New Abortion Laws Passed In 2018

It probably seems like every vote is important to abortion rights and freedoms, but the 2018 midterm elections were especially crucial. A number of new laws were passed (or even passed again), and Planned Parenthood once again has a tough road ahead. If you weren’t watching, there were important decisions made in Ohio, Alabama, West Virginia, and Oregon. Here’s everything you need to know.

Ohio’s House of Representatives passed a controversial “heartbeat” bill that would criminalize abortions performed if a fetal heartbeat was present at the time. This is particularly threatening to doctors who perform the operations. Ultrasounds are capable of detecting a heartbeat by week six. This early into a pregnancy, many women don’t even realize they’re pregnant. Adding insult to injury, the state does not recognize cases of rape or incest as a legal reason to perform an abortion after this timeframe has elapsed.

There is only one exception to the new law: when a woman’s life could be saved by the operation.

An earlier Ohio bill prevented abortions after 20 weeks had elapsed.

Alabama passed Amendment two with 61 percent approval. Under the new provision, the state would no longer be required to help fund abortion or protect a parent’s right to an abortion. The justification was made on the grounds of protecting the “sanctity” of the unborn life.

West Virginia passed Amendment one with only 52 percent approval, which essentially declares the same. No funding, and no right to abortion under state law.

Meanwhile, residents of Oregon destroyed Measure 106 with 63 percent opposition. The bill would have meant that abortion funding could only be provided when federally mandated or medically relevant.

The heartbeat provision of Ohio’s law in particular represents a threat to Roe v. Wade. The net result of the election at the federal level is a pro-life majority which means even more opposition in the future, because pro-life conservative representatives and senators will no doubt continue to confirm pro-life judges. This means the number of pro-life or anti-abortion federal laws in the future.

Then again, Planned Parenthood seemed satisfied with the election results, because it means a pro-choice majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. No doubt the eternal struggle will continue.

Saudi Diplomat Brutally Murdered, But President Trump Unwilling To Act

Earlier this month a Saudi journalist by the name of Jamal Khashoggi disappeared. His abduction, torture, murder and dismemberment have all been alluded too but not been confirmed, but President Trump doesn’t seem to think the situation takes any precedence–especially when he has an important arms deal hanging in the balance. Any unfortunate spike in the political volatility in Saudi Arabia comes at an inopportune time.

Jamal Khashoggi is a U.S. resident, and his brutal murder has created an uproar and a call for retaliation. Khashoggi disappeared while on a visit to the Saudi consulate. Many have noted that he often protested Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince. Was Khashoggi the victim of a hit squad?

Turkey is currently investigating the crime. According to officials working on the case, Khashoggi was likely murdered in the consulate. After, his body was dismembered and transported elsewhere. The Turks currently hold a smoking-gun audio file which proves that Khashoggi was killed on-site. Alongside Saudi investigators, they searched the consulate in the hopes of discovering additional evidence.

Saudi Arabia is reportedly ready to acknowledge the death of Khashoggi as a result of a botched interrogation, although other sources say that there was never any interrogation at all, and that Khashoggi was specifically targeted by a hit squad. Mr. Trump has theories of his own, including that Khashoggi may have been the victim of a merry band of rogue killers and not the crown prince, suggesting that King Salman denied knowing anything about the attack.

Still, Trump also said that Saudi Arabia would be punished if the allegations are proved. He also made a comment about how tired he is of the “guilty until proven innocent” rhetoric. He sent the Secretary of State to meet with King Salman, while the king sent a public prosecutor in Saudi Arabia for internal investigation.

Angry democrats believe that it’s time disrupt relations with the kingdom, but Trump isn’t having it. The arms deal is worth about $110 billion, and he doesn’t want to risk something of that magnitude without all the facts.

It seems there will be a battle in Congress over whether or not to dismantle the deal, and it will be some time before we know which side wins.

Paul Manafort and His Non-Collusion Collusion Trial

Special prosecutor Robert Mueller has been hard at work for the last 18 months investigating charges that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to impact the 2016 election results.

While indictments were handed out to about 20 Russian citizens, American Paul Manafort is facing trial after he served as chairman of Trump’s presidential campaign. It was possible that Manafort may be the smoking gun that anti-Trump people have been seeking in this whole collusion mess.

But why is Manafort and collusion not being mentioned in the same breath during his trial?

Maybe the smoke wasn’t coming from Manafort at all.

Manafort, who has a known history of working with people affiliated with the Russian mob, has been on trial in New York on charges of wire fraud, bank fraud and tax evasion – though none of it seems to tie directly to the investigation into Russia collusion with the Trump campaign.

How do we know this? Mueller is not prosecuting this case himself, as the case fell outside of his jurisdiction. He forwarded the case the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York, which is prosecuting the case.

Trump and collusion have not been part of the trial involving Manafort. The main issues in the trial are the genesis of millions of dollars in Manfort’s foreign accounts based on some of his political consulting and lobbying work over the years. Prosecutors were especially interested in his work from 2010 to 2015 when he had racked up about $65 million in foreign bank accounts, and they allege that he lied on applications in order to secure about $20 million in loans from banks to finance some of his efforts, especially in Ukraine, which eventually ended in 2015 right around the time that Manafort joined Trump’s fledgling presidential campaign.

The latest word from the trial came Friday, August 17, when Manfort judge T.S. Ellis revealed that he had been threatened during the trial, find the safety of those involved said he would not release the names of the jurors. Ellis has said he will have U.S. marshal protection with him everywhere for the duration of the trial if not beyond – depending on the results of the jury deliberations on the 18 counts.

Meanwhile, with this case getting headlines solely because of Manfort’s prominent relationship with Trump and his previous connections to Russia, the actual collusion investigation has reportedly not led Mueller any closer to linking Trump with the Russians, and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani has asked Mueller to wrap up his case by the end of August of “we will come down on him like a ton of bricks.”

Sounds a little like a mob threat, eh?

Top 5 Democratic Primaries Candidates

Top Democratic Primaries Candidates

Democratic PartyEvery time we get within two years of a presidential election, political debates begin to arise, celebrities and public figures speak out for or against current policies, and politicians from various states come to the forefront of the public eye. Part of the election process is selecting who will represent each party in the next presidential election. The Republican party currently holds the presidential office. President Donald Trump will most likely run for a second term and represent the party. If the Democrats want to take the office, it is imperative that they begin campaigning sooner rather than later. Towards the end of 2017, the Washington Post put together a list of the top Democratic candidates for primaries. Some are familiar politicians, others are less well known, and some are known for their celebrity status. As we witnessed in the previous election, anyone who claims they are going to run should be taken seriously.

Who are the Top Candidates?

The top candidates to win the Democratic primaries are from all over the country. Some are active politicians, others are hinting at a comeback, and one is very familiar with the White House. According to the Washington Post, the top candidates are:

  1. Bernie Sanders – Vermont Senator

Bernie Sanders is a name that has been thrown around in previous presidential elections. Although, each time he has fallen short of becoming the Democratic nominee. The 2020 election might be his best chance of reaching the coveted oval office. He has the experience on his side and has gone through this process before. We will see if he is able to learn from previous mistakes and lead the Dems to the promise land.

  1. Joe Biden – Former Vice President

Joe Biden is an interesting candidate. Biden served under the Obama administration as the Vice President. His actions and charismatic personality took the nation by storm. Unfortunately for Vice President Biden, his handling of past sexual harassment cases, like Clarence Thomas, may come back to haunt him.

  1. Elizabeth Warren – Massachusetts Senator

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren comes in at the number three spot. Elizabeth Warren has shown little inclination to run and it is unlikely that she will run if Bernie Sanders does. However, if she decides to run, she may take the Democratic nomination.

  1. Kirsten Gillibrand – New York Senator

Kirsten Gillibrand became a household name after she called for President Trump’s resignation amidst sexual misconduct allegations. Since the allegations have subsided, but Kirsten has kept herself relevant. She has expressed interest in running for the presidential office. We will see if it comes to fruition over the next year.

  1. Kamala D. Harris – California Senator

Kamala was able to place herself in the democratic primary conversation when she spoke out in support of single-payer healthcare. Like Gillibrand, Harris called for Trump’s resignation amidst sexual misconduct allegations. Harris appears to be vocalizing her opinions on political matters, setting herself up for a primary nomination.

Other Names you May Recognize

In late December 2017, the Washington Post put together a list of the top 15 candidates for the Democratic nomination. Of course, there will be claims made by a ton of public figures if they are unhappy with the current administration, which many are not. Some of the names worth mentioning are:

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – Public Figure

Superstar wrestler turned actor has voiced his concerns with the current administration. He has been outspoken about his ambitions to run for office in 2020, but nothing much has come fo it.

Howard Schultz – Former Starbuck CEO

Although Schultz has not officially stated that he is interested in being considered as a candidate for the 2020 presidential campaign, he certainly has not held back from expressing his political beliefs. He has shared his visions for the future of America across many platforms. As the election nears, we will see if he is serious about running.

Oprah Winfrey – Public Figure

Oprah might be the most influential individual on this list. Her following is extensive and diverse. Further, her potential campaign budget will be unmatched. Oprah has been outspoken about her political beliefs. The former talk show host has compiled an abundance of awards and achievements for her philanthropic contributions to society. She is also an excellent communicator and would make for an interesting candidate.

Andrew M. Cuomo – New York Governor

Cuomo holds the second highest ranking office on this list, but he comes in at 10 and is currently the lower ranked candidate out of the New York State government. Cuomo has taken heat after mishandling sexual harassment allegations against his former senior aide.

What To Expect From Trump’s 2018 State of The Union Address

Tonight marks the first official State of The Union Address under Trump’s presidency. The speech will air on every major TV network and begins at 9 pm EST. Although there is no time limit on how long the speech can be, it is expected to go for almost an hour. For those who do not have cable or television, the State of The Union will stream online on CSPAN, Facebook, and YouTube.

The Obama administration usually provided the public with a list of policy proposals before the big speech in order for the public could have a better understanding of what was being discussed. However, the current administration has been ironically quiet and selective about what will be in tonight’s speech. Here’s what we have been told beforehand: the theme of tonight’s address is “building a safe, strong, and proud America” and will cover 5 topics: jobs and the economy, infrastructure, immigration, trade and national security.

And with a controversial first year, people are for the most part interested in what the President has to say but also interested in the fanfare that surrounds his presidency. Despite the rumors that President Trump was having an affair with porn star Stormy Daniels while she was pregnant, Melania is expected to make an appearance on Tuesday. However, members of Congress are invited to bring guests and many are rumored to be bringing those who are vehemently opposed to Trump’s administration including those who are members of DACA, transgendered troops and immigrants from “shithole” countries.

Approximately 11 Democratic party members will not be in attendance which is fewer than the 60 that boycotted the President’s inauguration last year. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will also not be in attendance. This might not seem unusual as many Supreme Court Justices do not attend the State Of The Union but she attended all of Obama’s State Of The Unions.

And even when Trump is finished, the drama does not end there. Joe Kennedy will deliver the Democratic Response, Bernie Sanders will deliver his own response, Elizabeth Guzman will deliver the Spanish response, Donna Edwards will comment on behalf of working families and Maxine Waters (who is one of the democratic leaders boycotting the event) will respond via BET.

Say what you want about Trump, the fact of the matter is no one has ever been this excited about politics!

Politicization Of The Emmys

The Emmys are a well-recognized and appreciated awards show to celebrate prime time television.

It brings together some of the most prominent personalities and talents from around the nation. However, this doesn’t mean the Emmys are devoid of controversy, and everything is as merry as it appears on stage.

The politicization of the Emmys has long been mentioned as a point of concern.

The awards were going to shows that had a political twist to their content. This theme started to become apparent as the likes of Saturday Night LIve (Donald Trump skits), The Handmaid’s Tale, and others began to sweep away every category.

Anti-Trump Rhetoric

Not only were the awards left-leaning in how they were presented but the general sentiment remained as such from start to finish. This was mentioned by White House Advisor Kellyanne Conway in her brief comments about the Emmys.

However, it was apparent a lot of the anti-Trump posturing had to do with the ongoing events.

According to those in the audience, it was normal and nothing out of the ordinary. Viewers were left with content that was one-sided and only looking to work along the lines of this anti-Trump rhetoric.

While the importance given to politics was intriguing and might have been noteworthy, it started to get in the way of the awards. Other deserving shows were pushed to the side because they didn’t fit this political theme that was ongoing, according to an estate lawyers.

Winner after winner had some attachment to the political undertones that spread across the awards show.

This meant shows that might have won in any other setting were left to rot away such as The Stranger Things. It was all about focusing on TV shows that maintained that political connection and continued to make a point about the ongoing politics in America.

Hulu

Yes, Hulu was able to overcome all of the large budgets around it due to this reason.

It was able to make the most of its politicized content and push it to the top while others were left with nothing. While this is an exciting time for the company, it might have more to say about how the Emmys were hosted.

However, the writer of Handmaid’s Tale said this was the beginning of something special, and it was normal for people to talk out about her content. She said it was the same when she first released her book.

Football & Politics: Understanding How It Has Worked Together

There has been a lot in the news recently about politics entering sports and arguments over whether or not this is appropriate. This has been especially true in football when Colin Kaepernick (and others) kneeled during the National Anthem before the game, and when asked about it mentioned he was protesting the shooting of unarmed people of color by the police, who were then almost never punished. This led to a predictable political fall out with one side yelling about free speech, one side claiming what he (and all other athletes supporting him) were doing was disrespectful to the U.S. military, and some moderates trying to find a common ground.

So what is the history of football and politics and what exactly should their relationship be?

Who Started The Politics?

There’s some disagreement about this. While the name Colin Kaepernick comes up a lot, he was by far not the only one and in fact had teammates with him who also protested (and continue to be employed in the NFL). He was an early adopter of social justice protesting that included kneeling during the anthem, a move he says he adopted over sitting after talking with several former members of the special forces.

On the other hand, it’s a legitimate point to argue that Kaepernick and many other athletes wouldn’t be protesting at all if there wasn’t an injustice they felt like wasn’t getting enough attention or conversation. That’s generally the basis of peaceful protesting.

Another fact that has come up is the fact that the military has paid the NFL a considerable amount of money to create those pre-game displays and to have athletes out on the field during the singing of the national anthem. This wasn’t a long time tradition, but was a program designed to get the military out and associated with the NFL as a way to help spike recruitment numbers.

So in other words, politics was already injected into the NFL and that goes without even looking at the fact that local tax payers often have to float the bill for building a new stadium.

A Historical Way For POC To Speak Out

The truth is that politics have long been a part of the Civil Rights movement. Muhummad Ali and Jackie Robinson were major figures because sports hits a common chord across American culture. Their platform was a way to deal with deeper issues, so this is a situation that isn’t without precedence.

What Does This Mean?

Honestly, hard to say. There are strong passions on both sides of the issue of free speech, its exercise, and a lot of spin over this entire situation. Only time will tell how this particular chapter plays itself out.

Consequences Of Leaving The Paris Agreement

Currently, The United States is responsible for nearly one-fifth (20%) of all the global emissions. By leaving the Paris Climate Change Agreement there are serious consequences.

The entire world is working together for three major things:  and their leaving this agreement is a big slap in the face.

  1. To reduce carbon output
  2.  Transition to renewable energy sources
  3. Locking in future climate measures

And with The United States leaving this agreement, it is a big slap in the face to the global community at large.

President Trump defense is that the Paris Agreement would impose a high cost on the U.S economy. He claims:

  1. Job Losses – Trump claimed that 2.7 million jobs would be lost.
  2. Not Effective – Trump claims the tiny temperature decrease isn’t worth it
  3. Economic Impact – Trump claims that the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) would lose $3 trillion dollars
  4. Blackouts and Burnouts – Trump claims we need fossil fuel for electricity
  5. We Already Donate – Trump claims we don’t need to be in the agreement because we already donate the U.N.

With Trump’s America First Plan, the climate change agreement puts the world first and that is why we left the agreement.

Here’s the reality of the situation:

  1. Solar energy jobs continue to increase as coal jobs continue to decrease. As the world becomes more environmentally conscious new technology will emerge and so will new jobs
  2. In the past 100 years, the temperature has risen .9 degrees and there has been devastating consequences to our planet. If we can reduce the overall increase in temperature fluctuation by .9 degrees by 2100 – how can it not be significant?
  3. This claim is based on the current carbon tax rate that the US imposes. With less carbon, less tax which equals less income for the government. Real estimates believe the GDP would lose only .10% of its total income
  4. This is incorrect. Here’s what causes blackouts and brownouts: weather, animals, equipment failure, earthquakes, digging, and lightning. High energy demand is a cause but only on very hot summer days and it’s not from lack of power. It’s from excessive heat – heat from the environment and the equipment causing equipment failure! And with global temperature annual rising this will be a problem regardless.
  5. If you produce most of the emissions, donating does not make that any less. You still make the emissions and you should try to stop it.

As you can see, this is a very frustrating situation. The Individual States have agreed to be part of te Paris Agreement and plan on implementing state-level changes to help reduce overall emissions.

What is Gerrymandering and How Does it Work?

Gerrymandering is a practice that is sometimes used in politics to divide districts in a way that will allow one side to have a political advantage in an election.

Imagine that a state has 100 precincts, of which 60 are in favour of Party A, and 40 are skewed towards Party B, but voting is done by district not by precinct. Depending on which precincts are in which district, it could be possible for Party B to control more precincts than Party A, thereby winning the election.

Historically, districts or constituencies have been decided by geography alone, which makes the election process broadly fair because political alignment does not come into account – however if the central government has typically focused on, say, “the rich south” then “the poor north” may skew towards a different government because of a feeling of isolation from those in power. If there were some strongholds towards the current government in areas where it typically struggles to get votes, then in theory the practice of gerrymandering could be used to turn constituencies ‘the right color’ in the voting process.

Gerrymandering has negative connotations, and it is not something that is considered good practice, but it can be hard to tell the true motivations of changing the lines for a district or constituency. If the reason behind the change was one of practicality, or even intended to ensure that elections were more fair, then that is a different case. Manipulating boundaries to create more competitive elections is still a form of gerrymandering, but it is less controversial because it offers better representation for the whole population. Such changes are achieved by the use of neutral bodies that work with statistics or through the work of cross-party bodies, to ensure everyone has a voice. There have been occasions where such work has been vocally opposed by parties that benefit from gerrymandering, especially in the UK and the USA.

In some cases, rather than changing boundaries, the changes are achieved by counting prisoners as being a part of the district in which the prison is located, rather than in the area that the prisoner usually lives. This affects the percentage of non-voters significantly, and can have an impact on the overall outcome of an election as an indirect result, while adversely affecting the areas where there are no prisons, by comparison

Some Of The Pros And Cons Of Marijuana Legalization

In the United States, marijuana has been illegal for most the past 100 years or so. However, some states, such as Colorado and Washington, have now legalized owning personal quantities of marijuana with encouragement from attorneys and other legal advisors. However, this has opened up a lot of debate in other states about the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana. There are plenty of opinions on both sides and the different sides aren’t split along the usual political line either.

Legalized Marijuana Frees Up Policeman

One of the huge reasons to legalize weed is to free up the jails, courtrooms, and policemen to focus on other, more important crimes. There is always a shortage of money in the justice system so crimes have to be prioritized by importance with the most serious getting the resources and the lesser crimes not so much. In states that have now legalized smoking weed the police no longer need to pay any attention to those that are only smoking and can focus on dangerous felons.

It also relieves the huge burden that many young people pay when they enter the justice system after being arrested. The lawyers, fines, and jail time take their toll and leave many people in debt for years. Now they can be left in peace and not worry about being arrested.

There Are Benefits To Medical Marijuana As Well

The most common two drugs in weed have two different effects on the human body. One, the THC is what causes people to feel euphoric, or high, the other CBD has a full range of benefits that have nothing to do with feeling high at all. The CBD has been shown to be highly effective in reducing joint pain caused by arthritis. Many sufferers of arthritis have been taking opiates for so long that they’ve lost their effects and they have to keep increasing the dosage. By smoking medical marijuana that has a high CBD content they can reduce or completely replace all of the prescription pain medication they’re taking.

Although the evidence is still being collected and research being done to prove its effectiveness, many veterans swear by marijuana as a treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Some US states have allowed prescriptions to be written so that those seeking help can smoke marijuana for relief. The US Department of Vets Affairs publicly states that there is no evidence of it working on PTSD yet millions of Vets go on PTSD forums and state their claims that it’s the best treatment available.

There Are Some Cons To Legalizing Marijuana

Obviously, people getting high is not the best use of their time, and driving a vehicle after smoking can be dangerous as well. But many people do the same after consuming alcohol and there are systems in place to reduce this particular type of abuse.

If nothing else, freeing up the justice system from the huge backlog of pot smokers will save a lot of money. At the same time, many of the states that legalize the drug are also collecting taxes on it and making money. The debate will rage on and eventually more states will legalize smoking marijuana and more studies will be done on it’s use in pain relief, PTSD, depression and other diseases as well.