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Showing posts with label theGrio. Show all posts
Showing posts with label theGrio. Show all posts

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Trump supporter arrested after requesting absentee ballot for dead mother

Robert R. Lynn has been charged with felony counts of forgery and interference with an election

A Pennsylvania man has been arrested after allegedly forging the signature of his dead mother on an application for an absentee ballot. 

Robert R. Lynn, 67, of Luzerne County has been charged with felony counts of forgery and interference with an election, The Huffington Post reports. 

Lynn, a Republican and Trump supporter, is accused of requesting an absentee ballot for his mother Marie P. Hannigan, who died in 2015. The application noted Hannigan’s reason for the request as “visiting great-grandkids Oct. 24-Nov. 10,” the complaint states, according to the report

Read More: Charlamagne Tha God credits Trump with ‘actually talking to young Black male voters’

The application was also flagged because the signature reportedly did not match the one on file for Hannigan in the database of voter information. Election officials notified county detectives of the suspicious application.

When questioned by investigators, Lynn initially tried to blame a relative before later confessing to his misdeeds.

This is the first case of alleged voter fraud in the county in three decades. 

“There’s always going to be people out there who are trying to take advantage of the system or cheat the system, but most importantly, there’s people on the other side making sure that doesn’t happen,” Luzerne County Manager David Pedri said.

“I hope that this case really proves as an example to any individual who’s thinking that they can do anything with regards to this election. People are watching these things,” Pedri added.

Read More: Obama says he paid more in taxes than Trump working at Baskin Robbins

Lynn has been released on $10,000 unsecured bail. If found guilty, he could face up to 10 years in prison.

Meanwhile, Trump has repeatedly criticized mail-in voting, claiming it’s a “scam” and a “fraud.”

“They’re sending out tens of millions of ballots to everybody, people that didn’t expect them. People are getting inundated with ballots, they’ll be showered with ballots,” Trump said during a press conference last month. 

“Everybody in this room knows it’s a scam,” the president continued, referring to the White House reporters. “They are never going to be able to count them.”

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Trump, Biden go after each other on coronavirus, taxes and race

Whether because of that button or the terrible reviews — especially for Trump — the two interrupted each other far less frequently

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden scrapped over how to tame the raging coronavirus in Thursday’s final 2020 debate, largely shelving the rancor that overshadowed their previous face-off in favor of a more substantive exchange that highlighted their vastly different approaches to solving the major domestic and foreign policy challenges facing the nation.

With less than two weeks until the election, Trump sought to portray himself as the same outsider he first pitched to voters four years ago, repeatedly saying he wasn’t a politician. Biden, meanwhile, argued that Trump was an incompetent leader of a country facing multiple crises and tried to connect what he saw as the president’s failures to the everyday lives of Americans

The night in Nashville began with a battle over the president’s handling of the pandemic, which has killed more than 225,000 Americans and cost millions of jobs. Trump declared that the virus will go away while Biden warned that the nation was heading toward “a dark winter.” Polling suggests it is the campaign’s defining issue for voters, and Biden declared, “Anyone responsible for that many deaths should not remain president of the United States of America.”

Read More: SNL spoofs Pence-Harris VP debate in cold open

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden answers a question as President Donald Trump listens during the second and final presidential debate at Belmont University on October 22, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. This is the last debate between the two candidates before the election on November 3. (Photo by Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Images)

Trump defended his management of the nation’s most deadly health crisis in a century, dismissing Biden’s warning that the nation had a dire stretch ahead due to spikes in infections. And he promised that a vaccine would be ready in weeks.

“It will go away,” said Trump, staying with his optimistic assessment of the pandemic. “We’re rounding the turn. We’re rounding the corner. It’s going away.”

“We can’t keep this country closed. This is a massive country with a massive economy,” Trump said. “There’s depression, alcohol, drugs at a level nobody’s ever seen before. The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself.”

Biden vowed that his administration would defer to the scientists and said that Trump’s divisive approach hindered the nation’s response.

“I don’t look at this in the way he does–blue states and red states,” Biden said. “They’re all the United States. And look at all the states that are having a spike in he coronavirus–they’re the red states.”

Read More: Biden-Harris campaign releases ‘Agenda for African Diaspora’

With Trump trailing and needing to change the campaign’s trajectory, the debate could prove pivotal though more than 47 million votes already have been cast and there are fewer undecided voters than at this point in previous election years. Their first debate was defined by angry interruptions but Thursday night featured a milder tone until near the end when Trump resumed his tactic of loudly butting in.

The two broke sharply on foreign policy, immigration and racial justice.

Biden called out Trump’s previous refusals to condemn white supremacists and his attacks on the Black Lives Matter movement, declaring that the president “pours fuel on every single racist fire.”

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participates in the final presidential debate against U.S. President Donald Trump at Belmont University on October 22, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. This is the last debate between the two candidates before the election on November 3. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

“You know who I am. You know who he is. You know his character. You know my character,” Biden said. The rivals’ reputations for “honor and for telling to truth” are clear, he said. “I am anxious to have this race.”

Trump countered by pointing out his efforts on criminal justice reform, blasting Biden’s support of a 1990s Crime Bill that many feel disproportionately incarcerated Black men. Staring into the crowd, he declared himself “the least racist person in this room.”

Turning to foreign policy, Biden accused Trump of dealing with a “thug” while holding summits with the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un. And closer to home, the former vice president laced into the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents trying to illegally cross the southern border.

Biden said that America has learned from a New York Times report that Trump only paid $750 a year in federal taxes while holding “a secret bank account” in China. The former vice president then noted he’s released all of his tax returns going back 22 years and challenged the president to release his returns, saying, “What are you hiding?”

Trump said he closed his former account in China and claimed his accountants told him he “prepaid tens of millions of dollars” in taxes. However, as he has for the past four years, after promising to release his taxes, he declined to say when he might do so.

U.S. President Donald Trump participates in the final presidential debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at Belmont University on October 22, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. This is the last debate between the two candidates before the election on November 3. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

In a visual reminder of the pandemic that has rewritten the norms of American society and fundamentally changed the campaign, sheets of plexiglass had been installed onstage Wednesday between the two men. But in the hours before the debate, they were removed.

The debate, moderated by NBC’s Kristen Welker, was a final chance for each man to make his case to a television audience of tens of millions of voters. And questions swirled beforehand as to how Trump, whose hectoring performance at the first debate was viewed by aides as a mistake that turned off viewers, would perform amid a stretch of the campaign in which he has taken angry aim at the news media and unleashed deeply personal attacks on Biden and his adult son.

Read More: 5 things to know about presidential debate moderator Kristen Welker including what Trump had to say about her

When he feels cornered, Trump has often lashed out, going as negative as possible. In one stunning moment during the 2016 campaign, in an effort to deflect from the release of the Access Hollywood tape in which he is heard boasting about groping women, Trump held a press conference just before a debate with Hillary Clinton during which he appeared with women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault. He then invited them to watch as audience members.

In a similar move, Trump’s campaign held another surprise pre-debate news conference, this time featuring Tony Bobulinski, a man who said he was Hunter Biden’s former business partner and made unproven allegations that the vice president’s son consulted with his father on China-related business dealings.

Biden declared the discussion about family entanglements “malarkey” and accused Trump of not wanting to talk about the substantive issues.

Turning to the camera and the millions watching at home, he said, “It’s not about his family and my family. It’s about your family, and your family is hurting badly.”

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Odell Beckham Jr. doesn’t think he can get COVID-19: ‘It’s mutual respect’

The NFL star previously said the 2020 season should be put on hold amid the pandemic

NFL star Odell Beckham Jr. claims he’s immune to COVID-19 because there is a “mutual respect” between himself and the coronavirus.

“Not in an arrogant way,” the Cleveland Browns wide receiver said to reporters this week when asked about the contagion, per CBS Sports. “I don’t think COVID can get to me. I don’t think it’s going to enter this body,” said Beckham.

“I don’t want no parts of it, it don’t want no parts of me,” he added. “It’s a mutual respect.”

Read More: Odell Beckham Jr. says it doesn’t make sense to have an NFL season

Beckham Jr. caught major heat on social media over his controversial comments, which come two months after he made clear that the NFL should not hold the 2020 season amid the pandemic. He shared his thoughts about the matter with the Wall Street Journal.

“We’re not ready for football season. So why are we trying to push forward? It’s obviously for their money. And that bothers me because there’s always been this—and I hate saying it like that—but the owners’ [attitude is], ‘Oh we own you guys,’ and just kind of that unfairness going on that they don’t see us as human,” he said. “I just feel like the season shouldn’t happen and I’m prepared for it to not happen and I wouldn’t mind not having it.”

Read More: FDA approves first COVID-19 drug: the antiviral remdesivir

He also noted the difference between playing football versus basketball in the age of COVID. 

“I can understand basketball was already in the playoffs. Five-on-five basketball in an arena is going to be more intense than regular-season games. Hooping is different than playing an eleven-on-eleven contact sport where there’s 80 people in a locker room,” Beckham said.

Meanwhile, due to coronavirus concerns, NFL players from over 20 teams reportedly opted out of the 2020 season.

The league recently announced eight players and eleven staffers have tested positive for the virus.

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Ex-Kappa Alpha Psi director charged with embezzling $3M

Curtis D. Anderson was fired in December 2018 after admitting to his fraudulent activities

A former executive of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity has been charged in federal court with embezzling $3 million from the organization — which he allegedly used to fuel his gambling habit.

theGRIO previously reported, Curtis D. Anderson was fired in December 2018 after admitting to his fraudulent activities. Anderson served as a finance director at the fraternity’s international headquarters in Philadelphia for 20 years before the initial allegations surfaced. 

Investigations from agencies including the FBI found that Anderson had been embezzling money for over a year. He cashed checks for almost $400,000 from the fraternity’s Santander bank account and at least $978,000 from the fraternity’s Wells Fargo account.

Read More: Kappa Alpha Psi member fired for embezzling more than $1 million

In 2018, Santander reported 87 checks were cashed from the fraternity’s accounts between March through October, totaling $189,539. The checks, made payable to Anderson and third parties, were cashed at various Pennsylvania branches.

Suspicions arose when Santander Bank contacted John Burrell, the fraternity’s executive director about “suspicious activity.”

Once Burrell received the notice, he and Thomas Battles, the fraternity’s national president visited the bank to address the issues. While there, Anderson walked through the bank’s door, unaware the two would be there. According to investigators, both Burrell and Battles questioned Anderson about the checks that were written out to him and he allegedly cashed.

Anderson admitted to his illegal activities, revealing that he had a gambling and drinking problem. He reportedly spent most of the funds at Harrah’s Casino.

Read More: Wife of Dr. Dre being investigated for embezzlement amid divorce battle

“Embezzlement is theft, that’s the bottom line,” said U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain in a statement. “Anderson held a senior position of trust with his employer, and allegedly used that access to steal the identities of his colleagues and millions of dollars. My office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect innocent organizations from being victimized by this type of fraud.”

Anderson was charged Wednesday on multiple counts including wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

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Trump administration knew about Iran, Russia hacking weeks ago

The Department of Homeland Security warned about the voter-intimidation operation earlier this month

Two U.S. intelligence officials claim the Trump administration has known for weeks that Russia and Iran obtained U.S. voter information in effort to influence the election.

National security adviser Robert O’Brien announced Thursday that both countries collected the data by hacking local governments. The Department of Homeland Security warned about the hacks in an Oct. 8 report, according to NBC News. The following day, Trump casually dropped the F-bomb while holding a virtual “mega, MAGA rally” with Rush Limbaugh, theGRIO previously reported. 

“If you f*ck around with us, if you do something bad to us, we are gonna do things to you that have never been done before,” Trump uttered on the airwaves.

The colorful comment was made in regard to the tense relations with Iran, following the Trump administration imposing sanctions on the country’s banking sector.

Read More: Trump’s documented lies and misleading statements average over 50 per day, database says

FBI Director Christopher Wray and National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe announced at a news conference Wednesday that Iranian intelligence used the hacked information to send threatening emails to Democratic voters, falsely purporting to be from the far-right group Proud Boys. The emails warned “we will come after you” if the recipients didn’t vote for Trump, per The Associated Press

“We will know which candidate you voted for. I would take this seriously if I were you,” the email added, according to Newsweek. The home address of the recipient was also posted at the bottom of the message.

“These actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries,” Ractliffe said about the voter-intimidation operation.

Read More: Trump official says armed men at Florida polling place not sent by campaign

The Proud Boys deny sending the emails, calling them a “false flag operation” against the group. 

Ratcliffe and Wray said the U.S. will impose costs on any foreign countries interfering in the 2020 U.S. election. Despite the Iranian and Russian actions, they said Americans can be confident that their vote will be counted.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California has requested a “fuller briefing” about Ratcliffe’s assertion that the hackers aim to benefit the Trump re-election campaign. 

“The Iranians using the Proud Boys as a false flag operation, that could cut both ways, either intimidating Democratic voters or enraging Democratic voters,” Schiff told Andrea Mitchell of NBC News on Thursday. “So I would like to see the intelligence behind the conclusion that the director expressed.”

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School apologizes after Indiana student listed as ‘Black Guy’ in yearbook

The school called the incident an “error.”

An Indiana high school has a lot of explaining to do.

Read More: Breonna Taylor lawyer, Lonita Baker, on why Black women must vote

Brown County High School is under fire for referring to a Black student in its yearbook photo as, ‘Black Guy,’ per WRTV. The school released a statement calling the situation, “a truly reprehensible error,” said superintendent Dr. Laura Hammack and high school principal Matthew Stark on Monday.

“We acknowledge that yearbook is the only class at this school where all assignments and homework are published for all to see, we strive for perfection and hope any errors are minor and inconsequential. This is not an inconsequential error.”

The school claims they are investigating the situation and working with the student’s family to rectify the situation.

“Our district has been working to advance equity and inclusion for all protected classes; however, an occasion like this evidences the need for expanded response,” the statement reads. “We are committed to ensuring that Brown County Schools provide a welcoming, safe, inclusive, and equitable school community. We remain relentless in our pursuit of the same,” per the statement.

Photos of the botched yearbook have been posted online where “Black Guy” can be read amongst a plethora of names of what looks like the boys basketball team.

Hammack took to Facebook Live to address the situation further on the Brown County Schools – superintendent page.

This news comes on the heels of a Maryland teacher finding a noose hanging from the ceiling in her classroom. According to the New York Daily News, a student-created the noose during a science class for a pulley system from rope assignment.

Read More: Landlord threatens to raise tenants’ rent if Biden elected

The student, whose information was not released, apparently also made a “an offhand comment,” to other students about the rope.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Morgan Stanley to cover tuition for 60 HBCU students

The bank has committed up to $12 million to fund the program

*Sixty students at three historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) will have their entire tuition paid by Morgan Stanley, the company announced Wednesday. 

The four-year academic and needs-based scholarships are part of its HBCU Scholars program, available to students at Howard University, Morehouse College and Spelman College. The scholarships will be open to students in all disciplines and majors, The Hill reports. The bank has committed up to $12 million to fund the program. 

“To close the racial wealth gap, we know that Black academic and economic advancement is essential. Racial inequity around access to and affordability of higher education can impact Black students ability to grow generational wealth,” Susan Reid, Morgan Stanley’s Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion, said in a statement Wednesday. 

Read More: HBCU students keeping COVID-19 count low at their schools

“Historically Black Colleges and Universities continue to lead the way in leveling the playing field while creating an environment for students of color to thrive. We are proud to support them and their students and we look forward to this deeper journey with Spelman, Morehouse and Howard,” the statement continued.

Morgan Stanley will pay the tuition over the next four years. 

“Over the next four years, 20 @SpelmanCollege students will receive full scholarships, as well as career readiness support thanks to the generosity of @MorganStanley. We appreciate their commitment to reducing financial barriers for our students,” wrote Spelman president Mary S. Campbell on Twitter.

Read More: Travis Scott to pay tuition for 5 HBCU students

Morehouse also announced in a tweet, “Morehouse will share in a $12M gift donated by @MorganStanley to establish the new Morgan Stanley HBCU Scholars program, an initiative that will provide full scholarships to 60 students at three participating institutions.”

According to the press release, the Morgan Stanley HBCU Scholars program provides:

  • Financial Support
    • For the next four years, Morgan Stanley will provide academic and needs-based four-year scholarships (“Morgan Stanley HBCU Scholars Program”) at each institution. The scholarships will cover the entire cost of attending the institution for each academic year and will be open to students across all disciplines and majors.
    • The first year class size is 15 scholars; a new class of scholars will be added each year for a class size of 60 by the fourth year.
    • Morgan Stanley will be spending up to $12 million to support this program.
  • Career Readiness
    • The “HBCU Career Preparedness Program” will be offered to Morgan Stanley HBCU Scholars with virtual and on-site (post COVID-19) components to complement their on-campus curriculum

“This program reflects our intention to invest in communities of color and support the career aspirations of black students, consistent with one of our core values, Commit to Diversity and Inclusion,” said James Gorman, Chairman and CEO, Morgan Stanley. “We look forward to partnering closely with HBCU faculty and students to support rising talent in an effective and meaningful way.”

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Georgia man told to remove BLM shirt before voting

‘This is a pattern that we need to be mindful of at a moment.’

A man wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt at a polling facility in Forsyth County, Georgia on Monday was told he had to take off his shirt before casting his ballot.

Zack Arias, 47, said he was thinking of the county’s history of racism and disenfranchisement when he decided to make a social statement at the polls.   

“I’m fairly liberal, living in a very red county. So I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to wear my Black Lives Matter shirt and go vote,’ ” Arias told The Washington Post on Tuesday. But when he arrived at the polls in Cummings, Ga., an election worker was not impressed with his activism and attempted to shut him down. That’s when Arias started filming their exchange. 

Read More: Latino voters pitted against BLM in false Spanish media

Arias refused to back down when the poll worker told him the shirt was not allowed. An election manager had to be called to the scene to make sense of the matter. In the end, Arias was allowed to rock his BLM shirt while casting his ballot.

He filmed the exchange to confirm reports of poll workers targeting and harassing early voters who wear clothing with Black Lives Matter slogans.

“This is a pattern that we need to be mindful of at a moment that marks an unprecedented movement for racial justice — but it is a movement for justice and not political position,” Kristen Clarke, the president of the National Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told The Post.

The issue seems to stem from poll workers viewing Black Lives Matter as a political movement, connected to a candidate who appears on the November ballot. Engaging in activity that supports a particular candidate or political party is known as electioneering, which is prohibited at the polls, the report states.  

Read More: Absentee Ballot tracking service launched for Georgia voters

In this photo illustration a pencil lies on a U.S. presidential election mail-in ballot received by a U.S. citizen living abroad that shows current U.S. Republican President Donald Trump and his main contender, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, among the choices on September 21, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

“I’m against electioneering. I support the fact you can’t take pictures or video inside the election place — that’s fine,” Arias said. “What upsets me about this whole ordeal is that I was not breaking any rule or law or regulation, and yet I was still told I could not vote.”

He added, “If Black Lives Matter had been on the ballot, or if [Democratic presidential nominee Joe] Biden said, ‘“Black Lives Matter” is my new campaign slogan,’ I would have worn a different shirt that day. But voting is your time to say something.”

Karen Shields, a spokeswoman for Forsyth County, said the poll worker who stopped Arias was new this year, as is nearly 50 percent of the county’s poll workers, she said. 

“There’s a lot they have to learn. This particular part of the guidelines about apparel is part of the training,” she told The Post. “This individual unfortunately didn’t remember the specifics of all of them but then called over the location manager, which was the right thing to do.”

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Virginia Baptist church donates $1 million in surplus tithes

‘What I’ve learned is when you open up your hands to God, God can bless you.’

The historic Alfred Street Baptist Church, in Alexandria, Virginia, has donated over $1 million in surplus tithes to the community amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The generosity is part of an initiative called Tithe-the-Tithe, which aids the most vulnerable during the pandemic, Christian Post reports. 

“A few years ago we were blessed to be able to donate $1 Million to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. That’s why I’m so grateful to God that Alfred Street Baptist Church can continue to be a blessing to so many people in the community throughout our nation during this pandemic,” senior pastor Rev. Howard-John Wesley said in a statement.

Read More: Severed cable takes Virginia’s state websites offline day before voter registration ends

The 10,000-member Alfred Street Baptist Church is one of the oldest and large Black churches in the nation. 

“Clearly there was a lot of concern, dare I say even fear, some panic of what COVID would do. What would our numbers specifically, would our giving go down? People not being in the building and virtual space and online, would we be able to support ministry? Would we have to lay people off? Would we have to shut this down or stop that?,” Wesley explained in a video published on YouTube.

“In the very first two weeks of worship online, our giving was up almost 25-30%. I really felt the Lord saying, ‘Now what are you going to do with this surplus?’ That the surplus God gave was an opportunity not to build up bank reserves, not to build up our own accounts but we are demanded to give that away. And that’s when Tithe-the-Tithe came to my spirit,” Wesley said.

Church CFO Rev. Sedric Roberts was hesitant to get on board with tithing 10% of the church’s tithes back to the community. But as word spread about the initiative, people began to give more and Roberts had a change of heart. 

“What I’ve learned is when you open up your hands to God, God can bless you. He takes with an open hand and God gives into an open hand,” he said.

Read More: Virginia governor also targeted by group that wanted to kidnap Whitmer, FBI says

Organizations that have received donations from the church include: Hopkins House Preschool Academy, which received $27,000, Children’s National Hospital, received $50,000; Simon Elementary School received $130,000; Unity Health Care received $25,000; Polk Elementary School was given $10,000; D.C. Rape Crisis Center got $20,000; Bright Beginnings received $25,000; Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington received $4,000; and Union Baptist Church in Hartford, Connecticut, received $15,000, according to the report. 

“There are smaller churches that minister to people in real and relevant ways that don’t have resources [that ASBC has], and during this season of not being able to worship, some of them may struggle financially. So one of the things that we’re going to do is take some of that 10% and identify a church and/or an organization every week and just give a donation to them. And this is because we are not competitors, we are brothers and sisters in the same work and we want to support everyone with no strings attached,” Wesley said.

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Social Justice Now film festival debuts online: ‘Watch, reflect, take action’

Michael B. Jordan and Opal Tometi are the co-ambassadors for the online event

Gil Scott-Heron once said the revolution will not be televised but that was well before the technological advancements that made social media possible. The revolution has now inspired an entire film festival that kicks off its inaugural edition today.

Read More: Viola Davis calls Chadwick Boseman ‘my baby’ during virtual preview of ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’

The Social Justice Now festival begins with tonight’s drive-in screenings of “Just Mercy” and “Fruitvale Station” starring Michael B. Jordan, who is also a co-ambassador of the festival. Black Lives Matter co-founder Opal Tometi is the other co-ambassador. During its run through Oct. 25, features, short films and documentaries, panels and filmmaker talks will be available for free on-demand in the non-competitive festival.

“Through these films, we hope to advance the dialogue and help to reshape the narrative of racial and social justice in this country,” said festival founders Jeff and Nicole Friday in a statement. “The festival’s mission is to encourage people to embrace the fierce urgency of now – to watch, reflect, and take action.”

Jeff and Nicole Friday (ABFF)

The Fridays are also the founders of the American Black Film Festival that has gone on mostly in Miami, Florida for the past two decades. Given the coronavirus pandemic, the festival was held virtually this year.

Some of the films that will be showcased during the Social Justice Now festival’s run are The Obituary of Tunde Johnson, directed by “Everybody Love Chris” creator Ali LeRoi, that received rave reviews at the Toronto Film Festival in 2019, Riding with Sugar, SNCC, a documentary about the social justice organization told through the photos of Danny Lyon with John Lewis in his last interview, and Us Kids about the student activists created by the Parkland High School shooting.

Read More: Jay Ellis on producing psychological thriller ‘Black Box’ and bringing Black talent out of the shadows

Panels scheduled include an on-demand talk moderated by Soledad O’Brien with Sekou Kaalund, head of Chase consumer banking, northeast division, on how entrepreneurship can stimulate social activism, a conversation with Isabel Wilkerson and Nnamdi Asomugha with an appearance by Kerry Washington, as well as filmmaker talkbacks where creatives discuss how their films reflect a commitment to empowerment and advancement for all.

You can check out the festival via its official website HERE.

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

The former ABC showrunner says that she’s now in the position to brag about her accomplishments

Who knew Disneyland tickets could spark such a change?

Shonda Rhimes is doing things her way. The 50-year-old showrunner recently sat down with Hollywood Reporter and revealed Disneyland tickets are what prompted her move to Netflix from ABC after 15 years.

Read More: Viola Davis calls Chadwick Boseman ‘my baby’ during virtual preview of ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’

Rhimes remembers the day that changed the trajectory of her career. As part of her partnership with ABC, the Scandal creator was given complimentary Disneyland passes. As they aren’t interchangeable, on one occasion when she wasn’t joining her sister, daughters, and their nanny for a fun-filled day at the park, she couldn’t just let one of them borrow her pass. So Rhimes simply requested another.

As the creator of Grey’s Anatomy, the longest-running scripted show at the network, she didn’t expect asking for an additional pass would be too much trouble. But it was.

GLSEN Respect Awards – Los Angeles - Inside
Shonda Rhimes speaks onstage at the GLSEN Respect Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on October 19, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for GLSEN)

“We never do this,” said a few different representatives at the company before Rhimes was issued the additional pass. But when her family tried to use the pass at the park, something unexpected happened. The pass didn’t work.

Read More: Sunny Hostin on confronting discrimination at ABC: ‘I needed to take a stand’

When Rhimes reached out to an executive at Disney/ABC to fix the problem she says she was told, “Don’t you have enough?”

That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Rhimes wanted out of ABC. But she admits it was a struggle working with the company even before the Disneyland debacle.

“I felt like I was dying,” she said to the publication. “Like I’d been pushing the same ball up the same hill in the exact same way for a really long time.”

2015 Summer TCA Tour - Day 8
Actresses Viola Davis, Kerry Washington, executive producer Shonda Rhimes and actress Ellen Pompeo speak onstage during the ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ ‘Scandal,’ and ‘How To Get Away With Murder’ panel discussion at the ABC Entertainment portion of the 2015 Summer TCA Tour in 2015. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Rhimes is no longer pushing the ball up the hill. Now, as the highest-paid showrunner in television, she says she is now ready to “own her s–t,” which includes not being too embarrassed to brag on herself.

Per The Hollywood Reporter, in her speech at Elle‘s 2018 Women in Hollywood event, she said, “The other day I came to the conclusion that men brag and women hide. Even when they don’t deserve to brag, men brag. When men do deserve to brag, they’re good at it. I’m getting this award for inspiring other women, and how can I inspire anyone if I’m hiding? On behalf of women everywhere, I will brag. I am the highest-paid showrunner in television.”

Read More: Jay Ellis on producing psychological thriller ‘Black Box’ and bringing Black talent out of the shadows

Check out the full interview here.

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US reports over 60,590 COVID-19 cases in 1 day, 929 new deaths

Multiple health experts have expressed concern that the worst is yet to come.

COVID-19 cases are rising as the third wave of the coronavirus surges across the nation.

On Tuesday alone, 60,598 new cases were reported in the U.S. and 929 new deaths, according to PEOPLE. Over the past week, the average has been 60,160 new cases per day. The country was reporting a whopping 75,687 new cases daily in July.

There are currently 8,316,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States and at least 220,900 COVID-related deaths, according to The New York Times database. Multiple health experts have expressed concern that the worst is yet to come.

Read More: Woman in her 30s died from COVID-19 on airplane

“I think that the cases are going up because we’re not really seeing a coordinated response that respects this virus, but also keeps our economy and our populations moving forward,” said Yahoo medical contributor Dr. Dara Kass.

“Things are not looking pretty,” said Dr. Leo Nissola, an immunotherapy scientist at Parker Institute in San Francisco. “The most difficult phase of the epidemic is ahead of us.”

According to reports, new infections are increasing or remain elevated in 41 states, while no state is seeing a steady decline. New cases remain low in seven states: Delaware, Maryland, California, New York, Hawaii, Maine and Vermont.

States reporting high rates of new infections are Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

North Dakota has the most coronavirus cases per capita, with 1,000 new infections reported on Tuesday, The Times reports.

Read More: Cuomo may withhold COVID-19 vaccine from New York

“What’s happening in the Upper Midwest is just a harbinger of things to come in the rest of the country,” said infectious-diseases expert Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, also warned on Thursday of an increase in cases as we get closer to winter.

“The issue is that as we enter, as we are now, the cooler season of the fall, and ultimately the coldest season of the winter, you don’t want to be in that compromised position where your baseline daily infection is high, and you’re increasing as opposed to going in the other direction,” Fauci said on Good Morning America. “So we’ve really got to double down on the fundamental public health measures that we talk about every single day, because they can make a difference.”

Over in Europe, the World Health Organization (WHO) noted that COVID-19 cases grew by a million in 10 days, bringing the total number to 7 million reported infections.

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Pennsylvania billboard accuses Biden of dementia while misspelling the word

A sign accusing the former vice president of being mentally impaired instead provided some laughs

A billboard appeared in Pennsylvania claiming former Vice President Joe Biden has dementia. The producers of the billboard, however, forgot to spellcheck.

Read More: Barack Obama to hold his first in-person event for Joe Biden

The large ad, viewable from the road in Fayette County, furthered the allegations about Biden’s mental acuity spread by President Donald Trump. The Pennsylvania Capital Star reported the billboard reads “Biden’s dimensia is worsening, he is not fit.”

Senator Kamala Harris is depicted alongside Biden, both labeled with unflattering nicknames assigned by Trump and his supporters. Text across Harris’ forehead reads “Phony Kamala,” and on his, “Sleepy Joe.”

A Twitter user, @evan_ludy uploaded a photo of the billboard.

According to the local news outlet, the billboard is owned by Penneco Outdoor Advertising, a company based in Delmont, Pennsylvania. Ironically, its low online ratings include one about their spelling. The Pennsylvania Capital Star found the company has a history of right-wing billboards.

In 2018, Penneco erected a billboard that called women who accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault “Paid LIARS.”

The Kavanaugh ads were purchased by Citizens for American Energy, an organization based in Delmont, that shares the same address as Penneco Outdoor Advertising, according to the Capital Star.

The Trump campaign has used similar tactics to attack Biden. As theGrio reported the president’s team ran ads on Facebook that called his opponent the same derogatory nickname on the billboard. The ads also aged Biden’s appearance.

Read More: Biden calls for violence to end in Nigeria after SARS fires at protesters

Facebook has decided to suspend all political ads the day after the election, according to theGrio.

“We’ve known for a long time that the 2020 election in the US would be unlike any other. We’ve been preparing for this election with a unique set of products and policies,” Facebook said.

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Meghan Markle, Prince Harry launch new website for Archewell Organization

The former working royals have launched the charitable website that inspired their son’s name

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle took a short break from enjoying their seven-month-old son Archie to launch their new website.

The couple joined forces for their new site, Archewell.com, which launched on Tuesday for their Archewell organization, per Hello magazine.

Read More: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle set to make their podcast debut on World Mental Health Day

For now, the website is simply encouraging people to sign up for updates. The homepage reads, “Arche: Greek word meaning ‘source of action,’” and adds “Well: a plentiful source or supply; a place we go to dig deep.” 

The couple announced their new charity in April and say the name of the organization has a lot of meaning behind it. In a statement obtained by HuffPost they said:

Meghan Harry Archewell charity thegrio.com
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex sitting next to Ross Kemp cheer on a wedding proposal as they attend the annual Endeavour Fund Awards at Mansion House on March 5, 2020 in London, England. Their Royal Highnesses will celebrate the achievements of wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women who have taken part in remarkable sporting and adventure challenges over the last year. (Photo by Paul Edwards – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

“We connected to this concept for the charitable organization we hoped to build one day, and it became the inspiration for our son’s name,” they said. “To do something of meaning, to do something that matters. Archewell is a name that combines an ancient word for strength and action, and another that evokes the deep resources we each must draw upon.” 

And although the organization’s site is just up, Markle says they’ve have been working since January.

“Part of our focus with the Archewell Foundation is to just ensure that we are helping foster healthy positive communities ― online and off ― for our collective wellbeing,” the duchess said at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit last month per HuffPost.

She says the organization is  “Archewell in action.”

Read More: Meghan Markle says online bullying was ‘almost unsurvivable’

The launch of the website happened simultaneously with the couple‘s episode of TIME100 Talks. The Time Magazine-produced series talks with celebrities and experts on various topics. During their segment, the couple discussed the state of the digital experience.

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FBI says Iran and Russia have interfered in the 2020 election

The voter-intimidation operation used email addresses obtained from state voter registration lists, which include party affiliation and home addresses

BOSTON (AP) — Iran is responsible for emails meant to intimidate American voters and sow unrest in multiple states, and Tehran and Moscow have also obtained voter registration with the goal of interfering in the election, U.S. officials said at a rare news conference Wednesday night just two weeks before the vote.

John Ratcliffe, the intelligence director, and FBI Director Chris Wray said the U.S. will impose costs on any foreign countries interfering in the 2020 U.S. election. Despite the Iranian and Russian actions, they said Americans can be confident that their vote will be counted.

Read More: Facebook will suspend all political ads the day after Election Day

(Getty Images)

“These actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries,” Ractliffe said.

The news conference was held as Democratic voters in at least four battleground states, including Florida and Pennsylvania, have received threatening emails, falsely purporting to be from the far-right group Proud Boys, that warned “we will come after you” if the recipients didn’t vote for President Donald Trump.

The voter-intimidation operation apparently used email addresses obtained from state voter registration lists, which include party affiliation and home addresses and can include email addresses and phone numbers. Those addresses were then used in an apparently widespread targeted spamming operation. The senders claimed they would know which candidate the recipient was voting for in the Nov. 3 election, for which early voting is ongoing.

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Obama says he paid more in taxes than Trump working at Baskin Robbins

The former president took off the gloves in speech at drive-in rally for Biden campaign

Former President Barack Obama delivered a blistering rebuke against his predecessor President Donald Trump on Wednesday evening during his return to the campaign trail.

During a drive-in rally in Philadelphia, Obama made the case why Americans should vote to elect his former vice president, Joe Biden, as the nation’s next president.

Obama made his most direct and piercing statements to date about Trump in a rare gloves-off stump speech in Pennsylvania, where Biden currently holds a lead in polls over Trump.

America’s first Black president called out Trump over his possible shady business dealings, not paying his taxes and his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More: Dr. Fauci says his inclusion in Trump COVID-19 ad was misleading

Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a drive-in rally for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on October 21, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Mr. Obama expressed gripe with the president for being “incapable of taking the job seriously” and his inability of “helping anybody but himself and his friends.” He also slammed Trump’s claim that there was “not much” he could’ve done differently to address COVID-19, which has killed more than 220,000 Americans to date.

“Really?” Obama asked. “Not much? Nothing you can think of that could have helped some people keep their loved ones alive?”

Obama lambasted the president over a recent report that he had a secret bank account in China. “Listen, can you imagine if I had had a secret Chinese bank account when I was running for reelection?” Obama said, according to CNN. “You think Fox News might have been a little concerned about that? They would have called me Beijing Barry.”

The former president also hit Trump with a familiar criticism aimed at him by Democrats and foes alike: his taxes.

“Of the taxes Donald Trump pays, he may be sending more to foreign governments than he pays in the United States. His first year in the White House he only paid $750 in federal income taxes,” Obama said.

“My first job was at a Baskin Robbins when I was 15 years old. I think I might’ve paid more taxes working that year — dispensing ice cream. How is that possible? How many people here paid less than that?”

Obama instead offered American voters what he believed to be a better option on Election Day: Joe Biden and Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris.

“It just won’t be so exhausting,” Obama said of a potential Biden administration. Voters, he added, are “not going to have to think about the crazy things … and that is worth a lot.”Obama has historically shown restraint when it comes to public statements about Trump, who infamously harassed the country’s first African American president with a racist conspiracy theory that he was not born in the United States. Trump has gone on to use the presidential podium to accuse his predecessor of spying on his 2016 campaign, describing it as “treason.”

Over the past four years since Trump was elected, Obama has gradually turned up the temperature with his rhetoric about Trump. While insiders have claimed he preferred to adhere to presidential tradition of not attacking his predecessor, Trump’s presidency has created a call to action of sorts.

David Axelrod, Obama’s longtime adviser, described it to CNN as such: “Former presidents tend not to delve too deeply into politics and certainly not the politics of their successors. I think that was his plan, but Trump changed that plan.”

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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Boy, 15, executive produced Robert De Niro’s latest film

The comedy was number one at the box office on its opening weekend, bringing in $3.6 million.

One of the producers behind Robert De Niro’s latest film The War with Grandpa is a 15-year-old boy who pitched the project to the veteran actor after reading the classic young-adult novel of the same name. 

Tre Peart was in the third grade when he was assigned to read “The War With Grandpa” by Robert Kimmel Smith, first published in 1984. The story centers on a kid named Peter whose grandfather moves in with his family and takes over his grandson’s room. Peter responds by waging a war of pranks to get his room back, PEOPLE reports.

Read More: Robert De Niro opens about raising biracial children: ‘I take certain things for granted’

Tre Peart, Robert De Niro, and producers of ‘War with Grandpa’ (Twitter)

Peart says he loved the book so much that he asked his parents to see the movie version and learned there wasn’t one.

“I realized my parents made movies,” Tre told The Times of Israel. “They were in the movie business. I asked, ‘Mom, can you make this into a movie?’”

The rest, as they say, is history.

The resulting feature film is executive produced by Marvin, Rosa and Tre Peart.

De Niro stars alongside a supporting cast that includes Uma Thurman, Christopher Walken, Jane Seymour and Cheech Marin. The comedy was number one at the box office on its opening weekend, bringing in $3.6 million.

Read More: Robert De Niro goes in on Trump in profanity-laced speech at Tony Awards

As in the book, in the movie, grandpa comes to live with his grandson’s family after the death of his wife.

“Grandpa was mourning his [wife], mourning his change of life, he did not want to let go of the fact he’s aging,” Rosa Peart said. “It’s the transition of life, and [De Niro] really captured that.”

Marvin Peart also recalled, “There were pranks [in the book] about Monopoly pieces,” he said. “Board games don’t happen anymore. We added a lot of technology to the movie … Grandpa has trouble keeping up with technology he doesn’t understand, like an iPhone or iPad, and drones.”

A sequel to the book is reportedly in the works titled “The War with Grandma.”

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Senate will vote Monday on Amy Coney Barrett court confirmation

‘Republicans are working urgently to turn back the clock.’     

The Senate has scheduled October 26 to vote on the confirmation of President Trump’s nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, to the Supreme Court.

“With regard to the Supreme Court justice … we’ll be voting to confirm justice-to-be Barrett next Monday,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said during a weekly press conference, The Hill reports. 

“I think that will be another signature accomplishment in our effort to put on the courts, the federal courts, men and women that believe in the quaint notion that maybe the job of a judge is to actually follow the law,” McConnell added.

Read More: Senate Democrats highlight Black maternal health care stories amid confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett

Barrett, a federal appellate judge and Notre Dame law professor, is a devout Catholic and has hard conservative leanings, theGRIO previously reported.

The mother of seven was once a law clerk for the late Justice Antonin Scalia who was a conservative bedrock on the High Court. Trump previously chose Barrett to serve on the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Amy Coney Barrett meets Donald Trump’s two main litmus tests: She has made clear she would invalidate the A.C.A. and take health care away from millions of people and undermine a woman’s reproductive freedom,” said Nan Aron, the president of Alliance for Justice, to The New York Times.

Read More: Amy Coney Barrett says she and Haitian-born daughter ‘wept together’ after Floyd death

Senate Democrats have warned that Barrett will take women back to the 1960s, by limiting their reproductive freedom. 

“Republicans are working urgently to turn back the clock,” said Michigan Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow.    

An earlier report on theGRIO noted that Trump’s action in selecting Barrett is a transparent effort to tilt the nations’ highest court further to the right with a nominee who, if confirmed, would form a 6-3 conservative majority, and would potentially impact a generation of rulings on issues ranging from Obamacare to immigration to abortion.  

As Politico reported, Barrett is expected to receive broad support from Senate Republicans — who hold a 53-47 Senate majority — since she was in consideration two years ago for the seat that ultimately went to Brett Kavanaugh.

She is also hailed by Republicans for her conservative stance on issues like abortion. Barrett reportedly stated that “life begins at conception” during a 2013 speech on Roe v. Wade.

Like Trump’s two other appointees, Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Kavanaugh in 2018, Barrett is young enough to serve on the Supreme Court for decades, and she is the youngest nominee since conservative Clarence Thomas who was 43 in 1991.

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