The World Inequality

Best of The Tempest 2018: News and Social Justice

What a year 2018 was. This time last year, we were still reeling from all that had happened to us, wondering how anything could ever get better. But we entered 2018 with renewed vigor. Members of our very own Tempest team marched on behalf of women in the US and in Rome, and we campaigned for LGBTQ rights when we launched our Spirit Day campaign. We fought for immigrant rights while throwing the spotlight on environmental injustice, too. Moreover, we started holding each other (and our politicians) accountable to the greater good. And through it all, we remained steadfast in our vision for justice and equality for all.

The News and Social Justice sections also made a concerted effort to cover more international topics this year. To do this, we took a hard look at politics around the world; we analyzed the way WOC and minorities were disproportionately affected by the agendas of the wealthy and elite. We told the raw stories of immigrants and those living in the most dangerous parts of the world to be a woman. The conversations we had about mental health, sexual assault, and police brutality were also difficult, but necessary. Nonetheless, women and the LGBTQ community saw some serious gains in politics and around the world, giving us hope for a brighter 2019.

I’m so proud of the work that our incredible team of staff, fellows and contributing writers have put out this year. The News and Social Justice verticals have certainly benefitted from their passion.  Not to mention, the wonderful Dominique Stewart joined as Assistant Social Justice Editor this year and breathed fresh, new life to the vertical.

Dominique and I will continue to work hard to push the sections forward in the coming year, and we’re so excited to see what it holds. Here’s to more glass-ceiling smashing, determination, incredible activism in 2019.

Now, without further ado, here are the top picks of 2018 from the News and Social Justice sections at The Tempest.

1. Living in Portland in the age of Trump

Living in Portland in the age of Trump

Amidst an era of political uncertainty, Laura Muth gives us an in-depth look at what it looks like to live in the US right now. “To live in Portland right now is to engage in an endurance test of your capacity for cognitive dissonance,” writes Muth. Beautifully written, Muth portrays the strength and resistance of the queer and black communities in a way that ignites hope for the future of activism.

2. Meet the undocumented, detained women of an Arizona detention facility

Exclusive: Meet the undocumented, detained women of an Arizona detention facility

Shahrazad Encinias goes straight into the heart of an Arizona detention facility to interview undocumented women who’ve been there for almost two years. They’re being held without a clear picture of when they’ll be released: “I’m locked up. It’s the same as being in Guatemala,” says Rosa*. These women tell Encinias of the fear, discrimination, and violence they face on a daily basis. Harrowing and powerful, this piece by Encinias is a must-read.

3. This is what reality is really like for one woman in Pakistan’s red light district

Lahore-based Momina Naveed ventures into Pakistan’s red-light district to find out what daily life is like. She interviews Munni*, a single mother doing sex work as a form of survival. Munni works so that her daughter doesn’t have to: “I will go to great lengths to make sure my daughter doesn’t have to suffer at the hands of the same fate as mine,” she says. Naveed’s reporting is somber, earnest, and fresh. This piece might make you cry, but you will come away with a new perspective on sex work that we’re sure you’ve never read before.

4. What we lose when we take the European Union for granted

This is what we lose when we take the European Union for granted

In this piece, Katie Kaestner-Frenchman confronts the European Union in its entirety. With all its imperfections, flaws, and snafus, the Union is a “project in progress,” but an essential part of maintaining order in the world. Kaestner-Frenchman speaks frankly about what we lose when we begin to lose sight of what the European Union is supposed to stand for.

5. Judges don’t believe sexual assault survivors. So what happens next?

Judges don’t believe sexual assault survivors. So what happens next?

Of course, not everything we faced this year was rosy. Biased legislative procedures around the world make it incredibly difficult for women to report and obtain justice for sexual assault. The stigma attached to women who’ve experienced sexual assault and harassment compounds the issue. What happens when judges don’t believe survivors? Meg Leach gives us a powerful call to action: Vote. Them. Out.

6. Black lives will always matter more than your game, your flag, and your song

Black lives will always matter more than your game, your flag, and your song

Assistant Editor for Social Justice Dominique Stewart provides readers with a frank perspective on anthem-kneeling. A practice used by some athletes as a peaceful expression of political frustration, anthem-kneeling has nonetheless been sharply criticized by President Trump and American voters alike. Stewart sees this criticism as fundamentally misplaced – find out why in this honest and raw piece.

7. Studies show that Indian parents think that mental health issues are shameful. What next?

Studies show that Indian parents think that mental health issues are shameful. What next?

What does mental health in South Asian communities look like? It’s often difficult to say since there’s so much stigma surrounding its discussion. Mariyam Raza Haider combines her personal experiences with an expert interview to sketch out how Indian communities can foster more empathy towards one another. “A public health crisis like this demands a pivotal shift in the way our parents think and understand mental health,” writes Haider. While this piece focuses on the Indian community, this piece is nonetheless relatable to all.

  8. Art-activists Renee Lopez and Ameya Okamoto are breathing new life into social justice activism 

Art-activists Renee Lopez and Ameya Okamoto are breathing new life into social justice activism

Grace Wong explores the practice of “artivism” (art activism) in this fresh and inspiring piece. To do this, Wong interviews artivists Ameya Okamoto and Renee Lopez — women of color working in photography and digital media — to better understand how art communicates and sheds light on their life experiences. Through their art, Okamoto, and Lopez fight for inclusion, ally with Black Lives Matter, and push for greater intersectionality. Featuring original work graciously provided by the artists, this article underscores the power of art as a social justice medium.

9. After the midterms, can we dub 2018 the new “Year of the woman”? 

After the midterms, can we dub 2018 the new “Year of the woman”?

When we said that we entered 2018 with renewed vigor earlier, we meant it. Women of color, members of the LGBTQ community, and millennials made unprecedented gains in US politics this year, and we believe the government (and lives) will be better for it. These strides have made Sara Marshall feel empowered and ready to hit the ground running in 2019. The only question is – will you join us?  

Happy New Year! Our appetite for all things news and social justice at The Tempest will never slow down. Here’s to another year of determination, vigor, and activism!


*names were changed to protect the identity of individuals interviewed

Love + Sex Love Wellness

15 snarky comebacks for people trying to police our bodies and our periods

Presented in partnership with  Lunapads.

We get it – we’re sick of it, too.

It’s a statement of fact that nearly 50% of the world’s population is currently menstruating, has menstruated, or will menstruate at some point in their lives. Despite the fact that periods are a part of our human biology, others frequently try to invalidate our experiences by resorting to old wives’ tales or patriarchal notions.

This is for those who are tired of the mansplainers, the naive apologists, and the “just take a Tylenol and move on-ers”. So here are some of the ridiculous things people have ever said about us, our bodies, and our periods – and how we’re striking back.

1. “Suck it up, this is just part of being a woman.”


This is the classic “I don’t have a single empathetic bone in my body, and you should just deal with it” statement. Not to mention the fact that it leaves out a major group of human beings: people who menstruate, period.

While menstruation isn’t a one-size-fits all process, some of the most widely-experienced physical symptoms include bloating, cramps, head and back aches, acne, and swollen breasts. Aside from that, there are emotional effects as well, and this has to do with the levels of estrogen in our bodies. Right before a period begins, estrogen levels spike drastically (during ovulation) and then drop again once the egg is released. This disruption can trigger a change in mood – which can often lead to depression and anxiety.

Periods are part of being a menstruating person, but no one experiences their period the same way. There are physical and emotional changes that come with the process, and guess what – they’re real.  Yes, we’re amazing, and we can handle all of these things while carrying on about our days normally.

But understanding exactly what goes on during Aunt Flo’s visit will keep you from saying bullsh*t statements like this.

2. “We should talk about this later because you’re on your period right now. “

It’s a common misconception held by men (and some women, I kid you not) that a person is incapable of making important decisions or holding level conversations while menstruating. While it’s true that some may experience anxiety or depression before or during their periods, it’s erroneous to equate that with competence.

Look around you – some of the most influential badasses on this earth are people that have periods, and – surprise! – they probably menstruate once a month too! The difficult aspects of periods are a measure of strength, because not only can we deal with all of that – we can also get on with running the world.

3. “Your period isn’t something to be proud of. Stop talking so much about it!”


Okay, first off, when was the last time I heard a guy refrain from an inappropriate dick joke? If I have the patience to bear through countless “that’s what she said” jokes anytime there’s something even slightly close to a sex reference, I’m pretty sure you can get through what she actually says.

Also, for the record, I’m going to be PROUD AND LOUD AND PRANCE AND DO WHATEVER THE HELL I WANT.

Even if that means wearing ridiculous white jeans during my period like they show in most sanitary product ads. Except for this time, when I’m going to have a killer secret weapon in the equation (and no, it’s not my blood before you start getting all grossed out).

I’m talking about leak-proof underwear, like this one.

4. “Yikes, girl, you be lookin’ hella bloated in those jeans. Maybe you should give them up this week.”


Bloating is just the name of the game when it comes to our week with Aunt Flo, and choosing what to wear is a calculated risk, no matter what it is. Jeans, dresses, sweats – all are susceptible to The Stain.

So why not wear what I want anyway? I look fabulous, and I’ll wear what makes me comfortable, thank you very much.

One thing that I’ve found particularly effective to minimize bloating is to take a Midol and some hot green tea with honey. It’s soothing, forces you to slow down for at least five minutes in the day, and tastes good (duh). Bloating is real – and it’s one heck of a nuisance – but no one should be shaming you for it, ever.

You know how the saying goes: if you can’t handle my bloat at its worst, you don’t deserve it at its best. 

5. “I don’t get it. Only women can get periods. Why are you making this a social justice thing?”



Why do we take a leap back after every leap forward? Just because you grew up with preconceived notions about what gender, sex, and biology are “supposed” to be, doesn’t mean you have to impose that on everyone else. Especially not on people who already have to deal with that once-a-month friend. It’s complex enough for non-binary and trans individuals to navigate the world without a helping of your bullshit, thanks.

Besides, gender has always been an incredibly complex and fluid spectrum. If you’re here to give me a lecture rife with stereotypes, toxic masculinity, and a dose of fragility, I don’t have time for it. You’re really not helping anyone except for yourself.

6. “Ugh, you got it on the bed…that’s disgusting.”


We run the risk of ruining our underwear, pajama bottoms, pants, sheets, towels, and seat cushions – but you know what? That doesn’t stop the flow.

Did you know that the average person who menstruates will pass between 10-35 ml (that’s anywhere between two teaspoons to two to three tablespoons) of blood per period, and experience that about 450 times in a lifetime?

That’s a lot of blood.

And a lot of periods.

Sorry, I’m not capable of controlling my natural blood-flow while I’m unconscious and sleeping. There’s a lot coming out of me – and a lot more to come – so I’ll just try to sleep soundly and keep an extra bottle of Tide handy in the meantime.

7. “Reusable pads aren’t legit, there’s no way they can hold all that blood.”


Before I tried them for myself, I was told (and believed) that reusable pads were disgusting, and something I should avoid. Let me tell you, y’all – reusable pads revolutionized the way I experienced my period. And yes – it holds all the blood you pass during the day! There are even different sizes (from mini to maxi), and even special liners for the thong-wearers among us.

Although, I’ll be honest: my flow is way too crazy for thongs, but you do you.

In addition to being chemical-free, period panties and reusable pads are carefully engineered to be as absorbent as possible. Plus, many of these options, including Performa Lunapads, are machine washable (!!!) and can be soaked before you toss them in the machine, in case you’re really worried about them getting clean.

P.S. They come in super cute prints too, including this adorable llama one that I’m quite partial to.

Bottom line (yes, pun intended): give reusable pads a chance.

8. “Don’t get anywhere near me. You smell awful.”


Okay, I know how I smell like. That extra fragrance in the room didn’t just come out of nowhere, it’s damn expensive perfume, thanks to the paranoia I already have. It’s a paranoia that people like you spent years telling me that I have, and I’m not too interested in hearing it again from ya.

But that smell in the room of your overuse of Axe cologne is totally something we need to discuss. Because we’re not in elementary school anymore, and someone seems to have missed the memo.

How about you take care of your personal hygiene before you talk about mine? And yes, I’m talking about you, mister. The guys out of the basketball or gym, smelling like everything under the sun, telling me I smell bad?

Miss me with that bullshit.

9. “Here, take this pad, but smuggle it on your way out. Don’t let anybody know you’re on your period!”


What am I, some expensive art thief out of the Ocean’s Eleven series? There’s no need for me to carry out some sort of secret-agent sequence to get to the bathroom and change my pad.

To be honest, though, changing your pad several times a day can be a pain. Sometimes the daily hustle keeps us from getting a much-needed 5-minute refresher. That’s why reusable pads are so useful. You snap it in once – bam – and forget it’s even there all day. Comfort? Check. Safe from “embarrassment?” Check. We both win here.

I don’t have to smuggle my pad, and I have one that lasts me the entire day.

10. “You can hold out until the end of the hour to get up and use the restroom.”


Sometimes we can’t go to the bathroom because our schedules are that demanding (see: point 5). But does anyone remember the awful classroom rules that had you waiting until the end of the hour to relieve yourself?

Those things were brutal.

I’m going to venture where most won’t: the land of Period Poop. It’s true: being on your period will inevitably mean you will poop more. This due to a  fun little chemical called prostaglandin – it tells your uterus when to contract and release its lining. If there’s enough prostaglandin in your body, your bowels may pick up on the signals too, and interpret that as a call to release “The Poop”.

Are you really trying to make me fight that? Nah. I’m gonna use the bathroom now.

11. “We could never have a female president! Think about what she’d do when she’s on her period!”


Oh dear. If she can negotiate a ceasefire, negotiate a top sanction, help families that need healthcare, and stand up for LGBTQ+ rights, and be an all-around badass, is there anything she can’t do? Let’s be clear here for a second. You’ve got a male president who seems like he’s getting worse cramps than I ever had.


Next time you want to smear dirt on a politician, let’s move gender out of the equation. It’s 2017. We should be over the female anatomy already, geez.

12. “Tampons and period cups stretch you out too much down there, don’t use ’em.”

Vaginas are extremely elastic – capable of expanding 200% when sexually aroused, and even more so when giving birth. This means that it returns to its usual “tightness” no matter what goes in or out of it.  Tampons and menstrual cups are designed to fit comfortably in women’s bodies: menstrual cups are made of medically-approved silicone or TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) and fold during insertion, so they’ll expand as necessary once they’re under your cervix. Tampons are made of soft cotton, shaped into a cylinder – this is designed for easy insertion into (and up) the vaginal canal.

What’s most important is using what makes you most comfortable on your period.

13. “You should never use reusable pads while on your period, that’s gross.” 


Some people aren’t comfortable using tampons or menstrual cups and prefer alternatives that don’t require inserting anything. Other options include pads – but they can be costly or a hassle to maintain. Another alternative is reusable pads. Not only are they super comfortable and convenient, they’re  cost-effective and environmentally friendly, to boot.

Lunapads are reusable cotton pads that can be washed and used over and over again. I personally used the Performa Mini Pad for my most recent period, and it was so damn comfortable, I forgot I was even wearing it. The easy snap-on feature prevented it from slipping and sliding, and it wasn’t gross at all.

Lunapads are tried and true – so nobody should be knocking your choice of menstrual product.

14. “If you can’t even get your period, does that even make you a woman?”


No, you’re right, it probably doesn’t.

Because I forgot the right to my gender was in your hands, and you get to decide what I am and what I’m not. No, I totally don’t smell ignorance or misogyny or transphobia for that matter. Nope, nada, nothing to see here. Just your average idiotic individual who’s trying to explain to me the science of my own body, and who probably will call women going through menopause that they’re not women either.

Yup, every elder woman is secretly pretending to be a woman. She’s not REALLY a woman because I totally forgot that any proof of her bodily functions was lost when her period stopped.

Doesn’t make sense?

Go read that first sentence, and compare? *Grins with smugness*

15. “Don’t let anyone know you’re on your period this week.”


People like to pretend this isn’t something that roughly 50% of the world’s population has, is, or will go through at some point in their life. Why spare them the truth? I’m menstruating.

Boo! Secret’s out.

The Internet Humor BRB Gone Viral Pop Culture

These 21 Muslim memes will have you dying of laughter

1. We all know that “inshallah” really means no.

2. Lotas ain’t got nothing on these babies.

3. Poor guy.

4. “Muslim People Time” is definitely a thing.

5. Pre-med struggles.

6. Seems plausible.

7. “We’re living in 2017 whereas this guy is in 2097. Perpetual wudu, never have to break salaah again.”

8. Time to bust out the Hand of Fatima necklaces and blue-eye bracelets.

9. Ball is life?

10. Yikes.

11. Bonus points if you’re pre-med

12. Sisters, imagine you are like lollipop. Would you eat it uncovered?

13. We’ve been busted.

14. Babas have an uncanny way of walking in the room at exactly the wrong time.

15. The realest thing I’ve ever seen.

16. Don’t play yourself.

17. We all know this guy.

18. Who’s his henna artist?

19. It’s the sunnah, guys.

20. Y’all need to give us more credit, this has been a thing since flip phones first came out.

21. Akh-med?
BRB Gone Viral Pop Culture

53 flawless moments #BlackOutEid brought complete glow to our lives

Welcome to the yearly Twitter tradition of being totally blessed on Eid.

#BlackOutEid brought another year of slayage, featuring Black Muslims completely killing the social game. There’s really nothing like this – and we’re here to celebrate everything that is this hashtag.

In a feature with The Tempest last year, #BlackOutEid creator @krennylavitz shared that she created the tag because she “wanted to create a space specifically for Black Muslims online. Using Twitter as her platform, she hoped to leverage the playing field a bit, as Black Muslim beauty isn’t typically showcased due to anti-blackness. Why wait around to be represented, right?”

We are all about that life. Take a look at some of our favorite #BlackOutEid tweets:






















































World News Immigration Politics The World

The dangerous double standard hiding behind American NGOs helping Syrians

NuDay Syria is a non-profit humanitarian organization dedicated to providing relief to displaced Syrian people. 

Too often, organizations with a faith-based mandate say so specifically within their mission statements – sometimes, even in the organization name. For example – organizations like Samaritan’s Purse and Compassion International are pretty straightforward about their religious affiliation.

However, when it comes to organizations that don’t center around a faith-based mandate – but still have a Muslim founder or board members – there’s an entirely new issue. Regardless of the mandate, there’s an inherent assumption by the general public and various sectors that we are somehow a faith-based organization – even when our mandate and mission clearly state something else.

I can’t remember whether NuDay has ever been called a Muslim NGO – formally or otherwise. It’s a notion that begs being investigated now, more than ever, in our current humanitarian climate.

I find myself asking the question of how an NGO based in the West – founded and/or staffed by American Muslims – goes about being defined. Should it work in a conflict zone where the majority identifies as Muslim? Who makes the final call, especially when it comes to folks within government, researchers, the public, and donors? Are we in need of redefining or creating an entirely new relief sector?

In the case of NuDay, we focus on inculcating empowerment and aid with dignity to the mothers and children inside Syria. Even without mention of faith, because I am visibly Muslim, the assumption is laid upon the organization – a double standard that begs discussion.

When I first formed NuDay in 2013, I did so carefully and conscientiously.

Furthermore, it’s time to start examining why the assumption is made that civilians in Muslim majority countries want anything other than what we want here in the West: peace, freedom, safe shelter, education, and food.

The Syrian humanitarian crisis is a result of the nation’s citizens standing up for their basic rights of freedom and democracy. Somehow, though, that doesn’t matter to those on the outside. They’ve deemed the relief initiatives of NGOs like NuDay to be solely faith-based. That, in turn, leads to the destructive assumption that the impetus behind the NGO’s work isn’t because there’s an actual humanitarian crisis taking place.  Couple that with the fact that our work primarily takes place in a Muslim-majority nation, and the stigma becomes almost impossible to shake off.

I could go ahead and flipped this assumption on its head: should I, as a Muslim, assume that other NGOs in the West always have some nefarious, secret faith-based mission? That they are, in fact, out to proselytize the Muslims they’re meant to serve – even if the organization name isn’t religious?

It’s past time to continue pretending that our fear of others does not exist.

When I first formed NuDay in 2013, I did so carefully and conscientiously. I recognized that despite good intentions, careful evaluations, strict documentation and distribution requirements, our material support and program development would always be under a different, more strenuous kind of scrutiny.

And we have been.

Day after day, there remains little to no talk around why there remains a raging conflict in Syria, no discussion around how Syrians are resisting daily, if not hourly, the onslaught of violence from both extremists and dictators.

Instead, there remains an almost petulant, disgraceful focus on labeling and devaluing the NGOs working day and night – risking everything we have – to ensure that Syrian civilians receive support and relief. Regardless of our work, we are identified as merely Muslim-focused NGOs, which comes with the assumption that we lack consciousness of where our aid is headed or who is benefiting.

To sum it up: it’s assumed that we share different goals from NGOs without Muslim founders.

It’s more than just on the level of organizations – this double standard is personal. As a Syrian, it was recently brought to my attention that my name is on several lists within Syria – despite my having never lived there – preventing my ever entering the country under the current government.

My crime? The years of work providing aid and relief to Syrians of all backgrounds.

As an American, my organization – and others focused on serving Syrians – is treated with suspicion within the United States. With no rationale, our work – given its geographic location – is associated with extremists – harming our impact and efforts.

It’s past time to continue pretending that our fear of others does not exist. Such a detrimental attitude holds back constructive efforts to bring this nation together to support purposeful humanitarian relief efforts within Muslim-majority conflict zones.

It’s a fear that can only be eradicated with frank education, outreach, and conversations – as well as engagement on a community level – that supports diverse aid efforts led by Americans of all faith backgrounds working together to help those affected by a major crisis – even if that crisis is taking place within a Muslim-majority country.

Ultimately, fear holds our world’s future back – no matter where we live. To reach peace, we must break down irrational feelings of distrust and fear – it is only then that we can begin to heal.

Check out The Tempest’s ongoing coverage of the Syrian refugee crisis

USA World News The World

Arkansas Executions, North Korea, and Turkey: The Week in Review

We get it, Wednesdays can be tough to get through. In an effort to keep up with the world’s ever-changing news landscape, we’ve put together 10 headlines to keep you on top of things.

1. Mike pence visits Korea, US sent warships to the Peninsula

mike pence korea

Mike Pence went to DMZ (demilitarized border) to reaffirm the ties between South Korea and the United States while simultaneously hoping to intimidate North Korea. He said, “This president has made clear that we’re going to abandon the failed policy of strategic patience.  But we’re going to redouble our efforts to bring diplomatic and economic pressure to bear on North Korea. Our hope is that we can resolve this issue peaceably.”

A little over a week ago, the Trump administration said they were sending warships towards North Korea after the nuclear provocation, but this was later proven incorrect. The President said, “We’re sending an armada,” and the many governments in East Asia reported on their fears of a pre-emptive military strike. The story of the wayward carrier might never have come to light had the Navy not posted a photo online Monday of the carrier called “the Carl Vinson” sailing south through the Sunda Strait. It was taken on Saturday, four days after the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, described its mission in the Sea of Japan.

Now the Carl Vinson is finally heading towards the Korean Peninsula according to Navy sources.

2. Steve Stephens: a live-streamed murder and apparent suicide

steve stephens

Since April 16, the American midwest has been abuzz with concern over the whereabouts of the now-infamous Cleveland Murderer, Steve Stephens. For a while, it seemed the police would never be able to find the man who brutally murdered a man on Facebook live. The victim was Robert Godwin, a grandfather of 14 and beloved family man.

Steve Stephens was caught when he went to a McDonalds and the crew decided he must be the guy everybody was looking for. They withheld his fries to secretly call the police. Unfortunately, Stephens didn’t care as much about his fries as the McDonalds crew had hoped so he drove away, but police were already on their way. The police used a “PIT” maneuver in their vehicles to apprehend him but once his car was hit, he shot himself on the scene.  Steve Stephens claimed he took the life of another man because he was mad at his girlfriend before he committed suicide.

3. Coachella Weekend

This passed  weekend, the famous Coachella festival took place in Indio, CA. Many music artists, celebrities, and festival goers attended this yearly event to soak up some sun, chill, eat, and listen to music. The Coachella Music Festival hosted performers from Kehlani to Two Doors Cinema.

While the festival draws in thousands of attendees every year, “Coachella Culture” has been heavily criticized for promoting cultural appropriation.

4. Two inmates on death row are executed on hours apart in Arkansas


In Arkansas, a string of executions have been halted because of many protests and responses from faith leaders. The five men left scheduled to be executed are currently on hold as the Supreme Court reviews the case.  Currently, the individuals’ lawyers are fighting for the lives of their clients and stating their innocence. Due to the executions being blocked for those still on death row, their death penalty is set to restart from the beginning. Those that have to restart their sentencing will have to go through the clemency process.

5. Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft exec, launches start-up to track government spending

On Tuesday, Steve Ballmer announced he was launching a database that tracks government spending federally, locally, and throughout the state.  Although this is just a start-up website at this time, he believes that it will expand into something more evolved and much needed for the country.

6. Former New England Patriot  Found Dead

Former NFL player, Aaron Hernandez, was found hanging in his jail cell as he was sentenced to life in prison after being charged with the murder of Odin L. Lloyd. Officials say that he hung himself with the bed sheets in his cell.

Although it appears to be a suicide, many that knew Hernandez  believes he was not capable of doing something like that to himself. They believe someone had the motive to harm Hernandez. Apparently, Hernandez was looking forward to a second chance at life. Since the tragedy was under the eyes  of the law, the murder conviction he was guilty for will be overlooked because the individual has not had the ability to clear his name.

7. “Girls” aired its series finale, and we have mixed feelings

Related image

HBO TV series “Girls” aired its finale this week and those who tuned in remember it as the next step beyond “Sex and the City.” “Girls” was supposed to be the show that brought about more feminist television, and sure, it certainly did push limits. The approach to body positivity consisted of the show’s writer and star Lena Dunham’s choice of clothing and lack thereof, and that was just her style. However, Dunham has become increasingly associated with white feminism, not simply because of the peripheral roles of racial minorities on her show, but because of public commentaries she has been associated with. Indeed, not all female identifying people can understand just what it means to be a middle upper class white woman in Brooklyn, but “Girls” does not have to be the show we turn to for that fulfillment.

8. The first female to race in the Boston Marathon 50 years ago does it again

Image result for kathrine switzer

The “fragile women” of the 1960s could not bear to run the distance of the Boston Marathon- but apparently they could. Katherine Switzer became an icon when she ran the marathon with a bib number, which she managed to attain by signing her first name with her initials. After all, there were no official rules restricting women from running the race, nor a gender box. Yet, there are photographs of men nearby trying to do away with the dame as she tries to get through the marathon. It would have been interesting to see them try during this last Boston Marathon, where Switzer ran again 50 years later.

9. Erdogan expands his power overseas


Recep Tayyip Erdogan, leader of the AKP party in Turkey, has gained even more power recently. The constitutional amendment drafts that create an executive presidential system were approved earlier this week. The Prime Minister post was abolished in the draft and Erdogan can identify with the AKP Party under the changes.

10. Sophia Amoruso’s #GIRLBOSS is coming to Netflix

Coming soon to Netflix, the highly rated novel of a woman making it on her own and building her own business from the ground up, #GIRLBOSS is soon to be the next trending series of the year.

The show will be based on how Sophia, the founder of Nasty Gal, came to be such a success and what she did. Being a 23-year-old is not all its worked up to be, according to Sophia, and it takes dedication and hard work. The author of the novel displays how its all about finding yourself and also making mistakes on the way to the top. Netflix decided to take on this project because they are interested in original content and plan to spend around $6 billion on the project.

Until next week:

USA World News The World

Syria Airstrikes, Supreme Court Confirmation, and Dangerous Advertising: The Week in Review

We get it, Wednesdays can be tough to get through. In an effort to keep up with the world’s ever-changing news landscape, we’ve put together the top 10 headlines to keep you on top of things. 

1. Senate Confirms Neil Gorsuch to the senate, triggering “nuclear option” to get around the Democratic filibuster.

neil gorsuch

After a fourteen-month vacancy from the passing of Justice Scalia, the ninth Supreme Court spot was filled by the Trump administration’s pick – Neil Gorsuch. The Senate confirmed Gorsuch at a close 54-45 vote. Only three democrats voted for Neil Gorsuch, and they all come from conservative-leaning states. It was the narrowest approval of a Supreme Court nominee since the 1991 52-48 confirmation of Clarence Thomas. “He is the perfect choice”,  according to President Trump. “Perfect” is used tentatively, we suppose.

2. A truck plows through a Stockholm shopping plaza

stockholm attack

On Friday, April 7th, a truck driver drove down Drottninggatan (Queen Street), a shopping area in Stockholm, only to crash the truck into a department store. Sadly, there were four people who passed away in the attack.  It was later announced to be a terrorist attack.

By Tuesday, April 11th, Rakhmat Akilov, a 39-year-old from the central Asian republic of Uzbekistan, came out as the truck driver behind the attack. He has not been formally charged yet. Prosecutors must formally charge Akilov by May 11, Court President Malou Lindblom said.

3. US airstrikes in Syria draw both intense criticism and support

idlib syria

The missile strikes targeted Shayrat airbase near Homs, Syria. The US has said this was the location from which Syrian forces launched a chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun on Tuesday morning. The Pentagon said 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched from warships in the Mediterranean in the early hours of Friday morning.

A Syrian official told the Associated Press that at least seven people had been killed and nine wounded in the US missile attack. Reuters reported that the Syrian state news agency said the strikes had killed nine civilians, including four children, in areas near the airbase. The death toll has not been independently verified yet.

4. Murder-suicide in San Bernadino

San bernadino california

murder-suicide took place in San Bernadino on April 10th, 2017. In a fit of rage, 53-year-old Cedric Anderson shot his estranged wife, Karen Smith, at North Park Elementary School in her classroom for special education.  He murdered Smith and also struck two students who were standing behind her, according to the police chief.  One of those children, unfortunately, passed away, and the other is still in critical condition.

5. Malala Yousufzai becomes an honorary citizen of Canada

malala yousafzai canada

Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan is the sixth person (and the youngest) to ever receive honorary Canadian citizenship. On Wednesday, she was given the title during an honorary citizenship ceremony in Ottawa. She reaffirmed her love for her native country and that she is a proud Pashtun, but that she still feels highly honored by her honorary status. Earlier this week, she also was elected as a UN Messenger of Peace, which is the highest honor the UN can bestow on a human, for her work on the rights of ladies in education worldwide. (An honorary citizenship is completely symbolic and doesn’t give one a real citizenship.)

6. Dangerous advertising at Pepsi and Nivea

Image result for nivea white is purity ad

Advertising remains interesting through controversy, and it leaves you wondering if these major companies deliberately pulled stunts for publicity- or if their teams are really so clueless. In the latest mess-up, Kendall Jenner hands a Pepsi can to an officer during a protest. Critics stated the depiction commercialized legitimate expression, tokenized minority depictions, and the belittled the experiences of minorities.

Then Nivea’s “white is purity” ad drew outrage expressing concern about the notion that white is associated with something pure, and in contrast, darker colors are lesser (yes, its an issue of race). Again, it’s about implications, and we’re left wondering what advertisers were thinking. Apparently, the white was supposed to contrast the black on the can, which was supposed to represent “strength.” We didn’t see that part on the poster. Plus, it’s supposed to be invisible deodorant.

7. Twitter sues the US gov to block unmasking an anonymous account

Image result for alt uscis

The government and the tech sector butt heads again in a question of protecting the identity of a Twitter account. Alternative accounts on Twitter, allegedly ran by current or former federal employees, criticize President Trump’s administration. Customs and Border Protection summoned Twitter to reveal sensitive information on the alternative immigration account. The controversy rings in the questions of subversion, national security, the protection of free speech, and the even the legitimacy of Twitter if the social media site is coerced into revealing the alt-accounts’ identities. Is @ALT_uscis really a threat to national security, or our president’s legitimacy (or both?). Furthermore, will this account’s identity eventually be revealed?

8. NCAA lifts its ban on holding championships in the state of North Carolina

Image result for NCAA lifts ban in north carolina
The New York Times

House Bill 2 (also known as HB2) was recently replaced in North Carolina with a compromise bill, HB142. HB2 restricted public restroom options for transgender people and limited protection for LGBTQ people. The compromise bill is insufficient for groups that fight for the civil rights of the LGBTQ community. However, the replacement of HB2 was enough for NCAA to announce its lift on banning on championship events in North Carolina. The announcement has brought in criticism to the NCAA from groups like HRC, and openly LGBTQ lawmakers.

9. Coptic Church attack in Egypt on Palm Sunday

Image result for coptic church attack in egypt
IBTimes India

Last Sunday, two Coptic Christian churches in Egypt were attacked in suspected suicide bombings. At least 44 people were injured and more than 100 were killed. Mar Gerges church in Tanta and Mar Markas in Alexandria were targeted, disturbing worshippers on Coptic Christian Palm Sunday. The Islamic State claimed the attacks, adding to a number of other attacks on Coptics, including a mass beheading in Libya two years ago. These attacks highlight the threat that Coptics in Egypt face, as they make up roughly 10% of the population there, which is a Muslim majority. The attacks put a spotlight on the political climate and tensions between the two religious groups in Egypt.

10. Las Vegas to be the first city in the US to dispense clean needles via vending machine

Image result for vegas syringe vending machine
Las Vegas Review Journal

By the end of May, three locations in central Vegas should have operating vending machines to dispense clean syringes. The syringes are to come in a kit that also offers a tourniquet and a container for used needles, alcohol swabs, and information on where to receive addiction treatment. Though heroin use has increased, the city is hoping to curb the problem of users transmitting diseases.

Until next time:

Kendall Pepsi ad
USA World News The World

Missing Girls in DC, London Attack, and Failed Healthcare Bill: The Week in Review

We get it, Wednesdays can be tough to get through. In an effort to keep up with the world’s ever-changing news landscape, we’ve put together the top 10 headlines so you can stay on top of things.

1. The London Attack

On March 22nd, five people (including the attacker) were tragically killed in a terrorist attack on Westminster Bridge (near the Houses of Parliament) in London. More than 50 people were injured. The attack itself only lasted 82 seconds and involved a man named Khalid Masood driving a car hired from a depot in Birmingham; he used the car to hit pedestrians indiscriminately, going almost 80 miles per hour.

Masood had a criminal record (his most recent conviction having to do with life possession in 2003) and had been previously investigated, according to Prime Minister Theresa May, in relation to “concerns about violent extremism”, but did not seem like a threat at that time. Because of the attack, UK has set it’s terror threat level to “severe” and the Mayor of London has expressed that this will not change for some time, as a subsequent attack is highly likely.

2. Hosni Mubarak has been granted freedom

Egyptian former president (or as some call him, Egypt’s successfully overthrown dictator) Hosni Mubarak, was released after spending a mere 6 years detained in one of Cairo’s military hospitals. Mubarak has been acquitted of all charges of murdering 239 protesters during the Arab spring uprising of 2011 and has returned to his home in a suburb in Cairo where he is now living seemingly comfortably with family and friends. Mubarak was also charged with corruption, but this charge was overturned in 2015. Egyptians, although some are hopeful about the future of Egypt and some feel more or less resigned, enemies and supporters of Mubarak alike, seem collectively unsurprised by Mubarak’s release.

3. Trump’s healthcare bill failed

Trump healthcare plan
Business Insider

Donald Trump’s proposed “healthcare” plan (meant to “repeal and replace” Obama’s Affordable Care Act) was pulled on Friday by Paul Ryan due to it’s inevitable failure to garner the necessary votes, even though the GOP holds majority in both the House and the Senate. In response, Trump has publicly blamed both the House Freedom Caucus and Democrats in general for the bill’s lack of support. A poll conducted by CBS indicates that the bill lacked support simply because it was not a popular bill, as opposed to having anything to do with Donald Trump himself or the fact that either Republicans or Democrats didn’t compromise.

4. Hundreds of minority girls have gone missing in DC

More than 500 juveniles have been reported missing from DC in the first three months of 2017. The missing children and teens have been primarily Latina and black females, and it is feared that these are incidents of human trafficking. While some say that more girls have gone missing recently than during the beginning of the year, others say this impression is only created by greater social media presence of the issue. Either way, this should be a top-priority issue and many are outraged that it is not being treated as such.

5. Scottish parliament in support of referendum for its independence

Scottish independence
Independent UK

The Scottish parliament will vote as to whether to request another referendum for independence from the UK on the 28th of March. The original vote was postponed due to the attack in London. This gives Scotland time – albeit, not very much – to begin discussions before Theresa May intends to trigger Article 50 (which would officially kickstart the “Brexit” process).

6. Agreement is reached to replace 18K contaminated water lines in Flint by 2020

The Seattle Times

Flint, Michigan, which first made headlines in 2014 after reports of lead-contaminated water broke, has been suffering from a water crisis for the last three years now. The effects of the contamination could impact residents for the rest of their lives; among the health risks of lead contamination are impaired mental cognition and behavioral disorders. Young children and pregnant women are especially susceptible.

A $97 million settlement has been approved by a federal judge. The money will cover the replacement of water lines made of lead or “galvanized steel.” About 18,000 households will be affected by the year 2020.

Flint is a particularly vulnerable city, with over 41% of residents living below the poverty line and a demographic makeup of about 56% African American. The city is located about an hour drive north of Detroit.

7. First annual #MuslimWomensDay is celebrated

Hundreds of thousands took to social media (namely Twitter) in support of #MuslimWomensDay on the 27th of March. The date coincides with Women’s History Month. The campaign is due to partnerships between Refinery29, Teen Vogue, Muslim Girl, and HerCampus, who marketed the day to the world.

Women – Muslim and non – were encouraged to share their experiences and stories around the world. The day was meant to highlight the diversity and power of Muslim women.

8. New population of tigers found in eastern Thailand


A new population of rare tigers have been discovered in eastern Thailand. According to BBC, camera traps captured footage of at least six cubs. The discovery is an important one, as the current total population estimate wavers at just around 250. Poachers post the biggest threat to their safety at the moment.

The protection of these animals is critical; in a world where “major league” animals such as tigers and elephants are at risk of extinction due to poaching, this is an environmental wake-up call for all of us.

9. Special Olympics gears up to start next week

Special Olympics NY

The Special Olympics is gearing up to begin a whirlwind of competitions. This year, the games will be hosted throughout the US, from Texas, to Illinois. Athletes in the Special Olympics are children and adults with intellectual disabilities, hailing from all around the world. Over 4.7 million athletes from 169 countries have participated, some as young as 8 years old.

10. Kenya in critical condition, in addition to Somalia’s famine crisis

Kenya humanitarian crisis
Al Jazeera

The Red Cross announced that Kenya is facing a serious humanitarian crisis, with over 3 million in need of food aid as drought takes hold of yet another country. The timing of Kenya’s crises joins several other East African countries, namely, Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Ethiopia.

Out of the $4.4 billion needed in funds, only about 10% have been raised, according to the UN.

Until next week!
USA World News The World

Chaos in the White House, Civil War in Libya, and Nike: The Week in Review

We get it, Wednesdays can be tough to get through. In an effort to keep up with the world’s ever-changing news landscape, we’ve put together the top 10 headlines so you can stay on top of things.

1. Utter confusion and chaos in the White House

jeff sessions lying under oath

Trump’s top administrative officials have lots of dirty secrets to hide. Earlier this week, it was revealed that Jeff Sessions, acting Attorney General, lied under oath during his Senate confirmation hearing about his relations with Russia. When asked directly if he had contact with Russian officials, he stated no – yet reports say that he spoke twice with Russia’s ambassador to the US last year. To distract from the reports, Trump took to Twitter to allege that Obama had wire-tapped his phone during the elections, offering no form of proof or basis for his claims. FBI director James Comey asked the Justice Department to reject Trump’s claims, which he felt were purely false. To top it all off, it’s been revealed that Vice President Pence used his personal email address for state business as acting governor of Indiana. The irony is too real.

2.. Muslim Ban 2.0. is issued

Muslim Ban 2.0

After the first version of the controversial executive order effectively halted, the White House rolled out the newest version – dubbed “Muslim Ban 2.0.” Slight changes were made to make it more defendable in court. The executive order still temporarily halts immigration from six Muslim-majority countries now (as opposed to seven), but still “shares the same fatal flaws,” an ACLU executive stated.

Mass protests are expected nation-wide in response to the order.

3. Somalia is experiencing a drought that is threatening natives’ way of life

Somali drought, unicef

For the third year in a row, Somalia is experiencing severe drought and failed rains, threatening pastoral communities’ way of life. As a result, families have been forced to migrate, desperately searching for food and water. According to the World Health Organization, 6.2+ people are in need of humanitarian aid, facing the threat of famine. At this point, “more than 360,000 acutely malnourished and 70,000 severely malnourished children currently need urgent and life-saving support.”

The proliferation of diarrhea, cholera, and measles is expected given the conditions.

4. “Beauty and the Beast” to be released in 10 days – and it’s causing some waves.

Beauty and the Beast

As you probably already know, Disney’s beloved classic “Beauty and the Beast” was redone as a live-action movie. However, movie theaters around the world are up in arms over an alleged “gay moment,” a scene where (spoiler!) a man dances with another man at a ball. As a result, Russia mandated it as 16+, a movie theater in Alabama canceled showings to screen it, and the movie was pulled from showing in Malaysia.

5. Nike to sell new “Pro Hijab”

nike pro hijab

Women who wear the headscarf will soon have a new option for a sporty hijab. Nike started innovating their prototype 13 months ago when they saw many hijabi sports icons discussing the need for a betters sporty scarf. The Pro Hijab, a one-piece single-layer design, will be available for sale in Spring 2018.

However, Nike is not the first company to create sports-friendly hijabs. Some women are concerned that the multi-million dollar company will overshadow smaller businesses like Capsters, Asiya, and Friniggi, while others are excited for the new opportunity with Nike.

6. French presidential candidate Francois Fillon amid controversy

francois fillon

French presidential candidate Francois Fillon is facing an allegation that he failed to declare a €50,000 ($52,900) interest-free loan from 2013. Nevertheless, Mr. Fillon said he would fight in the presidential race even though he’s facing embezzlement charges for paying his wife and children for work they didn’t do. Recent polls put him running behind Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate, and Emmanuel Macron, the liberal candidate.

7. Gender at the stoplight

lady stoplight

Soon, the people of Melbourne, Australia will be seeing more femme-looking traffic lights. For a controversial price of $8,400, the 10 lights will be replaced in an effort to fight unconscious gender bias. The hope is to eventually have a 1:1 ratio of male to female lights around the town.

Some of the critics of this light change have said that money could have went towards helping women’s issues like homelessness, domestic violence, or education. Other groups say it is sexist to assume the pants-wearing traffic lights were male, since women can also wear pants.

8. All 100 Senators urged the President to do something about anti-semitism

Image result for jewish center bomb threats

On January 18, 27 Jewish community centers in 17 states received bomb threats.  There were no bombs found onsite, but the fear induced was real.  This came after 16 states recieved bomb threats a week prior. Then, on January 31, numerous Jewish community centers were targets of bomb threats for the third time.  Centers in multiple states such as Connecticut and Utah received bomb threats through phone calls.  Again, no bombs were found.  These incidents are considered a hate crime.

President Trump refused to take these threats seriously claiming, “that the recent bomb threats and vandalism at Jewish community centers and cemeteries across the country are ‘false flags.’”  He assumed the threats were fabricated to defame his administration.  Juan Thompson, a former journalist, has been arrested by the FBI for completing at least 8 of the 100 phone calls.  It is thought that he was aiming to upset a former girlfriend, but he is also a Marist supporter and an extreme leftist who despises the Democratic party.  He is only a part of the puzzle, and there were more involved in these attacks.

On March 6 and 7, more threats were made to Jewish centers.  This came right after every single senator, that means all 100 democrats and republicans alike, agreed to sign a letter that demands President Trump and the administration to take action with these threats.  Every senator in the United States had to just inform the President that he should pay attention to this issue.

9. Libya has slipped back into a gruesome civil war

Image result for libyan national army
Libyan National Army

Fighting began over oil reserves that have been closed for the past two years.  It was under control of the  Petroleum Facilities Guard. On March 3, the Benghazi Defense Brigade captures these oil reserves.  The reserves were held by the Libyan National Army who are supported by Russia and Egypt.  This new turn over has bumped up oil prices in this area.  The reserves are technically under the Petroleum Facilities Guard, which means that profits should be going to the government in Tripoli.  Mostly, these oil reserves are important to control and this is a blow to the Libyan National Army.  Egypt has not come out to speak about this upset yet.

10. Happier news – because everybody loves candy

Image result for pink starburst

We know that orange, yellow and red starbursts are pretty good, but the best is pink.  There will be pink starburst bags for sale for a limited time!  They will release in April.  There is no occasion for this wonderful news.  The company stated that they have noticed on social media that pink seems to be the favorite, and they are answering the call.

Until next week:

USA World News The World

Snafu at the Oscars, Transgender Rights, and Bill O’Reilly: The Week in Review

We get it, Wednesdays can be tough to get through. In an effort to keep up with the world’s ever-changing news landscape, we’ve put together the top 10 headlines so you can stay on top of things.

1. “Moonlight” makes Oscar history amid snafu

Moonlight wins at the Oscars
Kevin Winter for Getty Images

The 2017 Oscars may have been the most memorable of all time. After Warren Beatty announced La La Land as best picture winner, La La Land’s own producer Jordan Horowitz declared bewilderingly that Moonlight had won. This kind of mix-up has never happened before in the history of the Academy.

Sunday night was also a victorious moment for Hollywood diversity in a lot of ways–Moonlight’s win being one of them. Viola Davis became the first black women to win an Emmy, a Tony, and an Oscar for acting. Mahershala Ali was the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar. But as much as there is to celebrate in this year’s Oscars, there is also a lot to criticize.

2. Elon Musk announces tourist trip around the moon by next year

Space shuttle
SpaceX via NYT

Musk’s company SpaceX, an outer space exploration company that has “ended governments’ long-standing monopoly on space”, will take too undisclosed citizens in an incredible journey as soon as 2018. Both travelers have already paid large sums of money for the trip. While this may seem like an undeniably good step for science exploration, we do now live in a world where even outer space is corporatized.

3. Labor Secretary Tom Perez is elected chairman of DNC

Keith Ellison and Tom Perez
AP Photo/Branden Camp via the Nation

Tom Perez, a strong backer of the Clinton campaign, narrowly beat Congressman Keith Ellison, an outspoken supporter of Bernie Sanders. Although Ellison urged Democrats to remain divided, the loss is proving to be indicative of an establishment pushback against the left-leaning factions of the party. Whatever the case, Perez will have to contend with both Trump’s administration and disappointment within his own party.

4. Trump calls the media the “enemy of the people”

Image result for trump calls media enemy

On February 24, 2017, Trump pulled access to an informal briefing at the White House from news outlets like: The New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times and Politico.  They did allow AP, but AP chose not to attend in solidarity with their fellow news counterparts.  He did however allow other news outlets like Washington Times and Breitbart News.  These outlets are more conservative, and have not been shamed by him for “fake news.”  What is pretty comical about the event is that Sean Spicer said that he felt the White House had “shown an abundance of accessibility.” The picking and choosing of what media platform is allowed to write about you is a violation of free press.  President Trump is quite obviously deciding who he agrees with, and if they are not in line with his ideals then they can be ousted, in particular more liberal leaning news outlets.  The point of the free press is to allow all aspects of an argument of an opinion to be voiced and heard.  Trump is just spewing nonsense at this point.

Is fake news the real threat to the country?  Or is it the hate rhetoric and the billions you want to spend on military spending when we are already in debt and already spend the most on military spending of any country? Let’s all just grab women by the pussy and call rape charges “fake news!”

5. Jose Serra resigns as Brazil’s foreign minister

Image result for jose serra

On February 22, Jose Serra resigned as Brazil’s foreign minister.  The reason for his resignation are health concerns, and doctors mentioned that he will take about four months to recover.  He stated that he could not keep up with the requirements of the job, and therefore resigned.  He will keep his seat in the senate and promises to continue to support the President’s agenda.  Serra is 74 years old and has run for president twice, and is expected to again in the coming year, but the likelihood of winning seems dismal.  His replacement has not yet been named.

6. Trump changes America’s stance on trans bathroom rights

Trans bathroom rights
Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

President Trump came out with a new interpretation of Title IX that goes against what Obama came out with.  Obama interpreted this rule to say that trans people should use the bathrooms that most coincide with their gender identity.  This protected trans people from discrimination in schools or public buildings.  However, Trump says that the law does not cover this.

Title IX refers to sex discrimination: “”No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”  Trump changed the presidential interpretation of the law, which means that the federal government does not have to protect trans people’s bathroom rights.  There are people who are fighting for the rights of trans people, though, so there is hope.  You can support your fellow human beings by fighting the law, protesting, and calling your congressperson.  If you own a business you can post signs such as the one pictured above to let people know you accept them.

7. Tobacco Farmers sue the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for upwards of $24 million

tobacco farm

The U.S. bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, or ATF for short, was caught doing some rather shady business recently.  Out of an office in southern Virginia, they had created a web of fake cigarette sales to push several million dollars into a secret bank account. The operation was supposedly not authorized by the Justice department, but it gave agents an undercover way to finance secret operations for tons of money. They pulled it off by fake shipments of snack food disguised as tobacco products to help catch cigarette smugglers.

Nobody knows yet how broad this practice was being used by the Bureau of ATF but the secret account is cited in a federal racketeering lawsuit filed by a collective of tobacco farmers who say they were swindled out of $24 million.

8. Bill O’Reilly fabricates Sweden national security threats:

bill o'reilly

The O’Reilly Factor just had a Swedish national security advisor come on the show, but there was instantly a problem. Sweden issued an official statement that they had never heard of his man and that he did not work for them at all. The man in question, Nils Bildt, had made the news for claiming Sweden had a crime wave driven by Muslim immigrants and refugees and accused Sweden of covering these facts.

When people started looking up who this man actually was, they found out his real name was Nils Tolling and that he himself was an immigrant to the United States from Sweden. He was apparently sentenced to one year in prison for assault and battery in Virginia in 2014 – yikes! And now Mr. Bildt/Tolling is claiming he had no say over what Fox News chose as his official title.

9. Harvard Law Review elects its first black woman president

imeime umana harvard
The Harvard Crimson

The Harvard Law Review, a highly respected and oft-cited journal, has finally elected its first black female president, ImeIme Umana. It has been over 130 years and the presidency position is highly coveted. Being on the Harvard Law Review is a ticket in many cases to future success in the legal world.

When asked why it took so long for this historical first to occur, Ms. Umana replied, “We’ve been systematically excluded from the legal landscape, the legal conversation, and we’re just now making some important inroads.” Only 9.6 percent of the female students at Harvard are black. In a world where not many women of color are represented, we at The Tempest are glad to see ImeIme succeed!

10. Samsung leader indicted on bribery charges

Lee Jae Young
AFP Photo / Jung Yeon-Je

In a land where chaemyeon or “saving face” is highly important, one of South Korea’s most prominent moguls has been arrested for corruption. Lee Jae-Yong, vice chairman of Samsung was indicted on February 17th as part of a 90-day investigation towards widespread corruption in general.

What started with massive protests in the streets to impeach Park Geun-Hye has now led to not only her impeachment but huge investigations into all the major businesses. Samsung is accused of giving donations to non-profit foundations operated by Choi Soon-Sil, a friend of ex-president Park, in exchange for government favors. Several other Samsung executives were arrested on the same day. Keep fighting the good fight, South Korea! 화이팅!

Until next week:

USA World News The World

Aliens, Legos, and Milo Yiannopolous: The Week in Review

We get it, Wednesdays can be tough to get through. In an effort to keep up with the world’s ever-changing news landscape, we’ve put together the top 10 headlines so you can stay on top of things.

1. There could totally be aliens in a solar system close to us

As it turns out, we might not be alone. Astronomers have found 7 Earth-sized planets in a solar system close to our own. Three of these planets are 40 million light years from earth and they are at the right distance from their parent star to potentially discover extra-terrestrial life.  The parent star, TRAPPIST-1, is a small and cool star which means the inhabitable planets are quite close to the center of the system.

Researchers hope to scan the chemical make-up of these planets so they can see if life exists there. Even if there is no life currently, scientists say there is potential for life to be created in the future.

2. Are we finally seeing Milo Yiannopoulos’ last straw?


The Reagan Battalion re-published a video of Yiannapolous defending gay relationships between young boys and older men. Yiannopolous’ appears sympathetic, justifying some of “these relationships” as completely “loving and consensual.” Public outrage ensued, garnering critisim from even some of his own previous fans.

Since then, the public finally witnessed the final straw for Milo Yiannopoulos. On Tuesday, he issued his resignation at Breitbart “effective immediately”.  A day earlier, he lost his book deal with Simon & Schuster, as well as a prominent speaking gig.

Milo has since said that he was abused as a child and does not mean all of the things he says. Why do people listen to him again?

3. A Jewish graveyard is the latest reflection of rising anti-semitic sentiment

Jewish grave site

During the weekend, a Jewish graveyard in St. Louis, MI, fell victim to an anti-semitic attack. Over 170 grave markers were toppled at the Chesed Shel Emeth Society gravesite. Several Jewish institutions all over the United States have been facing bomb threats recently since several white supremacists and right-wing groups have been coming out of the woodwork recently.

In response, activists Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi started a fundraiser to help aid this community and so far over 3,500 donors have contributed. The goal of $20,000 was successfully made within 3 hours; within the first 24 hours, the fundraiser had raised over $80,000.

The Chesed Shel Emeth Society has been serving the St. Louis Jewish community for more than 125 years, according to the society’s website.

4.  Trump’s press conference

GIF made using GIPHY.COM

Trump held his first solo press conference as president last Thursday. He made many unsubstantiated claims about the press, the state of the country, and his own performance as president that may foreshadow the future attitude of his administration. Despite the fact that the Obama administration left many aspects of the country in comparatively good shape, Trump claims he “inherited a mess,” and warned the public not to trust the media. On a positive note, Peter Alexander of NBC boldly called Trump out on a blatant lie surrounding his alleged “greatest electoral college victory” of all time. “Why should we trust you?” Alexander challenges.

5.  Iraq launches an offensive to regain Mosul

Photo by Ahmad Al-Rubaye for Getty Images via NYT

Last Sunday Iraqi forces moved to retake the western part of Mosul from ISIS. Soldiers dropped countless flyers from airplanes, urging those still in Mosul to “quit your work with ISIS”. On Thursday the Iraqi federal police led a successful offensive and seized most of Mosul’s airport.

ISIS first took Mosul in 2014, and have held it until now. Iraqi forces took 100 days to seize the eastern part of Mosul. The battle for the western half is turning out far more in Iraq’s favor.

6. Malcolm X’s assassination commemorated


Last Tuesday marked the day of Malcolm X’s assassination. Malcolm X was deeply influential as an activist and leader for black Americans in the struggle against white supremacy. As a member of the Nation of Islam, he espoused controversial black separatist views. Today, he is celebrated by many for advocating for black self-defense in an age of extreme racist violence, and for connecting the black struggle to worldwide systems of oppression.

7. Lego is named the most powerful brand of 2017

Lego imaged most powerful brand of 2017

Lego was named the most powerful brand by Brand Finance, a consulting firm that releases its top picks annually. They determine brand power by its marketing strategies, consumer interest, and profit. Lego toys are highly versatile in their appeal to both children and nostalgic adults, as well as both boys and girls.

8. The plot thickens surrounding Kim Jong-Nam’s murder

Image result for Kim Jong Nam's murder

There have been a multitude of suspicions as to who murdered, and why, Kim Jong-Un’s half-brother Kim Jong-Nam.  Here’s what we know:

Two women walked up to Kim Jong-Nam and smeared some kind of chemicals on his face, then fled the scene. Jong-Nam passed away on the way to the hospital. New details about the murder suggest that North Korea planned this murder in order to more firmly secure Kim Jong-Un’s power.  The body was then sent to North Korea, and the administration demanded the release of the two women, claiming their innocence .

There is evidence that Kim Jong-Un has tried to murder his brother before.  The details are still being investigated, although North Korea has demanded that Malaysian officials halt their investigation.

9. 75 years ago, the US committed a crime against humanity

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On February  19, 1942 President Franklin Roosevelt signed the executive order that required the relocation of over 100,00 Japanese-Americans from the West Coast to further inland.  The order was a response to the attacks on Pearly Harbor, an attack that led the United States to join World War II. The camps remained open for a total of 4 grueling years. This “dark period” is annually commemorated by many Americans, expressing regret over the  choice made by Roosevelt and their agreement with the order.

This was 75 years ago, but this kind of systematic discrimination rings true today. Survivors from Japanese internment are disturbed by President Trump’s executive orders banning immigrants from 7 predominantly Muslim countries: “We know what it sounds like. We know what the mood of the country can be. We know a president who is going to see people in a way that could victimize us,” a Californian survivor said.

10. Car bombing in Baghdad, Iraq kills 54, injures at least 63

Image result for baghdad bombing feb 2017

On February 16, a bomb went off in Baghdad, killing 54 people and injuring 63. The car bomb was placed strategically in a Muslim Shiite neighborhood, who make up a majority of the country’s Muslim population makeup.  ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, notorious for their outspoken prejudice against Shiites.  This is the third bombing in Baghdad this year that ISIS is responsible for.

Until next week:

Politics The World

Meet LaToia Jones, the political organizer and changemaker running for DNC Vice Chair

LaToia Jones, a well-known political organizer, co-founder of Black and Engaged, and one of 2012’s “Top 40 Under 40 in the Loop 21” is running for Democratic National Committee (DNC) Vice Chair, and she knows exactly how to help you get involved and make a difference. I got the incredible opportunity to talk to this Georgia-raised change maker, and here’s what she has to say.

The Tempest: Tell us a little about yourself and your journey to DNC Vice Chair Candidacy – what steps did you take to get here? 

LaToia Jones: I kind of fell into politics in college because I wanted to have a voice and I continued to stay involved from being a staffer as CDA [College Democrats of America] director, then I went to work for the congressional black caucus foundation. I’ve stayed in politics, because I felt like knowing and having somebody with my outlook on life at the DNC would also help make them better as well.

Women of color, particularly Black women, represent a very strong voting bloc for the Democratic party. How do you propose to make sure their voices are being heard?

My grandmother used to say “if you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re on the menu.” It’s about getting more women of color at the table, and not just women of color, but more diverse viewpoints within. Oftentimes women of color are lumped into the same type of woman, and that’s just not the case. It’s about looking at the community and seeing what voices we’re missing and giving them opportunities, training them and opening doors for them.

Part of my job is giving those who want to get involved the tools to be in positions of leadership. So, I feel like if [I were to win], that would open the door for so many other people. I don’t plan on running for multiple terms. Ideally, I’ll serve for four years, get more people involved and make sure that there’s somebody behind me who will come in there and take my place through the pipeline.

Can you tell us more about one of the cornerstones of your campaign – Pipeline 2050? 

[Editor’s Note: Pipeline 2050 is a plan that focuses on getting candidates in local government and training them to fill higher positions, in a strategic attempt to put Democratic candidates in advantageous positions.]

What I’m proposing is a three-pronged platform: recruit, engage, and train.

I always say we shouldn’t have people who are sitting in the same congressional seats for 20 or 30 years. Those should not be career paths, they should be stepping stones to help the community and you move to the next level. That is something that a lot of Democrats don’t agree with and I am aware of that. But if you have people in seats for that long, sometimes they don’t connect to the community as much when they first started.

A lot of times [these candidates] are there because they don’t feel like there’s anybody behind them who is going to take up the mantle of the cause, So, if we start doing the pipeline, they can see that there are great young people, great middle aged people who are coming through and give them skills to move up the pipeline.

What are your plans to increase Democratic voter participation, especially during midterm elections in 2018?

It’s all about those local voices. You need strong representatives who will go out there and talk to people about local issues and really show them how voting affects their everyday life. For example, if you have an infrastructure bill, you need to show people its significance. Like, if that bill doesn’t get passed, then the bridges they take to work aren’t going to repaired, and that’s going to affect rush hour. But if they use their vote and get the bill passed, that’ll open up 20,000 more jobs in the state.

Community members need to realize, “if I vote for this Congressperson, I’ll have a say in what happens, and I can talk to them directly and make sure my needs are being met.” That’s the goal here.

Do you have any advice for our readers that are interested in working for the Democratic party? What academic, professional, and volunteer steps would you suggest they take?

People don’t realize that it’s very simple to get involved in the Democratic Party. You have a local party, a state party, and a county party. If they want to get involved, the first thing I would tell them to do is this: call their state party and find out when their local county Democratic party meets and start going. And bring some friends.

The reality is that if you’re there, they have to listen to your voice. You bring a different perspective. And there’s no shame in thinking bigger. You can run for those local county seats and those local chair seats. You can also help change the rules and change bylaws in some of these counties. You can make it so that it’s more accessible to young people, and more accessible to women.

If you’re interested in LaToia Jones and her campaign, you can learn more about her platform and contact her at

Photo courtesy of LaToia Jones

This interview has been edited lightly for length and clarity.