Posts tagged with "controversy"

Rita Azar Illustrates an Entertainment Article for 360 MAGAZINE

The Cosby Show And Me

One woman’s journey after she learned The Cosby Show was based on her family in the 1980s.

By Ann-Marie Adams, Ph.D. | @annmarieadams

What if I told you that The Cosby Show was partly based on me and my family during the 1980s? You would probably not believe it. But it is true.

That’s the conclusion after a seven-year investigation by private investigators and government officials. Providence guided us during this lengthy investigation when I lived in Avon, and political operatives prepared me in 2014 to run for Congress against former Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty–an academic exercise worth noting. It was during this “prep” time that I learned about this connection with The Cosby Show.

This fortuitous story of the connection began when former President Ronald Reagan visited Jamaica on April 7, 1982. During that one-day visit, Reagan’s security detail reportedly made contact with me and my family. My father was an electrical engineer while working at the Government Printing Office. He owned a home in a suburb of Kingston. And my mother worked with a transportation company. If former President Barack Obama did not visit Jamaica on April 9, 2015, while I was covering the White House, I wouldn’t have believed this story. That’s because it was Obama’s first visit as president, and he was only the second sitting president to visit the Caribbean nation since its independence in 1962, according to MSNBC.

Also at play were these facts: In Jamaica, we were a middle-class family Reagan’s cabinet allegedly felt they should watch. After Reagan’s visit, several individuals made plans to put a family sitcom together. And it was called The Cosby Show, according to sources close to the U.S. federal, state, and local governments. The show aired on NBC from April 30, 1984, to September 20, 1992.

The Cosby Show’s character, Denise Huxtable, was based on me, I’m told. The character’s persona and likeness were exploited without our consent.

And the revelation about the origins of the show can also be found in Bill Cosby’s interview about how he came up with this idea.

Cosby first pitched the show about a working-class Honduran family. My father’s ancestors are from Honduras and Nicaragua. We had a wonderful life that included Sunday dinners and picnics in the park, but we weren’t exempt from obstacles. Although The Cosby Show was mainly focused on Cosby’s observations of family life, some of those observations were of my family. Moreover, the basic concept of the middle-class family depicted on the show is evident in my family: My older sibling wanted to be a doctor. Also, I wanted to be a lawyer. Those plans of ours were interrupted by government officials, according to sources close to the investigation.

In previous interviews, Cosby also stated the original conceptualization of the show: a working-class family that raised a successful child. (side note: Cosby’s wife suggested the show be based on a well-to-do family). The original premise and casting choices for the sitcom, however, reaffirmed the initial concept in the pitch that was identical to my family and me.

So I’m telling my story.

Several scenes were points of recognition of my family’s life in Jamaica and the U.S., especially my time at Brooklyn College. I also learned during the investigation that the casting directors and writers had our family in mind when they selected the actors. There are frighteningly similar personas in my family and the characters on the show. And a picture of The Cosby Show family and my family bears a striking resemblance. For example, Denise Huxtable is my doppelganger–and the investigators discovered the character’s traits are similar to mine. Theo is my brother’s doppelganger and a few scenes reflect the relationship with him and my father. Vanessa is my sister Andrea’s doppelganger and several scenes reflect her relationship between us. Rudy’s character is based on my brother. Articles about the casting claimed that the casting directors tried to find a boy at first but they couldn’t; so they used a girl for the role. Rudy is my niece Janel’s doppelganger. And the character Olivia is my other niece Franchista’s doppelganger. The optics resonate well to claim theft of services and copyright infringement.

Other similarities include Sondra, who shares traits with my cousin Carleen. Elvin is based on my brother Lloyd. Also, Aunt Vi is based on my cousin, Doreen, Lt. Martin Kindall, Denise’s husband is based on my cousin, Raymond. And of course, Claire Huxtable was based on my mother and older sister, Marcia. The patriarch of the television family, Cliff Huxtable portrays similar traits as my handsome father. Huxtable is my father’s doppelganger–not twin. Cosby’s conviction as a sex offender was not echoed in my family. In fact, my father has never been arrested for any crimes. This information, I believe, will allow people to differentiate between the actor and the individual the show was based on when talking about the circumstances around this NBC hit comedy in the 1980s and 1990s.

In addition to those facts, several scenes were premised on the interpersonal dynamics of the relationships between me and my sisters, brothers, and cousins. This was too much of a coincidence to those who were investigating us during the recent investigation and prep for Congress. The public must know that The Cosby Show itself is a creation by several actors, comedians, writers, and producers who may be unfamiliar with our family. However, a few undisclosed individuals close to the recent investigation of Bill Cosby and the creation of the show gave me this information. So the very idea that it was based on our family was plausible to investigate further, officials said. I also learned that the 1990s spin-off, A Different World, was based on me and my years at college. And the show, That’s So Raven, was based on my niece, Franchista.

Why we were picked for this social experiment will perhaps remain a secret to Reagan, his staff, and others close to the show. The Caribbean’s strategic location to the Panama Canal gave us a clue as to why our family was at the center of a Cold War project. We requested other documents to uncover this mystery and are still waiting. Also, the United States Secret Service has disallowed open documentation of Reagan’s visit to Jamaica in 1982. But one thing was clear. After this revelation to me, while I was covering the Obama White House, my family and I were the victims of a hate crime and cover-up–because of the revelation of our connection to The Cosby Show.

Cosby and his associates are suspects in this crime, using unorthodox methods by Lansana Koroma of Philadelphia. So I reached out to Andrew Wyatt, his publicist. According to Wyatt, Cosby doesn’t want to talk about this affair right now.

Looking through old photographs, it was clear that the casting director used our family’s faces and likeness as a guide to casting those on the show. They were, indeed, our doppelgangers. The old pictures confirmed that much. After discovering we looked like the actors, who were selected for the pilot season that debut on September 20, 1984, we all were the victims of a hate crime to assault our faces and distort our images on television, print, and with online photos.

This insidious plot to strip us of our individual identities and image as a middle-class and Christian family the show was based on also included an incredible effort to secretly strip us of our financial resources, including houses, cars, and jobs. All this orchestrated crime during the long investigation was to hide our true identities and our impact on the show. Therefore, this sinister approach to the secret investigation must be addressed with force.

Perhaps the Bill Cosby trial in Philadelphia was divine justice when he was indicted on a day close to my father’s birthday. Also, Cosby failed to acknowledge our contributions to the show and as a result, his new family comedy slated for 2015 was canceled. But the United States State Department, state, city officials, and other individuals used to invade our privacy owe us more than an apology.

We are asking for the perpetrators of this crime to be held accountable with prison time–just like Bill Cosby–for the evil and covert attacks on our family to cover up this truth in the country. More importantly, we ask for reparation for our family because of years of disruptions and adverse experiences to discredit our claim to The Cosby Show.

Enough is enough. We want restorative justice–reparations.

Dr. Ann-Marie Adams is an award-winning journalist and U.S. History Professor. She is also the founder of The Hartford Guardian, the first nonprofit, hyper-local publication in Connecticut. Previously, she was a journalist at The Hartford Courant, People Magazine, NBC 4 New York, the Washington Post, other regional publications, and television newscasts.

Harry Styles illustrated by Kaelen Felix for 360 MAGAZINE

Harry Styles × Vogue

By Cassandra Yany

Harry Styles made history Friday as the first male to grace the cover of US Vogue. Styles defies gender stereotypes in the fashion magazine, which has become a point of controversy on social media in the days following its reveal.

On the cover of the December issue, Styles is photographed in a field wearing a pale blue, lace Gucci dress. He is featured wearing different skirts a number of times throughout the spread.

“Clothes are there to have fun with and experiment with and play with,” Styles says in the cover story. “What’s really exciting is that all of these lines are just kind of crumbling away. When you take away ‘There’s clothes for men and there’s clothes for women,’ once you remove any barriers, obviously you open up the arena in which you can play. I’ll go in shops sometimes, and I just find myself looking at the women’s clothes thinking they’re amazing.”

While most fans took to social media to praise the artist for his redefinition of gender norms in the shoot, some public figures shared their distaste for the photoshoot and Styles’ stereotypically feminine attire.

Coservative author and political activist Candace Owens quote-tweeted Vogue’s post promoting the cover story, saying “There is no society that can survive without strong men. The East knows this. In the west, the steady feminization of our men at the same time that Marxism is being taught to our children is not a coincidence. It is an outright attack. Bring back manly men.”

Styles’ supporters quickly called out Candace, posting TikTok videos of her wearing a pantsuit, citing her hypocrisy. Actress and filmmaker Olivia Wilde responded to Owens’ tweet with a simple, “You’re pathetic.” Styles is set to star in Wilde’s upcoming film Don’t Worry Darling.

Conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro had a similar reaction to that of Owens, saying “Outward indicators of masculinity and femininity exist in nearly every human culture. Boys are taught to be more masculine in nearly every human culture because the role of men is not always the same as the role of women. The Left knows this, of course. The POINT of style doing this photo shoot is to feminize masculinity.”

One of the most recent celebrities to jump to Harry’s defense has been internet personality Logan Paul. On the latest episode of his podcast “Impaulsive,” Paul showed his respect for Styles in his effort to challenge social norms. When his co-hosts questioned his stance on the issue and the “manliness” of the dress, Paul said “What is manly to you? What does it mean? Is manly like being comfortable in your own skin and being comfortable with who you are, regardless of what people think about what you’re wearing?”

On social media platforms like Twitter and TikTok, it is evident that more users praise Styles than criticize him for his bold statement in the cover. Many argue that fashion choices do not define a person’s identity. Despite his detractors, Styles remains one of the biggest names in pop culture and it doesn’t look like his widespread admiration is going anywhere with his first solo single “Sign of the Times” just re-entering the Top 100 US chart on iTunes. 

Vijay Mallya illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 MAGAZINE Netflix article.

King of Good Times

By Hannah DiPilato

Last month Netflix released a new documentary that gives an inside look at the corruption and greed of some of India’s most prominent billionaires. The first episode tells the store of Vijay Mallya’s extravagant life that takes a drastic turn. 

Vijay Mallya was born to Vittal Mallya, an entrepreneur who founded the United Breweries Group. When Vijay Mallya was only 28 years old his father died suddenly and Mallya had to follow in his father’s footsteps and run a business empire. 

When Mallya took over his father’s business he shook everyone up with his lifestyle. In an interview, he was compared to Donald Trump to which he responded he was “nowhere near bankruptcy,” an ironic foreshadowing to his future. He also talked about having many enemies. 

Alcohol is not viewed in India as it is in America and in some states of India alcohol is banned. Due to this negative stigma, Mallya needed a different way to advertise his brand. He became a pioneer for different kinds of advertising. He used surrogate advertising to promote his company while keeping the sale of alcohol disguised, instead he advertised soda. The brand was still high profile even if the beer wasn’t what was being advertised. In 1996 the World Cup was hosted in India and Kingfisher launched a campaign with a catchy jingle that was a memorable success. 

Vijay Mallya’s genius was making his lifestyle the centerpiece of the brand. He became known as “the king of good times” and this became Kingfisher’s tagline. He knew how to build his image off of this to make everyone desire the lifestyle he was living. According to Sid Mallya, Kingfisher became “more than just a beer, it became a lifestyle” and everyone aspired to live like the king of good times. Vijay Mallya was one of the first people in India that wasn’t afraid to live lavishly and use his money unapologetically. 

In 2003 Mallya survived a devastating helicopter crash. The ride was only supposed to be a short 45 minutes and Mallya’s executive assistant, Tushita Patel, recounted the terrifying crash in the documentary. It was her first helicopter ride and she thought she was going to die. Mallya survived the crash and said, “Miracles do happen, there’s obviously a message from above.” He believed he would use his “second life” to the fullest.  

Mallya became one of the world’s largest liquor producers, but that wasn’t enough for him; he wanted to be recognized all over the world as more. In one recording he explained he wanted to be “a catalyst for change.” He had an urge to be number one, the boldest and brightest and he would do whatever he could to get there. 

The next year in 2004, Mallay got in touch with Alex Wilcox to help begin the next Kingfisher adventure. Here is where Kingfisher airlines began. Mallya created a promotional video that showed how luxurious and unique flying on Kingfisher airlines would be. Mallay appealed to the rising middle class of India, larger than the population of The United States, and knew this would be the perfect consumer for this new flying experience. This was beneficial to Kingfisher as another way to advertise and promote the flamboyant lifestyle. 

On Sid Mallya’s 18 birthday the airline was officially launched. At first, the airline was a rapid success. The brand focused on high-frequency and low-cost eliminating serving meals and first-class like many other airlines. The airline sent the message “everyone is welcome here.” 

Although the company was thriving, in 2005 Mallya went behind the back of Alex Wilcox and spent billions of dollars on new planes. The airline was no longer going to be the same low-cost service it once was, this was not what the market wanted. The desire to expand the airline began to put Mallya in debt as he borrowed money from the bank. Mallya continued to expand and eventually, Wilcox could no longer help Kingfisher airlines; the two men had different expectations for the future of the company. 

Mallya’s debt continued to grow as he continued to buy into more companies. In 2008, the global economic downturn stopped people from traveling, Kingfisher airlines was not making what it needed to, daily, to survive. The company continued to fall into a pit of large debt through 2009 and 2010. The reports of the business numbers were published and scrutiny of the company was heightened. The flights were even running out of food and the crew was giving away their meals to customers. Although things were bad, Mallya thought he could save his airline. 

By 2011 Mallya was doing everything to save the airline. The workers of Kingfisher were severely underpaid. Many went on strike and the wife of an airline worker committed suicide because of the financial stress. Mallya begged his employees not to turn to the press, but eventually, his true character was revealed. He could have paid off some of his debt out of pocket but refused. Eventually, the license of Kingfisher Airline was suspended, the money had run out and the airline closed. 

When Mallya’s 60 birthday came around in 2015, he did not shy away from another profligate party. This party created a negative view towards Mallya and he was seen as a theft that did not care about the lives of his employees. This tipping point led to an investigation into his finances and prosecutors believed he was hiding his finances. Allegations against him included money laundering and fraud. 

Mallya fled to London with no plan to return against the orders of the government. He said, “I disprove the narrative that I stole money.” He was charged by the UK court for money laundering, conspiracy and cheating. Some argued there are worse criminals that need to be caught, while others declare he is a thief and needs to be prosecuted. His son Sid concluded because this was a “lifestyle brand, he was easier to target.”

Mallya has sold most of his business and as of summer 2020, he remains in London where he continues to fight all charges against him. You can watch the documentary on Netflix along with the next two episodes of Bad Boy Billionaires: India.

Netflix – Cuties

By Cassandra Yany

One of Netflix’s newest films, Cuties, has garnered much attention and backlash since its Sep. 9 release on the streaming platform. The coming-of-age film depicts a young girl as she tries to navigate her life as a pre-teen growing up in a Muslim family living in Paris.

Many critics have spoken out against the film, which currently holds the no. 7 spot in Netflix’s ‘Top 10,’ for its depiction of 11-year-old girls dancing and behaving in an indecent manner. According to the New York Times, the movie was first deemed controversial in the U.S. in August when Netflix released the promotional artwork. The original marketing for the film displayed an image of four young girls in skimpy dance costumes posing provocatively.

This, along with the trailer, prompted opposers to start petitions online and call for the removal of the film from Netflix’s catalog. Netflix apologized and changed the artwork for the film to a more innocent photo of the same four characters walking down the street with shopping bags, donning bras and underwear over their clothes.

Last week’s release of the film has sparked conversation once again amongst parents, politicians and others, causing #CancelNetflix to trend on Twitter. Lina Nealon, the Director of Corporate and Strategic Initiatives at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation has spoken out against the film saying “While we commend Director Maïmouna Doucouré for exposing the very real threats to young girls having unfettered access to social media and the internet, we cannot condone the hypersexualization and exploitation of the young actresses themselves in order to make her point.” She called for Netflix to cut the “sexually-exploitive” scenes from the film, or remove the film from the platform altogether.

On Friday, Hawaii Rep. Tulse Gabbard tweeted, “@Netflix child porn ‘Cuties’ will certainly whet the appetite of pedophiles & help fuel the child sex trafficking trade. 1 in 4 victims of trafficking are children… Netflix you are now complicit.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz penned a letter to Attorney General William P. Barr Friday calling for the Department of Justice to start an investigation into the production and distribution of the film to “determine whether Netflix, any of its executives, or anyone involved in the making of ‘Cuties’ violated any federal laws against the production and distribution of child pornography.”

Cruz wrote that “the film routinely fetishizes and sexualizes these pre-adolescent girls as they perform dances simulating sexual conduct in revealing clothing, including at least one scene with partial nudity” falsely claiming that there’s a scene exposing a “minor’s bare breast.” The Associated Press reported that one of Cruz’s representatives, Lauren Aronson, said that the senator has not seen the film.

According to the Washington Times, some critics are even calling on the Obama’s— who have a production deal with Netflix— to take action against the film. Deadline stated that “The reality appears to have been lost in the storm, and the truth is very few of the people reacting so strongly will have actually seen the film.”

Netflix told USA TODAY “‘Cuties’ is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children. It’s an award winning film and a powerful story about the pressure young girls face on social media and from society more generally growing up— and we’d encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to watch the movie.”

Director Maïmouna Doucouré defends the film, saying that it works to shed light on these issues so they can be fixed. Cuties first premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 23, where it won the Directing Jury Award for the dramatic film category. According to the New York Times, the movie did not stir up much conversation in France after its theatrical release (as Mignnonnes in French) in August.

Deadline reports that Doucouré did not see the promotional material prior to when it was circulated on the internet. She said that she received death threats as the outrage grew over these images. She told the news site that the film is not apologetic about the hypersexualization of children, but instead is her “…personal story as well as the story of many children who have to navigate between a liberal western culture and a conservative culture at home.”

Cuties was Doucouré’s feature directorial debut. Similar to the film’s main character, Amy, Doucouré is of Senegalese descent and grew up in a Muslim culture in Paris. In an interview at Sundance, she said she first had the idea for the movie after attending a neighborhood gathering in Paris where she saw a group of 11-year-old girls doing a stage performance of a “sensual” dance. She was shocked to see girls that age dance like that in short clothing. “We can’t continue to close our eyes about that,” she told the interviewer.

Doucouré researched for a year and a half, meeting with hundreds of pre-teens who told her their stories. She learned about their ideas of femininity, and how their self image is affected by the emphasis of social media in today’s society. According to IndieWire, the young actresses’ parents were on board with the project to spread awareness of the issue, and there was a psychologist working with the girls throughout filming who is still helping them throughout the release process.

The film is centered around Amy, an 11-year-old girl who has recently moved to a housing development in a poor suburb of Paris with her Senegalese, observant Muslim family. She looks out for her brothers, takes care of responsibilities around the house, and is in the process of being taught how to ‘be a woman’ by  her aunt.

One day after prayer, Amy walks by the laundry room and sees a girl her age dancing to music playing from her phone. In a subsequent scene, Amy is seen trying to straighten her hair with a clothing iron, burning part of it off as a result. 

Amy learns that her father, who is still in Senegal, has taken a second wife and will be coming to Paris soon to have the wedding. Her mother, Mariam, tries to hide her reaction to the news, but Amy sees her grow upset and take her frustrations out on herself. This is where Amy’s behavior begins to shift; she starts to reject her culture and identity, and instead tries to conform to fit in with the other girls at school. 

At school, Amy is teased for her clothes and lack of fashion sense, so she begins to wear her younger brother’s t-shirt to match the crop tops that her classmates wear. After seeing a group of girls her age dancing after school, Amy steals her cousin’s iPhone to learn how to dance, herself. She comes across their social media accounts and begins taking selfies, imitating what she sees on their profiles. 

Amy finds herself a spot in the girls’ friend group and dance troupe, and as a result, begins to neglect her responsibilities at home. Amy starts to show more self expression, wearing her hair natural rather than pulling it back. She also begins to explore the internet more, finding videos of almost-naked women dancing rather suggestively and moving their bodies in ways that an 11-year-old probably shouldn’t be watching. 

Taking what she found online, Amy practices dancing with her friends and teaches them how to twerk. This is where the movie begins to make viewers slightly uneasy. It was jarring to see these young, innocent girls tainted by this inappropriate content and doing dance moves that they didn’t understand the implications of. It appears that this was the intention of director Doucouré, as she stated in an interview with Netflix that the film is “…a mirror of today’s society; a mirror sometimes difficult to look into and accept but still so true.”

Some of the scenes, frankly, are very disturbing to watch. These include the girls dancing provocatively for two older male workers at a laser tag facility so that they wouldn’t get in trouble for sneaking in, as well as Amy beginning to undress for her cousin once he found she had stolen his iPhone in an attempt to smooth over the situation. Perhaps the most disturbing scene is when Amy takes a picture of her genitals to post on her social media profile so that people at school would think she’s mature. While there was no nudity shown in this scene, the implied action was horrifying to watch. 

At the end of the film, Amy performs with her dance troupe at a local competition. Dressed in revealing outfits, they dance immodestly in front of a crowd of people who quickly seem unsettled. (This is the scene from which the original promotional photos were taken.) Toward the end of the song, Amy freezes as she begins to think about her mom, then runs off the stage crying. She goes home where she asks her mom not to attend her father’s wedding. Her mom continues to get ready for the event, but tells Amy that she doesn’t have to go.

Instead of going to the wedding, Amy steps outside and begins jumping rope. This scene depicts a mixture of her two identities: she is wearing jeans and a crop top with her hair down, but is surrounded by people of her culture dressed in traditional garments. After suppressing her family’s background for a majority of the movie, Amy is finally able to find the balance where her multiple cultures intersect in order to be her honest self. 

After watching Cuties, it is evident that it is not meant to promote this behavior among young girls, but instead provide commentary on what is happening today and warn the adults who see the movie. The harsh reality is that more pre-adolescents are exposed to this type of content than we think. Any child who has access to a smart device and social platforms have the potential to see a video not meant for them. Take TikTok for example: racy dances to Cardi B and Meg Thee Stallion’s “WAP,” as well as a recent trend where women make “thirst traps” to Beyoncé’s “Rocket” are some of the most popular videos on the app right now. Young TikTok users can easily see creators on their For You Page enjoying themselves while engaging in these trends, causing the young viewer to want to do the same.

When speaking to Deadline, Doucouré said, “What happens is young girls see images of women being objectified, and the more the woman becomes an object, the more followers and like she has— they see that as a role model and try to imitate these women, but they’re not old enough to know what they’re doing.” In a separate interview, she posed the question, “Isn’t the objectification of a woman’s body that we often see in our Western culture not another kind of oppression?”

Overall, Cuties shows the dangers of uncensored media for young children and displays how impressionable they can be. It also shows the journey of Amy’s self-discovery and learning how to blend her multiple cultures in order to shape her identity. Unfortunately, the risqué nature of the film overshadows the storyline and the message is lost for a number of audience members.

In various articles, Doucouré is quoted discussing the meaning of the film in the broad context of femininity and what it means for young girls to enter womanhood in this digital age. During her aforementioned interview with Netflix, she stated “The real question of Cuties is can we, as women, truly choose who we want to be, beyond the role models that are imposed upon us by society?”

Kaelen Felix illustrates Twin Towers for 360 Magazine

Remembering 9/11

By Elle Grant

For any American, 9/11 marks an essential day of reflection and remembrance. September 11, 2020 marks the nineteenth anniversary of the historic terrorist attacks that rocked New York City, shocking the United States and the world.

19 years ago, four passenger jets were hijacked by the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda in an effort to strike at American symbols. One was flown into the Pentagon Military Headquarters in Washington D.C. Another two, most remembered of the four, were flown into the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York City as Manhattan looked on in horror. A fourth, upon hearing news of the other hijackings, realized their plane was also under attack and chose to fight back, resulting in their plane plunging into a Pennsylvania field. In sum, roughly 3,000 lives were loss, with 2,700 of them being in New York City. The toll of lives and on the psyche of Americans was hitherto unimaginable, as was the ensuing consequences including the now infamous War on Terror.

The victims of 9/11 have been commemorated in numerous ways across the country, including at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum opened on the tenth anniversary of the attacks. The memorial is located where the Twin Towers formerly stood, now marked with design features such as man-made waterfalls, a forest of white oak trees, and the inscribed names of the victims as part of the memorial. This long-awaited memorial site has since been part of the commemorations each year, with 2020 being no exception. Visitors such as Vice President Pence and Democratic nominee for president Joseph Biden were among the attendees today.

New York is especially reflective this year as the anniversary of 9/11 comes during the COVID-19 pandemic, of which the city was an early epicenter, resulting in thousands of lives lost. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was thrust onto the national stage following the New York outbreak, said “This year it is especially important that we all appreciate and commemorate 9/11, the lives lost and the heroism displayed ‎as New Yorkers are once again called upon to face a common enemy.” In NYC, the current death count due to coronavirus is placed at 23,000. This year, at the somber moments held at the September 11 memorial in Manhattan, those paying their respects wore face masks while honoring the dead, a new feature in remembering 9/11. New York remains a fixture of American culture, with eyes turned towards them during the tragedy of 9/11, as well as the current tragedy of coronavirus.

Another way victim’s families, including those killed and affected during rescue efforts, is the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, currently authorized through 2090 and worth billions of dollars. “Our nation owes each of you a profound debt that no words or deeds will ever repay,” President Trump said during the bill signing ceremony. “But we can, and we will keep our nation’s promise to you.” Certainly, monetary efforts are no replacements for the lives loss and the impacts made, but it represents Congress’ efforts to assist those left in the wake of the tragic attacks.

Vaughn Lowery of 360 MAGAZINE drops by world trade center on 9/11 in nyc.

Vaughn Lowery of 360 MAGAZINE drops by world trade center on 9/11 in nyc.

Jacob Blake Shot by Wisconsin Police

In the most recent incident to incite protests against injustices across the nation this summer, a Black man has been shot in Wisconsin. Jacob Blake, witnesses said, was attempting to break up an argument between two women. Following this, he walked back towards his silver SUV this past Sunday, August 23rd while being trailed by a police officer involved in the confrontation. As three of his children watched from their vehicle, the police officer proceeded to fire seven times at Blake’s back and close range. One can only imagine the trauma for his sons. As of today, Blake remains hospitalized in serious condition, but is expected to survive.

The incident, caught on video, has gone similarly viral to other violent misconducts by the police over the course of spring and summer 2020. The officers involved in Blake’s shooting have been placed on administrative leave and have shocked the small city of Kenosha, Wisconsin. Protests across the city have motivated Governor Evers to call in the National Guard, though he attempted to assure constituents it was not in an effort to mimic clashes between protesters and servicemen in places like Seattle, Minneapolis, or New York. Minor confrontations have occurred over the past two days despite this.

Following George Floyd’s murder this past May, protests against the police and in favor of the movement Black Lives Matter have exploded across the country. Blake’s shooting has added fuel to the fire, inspiring renewed protests and calls to action all across the nation. The incident in Kenosha has furthered the call for cities to cut funding to police departments, restructure their legal practices, amongst other changes.

Governor of Wisconsin Tony Evers tweeted in support of Jacob Blake and in condemnation of the actions of police officers involved: “I have said all along that although we must offer our empathy, equally important is our action. In the coming days, we will demand just that of elected officials in our state who have failed to recognize the racism in our state and country for far too long. And we stand against excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging with Black Wisconsinites.” The Governor also signed an executive order into Wisconsin’s state legislature for a special session to pass legislation and police reforms for August 31st. The reforms are expected to be fought by the state’s Republican leadership.

Calls from the countries Democratic leadership have come again for immediate reform, including the voice of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as he “wakes up yet again with grief and outrage that yet another Black American is a victim of excessive force.” President Trump has not commented directly on the shooting, but Vice President Pence made a statement yesterday emphasizing the administration’s loyalty to their men and women in blue.

The situation involving the shooting of Jacob Blake and ensuing actions in Kenosha, Wisconsin continues to develop.

Vape pen and e-cigarette shot by Vaughn Lowery for 360 MAGAZINE

Do You Vape? How to Prepare for the Upcoming PMTA Deadline

Do you vape? If you do, there’s an important deadline coming up on September 9 – and if you haven’t already started preparing, now is the time. 

Are you left scratching your head after reading that first paragraph? If you have no idea what deadline is coming up or how it’s going to affect the vaping industry, this article is for you. We’re going to explain the upcoming PMTA deadline and describe exactly what you should be doing right now to prepare.

FDA Vaping Regulations: A Brief History

Ever since e-cigarettes and e-liquids first appeared in the United States, the FDA has attempted to exert regulatory control over the industry. The agency’s first attempt at vaping regulations ended in failure. In the late 2000s, the FDA began to seize incoming shipments of e-cigarettes entering the United States, saying that vaping products were unregulated drug delivery devices being sold without approval.

The vaping industry sued the FDA. The district and appeals courts involved in the lawsuit both ultimately decided in favor of the vaping industry, ruling that, as long as sellers didn’t claim that e-cigarettes could be used for quitting smoking, the FDA could only regulate those products as tobacco products – not as drug delivery devices.

The FDA finally announced its intention to regulate vaping products as tobacco products in 2016. Subjecting vaping products to the same legal requirements as tobacco products meant that every vaping product on the market had to comply with the U.S. Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which said that, after 2007, all tobacco products must obtain FDA approval before entering the market.

No vaping product being sold today was on the market before 2007. Therefore, every vaping product is a “new tobacco product” that requires FDA approval.

What Is the Vaping PMTA Deadline?

We always knew that this day would come; it was just a matter of when. The vaping industry’s deadline for FDA compliance has been moved from August 2018 to August 2022 before being moved forward to May 2020 and finally pushed back to September 2020. At the time of writing, it appears that September 9, 2020 will be the final compliance date.

To start the process of FDA compliance, the manufacturer of a vaping product must submit an application showing the FDA that the product is beneficial to public health compared to the tobacco products that are already on the market. It costs nothing to file a premarket tobacco product application (PMTA), but the cost of gathering the required data for the application can exceed $100,000. Every e-liquid flavor, every nicotine strength of every flavor, every vaping device, every tank and every coil counts as a “new tobacco product” and requires a PMTA.

What Happens to the Vaping Industry on September 9?

When the PMTA deadline arrives, two things will happen.

  • Many e-liquid makers have the necessary funds to submit PMTAs for some or all of their products. Timely submission of a PMTA means that a product can remain on the market for another year while the FDA processes the application. If the FDA gets behind on processing applications, it’s possible that the grace period will be extended.
  • Many other e-liquid makers do not have the funds and are not planning to submit PMTAs. Those companies are required to pull their products from the market on September 9, although that may not happen all at once. Some companies may just continue what they’re doing now until they hear from the FDA.

What Does the PMTA Deadline Mean for Vapers?

The one certain thing is that, after September 9, there will be fewer vaping devices, tanks, coils and e-liquids on the market than there are today. Since most companies in the vaping industry aren’t talking about their plans for the PMTA deadline, it’s impossible to say exactly which products will and won’t be available. With that in mind, here’s how you need to prepare.

Stock Up on Your Favorite Vape Juice Flavors Now

Unless your favorite vape juice brands have already announced that they’re ready for the PMTA deadline, you shouldn’t assume that those brands’ products will still be around after September 9. There will definitely still be e-liquid available to buy after the PMTA deadline – but if you have a favorite brand or flavor and can’t bear to be without it, you should start stocking up right now.

Get a Vape Mod With Removable Batteries

It’s unknown which of the vaping hardware manufacturers – almost all of which are in China – have submitted PMTAs for their products or which products they’ve applied for permission to continue selling in the United States. Your best bet is to choose a vape mod with removable batteries and buy it right away. A mod with removable batteries can conceivably last for years because you can simply swap out the batteries when they stop working correctly. A mod with a permanent battery, on the other hand, is much more difficult to repair. The FDA doesn’t regulate batteries, so you can buy them freely.

Buy a Rebuildable Atomizer

It’s also unknown which vape tanks and coils will get through the PMTA process. If you have a favorite vape tank and want to ensure that you can continue using it, you should stock up on coils now. In the long run, though, it’s even better to grab a rebuildable atomizer and learn how to build your own coils. The FDA can regulate tanks and coils, but it can’t regulate wire and cotton – just like it can’t regulate batteries. Regardless of how FDA regulation shapes the future of the American vaping industry, you won’t ever have trouble finding coil building supplies.

Consider Learning How to Make Your Own E-Liquid

As mentioned above, you will definitely still be able to buy e-liquid after September 9. Many e-liquid companies have already submitted – or are about to submit – PMTAs for their products. They’ll be able to continue selling their products for at least another year, and it seems likely that many or all of those products will eventually receive full FDA approval.

Just in case those products don’t receive FDA approval, though, it’s a good idea to start learning how to make your own e-liquid now. You’re free to buy vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol and flavorings. Unless something changes from a legal standpoint, you’re also free to buy liquid nicotine if you’re an adult. As of right now, there’s nothing preventing you from making your own vape juice.

Rita Azar illustrates US Federal officer story in 360 MAGAZINE.

Federal Agents Move into Multiple US Cities

By Emmet McGeown

On June 29, 4-year old LeGend Taliferro was killed by gunfire in Kansas City, Missouri. He had fallen asleep inside his pillow fort and at around 2am he was murdered in a targeted shooting of his apartment, according to the Kansas City Police Department.

Having been diagnosed with a heart defect shortly after birth, LeGend received his first open-heart surgery at just 4 months old. His mother, Charron Powell, said that her only child “has the heart of a lion” and was always excited to create awareness for conditions similar to his.

As a result of this horrific murder and spiking crime rates in St. Louis Attorney General, William Barr, announced “Operation LeGend” on July 8. This Justice Department initiative has directed agents from the FBI, DEA, ATF, and US Marshals Service to supplement local law enforcement agencies with the aim of cracking down on illegal gun trafficking and aiding ongoing homicide investigations.

In total, 225 federal agents were sent to Kansas City to help the 400 federal agents already located in the metro area. US Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, Tim Garrison, announced on July 31 that 97 arrests have been made by federal and local law enforcement since the launch of Operation LeGend. Five arrests were made for homicide, but other offenses cited were drug trafficking, robbery, and child molestation.

However, this has not been the extent of federal intervention in US cities. In a Fox News phone interview, the President stated “We’ll go into all of the cities, any of them. We’re ready.” Such a statement is emblematic of the President’s desire to make federal policing a key part of his Nixonian “law and order” campaign strategy. Undoubtedly, he is hoping to appeal to suburban voters worried about crime spilling into their neighborhoods from urban centers. The President also claimed that he was prepared to dispatch “50,000, 60,000 people” into American cities.

Trump has presented increasing crime rates in cities as a partisan issue whereby Democrat-run cities are the most dangerous places in the country largely due to their leadership’s political affiliation. Overall, out of the 50 largest cities in the US the homicide rate has increased by 25% in cities with Democratic mayors and by 15% in Republican-run cities revealing a decidedly bipartisan issue despite the President’s best efforts.

Operation LeGend’s coordinated law enforcement plan has now expanded into Chicago, Albuquerque, Cleveland, Detroit and Milwaukee. Reasons for this move include a 54% increase in homicides in Chicago from last year, a 7% increase in Detroit’s violent crime compared to the previous year while each of Cleveland’s 5 police districts are coping with an increase in shootings of around 20%.

Such statistics reveal a problem in many US cities, yet the question remains as to whether this problem can or should be solved through federal intervention or whether this, being a local issue, should be remedied via local resources.

U.S. Postal Service In Danger

By Eamonn Burke

The coronavirus has ravaged the United States in the past six months, hitting small private businesses, especially minority -owned, very hard. There is also a major public service that has taken a devastating hit from the pandemic, and now from debates over mail-in voting.

A comprehensive detailing of the damages done to the Postal Service by the New York Times, including a daunting warning that the agency could run out of funds by the fall. The decision of whether to aid the service financially became a partisan one, in which the differing opinions on government interference came into play.

“The Postal Service is a joke,” said President Trump, who’s administration called off a potential $13 billion relief bill for the USPS and believes that the agency is responsible for its own financial issues, unless they comply with a series of alterations that would benefit private competitors.

Democrats were backed by large corporations that benefit from the USPS in their fight to save it. “We are for the public having the Postal Service meet the public interest, not some special interest” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

It may not be as divisive an issue as it seems, however. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka pointed out that the benefit on both sides of the aisle from the USPS would indicate that the fight to save it may not be so evenly split between the two parties.

Delays in mailing have been experienced throughout the country since the pandemic broke, in cities like Philadelphia. Mail workers in the city say that the new pressures to cut spending, staff, and work hours are causing backlogs of mail. These can be a huge problem when the mail contains essential items like food or medicine. “I try to stay by him and pray for life that I have what I need to take care of him,” says Valerie Rice of her young grandson whom she orders medicine for. Meanwhile, a USPS spokesman assures that the agency is “flexing our available resources to match the workload created by the impacts of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic” and that they “appreciate the patience of our customers.”

The public has started to act, helping to fund the service indirectly through purchases of stamps and other USPS goods from the UPS gift shop. Hashtags like #SaveUPS and #DontDefundUPS have gone around Twitter.

The latest development surrounding the USPS is the controversy over mail-in voting, which Trump has sworn will rig the outcome of the election in November, even though evidence has proven this claim wrong. The new guidelines imposed by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy are opposed by the union as they slow down mail and have been criticized as a way for Trump to impair mail-in voting.

As a public service that cannot conserve funds by decreasing production, the agency is in a tough spot and faces an uncertain future.