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Saturday, October 31, 2020

A deep look at how financial markets are designed

Financial markets are fast-moving, complex, and opaque. Even the U.S. stock market is fragmented into an array of competing exchanges and a set of proprietary “dark pools” run by financial firms. Meanwhile, high-frequency traders zoom around buying and selling stocks at speeds other investors cannot match.

Yet stocks represent a relatively transparent investment compared to many types of bonds, derivatives, and commodities. So when the financial sector melted down in 2007-08, it led to a wave of reforms as regulators sought to rationalize markets.

But every financial market, reformed or not, has its quirks, making them all ripe for scholars to scrutinize. That’s what Haoxiang Zhu does. The Gordon Y. Billard Professor of Management and Finance at the MIT Sloan School of Management is an expert on how market design and structure influence asset prices and investors. Over the last decade, his detailed theoretical and empirical studies have illuminated market behavior and gained an audience — scholars, traders, and policymakers — interested in how markets can be structured.

“When we need to reform markets, what should we do?” asks Zhu. “To the extent that something is not done perfectly, how can we refine it? These are very concrete problems and I want my research to shed light directly on them.”

One award-winning paper Zhu co-wrote in 2017 shows how transparent, reliable benchmark prices help investors efficiently identify acceptable costs and dealers in many large markets. For instance, in 2012, LIBOR, the interest-rate benchmark applied to hundreds of trillions of dollars in derivatives, was shown to have had price-manipulation problems. Zhu’s work emphasizes the value of having robust benchmarks (as post-2012 reforms have attempted to address) rather than scrapping them altogether.

Another recent Zhu paper, published this past September, looks at the way the Dodd-Frank banking legislation of 2010 has changed the trading of some credit default swaps in the U.S. — by using centralized mechanisms to connect investors and dealers, instead of the one-on-one “over-the-counter” market. The new design has been working well, the paper finds, but still has room to improve; investors still have no easy ways to trade among themselves without dealer intermediation. Additional market-design changes could address these issues.

Many of Zhu’s results are nuanced: One 2014 paper he wrote about the stock market suggests that privately-run dark pools may unexpectedly help price discovery by siphoning off lower-information traders, while better-informed traders help determine prices on the bigger exchanges. And a 2017 study he co-authored about the optimal trading frequency of stocks finds that when it comes to setting new prices, smaller-cap companies should likely be traded less frequently than bigger firms. Such findings suggest subtle ways to think about structuring stock-markets — and indeed Zhu maintains ongoing dialogues with policy experts.

“I think this sort of analysis does inform policymaking,” Zhu says. “It’s not easy to do evidence-based rulemaking. It’s costly to discover evidence, it takes time.”

Solving one problem at a time

Zhu did not fully develop his interest in finance and markets until after his college days. As an undergraduate at Oxford University, he studied mathematics and computer science, graduating in 2006. Then Zhu got a job for a year at Lehman Brothers, the once-flourishing investment bank. He departed in 2007, a year before Lehman imploded; it had become overleveraged, borrowing massively to fund an array of bad bets.

“Fortunately, I left early,” says Zhu. Still, his short time working in finance revealed a couple of important things to him. Zhu found the daily routine of finance to be “very repetitive.” But he also became convinced there were compelling problems to be addressed in the area of market structures.

“I think part of my interest in the details of market design has to do with my industry experience,” Zhu says. “I came into finance and economics viewing it somewhat from the outside. I looked at it more as an engineer would. That’s why I think MIT’s a perfect fit, because of the engineering way of looking at things. We solve one problem at a time.”

Which is also to say that Zhu’s research is not necessarily intended to produce overarching conclusions about the nature of all markets; he investigates the mechanics of separate markets first and foremost.

“It’s hard to get very deep if you start too broad,” says Zhu, who earned tenure at MIT last year. “I would argue we should start with depth. Once you get to the bottom of something, you see there are connections between many different issues.”

Zhu received his PhD in 2012 from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, and joined the MIT faculty that same year. Along with his appointment in Sloan, Zhu is a faculty affiliate in the MIT Laboratory for Financial Engineering and the MIT Golub Center for Finance and Policy.

Among the honors Zhu has received, his research papers have won several awards. The paper on benchmarks, for one, was granted the Amundi Smith Breeden First Prize by the Journal of Finance; the paper on optimal trading frequency won the Kepos Capital Award for Best Paper on Investments, from the Western Finance Association; and Zhu’s dark pools paper won the Morgan Stanley Prize for Excellence in Financial Markets.

Like a start-up

Much of Zhu’s time and energy is also devoted to teaching, and he is quick to praise the students he works with at MIT Sloan.

“They are smart, they are hard-working,” Zhu says. Of his PhD students, he adds, “It is always a challenge to go from being a good student getting good grades to producing research. Producing research is almost like starting up a company. It’s not easy. We do our best to help them, and I enjoy interacting with them.”

And while continuing to study financial market design, Zhu is expanding his research portfolio. Among other projects, he is currently looking at the impact of new payment systems on the traditional banking industry.

“I think that’s really a fantastic area for research.” Zhu says. “Once you have a [new] payment system, people’s payments get diverted away from the banks. … So we basically look at how financial technology, in this case payment providers, siphons off customers and information away from banks, and how banks will cope.”

At the same time, Zhu’s work on market structures continues to have an audience in the finance industry and among its regulators, both of which he welcomes. Indeed, Zhu has written several comment letters to regulators about proposed rules that could have material impact on the market. For example, he has argued against certain proposals that would reduce the transparency of the corporate bond market, the swaps market, and investment managers’ portfolio holdings. But he is in favor of the U.S. Treasury’s innovation in issuing debt linked to the new U.S. benchmark interest rate that is set to replace LIBOR.

“In market design the message is often nuanced: There are advantages, there are disadvantages,” Zhu says. “But figuring out the tradeoff is what I find very rewarding, in doing this kind of work.”

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North Carolina police pepper spray, arrest peaceful protesters going to the polls

Organizers of the ‘I Am Change’ rally say law enforcement were trying to intimidate the large crowd from voting

What was supposed to be a peaceful march to encourage residents in Graham, North Carolina to cast their ballots on the last day of early voting Saturday resulted in a chaotic scene, where police violently arrested and pepper-sprayed protesters — including children and the elderly.

About 200 demonstrators gathered for the “I Am Change” rally in which participants planned to march to a local polling station. Before heading to the polls, the demonstrators gathered for an event outside of the Alamance County Courthouse. They chose the location because of a Confederate statue that stands on the government property.

Read More: Double amputee protester pepper sprayed by Ohio police

After a few speakers, however, Graham police and Alamance County sheriff officers interrupted the event and told the crowd to leave because they were blocking a roadway and causing traffic, reports WUNC. While police claim they told demonstrators they had five minutes to disperse, witnesses say they were pepper sprayed before they had a chance to move.

“Less than a minute after telling people to clear the streets, we were pepper sprayed,” participant Belle Boggs told BuzzFeed News. “There wasn’t time to clear the streets safely because of social distancing guidelines and the fact that many people were elderly or had children with them.”

The peaceful rally quickly turned into a violent scene as officers pepper sprayed the crowd, which also included young children and the elderly. One graphic video shows a Black woman in a wheelchair moving wildly before falling out of the chair due to the chemical burning her eyes.

Another participant told BuzzFeed he saw several children choking from the pepper spray. “People had to choose whether to continue to the polling station or go wash their eyes and skin,” he said.

One woman told the Raleigh News & Observer that her 5 and 11-year-old daughters were sprayed with the irritant.

Read More: Offset arrested following confrontation with police filmed on Instagram Live

Video posted online shows demonstrators were peaceful, including a Facebook Live stream. What’s more, the violent police encounter reportedly stopped most of the marchers from going to their intended destination: the polling station.

Organizers of the event say police were trying to intimidate the large crowd from voting. “It was intended to suppress the vote,” organizer and mom of three Faith Cook told journalist Sarah Ovaska.

“We are fed up with this kind of treatment in Alamance County and in Graham City,” Reverend Greg Drumwright, another organizer of the event, said in a video following the incident. “Both of those law entities … colluded to suppress peaceful organizers, who were here not only to vote today, but to call an end to system oppression and racial disparages.”

Graham police said they arrested a total of eight people. The courthouse where it took place holds a historical connection to the city’s racist past. On that same courthouse square in 1870, Klansmen hanged a Black man named Wyatt Outlaw from a tree, according to records published by UNC-Chapel Hill.

Outlaw was a rising local politician who had been appointed to the town council and had been deeded land for the town’s first African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Before the Klansmen dragged him from his home and lynched him, they drove through the town in an effort to intimidate African-American residents. Outlaw and others, however, scared the Klansmen away by shooting at them. The horrific lynching was an act of revenge.

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How To Remove Rows with Missing values using dplyr?

Missing data is a common problem while doing data analysis. Sometimes you might to remove the missing data. One approach is to remove rows containing missing values. In this post we will see examples of removing rows containing missing values using dplyr in R.

How To Remove Rows With Missing Values with dplyr's drop_na()?

How To Remove Rows With Missing Values?

We will use dplyr’s function drop_na() to remove rows that contains missing data. Let us load tidyverse first.

As in other tidyverse 101 examples, we will use the fantastic Penguins dataset to illustrate the three ways to see data in a dataframe. Let us load the data from’ github page.

path2data <- ""
penguins<- readr::read_csv(path2data)

Let us move sex column which has a number of missing values to the front using dplyr’s relocate() function.

# move sex column to first
penguins <- penguins %>% 

We can see that our data frame has 344 rows in total and a number of rows have missing values. Note the fourth row has missing values for most the columns and it is represented as “NA”.


## # A tibble: 344 x 7
##   sex   species island bill_length_mm bill_depth_mm flipper_length_… body_mass_g
##   <chr> <chr>   <chr>           <dbl>         <dbl>            <dbl>       <dbl>
## 1 male  Adelie  Torge…           39.1          18.7              181        3750
## 2 fema… Adelie  Torge…           39.5          17.4              186        3800
## 3 fema… Adelie  Torge…           40.3          18                195        3250
## 4 <NA>  Adelie  Torge…           NA            NA                 NA          NA
## 5 fema… Adelie  Torge…           36.7          19.3              193        3450
## 6 male  Adelie  Torge…           39.3          20.6              190        3650

Let us use dplyr’s drop_na() function to remove rows that contain at least one missing value.

penguins %>% 

Now our resulting data frame contains 333 rows after removing rows with missing values. Note that the fourth row in our original dataframe had missing values and now it is removed.

## # A tibble: 333 x 7
##    species island bill_length_mm bill_depth_mm flipper_length_… body_mass_g
##    <chr>   <chr>           <dbl>         <dbl>            <dbl>       <dbl>
##  1 Adelie  Torge…           39.1          18.7              181        3750
##  2 Adelie  Torge…           39.5          17.4              186        3800
##  3 Adelie  Torge…           40.3          18                195        3250
##  4 Adelie  Torge…           36.7          19.3              193        3450
##  5 Adelie  Torge…           39.3          20.6              190        3650
##  6 Adelie  Torge…           38.9          17.8              181        3625

How to Remove Rows Based on Missing Values in a Column?

Sometimes you might want to removes rows based on missing values in one or more columns in the dataframe. To remove rows based on missing values in a column.

penguins %>% 

We have removed the rows based on missing values in bill_length_mm column. In comparison to the above example, the resulting dataframe contains missing values from other columns. In this example, we can see missing values Note that

## # A tibble: 342 x 7
##    sex   species island bill_length_mm bill_depth_mm flipper_length_…
##    <chr> <chr>   <chr>           <dbl>         <dbl>            <dbl>
##  1 male  Adelie  Torge…           39.1          18.7              181
##  2 fema… Adelie  Torge…           39.5          17.4              186
##  3 fema… Adelie  Torge…           40.3          18                195
##  4 fema… Adelie  Torge…           36.7          19.3              193
##  5 male  Adelie  Torge…           39.3          20.6              190
##  6 fema… Adelie  Torge…           38.9          17.8              181
##  7 male  Adelie  Torge…           39.2          19.6              195
##  8 <NA>  Adelie  Torge…           34.1          18.1              193
##  9 <NA>  Adelie  Torge…           42            20.2              190
## 10 <NA>  Adelie  Torge…           37.8          17.1              186
## # … with 332 more rows, and 1 more variable: body_mass_g <dbl>

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Obama posts voting inspired basketball clip: ‘Shoot Your Shot’

The Biden campaign is now shifting its focus heavily on getting Black men out to vote

Former President Barack Obama posted a video on Twitter of him shooting his shot, literally. The now viral video shows him making a 3-point shot and walking off, saying, “That’s what I do!”

The 19-second clip has garnered 2 million views and in the tweet he includes a link to to encourage people to get to the polls as the presidential election on Nov. 3 draws closer.

Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden can be seen walking behind, impressed, saying, “Whoa! All net!”

The video comes as many people speculate about Biden’s ability to capture the Black male vote. Many question whether or not President Donald Trump can sway enough Black male voters to hurt Biden in key battleground states.

Read More: Harris appeals directly to Black men: ‘Honor the ancestors’

According to the New York Times, the Trump administration believes that it can win 20 percent of Black Men – improving from the 13 percent in the 2016 presidential election – and “Democrats are taking that serious enough to deploy Obama.”

“The outreach is vital for Democrats, who lost the three industrial states in 2016 partly because of diminished support from Black voters. They worry that not enough Black men will cast ballots – or that Trump might make enough marginal gains to help in close races,” the article states.

The Biden campaign is now shifting its focus heavily on getting Black men out to vote by having Biden and Obama campaigning together for the first time this year in both Detroit and Flint, Michigan.

Obama was also deployed in Philadelphia, where Hillary Clinton “had strong but not surging support from Black voters in 2016.”

Astead W. Herndon, an NYT reporter, posted a series of tweets saying that even if Trump experiences an “uptick” among Black Men, “a bigger turnout helps Biden at margins. Black men are a high class electoral problem for Biden to have in short term, but is a sign of something Dems will have to wrestle with long term.”

Read More: Maxine Waters on Black Trump voters: ‘I will never forgive them’

The New York Times spoke to more than two dozen Black men in battleground states such as Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, who described voting rationales as “complex web of race, gender, and socioeconomic status – with policy concerns like health care, immigration and the coronavirus pandemic.”

Responses varied from Marco Bisbee of Michigan who attended a Trump rally in Lansing with his 13-year-old son. He originally voted for Clinton in 2016: “We’ve been voting for Democrats for 50 and 60 years and no progress. Y’all had eight years of a Black man as president – he ain’t give you what you need.”

Todd Holden of Philadelphia chose to vote against Trump and is drawn to Biden’s plan on climate change: “Biden and Harris have a huge climate change platform which is big. From 2016, up until this point, it’s seemed almost like a mission to roll back everything Obama has done with the environment.”

Darren Mosley of Detroit says that Democrats made reaching young voters difficult by nominating someone in his seventies.

“We need some young blood. Look at the age of the senators and people in office. They don’t have young minds. We need younger thinking so we can move forward and keep young voters encouraged.”

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Walt Disney World in Florida lays off 11,000 Employees

In addition, last Wednesday, Walt Disney World laid off 720 actors and singers

Walt Disney World may be the place where dreams come true, but sadly, the iconic theme park is letting go of 11,350 workers in Orlando due to financial struggles amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Walt Disney World Resort marked its 45th anniversary on October 1, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Jacqueline Nell/Disneyland Resort via Getty Images)

According to USA Today, Jim Bowden, Disney’s vice president of employee relations said in a notice that was filed on Thursday that at the end of year, 10,903 workers at Walt Disney World and 447 employees from smaller Disney properties will be affected.

Read More: Disney to lay off 28,000 at its parks in California, Florida

In addition, last Wednesday, Walt Disney World laid off 720 actors and singers, according to the Actor’s Equity Association, a labor union that represents the artists. This will now leave 60 Equity performers to work at the Orlando theme park.

Kate Shindle, president of the Actors’ Equity Association voiced her support to those affected.

“Our hearts go out to all the cast members at Walt Disney World,” Shindle said. “Disney has made it clear that our members would face work reductions since they announced layoffs of nearly 28,000 employees. That does not make this news any less painful.”

Disney World made an attempt to reopen in July after a three-month shutdown due to COVID-19 guidelines. An October 9 article from The New York Times reported that attendance has been “lower than anticipated” since its reopening.

Read More: Shonda Rhimes shares Disneyland pass incident that made her move to Netflix

In a Disney Parks blog post on Friday, Bettina Buckley, vice president of Walt Disney World Resort Live Entertainment, on behalf of the company, addressed the layoffs as “difficult decisions.”

“Determining which shows can return and when is a complex process. As with the rest of our phased reopening, we will also consider the guidance of health officials and government agencies in determining when the time will be right to adjust capacity, and as soon as it is appropriate, we will start to bring additional entertainment back,” Buckley said.

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How the controversial Nile dam might fix Sudan's floods

Egypt and Ethiopia are at loggerheads over the mega dam, with Sudan literally stuck in the middle.

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Obama: Trump failed to take pandemic, presidency seriously

As of Saturday, nearly 92 million voters had already cast ballots nationwide

Calling Joe Biden his “brother,” Barack Obama on Saturday accused Donald Trump of failing to take the coronavirus pandemic and the presidency seriously as Democrats leaned on America’s first Black president to energize Black voters in battleground Michigan on the final weekend of the 2020 campaign.

Obama, the 44th president, and Biden, his vice president who wants to be the 46th, held drive-in rallies in Flint and Detroit, predominantly Black cities where strong turnout will be essential to swing the longtime Democratic state to Biden’s column after Trump won it in 2016.

Read More: Obama jabs at Trump: ‘He’s jealous of COVID’s media coverage’

“Three days until the most important election of our lifetime — and that includes mine, which was pretty important,” said Obama, urging Democrats to get to the polls.

The memories of Trump’s win in Michigan and the rest of the Upper Midwest are still searing in the minds of many Democrats during this closing stretch before Tuesday’s election. That leaves Biden in the position of holding a consistent lead in the national polls and an advantage in most battlegrounds, including Michigan, yet still facing anxiety it could all slip away.

As of Saturday, nearly 92 million voters had already cast ballots nationwide, according to a tally by The Associated Press. Tens of millions more will vote by the time polls close on Tuesday night.

The former president hammered on Trump’s continued focus on the size of his campaign crowds.

“Did no one come to his birthday party when he was a kid? Was he traumatized?” Obama said in a mocking tone. “The country’s going through a pandemic. That’s not what you’re supposed to be worrying about.”

Throughout the day, Trump and Biden, both septuagenarians, threw stinging barbs at one another that at moments verged into schoolyard taunt territory.

Speaking in Flint, Biden joked of Trump, “When you were in high school, wouldn’t you have liked to take a shot?” He also mocked the president as a “macho man.”

Trump, too, on Saturday suggested he could beat up Biden if given the chance and suggested the former vice president wears sunglasses to cover up “surgery on the eyes.”

“He’s not a big guy,” Trump said of Biden. “A slight slap, you wouldn’t have to close your fist.”

Later in Detroit, Biden ridiculed Trump for calling himself a “perfect specimen,” called him Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “puppy,” and joked about a New York Times report that showed Trump had spent $70,000 on hair care.

As Biden campaigned in Michigan, Trump made an aggressive play for pivotal Pennsylvania, focusing largely on his white, working-class base.

At an evening rally in Butler, Pennsylvania, Trump announced that he had issued a memorandum that calls on government agencies to determine fracking’s impact on the economy and trade and the costs of banning the oil and gas extraction through fracking.

Read More: Barack Obama joins LeBron James and Maverick Carter in ‘The Shop’

The president has repeatedly charged that Biden will end fracking — a big industry in Pennsylvania and other states — even as the former vice president has said that he does not support a ban on fracking.

“In other words, if one of these maniacs come along and they say we’re gonna end fracking, we’re gonna destroy the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Trump said in announcing his memorandum. “You can say, sorry about that.”

Earlier in the day in a small town in Bucks County on the eastern edge of the state, Trump raised baseless concerns about election fraud, pointing specifically at Philadelphia, a city whose large African American population is key to Biden’s fate in the state.

“They say you have to be very, very careful — what happens in Philadelphia,” Trump charged. “Everybody has to watch.”

Republicans are betting that Trump can win a second term by driving up turnout among his strongest supporters — white, noncollege-educated men and rural voters — while limiting Biden’s advantage with Blacks and Latinos. Democrats in several swing states worry that voters of color may not be excited enough about Biden to show up in the numbers they need.

Former President Barack Obama campaigns for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at Camping World Stadium Tuesday in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

In Michigan, Rep. Dan Kildee, a Democrat who represents the Flint area, said he had been pressing for a couple of months for Biden or Obama to visit the majority Black city where a water crisis that began in 2014 sickened the city’s residents, exposing stark racial inequities.

“Showing up matters,” Kildee said. “The message is important, no question about it. But there’s a message implicit in showing up, especially in Flint.”

Biden’s campaign announced it was sending Obama to Florida and Georgia on Monday. He is the campaign’s most valuable asset to help energize the nonwhite voters Democrats so badly need to defeat Trump. “Joe Biden is my brother. I love Joe Biden, and he will be a great president,” Obama said Saturday.

The press for Michigan’s Black voters comes after voting was down roughly 15% in Flint and Detroit four years ago — a combined 48,000-plus votes in a state Trump carried by about 10,700 votes. Overall, the Black voter turnout rate declined for the first time in 20 years in a presidential election, falling to 59.6% in 2016 after reaching a record-high 66.6% four years earlier, according to the Pew Research Center.

Trump isn’t ceding Michigan to Biden. He visited Waterford Township, near Detroit, on Friday and held a rally in the state capital, Lansing, this past week, though the surging coronavirus cases are clouding his presidency.

The worst week of the year, in terms of new infections, arrived with Election Day looming. More than 99,000 Americans reported new infections on Friday, a record high, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Trump told Pennsylvania voters that his administration has done “an incredible job” dealing with the pandemic. He promised that the mass distribution of a vaccine was “just weeks away.” He’s been saying that since August.

Biden has focused almost exclusively on Trump’s inability to control the pandemic. “We’re gonna beat this virus and get it under control and the first step to doing that is beating Donald Trump,” Biden said.

With the campaign down to the final days, Trump’s closing sprint includes, in addition to the four stops in Pennsylvania, nearly a dozen events in the final 48 hours across states he carried in 2016.

Biden will close out his campaign on Monday in Pennsylvania, the state where he was born and the one he’s visited more than any other. The Biden team announced that the candidate, his wife, Jill, running mate Kamala Harris, and the senator’s husband, Doug Emhoff, plan to “fan out across all four corners of the state.”

Associated Press writers David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan, and Aamer Madhani in Washington contributed to this report.

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Maxine Waters on Black Trump voters: ‘I will never forgive them’

Waters criticized Trump for the division he has caused in the country

Congresswoman Maxine Waters has a stern message for Black voters who are contemplating voting for President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

“Any of them showing their face, I will never ever forgive them for undermining the possibility to help their own people and their own communities. It is absolutely unconscionable.”

Committee chairwoman Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) arrives for a House Financial Services Committee hearing regarding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill July 30, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

During an interview with SiriusXM host Joe Madison, she expressed how it hurts her to see Black people contemplated voting for Donald Trump, according to the Chicago Crusader.

“I don’t know why they would be doing it. I don’t know what’s on their minds, but if we don’t turn out this vote and turn it out huge, this man could end up winning again. And this country would go backwards,” Waters said in the interview. 

Read More: Maxine Waters intervenes after Black man is pulled over by police

She goes on to criticize Trump on the division he has caused in this country and during the coronavirus global pandemic.

“The divisiveness that this deplorable human being has caused, the confrontation, the dog whistling to the right wing, the white supremacists, the KKK, and they’re coming alive. They’re emboldened because they’ve got a leader who wants them to do it. What did he say to the proud boys? Stand back and stand ready? Ready for what  – confrontation? Give me a break, Joe. I thank you. I know you’re on it, doing everything that you can. We’ve got to shout it from the rooftops – vote, vote, vote.”

She went on to give a biting criticism towards Black men and how supporting Trump will have consequences for the Black people in their lives.

“They will go down in history as having done the most despicable thing to their families and to their communities and to their mothers and their grandmothers. Because this man is about doing away with social security as we know it. And their grandmothers who are sitting there waiting on those social security checks every month or they couldn’t eat,” said Waters.

Read More: Hip-hop museum and ‘All In’ director get together to get out the vote

Listen to the full interview below:

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Tensions rise outside of Kamala Harris event in Fort Worth

Trump-Pence supporters were present at Harris’s event, causing discord

As the November 3 presidential election draws near, tensions continue to rise amongst Democrats and Republicans.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris arrived at a campaign stop in Fort Worth, Texas at First Saint John Catherdral on Friday. She was met with more than 100 Biden-Harris.

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen Kamala Harris (D-CA) walks by her campaign bus as she tours Morningside College on August 08, 2019 in Sioux City, Iowa. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A small group of Trump-Pence supporters were also present, causing discord, according to the Star Telegram.

“This is not who we are. We are really at our core together,” says pastor Kevin Haliburton, a volunteer who was a few miles away from the tense political encounter.

The Shorthorn reported that tensions also rose between the two sides when a Biden-Harris campaign bus visited the Miller Avenue Government Center in Fort Worth on Wednesday. During that visit, Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Charles encouraged supporters not to be intimidated, saying, “This is our time. We are gonna take care of our business, and when we take care of our business there will be a new occupant of the people’s White House.”

Read More: GOP official backtracks on resignation after sharing derogatory images of Harris

Two miles away at an event outside of Mt. Rose Baptist Church, Vint Hargrave, a community organizer said it was important to focus on serving their community even in the midst of the division.

“Our big message is to love our neighbor and then all the noise that’s going on all around us. We just kind of tune that noise out and we get here and we all start serving in love,” Hargrave said.

Earlier today, the Biden-Harris campaign was forced to cancel events out of concern for Harris’ safety after Trump supporters surrounded their campaign bus on a highway as it travelled in Texas.

According to Newsweek, people on social media were sharing videos of vehicles following the campaign bus.

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Over 100,000 votes may be invalidated according to a Texas Court

Republicans claim that Harris Country Clerk Chris Hollins illegally offered curbside voting

The Texas Supreme Court, Harris County officials, and voting advocates are in a battle over the validity of drive-thru votes that were cast during the 2020 Presidential election.

A poll worker talks to people during curbside voting on April 7, 2020 in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. (Photo by Andy Manis/Getty Images)

According to the Austin American-Statesman, the courts drew serious attention on Friday after directing Harris County to respond to a petition that was created to “invalidate more than 117,000 votes cast in drive-thru lanes.”

Read More: Texas early voting exceeds total of all 2016 ballots

The court’s interest in pursuing this came as an “unwelcome surprise to voting advocates and Harris County officials who were banking on a quick dismissal of the petition,” according to the Austin-based publication.

The new petition was filed last Tuesday by state Rep. Steve Toth, GOP activist Steven Hotze and two Republican candidates in Harris County.

A week prior, the same court dismissed two petitions seeking to block 10 drive-thru voting stations that were available in a Democratic section of Harris County.

In that petition, the Republication Party accused Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins of using the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to “illegally offer curbside voting to every voter in the state’s most populous community,” according to the Oct. 22 Statesman article.

Harris County’s population is about 40% Hispanic and nearly 20% African American, according to a Harris County Community Profile.

Many now fear that the court may easily be able to toss out “tens of thousands of ballots” after they gave Harris County a tight deadline of 4 p.m. on Friday to file a legal brief in response to the petition.

Read More: Kamala Harris encourages Black Americans to vote, support HBCUs at 2020 BET Hip Hop Awards

“It takes only one justice on the nine-member court to request a response to a petition, and there is no way of knowing how many justices were interested in Harris County’s response because the court does not disclose that information,” according to the Statesman.

Austin lawyer C. Robert Heath argued in a memo prepared for Harris County that the state laws are to be in favor of protecting the right to vote and that drive-thru voting isn’t illegal.

“If a court or other authority were to decide to invalidate those votes, it would require ignoring or overruling more than a century of Texas law,” Heath said.

According to the Huffington Post, the case is expected to go before conservative Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. District Court on Monday morning.

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Georgia lawmakers push for jail reform after Reuters investigation

Reuters found 272 inmate deaths among 13 large Georgia jails that spanned more than a decade

After a Reuters investigation identified hundreds of deaths in the state’s county jails and dangerous lapses in inmate medical care, Georgia lawmakers are pressing for stronger jail oversight.

While examining deaths at more than 500 jails nationwide, Reuters found 272 inmate deaths among 13 large Georgia jails that spanned more than a decade. Approximately 50% of the deaths were caused by a medical condition or illness, and roughly 25% were due to suicide.

Read More: Blacks more likely to remain jailed in Philly until trial, study

The Reuters’ investigation, titled, “Dying Inside,” exposed healthcare lapses at the jail in Savannah. Another report explored the 2017 death of Chinedu Efoagui, who died at the Cobb County Adult Detention Center after being detained or 512 days without ever being tried on the charges for which he was held.

David Wilkerson, a Georgia state lawmaker who had been planning new jail legislation for the upcoming January session said he intends to cite Reuters’ findings in his proposed reforms.

A Cobb County Democrat, Wilkerson said his proposal will focus on improving mental healthcare in jails, as well as the disclosure and investigation of in-custody deaths.

“It’s impossible for jails to investigate themselves. At the end of the day you’re asking someone who did something wrong to look at themselves,” said Wilkerson. “The public trust is not there.”

In addition to Wilkerson, other state legislators say the series of jail deaths, particularly involving inmates who had not been convicted of their charges, shows the need for enhanced oversight.

Read More: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms signs legislation to close jail

“It is a tragedy. It is malpractice on the part of the state of Georgia, and on the counties,” said Mary Margaret Oliver, a Georgia Democratic lawmaker and former magistrate court judge. She cited substandard mental health care in jails as an issue that must be tackled when lawmakers convene in January.

“Jails are significantly the largest mental health facility in the state,” Oliver said. “And we are not attending to the combination of mental illness, addiction, and significant physical health issues.”

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Meet The Men Behind This Premier Champagne and Cognac Brand

Outside of Jay-Z’s ownership in Armand de Brignac brand champagne and NBA legend Isiah Thomas’s Cheurlin brand, there is little diversity within brand ownership in the premier wine category of champagne. Despite the challenges, that didn’t stop these two Black male entrepreneurs from creating a champagne and cognac brand that emulates a life of luxury, even garnering a celebrity following.

Patrick Ductant and William Benson are the founders of Billionaire’s Row, a champagne and cognac brand officially recognized by the French government. The two men noticed the lack of diversity within the field and wanted to create a luxury brand that can stand against their competitors.

“We noticed how much money was being spent within our community but we also noticed that none of that money was going back into our community. We are looking to create economic scholarship funds for other businesses that are looking to disrupt the industry like us,” said Ductant and Benson to BLACK ENTERPRISE via email.

“Billionaire’s Row is one of the very few Black-owned champagne brands to be recognized by both the federal government in France and the United States. With us being pioneers in this, we would love to spearhead a movement for people of color to not only dominate the beverage industry but any industry where there is a void when it comes to us.”

Their advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to use their time in quarantine amid the COVID-19 pandemic to create things they are passionate about to ease their stress. “One beautiful thing about quarantine is that it gave us all a chance to be still, unplug, and clear our minds,” they say. “Many people found this time to think about career goals, creative plans, or even create businesses.”

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Neck-Deep in Stress? Try This Heated Massager

TruMedic’s latest massager contains two sets of rotating balls that simulate the kneading motion of human hands.

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The Wisconsin GOP Lost $2.3 Million in an Email Scam

Trump's website gets hacked, a ransomware group calls it quits, and more of the week's top security news.

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Black Lawyer Starts Law Firm With Her Best Friend and Sister

Esteemed African-American Attorney, Shymane Robinson, has launched True Lawyer – a real estate and trademark law firm that helps transform Black communities by helping investors accumulate, protect, and transfer wealth. She started the law firm with both her best friend and sister… proving that women can successfully collaborate in business!

Shymane says that she decided to start her own law practice after her professor advised her she would have to choose between being a great lawyer or mother. “There was no way I could be force to choose between my career or being a great mother,” she comments. “It was at that moment that I knew big law was not for her and that ownership matter.”

With three years under her belt as the leader of True Lawyer law firm, Shymane has grown a widely successful national law firm that focuses on transforming communities by helping investors. She defines investors as anyone who spends money with the expectation of achieving a profit or future advantage.

In honor of Women’s Small Business month, her firm has made the official announcement to give away four free federal trademark applications; a value of over $1,000 each to help women-owned businesses protect their brand. One winner will be announced every Friday starting October 9, 2020.

Please follow the brand on Instagram @TrueLawyer_ to receive more information about this giveaway.

About True Lawyer
Founded by Shymane Robinson, True Lawyer is a Chicago-based real estate and trademark law firm serving clients nationwide. True Lawyer help transform the communities by helping investors accumulate, protect, and transfer wealth. In an age where Black wealth is reported to be $0 by 2053, True Lawyer has established it self as the go-to outlet for affordable flat rate legal services ensuring everyone has access to legal representation when acquiring real estate, starting a business, protecting their business, or transferring wealth.

Accumulating, Protecting, and Transferring wealth is the keystone to shorten the wealth gap in the black community. True Lawyer is one of few law firms that offer flat rate services and make legal representation accessible to clients who do not have deep pockets or qualify for pro bono services. Learn more at

About Shymane Robinson
Shymane Robinson was raised in Chicago, IL. She is an accomplished attorney and real estate investor, and is passionate about helping clients create wealth through real estate and trademark law as it’s the keystone to building wealth. As a real estate investor and small business owner, she understands the importance of purchasing real estate or starting a business as the first step to establishing wealth.

This article was originally published by

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Is It Better to Plant Trees or Let Forests Regrow Naturally?

Nations are pledging to plant billions of trees. But a new study shows that we've underestimated the power of natural forest regrowth to fight climate change.

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17 Tips to Help You Survive Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout

This battle royale is insane. Here are some basics and tricks to outlast your 59 opponents and be the last bean standing.

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Tanzania elections: Main opposition parties demand fresh vote

Opposition calls for mass protests after denouncing last week's presidential election as fraudulent.

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As Cars Get Smarter, Massachusetts Votes on Their Future

Question 1 would amend the state's right-to-repair law and expand access to car data. But big automakers are pushing back.

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A Guide to Safely Holiday Road-Tripping Through a Pandemic

Any necessary travel this year takes an extra level of preparation. Here’s how to think it through.

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A Ton of Our Favorite Headphones Are on Sale This Weekend

From the exceptional Sony WH-1000XM4 to the attractive Master & Dynamic MW65, there are discounts on cans for all your needs right now.

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US Elections: Athletes of African heritage are hoping to inspire their fans to vote

Athletes of African heritage based in the United States, are hoping to inspire their fans to vote in the US elections.

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Netflix on YouTube

The Witcher | Geralt’s Monster Mash | Netflix
The White Wolf takes Halloween as a personal challenge. But keep your eyes peeled for a few sweet treats... you won't want to miss what's hidden. Watch The Witcher, only on Netflix: SUBSCRIBE: About Netflix: Netflix is the world's leading streaming entertainment service with over 195 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of genres and languages. Members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on any internet-connected screen. Members can play, pause and resume watching, all without commercials or commitments. The Witcher | Geralt’s Monster Mash | Netflix Geralt of Rivia, a mutated monster-hunter for hire, journeys toward his destiny in a turbulent world where people often prove more wicked than beasts.

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Friday, October 30, 2020

Philadelphia boutique owner speaks out after store looted during protests

‘We are now in danger of losing everything we worked so hard for.’

A Philadelphia businesswoman says it took looters about a minute to snatch up everything inside her boutique Tuesday during the city’s unrest over the police killing of 27-year-old Walter Wallace Jr..

Jameelah Scurry’s La’Vanter Boutique was reportedly among the nearly 200 small businesses targeted by vandals. The destruction occurred just as her company celebrated its two-year anniversary in the community. 

“We were also celebrating that and our two-year mark in business,” Scurry shared with local reporters, per

Read More: Black toddler taken, mother beaten by police during Philadelphia protests

The Pierce College graduate quit her job, sold her home, maxed out her credit cards and invested her entire savings into her boutique. She even survived the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. This latest setback could force her to close the doors to La’Vanter for good. 

“Me graduating from Peirce, that was a long journey too,” Scurry said. “I was actually very proud of myself, graduating in a pandemic. It was extremely hard with all of the George Floyd riots and all of that going on.”

Community members are supporting Scurry with her rebuilding efforts via a campaign on GoFundMe.

“I quit my job and decided to invest in my dreams and community. I emptied my savings and checking account. Maxed out credit cards and sold my house to open my business,” the campaign page states.  

Scurry’s boutique was previously burglarized in August, “which set us back Significantly,” she noted on the campaign page. “On 10-27-20 we were again burglarized and cleaned out. We are now in danger of losing everything we worked so hard for.”

Read More: Couple gets engaged during Philadelphia protests for Walter Wallace Jr.

The campaign has raised over $35,000 at the time of this post, surpassing its original goal of $15,000.

“It’s been a real blessing,” said Scurry. “I appreciate everybody that reached out to even give us encouraging words and that are praying for us.”

Scurry is hopeful La’Vanter can bounce back from this massive financial loss. 

“We as Black people, really need to reunite and come together,” she said. “Destroying and tearing down our own people is not the answer.”

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Ivory Coast elections: Voters go to the polls amid opposition boycott

President Alassane Ouattara is running for a third term which his opponents say is illegal.

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Spike Lee calls Jared Kushner ‘punka–‘ for comments on Black people

The acclaimed director has made clear that he is ‘so tired of white folks telling us what we need to do.’

Spike Lee has clapped back at Jared Kushner for his comments on the success of Black Americans. 

The filmmaker joined SiriusXM’s “The Joe Madison Show” on Friday and called Kushner a “punk a**” for saying Black people must not “want to be successful.”

Lee made clear that he is “so tired of white folks telling us what we need to do.”

Read More: Jared Kushner implies Black people don’t want to be successful as he defends Trump

“How could this guy, how could this punk-a** say what Black folks need to do? You know, it’s like there wasn’t 400 years of slavery, systematic racism, go on, list, list list list…this guy to say to Black people, that we don’t wanna succeed? Hey, let him come to Brooklyn talking that. Let him come to Harlem talking that mess,” said the Oscar-winning acclaimed director. 

Trump’s son-in-law caught major heat earlier this week after an appearance on Fox News where he made a controversial statement about the Black community.

“The thing we’ve seen in the Black community, which is mostly Democratic,” said Kushner, “is that President Trump’s policies are the policies that can help people break out of the problems that they’re complaining about, but he can’t want them to be successful more than they want to be successful.”

Read More: Barack Obama slams Jared Kushner’s comments on Black success: ‘Who are these people?’

Spike Lee at Samuel Goldwyn Theater on August 8, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California.

Lee responded to his remarks on “The Joe Madison Show,” calling Kushner a “punk” and implying that the Trump administration is trying to “take our eyes off the prize.”

“First of all, that guy’s a punk. Second of all, our ancestors with — here’s how America was built, the United States of America was built by the stealing of the land from the Native Americans and the genocide Americans coupled with slavery,” Lee continued. “So we built this country! So what the hell is he talking about? We don’t want to succeed!? He’s nuts!”

Lee also reacted to Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) saying she doesn’t believe systemic racism is a problem in Maine

“Are we seeing another epidemic of crack? Did crack come back, or did I miss it? Because these people, these folks are smoking crack..didn’t they hear crack is whack, but they want to bring it back,” said Lee. 

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