Shooting of Unarmed Black Teen

laquan

On the night of October 24, 2014 Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times by a Chicago police officer. The incident began with a call from a surrounding Burger King that a man was walking around with a knife. Police quickly arrived at the scene, when McDonald began to run and then eventually started walking away from the officers surrounding area posing no threat. But a video released November 24, more than a year after the October 20, 2014, incident, shows a police officer approaching McDonald from at least 10 feet away and firing 16 shots, even after the 17-year-old fell to the ground, where he briefly moves before lying still. An officer then approaches the body and kicks away an object — allegedly a knife with a 3-inch blade that the teen held as he moved down the street.


The video was released on November 24, hours after Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced she would press first-degree murder charges against Jason Van Dyke, the officer who shot and killed McDonald. “The officer’s actions were not justified and were not a proper use of deadly force,” Alvarez said. But it took more than a year and a lengthy legal battle to get the video released, fostering suspicions that Chicago officials were engaging in a cover-up. The release of the footage came after months of pressure by local activists and an independent journalist, Brandon Smith, who pushed in court to have the video released to the public. But the shooting has also drawn nationwide scrutiny, elevated by the Black Lives Matter movement that’s protested racial disparities in police use of force following the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014.

jason van dyke

Officer Jason Van Dyke

According to the autopsy report, 16 bullets struck McDonald. The charging documents claim Van Dyke spent 14 or 15 seconds shooting McDonald. Van Dyke continued firing for 13 seconds while McDonald was on the ground, according to forensic evidence. Only two of the 16 shots could be definitively linked to when McDonald was standing, and Van Dyke fired all the shots. The charging documents also claim that Van Dyke was on the scene for less than 30 seconds before he began firing. Police officers on the scene claimed that McDonald didn’t respond to commands to drop the knife. He reportedly had a glazed look in his eyes, and an autopsy later found he had the drug PCP in his system. But McDonald never seemed to threaten the officers, and in fact appeared to move away from them before Van Dyke opened fire. Still, Van Dyke’s attorney told the New York Times that the officer feared for his safety. The charges against Van Dyke were filed 13 months after he shot McDonald, and it’s likely the video played some role in landing those charges. As troubling as the video and charges are, they’re not the first time Van Dyke came under criticism for his work as a police officer. According to an Invisible Institute database, civilians filed at least 18 complaints against Van Dyke since 2001, although he was never disciplined for the complaints:

 

  • One complaint dealt with racial or ethnic verbal abuse.
  • Ten complaints were about arrest and lock-up procedures.
  • Three complaints alleged First Amendment violations and illegal arrests.
  • One complaint was search-related.
  • One complaint pertained to operation and personnel violations.
  • Two complaints noted other misconduct, but the details are unknown.

Still, these complaints are only the minimum. Alison Flowers from the Invisible Institute told ABC 7, “Our data tool does not encompass all of Van Dyke’s complaints. There are still more that exist that we don’t have access to, that we’ve not been provided by the city, because of the injunction by the Fraternal Order of Police.”


The McDonald shooting is not the first time the Chicago Police Department has faced accusations of excessive use of force. This past year, the city announced it would pay $5.5 million to the victims of Chicago police commander Jon Burge, who allegedly tortured people into confessions. And a previous report from the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois found big racial disparities in Chicago police stops — although black residents made up nearly 33 percent of the city’s population, they accounted for 72 percent of stops in 2014, with such disparities even more pronounced in predominantly white neighborhoods. With the McDonald shooting, many critics have accused Chicago officials of a cover-up. It took more than a year to release the footage. Official police reports indicate that every officer who filed an official report gave a very different description than what can be seen in the video. And, at the very least, the slow response to the shooting and the lack of public faith in the process exposed flaws in how Chicago investigates its own cops.

After the shooting, according to Jay Darshane, the District Manager for Burger King, four to five police officers wearing blue and white shirts entered the restaurant and asked to view the video and was given the password to the equipment. Three hours later they left, he said. The Burger King sits at 40th and Pulaski and has a series of outside security cameras. The next day, when an investigator from the Independent Police Review Authority asked to view the security footage, it was discovered that the 86 minutes of video was missing. The 86-minutes of missing video runs from 9:13 p.m. to 10:39 p.m., according to the lawyers for McDonald’s family. He was shot at approximately 9:50 p.m.

On December 9, 2015 Mayor Rahm Emanuel addressed the people and apologized for the shooting of Laquan McDonald and pledged to finally end Chicago’s entrenched practice of police brutality and apologized for failing to fix the deep-seated issue sooner. The 40-minute address served as a high-profile platform for Emanuel to again offer a list of the steps he’s taken so far, but also tackle head-on a complicated series of challenges surrounding race relations and a deeply rooted lack of trust many minorities in Chicago have in the officers who patrol their communities.

“We are here today because Chicago is facing a defining moment on the issues of crime and policing, and the even larger issues of truth, justice and race,” Emanuel said at the start of his speech in a quiet City Council chamber. “We can either be defined by what we have failed to do — or what we choose to do.”

The response to Emanuel’s promises of swift action and a better police force, however, reflected the credibility gap the mayor faces on some of the very topics he raised. Normally compliant aldermen offered little more than cautious optimism, and hundreds of protesters who took to the streets outside City Hall dismissed the remarks and continued to call on him to resign.

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San Bernardino Shooting

US-CRIME-SHOOTING

Investigators believe the couple who gunned down 14 people last week in San Bernardino, California, planned their attack. Shooters Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik practiced at gun ranges in the Los Angeles area, said David Bowdich, assistant director of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office. And on at least one occasion, he said, their target practice occurred within days of the shooting. They  were radicalized and have been for quite some time.

shooters

While the couple supported ISIS, investigators are still trying to find out if either of them ever actually met any ISIS leaders or took orders from anyone. Tashfeen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farook were photographed at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in 2014. It is possible they became radicalized and planned and executed the attack on their own. “Remember, oftentimes, it’s on the Internet. We just don’t know,” Bowdich said. “I don’t want to speculate.”

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So far, Bowdich said, investigators haven’t found any evidence of a plot for the attack extending outside the continental United States. “Right now, we’re looking at these two individuals,” Bowdich said, “and we are beginning to focus, to build it out from there.”

Sources told CNN that investigators believe Malik was radicalized at least two years ago, well before she came to the United States with Farook on a fiancee visa and before ISIS proclaimed its caliphate. Authorities are looking into whether she pushed her husband to adopt more extremist views. “We are working with our foreign counterparts to determine as much as we can,” Bowdich said.

Thousands of miles away from the San Bernardino shooting scene, in a city in central Pakistan, authorities have raided a home owned by Malik’s father, a security source told CNN Monday. The forces broke a padlock off the building in the city of Multan, removing items from the unoccupied home, the source said. Relatives didn’t see any red flags, according to David Chesley, an attorney representing Farook’s family. The family was completely surprised and devastated. … No one had any knowledge. If anybody would have, they definitely would have done something to stop it. Farook’s mother, who shared a home with the couple and their 6-month-old baby, lived in an isolated part of the house.

Over the weekend, Farook’s father told an Italian newspaper that his son supported ISIS’ ideology of establishing an Islamic caliphate. “He said he shared the ideology of (ISIS leader Abu Bakr) al-Baghdadi to create an Islamic state, and he was fixated on Israel.” As more reports emerged on the shooters’ fascination with ISIS, Obama spoke to the nation Sunday night in a bid to temper growing anxiety. He called the San Bernardino attack “an act of terrorism, designed to kill innocent people.”

The FBI is still gathering the facts about what happened in San Bernardino. The victims were brutally murdered and injured by one of their co-workers and his wife.  So far there’s no evidence that the killers were directed by a terrorist organization overseas, or that they were part of a broader conspiracy here at home. The gravity of the occasion was underscored by Obama’s decision to address the nation from the Oval Office for only the third time in his presidency, following addresses on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the end of the Iraq War in 2010.

A day before Farook’s father made news, ISIS hailed the couple as “supporters” of the terror group. The FBI has said it is treating the attack as an act of terrorism. The couple’s motivation for the attack is a key focus for investigators. Malik had posted to Facebook a pledge of allegiance to ISIS leader Baghdadi, three U.S. officials familiar with the investigation said. But ISIS’ acknowledgment of the couple as supporters doesn’t mean they were members or that someone from the group ordered the massacre, said Rick Francona, a military analyst and a former intelligence officer. ISIS, when claiming responsibility for other terrorist attacks, would call attackers “knights” or “soldiers” rather than supporters. It has, however, urged sympathizers to carry out attacks on their own.

Farook looked into contacting terrorist groups overseas, such as al Qaeda affiliate al Nusra Front and Al-Shabaab, a senior law enforcement official said. The source did not specify when or how those attempts were made. A working theory among investigators is that Malik was radicalized before meeting her husband. It appears ISIS and possibly other terrorist groups inspired the couple.

Officials caution there is still a lot to learn and a plethora of electronic media to review. Part of what is slowing the process down is that the couple’s attempts to destroy their electronics made it challenging for investigators to use the material. “They covered their tracks pretty well,” the official said.

Additional security guards have been posted at county offices and other security measures are in place, Ramos said. As county leaders spoke about not letting fear interfere with daily life, some of the doctors who tended to the wounded recounted how nightmarish that day was. “To see something of this magnitude is unexpected, to have it occur in our county is unexpected,” Dr. Sakona Seng said. “It sort of tests your faith in humanity in some respects to hear that this happened.” All of the victims who made it to a hospital are in stable condition, Dr. Dev Gnanadev said. For him, the deepest pain is over those victims whom doctors didn’t even get the chance to try to save.

shooting victims

Paris Attacks

eiffel tower lit up

The violence in Paris shocked the world. The terror group ISIS claimed responsibility, the French President declared it “an act of war,” and even Pope Francis called it a “piecemeal Third World War” with “no religious or human justification for it.” The six sites were attacked by three groups of terrorists acting in unison. The first explosion occurs outside Stade de France near entrance D about 9:20 p.m. as France plays Germany in a soccer match. Moments later, a second explosion echoes inside the stadium. Each blast is executed by a suicide bomber. Both wear similar explosive belts with batteries, bolts and buttons. Both blasts happen on the same street, Rue Rimet. French President Francois Hollande is in the stadium watching the game. He is safely evacuated. As the game is being broadcast, viewers can hear distant explosions as players pass the ball on the pitch. Four people are killed outside the venue, in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis. One of those four killed is a man who walked by one of the suicide bombers. Armed with Kalashnikov-style assault rifles, gunmen arrive in a black auto to the scene at the corner of Rue Alibert and Rue Bichat in Paris’ 10th district. The masked attackers kill 15 people at the restaurants Le Carillon and Le Petit Cambodge. Ten more people are seriously wounded. About 100 shell casings are discovered at the scene. The second explosion occurs at the stadium, near entrance H. At the corner of Rue Fontaine au Roi and Rue Faubourg du Temple in the 11th district of Paris, five people are killed and eight others seriously wounded in a shooting outside the bar A La Bonne Biere. These attackers were also driven to the scene in a black Seat. Once again, about 100 shell casings are found at the scene. Another black vehicle arrives carrying attackers to the restaurant La Belle Equipe at 92 Rue de Charonne. The gunmen fire their assault weapons on people sitting outside the eatery. Nineteen people are killed, and nine more are seriously wounded. Like the previous attacks, about 100 shell casings are discovered at the scene. A suicide bomber blows himself up inside the restaurant Comptoir Voltaire at 253 Boulevard Voltaire in the 11th district. The bomber uses a similar explosive mechanism as the two suicide bombers at Stade de France. One person inside the restaurant is seriously injured, and several others are slightly injured. Three attackers armed with assault weapons arrive in a black VW Polo to the concert venue Bataclan. The gunmen enter the small concert hall and open fire as a performance is underway by the U.S. band Eagles of Death Metal, a blues rock group from Palm Desert, California. Eighty-nine people are killed. Gunmen fire upon people as they lay on the floor, killing execution-style, recounts one concertgoer. The attackers enter firing pump rifles and shouting “Allah akbar,” a witness later tells Radio France. One patron, Julien Pearce, a radio reporter, sees two of the gunmen in black clothing enter the venue “very calm, very determined” and firing “randomly.” “It was a bloodbath,” he says. The gunmen take members of the audience hostage and regroup them in front of the stage. Police later find most of the victims there. After gathering the hostages, the attackers make a brief address and mention Syria and Iraq. Meanwhile, some patrons find a place to hide inside the venue, where they stay for more than two hours. About 400 meters from the Stade de France, a third blast occurs on Rue de la Cokerie between a McDonald’s and the sports stadium. The remains of a suicide bomber are subsequently discovered. French elite police units storm the Bataclan more than two hours after the attackers slaughtered the concert’s patrons. Three terrorists are killed during the police counterassault. One of them is killed by police gunfire and by the explosives he is wearing. The other two activate their suicide belts and die as police raid the concert hall. One of the terrorists is identified by a fingerprint as a 30-year-old French national from the Paris suburb of Courcouronnes. That individual had a criminal history and was identified as having been radicalized in 2010, but that person had not been accused of terrorism.

Gunmen gesture as they return to their car after the attack outside the offices of French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo

Gunmen gesture as they return to their car after the attack outside the offices of French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo

More than 350 people were wounded, with at least 99 of them in critical condition, Paris officials said. Hospitals are full today, and people are lined up to give blood. It is the worst terrorist attack in Europe in 11 years, since the coordinated bombings of commuter trains in Madrid killed 191 and wounded 1,800 in 2004. The assaults were carried out by three coordinated teams that included a 25-year-old Syrian terrorist, French officials said. France’s president, François Hollande, says yes, and a statement from the Islamic State militant group concurs. Secretary of State John Kerry, in Vienna for talks with other foreign ministers over the Syria conflict, condemned the attacks but did not name the militant group, also called ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, an Arabic acronym. American officials in Washington on Saturday did not dispute the French president’s conclusion. The capital is under a heavy police presence, and checks at France’s borders have been reinstated. Air travel continues but with significant security-related delays. Many events are canceled.

BESTPIX France Deploys 10,000 Troops To Boost Security After Attacks

Schools with classes or activities, cultural places and other venues (the Eiffel Tower, movie theaters, Disneyland Paris, department stores) are closed. The police made a number of arrests in Brussels on Saturday in connection with the attacks. A Greek official said that a Syrian passport used by a migrant who passed through Greece was found near an assailant’s body.  In Germany, the police were exploring whether a man they arrested last week with weapons in his car and his GPS navigator set for Paris was linked to the attacks.

Salah Abdeslam

Salah Abdeslam

Investigations into the series of terrorist attacks in Paris are moving forward, with people taken into custody and two of the gun-wielding suicide bombers identified. More than 150 police anti-terror raids conducted in cities across France. A worldwide manhunt is underway for Belgian-born French national Salah Abdeslam, who is suspected of being involved in the attacks. French police warned that he is “dangerous.” Sources told CNN that he was stopped and questioned by French police shortly after the attacks.  The French Air Force carried out bombing missions over Raqqa early Monday. Targets included a command center, recruitment center, ammunition storage base and a training camp. There’s been no information on casualties or any damage assessments.

Lamar Odom

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On October 13, 2015, Lamar Odom was hospitalized after being discovered unconscious at the Love Ranch, a brothel in Crystal, Nevada. He was in a coma and placed on life support for a few days before regaining consciousness. Odom, was in a coma for four days at a Las Vegas hospital before being transferred to L.A..Time will tell all. Odom, who remains hospitalized after being found unconscious, has multiple medical hurdles to overcome in his ongoing journey toward recovery. Although Lamar Odom has made a miraculous recovery, he’s still facing several health crises. A source close to the situation says that the former NBA player, 35, is “definitely” in need of a kidney transplant. As reported by TMZ this past weekend, Odom has been suffering from major kidney failure and is currently on dialysis. The pneumonia was a huge setback, and now there’s worry about permanent scarring of the lungs. The former NBA player is being treated at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he underwent emergency surgery said to be connected to pneumonia Wednesday. He has wrecked his body, so it’ll take time to figure out how well he can come back. But everyone knows that he’ll never be the same as he was before this happened. There will always be lasting effects, and doctors are just trying to minimize them.

love-ranch

Odom’s wife Khloé Kardashian has stuck by his beside, leaving only to attend sister Kim Kardashian West’s baby shower Sunday.  The estranged stars recently called off their nearly finalized divorce, and all of the Kardashians have rallied around Odom in his time of need.  Khloé is getting the updates and letting other people in the family know. They’re all keeping in touch,” the source says. “They’re all keeping him in prayer. Really, Lamar is lucky to be alive, and everyone knows that. We all feel like he is being kept alive for some greater purpose. No one knows how he’ll continue to heal, or what his capabilities will be, but he’s alive, and that’s what matters right now. That’s what counts.”

                lamar & khloe

Lamar Joseph Odom (born November 6, 1979) is an American former professional basketball player. As a member of the Los Angeles Lakers in the National Basketball Association he won NBA championships in 2009 and 2010 and was named the NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2011.

As a high school player, Odom received national player of the year honors from Parade in 1997. He played college basketball for the University of Rhode Island, earning all-conference honors in his only season in the Atlantic 10 Conference. He was drafted in the first round of the 1999 NBA draft with the fourth overall pick by the Los Angeles Clippers. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team, but twice he violated the league’s drug policy in his four seasons with the Clippers. He signed as a restricted free agent with the Miami Heat, where he played one season in 2003–04 before being traded to the Lakers. Odom spent seven seasons with the Lakers, who traded him to the Dallas Mavericks in 2011. After the move, his career declined. He was traded back to the Clippers in 2012 and played briefly in Spain in 2014.

lamar kids

Lamar & his children

Odom played on the United States national team, winning a bronze medal in the Olympics in 2004 and gold in the FIBA World Championship (known later as the World Cup) in 2010. He married Khloé Kardashian in 2009, and has made several appearances on her family’s reality television show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians. He and Kardashian also had their own reality series, Khloé & Lamar.

Odom was born in South Jamaica, Queens, New York City, New York, to Joe Odom and Cathy Mercer. His father was a heroin addict, and Odom’s mother died of colon cancer when he was twelve years old.  At her deathbed, Odom’s mom told him: “Be nice to everybody”. Afterwards, he was raised by his grandmother, Mildred Mercer.

In his first three years of high school, Odom played for Christ The King Regional High School in Middle Village, Queens.  He left the school at the start of his senior year due to poor grades, transferring first to Redemption Christian Academy in Troy, New York and then to the now-defunct St. Thomas Aquinas High School in New Britain, Connecticut, where he was coached by Jerry DeGregorio. As a senior, Odom was recognized nationally as the Parade Player of the Year in 1997. He also was also named to the Parade All-American First Team for the second consecutive year, and also earned USA Today All-USA 1st Team honors. During his youth, Odom was teamed with future NBA players Elton Brand and Ron Artest (later known as Metta World Peace) on the same AAU team, and played with future Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant at Adidas ABCD camps.  Adidas executive Sonny Vaccaro commented at the time that Odom possessed a “$2 million smile”.

In September 2009, Odom married Khloé Kardashian after a month of dating. He had met her at a party for Lakers teammate Artest. Their wedding was featured on the E! reality-based series Keeping Up with the Kardashians, which Kardashian stars in. Odom became a fixture on the show and became a household name to millions who were not already familiar with him as a basketball player. In December 2010, E! announced another spinoff from the series featuring Odom, Kardashian, and his two children from his previous relationship. The series, titled Khloé & Lamar, debuted on April 10, 2011. Soon thereafter, Odom almost opted out of the show as the filming wore him down. The series was canceled in 2012 after two seasons.

On August 30, 2013, Odom was arrested on charges of driving under the influence (DUI). After the arrest, he refused to submit to a chemical test. Almost a week earlier, gossip websites had alleged that Odom had been abusing drugs, which prompted worried tweets from former teammates and coaches. On December 9, Odom pleaded no contest to the DUI charges and accepted a sentence of three years’ probation and three months of alcohol abuse treatment. On December 13, after months of speculated separation, Kardashian filed for divorce from Odom and for legal restoration of her last name. Divorce papers were signed by both parties in July 2015; however, the divorce did not receive final approval from a judge before being dismissed by request.

Caitlyn Jenner

caitlin-jenner-media-strategy

Caitlyn Jenner born October 28, 1949, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, is a retired American athlete known for winning the men’s decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics. Since 2007 she has been appearing on E!‘s reality television program Keeping Up with the Kardashians and is currently starring in her own reality show I Am Cait, which focuses on her gender transition. Multiple publications have described her as the most famous openly transgender person in the world since she came out in 2015.

Jenner was a former college football player for the Graceland Yellowjackets before she incurred a knee injury requiring surgery. Coach L.D. Weldon, who had coached Olympic decathlete Jack Parker, convinced Jenner to try the decathlon. After intense training, Jenner won the 1976 Olympic decathlon title (after a Soviet athlete had won the title in 1972) during the Cold War, gaining fame as “an all-American hero”. A third successive world record led to the unofficial title of “world’s greatest athlete”, which traditionally goes to the winner of the Olympic decathlon. Jenner subsequently established a career in television, film, auto racing and business.
Jenner has six children from her marriages to Chrystie Crownover, Linda Thompson and Kris Jenner. A few months after divorcing her third wife, Jenner revealed her gender identification as a trans woman in an April 2015 interview with Diane Sawyer.
Caitlyn Jenner was born William Bruce Jenner on October 28, 1949, in Mount Kisco, New York, to Esther R. McGuire and William Hugh Jenner, an arborist. She has two sisters, Lisa and Pam. Her younger brother, Burt, was killed in a car accident in Canton, Connecticut, in 1976, shortly after Jenner’s success at the Olympics.

As a young child, Jenner was diagnosed with dyslexia. She attended Sleepy Hollow High School in Sleepy Hollow, New York, during her freshman and sophomore years and Newtown High School in Newtown, Connecticut, during her junior and senior years, graduating in 1968. Jenner earned a football scholarship and attended Graceland College (now Graceland University) in Lamoni, Iowa, but was forced to stop playing football and switch to the decathlon because of a knee injury. Jenner’s mentor, Graceland track coach L. D. Weldon, was the first to recognize Jenner’s potential and encouraged her to pursue the decathlon. Jenner debuted in the decathlon at the Drake Relays in Des Moines in 1970, placing fifth. Jenner graduated from Graceland College in 1973 with a degree in physical education.
At the 1972 men’s decathlon U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon, Jenner was in fifth place behind Steve Gough and Andrew Pettes. Needing to make up a 19-second gap on Gough in the men’s 1500 meters, she ran a fast last lap, separating from the other runners by 22 seconds to make the Olympic team. The Eugene Register-Guard asked “Who’s Jenner?” Jenner went on to finish in 10th place at the 1972 Summer Olympics held in Munich, Germany.
Jenner was the American champion in the men’s decathlon event in 1974 and was featured on the cover of Track & Field News’s August 1974 issue. While on tour in 1975, Jenner won the French national championship. She first set the world record of 8,524 points at a meet in Eugene, Oregon August 9–10, 1975.

Bruce-Jenner

At the 1976 Olympic Trials again in Eugene, Jenner scored 8,538 points, slightly improving the world record. At the Olympic Games in Montréal, Canada, Jenner won the gold medal in the men’s decathlon, scoring 8,616 points, thereby beating the world record set at the Olympic Trials. She hit a “home run” by achieving personal bests on the first day, turning the notorious second day into a gold medal coronation. After the event, Jenner took an American flag from a spectator and carried it during the victory lap, starting a tradition that is now common among athletes.

In 1977, Jenner became a spokesperson for Wheaties brand breakfast cereal and appeared on the now iconic front of the cereal box. After taking over from Olympic champion Bob Richards, Jenner was the second of a succession of athletes featured as spokespersons for the brand. Mary Lou Retton succeeded Jenner in 1984.
When Jenner came out as Caitlyn in 2015, General Mills stated that “Bruce Jenner continues to be a respected member of Team Wheaties.” After the company was called out for misgendering Jenner, Mike Siemienas, General Mills’s brand media relations manager, clarified its original statement, stating that “Bruce Jenner has been a respected member of Team Wheaties, and Caitlyn Jenner will continue to be.”


Jenner’s announcement came at an unprecedented time for trans visibility, including legislative initiatives. The 20/20 interview had 20.7 million viewers, making it television’s “highest-ever rated news magazine telecast among adults 18–49 and adults 25–54”. The Daily Beast stated that Jenner’s “honesty, vulnerability, or fame” may have caused “cheap jokes” about trans people, like those which aired during the show as part of the interview’s educating the public on transphobia, to “seem mean to a mainstream audience on an unprecedented scale”. Using examples of how comedians had changed in their talking about Jenner’s transition, The Daily Beast saw the change as the same evolution that took place in acceptance of LGBT people as a whole when “comedians finally cross the critical threshold from mockery to creativity in their joke-telling”.

bruce and kids

Prior to Jenner’s 20/20 interview, a two-part special titled Keeping Up with the Kardashians: About Bruce was filmed with the family to answer questions and prepare their children for personal and public aspects of the transition. The episodes aired in May 2015; they emphasized a point made in the 20/20 prelude: that there is no one right way to transition. Jenner made it a priority to ensure that all her children were independent first before focusing inward.

caitlyn-jenner kids

ISIS CRISIS

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The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL; Arabic, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham, Daesh, or Islamic State (IS), is a Salafi jihadist extremist militant group and self-proclaimed Islamic state and caliphate, which is led by and mainly composed of Sunni Arabs from Iraq and Syria. As of March 2015, it has control over territory occupied by ten million people in Iraq and Syria, as well as limited territorial control in Libya and Nigeria. The group also operates or has affiliates in other parts of the world, including South Asia.

The group is known in Arabic as ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah wa-sh-Shām, leading to the acronym Da’ish or Daesh, the Arabic equivalent of “ISIS”. On 29 June 2014, the group proclaimed itself to be a worldwide caliphate, with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi being named its caliph, and renamed itself “Islamic State”. As a caliphate, it claims religious, political and military authority over all Muslims worldwide, and that “the legality of all emirates, groups, states, and organizations, becomes null by the expansion of the khilāfah’s [caliphate’s] authority and arrival of its troops to their areas”.

The United Nations has held ISIS responsible for human rights abuses and war crimes, and Amnesty International has reported ethnic cleansing by the group on a “historic scale”. The group has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United Nations, the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, India, Indonesia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Syria and other governments. Over 60 countries are directly or indirectly waging war against ISIS.

isis army

The group originated as Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad in 1999, which pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2004. The group participated in the Iraqi insurgency, which had followed the March 2003 invasion of Iraq by Western forces. In January 2006, it joined other Sunni insurgent groups to form the Mujahideen Shura Council, which proclaimed the formation of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) in October 2006. After the Syrian Civil War began in March 2011, the ISI, under the leadership of al-Baghdadi, sent delegates into Syria in August 2011. These fighters named themselves Jabhat an-Nuṣrah li-Ahli ash-Shām—al-Nusra Front—and established a large presence in Sunni-majority areas of Syria, within the governorates of Ar-Raqqah, Idlib, Deir ez-Zor, and Aleppo. In April 2013, al-Baghdadi announced the merger of the ISI with al-Nusra Front and that the name of the reunited group was now the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). However, Abu Mohammad al-Julani and Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leaders of al-Nusra and al-Qaeda respectively, rejected the merger. After an eight-month power struggle, al-Qaeda cut all ties with ISIS on 3 February 2014, citing its failure to consult and “notorious intransigence”. In Syria, the group has conducted ground attacks on both government forces and rebel factions in the Syrian Civil War. The group gained prominence after it drove Iraqi government forces out of key cities in western Iraq in an offensive initiated in early 2014. Iraq’s territorial loss almost caused a collapse of the Iraqi government and prompted a renewal of US military action in Iraq.

beheading

ISIS is very adept at social media, posting Internet videos of beheadings of soldiers, civilians, journalists and aid workers, and is notorious for its destruction of cultural heritage sites. Muslim leaders around the world have condemned ISIS’s ideology and actions, arguing that the group has strayed from the path of true Islam and that its actions do not reflect the religion’s true teachings or virtues. The group’s adoption of the name “Islamic State” and idea of a caliphate have been widely criticized, with the United Nations, NATO, various governments, and mainstream Muslim groups rejecting both.
Since at least 2004, a significant goal of the group has been the foundation of a Sunni Islamic state. Specifically, ISIS has sought to establish itself as a caliphate, an Islamic state led by a group of religious authorities under a supreme leader—the caliph—who is believed to be the successor to Muhammad. In June 2014, ISIL published a document in which it claimed to have traced the lineage of its leader al-Baghdadi back to Muhammad, and upon proclaiming a new caliphate on 29 June, the group appointed al-Baghdadi as its caliph. As caliph, he demands the allegiance of all devout Muslims worldwide, according to Islamic jurisprudence.

This map highlights the countries of Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Called out are the cities of Mosul and Kobani. The area of ISIS controlled or contested territory is highlighted in red.

This map highlights the countries of Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Called out are the cities of Mosul and Kobani. The area of ISIS controlled or contested territory is highlighted in red.

When the caliphate was proclaimed, ISIL stated: “The legality of all emirates, groups, states and organizations becomes null by the expansion of the khilafah’s [caliphate’s] authority and arrival of its troops to their areas.” This was a rejection of the political divisions in the Middle East that were established by Western powers during World War I in the Sykes–Picot Agreement.

#BLACKLIVESMATTER

kids killed

Black Lives Matter is an activist movement in the United States that began in the wake of the July 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Florida shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin. The Black Lives Matter movement campaigns against what it calls police brutality against African Americans in the United States. The group received fresh impetus from the 2014 deaths of two unarmed African Americans, teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and 43 year old Eric Garner in New York City; in both cases the grand jury did not indict the officers and no charges were brought. Several unarmed African Americans who died at the hands of law enforcement have had their deaths protested by the movement, including Tamir Rice, Eric Harris, Walter Scott, and Freddie Gray (whose death sparked the 2015 Baltimore protests). Numerous media organizations have referred to it as “a new civil rights movement.”

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The movement was co-founded by three black activists: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi. Although the three run a stable website and organization, the overall Black Lives Matter movement is a decentralized network, and has no formal hierarchy or structure. The movement reached national awareness with the protests and unrest in Ferguson in August 2014, although Garza, Cullors and Tometi were not initially involved in those events.

The shooting of Walter Scott by a white policeman was recorded by a bystander, who contacted a local activist involved with Black Lives Matter; they, in turn, contacted Scott’s family to take possession of the video. Soon after the video was released to the public, the officer was arrested and charged with murder. The case is pending.

The movement began as a hashtag after George Zimmerman’s 2013 acquittal for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, and gained momentum after the shooting of Michael Brown, the shooting of John Crawford III, and the death of Eric Garner, all in 2014. Currently, there are 23 Black Lives Matter chapters in the U.S., Canada, and Ghana. The organization states that Black Lives Matter is “a unique contribution that goes beyond extrajudicial killings of black people by police and vigilantes” and that “Black Lives Matter affirms the lives of black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, black undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all black lives along the gender spectrum.” Protesters and protest organizers have met with U.S. President Barack Obama and other prominent leaders to demand an end to what they view as racial profiling, police brutality, mass incarceration of African-Americans, and the militarization of many U.S. police departments.

Sad the future looks exactly like the past

Sad the present looks exactly like the past

As of August 15, 2015, at least 1007 Black Lives Matter demonstrations had been held worldwide. In August 2014, during Labor Day weekend, Black Lives Matter organized a “Freedom Ride”, which brought more than 500 African-Americans from across the United States into Ferguson, Missouri, to support the work being done on the ground by local organizations. Black Lives Matter members and supporters rode in from New York City, Newark, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Miami, Detroit, Houston, Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Nashville, Portland, Tucson, Washington, D.C., and more, in a similar way to that of the Freedom Riders in the 1960s. In December 2014, at least 20 members of a protest that had been using the slogan were arrested at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.

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The “informal branch of Black Lives Matter in Ferguson” has been involved in the Ferguson unrest, following the death of Michael Brown. Most of the protesters actively distinguish themselves from the older generation of black leadership, such as Al Sharpton, by their aversion to middle-class traditions such as church involvement, Democratic Party loyalty, and respectability politics. The movement tends to be skeptical of nonviolence and embraces a diversity of tactics.
Black Lives Matter organizers supported the April 2015 fast food strike in solidarity with fast food workers, and to oppose racial income inequality. In a video interview with Laura Flanders, Garza discussed how “changing Black Lives Matter to All Lives Matter is a demonstration of how we don’t actually understand structural racism in this country”. She went on to discuss how other lives are valued more than black lives, which she strongly feels is wrong, and that to take blackness out of this equation is inappropriate. In a Twitter post, Black Lives Matter said, “If you really believe that all lives matter, you will fight like hell for Black lives.”
Black Lives Matter appeared in an episode of Law & Order: SVU. The TV drama Scandal expressed support to the Black Lives Matter movement on their March 5, 2015 episode that showed an unarmed black teen shot by a police officer.