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Church twofer: Gun safety instruction plus Bible lesson

Roy Jones Facebook page says matter-of-factly that his concealed weapons training is not your typical gun class.

That is an understatement.

Jones, 67, has taught most of his more than 5,000 students over the last decade in churches across Oklahoma. Whats more, he weaves biblical passages into his talks about how to handle a gun, and the legal fallout that can follow discharging a weapon in self-defense.

Church values and self-defense, Jones says, are not contradictory. Jones says that being a church-goer and a person of strong spiritual values does not mean refusing to strike back when ones life is threatened.

He notes that Psalm 144 says: Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.

We will turn the other cheek, Jones told Fox News. Im the least likely guy to pull out a gun in a fight. But we will not turn the other cheek if youre going to assault my family or cut off my head in the process.

Jones certification course takes eight hours and includes lectures that cover handling a weapon, Oklahoma laws regarding gun ownership and shooting in self-defense, practice at the instructors private range and a 15-question exam.

Jones says that while people should not go looking for trouble, they should be ready when it looks for them.

He cites the case of a woman in his state who was killed by two pit bulls last month, and another woman who was fatally stabbed at a food distribution center in 2014 by a coworker who had been fired.

We will not turn the other cheek if you’re going to assault my family or cut off my head in the process.

– Roy Jones, concealed weapons instructor

If they had been armed, Jones says, they would likely be alive today.

If theyd had a legal gun and been trained to use it, Jones said, referring to the woman who was stabbed, can you imagine what went through her mind the last few minutes of her life?

His former students, who have included lawmakers, lawyers and spouses of police officers, have praised his course.

One student, Wendy Johnson, took Jones course after a friend was mugged.

One day, my co-worker did not show up for work, Johnson told WQAD. Someone had attacked her in a parking lot and had literally beaten her face. I dont want to see anyone else in the ER with a swollen face because someone hit them in the head for their purse.

Jones stresses that he is not a pastor, a misperception some have when they learn of his style of sprinkling biblical teachings in his lectures.

But some students have actually grown interested in religion after listening to the verses, he said.

One of the most important things he tries to teach his students is how to avoid being jailed after firing in self-defense.

He tells his students not to consent to a police officers request to search their property.

You show the officer respect, he said, but you never consent. You have to articulate that you were the victim, but you say, With all due respect, you will have my full cooperation after I seek my legal counsel.

Jones has his critics, to be sure. He has been accused of using the Bible to make money.

People say, Youre getting rich by using Gods name, he said. Im just one little guy. Do I make a little money? Yes. But Im not doing this to get rich.

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Do you trust that Taco Charlton can really elevate his game in his second year? – Blogging The Boys (blog)


Blogging The Boys (blog)

Do you trust that Taco Charlton can really elevate his game in his second year?
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Blogging The Boys Blogging The Boys, a Dallas Cowboys fan community. Log In or Sign Up · Log In · Sign Up · Fanposts · Fanshots · Sections; Library; Cowboys · Odds · Shop · About · Masthead · Community Guidelines · StubHub; More. All 319 blogs on

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It's OK to indulge in your 'wants' now and then. Just don't be impulsive. – Kansas City Star


Kansas City Star

It's OK to indulge in your 'wants' now and then. Just don't be impulsive.
Kansas City Star
Money, and how you spend it, is very emotional. This exercise allows me to table those moments where I'm tempted to buy sporadically. Later on, I have more clarity and can narrow down what I'd truly love to have vs. a passing whim. Too often people let

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SnapTravel raises $8 million for a hotel booking service that works over chat

Chatbots automated bots that let you interact with a service or brand via messaging apps or SMS havent yet become breakout hits, as a group. But that hasnt stopped investors from pouring in $8 million into a hotel booking startup called SnapTravel, which lets users find and book rooms via SMS texts and Facebook Messenger.

The $8 million Series A round was led by iNovia Capital, a backer of Luxury Retreats which just exited to Airbnb for around $200 million. The round also included participation from seed round investorsLightbank, Bee Partners, and Hedgewood, along withstrategic investor and Expedia board memberPeter Kern, among others.

iNovias Chris Arsenault is joining SnapTravels board with the close of the round.

The startup itself was founded in spring 2016 by tech entrepreneursHussein Fazal, whose prior company AdParlor grew to $100+ million in revenue, then sold to AdKnowledge back in 2011; and Henry Shi, who previously built uMentioned and worked at Google, where he helped launch YouTube Music Insights.

Unlike a number of chatbots on the market today, SnapTravel isnt a fully automated solution arguably, to its advantage. The bot part of the service aids with onboarding and can answer users simpler questions, but when things get tricky, human agents are able to step in. For example, if you booked a non-refundable hotel but your flight gets cancelled due to weather, an agent would respond to your questions and try to help, rather than leaving you to deal with an unsympathetic bot.

You can also ask the agents for help with questions bots cant handle like if the hotel is pet-friendly, or if you can get adjoining rooms, among other things.

  1. 10 – Request talking to human agent

  2. 1 – Get Started

  3. 11 – conversation special requests

  4. 11 – conversation – special requests

  5. 3 – hotel in mind

  6. 2 – city date question

  7. 5 – searching for you

  8. 4 – budget question

  9. 7 – view all deals

  10. 6 – presenting deals

  11. 8 – selecting room

  12. 9 – map view

Customers want a travel agent experience, but they didnt want to call; they didnt want to walk into a store, explains Shi. They just wanted to email us or message us, he says, of when the company began testing ideas. That led them to realize that delivering the hotel booking experience could work over chat.

SnapTravels human agents effectively operate as modern-day travel agents. Theyll call hotels for you, as needed, and even phone to confirm your check-in and attempt to negotiate a free upgrade on your behalf.

Shi says that hotels honor SnapTravel agents special requests around 70 to 80 percent of the time, and they are able to upgrade customers to better rooms around 25 percent of the time.

Though still an early stage startup, SnapTravel has made a bit of a name for itself due to its deals and its app-less business model.

The company filters through thousands of hotels from sources, then leverages machine learning algorithms to narrow those down to the top options, based on factors like price, location, quality and overall value.

As customers continue to use SnapTravel to make their bookings, the service learns more about individual preferences like if you want free Wi-Fi or free breakfast, for instance and then takes those into consideration for its future recommendations.

SnapTravel doesnt necessarily have any deals you cant find elsewhere, but it can feel like it, at times. As its own website explains, it has access to the same unsold hotel inventory that others do. The services hotel inventory comes both directly from hotels themselves, as well as via partners like Expedia, Booking.com, Amadeus, Hotels.com, and Sabre (pending).

But while agreements between hotels and some hotel booking services disallow them from posting their super-low rates publicly, SnapTravel is able to work around that restriction because its only displaying prices through private, 1-on-1 chats not publicly on the web.

But SnapTravel is not always the place for the lowest priced deal or the most options, some reviewers have found.

However, lower cost is not SnapTravels only draw, Shi points out.

Were 100 percent free to the customerthe way we make money is the commission on the hotels, he says.But were building a relationship with the customer because were chatting with them over a channel thats very intimate, like SMS or Messenger. For us, its a conversation and that conversation doesnt stop when you make a purchase. It goes from search to purchase to upgrade to even post-checkout, Shi explains.

At Facebooks f8 developer conference earlier this year, SnapTravel announced that it had already achieved over $1 million in revenue on Facebook Messenger. It has since surpassed that, and launched its service on SMS and chat app Viber.

It eventually wants to reach users worldwide through other platforms, as well, like WeChat and Line.

SnapTravels app-less biz model

The company believes that chatbots hold potential especially in the case of Facebook Messenger, in terms of reach. (Messenger topped 1.2 billion monthly users worldwide in April, for example.) SnapTravel doesnt need to get anyone to download its app in order to work.

The team appreciates that SnapTravel can advertise to users in-app through things like Sponsored Messages, andretarget them directly in their messaging inbox when they fail to complete a transaction. In that latter case, SnapTravel says it has seen a 30 percent jump in conversions when retargeting in this way on Messenger.

Being able to re-engage customers is critical for any commerce company. Typically, with an [online travel agency] when you come to the website and bounce, they have to follow you around the internet using display ads, notes Shi. Thats a very noisy and ineffective channel, he adds.

For us, being able to use Sponsored Messages on Facebook has been super effective. Were seeing double-digit lift from these re-engagement efforts, Shi says.

With the additional funding, SnapTravel says it will invest further in itsNatural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities in order to reduce the reliance on human agents as its scales. In this envisioned future, that would mean an automated bot would be able to understand a conversational input from a user, like Im going to New York next week Wednesday for a night, and need a room at the usual spot, for example.

Without needing a human to translate that into a booking request, SnapTravel would then send the customer to the booking form for the right hotel and take their payment through Messenger.

Currently, SnapTravel is a dozen or so product engineers based in Toronto, in addition to an operations company stateside. With the new funds, the startup plans to expand to a team of 20 to 25.

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After latest racist incident, an indie game developer is striking back at PewDiePie

Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg just launched himself into another racism scandal, this time for dropping the N-word during a livestream of the game Battlegrounds.

Kjellberg runs the most popular channel on YouTube, with over 57 million subscribers. But despite his success, this year was already marred by self-induced controversy. Disney severed ties with him in February after discovering nine Pewdiepie videos with anti-Semetic jokes, and he doesn’t seem to have learned his lesson. Worse still, he hasn’t really suffered in the eyes of his audience.

Following Kjellberg’s racist comment on Sunday, one game developer is taking matters into his own hands. Sean Vanaman announced he would file a copyright takedown on any PewDiePie videos featuring his studio’s games. This option is always open to video game companies, but it usually isn’t enforced because YouTube play-throughs are a useful marketing tool—and often more effective than traditional reviews.

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Campo Santo created the game Firewatch, which Kjellberg complimented in a two hour and 40 minute-long play-through. The video has already vanished from PewDiePie’s channel, although fans are beginning to upload mirror versions on their own accounts.

Continuing on Twitter, Sean Vanaman didn’t mince his words about Kjellberg. “I am sick of this child getting more and more chances to make money off of what we make,” he wrote, before criticizing Kjellberg’s behavior and urging other game developers to speak out against him.

“He’s worse than a closeted racist: he’s a propagator of despicable garbage that does real damage to the culture around this industry. I’d urge other developers & will be reaching out to folks much larger than us to cut him off from the content that has made him a milionaire. Furthermore, we’re complicit: I’m sure we’ve made money off of the 5.7M views that video has and that’s something for us to think about.”

Kjellberg hasn’t responded to any of the criticism from Sunday night, after his racial slur went viral on social media. It will be interesting to see if any other game developers join Vanaman in blocking Kjellberg from covering their games, or if—as usual—Kjellberg’s behavior will be excused as an embarrassing mistake.

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Why Cultural Appropriation Is Actually A Good Thing

Cultural criticism is taboo. In polite company, all cultures are created equally. None is better or worse than any other; theyre just different. We arent responsible for the culture we were born into, so theres no objective basis for criticism or judgement.

In progressive ideology, this idea goes a step further. Not only must we respect all cultural differences, we mustnt stray outside the norms of the culture we were born into. A white woman with dreadlocks, for example, should respect black culture and shave her hair off, rather than steal a hairstyle from a different culture. They even have a special word for this grievance: cultural appropriation.

I think cultural appropriation is a load of baloney, based on the most persistent errors in political/social thought: abstraction errors misunderstanding the relationship between people and labels, between aggregates and concretes. These errors are not only imprecise, but they are counter-productive, divisive, and downright dangerous.

Equal Equivocation

The first abstraction error goes like this:

All differences between people are benign differences. Some people are born with light hair; others with dark hair. Neither is superior to the other. In the same way, all cultural differences are benign. Some cultures value monogamy; others are more sexually liberal. Neither is superior to the other.

This concept is applied across the board. Some cultures are more religious; some value education more highly; some are more hierarchical, etc. These differences should not be judged, any more than we should judge somebody for their height or the amount of freckles on their face.

Then, the story goes, because all cultures are essentially equal, any differences in the socio-economic status of ethnic groups must be a function of discrimination. Without racism or discrimination, all cultures would be equally represented across the socio-economic spectrum.

In reality, weve no reason to believe this is true. Nowhere in the world nowhere in history are all cultures represented equally across the socio-economic spectrum. The idea is an appealing, aesthetic one, no doubt, but its not grounded in the real world.

Different cultures value different things; some skills are valued more highly than others; throughout the world, Chinese immigrants tend to have the highest average income of any demographic. Why is this? Its not because they are genetically superior; its not because of pro-Chinese discrimination (in fact, its largely despite negative discrimination); its because Chinese culture heavily emphasizes academic performance in the hard sciences, and the hard sciences tend to pay more than other fields.

But the purpose of this article isnt to explain the relationship between culture and economic status. Ill leave that to the fantastic work of Thomas Sowell. My point is to illustrate the concrete fact that some cultures are superior to others in specific ways.

Heritage Schmeritage

The second abstraction error goes like this: cultural heritage is intrinsically valuable. Preserving ethnic culture is an end by itself, regardless of the specifics. Progressives are especially fond of indigenous cultures, that are assumed pure because they havent been polluted by Western society. Whenever a new tribe of indigenous people is discovered, for example, progressives are adamant that we shouldnt disturb or influence their way of life they want the complete preservation of cultures, the positive and the negative.

I have a radically different view. Cultures are not intrinsically valuable, nor should they be preserved by virtue of their uniqueness. Cultures emerge from different groups of people trying to best navigate the world. Sometimes, they do a good job. Other times, they do a bad job. If a bad cultural trait emerges, it should be destroyed and replaced no different than bad theories about physics or mathematics.

In my mind, cultural pride is absurd. You are not responsible for the culture youre born into. Theres nothing to be proud of. By happenstance of birth, you happen to have an ethnicity. It isnt superior or inferior to any other. You have nothing to defend or preserve. If youre fortunate, youll be born into a positive culture. If youre unlucky, youll be born into a toxic one.

For the sake of human progress, we should try to eliminate negative cultural values and promote positive ones. Saudi Arabian culture promotes beheadings for breaking the law even for minor offenses. This is backwards, unnecessary, and a toxic cultural phenomenon. It shouldnt be preserved; it should be eliminated.

Group Identity

Theres a fundamental abstraction error underlying all of this: group identity is inescapable. Individuals, in the progressive worldview, are seen as essentiallytied to their ethnicity/socio-economic status. They are white men. Black women. Upper-class kids. They arent individuals with black skin or individuals with Scottish parents. The group identity is foundational; the individual is intrinsically a product of his environment and larger society.

You also see this phenomenon with progressives and their obsession with sexual orientation/gender labels. They self-identify first with their labels. They are fundamentally lesbian, trans-gender, or cis-gender. All experiences are first filtered through the lenses they identify with as if theres an entire category difference between humans with different sexual orientations.

I think this gets it backwards. Group identity is a label; its a conceptual tool to more easily categorize people. It isnt foundational. The individual is the base-unit in society, and any labels we attach to them are secondary.

Practically speaking, the stronger people self-identify with labels, the more division it creates in society. Class struggle is a powerful idea, and its entirely a function of group-identity. When you view people as individuals first, the differences between us seem minor and petty. I view my black neighbors as fundamentally peers. Not as aliens I can never relate to. They have a different daily experience than I do as a function of their skin color its true. But its not an essential difference, and its absurd to obsess over it. We have far more in common than different.

Appropriate Appropriation

Put all the abstraction errors together, and you get the ultimate heresy: cultural appropriation adopting some element from a culture outside your own. White people having black hairstyles. Caucasians wearing Native American garb. Upper-class kids using inner-city slang.

Supposedly, cultural appropriation is insensitive. It trivializes the struggles and history of the culture being appropriated. Some people have even said, Blues and rocknroll is black music. If white people steal it and make money, thats unfair!

Ultimately, they are saying, You are only allowed to behave in accordance with the culture into which you were born.

Again, its abstractions first, individuals second. I find this idea preposterous and counter-productive. Its a tyranny of labels.

Based on the happenstance of your birth, progressives will assign you a list of approved behavior based on the genetics of your parents and grandparents.Its involuntary group membership with specific behavioral regulations.

And to what end? To preserve the divisions between people? To preserve different cultures for aesthetics sake? It seems much more progressive to treat cultures like we do any other set of beliefs we dont insist that Islamic scientists refrain from doing American science or White philosophers only theorize about white philosophy.

I didnt choose my culture at birth, and Ill be damned if some progressive with a penchant for labels insists I must act in accordance with his list of white, middle-class behavior. A few years ago, I moved to Atlanta, and theres always hip-hop and reggae music on the radio. I love it. I blast it when driving down the road. I also think afros look fantastic. If I had the hair for it, I would wear one myself. I also love soul food. The black culture in Atlanta has perfected fried chicken and collard greens (In fact, I ate some for lunch today).

Heres a healthy response to my love for blues music, soul food, and afros: its wonderful. It helps bridge the gap between white and black people. Every individual is not only a consumer of culture, but a creator of culture. I want my behavior to incorporate the best of black culture, and hopefully the same is true in reverse.

Its an exciting idea: if you see everybody as individuals, then youll see were all trying to do the same thing in life. Different groups of people have discovered different truths, and why in the world wouldnt we want to share this knowledge with each other? We can, quite literally, take the best of all cultures and create something new and better.

How many black people discovered the game of golf through Tiger Woods? How many lives and careers have changed for the better because of it? Its a wonderful thing. How many white people have discovered rap through Eminem? I did, and its a wonderful thing. We should celebrate cross-cultural exchanges of information, not lament them because the ambassador has an unapproved skin color.

The Flip Side

Of course, the same is true about the negative aspects of cultures. Its nave to overlook cultural shortcomings because you dont want to offend people. From my experiences, I want to emulate parts of Chinese culture in terms of academic excellence. I dont want to emulate their emphasis on hierarchy. In my evaluation, Chinese parents can be too strict on their kids and are too focused on family honor. So, I want to find a middle ground. Does that make me some anti-Chinese racist, because I recognize tendencies in that culture? Of course not.

I respect Chinese individuals enough to see positives and negatives in their culture, and I want the same treatment in return. The same is true for black culture, Hispanic culture, and every other group on the planet. Theresabsolutely no reason to take cultural norms as all-or-nothing. Theres nothing to preserve for preservations sake; let the positive live and the negative die.

For almost twenty years, I lived in an economically-depressed part of upstate New York. The culture was largely toxic and anti-intellectual. In terms of sorting the good from the bad, Id say Im leaving most of it behind.

My father was raised by a racist. My mother helped him see through the errors of racist ideas, and he raised all of his kids without an ounce of racist bias. That Southern racist culture died in my family, thanks to my parents, and I certainly will not resurrect it for my kids. This is progress and should be celebrated.

Imitation, Regulation, and Sex

Before the fairly recent invention of intellectual property, artists took imitation and copying as a compliment. The myriad of Variations on a Theme from Paganini are all compliments to the wonderful work of the violinist Paganini. The same should apply to cultural phenomena.

Copying is only a compliment. Its an acknowledgment from one human to another that, Hey, this is awesome. Youre doing something right.

Versus, Hey, you werent born with the right ethnic membership to behave in this way. Stick to the white/black ways of doing things.

Instead, I think we should support cultures having sex with each other. Mix the genetics together, if you will, and see what offspring we can produce. If you like another cultures music, imitate it. If you like their fashion, wear it. The language, speak it. If you like how they raise their kids, then do the same. Well all be better off.

Cultures are not delicate flowers that must be preserved until the end of time. They emerge from groups of people attempting to best navigate life. Some elements are good; others are bad. Its about time we grow up and recognize this. A lot of good will come from it.

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Why Donald Trump’s potential conflicts of interest are so important

Trumps cancelled news conference heightens concerns over possible consequences of blurred boundaries between presidency and business dealings

Donald Trumps cancellation of a news conference about potential conflicts of interest between his presidency and his business dealings has only sharpened concerns. With roughly one month to go until the inauguration, a sense of urgency is building around Trumps need to clarify his plans for his business.

The perceived hazard is not only potential self-dealing by Trump who could conceivably use the presidency to boost his real estate developments at home or abroad, guide justice department activity, or renegotiate debts or leases but also potential blackmail or bribery of Trump or his family members or associates based on their significant debts or other liabilities around the world.

Here are the key questions in play:

Whats the big deal?

Nobody knows, exactly, because Trump has not released his tax returns, thereby hiding what he owns and what he owes. Any such analysis as presented in this Q&A, in fact, proceeds in moonless darkness. But financial disclosures by Trump, a few extant tax documents, and estimates of Trumps assets by Forbes, which in September pegged Trumps net worth at $3.7bn, and others give us a picture to work with.

Cant a president be in business?

Yes. The nonpartisan Office of Government Ethics advised Congress on Tuesday that it has been the consistent policy of the executive branch that a President should conduct himself as if he were bound by … financial conflict of interest law. But its not clear that the president is in fact bound by said law. (Theres not much precedent here to work with.) The emoluments clause of the constitution bans gifts from foreign entities to US officeholders, but theres some debate about whether the clause applies to the presidency. Trump himself does not believe that the law mandates that he leave his businesses.

Whats the worst that could happen?

Thats a tough one. Trump may scrupulously avoid using his political power to grow his fortune, to do his friends favors, or to benefit his children. Or he may commit an unprecedented ethics violation. The nature of such a potential violation is easy to imagine, although the examples we list here are speculative.

Trump could sign a weapons deal in exchange for a write-down on the hundreds of millions of dollars his companies owe to foreign banks. Trump could turn a blind eye on a Russian incursion in Estonia after his long-desired tower project in Moscow suddenly gets the green light, in what is publicized as the first business mega-score of the Donald Jr-Eric Trump team. Trumps administration could drop a protest about human rights abuses in the Philippines after his Manila real estate project gets a valuable easement or some such boost. A Trump-appointed director of the general services administration could decide for some reason to shrink the lease the Trump organization must pay the federal government to run its hotel in the Old Post Office Pavilion in Washington DC.

We should emphasize that were not accusing Trump of being inclined to or capable of any of this were just spitballing here. Trumps willingness to allow questions to linger about whether he will divest from his businesses, after announcing that he would answer those questions definitively, is no discouragement to the imagination on this score.

Calm down. Trump is a patriot who loves America and would not subjugate its interests to his own

The level of risk of Trumps conduct as an entrepreneur bleeding into his conduct as president is unclear. How strong is Trumps desire to make money? His previous attempts at self-enrichment have ranged from casinos to branded liquor to a sketchy university.

Understand that the potential hazard here is not only Trumps greed. Money he owes foreign banks, or secret foreign investors, or domestic banks or investors or his desire to protect his assets abroad, or to create a favorable climate for the growth of those assets or something we dont know about could make him or his family members vulnerable to pressures from actors less scrupulous than he may be.

What does Trump intend to do?

We dont know. He has made multiple statements. His lawyer, Michael Cohen, said two days after the election that Trumps assets would be put in a blind trust to be managed by his three oldest children. Many experts have pointed out that its not blind if you know whats in there and have a sense for how its run. The appointment of Trumps children to his transition team further eroded their status as potential independent managers.

On 30 November, Trump unleashed a Twitter storm announcing the news conference he cancelled Tuesday. I will be holding a major news conference in New York City with my children on December 15 to discuss the fact that I will be leaving my great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! Trump tweeted. While I am not mandated to do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as President, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses.

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

Hence, legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations. The Presidency is a far more important task!

November 30, 2016

On 12 December, Trump announced a new plan, and said he was busy.

Even though I am not mandated by law to do so, I will be leaving my busineses [sic] before January 20th so that I can focus full time on the Presidency, Trump tweeted. Two of my children, Don and Eric, plus executives, will manage them. No new deals will be done during my term(s) in office.

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

I will hold a press conference in the near future to discuss the business, Cabinet picks and all other topics of interest. Busy times!

December 13, 2016

The timing was left vague. Trumps spokeswoman said the news conference would be left until next month.

Whats Congress doing about this?

Twenty-three senators not even half of the Democratic caucus sent a letter to Trump on Tuesday calling on him to divest his business holdings and insisting: Whether the President of the United States makes decisions about potential trade agreements or sending troops into war, the American people need to know that their President is acting in their best interest.

In your public statements, you have referenced that the President is not subject to the restrictions of federal conflict of interest laws, the letter read in part. However, we understand the Office of Government Ethics has advised presidents across administrations to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with federal conflict of interest laws and standards of conduct regulations. The President is subject to the Emoluments Clause of the United States Constitution, which will prohibit payments or gifts to your businesses by entities owned by foreign governments.

Separately, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Elijah Cummings asked the government to open an investigation of possible conflicts of interest for Trump in his transition to the presidency and after he takes office.

At this point, it is not clear if the line between Mr Trumps Presidency and his and business ventures is blurred or entirely nonexistent, the two said in a 23 November letter to the comptroller general asking for a review by the Government Accountability Office.

The letter continued:

Several weeks ago, the general counsel for the Trump Organization, Michael Cohen, explained that Mr Trump will transfer management of the Trump Organization to his adult children, who will run the company through a blind trust. But claims that Mr Trumps will set up a blind trust do not appear to be consistent with the meaning of that term or with legal requirements that apply to such trusts. A qualified blind trust, which must be approved by the Office of Government Ethics, would allow Mr Trump to forgo reporting the details of some assets in his financial disclosures. The Ethics in Government Act explicitly prohibits Mr Trumps children from managing such a trust. The Act requires that, Any officer or employee of a trustee or other entity who is involved in the management or control of the trust of a qualified trust not be a relative of any interested party. To date, there has been no information released to the public indicating that Mr Trump has prepared a blind trust.

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How to Become a Food Vlogger – Food & Wine


Food & Wine

How to Become a Food Vlogger
Food & Wine
Camera-shy cooks need not apply. The life of a food vlogger is played out on the small (computer) screen. Vlogging—video blogging—has become an increasingly popular way for people to share what once would have been restricted to the written word

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Cowboys 2018 Free Agency: Five under-the-radar players – Blogging The Boys (blog)


Blogging The Boys (blog)

Cowboys 2018 Free Agency: Five under-the-radar players
Blogging The Boys (blog)
With their strapped-for-cash approach to free agency, the Cowboys could strike gold with these five players. By Ryan Ratty Feb 6, 2018, 3:00pm CST. Share Tweet Share. Share. Cowboys 2018 Free Agency: Five under-the-radar players. tweet share Reddit

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With ‘One Mississippi,’ The Moment For Women Storytellers Is Now

In 2012, Tig Notaro was just getting started. She had released her debut stand-up album, “Good One,” and was appearing on programs like “Conan” and “This American Life.” She’d just launched a Kickstarter campaign for a short film she wrote, directed and starred in called “Clown Service,” about a heartbroken woman who enlists the services of a traveling party clown to brighten her mood.

If that premise sounds familiar, it’s probably because Notaro’s colleague Louis C.K. performed a similar sketch on “Saturday Night Live” earlier this year. When Notaro saw the skit, titled “Birthday Clown,” she was shocked. And she wasn’t the only one. 

“It has been impossible for me to ignore the cacophony of voices reaching out personally and publicly about the potential plagiarizing of my film ‘Clown Service,’” Notaro wrote in a statement to Entertainment Weekly in April. “While I don’t know how all this actually happened, I did find it extremely disappointing.” 

By that time, Notaro hadn’t spoken to Louis C.K. in over a year, although he was listed as an executive producer on her Amazon series, “One Mississippi.” The show, a semi-autobiographical tale of a gay woman in her 40s who moves back to her Southern hometown, was gearing up for its second-season debut in September. Ahead of the premiere, when rumors about Louis C.K.’s history of predatory behavior began resurfacing, Notaro decided to officially distance herself from the “I Love You, Daddy” director. 

“It’s frustrating, because he has nothing to do with the show,” Notaro told The Daily Beast in August, reiterating multiple times that Louis C.K. had “never been involved” in “One Mississippi” aside from his financial connection as executive producer. “But I don’t waste my time on him or what anyone thinks. His name is on it. But we are writing the show, the writers’ room. We’re sitting in editing. We’re acting. We’re on set. We’re doing press. And everyone that’s directly involved in the show works very hard. They are decent, talented human beings. And I feel lucky to be surrounded by them.”

That hard work has paid off for Notaro and her cast and crew. “One Mississippi” is a critical standout in an entertainment landscape overflowing with primetime and streaming television. Marked by Notaro’s signature deadpan humor, the original series tells a compelling story of overwhelming heartbreak and reluctant new beginnings that’s garnered a favorable 93 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The show, co-created by “Juno” scribe Diablo Cody, boasts a writers’ room of all women and a small, dynamic cast of unique players. All this not because of, but in spite of, the show’s superficial attachment to Louis C.K.

“One Mississippi” is partly based on Notaro’s life after she battled an intestinal bacterial infection, lost her mother, broke up with her girlfriend and underwent a double mastectomy following a cancer diagnosis. (This all happened in the space of four months in 2012, the same year her career started to blossom.) On the show, radio host Tig moves back to Mississippi from Los Angeles and attempts to hold herself together ― along with her teddy bear-like brother, Remy (Noah Harpster), and her strangely aloof stepfather, Bill (John Rothman). It’s an honest portrayal of a woman, told by a woman, and played by one of the most interesting women in comedy.

Amazon

Never have there been more female showrunners pushing the limits of storytelling. According to a report by San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film, women accounted for 28 percent of all creators, directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and directors of photography working on programs shared by various platforms in the 2016-17 season. This represents an increase of 2 percentage points from 2015-16. When a woman is at the helm of a series, the writing staff is, on average, composed of 32 percent women, compared to only 6 percent when the showrunner is a man.

Of course, women have been sharing stories and helping run shows for decades, but comedy has not always celebrated their presence. Women have not only seen their work attributed to other, more powerful men, but they’ve been subjected to an environment that turns a blind eye to figures like Harvey WeinsteinKevin Spacey, and, yes, Louis C.K., all of whom allegedly harassed and assaulted their co-workers while climbing the ladder and earning millions.

As we reckon with the misconduct of some of Hollywood’s heroes and their departure from spaces like prestige TV, it’s worth taking stock of the plethora of storytellers who are ― and have been ― ascending in their place. They make money at the box officethey captivate audiencesthey have stories to tell, too.

Thankfully, we have Nahnatchka Khan of “Fresh Off the Boat,” who fought for “a diverse [writers’] room with diverse experiences.” And “UnReal” creator Marti Noxon, who studied the art of showrunning under leaders like Shonda Rhimes. There’s Ava DuVernay, who’s not only heading up “Queen Sugar,” but bringing an inclusive, female-driven adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time to the big screen. And there’s Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna, whose CW show, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” tackles topics like mental health via silly show tunes. 

There’s also Tina Fey (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), Issa Rae (“Insecure”), Jill Soloway (“Transparent,” “I Love Dick”), Jenji Kohan (“Orange Is the New Black”), Jennie Snyder Urman (“Jane the Virgin”) and Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson (“Broad City”), among others. 

These female and gender-nonconforming creators (Soloway identifies as nonbinary) are presenting authentic narratives in thoughtful ways, through heartbreak comedies, dramatic sitcoms and manic musicals. Successful programs are being crafted by innovative creators, behind and in front of the camera, who are better poised than most to deliver the stories in need of telling today.

Notaro, for instance, addressed sexual assault on “One Mississippi” well before much of the current wave of allegations coming out of Tinseltown. A storyline in the series’ second season involves Tig’s experience with her stepgrandfather, who molested her when she was a child. While discussing the situation on her radio show with producer and love interest Kate (played by Notaro’s real-life wife, Stephanie Allynne), the floodgates open, allowing Kate to share her own instances of being harassed without even knowing it ― stories about her field hockey coach, her camp counselor and her male teachers. 

“That kind of thing happened to me all the time,” she admits to a bewildered, frightened Tig. “It happens to everyone all the time.” 

“One Mississippi” touches on this topic in subsequent episodes until it reaches a crisis point in Episode 5, “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” when Kate’s male boss (Timm Sharp) masturbates in front of her during a pitch meeting in his office. Kate sits frozen in her seat until he finishes, grabs a tissue and acts like nothing ever happened. The incident is eerily reminiscent of the stories told by Louis C.K.’s victims, who say he masturbated in front of them without their consent. 

When Tig confronts Kate’s boss, he denies harassment, blaming it on “jock itch.” The head of the company sympathizes with Kate, but recommends an internal HR investigation rather than simply firing the offender. Tig, angry, begins to tell her listeners about the situation before Kate stops her: “That’s my story to tell.”

“Our entire writers room is all female and everybody had a story of assault or abuse or harassment on so many different levels and it just was one of the themes that we felt was really, really important to show,” Notaro told The Hollywood Reporter. “To show the different layers and levels to it. People think all assault or abuse is one particular thing, where there are several shades of it.”

The “One Mississippi” creators began crafting their second season right after the 2016 presidential election, using their anger to fuel the story. Not only did they touch on themes of sexual assault, the writers scripted instances of racism and bullying, and debates about faith and religion, opening up a dialogue about certain untouchable topics that are ubiquitous talking points now. It almost feels too timely, as if Notaro and Cody predicted where we’d be at this exact point in our history. But, alas, the signs were always there.

We’ll surely see more series tackle current events, but there’s something unmistakably unique about “One Mississippi.” The Amazon series is powerful yet understated, funny yet serious. And it’s managed to package its power into a dozen 25-minute episodes that make you laugh, cry and question your own reality. With art like this, there’s no doubt audiences will welcome dissections from new female showrunners, as well as mainstays like Khan, Bloom, Fey and DuVernay. As we move forward, we need fresh, bold stories. Ladies, bring it on. 

“One Mississippi” is now streaming on Amazon Prime.  

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