout was high, I think you can imagine how the Democrats get over the top there in a way that is tougher to imagine in Alabama. The argument the other way is that Alabama has better-educated metropolitan areas like Birmingham or Huntsville where maybe you can imagine that a Republican revolt would be modestly more likely than it would in Mississippi. But no, I think Alabama is basically as tough as it gets for Democrats.

Seeing what the political expert has said, it’s heartbreaking to think that an alleged child molester could beat a perfectly qualified Democrat just because of the political polarization in our society.

Yes, it is possible that he could win and be kicked out of the Senate, something that hasn’t occurred in over 150 years, almost immediately, but it’s not about whether he serves or not. It’s about whether the citizens prefer a child molester and a man who has been kicked off the bench of the Alabama Supreme Court not once, but twice, over a perfectly qualified candidate, simply because they are too dedicated to their political party. I truly hope Alabama makes the right decision, but it’s their decision to make, not mine.

While the Alabama Republican Party has not taken back their endorsement of Roy Moore, many Republicans and Democrats alike have called for him to drop out of the race.

In the end, who knows whether he will win or not? This entire election is ensured to be a toss-up, even though it should just be handed on a silver platter to the one who is not a child molester.