Ecuadoreans are choosing Sunday between a candidate who vows to continue President Rafael Correa’s populist platform or one of several more conservative contenders who pledge to attack corruption and cut taxes to stimulate the Andean nation’s flagging economy.
Addressing an adoring crowd of supporters in Melbourne, Florida, on Saturday, President Donald Trump promised new action to restrict immigration next week, and a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act soon after that.
“I’ve ordered the construction of a great border wall, which will start very shortly. And I’ve taken dramatic action to keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country,” Trump said at the rally in a hangar at the Orlando-Melbourne International Airport, drawing some of the loudest cheers of his speech.
Trump acknowledged, however, that a federal appeals court had halted his earlier attempt to ban refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the country. After criticizing the ruling by the panel of three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, he announced his intention to proceed with alternative plans.
“We will do something next week. I think you’ll be impressed,” Trump said. “Let’s see what happens. Here’s the bottom line: We’ve got to keep our country safe.”
It was not clear if Trump meant that his administration will try to challenge the 9th Circuit’s ruling at the Supreme Court, or if he’ll instead issue a modified executive order that might avoid some of the legal challenges of the directive he issued late last month.
Trump went on to cite alleged instances of refugee-perpetrated crimes and terrorism in Europe as evidence that the U.S. should adopt a more restrictive refugee policy.
Naming a host of different European countries and cities, Trump suggested that there had been a terror attack in Sweden the previous night.
“You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden. Who would believe this? Sweden,” he said. “They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.”
Many observers promptly pointed out that no such attack had occurred in the Scandinavian nation.
He also repeated his false claim that the United States has already let in thousands of people who “there was no way to vet.”
In fact, refugees undergo the most rigorous vetting process of any immigrants admitted to the United States, often waiting upwards of two years to be cleared for entry.
Trump’s now-halted travel ban froze the admission of all refugees for 120 days and indefinitely barred refugees from Syria.
But Trump reiterated his plan to create so-called safe zones to protect civilians in Syria, a controversial proposal that he cut from an earlier draft of his travel ban.
“We’re gonna have the Gulf States pay for those safe zones. They have nothing but money,” Trump said Saturday.
The president also claimed that he would unveil a proposal for replacing the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, in two weeks.
“We are going to be submitting, in a couple of weeks, a great health care plan that’s going to take the place of the disaster known as Obamacare,” Trump said, prompting applause. “It will be repealed and replaced.”
Trump’s professed timetable echoes comments he and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) made at separate press conferences on Thursday, when they claimed the White House and Congress would be rolling out their replacement plan some time next month.
On Saturday, Trump did not provide much additional detail about what the plan will entail, other than to say, “Our plan will be much better health care at a much lower cost.”
Most experts believe there is virtually no way to maintain levels of insurance coverage, reduce costs and ensure quality of care without some combination of the regulations, subsidies and individual insurance mandate that form the nucleus of the ACA.
Congressional Republicans initially planned to repeal the landmark health care law when they took office in January and replace it later at a time to be determined. Angry constituents have since accosted dozens of Republican members of Congress at town hall meetings, demanding to know how they would replace the law.
In response to public uproar and Trump’s own admonitions, they have slowed down their efforts to deliberate over how best to execute the law’s repeal.
Trump’s boisterous gathering in Florida comes on the heels of a similar rally on Friday at a Boeing factory in North Charleston, South Carolina.
Holding campaign-style rallies is an unusual, if not unprecedented, move for a sitting president ― let alone one rounding out the first month of his presidency.
But Trump, who has at times been visibly frustrated with his administration’s early stumbles and the coverage of the White House press corps, was evidently in his element among his throngs of supporters. First lady Melania Trump made her first public appearance since the inauguration to introduce him and recite the Lord’s Prayer.
Trump then launched into his typical campaign themes, castigating the media, lavishing praise on his supporters and running through his ordinary talking points about bringing jobs back to the country and eliminating the crime he claims is plaguing America’s cities.
At one point, Trump harkened back to the theatrics that made him such a skilled campaigner. Spotting Gene Huber, a supporter he had seen interviewed on television, Trump invited him on stage with him.
“I saw this man on television just now ― you,” Trump said, pointing to Huber in the audience. “He said, ‘I love Trump. Let Trump do what he has to do.’ That’s my guy right there.”
“Let him up, let him up ― I’m not worried about him. I’m only worried he’s gonna give me a kiss,” he said, apparently addressing the Secret Service.
Huber, clad in a black Trump t-shirt, made his way through the barriers and onto the stage, clearly overcome by emotion. Trump hugged him and asked him to address the crowd from the podium.
“Mr. President, thank you sir. We the people, our movement is the reason why our president of the United States is standing here in front of us today,” Huber said. “When President Trump, during the election, promised all these things that he was gonna do for us ― I knew that he was gonna do this for us.”
“A star is born. A star is born,” Trump declared when he was done as the crowd chanted “U-S-A!”
Although the crowd of Trump supporters inside the hangar was thousands-strong, there was also a sizable contingent of protesters across the street.
“I felt compelled to come, even though I was a little frightened because this is not always an easy thing,” Elizabeth Faiella, who was protesting, told CNN. “But I don’t want the world to think that this gentleman represents how we feel ― about immigrants, about our environment, about our justice system.”
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Norma McCorvey, the anonymous plaintiff in Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States, died Saturday at an assisted-living facility in Katy, Texas. She was 69.
Journalist Joshua Prager, who was reportedly working on a book about Roe v. Wade, confirmed that McCorvey died of heart failure, according to The Washington Post.
McCorvey was dealing with abuse, addiction and an unwanted pregnancy when she filed suit in 1970 as the anonymous plaintiff “Jane Roe” to battle for her right to an abortion. She never actually had an abortion ― the child she gave birth to in 1970 was adopted ― but she went on to fight for reproductive rights until the decision was handed down in 1973.
The Huffington Post’s Jenavieve Hatch reports:
McCorvey became a pro-choice poster child, working for women’s centers in Texas and California in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. But in 1995, Operation Rescue, a Christian group focused on making abortion illegal, moved in next door to the Dallas abortion clinic where she worked. According to The New York Times, McCorvey bonded with members of the group over time, and was baptized in August of that year. Since then, she has been an ardent pro-life activist, and in 1998 she fully converted to Catholicism.
Since Roe v. Wade, some 50 million legal abortions have been performed in the United States, though state and federal laws have imposed a range of restrictions on abortions and other reproductive rights.
McCorvey remains a divisive American character who’s been the subject of three autobiographies, several films and some great reporting.
Prager’s profile on her for Vanity Fair paints a picture of an “accidental activist” who struggled through three pregnancies and trouble at home before she took on the job of being one of the country’s most infamous plaintiffs.
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As a rule, The Huffington Post’s Queer Voices won’t publicize the white nationalists’ favorite troll Milo Yiannopoulos. The last thing we want to do is give this attention-seeker oxygen for his racist, transphobic, misogynist dumpster fire.
But there are moments when I think it’s important to fact-check his insanely dangerous rhetoric and one of those moments came Friday night, courtesy of Bill Maher’s “Overtime” aftershow.
After he engaged in a disappointingly playful interview with Yiannopoulous on his HBO show “Real Time With Bill Maher,” he offered the Breitbart editor more airtime, alongside panel members Larry Wilmore, Malcolm Nance and Jack Kingston on “Overtime.”
During the appearance, Yiannopoulos misgendered a trans woman he had previously attacked at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, claimed that transgender people suffer from a “psychiatric disorder” and stated he “makes no apologies for protecting women and children from men who are confused about their sexual identity.”
He went on to claim, “women and girls should be protected from having men who are confused about their sexual identities in their bathroom.” And Maher shockingly responded, “That’s not unreasonable.”
Actually, Bill, not only is it “unreasonable,” it’s absolutely untrue and 100 percent indefensible.
So let’s quickly get a few things clear (and then let me go take a 72-hour bath in a tub full of boiling bleach to try and rid myself of the heebie jeebies I got from watching even three minutes of Yiannopoulos’ appearance with Maher):
1. Transgender people are not ‘confused’ about their ‘sexual identity’
Being transgender has nothing to do with sexual identity ― it has to do with gender identity. Sexual identity is who you are sexually attracted to: men, women, both, neither, some combination of all of the above. Gender identity is how you identify: male, female, neither, both, some combination of all of the above.
2. Transgender people do not suffer from a psychiatric disorder
While many transgender people are afflicted by gender dysphoria ― feeling emotional distress over the difference between the gender they are thought to be at birth and the gender they know themselves to be ― they are not mentally ill.
3. Transgender people are not “disproportionately involved” in sex crimes
At least not in the way Yiannopoulos claims. In fact, in the past 35 years, only one case of an alleged trans person attacking someone in a restroom has been reported anywhere in the entire world.
4. Transgender people are the ones harassed and discriminated against in restrooms
5. Transgender people face shockingly high levels of sexual abuse and assault
One in two transgender people are sexually assaulted or abused at some point in their lives. What’s more, 2016 was the deadliest year on record for transgender people with at least 24 trans people, most of them transgender people of color, murdered and many more deaths not reported.
6. Trans people using restrooms corresponding with their gender identity doesn’t allow predators to gain access to those venues
As Massachusetts State Rep. Paul Heroux explained in a blog on The Huffington Post, “If a predator or pervert tries to gain access to an opposite sex bathroom or locker room, that is already against the law. Furthermore, over 90% of assaults on children are done by someone the child knows. Only with extreme rareness is it someone who is using a restroom, and that is and will continue to be against the law.”
7. Transgender people just want to use a bathroom and leave ― just like everyone else.
So, in summary: No, Milo ― just no. No to your campaign of willfully misinforming anyone who will listen to the sewage that so joyfully spills out of your mouth. No to your despicable and dangerous lies about transgender people. No to everything you said Friday night on Maher’s show. Actually, no to everything you’ve said anywhere at any point. No. No. No.
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Asian men are sexy and they know it.
In a new video from comedy duo Seventh Grade, Asian guys with some serious dance moves get down to “Pony” by Ginuwine and effectively thrust aside Steve Harvey’s recent remarks about women not finding Asian dudes attractive.
Take a look:
And here’s another preview, just for good measure:
Last month, Harvey laughed hysterically at a 2002 book called How to Date a White Woman: A Practical Guide for Asian Men. The TV host just couldn’t buy into the idea that any woman would want to date an Asian guy. (He later apologized.)
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Geo Lee said he and Chuck Maa, the co-creator of Seventh Grade, were taken aback by Harvey’s comedy bit.
“When we first heard it, Chuck actually said out loud, ‘What? Is this real life?’ We honestly thought the ‘joke’ was a bit dated,” Lee told us. “At the same time, we weren’t surprised because both of us and most likely a lot of Asian American men have been dealing with this for the majority of our lives.”
Dealing with it but not taking it lying down. Seventh Grade is breaking down stereotypes with their grade-A sense of humor and ~steamy~ choreography.
At the end of the video, the guys all joke that they don’t need to worry about their attractiveness since they all have girlfriends anyway. But that’s not exactly true.
“We lied in the video,” Lee said. “Chuck is currently single.”
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Broadway babies and Harry Potter super-fans, listen here: “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” auditions are happening. In New York. Next week.
That’s right, according to a listing on Backstage, tryouts for J.K. Rowling’s play picking up where the final book’s epilogue left off, will be held from Feb. 20 until Feb. 22, 2017. Those who make the cut will probably come as close to receiving a Hogwarts acceptance letter as a muggle could possibly dream of.
The memo itemizes all the roles under consideration, along with short descriptions of the characters. Luckily, most of us already know the parts quite intimately. Harry Potter, for example, is described as “Father of James, Albus and Lily. Married to Ginny. Head of Magical Law Enforcement at the Ministry of Magic.” The actor who takes on the role should be no taller than 5’10” and between the ages of 37 and 40.
The casting call notes, as well, that every role, all ethnicities are welcome.
Those familiar with the London run of play might recall that Hermione Granger was played by black actress, Noma Dumezweni. Despite the fact that Rowling described Granger in the books as having brown eyes and bushy brown hair, with no mention of her being white, the casting decision was met by some with outrage, outrage Rowling dutifully called out as straight-up racist.
Thus, it’s exciting to see that Rowling and the “Cursed Child” team have continued the tradition of colorblind casting. Given the author’s glorious skewering of the bigoted Twitter trolls in her mentions, it’s not too surprising that she is using her platform to spread a message of diversity and inclusion.
Head to the listing itself to see if you have what it takes to play Harry, Ginny, Moaning Myrtle or Professor McGonagall. The pay, if you’re curious, is $1,974 a week. If you have talent, or a lightning-shaped scar on your forehead, please apply.
This Black History Month, HuffPost Black Voices is declaring “We, Too, Are America” and we held an event in Harlem on Monday to acknowledge and celebrate this theme.
While black history is something we acknowledge all the time on HuffPost Black Voices, February is a time for us to double down on this mission and further amplify the experiences of black men and women who have helped to make America what it is.
This month, we’ve adopted and adapted the last line in Langston Hughes’ iconic poem “I, Too” to declare #WeTooAreAmerica. With it, we aim to reinforce a message that all black people ― including those who identify as Muslim, immigrant and queer ― are who help to define the identity of this country.
On Monday, we partnered with The Creative Collective NYC, a New-York based networking group for millennials of color who work in creative industries, to co-host an event at WeWork Harlem titled “ACTivism.” The event included a discussion moderated by myself with featured guests Bryan Terrell Clark ― an actor who currently stars in “Hamilton” on Broadway ― and Jennifer Epps-Addison ― an activist and the newly-named president for the national non-profit organization Center for Popular Democracy.
“Our guest speakers were two individuals who are black history in the making and between the wisdom they shared throughout the night to the undeniable positive vibes found in a room overflowing with melanin, it was truly an empowering experience,” Imani Ellis, the founder of The Creative Collective NYC, which prefers to be identified as theCCnyc, told The Huffington Post. “We wanted to curate a safe space for creatives of color to love on each other and build with each other—not just for black history month, but beyond.”
The event, which kicked off with a performance from poet and playwright Cyrus Aaron, included more than 80 millennials of color who work across various creative industries. Following the discussion, Black Voices invited attendees to participate in an activity in honor of Hughes’ and our campaign.
In printed copies of the last few lines of Hughes’ poem ― which reads “Besides, They’ll see how beautiful I am/ And be ashamed— I, too, am America,” we omitted the word “beautiful” and then asked attendees to fill in the blank with a word or phrase they believe best describes them.
Our goal with this initiative was to highlight how these young men and women of color each have qualities that make them beautiful and unique. Photographer ChiChi Agbim took images of many of the New-York based millennials at the event, so we’re posting the pictures below to celebrate these influencers and have them serve as a source of inspiration for others:
The ladies of Twitter never fail to brighten our days with their brilliant ― but succinct ― wisdom. Each week, HuffPost Women rounds up hilarious 140-character musings. For this week’s great tweets from women, scroll through the list below. Then visit our Funniest Tweets From Women page for our past collections.
It's crazy af how Beyoncé can just find out where you live/work. I want her and Parkwood to know that I will give them my social if need be.
— Jasmyn Lawson (@JasmynBeKnowing) February 17, 2017
Tomorrow is the holiest day of the year: 50% off candy day.
— Nina Bargiel (@slackmistress) February 14, 2017
I'm looking for a knife to open this knife I bought from Amazon.
— Jennifer S. White (@yenniwhite) February 14, 2017
So what if an 8 yr old on Master Chef can make a perfect steak?
MY kids are really–
Well, sometimes they–
It's cool when–
— Bianca LaVagina (@AnitaHelmet) February 17, 2017
There's gonna be a lot of tweets about me peeing in public but it's only bc I have a small bladder and get distracted when I'm jogging
— Mary-Devon Dupuy (@DevoDupuy) February 14, 2017
I'm afraid my neighbors are starting to notice that I can't tell them apart but greet each of their dogs by name.
— Yael (@elle91) February 16, 2017
The statistics on time spent looking for the right emoji are chilling
— Aparna Nancherla (@aparnapkin) February 15, 2017
Friend: Look on the bright side
Me: [walks away]
Friend: Where are you going
Me: To talk to someone who doesn't say shit like that
— AmberTozer (@AmberTozer) February 17, 2017
I can't remember why I walked into this room, but if you need to know the phone number of my best friend from fourth grade, I'm your gal.
— Abby Heugel (@AbbyHasIssues) February 17, 2017
Me as a witness on Law & Order
Cop: What kind of car was he driving?
Me: Um, one with wheels.
Cop: Make and model?
Me: Yeah, I have no idea.
— GABY DUNN (@gabydunn) February 17, 2017
I'm running for president in 2020 on the platform that all humans should be banished & trees should be in charge, can I count on your vote?
— Shalyah Evans (@ShalyahEvans) February 16, 2017
Guys the man at the ice cream shop gave me my milkshake & a rose for Valentine's & now I'm just trying to pick the best day for our wedding
— Hollis Miller (@missehollis) February 14, 2017
I'm happily partnered, but in my head cleaning my room up still means "getting it nice enough to invite someone over for sex."
— Emily McCombs (@msemilymccombs) February 17, 2017
Donald Trump is that friend who has alienated everybody because once he gets two beers deep he starts ranting about his ex from 10 years ago
— Erin Gloria Ryan (@morninggloria) February 16, 2017
don't mind me, I'll be over here waiting for everyone with a secret crush on me to shower me in flowers, chocolate, and attention
— Jenna Amatulli (@ohheyjenna) February 14, 2017
Me: I am my harshest critic
Twitter: lol hold my beer
— Dani Fernandez (@msdanifernandez) February 17, 2017
On Wednesday, Texas State Senator Charles Schwertner accidentally smashed a glass table with his gavel while attempting to silence an intern from NARAL Pro-Choice Texas during her testimony against an anti-abortion bill.
Maggie Hennessy, the 24-year-old intern, was testifying against Senate Bill 415 which would limit physicians’ abilities to perform dilation and evacuation procedures (also known as D&E, but referred in the bill as “dismemberment”). This procedure is the safest form of second-trimester abortion and is used in almost all cases.
“Senate Bill 415 is not designed to protect women’s health and will have the result of harming women in Texas,” Hennessy said in her two-minute testimony. “A vote in favor of this bill is a vote against women’s health… Considering Texas has the highest maternal mortality rate in the United States ― a rate so high that it is even comparable to rates in countries where abortion is illegal ― I have to ask how, how will this bill do anything but further increase that rate?”
Hennessy was finishing her testimony ― a few seconds over the time limit ― with a powerful message: “I urge you all to stop playing with reproductive health care as if it’s your own political puppet.”
Sen. Schwertner attempted to stop her by thanking her and telling her her time was up.
As Hennessy finished her statement, Sen. Schwertner slammed his gavel so hard he cracked the glass table. The entire room went silent and the Senator gave Hennessy a stern look.
The smashed glass is not visible in the video of the hearing, but Communications Director of NARAL Texas Alex Garcia-Ditta, who was at the hearing, tweeted a photo of the table.
Sen. Schwertner appeared to reserve his irritation at those going over the allotted testimony time for Hennessy. Other testimonies went over time, but the senator did not use his gavel and even allowed the president of Texas Alliance for Life to extend his statement.
A spokesperson for Sen. Schwertner told Cosmopolitan that the senator hit the table accidentally because he was simply trying “to run an orderly meeting,” and, “the reality is he’s got a little gavel block, and he hit the glass instead of hitting the sounder.”
In a statement sent to The Huffington Post, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas Heather Busby reflected on the hearing and what the three anti-abortion bills, if passed, would mean for women.
Today’s hearing revealed once again that anti-choice politicians continue to rely on ideologues and scare tactics to peddle these baseless measures. The hearing also revealed no regard for the dignity of pregnant Texans or the legal system. All of the bills heard by the Senate today are thinly veiled attempts to ban abortion. Banning the safest methods of abortion does nothing to enhance patients’ health and safety; in fact, banning abortion methods puts people’s lives at risk. There is no room for politicians in the exam room.
“I don’t know why he banged [the gavel] so aggressively,” Hennessy told Cosmo. “He just clearly was rattled by it… I’m not scared by it. It encourages me to keep fighting this good fight.”
The Huffington Post reached out to Schwertner’s office but did not hear back by the time of publication.
Watch the full hearing here.
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Really, who hasn’t had an almost-relationship end like this?
Or rolled their eyes at the “options” out there?
A post shared by Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell (@cartoonsbyhilary) on May 9, 2016 at 8:53am PDT
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Fitzgerald Campbell said she draws inspiration from her own experiences with frustrating first dates and relationship false starts.
“Whenever something starts, I feel deep down it’s going to end, so it becomes a game of ‘how will I be disappointed this time?’” the Brooklyn-based illustrator said. “I’m starting to sound like a pessimist but I’m actually full of an absurd amount of hope, in life and in relationships.”
For more of Fitzgerald Campbelll’s witty illustrations, scroll down or check out her illustrated book Breaking Up is Hard To Do… But You Could’ve Done Better.
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Time and time again, black Americans have often come together in vulnerable times through mobilization.
From the Black Panther Party to the Civil Rights Movement, there have been a number of organizations and movements that have fought to remind the nation that we too are America.
If you’re looking to organize against the current, unstable political atmosphere, here’s a list of 28 active organizations that service a range of black communities.
Black Lives Matter was formed in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in 2013 and quickly became a national movement to end police brutality. The organization continues to mobilize and amplify national dialogue around state-sanctioned violence.
BAJI’s efforts to unite black immigrants and African Americans is extremely crucial to overcoming the current anti-immigrant rhetoric that’s been gaining momentum since President Donald Trump’s campaign. The organization works to ensure social justice and equality for black immigrants.
TWOC offers support and resources for trans women of color, a highly marginalized community.
Black Girls Code is on a mission to increase the number of black women working in computer programming. By hosting after school programs and workshops, the org plans to train one million young black women in the field by the year 2040.
The NAACP is a long standing civil rights organization that works on a broad scale to achieve racial justice for citizens in urban communities.
Rapper Common founded this organization in the 1990s to provide greater opportunities for under-serviced children through mentorship, community service and the arts.
The Trayvon Martin Foundation aims to spread awareness of the consequences of gun crime and caters to families affected by gun violence.
The Pennsylvania Prison Society is a long-standing organization dedicated to reforming the criminal justice system. By providing prison bus services, offering reentry services and newsletter subscriptions for current and former offenders, the organization advocates for the rights of those affected by incarceration.
Blackout curates a unique way to protest the repetitive inattention to the work of black artists by tuning out from events like the Academy Awards. The group played a significant role in Justice For Flint, a charity event which was held on the same night as the 2016 Oscars.
Incite works to end violence against women of color through organizing events, conferences, circulating newsletters and strategic political initiatives.
ALP is a New York-based organization that dedicates itself to achieving social and economic equality for LGBT communities of color.
NBJC’s work centers around HIV/AIDS, and makes employment and education opportunities more inclusive for black LGBT citizens.
13. We Are Here
We Are Here, founded by singer Alicia Keys, is a partnership of organizations working together to end poverty, oppression and homelessness.
14. Million Hoodies
The death of Trayvon Martin spurred the inspiration for Million Hoodies, a coalition of young people organizing to put an end to mass incarceration and the criminalization of young black men.
15. Color of Change
With over a million members, Color of Change works to end racial injustice manifested in the media, economy and criminal justice system.
BYP studies the attitudes and cultural norms of black millennials in an effort to maximize their life experiences.
With multiple branches throughout the nation, The Innocence Project works to exonerate those who have been wrongfully convicted of crimes by providing free legal assistance.
My Brother’s Keeper, an initiative of the Obama administration, aims to unite and amplify the voices of black men through mentorship.
Founded in 1910, The National Urban League uses programs, research and advocacy to advance civil rights for people of color.
The Black Women’s Blueprint services black women affected by issues such as sexual violence, abuse and incarceration.
The Empowerment Program offers resources like employment assistance and housing referrals for black women experiencing poverty, homelessness and incarceration.
23. Fierce NYC
Fierce is New York-based organization catering to the extremely underserved LGBT youth of color.
Founded by Reverend Al Sharpton, the National Action Network operates on the platforms of voter protection, corporate responsibility, anti-violence and criminal justice.
BOLD is a national leadership training program that aims to equip black leaders with the skills needed to place themselves at the forefront of movements for social justice.
AAPC is New York-based organization focused on resolving issues of domestic violence, substance abuse, unemployment and HIV/AIDS in black communities.
27. Sister Love
Atlanta-based Sister Love commits itself to educating women of color about reproductive health, safe sex and HIV/AIDS.
Sponsored by the National Counsel on Crime and Delinquency, NWBJI centers its mission on empowering black women and girls in the criminal justice system.
WASHINGTON ― In 2014, R. Alexander Acosta, President Donald Trump’s second pick for U.S. secretary of labor, became a top candidate to lead the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law. But after the interview process began, faculty at the school rejected the former U.S. attorney and assistant attorney general under President George W. Bush, citing ethical concerns and questions about his ties to Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), a tea party favorite who has railed against what he calls “liberal academic theorists.”
“We had a number of concerns to start off with,” Michelle Jacobs, a distinguished professor of law at the school who helped lead the inquiry, told The Huffington Post. “In the end, we weren’t comfortable with him.”
If confirmed, Acosta would lead more than 17,000 employees as secretary of labor, a position meant to protect the rights of American workers. The Labor Department was established in 1913 ― two years after the infamous fire at New York’s Triangle Shirtwaist Factory left 146 people dead ― following decades of bloody clashes between workers and industry barons. As secretary, Acosta would be tasked with improving wages, benefits and working conditions for U.S. workers, and administering more than 180 federal laws and thousands of regulations.
But his record during the Bush administration raises major questions about Acosta’s ability to oversee the proper enforcement of labor laws and regulations. Acosta’s name pops up frequently in a Justice Department Inspector General report focused on hiring practices in the Civil Rights Division, which Acosta headed from August 2003 to June 2005.
During the Bush administration, the Civil Rights Division’s work was deeply politicized, and there was a mass exodus of career employees. An Obama transition team report said the Civil Rights Division had been “demoralized and damaged” by “oppressive” political appointees who were “hostile” to civil rights enforcement.
When Acosta headed up the Civil Rights Division, a man named Bradley Schlozman was put in charge of the hiring process. Just before Acosta took over the division, Schlozman sent an email to a former colleague referring to Voting Section lawyers as “mold spores” and “crazy libs” whom he hoped to “gerrymander” out of the section. During Acosta’s tenure, Schlozman sent an email to another Acosta deputy that mentioned an interview with “some lefty who we’ll never hire” and questioned whether applicants were conservatives. “As long as I’m here, adherents of Mao’s little red book need not apply,” Schlozman wrote in another email sent during Acosta’s tenure.
As a U.S. attorney, you have an ethical obligation to assess what you’re doing ethically.
Michelle Jacobs, professor at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law
The IG report, which wasn’t made public until 2009, says Acosta claimed he “was not aware that Schlozman acted inappropriately in the hiring process” and that “no one complained to him that inappropriate hiring practices were taking place.” But the IG concluded that Acosta “had sufficient information about Schlozman’s conduct to have raised red flags warranting closer supervision of him,” and that Acosta “did not sufficiently supervise Schlozman.”
Acosta claimed he didn’t recall the chief of the Special Litigation Section of the Justice Department complaining about one of Schlozman’s hires, whom she considered unqualified for even a line attorney position. Acosta only said he’d known of some of issues with Schlozman’s management and his tendency to make inappropriate jokes, including him passing along a racial joke about a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. (A Division employee had written that he liked his coffee “Mary Frances Berry style ― black and bitter.”)
While Acosta said he became more concerned about Schlozman’s judgement in mid-2005, as he prepared to leave, he “took no action to alert those in his chain of command,” the report said.
Bill Yeomans, who spent 26 years at the Civil Rights Division and left just before the end of Acosta’s tenure, said he believes the IG report “really gave [Acosta] a pass when it shouldn’t have,” given that he was overseeing the people making improper hiring decisions.
Acosta “was the boss. He was the guy who was overseeing this whole operation,” Yeomans said. Acosta left the Civil Rights Division to become a U.S. attorney just as things were “starting to get ugly,” said Yeomans. “His escape was timely.”
Yeomans called Acosta a “very shrewd guy,” and said he expected that when Acosta left the Civil Rights Division, he was thinking ahead to avoid trouble.
“He’s a very ambitious guy who is willing to be as flexible in his positions as the situation demands,” Yeomans said. “That initially sounds like a good thing, but I think it’s probably not, because he’s very attuned to serving people above him.”
“I’m sure he knew that what Schlozman was doing was radioactive, and so he stayed as far away from it as he could on paper, while I’m sure still being very much in the loop about what was happening,” Yeomans said. “He was the guy presiding over the Civil Rights Division during the period when most of the conduct in the report occurred. The report blames most of it on Brad Schlozman, but Brad Schlozman was Alex’s deputy. Alex knew what was going on.”
Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said in a statement that she was “astonished” by Acosta’s nomination.
“Mr. Acosta led the Civil Rights Division at a time that was marked by stark politicization, and other improper hiring and personnel decisions that were fully laid to bare in a 2008 report issued by the Office of Inspector General,” Clarke said. “The OIG found that actions taken during Mr. Acosta’s tenure violated Justice Department policy and federal law. Political and ideological affiliations were used as a litmus test to evaluate job candidates and career attorneys, wreaking havoc on the work of the Division.”
“This egregious conduct played out under Mr. Acosta’s watch and undermined the integrity of the Civil Rights Division,” she went on. “It is hard to believe that Mr. Acosta would now be nominated to lead a federal agency tasked with promoting lawful hiring practices and safe workplaces.”
“It’s got to raise serious concerns, I hope,” Yeomans said. “We have a guy who presided over what was the biggest politicization of federal bureaucracy probably in history, but certainly during that era. It was a horrible instance of abuse of federal bureaucracy. To think that’s the guy who is going to run labor policy for the entire country, that’s of great concern.”
Acosta and the White House did not respond to requests for comment for this article.
Trump named Acosta, currently dean of the Florida International University College of Law, to lead the Department of Labor after Andrew Puzder, Trump’s first choice, withdrew himself from consideration. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions had delayed a review of Puzder’s labyrinthine business conflicts, his history of labor violations and hiring undocumented workers, and accusations that he’d physically abused his ex-wife. Puzder, the former chief executive of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, opposed the minimum wage and had suggested his workers should be replaced with robots.
Acosta served for nine months on the National Labor Relations Board. His tenure, from December 2002 to August 2003, marked a relatively stable period for an agency that, four years later, would be beset by partisan infighting over new rules to restrict unions.
In 2004, Acosta, then an assistant attorney general, wrote a letter to an Ohio judge defending Republicans’ right to challenge voter credentials. The move was unusual. The judge, presiding over a state-level lawsuit between the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee, hadn’t solicited the opinion.
“Acosta has certainly been part of the movement to restrict voting rights,” Ari Berman, author of Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America, told HuffPost, saying there had been “a lot of problems” with the Justice Department during Acosta’s tenure. “Between backing Ohio’s voter purge in 2004 and having lawyers under him in the Justice Department who very clearly wanted to restrict voting rights, his record on that is pretty troubling.”
(A separate IG report said that Acosta “took a particular interest in the language-minority provisions” of the Voting Rights Act, which Yeomans said was part of Acosta’s strategy to strengthen the Latino vote for Republicans.)
When Jacobs, the Levin College professor who helped interview Acosta in 2014, asked him about the 2004 letter to the Ohio judge, she said he insisted he was just following orders from higher up in the Justice Department.
“That was one thing we questioned him about, and we really weren’t satisfied,” she said. “He said, when you work at a bigger entity you do what your supervisor tells you to do. But as a U.S. attorney, you have an ethical obligation to assess what you’re doing ethically.”
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“I met my fiancé on Instagram,” Martin, 45, said in a teaser video of the interview, which can be viewed above. Rest assured, though, it wasn’t a glammed-up headshot or a shirtless selfie that caught his eye. “I’m an art collector, and he’s an artist,” he said. “I’m scrolling and I see this beautiful piece of art and I’m like, ‘Whoa, how cool! Who’s this?’ Then I start checking and all of a sudden I’m like, ‘Ooh, ooh.’ ” And then I wrote to him.”
Instagram turned out to be a surprisingly effective way for the men to communicate before they’d even met in, well, 3-D. “Then we were talking for like six months without me hearing his voice. We talked about art – nothing sexy, I swear! Nothing sexy,” Martin said. “It was all about art and life in general.” That changed, however, once Martin flew to London to met Yosef for the first time. “Then it was game over,” he said.
Since then, the men have taken to their Instagram accounts to share photos of one another.
A post shared by Jwan Yosef (@jwanyosef) on Feb 14, 2017 at 8:09am PST
Martin, who will kick off a hotly anticipated Las Vegas residency at the Park Theater at Monte Carlo on April 5, has “no idea” when he and Yosef will marry ― at least for now. Still, he told Cohen he’d like the ceremony to be a “big” affair.
“I’m gonna make a lot of noise,” he said. “Three-day wedding. Let’s have fun.”
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Actress Karla Souza knows the importance of telling stories from a Latino perspective.
That’s one of the big reasons the “How To Get Away With Murder” star decided to produce her new completely bilingual romantic comedy “Everybody Loves Somebody.” Souza, 31, also stars in the film as Dr. Carla Barron, a successful but cynical OB/GYN who’s given up on love until she finds herself caught between the affections of an old flame and an unexpected new romance.
The Mexican born actress sat down with The Huffington Post recently to discuss the movie, which was written and directed by Catalina Aguilar Mastretta, to discuss why it’s so important to create bilingual films, to portray characters who empower Latinas sexually and to use art to humanize the immigrant experience.
So the biggest thing about this movie that jumped out at me is that it’s completely bilingual. Why was it so important to make a film like this?
Yes! Because there’s millions of people that live that reality and there weren’t stories being told like that. I grew up speaking Spanish to my mom, English to my siblings, listening to movies in English and then listening to the radio in Spanish and mid-sentence changing [languages].
When I first got Catalina’s script, at first they didn’t want to do it until I was like “No, we’re making this!” They also said, “We think it’s too intelligent for Latin audiences,’ so then I got pissed and then I was like ‘Whaaa?! I’m producing it and we’re gonna make it.”
Wait, what do they mean by “too intelligent for Latin audiences!?”
It means they’re used to seeing Latinos catered in a specific way, with telenovelas or [comedies] that are broader and this film was a very intimate look at relationships. But it’s super fun and easy and great, the general market in the U.S. has loved it as much as Latinos and bi-cultural people. And I mean we can see it in the Oscars, there’s no Latin stories being told. There’s a lack of that, so that’s one of the reasons I wanted to make this.
The family in the movie is very progressive, which is interesting because usually Latino parents are portrayed as uber conservative. That’s likely why Clara is so sex-positive in the film; there’s even a masturbation scene.
Yup, it’s a very artistic, liberal family… Especially living in a ‘machista’ culture in Latin America, I realized that even the past movies that I’d done women were still being objectified, women were still dependent on the men, they were waiting to be saved by the man and they were not independent financially. And all these messages, it’s a narrative that goes into the subconscious of the culture.
The film showed you can have a Latina character that is sensual without needing a man to lust after them.
We didn’t wanna shy away from a woman being sexual and expressing herself sexually. I think the sensuality and the sensitivity that Catalina brought to my character throughout the entire script ― whether it was me as a doctor, me in my relationship, me in my pajamas with my family ― there was a sensuality within everything and a woman in all her facets.
I really enjoyed being a part of that, specifically for a Latino audience because some interviewers still said, ‘You know, you’re character is such a golfa’ (slut) so I saw that it still is a very patriarchal society.
Another particularly strong statement the movie makes is that of a family that lives along the border, since Clara lives in Los Angeles but visits her family in Mexico frequently.
It’s the lives of so many people. “Chema” Yazpik (who portrays Daniel in the film) literally studied in San Diego and was living in Tijuana, some of my cousins did the same thing ― they come in and out [of the U.S.]. People have two homes and that’s the reality of a lot of people. And again, we don’t see a lot of that and we don’t humanize the situation of border crossing.
Those stories seem to be particularly important now, considering President Trump’s plans to build a border wall.
Yeah I know, even that scene where Clara says “Don’t worry, you don’t need a passport to come into Mexico, we assume you’re a great person,” and then she’s like “but you need your passport on your way back.” Now that scene hits a whole different nerve. We don’t realize how much power art and storytelling has, but it definitely does.
On the topic of the immigrant experience, you wrote a blog last fall on PopSugar about being a “spoiled American” who took her U.S. passport for granted. That was before the election and a lot has changed politically since then. How do you feel about it now?
I said I didn’t really consider myself an immigrant but, because of what’s happening now, I consider myself a Muslim, I consider myself a refugee, I consider myself an immigrant. I feel like if we just say, “Well that’s not me and I’m not gonna be a part of the fight,” we’re missing out. I’m here to sort of be that voice for all the people that feel like if they have a voice they’re going to be kicked out of the country. I feel a lot more passionate about speaking out and using my art as activism.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.