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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Software to empower workers on the factory floor

Manufacturers are constantly tweaking their processes to get rid of waste and improve productivity. As such, the software they use should be as nimble and responsive as the operations on their factory floors.

Instead, much of the software in today’s factories is static. In many cases, it’s developed by an outside company to work in a broad range of factories, and implemented from the top down by executives who know software can help but don’t know how best to adopt it.

That’s where MIT spinout Tulip comes in. The company has developed a customizable manufacturing app platform that connects people, machines, and sensors to help optimize processes on a shop floor. Tulip’s apps provide workers with interactive instructions, quality checks, and a way to easily communicate with managers if something is wrong.

Managers, in turn, can make changes or additions to the apps in real-time and use Tulip’s analytics dashboard to pinpoint problems with machines and assembly processes.

“With this notion of agile manufacturing [in which changes are constant], you need your software to match the philosophical process you’re using to improve your organization,” says Tulip co-founder and CTO Rony Kubat ’01, SM ’08, PhD ’12. “With our platform, we’re empowering the manufacturing engineers on the line to make changes themselves. That’s in contrast to the traditional way of making manufacturing software. It’s a bottom-up kind of thing.”

Tulip, founded by Kubat and CEO Natan Linder SM ’11, PhD ’17, is currently working with multiple Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies operating in 13 different countries, including Bosch, Jabil, and Kohler. Tulip’s customers make everything from shoes to jewelry, medical devices, and consumer electronics.

With the platform’s scalable design, Kubat says it can help factories of any size, as long as they employ people on the shop floor.

In that way, Tulip’s tools are empowering workers in an industry that has historically trended toward automation. As the company continues building out its platform — including adding machine vision and machine learning capabilities — it hopes to continue encouraging manufacturers to see people as an indispensable resource.

A new approach to manufacturing software

In 2012, Kubat was pursuing his PhD in the MIT Media Lab’s Fluid Interface group when he met Linder, then a graduate student. During their research, several Media Lab member companies gave the founders tours of their factory floors and introduced them to some of the production challenges they were grappling with.

“The Media Lab is such a special place,” Kubat says. “You have this contrast of an antidisciplinary mentality, where you’re putting faculty from completely different walks of life in the same building, giving it this creative wildness that is really invigorating, plus this grounding in the real world that comes from the member organizations that are part of the Media Lab.”

During those factory tours, the founders noticed similar problems across industries.

“The typical way manufacturing software is deployed is in these multiyear cycles,” Kubat says. “You sign a multimillion dollar contract that’s going to overhaul everything, and you get three years to deploy it all, and you get your screens in the end that everyone isn’t really happy with because they solve yesterday’s problems. We’re bringing a more modern approach to software development for manufacturing.”

In 2014, just as Linder completed his PhD research, the founders decided to start Tulip. (Linder would later return to MIT to defend his thesis.) Relying on their personal savings for funding, they recruited a team of students from MIT’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program and began building a prototype for New Balance, a Media Lab member company that has factories in New England.

“We worked really closely with the first customers to do super fast iterations to make these proofs of concept that we’d try to deploy as quickly as possible,” Kubat says. “That approach isn’t new from a software perspective — deploy fast and iterate — but it is new for the manufacturing software world.”

An engine for manufacturing

The app-based platform the founders eventually built out has little in common with the sweeping software implementations that traditionally upend factory operations for better or worse. Tulip’s apps can be installed in just one workstation then scaled up as needed.

The apps can also be designed by managers with no coding experience, over the course of an afternoon. Typically they can use Tulip’s app templates, which can be customized for common tasks like guiding a worker through an assembly process or completing a checklist.

Workers using the apps on the shop floor can submit comments on their interactive screens to do things like point out defects. Those comments are sent directly to the manager, who can make changes to the apps remotely.

“It’s a data-driven opportunity to engage the operators on the line, to gain some ownership over the process,” Kubat says.

The apps are integrated with machines and tools on the factory floor through Tulip’s router-like gateways. Those gateways also sync with sensors and cameras to give managers data from both humans and machines. All that information helps managers find bottlenecks and other factors holding back productivity.

Workers, meanwhile, are given real-time feedback on their actions from the cameras, which are usually trained on the part as it’s being assembled or on the bins the workers are reaching into. If a worker assembles a part improperly, for example, Tulip’s camera can detect the mistake, and its app can alert the worker to the error, presenting instructions on fixing it.

A demonstration of a worker assembling a part wrong, Tulip's sensors detecting the error, and then Tulip's app providing instructions for correcting the mistake.

Such quality checks can be sprinkled throughout a production line. That’s a big upgrade over traditional methods for data collection in factories, which often include a stopwatch and a clipboard, the founders say.

“That process is expensive,” Kubat says of traditional data collection methods. “It’s also biased, because when you’re being observed you might behave differently. It’s also a sampling of things, not the true picture. Our take is that all of that execution data should be something you get for free from a system that gives you additional value.”

The data Tulip collects are channeled into its analytics dashboard, which can be used to make customized tables displaying certain metrics to managers and shop floor workers.

In April, the company launched its first machine vision feature, which further helps workers minimize mistakes and improve productivity. Those objectives are in line with Tulip’s broader goal of empowering workers in factories rather than replacing them.

“We’re helping companies launch products faster and improve efficiency,” Kubat says. “That means, because you can reduce the cost of making products with people, you push back the [pressure of] automation. You don’t need automation to give you quality at scale. This has the potential to really change the dynamics of how products are delivered to the public.”

from MIT News

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‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’ star Apollo Nida re-released to Philly halfway house

Real Housewives of Atlanta star Apollo Nida has once again been released from prison, he now resides in a Philadelphia halfway house.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons confirms the transfer of Nida to the halfway facility.

The reality star was originally released to the halfway home on June 5. The Blast reports the star was re-arrested after he violated the terms of his parole. The rule break resulted in being taken into custody at the Phidalephia Federal Court House.

Nida was sentenced to 96 months in prison in 2014 for conspiracy to commit mail, wire and bank fraud. In addition to his sentence, Nida is required to pay $1.9 million in restitution. In March, a federal judge reduced his sentence from 96 months to 84 months.

Nida’s fame rose as he appeared with his ex-wife Phaedra Parks on the Bravo series Real Housewives of Atlanta. The divorce between the two played out while Nida was behind bars.

Around the original release in June, Nida was spotted with his fiancée Sherien Almufti near the halfway home. He and Almufti have been together since 2017 and she reportedly made multiple visits to Nida during his prison stints. The Blast reports thatt Almufti will work as a real estate agent in the Philadelphia area.

As for Parks, the RHOA ish-stirrer also has a new bae, the DailyMail has linked her to Have and the Have Nots actor Medina Islam.

The post ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’ star Apollo Nida re-released to Philly halfway house appeared first on theGrio.

from theGrio

Moniece Slaughter is quitting ‘Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood’

Kenya Moore’s ex, Matt Jordan arrested for aggravated assault on girlfriend

Fans of Real Housewives of Atlanta may remember the hard time Kenya Moore had with Matt Jordan, and now looks like her instincts were right.

The former beauty queen kicked her man to the curb after he demonstrated aggressive behavior and now he has been arrested in Arizona on multiage charges after allegedly punching his current girlfriend int he face.

According to reports, Jordan was booked for trespassing and three separate charges including aggravated assault, theft, and threatening/intimidating with damage to property. His bail was set at $3,250 and he’s reportedly still in custody.

Kenya Moore warns women how to spot signs of domestic abuse

TMZ obtained the arrest report and claim it details a violent altercation between Matt Jordan and his current girlfriend, Valerie Bell. She claims he punched her in the face at a Denny’s parking lot on Saturday morning in front of a witness who is backing her story.

Jordan had already left the scene when police arrived, but circled back to Bell’s home that night, where he was picked up and arrested for trespassing. He reportedly had an outstanding warrant stemming from an incident in April, leading to the three additional charges.

EXCLUSIVE: Kenya Moore on domestic violence PSA & Kim’s nasty fertility digs

Back when they were dating, Kenya Moore was disturbed by Jordan’s explosive temper which led him to kick in her glass door at one point. She obtained a restraining order against him in 2017 after claiming he threatened her and harassed her repeatedly.

The post Kenya Moore’s ex, Matt Jordan arrested for aggravated assault on girlfriend appeared first on theGrio.

from theGrio

Gucci hires Black executive, Renée Tirado, as diversity chief after racist designs spark backlash

Gucci has tapped the talent of a Black executive who will take over as its diversity chief, following widespread criticism for selling a “blackface” sweater and complaints of cultural or racial insensitivity.

In wake of blackface scandals, Spike Lee calls for boycott of Prada, Gucci

Renée Tirado will lead the fashion house as its diversity chief, The Daily Mail reports.

Tirado will work to restore the brand’s image after it faced harsh backlash for promoting a $890 black sweater with bright bold lips. It was ridiculed on social media as insensitive and racist.

Gucci was also slammed for creating a turban for fashion that offended members of the Sikh community who wear them faithfully for religious reasons.

Many celebrities have called for people to fallback from the luxury brand. And T.I. and Waka Flocka Flame have also encouraged people to start supporting black-owned fashion designers and labels.

“I gotta get rid of all the Gucci I have at home. I’m not supporting their brand anymore,” 50 Cent wrote on Instagram previously.

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Since the fallout, Gucci created a multicultural design scholarship program, a diversity and inclusion awareness program and a global exchange program, the outlet reports.

The post Gucci hires Black executive, Renée Tirado, as diversity chief after racist designs spark backlash appeared first on theGrio.

from theGrio

This Organization is Focused on Creating a National Black Tech Ecosystem

Black Tech Mecca, an organization based out of Chicago, recently received two grants to help expand their vision of creating a national black tech ecosystem.

The first grant awarded was from the Surdna Foundation whose mission is to support social justice reform, healthy environments, inclusive economies, and thriving cultures across the United States. The grant will support the building of an API tool that will make it easier for Black Tech Mecca to assess various cities’ black tech ecosystems, according to a recent press release.

The tool will allow the organization to quickly scale the assessment work that they have been performing in order to understand whether they have been effective in closing the digital divide and eradicating tech disparities for black people in the U.S. In the next five years, they will have accumulated enough data in both urban and rural cities across the U.S. to validate their case. 

The next grant awarded was the Inclusion Open Grant launched by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. This grant will help build the National Black Tech Ecosystem Builder Association to support organizations that are committed to strengthening black tech entrepreneurs and tech innovators, STEM/CS educators and professionals, and tech startup policy advocates. 

We are compelled by the efforts of our BTE builders—especially black tech startup support organizations—who work hard to obtain the fundamental resources needed to ensure our community participates in the innovation economy,” stated CEO and co-founder Fabian Elliott in the press release.

The overarching goal is to assist and encourage all of the top black tech organizations to work together to build a unified and national black tech ecosystem to successfully and culturally guide black communities into unknown tech markets, STEM arenas, and AI/Big Data futures.

If your organization qualifies as such, you may fill out this form to find out how Black Tech Mecca can better support you. 

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VIDEO: Two Mississippi cops choke and taser Black man as pregnant girlfriend records brutal encounter

TheGrio has launched a special series called #BlackonBlue to examine the relationship between law enforcement and African-Americans. Our reporters and videographers will investigate police brutality and corruption while also exploring local and national efforts to improve policing in our communities. Join the conversation, or share your own story, using the hashtag #BlackonBlue.

An intense scuffle between a Black motorist and two Mississippi Highway Patrol officers was caught on video after the troopers tried to assault the driver for speeding.

RACIST PRANK: TSA workers suspended after hanging stuffed monkeys from a noose

In the video, Robert Morton appears to ask one trooper about why he was being detained as he stood behind his vehicle on the side of a road.

Morton and the patrolman go back and forth and at one point the officer tells him that he’s being detained for speeding and resisting arrest for Morton’s refusal to put his hands behind his back, The Daily Mail reports.

“You’re being arrested for speeding but now you are being arrested for resisting arrest,” the officer tells Morton on the video.

Morton’s fiancé, Porsha Shields records and urgently instructs him to be still as he objects to the officer’s various requests.

Things soon heat up and the officer pulls out a taser and aims it squarely at Morton and orders him to get on the ground, as Shields screams in the distance.

Shields says on video that the officer’s various requests asking Morton to get down, then asking him to take out his ID is being done to “mess” with the man.

When backup arrives on the scene, another officer grabs Morton by the neck, choking him and then both officers wrestle him to the ground.

“Y’all ain’t got to do all that,” Shields screams multiple times.

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Shields took to Facebook to explain the circumstances surrounding the arrest saying that she believes when she told the officer that she was pregnant, that’s when he got aggressive. She said she was slammed and mishandled too.

“I truly felt that I should have never told him I was pregnant because it seemed like he became more aggressive,” Shields told local reporters. “And, what hurts the most is knowing that my four-year-old son witnessed me screaming, crying and getting assaulted as this event will psychologically impact us forever.”

Morton was ultimately charged with speeding, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, seat belt violation, failure to provide identification and to add insult to injury, he was slapped with a $35 charge for damaging a cop’s whistle.

Shields was also charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

The post VIDEO: Two Mississippi cops choke and taser Black man as pregnant girlfriend records brutal encounter appeared first on theGrio.

from theGrio

Model who worked with Rihanna under fire for posting transphobic comments and lying about being transgender

Model Carissa Pinkston, who previously worked for Marc Jacobs and Rihanna‘s Fenty fashion line, had a lot going for her but blew her big shot after getting caught in a lie about being trans after posting transphobic remarks.

Rihanna makes history as first woman of color to helm own fashion line with LVMH

Pinkston found herself in a world of trouble online when transphobic comments surfaced of the model criticizing the women and men who identify as trans.

Pinkston, who posts as Rissa Danielle, reportedly went on a rant and posted a series of offensive posts about trans individuals including one which read: “Being transgender does not make you a woman.”

She ended another post saying, “In a biological context there are females and males,” The Daily Mail reports.

Her criticism got her cut from her modeling agency Elite Model Management.

In response to the critics who blasted Pinkston for being insensitive, she tried desperately to calm the waters by creating a lie that she actually was a transgender woman who transitioned when she was young.

Pinkston wrote: “I wasn’t ready to come out about it yet, but today I got fired and I’ve been receiving hate mail and death threats ever since, so I’m being forced to tell the truth. I’m Transgender.”

“I transitioned at a very young age and I’ve lived my Life as a Female ever since,” the 20-year-old falsely claimed.

“It’s been very hard to keep this secret but what I said about Trans-Women is a direct reflection of my inner insecurities and I have since come to realize that I am a Woman…WE ALL ARE!”

Pinkston has since deleted that comment after she was called out for her lie by a former friend who cast doubt that Pinkston was trans.

“I’ve seen baby pictures of [Carissa], I’ve seen her fully naked, I’ve been around this women long enough to fully know her,” Aleece Wilson, a model who previously worked with Pinkston for a Nike campaign wrote. “We have many trans friends this conversation would have definitely been brought up.”

RACIST PRANK: TSA workers suspended after hanging stuffed monkeys from a noose

After she was called out, Pinkston took to social media to apologize and beg for forgiveness. She also clarified that she was indeed born female and was not trans.

“I apologize for any transphobic remark I’ve ever made towards the Trans community,” she wrote.  “I panicked and I thought if I came out as Trans that I could somehow make things better for myself but it appears I’ve only made things worse.

“I’m truly sorry. I’m only 20 and I’m human. I make mistakes but I refuse to let them define me. I hope you all can forgive me and move on from this because I’m so much more than this incident and I’m not a coward.”

Pinkston also later deleted her apology.

The post Model who worked with Rihanna under fire for posting transphobic comments and lying about being transgender appeared first on theGrio.

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RACIST PRANK: TSA workers suspended after hanging stuffed monkeys from a noose

Two Miami International Airport TSA workers have been suspended after being accused of engaging in a racist prank by tying a noose to two stuffed monkeys.

Trump sends US presidential envoy to Sweden for A$AP Rocky’s trial

Three other TSA workers discovered the dolls and noose on display July 21 near a baggage screening area and reported the incident to a manager.

According to CNN, a manager tried to downplay the offensive display, “saying it wasn’t racist, it was just a joke.”

A TSA who spoke on condition of anonymity to the outlet said the display was placed prominently in an area is staffed with mostly Hispanic and Black workers. He said he believes it was deliberately put there to insult them.

TSA released a statement about the shocking incident and condemned the racist act..

“TSA Officers immediately reported it to TSA Management. The display was immediately removed and an investigation was launched into who was responsible for the unacceptable behavior.

“TSA does not tolerate racist or offensive behavior and those found responsible will be held accountable for their actions. “

The workers involved have been placed on leave pending a full investigation, TSA confirmed.

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The post RACIST PRANK: TSA workers suspended after hanging stuffed monkeys from a noose appeared first on theGrio.

from theGrio

A history of racism is woven into the US presidency

When President Donald Trump drew widespread condemnation for describing a majority-black congressional district as a “rat and rodent infested mess” and for tweets targeting four Democratic congresswomen of color, it was not the first time a U.S. president attracted such attention.
Throughout American history, presidents have uttered comments, issued decisions and made public and private moves that critics said were racist, either at the time or in later generations. The presidents did so both before taking office and during their time in the White House.
Many of the early presidents, George Washington to Zachary Taylor, owned black slaves and held power when African Americans, Native Americans and Latinos did not have the right to vote or serve on juries and could be refused service in public accommodations. They often repeated racist views that were commonly held in their times, even when challenged by scholars or civil rights leaders.
Before he became the nation’s third president, Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.” But in his only book, “Notes on the State of Virginia,” published in 1785, the future president expressed a series of beliefs about African Americans that would be seen today as racist.
He wrote that blacks were cursed with “a very strong and disagreeable odor” and were incapable of producing art and poetry. And though he said he believed slavery was immoral, he owned slaves and, historians say, carried on a sexual relationship with at least one of them, Sally Hemings. If every black slave were ever freed, he wrote, they should be deported since he believed blacks and whites could not live together peacefully.
Andrew Jackson, the nation’s seventh president, was also a slaveholder from the South. Before he became president, he offered in an 1804 advertisement $50 for the return of a runaway slave and $10 extra “for every hundred lashes any person will give him, to the amount of 300.” In Jon Meacham’s 2008 book “American Lion: Andrew Jackson and the White House,” Meacham wrote that Jackson owned around 150 slaves and freed none of them in his will.
As president, Jackson allowed his postmaster general to let Southerners seize anti-slavery publications, in direct violation of the First Amendment. He called the abolitionist pamphlets urging black equality “unconstitutional and wicked.”
Jackson is widely vilified today among Native Americans for his role in forcibly removing indigenous people from their land, especially for the Trail of Tears. The removal of the Cherokee people from Georgia led to thousands of deaths.
“The philanthropist will rejoice that the remnant of that ill-fated race has been at length placed beyond the reach of injury or oppression,” Jackson said in his farewell address.
The Virginia-born Woodrow Wilson worked to keep blacks out of Princeton University while serving as that school’s president. When he became president of the U.S., the Democrat refused to reverse the segregation of civil service, though he had won the White House with the support of some African American men.
In 1915, Wilson sparked outrage by screening the racist film “The Birth of a Nation” at the White House. The silent movie was the retelling of Reconstruction through the eyes of the Ku Klux Klan. The movie portrayed the KKK as heroes and African Americans as uncivilized.
“No explanation or apology followed” after the screening, Patty O’Toole wrote in “The Moralist: Woodrow Wilson and the World He Made.”
Wilson appeared oblivious during the “Red Summer” of 1919 — a time when communities across the country saw white mobs attack African Americans, resulting in hundreds of deaths. He spoke out against lynching but did not use the federal government’s resources to stop the violence.
Democrat Lyndon Johnson assumed the presidency in 1963 after the assassination of John F. Kennedy and sought to push a civil rights bill amid demonstrations by African Americans. Johnson famously convinced skeptical lawmakers to support the measure and gave a passionate speech about his days as a teacher in Mexican American schools to urge Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act.
But according to tapes of his private conversations, Johnson routinely used racist epithets to describe African Americans and some blacks he appointed to key positions.
His successor, Republican Richard Nixon, also regularly used racist epithets while in office in private conversations.
“We’re going to (place) more of these little Negro bastards on the welfare rolls at $2,400 a family,” Nixon once said about what he saw as lax work requirements. Nixon also made derogatory remarks about Jews, Mexican Americans, Italian Americans and Irish Americans.
As with Johnson, many of Nixon’s remarks were unknown to the general public until tapes of White House conversations were released decades later.
Recently the Nixon Presidential Library released an October 1971 phone conversation between Nixon and then California Gov. Ronald Reagan, another future president, The Atlantic reported Tuesday . Reagan in venting his frustration with United Nations delegates who voted against the U.S. dropped some racist language.
“Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did,” Reagan said. “To see those, those monkeys from those African countries — damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes.”
Nixon began laughing hard.
Reagan would launch his 1980 general election presidential campaign in Mississippi’s Neshoba County — a place where three civil rights activists were murdered in 1964.
Reagan ignored the criticism of his visit and told a cheering crowd of white supporters, “I believe in states’ rights.”
This story replaces a previous version to correct the spelling of The Atlantic.
Russell Contreras is a member of The Associated Press’ race and ethnicity team. Follow him on Twitter at: .

The post A history of racism is woven into the US presidency appeared first on theGrio.

from theGrio

Trump sends US presidential envoy to Sweden for A$AP Rocky’s trial

American rapper A$AP Rocky pleaded not guilty to assault as his trial in Sweden opened Tuesday, a month after a street fight that landed him in jail and became a topic of U.S.-Swedish diplomacy.

Rocky, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, is accused with two others of beating a 19-year-old man in Stockholm on June 30. Prosecutors played video footage in court that showed Mayers throwing a young man to the ground.

Wearing sweatpants and a green T-shirt in court, Mayers, 30, pleaded not guilty to an assault charge that carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison. He says he acted in self-defense.

The Grammy-nominated artist’s extended detention prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to personally intervene on his behalf earlier this month. Mayers nevertheless remained behind bars, angering Trump.

Swedish news agency TT said Trump sent the U.S. special presidential envoy for hostage affairs to Stockholm to monitor the court proceedings and to show support for Mayers.
The special envoy, Ambassador Robert O’Brien, was seen at Stockholm District Court in the morning. A biographical statement on the State Department’s website says O’Brien “leads the U.S. government’s diplomatic efforts on overseas hostage-related matters.”

“He works closely with the families of American hostages and advises the senior leadership of the U.S. Government on hostage issues,” the website states.

A senior U.S. official in Washington described O’Brien’s presence as part of an effort to convey Trump’s concern about the case, support American citizens “and, to, hopefully, bring them home.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because they were not authorized to discuss it by name.

Fellow rapper RZA (RIHZ’-uh) of the Wu-Tang Clan told The Associated Press on Friday he was concerned about A$AP Rocky and “disappointed that a judge cannot discern that this is not a man you hold hostage.”

A$AP Rocky’s mother, Renee Black, also attended the proceedings. She said beforehand she was convinced her son is not guilty, “This is a nightmare,” Black was quoted by Swedish media as saying.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers presented competing narratives on the trial’s opening day of what happened the night of the fight.

Prosecutors said 19-year-old Mustafa Jafari and a friend got into an argument with Mayers and one of his bodyguards near a fast-food restaurant where the rapper’s entourage had eaten.

Mayers has published videos on his Instagram account that showed him repeatedly pleading with the two to stop following him and his associates.

Defense lawyer Slobodan Jovicic stressed Tuesday that the rapper and his entourage “didn’t want any trouble” and alleged that Jafari and his friend had exhibited “aggressive and deeply provocative behavior.”

A$AP Rocky previously encountered violent situations because of his fame and “there are some people who don’t always wish him well.” Jovicic said.

“He’s has been harassed in the past. In this case, the bodyguard made the assessment that these people should move on … and not to come close,” the lawyer said.

Prosecutors alleged in court documents that Mayers and the two other men thought to be part of his entourage beat and kicked Jafari while he was on the ground.

Jafari also was hit with parts of or a whole bottle, they alleged. The court file includes photos of Jafari’s cuts, bruises and blood-stained clothes.

Another lawyer representing A$AP Rocky in Sweden, Martin Persson, told public broadcaster SVT he would present evidence showing “no bottle has been used to hit or injure anyone.”

Any physical aggression by Mayers and his co-defendants was “within the limits of the law,” Persson said.

The trial is expected to continue with witness testimony on Thursday and could run through Friday, Stockholm District Court.

Mayers, along with two men thought to be members of his entourage, was jailed on July 3 and remains in custody.

His case has drawn the attention of American celebrities and Mayers’ fellow recording artists, including Sean “Diddy” Combs and Justin Bieber. A social media campaign for his release, #JusticeForRocky, was created soon after his arrest.

Trump also weighed in, asking for a phone call with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven and offering to personally guarantee A$AP Rocky’s bail. The two leaders spoke, and the prime minister’s spokeswoman said Lofven stressed he couldn’t interfere in a legal case.

Sweden doesn’t have a bail system, so Mayers stayed behind bars despite Trump’s vouching for him. After prosecutors filed charges Thursday, Trump took to Twitter to criticize Lofven “for being unable to act.”

“Give A$AP Rocky his FREEDOM,” Trump added. “We do so much for Sweden but it doesn’t seem to work the other way around. Sweden should focus on its real crime problem! #FreeRocky.”

The post Trump sends US presidential envoy to Sweden for A$AP Rocky’s trial appeared first on theGrio.

from theGrio

Desire Oparanozie demands equal pay for Nigeria's women's side

Super Falcons captain Desire Oparanozie demands Nigeria's women's team are paid the same as their male counterparts.

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Ronald Reagan called Africans at UN 'monkeys', tapes reveal

The former US president made the comment in a 1971 phone call, newly-unearthed recordings reveal.

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WIRED Book of the Month: *It Came From Something Awful*

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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Trump condemns slavery in Jamestown speech amid controversy over prior incendiary remarks

JAMESTOWN, Va. (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump, under fire in Washington for verbal attacks on racial minority lawmakers, condemned American slavery on Tuesday at the 400th anniversary of the first legislative assembly in Virginia and was briefly interrupted by a protesting state legislator.

Trump gave a scripted speech at the site of the first legislative assembly in Jamestown, Virginia, after touring the Jamestownchurch and a mock 1619 village.

In his remarks, he honored the first people to form a government in what would become the United States but also recognized their importation of slaves in 1619 in the same region.

“It was the beginning of a barbaric trade of human lives,” he said. “Today in honor, we remember every sacred soul who suffered the horrors of slavery and the anguish of bondage.”

Trump‘s comments, in which he also honored African Americans’ contributions to U.S. history and quoted civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Junior, followed two weeks of incendiary remarks about four Democratic women of color in the U.S. House of Representatives and an African-American lawmaker, Elijah Cummings, all of whom have been sharp critics of the president.

Trump has blasted Cummings for not doing more to improve the plight of Baltimore, a largely black city, which he said is rodent-infested. Trump has faced accusations of racism and bigotry for the remarks.

A protester interrupts U.S. President Donald Trump as he speaks at an event celebrating the 400th anniversary of the first meeting (July 30, 1619) of the Virginia state legislature in Historic Jamestowne in Williamsburg, Virginia (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Virginia’s black state legislators had said they would boycott Trump‘s appearance after his harsh comments about the minority members of Congress. A statement from the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus said it was “impossible to ignore the emblem of hate and disdain that the president represents” while he continues to “promulgate policies that harm marginalized communities and use racist and xenophobic rhetoric.”

Trump‘s address in Jamestown was interrupted briefly by Democratic Virginia Delegate Ibraheem Samirah, who shouted and held up a sign that said: “Go back to your corrupted home. Deport hate. Reunite my family and all those shattered by systemic discrimination.”

Samirah, a Palestinian American dentist, later said in a Twitter post that he had disrupted Trump‘s speech at Jamestown “because nobody’s racism and bigotry should be excused for the sake of being polite.”

“The man is unfit for office and unfit to partake in a celebration of democracy, representation and our nation’s history of immigrants,” Samirah said.

The Virginia Republican Party later released a statement accusing Samirah of being anti-Semitic.


(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Bill Trott)

from Black Enterprise

REPORTS: Cardi B forced to cancel concert for safety reasons due to threats

Cardi B fans who gathered to see her perform at The Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis were notified that the concert was cancelled just minutes before the show was scheduled to start.

According to TheBlast, the rapper was forced to cancel the concert for safety reasons after threats were made against the venue. Sources told the outlet that threats were also made against Cardi B directly, prompting officials to pull the plug.

Cardi B schools her fans on the difference between race and ethnicity: “Schools don’t teach this to people”

The venue announced the cancellation about 40 minutes ahead of the start time on social media, confirming it would be rescheduled for September 11.

So far, Cardi B has not commented on the cancellation, but earlier in the day, she encouraged fans to tune in to the Democratic Debate.

Money Talks: Conservative Candace Owens challenges Cardi B to a debate for $250,000

Let’s hope the threats don’t have anything to do with the sit down she had with Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday.

Cardi B was recently challenged to a debate with Black Trump supporter and conservative activist, Candace Owens, after the rapper recently endorsed Sanders for president in the 2020 election.

Owens took to Twitter on Monday to offer Cardi B $250,000 to debate either her or another Black conservative of her choice, according to Newsweek

This news comes soon after the “I Like It” rapper took to social media on Monday and revealed that she spoke with the Vermont senator to discuss questions she received from her fans to ask Sanders. A few weeks ago she revealed how she felt “really sad how we let him down in 2016.”

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from theGrio

Cardi B teams up with Bernie Sanders to film 2020 campaign video

Serena Williams creates a wrap dress for all body types

Taraji P. Henson scammed for thousands of dollars after identity thief hacked her email

Actress Taraji P Henson who previously spoke candidly about mental health issues affecting the African American community and even opened a foundation, found herself victimized by a mother of six diagnosed as bi-polar who allegedly stole her identity.

Taraji P. Henson says the “angry black woman” stereotype is used to silence women with legit complaints

On Saturday, the accused woman, 29-year-old Alicia Newby was arrested in Chicago and charged with criminal activity for making fraudulent charges in other people’s names.

On Sunday, Newby appeared in court to answer charges that she stole Henson’s financial information as well as multiple people she preyed on and opened accounts and skimmed money, The Chicago Tribune reports.

Henson’s manager discovered that last year that she accumulated $4,000 in charges under an unfamiliar name and address that was not linked to the Empire actress. Henson’s other accounts were misused too by Newby and she accessed Henson’s email account. Ultimately the $4,000 in fraudulent purchases were cancelled, but Newby fled to another location with her kids when officers pursued her to make an arrest in December.

In other cases, Newby racked up in excess of $12,000 in charges on other people’s accounts either, with JP Morgan Chase, American Express and PayPal, the outlet reports.

Newby also reportedly assumed someone else’s identity and has utilities in another person’s name as well as having rented an apartment under a stolen name.

Lizzo wants to be the next ‘Bachelorette’ and has a NSFW hot girl requests for the men

Henson announces mental health conference

This situation is reason why Henson is so adamant about getting mental health resources to the people who need them.

In June Henson launched a two-day “Can We Talk?”  mental health conference and benefit dinner, in Washington, PEOPLE reports.

The summit was organized by Henson’s Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, set up to erase the stigma around mental health problems. The nonprofit organization is named for Henson’s father, who suffered mental health challenges as a result of serving in the Vietnam War, according to the group’s website.

“Mental health is a huge issue in the Black community,” Henson, 48, previously told PEOPLE. “We are working to normalize the conversation in our communities at a younger age to eradicate the stigma. We have to start somewhere — and I believe openly talking about it is a good place to start.”

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from theGrio

Ghana 'exports rosewood timber illegally to China'

Corrupt officials are forging documents to allow the wood to leave the country, environmentalists say.

from BBC News - Africa

Philanthropy and the Challenge of Quantifying Success

Single-serving metrics are attractive, but they miss the big complicated messy picture.

from Wired

An Electric Pickup Truck Really Could Pull a Freight Train—Here's How

Ford showed off an all-electric F-150 pickup truck towing a freight train full of more F-150s. The stunt relies heavily on one force to work: friction.

from Wired

Lil Nas X makes history as ‘Old Town Road’ is now longest running #1 single on Billboard at 17 weeks

It’s been quite a ride on a very rocky road to the top but Lil Nas X has earned the bragging rights of securing the title as the artist with the longest ever running number one single on Billboard at 17 weeks for ‘Old Town Road.’

Lil Nas X sued for $25 million for allegedly unauthorized sampling of song

The breakout song of the summer is standing strong atop Billboard, and just dethroned Mariah Carey and Boys ll Men 1995’s hit ‘One Sweet Day’ and Despacito (by Daddy Yankee, Luis Fonsi and Justin Bieber) both which held the spot for 16 weeks, The Daily Mail reports.

And Mariah couldn’t wait to celebrate his success, tweeting:

“Sending love & congrats to @LilNasX on breaking one of the longest running records in music history! We’ve been blessed to hold this record with a song that means a great deal to @BoyzIIMen and myself and has touched so many. Keep living your best life!”

Nas X, whose real name is Montero Lamar Hill, is just as surprised as the rest of us given that he was homeless and sleeping on his sister’s couch, trying to conjure up a jam that he could promote that would propel him onto the music scene.

But little did he know that his success would be historic after buying a $30 beat online last October.

“Last year in october [sic], as a struggling artist [sic] starting to lose faith in what i could be, i went looking for beats on youtube [sic],” he explains.

“i remember clicking on so many generic sounding beats [sic] trying to find the right one for me [sic]. when suddenly i came across a country-trap [sic] sounding masterpiece [sic].

“i immediately knew i would make something special out of it [sic]! my sister told me i had little time left before i had to leave her house [sic] after being there for months [sic] promoting my music [sic]online [sic] and not helping [sic] her out much,” he admits.

Lil Nas X’s Trap/Country hit ‘Old Town Road’ officially the No. 1 song in America

Lil Nas X said he used his situation as motivation to craft a great song.

“i was so upset [sic]! i used it as motivation for the song [sic]! i jokingly/seriously saw myself as a loner [sic] cowboy[sic] needing to [sic] run away from it all [sic]! I went out [sic] on my sister’s back porch [sic] and listened to the beat [sic] OVER [sic]& OVER [sic] & OVER[sic]!!

“then it came to me[sic]!! in my best singing voice [sic] i sung [sic] “YEAHHH IM GONNA TAKE MY HORSE [sic] TO THE OLD TOWN ROAD [sic] IM GONNA RIDEEEE TIL I CANT NO MORE [sic]” I LOVED IT ALREADY!”

The 20-year-old has since been riding the wave of his success.

“i started to work on it [sic] EVERY SINGLE DAY[sic]. it needed to be funny[sic], it needed to be catchy[sic], it needed to be hip hop [sic], it needed to be country[sic], & it needed to be short[sic]!!’

“by the time i was finished [sic] setting it up [sic] i was out of my sister’s crib [sic] and at my brothers [sic] place.”

“on december 2️⃣nd i went into the studio [sic] & recorded OLD TOWN ROAD & put it out the exact same day!! did i know it would become the longest running number 1️⃣ song of all time? [sic] NO! ‼️ but i am so thankful [sic] that this blessing ✨ has been placed upon me [sic].

“this song has changed my life [sic] and the way i see the world [sic] around me [sic] in less than a year [sic]. thank you to every single person☝️ who has been apart of this journey [sic]. as i said before, it’s just the beginning! [sic]”

Congratulations Lil Nas X!

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from theGrio

Lizzo wants to be the next ‘Bachelorette’ and has a NSFW hot girl requests for the men

Blame it on the mojo that’s in Lizzo’s juice as the reason she’s so at ease and comfortable in her own skin.

Lizzo and Missy Elliot drop high-tempo new video for ‘Tempo’

The singer has been captivating TV screens, the radio airwaves and social media this summer with her body-positive plumpness, off-the-chain flute skills and boss lyrics.

And recently, in an interview with Cosmopolitan, Lizzo decided to shoot her shot by offering up why she’d like to be the next Bachelorette. And you better believe she wants it to be racy.

“If I was the Bachelorette, it would just be the coolest season ever,” Lizzo said about the ABC show that has only had one Black woman tackle the title role. “The men would have to be naked and they would have to wear little thong briefs and they would have to feed me grapes.”

If that’s not enough Lizzo wants her men to go all in performing oral sex on camera or “at least once on the whole season, and it would have to be filmed.”

“It can be blurred, but I would want the people to know.”

“The kids gotta learn someday.”

Clutch the pearls.

But Lizzo, whose real name is Melissa Viviane Jefferson, did admit that she didn’t know much about the popular show.

And while we all await word on whether ABC execs will grant Lizzo’s wish, fans can catch the artist starring alongside Jennifer Lopez in the upcoming Hustlers movie.

Our new fave: 5 powerful life lessons we could all learn from Lizzo

“She’s such a professional. She’s such a vet in the game,” she said about J Lo.

“This was my first time on camera for a feature film. So I was looking at her like, ‘Wow, you’re the leader right now.’ And she definitely did her job. She controlled the room and led the sisterhood.”

And her spirit animal Carbi B was everything Lizzo expected her to be.

“Cardi B was funny, man. She had me rolling. She had everybody cracking up. We got to improv and Cardi really took artistic liberties and just went off, and it was really cool to watch. She’s such a character.”

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from theGrio

Unagi Model One Review: A Light and Portable Urban Scooter

As long as the roads aren’t too bad, Unagi’s electric ride can help keep your car in the garage until you truly need it.

from Wired

Meghan Markle pens personal letter about son Archie for British Vogue issue

In the upcoming September issue of British Vogue Meghan Markle reveals that she working tirelessly to cultivate the historic issue as guest editor while she was five months pregnant with her son Archie.

Meghan Markle makes history as guest editor of British Vogue and interviews Michelle Obama

In deeply personal and revealing editor’s letter, Markle outlined the tremendous support she received to bring the woman-centered issue to fruition, all while she was very pregnant and during her maternity leave after the birth of the royal baby May 6.

“I was about five months pregnant when this process began, and by the time you hold this issue in your hands, my husband and I will be holding our three-month-old baby boy in ours,” the 37-year-old wrote.

“It’s a very special time for me personally, on so many levels; working with Edward and his team, both during my pregnancy and my maternity leave, has played no small part in that joy – it has been a privilege to be welcomed and supported by this amazing team.”

The new mom stepped into a history-making role as the legendary magazine’s first guest editor in its 103-year history. And the Duchess of Sussex selected key figures for the cover as well as chose the photographer, Vogue reports.

‘They don’t make it easy’: Meghan Markle admits struggles with being in public eye

“So I asked the question,” she wrote. “Actually, I typed and deleted the question several times until I built up the courage to ask the question in question. ‘Edward… instead of doing the cover, would you be open to me guest editing your September issue?’

“The ellipsis… the ‘dot dot dot’ that inspires the greatest practice of patience in this digital era. And then it appeared, EE’s reply: ‘Yes! I would love for you to be my guest editor,’ ” she recalled.

“Sitting on my sofa at home, two dogs nestled across me, I quietly celebrated when the words appeared on my screen.”

She lent her creative eye to develop the “Forces for Change” issue, featuring 15 trailblazing women, including an interview with Michelle Obama.

Included in the issue are actors and models, politicians and authors, and advocates who have fought for change, mental health, voting rights and climate change, the outlet reports.

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from theGrio

‘Stranger Things’ breakout star is a spunky seventh grader

One of the breakout stars of “Stranger Things” is an actress who wants to do more action roles and maybe get behind the camera. But first, there’s seventh grade.

Priah Ferguson, a 12-year-old Atlanta middle schooler, has given season 3 of the sci-fi, back-to-the-’80s Netflix show a jolt of sassy electricity.

Priah plays Erica, a My Little Pony-obsessed, He-Man stealing, walkie-talkie intercepting little sister of Lucas, played by Caleb McLaughlin.

“She’s a very confident person and I’m confident,” Priah said. “She’s a leader. I’m a leader. So we have a lot of similarities.”

The actress, who previously has had minor roles on “Atlanta” and “Mercy Street,” had quick-or-you’ll-miss it moments in season 2 of “Stranger Things” but has roared into the new one with an action sequence and catchphrases like “You can’t spell America without Erica” and “Just the facts.”

She was handed a helmet fitted with flashlights and sent though the ventilation shafts of Starcourt Mall to discover what a secret group of Russians was hiding. For this, she earned her reward: “Free. Ice. Cream. For. Life.”

“I got to do like a little stunt. So I was like, ‘Wow this is something I’ve always wanted to do,'” she said. “That was cool.”

Her Erica has spunk and verve, liable to scream into a walkie-talkie: “Code red? I got a code for you instead. It’s called code shut your mouth.” Erica will not stand for nerdiness but there’s a little nerd in her, too.

“She’s an anti-nerd nerd,” the actress says. “A lot of people have a little nerdiness in them. I have a little nerdiness in me.”

Adjua Ferguson, her mother, said she and her husband recognized artistic potential in their daughter when she was just 2.

“She was an expressive baby— she always had the most unique expressions and reactions. She always had an old soul. She would just respond to things beyond her years, very conversational,” she said. “From there, people kept saying she had something special.”

Priah hopes to continue acting and maybe direct one day as well. But staying a kid is also a goal. She’s not planning to return to her school’s drama club this fall.

“I want to separate my acting from school. It just got to be a little too much,” she said. “It’s just too much drama.”

She’s taking that message across the country, teaming up with applesauce and yogurt-pouch maker GoGo squeeZ to encourage kids to put aside their devices and embrace unstructured play as part of the “BE Time” initiative.

“I love having free time to stay off my phone, even though I love my phone,” she said. “At times it can just be draining. You just need a time to really see the real world.”

When at home, Priah walks the dog, creates dances with her little sister, gets on her scooter, is really crafty, adores doing her nails and has lately been getting into Legos. (For the record, she does like ice cream in real life, too.)

Her life is changing — and she’s documenting it. “I’m just taking in everything and I keep a journal to know where I go and just share my experience on places that I went to.”

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from theGrio

Black Virginia lawmakers to boycott Trump’s Jamestown visit over racist tweets

Virginia’s black state lawmakers announced Monday that they will boycott a ceremony this week commemorating the beginnings of American democracy because President Donald Trump is scheduled to attend.

The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus said its members would not attend Tuesday’s event in historic Jamestown marking the 400th anniversary of the first representative assembly in the Western Hemisphere. The boycott comes after Trump’s weekend comments referring to U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings’ majority-black Baltimore-area district as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”

The caucus’s statement did not specifically mention Cummings but said Trump’s “repeated attacks on Black legislators and comments about Black communities makes him ill-suited to honor and commemorate such a monumental period in history.”

Caucus chair Del. Lamont Bagby said in an interview that the group unanimously reached the boycott decision more than a week ago. But he said the president has “continued his attacks” since then and that his remarks about Cummings’ district were more of the same.
Trump will join national and state leaders and dignitaries at Tuesday’s event, a commemorative session of the Virginia General Assembly at which Trump is to deliver remarks.

The convening of a legislative assembly in 1619 formed the basis of today’s representative system of government in the United States. The Virginia General Assembly is considered the oldest continuously operating legislative body in North America.

“The commemoration of the birth of this nation and its democracy will be tarnished unduly with the participation of the President, who continues to make degrading comments toward minority leaders, promulgate policies that harm marginalized communities, and use racist and xenophobic rhetoric,” the caucus said in a statement.

Trump’s comments about Cummings were the latest rhetorical shot at a lawmaker of color to spark outrage. Earlier this month, Trump drew bipartisan condemnation following his call for four Democratic congresswomen of color to get out of the U.S. “right now.”
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Monday that the caucus was pushing “a political agenda.”

“President Trump passed criminal justice reform, developed opportunity zones securing record-setting investment in distressed communities, and pushed policies that created the lowest unemployment rates ever for African Americans, so it’s a bit confusing and unfortunate that the VLBC would choose to push a political agenda instead of celebrate this milestone for our nation,” she said in a statement.

Caucus members said they will also boycott the rest of a weeklong series of events marking the 400th anniversary and have instead planned alternative commemorations Tuesday in Richmond, Virginia’s capital.

When the Richmond Times-Dispatch first reported earlier in the month that Trump would take part in the event, top Democratic lawmakers said they would not attend.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment said at the time that their decision was “disappointing and embarrassing.”

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney also resigned from a planning committee in protest.
Tuesday’s events are just one part of a yearlong commemoration called American Evolution meant to honor key milestones in the state’s colonial history, including the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first recorded Africans in English North America.

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from theGrio

A$AP Rocky’s mom arrives in Sweden as rapper’s assault trial begins

American rapper A$AP Rocky and two other men believed to be members of his entourage went on trial Tuesday in Sweden in a high-profile legal case that has caught the attention of U.S. President Donald Trump and celebrities.

Swedish prosecutors allege that the Grammy-nominated rapper and the two other suspects “deliberately, together and in agreement” attacked 19-year-old Mustafa Jafari in a fight in central Stockholm on June 30.

Prosecutors alleged in more than 500 pages of court documents that the three suspects beat and kicked Jafari while he was on the ground and that he was hit by parts of or a whole bottle.

The trial of the recording artist, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, started in Stockholm District Court, which also has set aside Thursday and Friday for the case.

Mayers’ mother Renee Black was seen arriving at the court while his son was escorted in wearing a green shirt. She appeared “like she was about to burst into tears,” Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reported.

Lawyers for both sides were to present their narrative of what happened on the night of June 30 at Tuesday’s court session. Testimonies are expected to take place on Thursday.
The trial was being held in a secure courtroom “because of strong interest from the media and the public,” the Stockholm court said, noting that no photographing or filming will take place during the proceedings.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of two years in prison. Mayers, who has been in custody since July 3, has said he acted in self-defense.

The rapper’s lawyer, Martin Persson, told Swedish public broadcaster SVT on Monday that he would present the court with new evidence, including showing that “no bottle has been used to hit or injure anyone” and that the violence used was “within the limits of the law.”
A lawyer for Jafari, Magnus Stromberg, told The Associated Press on Friday the beating started when one of A$AP Rocky’s guards “grabbed him (Jafari) by the neck and dragged him away” and that Jafari didn’t provoke the assault.

Prosecutors said that Mayers pushed Jafari to the ground and the court documents include numerous photos of Jafari’s cuts, bruises and blood-stained clothes.

Jafari, 19, is seeking 139,700 Swedish kronor ($14,700) in damages for his injuries, lost income and damages to his appearance.

Mayers’ arrest prompted Trump to intervene on behalf of the jailed rapper and sparked an unusual diplomatic spat when Swedish prosecutors charged the 30-year-old artist last week.

Trump urged Sweden to “Treat Americans fairly!” on Twitter, and criticized Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven “for being unable to act.”

“We do so much for Sweden but it doesn’t seem to work the other way around. Sweden should focus on its real crime problem! #FreeRocky,” he added.

The case has also drawn the attention of American celebrities like Kim Kardashian West and Mayers’ fellow recording artists, including Sean “Diddy” Combs and Justin Bieber, and created the movement #JusticeForRocky soon after the rapper’s arrest.

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from theGrio

Beto O’Rourke debate guests are Black men who kneeled for anthem to protest police brutality

When Democrat Beto O’Rourke takes the stage in the second round of presidential primary debates on Tuesday, three young black men from Michigan who were inspired by ex-NFL player Colin Kaepernick to kneel during the national anthem before their high school football games will be in the audience as guests of the former Texas congressman.
O’Rourke reached out to ex-Lansing Catholic High School football players Michael Lynn III, Matthew Abdullah and RoJe Williams and spoke with them by phone last week. Teammate Kabbalah Richards is away at college and unable to attend the debate but also was on the call.

O’Rourke had learned of the men’s story when one of their families donated to his U.S. Senate campaign after seeing his viral defense of NFL players who chose to take a knee to protest police brutality and racism, his campaign said.

In a statement to The Associated Press on Monday, O’Rourke said the four “have served their community in one of the most American ways possible.”

As a Democratic primary candidate, O’Rourke has been outspoken on issues of race, particularly white identity and privilege. Earlier this month, he revealed that he and his wife, Amy, recently discovered they have ancestors who owned slaves.

As players at Lansing Catholic, the four took a knee together in 2017. Lynn, the team captain, said he decided to kneel after watching Kaepernick, a former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, and thinking about the racism he dealt with as one of a handful of black students at his high school.

“I was a senior. I was getting to the age where I wanted to say something,” said Lynn, who recalled trying to speak up when his white teammates would make inappropriate jokes or comments.

Lynn and his teammates were benched for their protest, and eventually Lynn and Abdullah transferred to other high schools.

It was nearly a year later that Lynn’s mother sent him the video of O’Rourke’s remarks, in which the then-Senate candidate explained to a mostly white crowd that Kaepernick’s protest was about focusing attention on the killings of unarmed black men by law enforcement.

“I can think of nothing more American than to peacefully stand up or take a knee for your rights anytime, anywhere or anyplace,” O’Rourke said to applause at an August 2018 campaign event that quickly went viral, thrusting the obscure O’Rourke into the national spotlight and propelling him to a 2020 presidential run.

Lynn recalled feelings of affirmation after watching the video.

“People on the other side of it make us feel like we’re not as American as them,” Lynn said. “The fact that he said that and feels that way, from his heart, that was really powerful. That’s what put Mr. O’Rourke on my radar.”

The three men have reached voting age and will meet O’Rourke for the first time Tuesday night.

Lynn said he is undecided about whom to vote for but looks forward to shaking O’Rourke’s hand and seeing all the candidates in person.

“That’s going to be cool,” Lynn said.

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from theGrio

Baltimore-area district pushes back against Trump’s racist tweets

As Latoya Peoples painted a mural with high school-age students Monday in Baltimore, she was determined not to let President Donald Trump’s recent tweets about the city “sink in too much.”

Peoples was in Sandtown-Winchester, the West Baltimore neighborhood where Freddie Gray grew up years before his death in police custody in 2015 prompted a racial uprising. Now Baltimore is in the spotlight again, this time because of the president’s recent attacks on Rep. Elijah Cummings, a powerful Trump critic who has represented Maryland in Congress for decades. Trump called the congressman’s district a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.”

While parts of Maryland’s 7th Congressional District have struggled with poverty and crime, it also includes more affluent areas and Baltimore landmarks such as Johns Hopkins University and its hospital, the Social Security Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Elsewhere are cultural touchstones like the Baltimore Museum of Art and the world-class Walters Art Museum.

Residents of Maryland’s largest city say their home bears no resemblance to the place Trump described.

“People think you can’t walk through here. It’s intimidating,” Peoples said. “It’s nothing like that.”

Trump’s tweets paint an incomplete picture of a sprawling district that spans Baltimore City and parts of surrounding counties. It has stretches of empty storefronts and boarded-up homes, as well as trendy neighborhoods dotted with manicured parks and restaurants. It also has Pimlico Race Course, which is home to the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of horse-racing’s annual Triple Crown.

Sari Garbis, who lives in Clarksville, more than 20 miles from Baltimore City, said her community is diverse and well-educated and that she is “very proud” that Cummings represents her.

“You’re talking about a congressman that needs to represent very diverse interests,” Garbis said. “I believe that he represents my interests as well, and with the same sense of purpose, as he does the people of Baltimore City.”

Clarksville is in Howard County, which is routinely counted among the nation’s most affluent. So is Ellicott City, a historic mill town. As he stood outside a recreation center, longtime resident Mac Chrysskos said that nearby Baltimore has a crime problem that needs to be brought under control, but that attacks on the district were “totally uncalled for and totally unfair.”

Cummings’ district, which is nearly 53% black, has a median household income of $60,929, though there is a sizeable wealth gap between white and black residents.

Few residents will deny that Baltimore has problems with violent crime and drugs. The city’s murder rate has soared in recent years, with Baltimore recording more than 300 homicides in 2018, most from gunfire. Residents say those struggles have compounded over the years, owing to institutional segregation and neglect by the federal government.
The city’s previous mayor was forced to resign earlier this year. In the past five years, there have been five police commissioners.

Residents are clear-eyed about the community’s challenges but frustrated by Trump’s comments, which seemed to shrink the city to a crime-infested caricature.

Nancy O. Greene, who has lived in Baltimore for 15 years, pointed to the thriving arts community in her neighborhood of Charles Village and throughout the district. Green said she supports Cummings but complains about times when “money was needed and money wasn’t received” by district residents.

“You’re not going to keep Baltimore down,” she added. “Despite anything, people will come together to defend the city. It has a rich history from Edgar Allen Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald — you name it. … You can’t say this city doesn’t have a lot going for it.”

Other parts of the city are represented by two other Democratic lawmakers: Reps. John Sarbanes and Dutch Ruppersburger. Statewide, Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1.
Earlier Monday, the Rev. Al Sharpton held a news conference at a West Baltimore church alongside former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, a Republican.

Trump has described Sharpton as “a con man” who “Hates Whites & Cops!” Sharpton said Trump “has a particular venom for blacks and people of color.”

For his part, Steele challenged Trump to visit blighted areas of West Baltimore and talk with residents to learn about their challenges and understand their “hard work and commitment.”

“Mr. President, come on down,” Steele said. “The streets are ready for you. The neighborhoods are ready for you … Put the tweet down, brother, and show up.”
But some local residents say they are not interested in a visit from Trump.

Benn Ray, who lives in the Remington neighborhood of Baltimore City and is the co-owner of Atomic Books in neighboring Hampden, said Trump “hasn’t ingratiated himself to the city, he hasn’t made himself welcome.”

“I don’t know what city he is describing,” he said of Trump’s attacks. “Like every other city, we have rats and crime. We have good neighborhoods and bad. But as a city, and a community, we endeavor to make things better.”

The post Baltimore-area district pushes back against Trump’s racist tweets appeared first on theGrio.

from theGrio

New material could make it easier to remove colon polyps

More than 15 million colonoscopies are performed in the United States every year, and in at least 20 percent of those, gastroenterologists end up removing precancerous growths from the colon. Eliminating these early-stage lesions, known as polyps, is the best way to prevent colon cancer from developing.

To reduce the risk of tearing the colon during this procedure, doctors often inject a saline solution into the space below the lesion, forming a “cushion” that lifts the polyp so that it’s easier to remove safely. However, this cushion doesn’t last long.

MIT researchers have now devised an alternative — a solution that can be injected as a liquid but turns into a solid gel once it reaches the tissue, creating a more stable and longer-lasting cushion.

“That really makes a huge difference to the gastroenterologist who is performing the procedure, to ensure that there’s a stable area that they can then resect using endoscopic tools,” says Giovanni Traverso, an assistant professor in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and a gastroenterologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Traverso is the senior author of the study, which appears in the July 30 issue of Advanced Science. The lead authors of the study are former MIT postdocs Yan Pang and Jinyao Liu. Other authors include MIT undergraduate Zaina Moussa, technical associate Joy Collins, former technician Shane McDonnell, Division of Comparative Medicine veterinarian Alison Hayward, Brigham and Women’s Hospital gastroenterologist Kunal Jajoo, and David H. Koch Institute Professor Robert Langer.

A stable cushion

While many colon polyps are harmless, some can eventually become cancerous if not removed. Gastroenterologists often perform this procedure during a routine colonoscopy, using a lasso-like tool to snare the tissue before cutting it off.

This procedure carries some risk of tearing the lining of the colon, which is why doctors usually inject saline into the area just below the lining, called the submucosal space, to lift the polyp away from the surface of the colon.

“What that does is separate those tissue layers briefly, and it gives one a little bit of a raised area so it’s easier to snare the lesion,” Traverso says. “The challenge is that saline dissipates very quickly, so we don’t always have enough time to go in and intervene, and may need to reinject saline.”

Complex lesions can take 10 to 20 minutes to remove, or even longer, but the saline cushion only lasts for a few minutes. Researchers have tried to make the cushions longer-lived by adding thickening agents such as gelatin and cellulose, but those are very difficult to inject through the narrow needle that is used for the procedure.

To overcome that, the MIT team decided to create a shear-thinning gel. These materials are semisolid gels under normal conditions, but when force is applied to them, their viscosity decreases and they flow more easily. This means that the material can be easily injected through a narrow needle, then turn back into a solid gel once it exits into the colon tissue.

Shear-thinning gels can be made from many different types of materials. For this purpose, the researchers decided on a combination of two biocompatible materials that can form gels — Laponite, a powdery clay used in cosmetics and other products, and alginate, a polysaccharide derived from algae.

“We chose these materials because they are biocompatible and they allow us to tune the flowing behavior of the resulting gels,” Pang says.

Using these materials, the researchers created a shear-thinning gel that could be injected and form a stable cushion for more than an hour, in pigs. This would give gastroenterologists much more time to remove any polyps.

“Otherwise, you inject the saline, then you change tools, and by the time you’re ready the tissue is kind of flat again. It becomes really difficult to resect things safely,” Traverso says.

This approach could offer “an elegant solution” to the problem of keeping lesions elevated during a surgical removal, says Jay Pasricha, a professor of medicine and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

“It’s a growing unmet need,” says Pasricha, who was not involved in the research. “In the last decade, we’ve shifted toward trying to resect more complex tumors from the colon endoscopically, rather than through traditional forms of surgery. It would be great to have a material that can last throughout the duration of the procedure.”

Controlling viscosity

By varying the composition of the gel components, the researchers can control features such as the viscosity, which influences how long the cushion remains stable. If made to last longer, this kind of injectable gel could be useful for applications such as narrowing the GI tract, which could be used to prevent acid reflux or to help with weight loss by making people feel full. It could also potentially be used to deliver drugs to the intestinal tract, Traverso says.

The researchers also found that the material had no harmful side effects in pigs, and they hope to begin trials in human patients within the next three to five years.

“This is something we think can get into patients fairly quickly,” Traverso says. “We’re really excited about moving it forward.”

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Division of Gastroenterology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering.

from MIT News

Google's New Gesture Controls Aren't Just for the Pixel

The Pixel 4 smartphone is being built to house a chip called Soli that could eventually power gesture-based user interfaces in everything from VR headsets to cars.

from Wired

Now Even Funerals Are Livestreamed—and Families Are Grateful

With friends and relatives dispersed, a growing number of funeral homes will stream services, and demand is increasing.

from Wired

Strap on Your Exoskeleton and Dance, Dance, Dance

At San Francisco's Gray Area Festival, attendees immerse themselves in art and technology—and even surrender control of their bodies to robots.

from Wired

French champions sign Senegal midfielder

Idrissa Gueye moves from Everton to Paris St-Germain for around £30m and signs a four-year deal with the French champions.

from BBC News - Africa

Monday, July 29, 2019

Kelly Rowland shuts down Destiny’s Child reunion rumors

It has been 20 years since Destiny’s Child released their first album, The Writings on The Wall and ten years since the group recorded new music together. Rumors have been swirling that the trio may be reuniting, but Kelly Rowland shut down the idea during a recent interview.

Lupita Nyong’o reacts to shout-out in Beyoncé’s ‘Brown Skin Girl,’ internet turns song into joyful challenge

According to Rowland, she hasn’t discussed a reunion with Beyonce and Michelle Williams and insists the idea “hasn’t been on our radar.”

All three of the ladies have been focused on other projects and are constantly supporting each other’s individual endeavors.

“Everybody’s, like, basically doing their own projects right now and we’re just supporting each other,” she added.

Kelly Rowland speaks on hair discrimination and finding her own beauty

 Both of the ladies Beyonce calls her “best friends” and former group mates were one deck to support Beyonce at the premiere of The Lion King in Los Angeles a few weeks back. Rowland brought along her adorable 4-year-old son, Titan and revealed he has a bone to pick with the film’s villain, Scar.

“Titan left the movie saying he does not like Scar. He wanted to punch Scar in the face,” she told

Ever since the trio reunited at Coachella in 2018, fans have been begging for them to launch a reunion tour or at least consider recording another album together.

Even though Kelly Rowland made it clear that’s not in the cards, we’re still hoping the ladies could have a change of heart in the future.


The post Kelly Rowland shuts down Destiny’s Child reunion rumors appeared first on theGrio.

from theGrio

REPORTS: Nicki Minaj and Kenneth Petty obtain marriage license in Beverly Hills

It looks like Nicki Minaj may be ready to walk down the aisle if these rumors are true.

According to reports, the rapper and her beau, Kenneth Petty, obtained their marriage license in Beverly Hills on Monday.

TMZ has reported that the couple was spotted at the Beverly Hills courthouse and witnesses saw them at the marriage license bureau window. Of course, they could have been there conducting other business but considering how Minaj has been flaunting their love on social media, marriage doesn’t seem like a stretch.

Another hint? The window they were at reportedly had a sign over it that read: “marriage licenses and ceremony appts. ONLY.”

Back in June, Nicki Minaj told listeners of her QUEEN Radio podcast that she and her man had already obtained a marriage license. The document that’s required to tie the knot is only good for 90 days, so chances are they’re looking to make things official pretty soon.

Nicki Minaj stands by her man: ‘Money cannot buy me happiness and good sex’

Although Nicki Minaj has been open about her love for Kenneth Perry, whom she dated as a teenager and reunited with last year, some folks have been concerned about his sketchy past. Minaj has bitten back at haters and recently explained her loyalty to her lover on her podcast.

“When a person is with a n—- that loved them before they had a dime in their pocket? How do you not understand that? How do you not understand happiness vs clout?” Minaj said, according to E! News.

“How f—ing dare you talk about lowering standards,” she added. She then scolded her critics telling them to “wake up” and expressed how deeply her love for Petty runs.

“It’s the truth, money cannot buy me happiness and good sex,” Minaj said.


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from theGrio