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Monday, August 31, 2020

Walmart+ will finally launch in September. Can it compete with Amazon Prime?

Two Walmart+ bags filled with groceries and other merchandise sit in front of the front door of a house The Walmart+ membership program launches September 15. Can it offer an alternative to Amazon Prime? | Walmart

One Walmart executive says the new program is “the ultimate life hack”

Walmart’s much-anticipated membership program, Walmart+, will finally launch nationwide September 15, the company announced today, about six months after the Covid-19 pandemic pushed the retailer to delay its original timing. The brick-and-mortar retail giant needs the program to be successful to stop top-spending customers from fleeing to Amazon Prime.

Walmart+ will cost $98 a year, or $12.95 a month, and focus mainly on unlimited delivery of groceries and other general merchandise from Walmart stores that will be delivered as soon as the same day they are ordered. Members also get fuel discounts at Walmart gas stations and those of partners, as well as access to “Scan & Go” technology which allows shoppers to use smartphones to scan goods at Walmart stores and exit without stopping to pay a cashier. The company says it will add more perks in the future. Recode previously reported these may include a branded credit card, early availability on product deals, and potentially access to a popular streaming video service.

Walmart wants the membership program to be “the ultimate life hack” for customers, Walmart Chief Customer Officer Janey Whiteside told Recode in an interview on Monday, arguing that its perks will save customers both time and money.

At the same time, Walmart+ will undoubtedly attract comparisons to Amazon’s Prime program, the ultra popular delivery and entertainment membership program that boasts more than 150 million members worldwide and has developed into a retail industry wrecking ball since its launch in 2005. Amazon Prime includes express delivery of millions of products (including groceries), video streaming of a large library of TV shows and movies, music streaming, and other perks. It now costs $119 a year, and Prime customers spend more and shop more frequently than non-Prime members.

And, most importantly for Walmart, more than half of Walmart’s top-spending families are now Prime members, as Recode previously reported. Which begs the question: Will they really subscribe to both membership programs?

When asked about comparisons to Prime on Monday, Whiteside told Recode that “we didn’t necessarily launch Walmart+ to compete with anything else.” And that answer makes sense; the head-to-head comparison between the services does not look great for Walmart when considering online customers who value the widest selection of goods or the longest list of perks.

In addition to the unlimited delivery perk — which is basically just a rebrand of Walmart’s existing Delivery Unlimited membership — Walmart+ only features two other benefits at launch. One is fuel discounts of up to 5 cents per gallon at Walmart, Murphy USA, and Murphy Express gas stations (Sam’s Club gas stations are slated to be included soon). The other perk is access to Walmart’s “Scan & Go” technology for in-store shopping, which allows shoppers to scan items with their phone, scan their phone at a self-checkout kiosk, and walk out of the store without stopping to pay. Walmart briefly tested, but discontinued the tool, two years ago. Walmart’s bet is that the mix of online, in-store, and on-the-go perks, like fuel discounts, will carry unique appeal. Whiteside said that “deepening a relationship further will mean we will get an even greater share of wallet from those customers.” Of course, some Walmart shoppers will also value the $21 difference between the annual fee of Walmart+ and Amazon Prime.

Amazon has made moves in recent years for Prime to appeal to households with less disposable income that historically have favored shopping at Walmart. Amazon added a monthly payment option for Prime fees in 2016, a 45 percent Prime fee discount for those on government assistance in 2017, and most recently, ways for Prime customers to pay for orders with cash. By early 2017, Amazon Prime membership growth was strongest in the US for households making less than $50,000 a year, according to a study by Robert W. Baird & Co.

The success of Walmart+ will likely hinge on how many customers are attracted to the core grocery delivery component of it. While Walmart’s overall grocery business is larger than Amazon’s and its prices are often cheaper, one fear is that top Walmart customers could eventually turn to Amazon for groceries as they get sucked further into the Prime suite of perks. Sources previously told Recode that some Walmart execs believe that top-spending Walmart families that subscribe to Amazon Prime will still be attracted to Walmart+ because its fresh grocery prices are often lower than those Amazon offers.

In the past, some Walmart executives have opposed a paid membership program, seeing Walmart’s competitive advantage as giving shoppers everyday low prices without the need to splurge on a membership fee. Whiteside promised that the low prices will remain even for those who don’t splurge for the bonus services.

“In no way does this membership program take anything away from customer who don’t choose to, or can’t afford to, engage with this,” he said.

On the company’s earnings call earlier this month, CEO Doug McMillon stressed the flexibility of Walmart’s customer offerings.

“We’re going to have multiple ways to serve them, and those families will decide in that moment how they want to shop,” McMillon said. “And sometimes they’ll be in the store, and sometimes they’ll do pickup, and sometimes they’ll do delivery, and many of them will buy a membership, and when they do they’ll get benefits from that.”



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Trump alleges Biden controlled by people in ‘dark shadows’


President Donald Trump alleged unnamed people in “dark shadows” are controlling Democratic nominee Joe Biden in an interview with Laura Ingraham that aired Monday night on Fox News.

In discussing what he characterized as anarchists and thugs terrorizing American cities, Trump said, “People that you've never heard of, people that are in the dark shadows” are pulling the strings of the Democratic nominee.

Ingraham asked the president to elaborate, saying, “That sounds like a conspiracy theory.“

Trump specified: “There are people that are on the streets, there are people that are controlling the streets.”

The president then offered further description of what he characterized as secret plotters, without providing specifics that could allow for the verification of the story.

“We had somebody get on a plane from a certain city this weekend. And in the plane, it was almost completely loaded with thugs, wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms, with gear and this and that,“ Trump told the Fox News host.

He added: “A lot of the people were on the plane to do big damage.”

Ingraham asked him for further detail. Saying it was under investigation, Trump replied, “I’ll tell you sometime.”

Trump also offered theories about unrest in some American cities, alleging, for instance, that “Portland has been burning for many years, for decades it's been burning" and repeatedly asserting that protesters there wanted to kill Mayor Ted Wheeler.



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Alabama’s Nick Saban leads players, coaches in BLM march

The group march was in protest of police brutality against Black men and women.

University of Alabama student-athletes took part in a “March for Change” in Tuscaloosa on Monday, led by football coach Nick Saban

The event was in protest of police brutality against Black men and women, and occurred a week after the Wisconsin police shooting of Jacob Blake.

Saban, the Crimson Tide footballers, coaches, staffers and other athletes, marched on campus from the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility to Foster Auditorium, where segregationist Gov. George Wallace blocked two Black students from entering in 1963, per WVTM.com.

Read More: Nuggets’ Jamal Murray gets emotional over BLM after 50-point game

Similar marches have been held at schools such as Oklahoma, Kansas, Duke, Baylor, Mississippi and Mississippi State.

“For certain, we can’t let this momentum die,” Crimson Tide tailback Najee Harris said. “This has to be an ongoing movement until change happens.

He added, “We must do more as a team and as individuals to keep this movement going.”

During the demonstration, Harris wore a T-shirt with the message “Defend Black Lives.”

Several players held signs with messages about “Black Lives Matter” and one sign read “Until Black Lives Matter” on the front and “All lives can’t matter” on the back.

“Sports has always created a platform for social change,” Saban said. “For each of us involved in sports, I think we have a responsibility and obligation to do that in a responsible way and use our platform in a positive way to try to create social change in positive ways. Through this process, I’ve learned a lot from our players. I don’t get to see the world through the same lens that a lot of players do, that they live the world in,” he continued.

“Today, I’m like a proud parent,” Saban said outside Foster Hall after leading the march. “I’m proud of our team. I’m proud of our messengers and I’m proud of our message.”

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The clash over Kenosha: Biden flips script on Trump as campaign heats up


Hours apart and on different stages, Joe Biden and Donald Trump leveled scathing criticisms at one another Monday over their handling of the violent protests raging in two U.S. cities.

The crux of their clash: Whose leadership poses the most dangerous threat to the country?

With the conventions over and the final post-Labor Day leg of the race a week away, the day marked the start of a more urgent phase of the campaign. On display was a stark contrast between two visions of how to confront an inflection point on race and the power of law enforcement.

Biden went first. In a major speech in Pittsburgh, he offered a sweeping indictment of Trump’s America, highlighting failures in his handling of the coronavirus and portraying the president as so desperate to hold on to power that he is resorting to fear and hatred as a campaign strategy.

“He keeps telling us if he were president you would feel safe. Well he is president, whether he knows it or not,” Biden said. “Does anyone think there will be less violence in America if Donald Trump is reelected?”



After days of Trump contending that Biden was a tool of a radical movement sowing discord in American cities, Biden tried to put the president on his heels. Biden called on Trump to denounce all forms of violence and accused him of fanning unrest with streams of tweets, including some that seemed to support confrontations in the streets.

“The road back begins now, in this campaign. You know me. You know my heart, and you know my story, my family’s story,” Biden said in the speech, which was carried live on several cable networks. “Ask yourself: Do I look to you like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?"

He added, "I want a safe America — safe from Covid, safe from crime and looting, safe from racially motivated violence, safe from bad cops. And, let’s be crystal clear: Safe from four more years of Donald Trump.”

Biden spoke on the eve of Trump’s Tuesday trip to Kenosha, Wis., the site of deadly clashes and destruction after the shooting of Jacob Blake last week. The president is planning to meet with law enforcement officials, ignoring Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' plea to stay away, lest Trump ratchet up tensions further.

Trump has claimed credit for bringing calm to Kenosha, even though it was Evers who initially deployed the National Guard. Some local Democrats, however, have complained that Biden took too long to denounce the violence. They fear that Trump's law-and-order message might sway swing voters who want an end to the mayhem.

But Trump seemed to cede whatever ground he might have gained when he turned to social media and not only refused to condemn violence from some of his own supporters, but retweeted a video of his supporters attacking protesters. His spokesperson later said he hadn’t watched it.

Biden, in his speech, dared the president to reject violence perpetrated by his own supporters. Yet hours later at a White House briefing, Trump refused to do so, even when he was asked about his supporters shooting pepper spray and paint balls at protesters.

Biden's Monday speech took on Trump directly in a way the Democrat had not during his convention speech two weeks ago, when he did not utter the president's name. The Democrat called out Trump by name, insisting the president owned the violence in Kenosha, Portland and other American cities, after four years of fanning racial tensions. In doing so, he also defended the Obama administration's record on crime.


After months of test-driving ways to brand Biden, Trump and his allies have settled on painting him as an unwitting instrument of socialists and left-wing radicals. They say Biden is too oblivious to understand he’s being exploited, and too weak to buck their orthodoxy in the rare times when he does.

But each time Trump has tried to tag Biden, the Democrat emerged with the upper hand and his lead in polls has grown.

The run-ins follow a familiar pattern. Trump bet that Biden could not defy growing calls from the left to defund the police. In response, Biden said he not only opposes defunding police but wants to spend more on law enforcement. Trump said Biden supports banning hydraulic fracturing. Biden said unequivocally he does not.

And Trump has repeatedly returned to the idea that Biden would refuse to condemn rioting so as not to offend liberal voters. But Biden has repeatedly denounced the people rioting, looting and setting fires to property.

“None of this is protesting — it’s lawlessness, plain and simple,” Biden said Monday.

When Trump took the podium at the White House later, he tried to blame Biden and his party for the violence wracking cities. But Trump refused to condemn all of the actors contributing to the chaos, including right-wing supporters of his campaign. He said the men wielding paintball guns were using the substance as “a defensive mechanism."

“Paint is not bullets,” he said.

But when asked about Kyle Rittenhouse — the 17-year old charged with five felonies after shooting three people last week in Kenosha, two fatally — Trump said Rittenhouse was attacked so violently that he could have been killed.

“You saw the same tape as I saw and he was trying to get away,” Trump said. “It's under investigation, but I guess he was in very big trouble. He probably would've been killed.”

Rittenhouse has been charged as an adult with two counts of first degree homicide and one count of attempted homicide.

Trump also said he declined to meet with the family of Blake because he was uncomfortable with their request to have lawyers present.

Trump has been highly critical of Biden for having not yet visited Wisconsin. Amid the pandemic, Biden moved his acceptance speech from Milwaukee to Wilmington, Delaware, citing safety concerns.

“Joe Biden has refused to travel to Wisconsin for over 670 days, so it should not come as a surprise that he is refusing to visit the Badger State and address the ongoing riots and violence," said Trump campaign spokesperson Samantha Zager. "Despite claiming he would actually start campaigning for president, it’s clear Biden prefers to hide from his failed record and the Democrat failures to protect our cities."

Biden is preparing for a more robust travel schedule after Labor Day but might visit Wisconsin later this week, according to the campaign.



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Belarus opposition leader: Dozens disappeared after protests


They are Europe's "disappeared."

Dozens of people arrested while protesting the Belarus presidential election have vanished and remain unaccounted for — and the EU should not forget them, opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said Monday.

In an interview with POLITICO, Tikhanovskaya, who fled to neighboring Lithuania in fear for her own safety, described her missing supporters as political prisoners made to disappear by the regime of strongman Alexander Lukashenko, who is still clinging to power despite continuing widespread protests and labor strikes over the disputed August 9 election.

"What I want to tell is that a lot of people in Belarus now are political prisoners," Tikhanovskaya said, speaking by videoconference. "They just are in jail without any court, and they are in there only for their, I don't know, for their wish to talk about what's going on in Belarus, about their desire to live in a free country.

"After the demonstrations," she said in halting but clear English, "we still don't know where about 70 people are and they are miss[ing] and it's a very big problem for us because it shouldn't be in a European country in the 21st century that people are miss[ing] and authorities don't do anything just to find them.

"Everybody has seen all the violence that our authorities have committed, our police committed toward all these peaceful people," Tikhanovskaya said. "And not one criminal case was organized to investigate this, you know these crimes, as if it's normal. No, it's not normal and cases should be opened against every policeman that beat these people."

Tikhanovskaya spoke to POLITICO a day after tens of thousands of people again took to the streets in Minsk, and Lukashenko deployed large contingents of riot police, and cordoned off key buildings, including the residence of the embattled leader who was celebrating his 66th birthday.

She expressed confidence that the protests, along with labor strikes, would continue until Lukashenko relinquished power, and she suggested that his opponents were prepared for a long struggle that could take on new forms.

"Strikes are extremely important and also strikes can have different forms," she said. "There are many ways, and it is not only through demonstrations.

"I know that this will not stop," she added. "You should understand ... we woke up ... we will not accept him anymore."

In the interview, Tikhanovskaya restated her commitment to leading the country only to new, free elections, and said she had no plan to serve long-term as president. She said that the release of political prisoners, including her husband Sergei Tikhanovsky, as well as the replacement of the country's entire central election commission remained top preconditions for a new vote.

She acknowledged that she is now a "national leader" and "I can consider myself to be a national elected president," but she said, "I don't feel myself comfortable in this position.

"I understand that people voted for me," she said. "But they voted for me not as president, they voted for me as a person who will lead the country to new elections.

"I am not going to be involved in new elections and I don't have a right to participate in them because I promised my people that I will not take part," she said. "My mission will be over ... when we will organize these elections."

She added that it would be up to her husband to decide if he still wanted to run for president after being released from prison and she said she was not sure that he had full information about the recent developments in the country given his incarceration.

Throughout the interview, Tikhanovskaya sought to portray the protests as a domestic political issue without a larger geopolitical narrative pitting Russia and former Soviet territories against the West, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and others have tried to assert.

She also expressed relatively little concern about Russian intervention and seemed to go out of her way to avoid provoking the Kremlin, even refraining from criticizing the Russian government over the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption protester who has become a nemesis of President Vladimir Putin.

"Of course we are against any such cases, any violence, any poisoning of people, it shouldn't be solved like this, it's absolutely inhuman," she said of Navalny, who is currently receiving medical treatment in Germany. "But I can't, you know, talk about this, because there should be real investigation in this case. And I can't blame anybody without investigation."

Tikhanovskaya said it was up to foreign political leaders levying sanctions against Belarus, including EU leaders, to decide if Lukashenko should personally face sanctions. And she paused for a long while when asked if Lukashenko should be brought to justice before an international tribunal in The Hague.

"You know, I think I am not ready to answer this question openly because I think that at the moment at least, at the moment, it's the responsibility of the Belarusian people to stand for their freedom, for their rights. And you know I have to think over your question, because I never thought about this problem from this point of view. Hmm. Hmm. Hmm, I will think it over."

She said the decision by Lukashenko's regime to strip the credentials of many foreign journalists was indicative of the government's effort to hide evidence of police violence and other abuses. And she said opposition forces would remain peaceful and were willing to negotiate with anyone in a position to bring about a new round of free, fair elections.

She also defended her decision to leave for Lithuania, saying it was necessary not only for her personal safety but has allowed her to communicate with international leaders and publicize the plight of her supporters. Still, despite expressing gratitude for the support of outside powers, she urged that Belarus be allowed to stand on its own.

"We are peaceful people and we don't want anything except to solve this problem," she said. "We want these people to go away and to build our country with a new president. It's not about geopolitics. It's our internal affair and we ask for respect of our sovereignty. We ask every country — but in case we need any kind of help in these negotiations, in case we need mediators, we ask to just be ready to help us."



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Florida girl, 6, allegedly killed by mother after parental rights terminated

The child was stabbed multiple times with a kitchen knife, and died at a local hospital from her injuries.

A Florida mother is behind bars and facing a second-degree murder charge after allegedly stabbing her 6-year-old daughter to death.

Purkanah Mayo, 36, is being held without bond for the August 19 killing of the child named Atarah

DCF reported that Mayo’s parental rights were previously terminated and that she was visiting the child’s home at the time of the attack, according to PEOPLE. Six others were also in the home at the time, including another child who was not injured, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said. That child is reportedly in the care of the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Read More: Florida woman slaps Black boy, calls him the N-word

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help cover the Atarah’s funeral costs.

The organizer of the GoFundMe fundraiser, Paige Savitz, said: “I was blessed to have known Atarah. She was a bright young girl, with a contagious smile and a huge heart.”

She added: “Atarah lost her life tragically on August 19, 2020. I am raising money to help her family with funeral expenses and as a Memorial to Atarah. Please keep this family in your prayers.”

At the time of this post, the campaign has raised over $9,000. 

According to News4Jax, Atarah was stabbed multiple times with a kitchen knife. She died at a local hospital from her injuries.

Mayo allegedly stabbed herself with the same knife after killing her child. She spent several days in the hospital and was treated for the self-inflicted wounds. She was released on Friday.

“I let my kids play here. We’ve got a basketball hoop out front. We know most of the neighbors in the neighborhood,” said local Arlington resident Casandra Shuman of the killing. “Generally speaking, this is a really quiet neighborhood (with) much older people.”

When Mayo appeared in court on Saturday, she did not plead to the second-degree murder charge against her.

Police have not revealed a motive in the child’s slaying.

Mayor is due back in court on Sept. 21.

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‘The Fresh Prince’ cast to reunite on HBO Max

The popular TV show cast will get together for a special unscripted show on HBO Max

One of the most beloved casts in TV history is getting back together – but just for one night on HBO Max. The cast of The Fresh Prince of Bel-AirWill Smith, Daphne Maxwell Reid, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Joseph Marcelli, Karyn Parsons, Alfonso Ribiero, and Tatyana Ali –will all be on the show, reports Variety.

Read More: Marvel Studios remember Chadwick Boseman with heartfelt tribute video

The reunion will be taped on Sept. 10 and is expected to air by Thanksgiving, the outlet says. It will celebrate the classic TV show’s 30th anniversary.

Fresh Prince thegrio.com
(Credit: NBC)

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which ran for six seasons on NBC from 1990-1996, is one of the most popular TV shows in history. It became an integral part of the 90s pop culture, made Smith a superstar, and inspired filmmaker Morgan Cooper into doing a trailer for a proposed reboot.

As theGrio reported, it was announced earlier this year that the reboot, a darker, more dramatic take on the original, would happen. Smith and the show’s original creators, Andy and Susan Borowitz, along with its original producers, Quincy Jones, and Benny Medina will be on board.

Will Smith and Jeff “DJ Jazzy Jeff” Townes (Getty Photos)

No details of the reunion show have yet been provided, but its likely there will be some kind of tribute to the late actor James Avery, who played Uncle Phil on the show. The cast gathered earlier this year via Smith’s Snapchat to share their memories of Avery who died at the age of 68 in 2013.

Read More: Niecy Nash announces marriage to Jessica Betts: ‘Love wins’

Below, Smith tells the hilarious story of how he actually became the star of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

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Mariah Carey on Ellen DeGeneres pregnancy interview: ‘I was extremely uncomfortable’

The superstar singer remembers an awkward interview with Ellen on her show

Ellen DeGeneres has been under fire for creating and tolerating a toxic workplace on her show. Recently, music legend Mariah Carey came forward to reveal the daytime talk show host made her feel uncomfortable during a now-infamous appearance on The Ellen Show.

Amidst all the controversy around DeGeneres’ workplace behavior, a clip of her interviewing Carey in 2008 has resurfaced as an example of how the comedian often hid her alleged mean streak in plain sight under the guise of humor.

READ MORE: Mariah Carey releases ‘Save the Day’ featuring Lauryn Hill, from upcoming album

At the time of the sit-down, the pop star was rumored to be pregnant but intentionally avoided confirming it to the public until she was sure the pregnancy would go to term.

2018 American Music Awards - Press Room
Mariah Carey poses in the press room during the 2018 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on October 9, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images For dcp)

However, many pointed out that DeGeneres seemingly ignored that boundary and repeatedly attempted to get the singer to drink champagne on camera as a way to get her to confirm or deny the rumors.

What’s worse is Carey miscarried soon after.

READ MORE: Kevin Hart spotted with Ellen DeGeneres after defending her from toxic workplace allegations

“I was extremely uncomfortable with that moment is all I can say. And I really have had a hard time grappling with the aftermath,” she recently told Vulture of the moment that many characterize as an incident of a joke going too far.

“I wasn’t ready to tell anyone because I had had a miscarriage. I don’t want to throw anyone that’s already being thrown under any proverbial bus, but I didn’t enjoy that moment,” Carey explained, going on to say that there is “an empathy that can be applied to those moments that I would have liked to have been implemented. But what am I supposed to do? It’s like, [sings] ‘What are you going to do?’ ”

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Twitter changing labeling practices after deceptive videos hit Biden


Twitter said Monday it will begin displaying warning labels on shared posts that contain misleading or doctored videos after facing complaints that it failed to do enough to limit the spread of deceptive clips targeting Joe Biden's campaign.

Key context: The social network in recent days has slapped labels on tweets by prominent Republican officials that contained deceptively edited or altered videos, including posts by House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, White House social media director Dan Scavino and the reelection campaign for President Donald Trump.

On Monday, the Trump campaign tweeted a truncated clip of Biden saying, "You won't be safe in Joe Biden's America." The clip was in fact from a speech in which Biden said Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were making that argument. The full quote from the speech: "Trump and Pence are running on this, and I find it fascinating: Quote, 'You won't be safe in Joe Biden's America.' And what's their proof? The violence we're seeing in Donald Trump's America."

Twitter later added a "manipulated media" label to the tweet.


What's changing: Until now, the labels did not appear when users shared the posts through what the platform calls “quote tweets ”— retweets with added comment from another user. Kayvon Beykpour, Twitter’s head of product, said in a tweet that the company started rolling out a fix Monday to address the issue, which he called “a gap in implementation” of its policy against so-called manipulated media.

The company earlier this year announced it would begin labeling and in some cases removing tweets “containing synthetic and manipulated media” — part of an effort to curb viral misinformation on the platform ahead of the 2020 elections.

But that doesn’t mean the label will appear everywhere: A Twitter spokesperson said late Monday that while the fix has now been implemented “for nearly 100 percent” of the places where posts labeled under the policy appear, it has not yet been extended to the company’s popular dashboard app, TweetDeck.

“We're working at continuing to expand where these labels appear,” Twitter spokesperson Trenton Kennedy said.

Why some say much more is needed: Twitter’s policy on deceptively edited videos has come under fire from critics on the left who say the platform hasn’t enforced it fully and that the labels don’t do enough to limit the spread of misleading posts.

“This fake video has racked up tens of thousands of views despite it’s tiny 'Manipulated Media' tag,” the liberal activist group Sleeping Giants tweeted Monday about the Scavino post.

The group added in a separate post, “Why does @twitter label manipulated media instead of simply removing it? It can easily be ripped and tweeted out thousands of times across the platform without the ability to label all of them!”

The White House, the Trump campaign and the Biden campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Scavino on Sunday posted a fake altered video that appeared to show Biden falling asleep during a television interview.

Biden on Sunday took issue with a separate tweet by Scalise that included video of a doctored exchange between Biden and health care activist Ady Barkan, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's disease.

"This video is doctored — and a flagrant attempt to spread misinformation at the expense of a man who uses assistive technology," Biden tweeted. "It should be removed. Now."

Republicans have skewered Twitter for labeling tweets by Trump and his allies, accusing the company of bias against conservatives, a charge it denies.

The Trump campaign took aim at critics of its Monday tweet about "Joe Biden's America," writing in a separate post, "To all the triggered journalists who can't take a joke about their candidate, it's not our fault Joe Biden was dumb enough to say this on camera."



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Amid images of violence, Trump sees an opportunity


The Trump White House and campaign are leaning into social unrest in Kenosha, Wis., and Portland as the president’s most potent case for reelection, viewing the violence as a pivotal opportunity to tighten the race and quickly gain ground on Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Trump and his aides have long wanted to change the subject from the ravages of the coronavirus – and now, amid deadly unrest in Wisconsin and Oregon, much of Trump world feels like it’s finally found a new target.

The recent events give President Donald Trump the opportunity to broadly reframe the election in terms he and his aides feel will be far more favorable to him. They hope to make it a referendum on public safety — a topic that tends to energize the Republican base — rather than an up-or-down vote on Trump’s handling of a devastating pandemic or still-crippled economy, according to interviews with a half dozen senior administration officials, campaign officials and Trump advisers.

“The mob will leave you alone if you give them what you want,” Trump warned Monday night during a White House briefing that at times sounded more like a campaign speech. “It doesn't work that way. Because you give and give and give, and you take and they no longer respect you. And that's what's happening with the Democrats.”

The Trump orbit intends to keep hammering its emerging law-and-order message on Tuesday when Trump visits Kenosha, the city where a white police officer recently shot a Black 29-year-old, Jacob Blake, in the back seven times in front of his three children, ages 3 to 8. Since that police shooting, violence has plagued the city — from arson to looting to an armed white vigilante accused of killing two people during a protest.

The president himself on Monday defended that shooting suspect and declined to criticize his own supporters who fired paintball guns on protesters in Portland — calling their actions a “peaceful protest.”



In Kenosha, the president plans to meet with local law enforcement and business owners and examine the damage from recent riots. Trump said he does not plan to meet with Blake’s family.

Although White House aides had been considering a visit to Kenosha in recent days, a firm plan was not yet in place until a reporter asked Trump about it on Saturday as he surveyed hurricane damage in Texas, and he said he would probably go. Aides rushed to make the visit happen, even as the Democratic governor of Wisconsin pleaded with Trump to stay away and wrote in a letter that the president’s presence would only “hinder our healing.”

Trump and his team were not deterred. The president on Monday dismissed concerns his visit could exacerbate tensions in the area, claiming it will “increase enthusiasm and it could increase love and respect for our country.”

Many aides believe zeroing in on public safety is a winning message in key swing states such as Wisconsin and among key demographic groups including suburban, female and independent voters.

Polling conducted Aug. 17-20 by the pro-Trump group America First Policies showed that messaging saying Democrats are to blame for the unrest would resonate with Republican, independent and male voters and residents of closely contested states in this election cycle, according to a copy of the poll results obtained by POLITICO.

The majority of independent voters in that group’s polling were also receptive to the idea that the protests are no longer about racial injustice and instead have morphed into a platform for those who want to tear down the government — themes the Trump campaign and White House have latched onto in recent days.

“The president’s tweets suggest he is not going to Kenosha to be a hero,” said presidential historian Timothy Naftali. “Donald Trump has signaled that he wants to politicize the anger in our streets and the question in this election is whether Americans would prefer, as they used to prefer, a candidate who seeks to calm the streets or who can look for a middle way.”

Typically, incumbent presidents who oversee such tumult – in this case, from a pandemic and social unrest – do not win reelection nor do they visit troubled cities they oversee, added Naftali, a professor at New York University.

The Trump campaign has been seeking to cast the violence, looting and arson as examples of failed leadership at the local level in blue cities and states rather than a byproduct of the president’ style, his incendiary approach to politics or his aggressive tweeting.

Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told reporters Monday that the president has reacted to the violence by offering to send in the National Guard to cities, or by supporting proposed legislation on police reform from Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina.

Murtaugh sought to make the unrest an issue seemingly separate from the White House by saying the president did not condone violence in any city.

But Trump’s Twitter feed reached a fever pitch in recent days over the issue. “The Radical Left Mayors & Governors of Cities where this crazy violence is taking place have lost control of their ‘Movement’. It wasn’t supposed to be like this, but the Anarchists & Agitators got carried away and don’t listen anymore — even forced Slow Joe out of basement!” Trump wrote on Twitter mid-morning Monday.

A recent spate of non-partisan polls before the GOP convention, however, show the issue of public safety and law order does not necessarily give Trump an advantage over Biden.

A CNN poll from mid-August showed voters narrowly preferred Biden, 50 to 47 percent, when asked which candidate would keep Americans “safe from harm.” Roughly the same result showed up in a Fox News poll from mid-August in which Biden led Trump, 48 percent to 42 percent of voters, on policing and criminal justice issues.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed voters giving Trump a slight preference when asked which candidate was better equipped to deal with crime. That polling occurred before the riots in Kenosha and Portland.

To Trump aides, advisers and allies, the unrest in cities gives Trump a way to contrast his leadership style with Biden. But most importantly, it gives them a break from a pandemic that has killed more than 180,000 Americans. In Monday’s press briefing, Trump briefly touched on coronavirus before turning his attention to cities, social unrest and the Democrats.

And the Trump campaign on Monday succeeded in forcing Biden to respond to their charges that the violence is happening primarily in liberal-run cities. Trump aides say it’s a byproduct of Democratic leadership and foreshadowing of a Biden presidency.

Biden sought to shut down the emerging campaign theme. “Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters?” he said during an appearance in Pittsburgh, where he condoned violence and lawlessness. “These are the images of Donald Trump’s America today.”

At one point, Biden noted that more police officers have died of Covid-19 in 2020 than they have on patrol.

Matthew Choi contributed to this report.



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The election security hole everyone ignores


Growing numbers of elections offices across the U.S. are using electronic devices to sign voters in at the polls — a shift that has occurred with little scrutiny despite a host of security questions and a history of balloting meltdowns.

Problems with the devices, known as electronic pollbooks, caused long lines during this year’s presidential primary in Los Angeles County and contributed to chaos and hours-long waits during Georgia’s primary in June. They led to past years’ snafus in places such as Philadelphia, North Carolina, Indiana and South Dakota.

While tampering with e-pollbooks wouldn’t directly change anyone’s vote, malfunctions or cyberattacks against the devices could sway the outcome in other ways — for instance by causing delays that prevent people from voting.

Pollbooks, unlike voting machines, do not undergo federal testing and certification and have no uniform standards governing their design or security. There is also no oversight of the handful of vendors who dominate the industry to ensure they keep their own networks secure. Kremlin-linked hackers attempted to breach the network of at least one U.S. e-pollbook provider in 2016, according to a leaked NSA document.

Federal lawmakers such as Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) have questioned electronic pollbook makers about the security of their products and networks. E-pollbooks and the companies that make them have gone too long without oversight, Wyden told POLITICO in an email.

“Electronic pollbooks have failed, repeatedly, in elections across the country and are clearly one of the weakest links in our election infrastructure,” he wrote.

Introduced more than a decade ago to replace printed pollbooks, the devices were used by election offices in 36 states in the 2018 elections, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which said the number of jurisdictions using them had risen 48 percent since 2016. Jurisdictions using the devices accounted for about half of all registered voters four years ago, according to the National Academy of Sciences. They are especially common in densely populated urban areas.

The Brennan Center for Justice, which has been involved in improving election administration for more than a decade, calls electronic pollbooks an “overlooked vulnerability.”

“Anecdotally, when you dig into problems that happen at polling places, more often than not it's the electronic pollbooks rather than the voting machines” that cause issues, said Larry Norden, director of the center’s Election Reform Program. “I’ve spoken with a lot of election officials who are frustrated that there are no [national] standards for pollbooks and no testing.”

Election Systems & Software, one of the top providers of e-pollbooks, told POLITICO it would support a change to this state of affairs.

“[W]e believe Congress should establish standards for mandatory testing for both voter registration and pollbooks for all U.S. election providers,” ES&S spokesperson Katina Granger said in an email.


E-pollbooks serve multiple purposes: Voters use them to sign in at the polls, and poll workers use them to verify the voters’ eligibility to cast ballots. In some jurisdictions, they also tell electronic voting machines which digital ballot to display to the voter.

The devices often communicate wirelessly with each other and with backend voter registration databases, offering a potential pathway for hackers who get onto that wireless network to delete or alter voter records — to indicate falsely, for example, that someone has already voted. Hackers could further use the wireless connection to breach the backend databases and other systems connected to them.

Hackers could also manipulate voting machines via pollbooks in jurisdictions where those devices tell electronic voting machines which ballot to display. A hacker could potentially cause an e-pollbook to embed malicious commands in the voter access card, barcode or QR code that some of those devices use to convey instructions to the voting machines, according to Harri Hursti, a security expert and an organizer of the Voting Machine Hacking Village at the annual Def Con security conference.

Some pollbooks can be remotely locked or disabled by election staff, raising the possibility that a malicious actor could do the same.

‘That’s a system design problem’

Security risks aside, the devices have experienced trouble in multiple elections.

During South Dakota’s June 2018 primary, all 44 of Pennington County’s new electronic pollbooks crashed and had to be rebooted repeatedly, causing delays in voting. Precincts with paper backups of the voter roll switched to those, but voting halted for up to 90 minutes in more than a dozen precincts that had to wait for backups, prompting some voters to leave without voting.

In 2018’s midterm elections in Johnson County, Ind., voters waited two to three hours when software used to sync pollbooks slowed or froze. Other states using the same model of pollbooks made by ES&S also experienced problems. An investigation found that all ES&S pollbooks around the country were using the same cloud server to sync, providing a single point of failure when demand exceeded capacity.

In August 2019, Philadelphia’s new pollbooks made by KnowInk — the nation’s leading provider of the devices — failed to properly connect to printers during a test election, causing concern about using them in a November election. And in Georgia, which also rolled out KnowInk e-pollbooks statewide that year, the devices experienced issues during their first election that November.

During this year’s Georgia presidential primary, issues with the KnowInk pollbooks were again among a cascade of troubles that forced some voters to wait up to eight hours. Democratic Senate candidate Jon Ossoff denounced the plethora of election problems as a “disgrace” and “an affront to the principles of our Constitution.”

Georgia officials blamed the pollbook problems specifically on poll workers’ errors and poor training. But county officials and election integrity groups disagreed.

“Look, if one poll worker makes a mistake, that’s user error,” Eddie Perez of the Open Source Election Technology Institute told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “If you have many poll workers unable to operate the system, that’s a system design problem.”

This year presents new challenges for electronic pollbooks. Although more voters than ever are expected to vote from home because of the pandemic, longstanding problems with timely delivery of mail-in ballots will cause many to cast ballots in-person. With sports stadiums being recruited to stand in for some traditional polling places, the potential for meltdowns is high if election officials and pollbook vendors don’t plan for failures.

Wyden said election officials should ensure that every polling place has a paper backup of the voter roll, so poll workers can check in registered voters even if e-pollbooks fail. “Not fixing this issue is the definition of voter suppression,” he said.

Years of glitches

Electronic pollbooks came into vogue after Congress passed the Help American Vote Act in 2002, two years after Florida’s hanging-chad debacle. The law allocated nearly $4 billion for states to purchase new election equipment and make other upgrades.

Voting machine vendors like Diebold Election Systems and ES&S won lucrative contracts for their voting machines — most of them paperless touchscreen machines — and then persuaded election officials to go paperless with pollbooks, too.

Georgia and Maryland were the first to adopt their use statewide in 2006. Both states were already using Diebold voting machines statewide and purchased the company’s ExpressPoll pollbooks as well. But problems arose during their first use in the September 2006 primary in Maryland. A Johns Hopkins University computer science professor working as an election judge called them a “disaster,” and described machines failing to sync at his precinct and crashing and rebooting.

They were problematic in Georgia as well. During the presidential primary in 2008, voters waited up to 90 minutes because the pollbooks kept crashing. Diebold quit the election business in 2009, but Georgia didn’t replace its Diebold voting machines and pollbooks until this year. It now uses KnowInk pollbooks statewide.


No government agency or election integrity group tracks pollbook incidents, so problems generally come to light only in news coverage. Those stories rarely mention the make or vendor of these systems, making it difficult to track which companies and devices have had recurring problems.

To this end, Verified Voting, a nonprofit organization that has long tracked voting machine usage by jurisdiction, has for the first time begun compiling electronic pollbook usage data and made it available online. Though not yet complete, it shows that about a dozen companies sell electronic pollbook systems, with two vendors dominating the market — KnowInk and ES&S. Some states, such as Colorado and Michigan, developed their own pollbook software, which they use statewide.

KnowInk, based in St. Louis, was founded in 2011 by Scott Leiendecker, a former city election director, and has quietly become the leading provider. Leiendecker said his company’s PollPads are used in 29 states, which he declined to identify, plus the District of Columbia. Verified Voting has identified 22 states where jurisdictions use KnowInk e-pollbooks; in those jurisdictions alone, KnowInk accounts for more than 25 percent of all U.S. registered voters.

Second in line is ES&S, founded in Omaha, Neb., under another name in 1974 by brothers Bob and Tod Urosevich. ES&S’s ExpressPoll pollbooks are used in at least 17 states, according to Verified Voting.

How pollbooks work

E-pollbooks vary in design and functionality. Most use customized off-the-shelf laptops and tablets with the pollbook vendor’s software installed. Some can scan a voter’s driver’s license or ID card to speed lookup, and, as already noted, some are used to activate voting machines.

Electronic pollbooks offer advantages over paper pollbooks, such as faster voter check-in and the ability to determine the correct polling place for voters who show up at the wrong one. They can process Election Day voter registrations in states that allow those, and provide near-real-time syncing with other pollbooks and databases to prevent people from voting in multiple places.

The devices also let counties replace traditional precincts with large vote centers, so that people can cast ballots at any convenient location rather than be tethered to their neighborhood. Vote centers need a county's entire voter list, not just a neighborhood subset, which makes printed pollbooks impractical for them.

But these advantages fade when the machines fail and poll workers can't verify a voter’s registration. The fallback when that happens is to make voters cast provisional ballots, but polling places often fail to stock enough of those. Provisional ballots also require more processing and can’t be counted until the voter’s eligibility is verified, therefore increasing the risk that they might not be counted before election results have to be certified.

The Brennan Center found that 17 states using e-pollbooks don’t require a paper backup of the voter roll at polling places, and 32 states using e-pollbooks don’t have contingency plans requiring a minimum number of provisional ballots be available.



When pollbooks fail

The devices generally fail in predictable ways: Crashing or failing to sync are the primary ones. When the problem isn’t poor design or software bugs, it’s usually poor contingency planning on the part of vendors or officials.

The March 3 meltdown in Los Angeles County, for example, was due mostly to poor planning, according to a county report obtained by POLITICO. The county had 10 days of early voting before Election Day but used only a handful of pollbooks during that period. On the day of the presidential primary, when the remaining pollbooks had to be synced, 10 days of voter data had to update at once, which caused the devices to lock up.

Another type of failure causes even more insidious damage to voters’ faith in the system: This occurs when pollbooks indicate falsely that voters are not registered, are in the wrong polling place or have already cast a ballot. The cause is sometimes a software glitch but more often out-of-date voter data that election workers have mistakenly left on pollbooks from a previous election. But these kinds of problems also resemble what would occur if a malicious actor altered individual voter records or replaced the entire database on pollbooks.

In 2010 in Shelby County, Tenn., for example, pollbooks incorrectly indicated that 5,400 voters had already voted. The issue disproportionately affected communities of color.

One of the most high-profile failures of this sort occurred during the 2016 presidential election, when pollbooks in Durham, N.C., indicated falsely that some voters weren’t registered or had already voted. The incident later raised alarms following revelations that Russian hackers had targeted the pollbooks’ vendor, Florida-based VR Systems, and that two days before the election Durham had experienced problems with its VR Systems software and voter database. (VR Systems has denied that its systems were compromised.)

A partial investigation by a contractor hired by the county found that old voter data had been left on some of the pollbooks — attributed to an election staff error — but a definitive investigation never occurred.

Who’s watching the vendors?

Although no federal testing and certification exists for electronic pollbooks, 13 states have certification programs to ensure that the devices meet their own functionality and design requirements. But the requirements vary by state, and not all certified systems are tested or undergo a security review.

KnowInk’s Leiendecker would not answer questions about the security of his company’s systems. “[W]e do not discuss, disclose or divulge any sensitive information involving election security or any specific security initiatives we are engaged in on behalf of our clients,” he wrote in an email.

ES&S did not say whether it had ever hired outside experts to conduct an independent security review of its pollbook. “ES&S thoroughly tests our pollbook product for security, and some of our customers do their own security evaluations of the product,” spokesperson Granger wrote in an email.

To address the absence of independent testing, the nonprofit Center for Internet Security launched a pilot project this year with the federal Election Assistance Commission to develop methods for assessing electronic pollbooks and other election systems that don’t fall under the EAC’s existing testing and certification program.

“This is a very different technology than voting systems,” said Aaron Wilson, senior director of election security at CIS. “It’s often connected to the internet, and the security of these systems is often predicated on the ability to change and update them rapidly to meet the ever-changing security landscape.”

KnowInk and VR Systems have submitted systems for the pilot project. ES&S has not submitted its e-pollbook to the project but plans to submit it to a private security firm, Synack, for examination.

Wilson said CIS will assess each vendors’ internal development processes to verify that they’ve followed security best practices, perform tests to see if their devices can be hacked and assign the pollbook and vendor a series of scores.

“We’re leaving [the conclusions] to the states,” Wilson said.

Ben Hovland, an EAC commissioner since last year, told POLITICO that creating such a centralized program is a no-brainer.

“Why should 50 states have to build 50 different certification programs? That doesn’t make any sense,” he said.



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Trump demands 'patriotic education' in U.S. schools


President Donald Trump said Monday that the nation must restore “patriotic education” in schools as a way to calm unrest in cities and counter “lies” about racism in the United States.

Trump blamed violent protests in Portland, Ore., and other cities in recent months on “left-wing indoctrination” in schools and universities, while accusing his Democratic presidential challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, of giving “moral aid and comfort” to vandals.

“Many young Americans have been fed lies about America being a wicked nation plagued by racism,” Trump said during a news conference. “Indeed, Joe Biden and his party spent their entire convention spreading this hateful and destructive message while refusing to say one word about the violence.”

Trump’s solution: Children must be taught that America is “an exceptional, free and just nation, worth defending, preserving and protecting,” he said.

Democrats are unable, he said, to control a “radical left, crazy movement."

“The only path to unity is to rebuild a shared national identity focused on common American values and virtues of which we have plenty,” he said. “This includes restoring patriotic education in our nation's schools, where they are trying to change everything that we have learned.”


Key context: “Teach American Exceptionalism” is one of two education goals listed on Trump’s second-term “Fighting for You!” agenda released ahead of the president's acceptance of his party's nomination during the Republican National Convention last week.

Decisions about curriculum are made at the state and local level, and Trump's second-term agenda does not detail his path for achieving that education focus.

Shortly before becoming a candidate in 2015, Trump decried the idea of American exceptionalism. But the GOP 2016 platform, which will remain in place for 2020, describes the concept as “the notion that our ideas and principles as a nation give us a unique place of moral leadership in the world.”

Biden’s response: “I urge the President to join me in saying that while peaceful protest is a right — a necessity — violence is wrong, period," Biden said in a statement responding to Trump's remarks. "No matter who does it, no matter what political affiliation they have. Period. If Donald Trump can't say that, then he is unfit to be President, and his preference for more violence — not less — is clear.”



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Black legislator says Congressman tried to get her fired for calling out racism

Rochester Legislator Sabrina LaMar alleges Congressman Joe Morelle used his power to attempt to have her fired from her university job

Sabrina LaMar, a freshman Legislator based in Rochester, NY, is speaking out after she says Congressman Joe Morelle attempted to use his power to have her fired from her university job.  

Read More: New York state legislator’s bill seeks to outlaw hymen exams

LaMar filed an official complaint against Morelle after he allegedly contacted a colleague and demanded her firing, in response to her non-political work at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Rep. Morelle admits to contacting RIT but denies trying to get LaMar fired.

“We no longer have to lay down and just take this. We have the same rights as our male white counterparts and will no longer stand by idly and say and do nothing. Those days are over,” LaMar tells theGrio.

“Congressman Joe Morelle not only threatened me, but he threatened RIT and revealed to several people that he called RIT in an attempt to have me terminated from employment,” LaMar writes in her ethics claim, issued July 27th. 

“It is widely known that RIT receives several federal grants and depends upon the federal government to conduct business. A call from a congressman in this manner is a threat to a private entity and is not befitting of a congressman, he needs to resign from office,” she says.

At RIT, LaMar works as the legislature project coordinator for community engagement to reduce victimization. Her position includes working with the community to curb gun violence in the Rochester area. In this capacity, LaMar was invited to an online show, hosted by Robin Wilt, a congressional candidate for the 25th congressional district and current town board member in Brighton, NY.

Robin Wilt was Rep. Morelle’s opponent in June’s Democratic primary and LaMar serves as a Democratic county legislator.  After LaMar appeared on Wilt’s show in April, Morelle questioned whether the appearance was acceptable.

Text messages obtained by theGrio show Congressman Morelle contacted Deborah Stendardi, RIT vice president for government and community relations, asking for LaMar’s digital appearance be called into question, describing the legislator as an “annoyance.”

Courtesy of Sabrina LaMar

Stendardi responded, assuring the congressman she would inquire through the proper channels. The communication, initiated by Rep. Morelle on April 28, was wrapped up in the same text thread by the VP by April 29. 

Stendardi confirmed that LaMar was addressed about agreeing to do Wilt’s show. A department head informed Stendardi that although the appearance was not required, there was no problem prior to approval, and the legislator did not violate university policy.

However, LaMar was furloughed from her job shortly after that, and remained furloughed until August.

“When all of this was unfolding, I let it go,” LaMar tells theGrio. “I didn’t get fired. There was no harm, no foul.”

“But then I started getting calls from people like the mayor, the deputy mayor, and people in the county executive office saying that they sat in the meeting with Joe. He was openly bragging about him trying to get me fired,” LaMar continued.

LaMar declares the congressman’s actions were in violation of the Official Code of Ethics for the 116th, which states: 

“A member may not with the intent to influence an employment decision or employment practice of any private entity. The member cannot take or withhold, or offer or threaten to take or withhold, an official act. The member can not influence, or offer or threaten to influence the official act of another.”

In the official complaint, LaMar describes an uneasiness after the incident:

“Since the call was made I have been afraid to adequately represent my positions for fear of retributions. But today, I refuse to continue to live in fear, which is why I am filing this complaint and asking for this committee to hold Congressman Morelle accountable for his abuse of power,” the legislator writes.

Read More: Maryland congressional candidate Kim Klacik slams Biden at RNC

LaMar is supported by Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, who says Morelle told her himself that he called RIT.

“The fact is, Congressman Morelle told me this personally, and he told others personally, that he made that call,” Mayor Warren tells theGrio.

“The purpose of that call was very clear. To threaten and to silence Ms. LaMar — a county legislator, a single mother, a strong Black woman, by putting her employment, and her ability to provide for her family at risk,” she continued.

“The purpose of that call was very clear. To threaten and to silence Ms. LaMar — a county legislator, a single mother, a strong black woman, by putting her employment, and her ability to provide for her family at risk.”

Mayor Lovely Warren

Mayor Warren echoed the passionate words from her press conference in conversation with theGrio about the importance of standing with the legislator. 

“Given a day and age where Black women and Black people, in general, have suffered so many egregious actions, to have a person of the stature in our community basically admit to making a phone call and retaliation against a Black woman, who a single mom, who is taking care of her mother, is absolutely wrong to me,” Mayor Warren tells theGrio. 

“When she was ready to come forward and tell her truth. I wanted to make sure that I was there to support her because I also knew the truth,” Mayor Warren says.

The Mayor recalls a conversation with Congressman Morelle, after her former boss and mentor passed, where she claims Morelle admits to abusing his power in retaliation against LaMar after he alleges she called his son racist in a Facebook post.

“He basically, in so many words, and emphatically… said to me. ‘You know, I’m a very powerful man. Sabrina, she had no business calling my son a racist.’ It was just that flat,” Mayor Warren tells theGrio.

“I think that he was saying that to me as a warning for me to get in line, because if I wanted to continue in my position or continue to not have a problem with him, that I needed to recognize that my boss was gone now and that he was the person that was in charge,” she says.

According to LaMar, Rep. Morelle’s son, Joseph Morelle Jr., a legislator in District 17 and 9, and other legislators drafted a letter to the administration without consulting the entire caucus.  The letter, viewed by theGrio, discussed the appointment of a democratic election commissioner since the previous person in the role resigned. 

“There are five people of color on the legislator and eight white legislators, but eight white legislators submitted a letter to the county attorney totally circumventing our our leader and the rest of the black people on the caucus. And we took issue with that,” LaMar says to theGrio.

She responded to the exclusion of not only herself, but all other minority and POC legislators left out. She shared a Facebook post, viewed in screenshots by theGrio, expressing her feelings surrounding the ordeal.

Courtesy Sabrina LaMar

Her post was made April 28 around 7:00 a.m. By the afternoon, Morelle sent the initial texts to LaMar’s supervisor. Although Morelle denies making a call to get the legislator fired, the 63-year-old congressman offered an apology for the text messages. 

“What is clear is that Ms. Lamar felt threatened, and was pained by that. And I want to apologize to her for that,” Morelle said during an interview with Spectrum News. “I certainly did not intend to do that, but sometimes my actions fall short of the standards I try to set for myself, and for that, I’m very sorry.”

“I make mistakes; I have to make judgments every day,” he continued. “My parents taught me at an early age when you make a mistake, you should own up to it, you should apologize for it, you should learn from it. And that’s what I’m doing.” 

As for LaMar, she is diligent in her efforts. She tells theGrio that she hopes real change comes from her actions, not just apologies. 

“I would like to see Joe [Morelle] resign and also for him to be reprimanded by whomever is the overseer of the ethics committee as it relates to the House of Representatives or the Office of Congressional Ethics,” LaMar tells theGrio. 

LaMar says since going public with her grievances, local Democrats have only become more divided, resulting in “white-only” meetings and a Black/Asian caucus forming.

“[Morelle]’s actions toward me and others demonstrate that he is not befitting to represent this city or this country in Congress,” LaMar tells theGrio. “I also want a real apology. Not that B.S. he said, ‘I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings’– a real apology. I want to see him work towards healing our fractured party and really taking responsibility for his actions and come up with some ways to correct it.

At the time of publication, Rep. Morelle’s office did not yet reply to theGrio‘s request for comment.

This story will be updated to reflect new developments.

Additional reporting for this story was conducted by Natasha S. Alford.

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Michael B. Jordan honors Chadwick Boseman: ‘I wish we had more time’

‘I’ve been trying to find the words, but nothing comes close to how I feel.’

Michael B. Jordan has penned a touching tribute to his late friend and Black Panther co-star, Chadwick Boseman

Boseman died Friday after a private, four-year battle with colon cancer. He was 43. Since then, tributes from fans and fellow artists have been flooding the social media.

“I’ve been trying to find the words, but nothing comes close to how I feel. I’ve been reflecting on every moment, every conversation, every laugh, every disagreement, every hug…everything, Jordan wrote in a lengthy Instagram post. “I wish we had more time,” Jordan wrote in a lengthy post on his Instagram account on Monday (Aug. 31). 

Read More: Marvel Studios remember Chadwick Boseman with heartfelt tribute video

“One of the last times we spoke, you said we were forever linked , and now the truth of that means more to me than ever. Since nearly the beginning of my career, starting with All My Children when I was 16 years old you paved the way for me. You showed me how to be better, honor purpose, and create legacy. And whether you’ve known it or not…I’ve been watching, learning and constantly motivated by your greatness,” the star continued. 

https://ift.tt/3bcGWJ4

“I wish we had more time,” he added.

Jordan played Erik Killmonger, the cousin of Boseman’s T’Challa/Black Panther in the 2018 Marvel blockbuster film.

“Everything you’ve given the world … the legends and heroes that you’ve shown us we are … will live on forever. But the thing that hurts the most is that I now understand how much of a legend and hero YOU are. Through it all, you never lost sight of what you loved most,” Jordan’s post continued. 

Throughout his message, Jordan notes “I wish we had mote time.”

“I’m more aware now than ever that time is short with people we love and admire. I’m gonna miss your honesty, your generosity, your sense of humor, and incredible gifts. I’ll miss the gift of sharing space with you in scenes. I’m dedicating the rest of my days to live the way you did. With grace, courage, and no regrets,” he concluded. 

Check out his full tribute above.

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'We Set the Tone': Bubba Wallace Defends NASCAR's Decision Not Postpone Races in Protest of Police Violence

NASCAR decided not to join the NBA, WNBA and other professional sports leagues in postponing scheduled games in protest over the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Bubba Wallace, the only Black driver in NASCAR’s Cup series, defended the organization’s decision to resume races on schedule, saying essentially that NASCAR…

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Trump defends gunman charged with murdering 2 in Kenosha


President Donald Trump on Monday portrayed the gunman charged with murdering two protesters in Kenosha, Wis., as a victim, suggesting that the Illinois teenager was acting in self-defense.

Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, was arrested last week and charged with two counts of first-degree murder for shooting during an anti-racist protest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Video of Rittenhouse at the protests showed him carrying an assault rifle and running toward officers with his hands raised, but the police did not appear to engage with him. He was taken into custody the following day.

The criminal complaint against Rittenhouse said he shot a man, Joseph Rosenbaum, after Rosenbaum threw a plastic bag at Rittenhouse and tried to grab his gun. Rittenhouse was later heard calling someone and saying, “I just killed somebody,” according to the criminal complaint. A group of protesters chased after Rittenhouse, yelling that he had shot someone.

But speaking at a White House news conference on Monday, Trump suggested that the protesters were the instigators, out to get Rittenhouse, and that he was acting in self-defense.

“That was an interesting situation,” the president said. “He was trying to get away from them, I guess it looks like, and he fell and then they very violently attacked him, and it was something that we are looking at right now and it’s under investigation. But I guess he was in very big trouble. He probably would’ve been killed. It’s under investigation.”

The White House has so far avoided commenting on Rittenhouse, saying that there is not enough information on his case. Trump has focused instead on criticizing anti-racist protesters and Democrats for not condemning looting and rioting, even after Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, vehemently condemned rioting and looting in addresses last week and again on Monday.

Trump’s opting to give the benefit of the doubt to Rittenhouse comes in stark contrast to his unilateral condemnation of protesters against police violence who have demonstrated in cities across the country. During his Monday news briefing, Trump condemned the fatal shooting of a man suspected to be a supporter of a right-wing group in Portland, Ore., as MAGA demonstraters and anti-racist protesters faced off in tense clashes.

Trump plans to travel to Kenosha on Tuesday as protests continue to grip the city for a second week. State and local officials have urged Trump not to visit, fearing the president’s presence would disrupt an already-tense city.

Trump said on Monday that he did not plan to visit Blake’s family while in Kenosha. He said the family wanted to speak with him only with lawyers present, something that Trump said would have been “inappropriate.” The president said he had spoken with Blake’s pastor, whom he called a “wonderful man.”

Speaking on CNN after Trump’s news briefing, Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Sr., responded to the president’s remarks by saying: “I’m not going to play politics. This is my son’s life we’re talking about.”

"I just put my 20-year-old son in the hospital because he's suffering from depression, and it's saddening to me that people don't understand the type of pressure this family is under," he said. "And what the rest of the family is dealing with."

He added, “We don’t have a family pastor.”



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