Tito Jackson's Son Says A Relative Molested Him During Childhood

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Taryll Jackson, Michael Jackson’s nephew, appeared on “Iyanla: Fix My Life” over the weekend to help repair his troubled relationship with his girlfriend, Breana. The two believed that Michael’s death and the murder of Taryll’s mother are what started their breakdown, but a conversation with Iyanla revealed that the real trouble began much earlier.

In a sit-down with Taryll, Iyanla tried to understand why Taryll was “punishing” himself by staying in a broken relationship. That’s when the father of two made a big reveal about his own childhood: He was sexually violated at a young age by a male family member.

“I want to be clear,” said Taryll, who is Tito’s son. “It was a relative, but it wasn’t any of my father’s brothers.”

Taryll revealing this sexual abuse, Iyanla said, was a huge step in his journey toward healing himself and his relationship. However, Taryll also harbored massive guilt that was standing in the way of his healing. That guilt was tied to two more family tragedies: the murder of Tarryl’s mother and the death of his uncle.

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Speaking about Michael, Taryll tearfully explained why he struggled so much with the loss. “I don’t feel I was there … as much as he’s been there for me,” Taryll said. “I feel bad that he felt he couldn’t reach out to me.” 

Taryll also felt intense guilt over his mother’s murder. She was killed by her boyfriend, who Taryll says he had a “horrible feeling” about. However, Taryll kept his distaste to himself.

“He beat her up, because he wanted money,” Taryll said of his mother’s partner. “He wanted my mom to ask my uncle [for money], and she wouldn’t do it.”

This unprocessed pain and loss coupled with the pressures of being a Jackson is what Iyanla says has driven a wedge between Taryll and his girlfriend. But Taryll’s openness gave Iyanla hope for the couple, who later reported that they remain together today and continue to use what they learned to keep working on their relationship.

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Chicago Was On The Verge Of Police Reform. Then Trump Picked Jeff Sessions To Run The DOJ.

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CHICAGO ― In the final months of the Obama administration, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division scrambled to complete its biggest-ever investigation of a city police department: a 13-month probe of Chicago’s 12,000-strong police force that wrapped up just a week before President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

For more than a year, the division’s lawyers reviewed thousands of Chicago Police Department documents, visited all 22 police districts, went on 60 ride-alongs, reviewed 170 police shooting files, examined over 425 incidents of less-lethal force, interviewed 340 department members and talked to about 1,000 Chicago residents.

Their final report, issued Jan. 13, recognized the tough job officers had in Chicago as they dealt with spiking gun violence, and praised the “diligent efforts and brave actions of countless” officers. But a “breach in trust” eroded Chicago’s ability to prevent crime, because officers were able to escape accountability when they broke the law, the report found. Because “trust and effectiveness in combating violent crime are inextricably intertwined,” the report found “broad, fundamental reform” was needed in Chicago.

Without a formal legal agreement to reform — known as a consent decree — and independent monitoring, the report concluded, reform efforts in Chicago were “not likely to be successful.”

Jeff Sessions, Trump’s attorney general, disagrees. In recent weeks, Sessions has expressed deep skepticism about the role of the federal government in fixing broken police departments, leaving serious doubts about the ultimate outcome of the Justice Department’s work in Chicago.

Sessions wants the Justice Department to serve as the “leading advocate for law enforcement in America.” While admitting he hadn’t read the full Chicago report, he called it “anecdotal” and “not so scientifically based.” Earlier this month in Baltimore, a Justice Department lawyer said Sessions had “grave concerns” about an agreement previously reached between that city and the Obama administration. A federal judge signed off on the deal over Sessions’ objections.

In an interview with a conservative radio host this month, Sessions seemed to suggest that Justice Department investigations and consent decrees were resulting in “big crime increases.” In an op-ed for USA Today last week, Sessions wrote that consent decrees could amount to “harmful federal intrusion” that could “cost more lives by handcuffing the police instead of the criminals.” There’s too much focus on “a small number of police who are bad actors,” Sessions wrote, and “too many people believe the solution is to impose consent decrees that discourage the proactive policing that keeps our cities safe.”

Chicago has a serious violent crime problem. Last year was the deadliest in the city in two decades, with 762 homicides. But supporters of police reform like Jonathan Smith, a former official in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said that Sessions was “simply wrong” to suggest that crime goes up as a result of reform (or, in Chicago’s case, an investigation). DOJ investigations can increase community confidence in police departments and make people safer, Smith argued.

“In communities like Baltimore and Chicago where certain neighborhoods are experiencing gun violence, the problems long predate Justice Department involvement,” said Smith. “The issues in those communities are linked to weakened gun laws that create easy access to firearms, lack of opportunity for jobs and housing and a history of police misconduct that creates mistrust between police and the communities they serve. Lack of police accountability is often a significant contributing factor in a spike in crime because of community mistrust.”

Lorie Fridell, a criminologist and police bias expert from whom the Chicago’s Police Accountability Task Force solicited information for its report released last year, said DOJ investigations not only help to usher in badly need reforms to the specific departments probed, but other departments also rely on the reports to determine if their own departments are meeting constitutional standards.

“I think it’s very unfortunate the DOJ is no longer going to prioritize police reform,” Fridell said. ”The future of police reform is therefore going to have to come from the ground up. It’s going to be important for concerned individuals to demand high-quality policing.”

The future of police reform is … going to have to come from the ground up.”
Criminologist Lorie Fridell

Ian Prior, a Justice Department spokesman, said it should be “eminently clear” that the Justice Department “will never negotiate or sign a consent decree that could reduce the lawful powers of the police department and result in a less safe city.” Sarah Isgur Flores, the top spokeswoman for the Justice Department, declined to point to any specific sections of consent decrees Sessions or the department took issue with, though she said there were “several areas of concern” with the Baltimore agreement, which she alleged was “thrown together in such a hurried fashion.” She said Trump’s administration “agrees with the need to rebuild public confidence in law enforcement” but had serious worries “where consent decrees may reduce the lawful powers of the police department.”

Sessions appears to believe civil rights and constitutional policing were somehow adversarial to effective crime fighting, said Vanita Gupta, who headed the Civil Rights Division in the final years of the Obama administration. But “there’s no evidence that backs up what he’s saying,” she argued. Gupta rejected the new administration’s suggestion that the Baltimore agreement was tossed together at the last minute, calling it “an insult to the city and to the Baltimore Police Department,” and suggested they need take a closer look at what DOJ investigators found in Chicago.

“If the attorney general and his staff actually read the report, they would see reflected in that report the perspective of hundreds of Chicago police officers themselves, who talked to us about the realities of policing in the Chicago Police Department,” said Gupta. “That report reflects in many ways a very significant set of voices from law enforcement itself.”

Sessions dismissing the Justice Department’s reports without reading them also frustrates Christy Lopez, a former top Civil Rights Division official. It’s “ignorant” to describe the reports as anecdotal, Lopez said. The Chicago investigation, for example, revealed that just 1.4 percent of all misconduct complaints were sustained, or upheld as valid, over a period of more than five years, and that white Chicagoans were much more likely to have their complaints sustained than black or Latino residents.

“That’s not anecdotal,” says Lopez. Lopez also said that dismissing the individual stories highlighted in the DOJ reports as anecdotal is “deliberately blind” to what investigators were trying to do.

“It devalues people when you minimize the importance of their stories,” Lopez said. “You can call them anecdotes, but, for example in the Ferguson case ― when we have an officer writing down in his own report that after he went out and arrested a woman who’d called in on a domestic violence call, and he arrested her for an occupancy permit violation, and she says ‘I’ll never call the police again, even if I’m being killed’ ― that many be an anecdote, but that’s an important story to tell.”

It devalues people when you minimize the importance of their stories.”
Christy Lopez

Chicago residents for years have demanded changes like a citizen-led review board for police misconduct cases or improved mental health and crisis training. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson have both expressed willingness to enact reform, with or without oversight from the courts or the DOJ. Failure to get traction for reforms — even as they face an obstinate police union — could spell political trouble for both of them.

In the absence of federal action, advocates “are looking at every option ― including litigation, political pressure and legislation” to bring about reform, said Karen Sheley, director of the ACLU Illinois’ police practices project. The city has “hit a crisis point,” she added. “Everyone in Chicago should be asking their elected officials to support reform, including of the police union contracts, which are being negotiated now.”

A lack of police reform has already come at a high cost to Chicago taxpayers. Since 2004, the city has forked over about $662 million for police misconduct in the form of multimillion-dollar settlements, as well as legal fees and other penalties. Settlements totaling more than $100,000 require city council approval ― and they always get it. Police who break the rules and later cost the city money are rarely punished, allowing a core of officers especially prone to violating rules to propel the staggering payout costs.

In his op-ed last week criticizing police reform, Sessions pointed to violent crime spikes in Chicago and Baltimore as reasons not to implement reform, even though neither city has implemented consent decrees.

In an email to HuffPost, a Justice Department representative provided links to stories about crime spikes in New Orleans, Cleveland and Albuquerque, New Mexico, all cities that came under federal scrutiny. One story highlighted comments from Louisiana’s attorney general, who argued that the Justice Department consent decree has resulted in a spike in crime in New Orleans.

“It’s not fair to say that the city of New Orleans is less safe because of consent decrees,” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, a Democrat, told HuffPost after a meeting with Sessions this week.

Nobody was surprised by the findings. The issues in Chicago are longstanding and deep-rooted.”
Vanita Gupta

Federal consent decrees on policing do have a mixed record, but there are plenty of success stories. The consent decree monitor in Seattle, for example, recently said the police department had made a dramatic turnaround, and the overall crime rate in Newark, New Jersey, is lower than it’s been in 50 years.

Peter Harvey, the consent decree monitor in Newark, said it’s simply not true that federal police reform efforts lead to violent crime spikes, and that the community is excited by the prospect of modern policing being implemented in Newark.

“Remember, it’s the community that helps you police. Very few cities have enough cops to patrol a city 24-7 effectively, 12 months a year. You need the community to help you,” said Harvey. “The community will help you if you ask the community to engage with you, but what the community will not do is watch you place community residents in chokeholds where they die, and then turn around and say, ‘Well, we want to be your friend.’ Those are inconsistent messages.” 

Harvey said the overwhelming majority of cities he knew of found a consent decree to be a positive development, because it allowed them to bring about changes they may have wanted for years but could not implement.

“In virtually every city that has had a consent decree, shootings have gone down, killings have gone down, judgments against the city have been reduced, and morale in the police department has been raised and morale in the community has been raised,” Harvey said. “It’s not going to negatively impact the crime rate, because you’re not inviting the police not to patrol, you’re not inviting the police not to enforce the law, you’re inviting the police to follow constitutional mandates.”

There’s a fear, a tremendous fear I’ve heard from residents, who wonder, ‘Where do we turn?'”
Father Michael Pfleger of Chicago

The DOJ’s change of agenda is worrying, said Father Michael Pfleger, the outspoken pastor of Chicago’s St. Sabina Church on the South Side of Chicago.

“The Justice Department, sort of being the big brother watching, the enforcer, has been a good thing across the country,” said Pfleger, who has organized his congregation to regularly protest violence and police brutality. “Now Sessions has certainly sent a message that police have no one standing over them ensuring they’re acting justify and fairly. … That’s not what we need right now. Yes, we need strong police, but not an imposing force.”

“There’s a fear, a tremendous fear I’ve heard from residents, who wonder, ‘Where do we turn? If the police are wrong, then where do we turn?’” he said.

Leaving the systemic problems found in Chicago unfixed “would be a serious abdication of the Justice Department’s responsibility,” Gupta said, noting that investigating patterns and practices of unconstitutional policing was a mandate given to the Justice Department by Congress.

“Nobody was surprised by the findings,” Gupta added. “The issues in Chicago are longstanding and deep-rooted. To think that there could be a crime-fighting strategy that doesn’t address police legitimacy and the severe breakdown in police-resident trust in certain neighborhoods in Chicago to me actually seems quite dangerous.”

She finds it telling that Sessions and the DOJ have not identified any specific provisions of consent decrees that raise concerns.

“What is it specifically that is causing alarm?” she asked. “Is it really the program at large that this Justice Department is seeking to diminish?”

Ryan J. Reilly reported from Washington. Kim Bellware reported from Chicago.

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In NYC, Birthplace Of Climate March, A Reminder Of Who Suffers Most From Pollution

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QUEENS, N.Y. ― Jerome Nathaniel, 27, looks small standing in front of Ravenswood Generating Station, its four smokestacks looming like colossal candy canes over the power plant’s gated bramble of pipes and machinery. But his protest chant, soundtracked by a big speaker blasting Public Enemy’s anthem “Fight The Power,” rings loud.

“This is what democracy looks like,” he shouted as protesters, marching in New York City’s only official climate march on Saturday afternoon, streamed past the power plant.

The People’s Climate March began in 2014 as a massive protest in Manhattan. But this year, with environmental regulations under assault from a new president who dismissed climate change as a hoax, organizers encouraged as many people as possible to join thousands for a mass march in Washington, D.C.

Knowing not everyone could make the trip, Nathaniel, a community organizer in Queens for nonprofit food pantry City Harvest, assembled a sister march through New York City’s biggest and most diverse borough. The march began outside a public housing development in Queens’ Woodside neighborhood and snaked through the borough’s otherwise quiet residential streets, stopping off at four different public housing projects.

“This is bigger than one block, two blocks, one NYCHA development or four NYCHA developments,” Nathaniel told HuffPost, using the acronym for the New York City Housing Authority. 
The last stop, the Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement, served as a microcosmic example of the larger environmental problem about which Nathaniel hoped to raise awareness: that low-income people and communities of color often suffer the worst effects of the greenhouse gas pollution warming the planet and rapidly changing the climate. The housing project sits sandwiched between the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, where a steady stream of vehicles spew exhaust all day, and the one of the dirtiest power plants in New York State.

Ravenswood produces about 2.3 million metric tons of emissions each year, according to figures the Queens Tribune cited. That’s equivalent to about 500,000 cars. Unlike many plants that run on cleaner-burning natural gas alone, the power station burns 3,264,000 gallons of fuel oil per year. Under a law passed in 2015, the plant has until 2020 to switch over to a cleaner fuel. But lawmakers have recently stepped up efforts to probe emissions from the plant, citing health problems for people who live nearby. 

“For decades, power plants in our communities here in western Queens have strongly contributed to increased asthma rates and increases in hospitalizations and ER visits that exceed the average in Queens,” said Costa Constantinides, a Democrat who represents the area on the city council, in December. “Our city has made great progress on ending the use of dirty fuel oil in buildings. Now more than ever, these plants must become better neighbors and stop the practice.”

The march wasn’t locals only. Protesters came from around the city and surrounding suburbs. Tina Nannaroni, who lives in the Forest Hills area of Queens, said she got up at 5 a.m. to take a bus to Washington, D.C., only to learn her ride had been mysteriously canceled. 

“In 1965, they sabotaged the anti-Vietnam marches by canceling the buses,” she said. “I don’t know if that’s what happened, or if it’s just incompetence.” 

Evelyn Fenick and Stephen Judd took the train in from Connecticut to march with matching signs that read “Just Cuz The Climate Killed The T. Rex Doesn’t Mean Rex T. Gets To Kill The Climate,” a reference to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who previously served as chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp. 

“It blew up,” Nathaniel said. “This is urgent, it’s important for a lot of people, you can no longer work in silos. It’s all community, it’s all climate justice.”  

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44 Leaders, Legislators And Artists Sum Up Trump's First 100 Days

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In October 2016, before Donald Trump defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, he outlined a plan of all the things he hoped to accomplish during his first 100 days in office.

But in the wake of failure and unfulfilled promises as his 100th day approaches, the president has changed his tune. Last week, he criticized “the ridiculous standard” of the first 100 days, slamming the deadline in one sentence.

To mark the milestone, HuffPost asked lawmakers, activists, lobbyists and influencers to offer their own (roughly) one-sentence takes on Trump’s first 100 days. 

Here are the responses, which have been lightly edited for clarity and style:

Khizr Khan, Gold Star father

“Every action and word of Trump has [a] foul stench of political expediency and self-aggrandizing, total lack of moral compass and leadership.”

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.)

“President Trump has spent his first 100 days lying to the American people about issues both great and small, refusing to disclose his tax returns or address fears about his campaign’s ties to Russia, struggling to advance a coherent foreign policy strategy and failing to guarantee affordable health coverage for all Americans … #sad!”

Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter 

“45 has proven to be one of the most dangerous human beings on the planet; we must resist his regime and build a movement in the millions.”

Cathy Heller, one of the women who accused Trump of sexual misconduct

“[The first 100 days] are as bad as I thought they’d be. I am a bit relieved that some of his efforts — the travel ban, his health care bill — have been stymied so far, but those fights are not over.” 

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)

“Evolving.”

Philip Ellender, president of government and public affairs at Koch Industries

“We’re encouraged by the administration’s work to rein in burdensome and unnecessary regulatory overreach that has stifled innovation and has added unnecessary costs to goods and services that Americans rely on every day.”

Michael Mann, climate scientist

“Back in October, I wrote that Donald Trump is a threat to the planet, and what we have seen in his first 100 days of office — denying the threat of climate change, hiring climate deniers and fossil fuel industry lobbyists to fill key administrative roles, and issuing executive orders aimed at dismantling the progress of the past eight years — reaffirms that.” 

Aasif Mandvi, actor

“It’s been 100 days. I can’t believe it’s only been 100 days. I thought he was going to take a year to start showing signs of demagoguery.”

Fr. James Martin, editor-at-large of America magazine and consultant to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication

“I hope that the president might consider the needs of those he used to call ‘losers’ ― in this case, those who have lost out at the hands of the economy: the poor, the homeless, the unemployed, the sick and the uninsured.”

Sheryl Crow, singer-songwriter

“There’s been an arc of betrayal, chaos, manipulation and ignorance.”

Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center

“President Trump has proven in his first 100 days that the economic populism of his campaign was fake, but that the racism and xenophobia were very real. His support for the health care bill showed his indifference to the fate of those trying to make ends meet. At the same time, he’s pressed a far-right agenda targeting immigrants, Muslims, the LGBT community and others who are vulnerable.”

Tom Perriello, Democratic candidate for governor of Virginia

“It is hard to decide whether his supporters, whom I meet with often on the trail, are more disheartened by President Trump’s sheer incompetence, his ties to Russia, or his failure to focus on jobs, but this toxic trifecta means about the most positive review I hear is, ‘Give him a bit more time.’”

April Reign, activist who created #OscarsSoWhite

“Trump’s first 100 days have been harrowing and bear witness that we must challenge him and his administration at every turn by continuing to fight for justice and equity for all marginalized communities.”

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.)

“About as bad as could be expected from a team of misogynist, climate-change denying, anti-immigration, billionaire civil rights opponents, but we better be ready for even worse to come.”

Ben Cohen, activist and co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s

“It’s clear now that ‘Drain the Swamp’ really meant ‘Suck up all the morally bankrupt billionaires, Wall Street executives, and special-interest pond scum, and then pump them into the White House with a fire hose.’”

Raed Saleh, leader of Syrian rescue group the White Helmets

“After President Obama failed to uphold his ‘red line’ and let [Syrian President Bashar Assad] put Syria into a six-year spiral of horror and destruction, Syrians have found hope in President Trump’s resolve to reassert the international community’s intolerance towards the use of chemical weapons. We now wait to see if he will lead the international effort to help protect Syrians from other brutal regime tactics, and to help build a democratic alternative to the brutality and extremism of both Assad and ISIS.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)

“Promises to working families: either broken or unfulfilled.”

Former Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.), executive director at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation

“To date, President Trump’s nuclear policy can only be described as consistently inconsistent. After 100 days with the nuclear codes, it’s still not clear that the president understands the complexity of the nuclear threats facing the United States or that these threats cannot be mitigated through tweeting.”

Kathy Griffin, comedian

“During the first 100 days, there’s been never a better time to be a standup comic and never a scarier time to be a human on the planet of Earth.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

“President Trump’s first 100 days have been a disastrous parade of broken promises to working people, handouts to wealthy special interests, and deep damage to the health and economic security of America’s families.”

Rob Delaney, comedian and co-creator of Amazon’s “Catastrophe”

“Seen from space, Trump’s first 100 days has been a muddled but steady effort to lay the groundwork to redistribute the nation’s wealth from the bottom 99 percent to the top 1 percent, with him and his grotesque family astride the foul summit (with a side order of bigotry).”

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, director of external relations for the National Center for Transgender Equality

“The Trump administration has taken malicious and harmful actions against several minority groups over the last 100 days, including attacking one of the nation’s most vulnerable populations by rescinding Title IX guidance that clarified how to create safe and affirming environments for transgender children.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)

“Bad for children, mothers, workers, immigrants, women’s health, LGBTQ rights and national security, just to name a few.”

Peter Neffenger, former administrator of the Transportation Security Administration

“Although a new administrator has not yet been nominated, I’m glad to see that the transformative changes we began continue to move forward, particularly with respect to partnering with the private sector to develop and deploy new security technologies through the TSA Innovation Task Force, coupled with continued focus and coordination on public area security.”

Chuck Jones, president of United Steelworkers Local 1999

“Donald Trump’s delusional.”

Al Madrigal, comedian and former correspondent on “The Daily Show”

“It’s been a shockingly horrible disaster ― he’s gone back on so many promises that I can’t believe the people in his base that put him in office can continue to support him, considering that he hasn’t done a thing that he’s promised to do. But what do I know? I’m just some idiot comedian.”

Jonathan Gruber, economics professor at MIT

“Trump’s first 100 days showed that democracy still functions as long as there are truth-telling organizations out there like the CBO ― and highlighted the key dependence of our government on those institutions.”

Richard Carmona, U.S. surgeon general from 2002-2006

“A perception of unpredictable entropy, chaos, confusion and alternate facts have so far infected the beltway. America is better than this, let’s show the world who we really are!”

Tamika Mallory, national co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington

“We need to continue to use our voices to push back on the harmful policies and rhetoric of this administration, because the imminent threat that communities are up against is something too great to ignore.”

Andy Slavitt, former acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Barack Obama

“Trump’s relationship to the presidency so far seems like my relationship with dieting ― he wants the results without doing the hard work.” 

Melissa Etheridge, singer-songwriter

“It has solidified and brought to the surface even more the importance of diversity and how diversity is challenging and fearful to some. Being on the other side of diversity — being the diverse part of diversity — that means it is my job to take that freedom, to take that responsibility and to respect and love myself and to stand in my truth with it and show that the only way to get out of this mess is by understanding and believing that diversity is what makes us stronger.”

Tom Colicchio, “Top Chef” host and co-founder of FoodPolicyAction.org

“The first hundred days of any presidency comes with a steep learning curve … unfortunately, this instance has been a classic example of ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.’”

Neil Gaiman, author of American Gods

“I think it’s making things more urgent. I don’t know if we’re getting better art, I don’t know if we’re getting more art. But the art we are getting feels more urgent.”

Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD

“100 days of Trump translates into 100 days of erasure for the LGBTQ community ― from the census exclusion, to rescinding Obama’s guidance for trans youth in schools, and lack of any LGBTQ mentions on the White House website, he has spent the early days of his administration trying to remove us from the very fabric of this country, and we must resist.”

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

“Major issue: Supreme Court nominee is approved. It’s one of the reasons why he got elected.”

Tom Toro, New Yorker cartoonist

“Despite countless pathetic failures during his first 100 days in office, Trump can point to one great accomplishment: He has inspired a record number of people to become politically engaged artists. The spontaneous creativity of the Resistance, led by ordinary citizens expressing themselves with extraordinary imagination, has grown day by day to become the most powerful cultural force of the century, and it ― not Trump’s vacuous, vain avarice ― will shape the future of our nation.”

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.)

“With regards to marijuana policy, we need the Trump administration to stop sending mixed messages filled with backtracks and flat out flip-flops. We need to take the marijuana sector out of a grey zone and into a legitimate one.”

Kelly Garvy, founder of Protecting Progress in Durham

“Trump lies and embarrasses himself and the country on a daily basis, but for the past 100 days, I have forged new relationships and friendships with wonderful people in my community ― and we are ready for 2018.”

María Teresa Kumar, founding president and CEO of Voto Latino

“From immigration to health care, the president’s agenda is the antithesis of a forward-looking nation, with the potential to take us back to our country’s darkest days.”

Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.)

“Two words: Neil Gorsuch.”

Joycelyn Elders, U.S. surgeon general from 1993 to 1994

“While the POTUS may be a genius, he would greatly benefit by listening to the informed ideas of authorities in health care, education and human rights in order to bring motivation and hope to all.”

Ian Kerner, relationship counselor and sex therapist

“Whereas in the Obama era, ‘sexual cliteracy’ was on the rise and the ‘orgasm gap’ between men and women had been closing, I am now seeing a rise in sexual complaints from women about men who are woefully ill-cliterate. Sadly, the ‘Viva La Vulva’ years are over.” 

Heems, rapper

“It’s been really rough. I can say from a community perspective a lot of South Asians are much more worried about their reality.”

Lewis Black, comedian

“It feels like two and a half years. Two and a half years is what it feels like.”

Multiple HuffPost reporters contributed to this story.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Source: HuffPost Black Voices

Ciara And Russell Wilson Welcome Baby Girl

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Ciara and Russell Wilson are now the proud parents of a baby girl.

The singer announced the news after giving birth on Friday in a touching Instagram post dedicated to the couple’s new addition, Sienna Princess Wilson.

“No matter how big the wave, we will always be your calm in the storm. We Love You. Love, Mommy & Daddy. 7:03 pm 7 lbs. 13 oz. 4.28.2017 Photo By Daddy ❤️ ,” Ciara wrote alongside a photo of herself on a beach. 

Sienna is the first child for Seattle Seahawks quarterback Wilson. Ciara also has a 2-year-old son, Future Zahir, from her former relationship with rapper Future.

Ciara, 31, and Wilson, 28, announced they were expecting a baby last October. Since then, the singer has been documenting her pregnancy on Instagram.

Truly A Balancing Game In These #Gucci Stacks & This Big Belly! ☺️

A post shared by Ciara (@ciara) on Apr 20, 2017 at 12:46pm PDT

Sunday Vibes.. ❤️

A post shared by Ciara (@ciara) on Apr 23, 2017 at 7:57am PDT

No Greater Feeling Than Being In Your Arms….#MCM

A post shared by Ciara (@ciara) on Feb 27, 2017 at 3:48pm PST

The couple started dating in 2015 and wed in July 2016.

Congrats to the happy family!

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Source: HuffPost Black Voices

Peppermint Opens Up About Coming Out As Trans On 'RuPaul's Drag Race'

On Friday night’s episode of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” New York City queen Peppermint finally had a moment that many fans of the show knew was coming: a discussion surrounding her trans identity and the way it relates to her drag persona.

It was a highly personal and vulnerable conversation for Peppermint, who has been open about being trans since the show premiered earlier this year. But deciding when to share this with her fellow competitors and coming out on national television is no easy task, and one that Peppermint put an immense amount of thought and emotional energy into prior to the filming the show last summer.

There have been contestants who have come out as trans during the course of a “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season in the past, like Monica Beverly Hillz, and those that have gone on to transition post-”Drag Race,” like Carmen Carrera or Gia Gunn. But Peppermint is the first queen to be vocal about her identity from the moment the list of queens competing on her season was announced.

In this interview with The Huffington Post, Peppermint opens up about how she decided to tell her fellow contestants about her trans identity, the relationship, for her, between being trans and drag performance, and advice she would give other trans and gender non-conforming queens considering competing on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” in the future.

The Huffington Post: First of all, congratulations for coming out on national television ― that’s a huge deal!

Peppermint: Thank you! I’ve actually been out for awhile but this is my first time speaking about it with this group of people, so I guess it’s a coming out! It’s a small and a big coming out at the same time.

Right ― it’s just more of a public coming out on this major platform. How did you approach sharing your trans identity going into “RuPaul’s Drag Race”?

Well, I think I took the same approach that I took in life, which was I didn’t necessarily have a Facebook announcement moment or like a “stop it all, everything changes” moment. I really just kind of wanted to become who I was supposed to be and continue to do what I was always meant to do – and I did! I just kind of morphed myself into a trans woman [laughs] and continued to kind of go about my daily life. The people who were in contact with me and in my life just kind of saw it in front of their eyes. So that was kind of my approach with the show.

I didn’t really want to come in and say, “hey everyone, I don’t know your names but I’ve got an announcement to make.” I just wanted to let me persona and my talent speak for themselves. And once I felt comfortable and established in the room and this group of people and knew that it was a safe space then I felt comfortable enough to share personal moments with them – including my trans experience.

You talked a little bit about this in the episode, but I would love to hear you talk more about the contention and distinction between trans identity and drag performance. Obviously you can’t speak for everybody when it comes to that but I’d love to hear your thoughts on what that relationship is like for you.

You know, it didn’t even occur to me until a certain time that there is a difference between drag and [being] trans. For me, for so long, just doing drag was me being able to express myself as a woman and make the choice to wear things that I felt were gorgeous and makeup and hair and all of that. And it wasn’t until much later and actually starting my transition that I realized that’s barely even what womanhood is about for all of those women. So once I wrapped my head around that I was kind of able to see the relationship between drag and trans in that, for me, the truth is that there’s a lot of wonderful places in great cities and groups of people and LGBT centers that are safe spaces for people of trans experience to kind of explore their identity and step into that realm. But, as we know, there are a lot of places that aren’t safe spaces and I think drag in most cities, at least in America, continues to be a safe space for someone to kind of experiment with gender expression – of course! Because that’s the name of the game for drag. And so that’s a really safe space for trans people to be able to kind of explore that. I think some trans people very quickly realize that performing in drag is not for them, and then some of us get hooked on it and want to do it every day!

But, as we know, there are a lot of places that aren’t safe spaces and I think drag in most cities, at least in America, continues to be a safe space for someone to kind of experiment with gender expression.

I think that this is definitely a dialogue that we engage in a lot within queer community. How do we help the larger world understand this really complicate relationship between these different shades of identity involving drag performance and trans identity.

I think the simplest way to put it is in the words of Monica Beverley Hillz who so bravely came out in season five of Drag Race, that “Drag is what I do and trans is who I am.” And I think that’s the simplest way to put it. I know that there’s a lot of nuances, just as there are in the human experience – there’s no one way to describe everyone. I think that’s what we should take away: there’s trans people who may have never set foot in a gay bar or been to a drag show. And there’s trans people who are drag queens and are at the gay bar every week ― just like there are gay men who never set foot in a gay bar. It’s really easy, especially when we’re talking about minorities, to kind of paint the entire community with one broad stroke and just say “all gay people are this” or “all trans people are that.” And this is primarily because we have very limited examples of who these people are in our media. So I think once we start to expand the different shades and shapes and sizes of the people in our queer community in media, then people will see that there are different types of trans people – some of whom are drag queens and some of whom are not. Drag is a job or career – it’s a way to make money, but it’s not necessarily the be all end all of a trans person’s existence. 

Very well said and I would even argue that you’re embodying that possibility model by talking about this right now and that’s really powerful and I commend you for that. As a trans woman, how are you impacted by gendered terminology on the show? What are your thoughts surrounding that?

One step at a time is my thought. It would not be a bad thing if the producers and writers of the show decided that they wanted to carve out more space to expand and get a little more breathing room when it comes to terminology and words and definitions. I don’t necessarily think it is as crucial, specifically because I know that when I’m working as a drag performer, the definition and expectation is that you are a gender non-conforming person.

It’s really easy, especially when we’re talking about minorities, to kind of paint the entire community with one broad stroke and just say ‘all gay people are this’ or ‘all trans people are that.’ And this is primarily because we have very limited examples of who these people are in our media.

Did you ever feel the pressure to present in any certain type of way while out of drag when you were competing on the show?

Well, this is an extremely difficult, personal and very heavy kind of thought process for me. No, I didn’t feel any pressure directed at me from anyone else. I really had to address the pressure that I put on myself. What is a woman? What do I look like? What does my natural body say? And how do I feel about that? I’ve had to address that stuff throughout my life and I probably will again – this calls into question possibility. Do I really need to feel the pressure to sit in front of the mirror and put on a bunch of makeup and wear a whole bunch of jewelry, makeup and perfume just to go to the grocery store? What if I just wash my face and present my natural self – will people say that I’m a man? I mean that’s really a scary thing and a hard thing to deal with and accept for a lot of trans people. And a part of passing has to do with safety and not being targeted, and of course I felt safe I didn’t think I was going to be abused or anything. But the truth of the matter is an hour before I start getting into drag, I take a shower and I have short blonde hair, no makeup on and my body looks like one that most people would say, “oh that’s a man.” And I don’t like that but it’s the truth! And I have to deal with that. And so I wanted to go into each challenge as natural as possible, I didn’t want to have to put on a bunch of makeup and then take it off and put it back on again. And before the show I would wear hair as a trans woman every day ― my daytime hair. I have a daytime look which involves wigs and makeup and hair and I didn’t want to have to de-drag in order to drag again because then I would be at a disadvantage.

That’s extremely personal and I appreciate you sharing that. Finally, what would you want to say to any trans or GNC person that’s thinking about or going to compete on drag race in the future?

I think number one, absolutely do it. I think if you have faith that you are a stellar drag performer and you think you have a lot to offer to the world of drag and have already contributed to the world of drag, then I say “RuPaul’s Drag Race” is meant for you. Whether you see an example of yourself or not, you will be that person. So just do it! And I do think, kind of going back to the last question that you had, you may have to be really ready to shed a lot of the ― I don’t want to say security blanket ― but a lot of the things that you use to protect yourself in every day life when you’re going into a thing like “Drag Race.” And that’s not necessarily unique to a trans person or trans experience – I think every person who goes to “Drag Race” or any reality TV show has to be ready to be vulnerable or be exposed or be without their security blanket – whatever that is. And that includes people of trans experience.

Laverne Cox told me about an experience she had where she was traveling through the airport and was in a rush and she was misgendered by the airline personnel at the gate. And she had a choice to kind of either stay there and argue with the person so that they knew the right thing to say, or just keep it moving because she doesn’t have time and doesn’t want to miss her flight. And the truth is, whether I’m wearing hair or however I’m presenting, it doesn’t negate my womanhood.

I’ve always been a woman! And my womanhood is never at stake based on what someone says about how I look or how I present or whether you’re a drag queen or not or whether you’re transition or whether you have surgeries – none of that matters. Your womanhood or your manhood if you’re a trans man or whatever your gender identity – you’re born with it! That’s my belief. And even though it takes some people awhile to realize it and kind of come into their own, it’s always inside of you.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Source: HuffPost Black Voices

100 Ways In 100 Days: Here's How Trump Has Threatened Human Rights Around The World

Activists at Amnesty International have catalogued 100 ways Donald Trump’s administration has threatened human rights at home and abroad during the first 100 days of his presidency. Assembling the list, according to the group’s U.S. head, “didn’t take long.”

Amnesty USA executive director Margaret Huang said the new list of Trump threats highlights a “level of abuse and fear” that’s unprecedented in the grassroots organization’s 55-year history. It stands in stark contrast to a White House tally of claimed accomplishments since Trump’s inauguration in January.

“Unlike his predecessors, who have at least rhetorically talked about the importance of human rights as a U.S. national interest, this president has been dismissive of human rights, dismissive of communities who’ve been subjected to some of the worst violations, and has rejected efforts to hold other governments or his own appointments accountable for protecting human rights,” Huang told HuffPost on Thursday.

It took Amnesty staffers just “a few days” in “a really easy effort” to assemble 100 human rights threats by the Trump administration, Huang said. In fact, “we had to pare it down,” she added.

Trump has armed, emboldened and repeatedly failed to condemn human rights abusers. He has downplayed hate crimes and proposes potentially devastating funding cuts to foreign aid. He also has issued direct threats to some demographics, including those within the U.S.

Here are some of the groups whose rights have been threatened under Trump, according to Amnesty: 

Black Americans

Trump picked Jeff Sessions as attorney general, despite damning allegations against the former Alabama senator of racism toward black people. A Senate committee had previously denied Sessions a federal judgeship after multiple reports of racist remarks, including using a racial slur and joking about the Ku Klux Klan. Sessions has dismissed the accusations as false.

Since taking office, Sessions has moved to roll back Justice Department oversight of local police forces that was meant to curb such abuses as racial profiling and brutality.  

Follow HuffPost’s Black Voices coverage for more.

Immigrants And Refugees

Little more than a week after taking office, Trump signed an executive order banning residents of seven Arab nations from entering the U.S.

International panic ensued as family members were separated, and foreign governments scrambled to respond. The ban was delayed by a federal court amid concerns that it was unconstitutional. The Trump administration modified and reissued the ban, but that version, too, was blocked by courts.

Under the latest Trump policy, refugees are temporarily blocked from resettling in the U.S. The number of annual refugee admissions has been slashed from 110,000 to 50,000.

Trump during his campaign regularly demonized Syrian refugees, and vowed to deport Syrians who had already resettled in the U.S.: “I’m putting people on notice,” he threatened. “If I win, they’re going back!”

Follow WorldPost’s coverage for more.

Trump also has taken aim at Mexican immigrants, especially those who are undocumented. Despite international condemnation, Trump’s administration is moving forward with plans to construct a multi-billion-dollar wall along the southern border.

Trump infamously said during the campaign that when Mexico “sends its people … they’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Trump has given broader powers to deport people to Immigration and Customs Enforcement without adequate oversight, Amnesty notes. The rights group asserts that increased patrols along the U.S.-Mexico border have done little to prevent asylum-seekers from crossing into the country illegally.

“Cartels and gangs prey upon immigrants waiting to enter the U.S., leaving them vulnerable to kidnapping and sexual assault,” Amnesty’s report says. “Instead of deterring people from making a dangerous journey, the administration is placing them in greater jeopardy.”

Follow HuffPost’s Latino Voices coverage for more.

Indigenous Peoples

Trump’s proposed border wall threatens to separate indigenous communities along the U.S.-Mexico border from their religious and cultural sites.

Moreover, his administration granted permission for the Dakota Access Pipeline to drill under the Missouri River north of Standing Rock to complete the petroleum pipeline. Opponents say the project poses a risk to the water source for the Standing Rock Sioux and other downriver tribes.

According to Amnesty, this could “destroy Native America cultural sites,” and it “totally [ignores] the rights of Indigenous Peoples to consent to such projects.”

See HuffPost’s Standing Rock coverage for more. 

Jewish People

The Trump administration was slow to condemn a string of anti-Semitic hate crimes against Jewish Community Centers throughout America, inaction that was “contributing to a climate of impunity for hate-based violence,” according to Amnesty.

Trump’s team also failed to mention Jews during a statement about this year’s Holocaust Remembrance Day. More astonishing, White House press secretary Sean Spicer falsely said Adolf Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons during WWII, suggesting Hitler wasn’t as cruel as Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. In fact, Hitler’s Nazis gassed millions of Jews.

Follow HuffPost’s continued JCC coverage for more.

Journalists And Activists

Trump’s persistent media bashing has already damaged press freedom in the U.S., according to Reporters Without Borders.

The president has unleashed a barrage of insults and threats against members of the press, even dismissing some major news outlets as “fake news” and “the enemy of the American people.” 

He vowed to “open up” libel laws, warning those who offend him, “We’re gonna have people sue you like you never got sued before.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists labeled Trump a threat to press freedom before he was even elected.

His administration has revoked press credentials for certain news organizations that have produced unflattering coverage, and has threatened to punish others.

Trump’s actions have provoked protests across the nation, but he seems to believe his rights are more important than citizens’.

As Amnesty points out, Trump’s lawyers argued that his First Amendment rights were infringed by protestors who interrupted a campaign stop in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2016.

This sets “an ominous precedent for how the president interprets free expression,” Amnesty warns.

Follow HuffPost Media’s coverage for more.

LGBTQ People

Trump reversed federal protection for transgender students that allowed them to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity. For transgender children, “this revocation puts them at increased risk for violence and harassment,” Amnesty said.

Trump also rescinded protections implemented under his predecessor, Barack Obama, that helped ensure federal contractors could not discriminate against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Roger Severino, Trump’s appointment to head the Office for Civil Rights, has been a vocal critic of policies protecting LGBTQ rights, as has Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence.

Follow HuffPost’s Queer Voices coverage for more.

Muslims

Trump’s travel ban was widely characterized as a Muslim ban, because it directly targeted residents of Muslim-majority countries. He also issued a laptop ban affecting passengers on flights between the U.S. and several North African and Middle Eastern countries.

The number of anti-Muslim hate crimes since Trump’s election has been “staggering,” according to ThinkProgress, which has been carefully monitoring such incidents.

Amnesty says this is largely because Trump’s ban and rhetoric “appear to have emboldened anti-Muslim behavior and attitudes.”

When asked about increased reports of Islamophobia and other hate crimes during an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Trump said simply: “Stop it.”

See HuffPost’s Islamophobia tracker for more.

Scientists And Environmentalists

Any threat to the environment is a threat to human rights.

Trump’s “America First” budget blueprint proposes massive funding cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, sparking intense backlash. The agency’s new head, Scott Pruitt, has already started to roll back environmental regulations.

To the alarm of scientists, Pruitt ― America’s top environmental official ― said human activity is not “a primary contributor” to global warming.

The Trump administration also has been accused of muzzling the government’s environmental scientists and attempting to limit their communication with the public. 

Follow HuffPost Green’s coverage for more.

Students, Youth And Children

Trump’s secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, has no personal experience with public education. The billionaire’s lack of experience and understanding of issues surrounding education in America were put on clear display during her confirmation hearing in January, when she struggled to answer question after question.

Devos has backed Trump’s proposed $9 billion budget cuts to the Department of Education, which would curb after-school programs for low-income children that provide additional instruction and food aid.

“Such cuts could have far-reaching impact on the human rights to education and freedom from hunger enshrined in international law,” notes Amnesty.

Follow HuffPost Education’s coverage for more.

Women And Girls

On his third day as president, Trump swiftly reinstated the Global Gag Rule, which restricts U.S. foreign aid for groups that offer abortion services, including education on safe abortions. He also signed a bill enabling states to withhold government money from organizations that offer abortion services, like Planned Parenthood.

As a result, Amnesty says, “thousands of people — particularly low income women and girls — will not be able to access basic health care, including cancer screenings, pregnancy health, birth control, and safe abortion services.”

Trump also revoked the previous administration’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order, which had been implemented to eliminate wage disparity between men and women, and ensured protection for parental leave as well as fair processes surrounding workplace sexual harassment.

Follow HuffPost Women’s coverage for more.

Huang said the resistance to Trump’s anti-human rights words and actions has been “incredible.”

“From the Women’s March the day after his inauguration, to the spontaneous protests at airports after the refugee ban, to the ongoing protests that are happening across the country ― it’s a reflection of a recognition that the only way to stand up to this sort of rhetoric and bad policy is for people to take action,” she said.

Read Amnesty’s full list of 100 threats by Trump and ways to take action here.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Source: HuffPost Black Voices

People Of Color Bear The Brunt Of Fast-Food Explosion

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It is no secret that America’s profusion of more than 200,000 fast-food restaurants has probably gone too far, forcing us to pay a heavy toll for easy access to all that cheap, convenient and tasty food with still-growing rates of obesity and diet-related, life-threatening conditions like diabetes.

But it’s often overlooked that urban, African American neighborhoods have been disproportionately targeted by the continued expansion of fast-food chains.

According to Chin Jou, an American history lecturer at the University of Sydney, this didn’t happen by accident.

Jou’s new book, Supersizing Urban America: How Inner Cities Got Fast Food with Government Help, details how the U.S. government has helped subsidize the growth of fast-food outlets in minority communities through Small Business Administration grants, as well as urban revitalization and minority entrepreneurship initiatives that prioritize fast-food establishments over other industries.

These efforts — along with a heavy advertising push from the industry itself — have pushed many African American families a long way from the healthier diets of previous generations. As a result, Jou points out, minority communities are disproportionately affected by obesity and related health issues.

African Americans are 1.5 times more likely to be obese than white Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These disparities in obesity rates start in childhood. Not coincidentally, fast-food companies are more likely to promote their foods to minority children than to whites, potentially shaping diet preferences from a young age.

It won’t be easy to reverse this trend, especially as the industry increasingly looks to Latino neighborhoods and other minority communities to boost sales. But Jou said there’s hope.

HuffPost recently spoke with the author about how our American diet took such a turn and how to get nutrition back on track — even with a fast food-loving president.

Your book begins with an excerpt from Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation discussing the role the SBA has played in the fast-food industry’s expansion. Why did this capture your curiosity? Why did you feel this was a story worth telling?

I reread the Fast Food Nation excerpt in 2010. At the time, I was studying the history of obesity as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health, so obesity was on my mind a lot. The Fast Food Nation excerpt, which was about the federal government’s loan guarantees to fast-food franchises, struck me because it occurred to me that such policies may have inadvertently and indirectly contributed to the obesity epidemic ― an epidemic that the government was in the process of trying to reduce with initiatives like Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move.”

The notion that the government may have indirectly contributed to the obesity epidemic was not a new idea ― Michael Pollan is perhaps most famously associated with promulgating the idea that agricultural subsidies for crops like corn and soy contribute to the relatively low costs of processed foods made from these items. But before reading that excerpt, I hadn’t realized that the federal government also supported fast-food franchises through Small Business Administration loan guarantees.

What do you think is the most troubling aspect of the SBA’s fast-food support? Why might readers be alarmed by this?

A troubling aspect of the SBA’s fast-food support (and of the government’s various urban renewal initiatives since the 1960s) is that this contributed to the historical development of what has been called “food swamps,” or places that have a preponderance of fast food and junk food relative to affordable healthy foods. The development of these “food swamps” wasn’t inevitable.

I was struck by how some of the factors contributing to the fast-food explosion in minority communities were often well intended — like the Clinton administration’s Enterprise Zone-Enterprise Community urban renewal initiative. There aren’t really any pure “bad guys” here, are there? 

Absolutely, the urban renewal initiatives have been well intentioned, and there are no clear villains in this story. Rather, this is a story of unintended consequences. I don’t know if it would have been easier to write this narrative if there were obvious bad guys, but this is a complicated story that, in my view, did not warrant the drawing out of unequivocally evil characters throughout the narrative.

As you touch in the conclusion, anti-obesity messaging is sometimes critiqued as elitist. How do we combat that tendency, addressing the problem without looking down on people?

You bring up a really important point. First, anti-obesity public health campaigns should not engage in any form of fat-shaming. There have been studies published in prestigious peer-reviewed journals which have found that public health campaigns employing fat-shaming (or “weight stigma”) are actually counterproductive to people losing weight, and can lead to a cascade of pernicious effects, including bullying, stress, depression, and even suicide. Needless to say, fat-shaming is also just plain cruel and sets a bad example for children.

As for how to combat obesity without fat-shaming, I think we need to get away from stigmatizing large bodies and particular food habits, and focus instead on developing policies that make heathy foods more affordable, accessible, and appealing. 

These sorts of policies, which you also outlined at the end of the book, would all come with a price tag. Given the political climate, are you at all optimistic these solutions could realistically be on the table?

Facilitating access to healthier foods for all Americans would probably cost relatively little compared to the current administration’s plans for defense spending, business tax reductions, and even the proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Even so, I’m not optimistic that healthier diets for all Americans will be a priority for the current administration. We have a president that has not been shy about publicizing his affinity for McDonald’s, KFC, and, of course, the taco bowls at his own Trump Grill, not to mention the fact that his first nominee for labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, was head of the restaurant group that owns Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s.

The book touches on so many important and timely issues, were you surprised that no one had beat you to this topic?

I was very surprised, which is why I dropped the book project I had been working on and decided to pursue this. While in the last stages of completing my book, I learned that a historian at Georgetown named Marcia Chatelain is working on a book on a similar topic, but focusing on McDonald’s franchise owners and the issue of civil rights. Needless to say, I’m very much looking forward to the publication of her book. Another forthcoming book I’m looking forward to reading is by a professor of Africana studies and human ecology at Rutgers named Naa Oyo Kwate.

By pointing to these two scholars’ work, I am suggesting, of course, that while the development of fast food in African-American communities is one that may have been overlooked by historians and other scholars in the past, that’s no longer the case. 

A broader societal shift is taking on poverty in addition to other factors that contribute to obesity. Do you see any other reasons for hope that we might yet make progress on this?

Nationwide and among adults, obesity rates have plateaued or risen slightly for roughly the last decade, depending on which age cohort we’re looking at. But there have also been declines among children in particular age categories, and in particular states, which give some reason for hope, since those children will become adults, of course. The CDC issued a report in 2013 showing that obesity rates fell between 2008 and 2011 among preschool-aged children in 19 states and U.S. territories. The children referenced in this report participated in federal nutrition programs, which points, perhaps, to how investments in improved nutrition by the government can be effective.

The most encouraging development was from a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2014 showing a 43 percent decline in obesity rates between 2004 and 2012 among children ages 2 to 5. When asked about their response to such studies, obesity experts tended to say that such findings were grounds for optimism, but that there should be continued vigilance and support for childhood obesity interventions. I would share that sentiment.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

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Joseph Erbentraut covers promising innovations and challenges in the areas of food, water, agriculture and our climate. Follow Erbentraut on Twitter at @robojojo. Tips? Email joseph.erbentraut@huffingtonpost.com.

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Source: HuffPost Black Voices

Patton Oswalt: Donald Trump Is America's 'Racist Palate Cleanser'

Patton Oswalt says President Donald Trump’s election victory shows that America is “not as progressive as we thought we were.”

Trump has profited from former President Barack Obama’s eight years in office, the comedian and actor told late night TV host Conan O’Brien.

Under Obama, Oswalt said there was a “lot of back-patting going on.” “It was like, ‘Yeah, check it out, black president. ‘Yeah you’re welcome, we’re pretty cool, America 21st century, pretty nice,’” he said.

But when presented with the choice of voting for an “insanely qualified woman” and a “racist scrotum dipped in Cheeto dust,” Oswalt said the country decided to “see what the scrotum has to say.”

It was as if citizens couldn’t handle so much diversity and so Trump was, according to Oswalt, America’s “racist palate cleanser.”

Check out the full interview above.

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— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Source: HuffPost Black Voices

George Takei Sounds Off About Trump's First 100 Days

NEW YORK ― George Takei walks into the room and you’d swear he has a halo of Twitter birds floating overhead. The social media activist and actor had arrived to receive a social justice award at The Opportunity Agenda’s 2017 Creative Change Awards in Midtown Manhattan. 

HuffPost Asian Voices talked to Takei (in the video above) about a number of issues he’s been outspoken about, including immigration, LGBTQ rights, North Korea and his New York noodle rec. He also shared personal stories about living on Skid Row and finding solidarity and acceptance as the only Asian-American in a Mexican-American neighborhood in Los Angeles ― it’s that America that gives him hope.

The interview below has been condensed. Watch the full clip above. 

On Trump’s first 100 days 

Well, I think every day of his tenure so far, and I think it’s going to be abbreviated, has been a disaster — one chaos after another disaster.

Well, I think every day of his tenure so far, and I think it’s going to be abbreviated, has been a disaster — one chaos after another disaster. He twice tried to sign an executive order, and we Japanese-Americans know about those executive orders, where he tries to discriminate and characterize a whole group of people as being one thing.

We had an executive order 75 years ago in 1942, February of 1942, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order characterizing all Japanese-Americans as the enemy. We were rounded up at gunpoint and put into barbed-wire American prison camps. I grew up four years of my life in one of those camps, two of those camps, as a matter of fact. And this President Donald Trump again attempted something like that. We’ve learned from our historic past. And we have a changed America today.

On Attorney General Jeff Sessions

The top man in the Justice Department doesn’t understand our federal justice system.

The change that’s happened from 75 years ago to today is dramatic because this time, when those executive orders were signed, thousands of people ― massive numbers of people ― rushed to the airports to protest and resist that executive order. And we had a court system now who put a stay on that.

Our attorney general, Sessions, made that statement about “a judge on an island in the Pacific” ― the top man in the Justice Department doesn’t understand our federal justice system, so we have that kind of administration.

It is not a joke to those people who are being affected by it. And we will resist, seriously, not as a joke.

Takei on his tweet comparing Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

What is the essential quality of those two men? They both have access to dangerous power. One more dangerous than the other. The United States is certainly a much more armed nation than North Korea. They are both very volatile people, unpredictable and prone to taking damaging actions. I think there is a parallel there. And it should not be looked at as simply a joke. We have an unpredictable president.

On moving to L.A.’s Skid Row after living in a prison camp

That was the only place we could find housing. We spent about two or three months on Skid Row, and that was, to us kids, even more horrifying than being behind barbed-wire fences because imprisonment is routine. 

My baby sister, who wasn’t even a year old, all that she knew of life was behind barbed wire. Coming into the chaos of Skid Row was terrifying. When that derelict collapsed in front of us and barfed, she said, ‘Mama, let’s go back home,’ meaning behind a barbed-wire fence, because coming back home to Los Angeles was so terrifying. 

My sister was 9 months old [in 1942]. So four years of her life were spent behind those barbed-wire fences.

The government took everything we owned away from us and imprisoned us for four years. So we were impoverished.

On facing racial discrimination

So that’s what we came home to ― Skid Row and teachers who called you a Jap.

I went to school, and the teacher, the teacher, called me the “Jap boy” constantly. If I had the courage to raise my hand when I had a question, she always ignored me and looked the other way. So I knew she hated me and I hated her right back. But, you know, she’s a teacher, and what had I done to her to get her enmity? But then as an adult, I think back maybe she had a husband in the Pacific or a son in the Pacific.

So that’s what we came home to ― Skid Row and teachers who called you a Jap.

On finding acceptance in a Mexican-American neighborhood 

After Skid Row, we moved into the all Mexican-American neighborhood of Los Angeles ― the only Asian-American family, much less the only Japanese-American family among Mexican-Americans. And they embraced us. They welcomed us. Our neighbor, Mrs. Gonzales, and my mother became very good friends. My mother learned how to cook Mexican, and she was the best tacos and enchiladas cook in all of East L.A., as far as I’m concerned.

I walked home from school with my Mexican-American friends, and sometimes they would invite me into their mother’s kitchen, and I’d be greeted with the warm scent of fresh tortillas that she had made. And she’d take a ladle of frijoles, beans, and spread it on the tortilla and roll it up, and we’d have our after-school snack.

On the repeal of LGBTQ rights worldwide

The transgender issue — the bathroom now is the battleground.

The transgender issue — the bathroom now is the battleground. These people have now passed a law that still is to be dealt with, where people have to go to the bathroom of their birth certificate.

It’s a fake issue created by politicians who want to create an issue. It really was not an issue until they made it that.

Here domestically, we have that battle to fight. But we’ve been reading about what’s been happening in Chechnya. And we live in a global society now. We are all interconnected whether in the United States or in Chechnya. Gay men are being rounded up and tied to a chair and interrogated for their friends, other gays, and they are tortured, and a few have even died under those circumstances of torture.

So we have made great progress, but we still have a long ways to go. So we live in a global society, and so we have to act like global people. So when we see something like that in Chechnya, we will respond to that. We have to throw a spotlight on it and respond to it.

On the LGBTQ rights movement as an earlier resistance

We have made enormous advances from the time LGBT people were criminalized. You know, just being in a gay bar when I was in my 20s was a criminal act.

On the optimistic side first, we have made enormous advances from the time LGBT people were criminalized. You know, just being in a gay bar when I was in my 20s was a criminal act. Police raided gay bars and put them in paddy wagons, took them to police stations, fingerprinted them, photographed them and put their names on a list. We were criminals simply for being gays. Not unlike being of Japanese ancestry. They put us in these barbed-wire prison camps. We’ve made great advances from that time now. In 2008, we got marriage equality in California, and I was able to marry my longtime love and partner of 21 years at that time, Brad. 

At the beginning of the LGBT movement, most people didn’t think of LGBT issues, but when activists started speaking out on it, more people started thinking about it and then making discoveries ― their own son or daughter might be gay, or their brother or their sister. So it became difficult to make it us and them.

It’s the connections that are important that lead the way to humanizing an issue.

And, finally, Takei on his noodle recommendation

We came upon a fantastic ― not a ramen restaurant but an udon restaurant. First of all, it’s very classy looking, beautiful, kind of modern Tokyo sort of setting. It’s called TsuruTonTan.

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Source: HuffPost Black Voices