Politics

Taste Network illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

Historic Small Restaurants Grant Program

American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation Announce $1+ Million Grant Program for “Backing Historic Small Restaurants” in the U.S.

American Express, in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, announced “Backing Historic Small Restaurants,” a more than $1 million investment to preserve historic restaurants in the U.S. as they continue to navigate the pandemic and plan for recovery. This is the latest in a series of initiatives announced this month by American Express to support the restaurant community nationwide.

Through the grant program, small historic restaurant owners will have the opportunity to improve, upgrade, and preserve their physical spaces and online businesses, as well as mitigate existing operating costs. For example, restaurants can rehabilitate the exteriors of historic buildings and facades, expand outdoor dining, upgrade their takeout and online ordering systems, or establish a stronger online presence. Updates like these are critical for future success in a post-pandemic world.

“For generations, our nation’s oldest and most historic small restaurants have been safe spaces for customers to share meals, ideas, and their culture. They are at the heart of our neighborhoods, serve our communities, and help advance cultural and social change for those who live there,” said Colleen Taylor, President of Merchant Services – U.S., American Express. “Many have stood the test of time, but the pandemic has tested them in ways they could have never imagined. The ‘Backing Historic Small Restaurants’ program will help preserve these spaces not only for their legacy, but also for their earned place in our nation’s future.”

As part of the grant program, American Express’s partners are also joining in to support these historic small restaurants:

a

  • AT&T Business and Dell Technologies will each offer up to $5K to each awarded historic small restaurant for a collective total of up to $250K to spend on products and services for digital upgrades.
  • Resy, a hospitality technology platform that is part of the American Express family, will offer complimentary use of ResyOS – its restaurant management software – for one year to each of the historic small restaurants selected to help streamline costs and boost restaurant operations.
  • Main Street America will provide specialized technical assistance on small business marketing strategy for grantees, delivered through a series of three training webinars and Q&A “ask the expert” opportunities with UrbanMain Marketing Specialists.
  • The National Restaurant Association and National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation will also offer access to virtual educational tools and training to support the 25-awarded restaurants, as well as up to 75 nominees.

a

“American entrepreneurship is a defining aspect of our nation’s heritage, and historic commercial landmarks are vital to community identity and economics,” said Katherine Malone-France, Chief Preservation Officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “This initiative acknowledges that legacy restaurants are not only welcoming spaces where people break bread, but also gathering places where history is made in meaningful ways, small and large, over and over again. Though hard hit by the pandemic, preserving these treasures helps restore our connectedness and commercial life. We are honored to partner with American Express to preserve these legacies and tell the powerful stories of restaurants that have nourished our souls, helped shape our past, and must be a part of our future.”

The National Trust will work with American Express to identify historic small restaurants that need support and will award 25 grants of $40,000, totaling $1 million funded by American Express and administered by the National Trust. Historic small restaurants can be suggested at SavingPlaces.org/HistoricRestaurants for consideration. Final grantees will be selected by the National Trust, with input from American Express and a chef advisory committee assembled by Resy including chefs Deborah VanTrece, Edouardo Jordan, and Kwame Onwuachi.

The grantees will be announced in May to coincide with National Preservation Month.

a

Grant Selection Criteria for Eligible U.S. Small Historic Restaurants:

  • Have experienced significant financial hardship due to the impacts of the pandemic.
  • Have contributed to the neighborhood’s history and/or the identity of a particular neighborhood or community for at least 25 years.
  • Be a small/independently owned restaurant located in a historic building and/or historic neighborhood.
  • Preference will be given to businesses owned by underrepresented groups, including People of Color and women, disproportionally impacted by the pandemic.
  • Priority will be given to small restaurants who have not already received significant COVID-19-related aid.

a

Building on American Express and Resy’s Support for Restaurants

American Express has made several commitments to support restaurants since the beginning of the pandemic, including a national campaign launched earlier this month with Resy to “Order In, Help Out.” According to the American Express Independent Restaurant Insight Study, 89% of small, independent restaurant owners say they depend on takeout orders to stay afloat. The study also found that the simple act of ordering takeout can generate, on average, more than $700 million in daily sales for the industry[1]. “Order In, Help Out” is an extension of American Express’ Shop Small® effort, a global movement to spotlight and support small businesses, especially during the hardships experienced due to COVID-19.

a

ABOUT AMERICAN EXPRESS
American Express is a globally integrated payments company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at on their website and connect with American Express on FacebookInstagram, LinkedInTwitter, and Youtube.  Key links to products, services and corporate responsibility information: charge and credit cardsbusiness credit cardstravel servicesgift cardsprepaid cardsmerchant services,

Traveling by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

Texas Winter Storm Coverage

By: Emily Bunn

As Texas faces its worst winter storm, and largest insurance claim, in the state’s history, many Texans are banning together to stay warm and conserve resources. The frigid winter storm that has been ravaging the state has led to burst pipes, power failures, and flooded homes. Many residents have been left without any clean drinking water, heat, or power. Some have taken to sleeping in blanket covered tents, while others are attempting to heat their homes by boiling their limited water supply.

In towns such as Lubbock, Texas, frozen water pipes have lead to leaks, water damage, a lack of heat, and ice accumulations, especially in school campuses. Across the state, k-12 schools and universities–such as Texas Tech University, located in Lubbock–have been affected. Chief Operations Officer Rick Rodriguez said to KCBD: “We’re never going to put our kids in a school where their safety is compromised. That’s our highest priority. We would never bring kids back to school if we did not think it was safe.”

Tragically, more than 50 Texans have died from hypothermia, house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. One of the grimmest situations arriving from this storm include the death of Loan Le, a grandmother, and her three young grandchildren in a house fire after attempting to stay warm during the night. While power had been restored to most people across the region after last Saturday, approximately 69,000 in Texas, 61,000 in Mississippi, and thousands more in the surrounding states of Louisiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia still remain without any power.

While the spirit of community aid rippled across Texas–through programs like The Houston Food Bank, the Austin Disaster Relief Network, the San Antonio Food Bank, Feeding Texas, Front Steps, and several community efforts, such as at the local H-E-B grocery stores–the state’s Senator, Ted Cruz, selfishly took a flight to Cancun, abandoning many freezing Texans and his pet poodle.

As Cruz lounged at the Ritz-Carlton, Texans faced depleted water supplies, empty grocery store shelves, and freezing temperatures. Stepping in to take some responsibility, President Joe Biden declared an emergency declaration in Texas.  This emergency notice will allow for Texas residents and business owners to apply for temporary housing grants, home repair loans, and other emergency aid. While the declaration doesn’t cover the entire state, individual assistance is being provided to 77 of 254 counties, including those surrounding Texas’ most populous areas, including Houston, Dallas, and Austin. Texas Governor Greg Abbot discussed Biden’s declaration in a statement:

“I thank President Biden for his assistance as we respond to impacts of winter weather across our state, while this partial approval is an important first step, Texas will continue to work with our federal partners to ensure all eligible Texans have access to the relief they need.”

As the Texas National Guard has been deployed across the state to deliver water and conduct welfare checks and relief efforts, such as the $3.2 million dollars help raised by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Rep. Sylvia Garcia, and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas continues to battle the hazardous consequences of this unforeseen winter weather.

Rita Azar illustration for 360 MAGAZINE article on immigration

American Attitudes Towards Immigrants

New Report: What Immigration Issues Do Americans Hold Sacred?

Why has immigration moved from being a mundane policy issue into one of the most hotly-debated topics in American politics today? Why was family separation so widely rebuked by the public and why is building a border wall so divisive?

Answers to these questions can be found in a new report published by the Center for Inclusion and Belonging at the American Immigration Council and Over Zero, titled: “What Immigration Issues Do Americans Hold Sacred? A Psychological Journey into American Attitudes Towards Immigrants” by Nichole Argo, Ph.D. and Kate Jassin, Ph.D.

The report—and the behavioral survey upon which it is based—overcome the limitations of traditional polling by digging deeper into how deeply respondents think about immigration issues, and why they feel the way that they do. 

In March 2020, the authors conducted a nationally representative survey to examine 14 key immigration issues. They asked respondents to choose between an open or restrictive stance on each issue, then reflect on how much it mattered to them. They then asked how much money it would take for respondents to give up this value.  

Stances that cannot be traded away for any amount of money are considered “sacred values.” They are processed in the brain differently than regular values, and efforts to argue or negotiate around them as if they are regular values are likely to backfire.

How sacred is immigration in the United States today to those on the right and the left? Very. This is one explanation for why the debate becomes so heated on immigration and easily divides Americans. 

What are the beliefs, values, experiences, and attitudes most associated with open or restrictive sacralization and what can we do about it?  

View the full report and key findings here

Kaelen Felix illustrates Veterans Day for 360 Magazine

“Don’t Shoot Your Future Self” By Eric Power

Veterans face incredible challenges after leaving the military. From coping with mental health issues like depression and PTSD to finding employment, re-establishing relationships, and more – readjusting to civilian life is not easy. After putting their lives on the line in service of our country, veterans deserve more support than what they are getting.

The pandemic has only made this issue worse over the last year with the surge of loneliness, unemployment, and an increase in mental health cases among all Americans. A survey done by the Wounded Warriors Project found that more than half of veterans said their mental health had worsened during the pandemic.

Fortunately, a new book from recent military veteran, Eric Power can help. “Don’t Shoot Your Future Self” is a powerful story of self-discovery that shares the keys to overcoming some of life’s greatest challenges and the wisdom and insights in this book are more timely and relevant than ever before.

“This pandemic has set a shocking and much greater feat for veterans (and all Americans for that matter) to rise above thier mental health challenges. Yet, I am very optimistic about the future and hope to provide support, advice, and my personal experience to help save someone’s life…” said Power, whose mission is to provide a valuable resource and life-changing advice to veterans, their families, and all struggling Americans.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Blurring the lines between fiction and nonfiction, “Don’t Shoot Your Future Self” is a powerful story that shines light on the unique challenges veterans face after leaving the military. As an active combat veteran, Eric Power knows the sacrifices and struggles of civilian veterans. As a mentor and a self-development student, he also knows the keys to overcoming some of the greatest challenges in business and in life.

Power shares his success principles as he takes you through the challenges of David Little, a veteran facing personal and career challenges. Follow along as David meets his mentor, Ralph Power, who helps him discover his self-worth and shows him how to build life-changing relationships.

The statistics on veteran mental health are horrific. According to a 2020 report, roughly 17 veterans die by suicide each day in the US. This means meaning more veterans die by suicide every two days than were killed in action last year! This staggering statistic is why “Don’t Shoot Your Future Self” rings true to 24 million veterans around the world who have some type of personal struggle after returning home. As the Coronavirus surges forward, we have seen an increase in mental health conditions among all Americans. The wisdom and insights in this book are more timely and relevant than ever before.

Of course, this personal development is a must-read for military veterans, but it also appeals to non-veterans because it offers timeless and universal business and success principles applicable to all people. This book is a valuable resource for military families or anyone with loved ones in the service. It offers a glimpse into the reality of the veteran experience and readers can learn more about what their loved one is going through and how they can help.

Whether you are a veteran or not, “Don’t Shoot Your Future Self” is an unforgettable story about life, relationships, and the power we all have to create a lasting imprint on the people we meet and know.

The book was released December 28th, 2020 by Waterside productions and starts at $16.95 for the paperback edition. “Don’t Shoot Your Future Self” is available for purchase on Amazon HERE. 

ABOUT ERIC POWER:

Eric Louis Power is an author, speaker, entrepreneur, and social activist dedicated to helping military veterans and their families achieve a better quality of life. Power served honorably in the US Navy reaching the rank of Petty Officer First Class and serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Southern Watch. Power has a total of seven deployments, with 3.5 years in Active Combat zones. He is the founder of For Veterans By Veterans, a nonprofit that provides assistance to homeless vets, and he is the founder and CEO of Veterans Disability Help, LLC, a firm that manages VA disability claims and helps disabled veterans get the benefits they deserve. Since 2012, Power has been responsible for redirecting over 2.1 Million dollars a month recurring from the VA, back to the veterans in regard to their VA disability claims.

FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT https://veterandisabilityhelp.com

LGBT flag illustration by Symara Wilson for 360 Magazine

HRC Press Call

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Alphonso David and State Legislative Director Cathryn Oakley hosted a press call to preview the state legislative landscape for 2021. With a number of anti-LGBTQ bills being introduced, heard, and voted on now and in the coming months, Alphonso David and Cathryn Oakley discussed the recurring themes the Human Rights Campaign is seeing in anti-LGBTQ legislation across the country, and shared additional political and electoral context around these fights.

Upon viewing the state legislative landscape, it can be observed that national organizations are pushing anti-LGBTQ bills across the U.S. The discriminatory bills are mongered by fear, not facts, and the opposition to such bills has been becoming desperately vocal. Despite the broad popularity of supporting LGBTQ equality from the general American public and preference for pro-quality candidates – even by Republican voters – these bills still are being introduced. States who pass these anti-LGBTQ laws risk major harm to their queer residents’ lives. Bills like these have posed economic, reputational, and legal harm to states who consider passing them, as evidenced by the result of anti-LGBQT legislation in states such as North Carolina, Texas, Indiana, and Idaho, among others.

Fortunately, the HRC has a strong record of defeating anti-equality legislation in states. Their team is hard at work monitoring and leading the fight against anti-equality bills across the country this year. For example, senseless anti-transgender sports and medical care bills are being introduced in state legislatures across the country as the latest iteration of the political fight against LGBTQ equality. The HRC is looking lead LGBTQ+ friendly progress and combat National anti-LGBTQ+ groups like the Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom and the Eagle Forum who are leading the charge, rather than legislators or constituent concerns.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organizations working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

Listen to the full recording of today’s press call here.

Illustration for 360 Magazine by Rita Azar

Montana’s Anti-Transgender Bills’ Negative Impact

On Thursday, Leader Kim Abbott, the ACLU of Montana, the Free and Fair Coalition, local Montanans, and the Human Rights Campaign detailed their opposition to two anti-transgender bills (HB 112, a bill that would ban the participation of transgender women in women’s sports, and HB 113 which would restrict transgender access to medical care) being rushed through the legislative process in Montana.

HB 112 passed the House Judiciary Committee and HB 113 is expected to see the same result, with both likely to be voted on by the full House within the week after preliminary hearings were held on the federal holiday of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Opponents of the bills on today’s press call discussed the discriminatory nature of both bills and the adverse personal, social, economic, legal, and medical impacts the passage of these bills have had in other states. Those opposed include local legislative voices and those that would be personally impacted by the legislation in question.

“Montana is the first state this year to be giving serious consideration to anti-transgender legislation and unfortunately we don’t expect it will be the last,” said Cathryn Oakley, Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director. “Last year was historic for anti-transgender bills and we expect this year will be as well. These bills went through a rushed legislative process. Why the rush? These are made up issues. As a federal court has already recognized, bills like these are unconstitutional and motivated by anti-transgender animus. This — not COVID or economic relief legislation — is their priority and their motivations are 100% political.”

“This bill would harm pediatricians and other medical professionals by levying steep fines,” said Dr. Lauren Wilson, from the Montana Chapter of the American Association of Pediatrics. “House Bill 113 represents one of the most extreme political attacks on transgender kids in history. Transgender kids are kids. They don’t deserve a ban against participation in sports. We know that transgender kids who can  live with gender they identify with have a lower rate of suicide. These bills undermine the work and rules that schools already have. It would also violate federal law and threaten federal funding. Transgender kids have the best chance to thrive if they can get the care they need and are allowed to be an active part of their community.”

“I am the proud daughter of two kids. My son is transgender. Being transgender is not a choice, and being transgender is not negotiable,” said Jaime Gabrielli, the parent of a transgender child in Montana. “Impulsivity is not part of the equation of transgender affirming health care. These are necessary, planned, informed, thoughtful processes that do not happen quickly. It’s a choice that often comes as one of two remaining options: end your life or transition. When suicide is an option, you do everything you can as a parent to help. I see him beginning to thrive because he’s finally able to be who he is. Making necessary medical care that transgender kids rely on illegal does not make them more safe. My plea to lawmakers is to protect trans youth in Montana by voting ‘no’ to HB 112 and HB 113.”

“I am among the more than 160 businesses in Montana that stand against these bills,” said Chelsie Rice, Owner of the Montana Book Company. “It’s projected that the loss from the North Carolina bathroom bills was upwards of $3 billion. Montana businesses do not support these bills. We face a loss of revenue that we can’t afford. More than that, we want to be businesses that are welcome to all in our state.”

Public policy polling by the Human Rights Campaign in partnership with the Hart Research Group across swing states in the 2020 election showed that support for transgender access to medical care had more than 90% support, including significant support among conservative voters. Idaho, which was the first and so far only state to pass  legislation banning transgender women from participation in sports, has been enjoined from implementing that law pending the final determination of the case as a federal district court found the transgender athlete challenging the law has a significant likelihood of winning her case.

Analyses conducted in the aftermath of previous divisive anti-transgender bills like the bathroom bills introduced in Texas and South Carolina show that there would be devastating economic fallout. The Associated Press projected that the North Carolina bathroom bill would have lost the state $3.76 billion over 10 years. During a fight over an anti-transgender bathroom bill in 2017, the Texas Association of Business estimated $8.5 billion in economic losses, risking 185,000 jobs in the process due to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and professional sporting event cancellations, a ban on taxpayer funded travel to those states, cancellation of movie productions, and businesses moving projects out of state. Together, these real-life previous implications of attacking transgender people put Montana’s economy and reputation at risk.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organizations working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

Illustration of Melania Trump and Jill Biden by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

Dear Melania Trump, Our 2nd Immigrant First Lady

By Javier Pedroza

Dear Melania: Why didn’t you invite the new FLOTUS, Dr. Jill Biden, for a private tour of the White House living quarter?

“Under all circumstances, we must never desert ourselves”. – Louisa Catherine Adams, the first FLOTUS born outside of the United States of America (1825 to 1829). Historically, First Ladies are mostly respected and admired. The coveted position has been uncontroversial until 2021. 

Melania Trump, formerly known as Melanija Knavs, was born on April 26, 1970 in Slovenia. At age 16, she began what would soon become a successful modeling career, appearing in many high profile ad campaigns and working with some of the best photographers in the fashion industry. In 1996, Mrs. Trump moved to New York and 10 years later she proudly became a United States Citizen. Former First Lady Melania Trump is the wife of the 45th President, Donald J. Trump and the mother to their son, Barron Trump. She is the second First Lady born outside of the United States, and she is the only First Lady to become a naturalized United States citizen. 

Mrs. Trump is the first modern former First Lady to break one of the transfer-of-power rituals; welcoming the incoming president and family into the White House. This American tradition commenced in the 1920s and was respected all the way to 2017, when outgoing FLOTUS Mrs. Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama hosted Mrs. Melania Trump for tea while discussing the private residence. 

“Mrs. Trump should have invited Dr. Biden in for the traditional coffee. Typically, the first lady would come prepared with questions, she’ll meet and talk to the chef, the full time residence staff and have an opportunity for them to break the ice. It’s a courtesy, but logistically it’s incredibly helpful. That didn’t happen,”Capricia Marshall told The New York Times. Capricia Marshall was the former White House social secretary in the Clinton administration. 

In 2016 when former President Barack Obama welcomed Donald and Melania Trump to the White House, Former First Lady Michelle Obama held her head up high despite Donald’s reckless lies about her husband. Michelle Obama went on instagram and described how she felt during that time, sharing that while she was “hurt and disappointed,” she accepted that “the American people had spoken.” She went on to write, “My husband and I instructed our staff to do what George and Laura Bush had done for us: run a respectful, seamless transition of power — one of the hallmarks of American democracy.” 

On January 19th, 2021 CNN reported, “Melania Trump left the White House with the worst popularity rating for any first lady at the end of her term in polling history. The latest CNN/SSRS poll had Trump’s favorable rating at 42% to a 47% unfavorable rating. The 47% is the highest unfavorable rating we ever recorded for Trump. It’s also amazingly high from a historical perspective.” 

On January 20th, another protocol was broken when neither the former President nor any member of his family attended the inauguration. The Trumps also bypassed the laying of a wreath atop the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Ceremony, where the Biden’s were joined by former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and their spouses. 

As trending headlines like “Trumps’ snub of Bidens historic in its magnitude” by CNN circulated in the media early this week, we watched Melania Trump address the nation for the last time as First Lady of the United States. This was her first on camera appearance since the January 6th insurrection on the Capitol and she had not been seen in public since New Year’s Eve. During her farewell speech she spent much of her time expressing the importance of kindness. “In all circumstances, I ask every American to be an ambassador of Be Best. To focus on what unites us, to raise above what divides us. To always choose love over hatred, peace over violence and others before yourself.” 

Was this Melania’s opportunity to demonstrate to the world that she is her own person? A proud immigrant from Slovenia who later became an American citizen who respects all aspects of what it means to be an American or perhaps Melanija Knavs has always been a Trump. 

“Develop enough courage so that you can stand up for yourself and then stand up for somebody else.” – Maya Angelou

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Illustration by Kaelen Felix

The Presidential Inauguration

Today, Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States which commences his four-year presidency and Kamala Harris as Vice President. 

Earlier it was revealed that former president Donald Trump would not attend the ceremony. Trump announced this on his Twitter account before the account was suspended. On January 8 he tweeted, “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”

Trump is the sixth outgoing president that did not attend the presidential inauguration. The last time this occurred was in 1921 when Woodrow Wilson did not attend the inauguration of Warren G. Harding because of poor health. 

“It’s usually a sign that American society is in the midst of major political feud,” the presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said in the New York Times. “The fact that the incoming and outgoing presidents can’t shake hands and co-participate in an inauguration means that something’s off-kilter in the democracy.”

President Biden took an upbeat approach while speaking to the public in front of the Lincoln Memorial at the “Celebrating America” concert. After  addressing many difficulties the nation has encountered recently, he asked if American’s were up for a challenge. 

“Will we meet the moment like our forebearers have?” he asked. “I believe we must and I believe we will. You, the American people are the reason why I have never been more optimistic about America than I am this very day.”

“There isn’t anything we can’t do, if we do it together,” he added. 

“So thank you for this honor, I will give my all to you,” Biden concluded. 

The “Celebrating America” concert was star-packed and many celebrities came together to celebrate the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris. Performers such as Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato, John Legend and Katy Perry all had smashing performances. The celebration was hosted by Tom Hanks, who many sources noted as looking “freezing” because he didn’t have time to take a break in the heated trailers set up for performers. 

There was of course concerns because of the violence that recently occurred at the Capitol earlier in January, explained Adrienne Elrod, the director of talent for the Biden transition team. “What happened on January 6th I wouldn’t say derailed us, but it certainly caused us to take a step back,” she said.

This inauguration is monumental as the first female Vice President is sworn in inspiring girls throughout America. Many people showed heartwarming tweets of their daughters watching Harris as she was sworn in as president. It was also reported that Harris will not immediately be moving in to the Vice President’s residence at the Naval Observatory. 

In Harris’s first statement to the public in her role as Vice President, she encouraged the people of the United States to unite in this time of crisis. 

“In many ways this moment embodies our character as a nation. It demonstrates who we are, even in dark times. We, not only dream, we do. We not only see what has been, we see what can be. We shoot for the moon, and then we plant our flag on it. We are bold, fearless and ambitious. We are undaunted, in our belief that we shall overcome, that we will rise up. This is American aspiration,” Harris said.

Dr. Jill Biden tweeted a video of her and President Biden arriving at the North Portico of the White House as her first official tweet as First Lady. “Thank you for your faith in something that is bigger than all of us: that we will build a better world because we’re going to do it together,” the tweet read.

One unexpected part of the inauguration that has taken social media by storm is an image of Bernie Sanders sitting in a chair with mittens on. A huge number of memes have been created of Sanders in various locations and according to the Los Angles Times Sanders has also been laughing at the memes. 

A school teacher from Vermont was responsible for crafting the famous mittens and has since been flooded with requests from people that want to buy them. However, she has announced she is no longer selling them.

“Thanks for all the interest in Bernie’s mittens!” Jen Ellis wrote on Twitter. “I’m so flattered that Bernie wore them to the inauguration. Sadly, I have no more mittens for sale. There are a lot of great crafters on ETSY who make them.”

Sanders said he had no idea that the image of him would cause such an uproar on social media. “I was just sitting there trying to keep warm, trying to pay attention to what was going on,” he said during an interview on “Late Night with Seth Meyers” Thursday. Even celebrities like Reba and Sarah Jessica Parker joined in on the fun making memes of the image. 

Biden began his duties as early as Wednesday when he finalized over a dozen executive moves in the Oval Office. “There’s no time to start like today,” Biden told reporters as he began signing a stack of orders and memoranda. “I’m going to start by keeping the promises I made to the American people.”

Biden also made it clear during a swearing-in ceremony that his employees are expected to respect each other.”If you’re ever working with me and I hear you treating another colleague with disrespect, talking down to someone, I will fire you on the spot,” said Biden. 

The Biden administration has also put a plan in place to focus on specific issues that need attention. Starting on January 20, the Biden Administration began with Inauguration and four Crises to focus on.

They decided to pick a theme for the following ten days so they would be able to focus on specific issues each day. Some of these themes include Covid, Economic Relief, Climate, Health Care and Immigration. In February there is a plan to focus on restoring America’s place in the world. Throughout these days there will be a variety of executive orders depending on the theme.

Donald Trump illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 MAGAZINE

Donald Trump Impeached Again

By Dana Feeney

The House of Representatives has voted to impeach President Donald Trump for the second time in his four-year term as president, which started in January of 2017. He is the third president to be impeached and the first president ever to be impeached more than once. This second impeachment comes shortly after the riots in the capital last week on January 6th, 2021. Trump is being impeached on the charge of “incitement of insurrection’’ because of the statements he made on January 6. He told his supporters to “fight like hell” because the Democrats were stealing the election. You can watch the speech hereDuring the riots, Trump supporters carrying a variety of racist and white supremacist paraphernalia swarmed the Capitol and forced their way into the building to stop the count of electoral votes. The riot caused the deaths of at least five individuals, including a Capitol police officer. 

Because of the insurrection, Democrats pushed for Vice President Mike Pence to enact the 25th amendment, which he could use to declare Trump unfit to serve as president and remove him from office. Republicans blocked this move. U.S. Congressmen David N. Cicilline (RI-01), Ted Lieu (CA-33), and Jamie Raskin (MD-08) introduced the article of impeachment to the House of Representatives on the morning of January 11, 2021. The article of impeachment is co-sponsored by 211 members of Congress according to Cicilline’s press release. You can read the full article of impeachment here. On January 13, 2021, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump with a 232 to 197 majority. 10 Republicans voted to impeach, more members of the president’s party than in any prior impeachment.

Impeachment does not mean removal from office; impeachment is adjacent to an indictment. The difference in American law is that indictment applies to criminal charges, while impeachment is the accusation of misconduct in a political setting. Any civil officer in the United States can be impeached. In the case of the President or Vice President, the first step is the introduction of the article(s) of impeachment in the House of Representatives. After the article(s) of impeachment are introduced to the House, the House then votes on each article of impeachment, and if any pass by a simple majority, more than 50%, the articles will be tried in front of the Senate. During the Senate trial, the chief justice of the Supreme Court presides over the Senate trial, the Senate body functions as the jury, a committee of House representatives, called “managers,” act as the prosecution, and the president and his or her lawyers act as the defense. All articles of impeachment are argued on the Senate floor, then are voted on by the Senate body to either convict or acquit; to convict, there must be a two-thirds majority. Only two presidents, Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson, were impeached and reached the Senate trial, both were acquitted. Despite an extensive impeachment investigation, Richard Nixon was never impeached because he resigned.  

Yesterday, January 13, 2021, the House voted to impeach Trump with only six days until the inauguration of Joe Biden. It is highly unlikely that Trump will be removed from office before the end of his term as president. The Senate is not set to be in session until January 19, 2021, and neither Democrats nor Republicans benefit from rushing the trial to be any sooner as this Senate trial will be a lengthy process that requires preparation from both the prosecution and the defense. Despite Trump losing the support of some members of his party, it is unclear how likely it is that Trump will be convicted because, even Mitt Romney, who voted to impeach in the first impeachment, has implied he is unsure that this is the right way to go. Many Republicans may hesitate to vote to convict because of the 74 million people who voted for Trump; these are the people who control whether Republicans will be reelected in the future. The main person who could cause a possible shift is Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader. If McConnell chooses to vote to convict Trump, other members of the Republican party may do the same. McConnell released this statement on January 13 saying that “there is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in next week.”

Trump has been silent since besides releasing this video condemning violence and has not acknowledged the second impeachment. He has been banned from social media, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitch, and Snapchat. Along with these bans, the tech industry has made broad statements against this recent violence. Apple and Google have removed the app Parler from their app stores. The app was used by Trump supporters and white supremacists to communicate and coordinate the attack on the Capitol. Further, Amazon Web Services, which hosted the app, has cut off its service to Parler on the premise that it violated its terms of service. One feature of the app was that users could upload a photograph of their government-issued ID or driver’s license to become a “Verified Citizen.” The app lost the support of its security services, which protected user data, leaving it vulnerable to hackers who stole the data and turned it over to the FBI to be used to identify terrorists present at the riot. Read more about it here. Additionally, there are accounts publicly identifying people in photographs from the riots on platforms including Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. Federal officials are identifying and arresting individuals who were at the event.

 The riots have caused many security changes in Washington D.C. and state capitals across the U.S. as Joe Biden’s inauguration grows closer and threats of further violence continue to spread online. These changes include the resignation of the U.S. Capitol Police chief, Steven Sund, increased police and national guard presence in Washington D.C. and the implementation of high security barriers around the Capitol building. Many D.C. businesses inside of the security perimeter are already making changes in preparation for the inauguration. Some are boarding up their windows in preparation for possible protests while others are preparing to serve guests who come to D.C. for the inauguration. In response to various local, state, and federal officials asking people not to travel to Washington, D.C., Airbnb has canceled all reservations in the Washington, D.C. metro area during the inauguration week, according to this press release. Some hotel chains in the city have stated that they will be hosting guests; as of now, nothing has been done to prevent this.

The events in this article, including the Senate trial, the consequences of the riots, and the coming inauguration, are all ongoing.

 

Kaelen Felix illustrates Ritchie Torres for 360 Magazine

TRAILBLAZER: CONGRESSMAN RITCHIE TORRES

By Elle Grant

January 3rd marked the commencement of the 117th Congress and the swearing of its newest members. For many, it marked the beginning of a new dawn. One that will be followed by the inauguration of TIME’s People of the Year, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. They will replace President Trump on Inauguration Day on January 20th. Yet several other remarkable individuals were elected this year and sworn in a bit earlier, solidifying the 117th Congress as the most diverse in American history. One of these representatives is a freshly elected Ritchie Torres, a 32-year-old politician serving the 15th congressional district in the Bronx, New York. Torres is the first openly gay Afro-Latino man elected to Congress, and one of two gay Black men that will serve in the 117th Congress, a distinction he shares with fellow New Yorker Mondaire Jones. 360 Magazine had the opportunity to sit down with Torres to discuss the story of his life, the issues he considers vital, as well as pick his brain for his thoughts on current events.

“I am a product of the Bronx,” Torres says of his childhood, “I spent most of my life in poverty.” Ritchie Torres was raised by a single mother, one of three children, in the Throggs Neck neighborhood of the East Bronx. He recalls the difficulty his mother had raising a family on minimum wage in the 1990s, as well as the awful conditions of the public housing he grew up in. Torres recollects these experiences with the soft yet fluid countenance that marked his speech throughout 360’s conversation with him. He floats between topics and memories with ease.

He recalls, with a rich sense of irony, the construction of Trump Golf Links as a child. “My life is something of a metaphor. I grew up right across the street of what became Trump golf course and actually something funny, is when the golf course was undergoing construction, it unleashed a skunk infestation. So, I often tell people I’ve been smelling the stench of Donald Trump long before he became President.” His own situation, compared with the government subsidized construction of the Trump Golf Links, deeply unsettled Torres’ image of society. He says collectively of his youth, “Those experiences shape not only who I am as a person, but as a public official.”

Such injustices prompted Torres to seek to become “The change that you wish the see in the world,” he says, quoting Mahatma Gandhi. He named public figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Ted Kennedy as role models. He got his start as a housing organizer and eventually took the leap of faith to run for public office, becoming New York’s youngest elected city official at age 25. He had “No ties to the machine. No ties to the dynasties of Bronx politics, but I was young and energetic. I knocked on thousands of doors,” he claims that kind of face-to-face contact won him that election. Torres then became the first LGBTQ+ official elected from the Bronx.

“I think it has several implications,” he says when asked what this early accomplishment meant to him. “I mean, first, we are all products of our identities and our lived experiences. Right? Who we are as people shapes what we do as policy makers. It is important to have LGBTQ policy makers in the room where decisions are being made. A wise person once said, ‘If you don’t have a seat at the table, then you are probably on the menu.’” Referring to his 2020 election win, he says “My election means that LGBTQ people of color, in particular, will have a seat at one of the most powerful tables, the United States Congress.” He calls the reality of his election both empowering and normalizing. “I am a symbol of possibility.”

“I met Mondaire for the first time four years ago,” Torres says of Mondaire Jones, U.S. representative of New York’s 17th congressional district. “I remember when I met him for the first time, we had a conversation about the lack of LGBTQ representation of color in New York state politics. And I never imagined that four years later, he and I would become the first openly LGBTQ Black members of United States Congress.”

Congressmen Torres recognizes that his path, though marked with accomplishments, has not been one of only highs. Torres stands apart as a public official on the national stage who is open about the lows of his life and his struggles with mental health. When asked why he chooses to be so transparent, he says “I felt a deep sense of obligation to speak openly about my own struggles with depression in order to break the silence and shame and stigma that surrounds mental health.” He seeks to evolve, not perpetuate, the current ideas surrounding mental health. He hopes to show that “there is a way forward” out of difficult moments, which for him were struggles with substance abuse, the loss of a friend, and moments when he considered taking his own life. But seven years later, Torres was elected to city council. “I would not be alive today, much less a member of the United States Congress, were it not for mental health care which saved my life.” He aspires to send a message that “Recovery is possible. You can take an antidepressant, as I do every day, and find normalcy and stability” and achieve feats like being elected to Congress.

The 117th Congress is slated to be the most diverse in history. Torres says of this reality, “I think American is increasingly becoming a multi-racial, multi-ethnic inclusive democracy. We are witnessing the collapse of politics as an old voice network. I am part of a new generation of young leaders every bit as diverse as America itself. Congress is becoming what it always should have been, a miniaturization of America itself.”

Torres acknowledges the year 2020, monumental in many ways, as harrowing for his Bronx community. “COVID-19 has been a catastrophe for the city and the country, and the South Bronx has been the epicenter of COVID-19. The South Bronx had the highest rate of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality during the peak of the pandemic. And just as destructive as COVID-19 itself were the deeper inequalities that were brought to light.” He argued that the coronavirus exposed the deeper health inequalities, racial inequalities, and class inequalities laid bare by the pandemic.

These issues are at the forefront of Torres’ mind in thinking of his work as a legislator. When asked what he saw as the first step to rectifying the rampant racial injustice in the United States, he answered “the first thing is to bring greater accountability to policing in America,” an argument familiar to many Americans following the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd and their ensuing protests. As the Black Lives Matter movement swept the nation with greater momentum than ever before, cries for justice and defunding the police became common across the country’s cities. “Where there is no accountability, there will never be an end to police brutality” Torres says, being especially critical of qualified immunity in the United States.

Torres heads to Congress as a man with a mission regarding many issues. He himself declares “My great passion is affordable housing,” reflecting a long journey working continually in the housing sphere. He seeks to secure far greater funding for public housing in New York City and to expand the Section 8 program. The Section 8 program, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher program, created by an act in 1978, provides assistance to eligible low- and moderate-income families to rent housing in the private market. Torres says, “For me the surest way to stimulate the economy is to put money in the pockets of struggling families.” In order to do that, he believes the solution is an expanded child tax credit, which he describes as the single largest tax expenditure in America, yet he finds fault with a system that is “so regressive that it excludes a third of American families. Particularly the poorest families in America.” Torres’ passion shines through when he discusses the subject, detailing how this solution could slash childhood poverty by 40% in the span of the year. He calls its potential an absolute “game changer.”

Without question, affordable housing and tax reform are the first issues Torres hopes to address after being sworn in to the 117th Congress on January 3rd, 2020. “For me, the central mission of my life is to fight poverty in America. Racially constructed poverty in America. The South Bronx is said to be the poorest district in America and if we can make progressive policies work in the South Bronx, we can make them work anywhere.”

360 Magazine also had the opportunity to discuss a variety of current issues with Congressman Torres, one of which being the then impending Senate run-offs in Georgia. Following races too close to call in November 2020, Republican incumbent David Perdue is facing a challenge from Democrat Jon Ossoff. Additionally, GOP appointee Kelly Loeffler is defending her seat against Democrat Reverend Raphael Warnock. The election is vital because it will determine which party will control the Senate. “The stakes are supremely important,” Torres says of Georgia. “As long as Mitch McConnell refuses to bring critical bills to the floor for a vote, there is a limit to what we can accomplish. For me, Mitch McConnell is the single greatest obstruction on the path to progress. Winning those two seats in Georgia are essential.”

Regarding the impending mayoral race in his home of New York City, as well as early polls that display former Presidential candidate Andrew Yang as the frontrunner, Torres is coy. “The mayor’s race is wide open. Anyone who claims to have it figured out is lying.” He goes on to affirm “It is full of more than one credible candidate.”

“To be clear, I never announced that I wasn’t going to be in the squad.” Torres says, referring to ‘The Squad’ of United States Congress, composed of Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a fellow New Yorker, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. With new young progressive politicians like Torres joining the fray, claims of expanding membership are common. Torres, along with the aforementioned Mondaire Jones, as well as Congresswoman Cori Bush, Congresswoman Marie Newman, and Congressman Jamaal Brown are commonly referred to as impending members.

Instead, Torres clarifies, “I would never issue an announcement that I would not be a part of something. That would be an odd thing to do. Whenever I’m asked about the squad, I simply state that I’m my own person and I prefer to be judged on the basis of my own story and my own record, on my own terms.” He goes on to assert he is willing to work with “anyone and everyone in the service of delivering to the people of the South Bronx. That is my highest priority.” Torres is clear in this declaration that he is willing to work with more conservative members of his own party or the Republican party in hopes of progress.

On a future in politics, Torres affirmed his intent to serve the people in the moment and to “let the dice fall where they may” regarding the future. When asked what wisdom he would impart to a younger generation, Congressman Torres says “We are all only as strong as the support we have in our lives and be grateful for the supporters you have. The friends and family. I would not be here today if not for the friendship of people who believed in me more than I believed in myself. Know who those people are and value them and be grateful for them.”

Update as of 1/14/21, Congressman Ritchie Torres has formally endorsed former presidential candidate Andrew Yang for mayor of New York City. This comes just a day after Andrew Yang announced his campaign in a video titled ‘Why I’m Running,’ which features Torres in it.