Posts tagged with "politics"

MLWXBF chapter 4 illustration via Alison Christenson for use by 360 Magazine

Ivy League BLM Courses

By: Emily Bunn

Ivy League Schools to Begin Teaching “Black Lives Matter” Courses

Proving their commitment to diversity and understanding, several Ivy League colleges will begin offering courses on the Black Lives Matter Movement. Whereas other Ivy League schools, such as Cornell, have created Africana Departments that focus on the centrality of Africa and the African Diaspora to the modern world, BlackLivesMatter classes are situated in a specific cultural moment. Though, of course, the Black Lives Matter falls under the umbrella of contemporary African history, it is positioned in a more concentrated, modern application. Princeton and Dartmouth are the two first schools to begin accrediting this intersectional coursework. While Princeton most recently enacted their BLM coursework, Dartmouth has been pioneering this change since 2015.

Dartmouth’s Black Lives Matter course discusses topics such as The Ivory Tower, understanding St. Louis and its racial history, race and class, racial violence, and systemic and unconscious racism, among other topics. Part of Dartmouth’s course description reads, “though the academy can never lay claim to social movements, this course seeks in part to answer the call of students and young activists around the country to take the opportunity to raise questions about, offer studied reflection upon, and allocate dedicated institutional space to the failures of democracy, capitalism, and leadership and to make #BlackLivesMatter. Developed through a group effort, this course brings to bear collective thinking, teaching, research, and focus on questions around race, structural inequality, and violence.” The course is taught by a wide variety of professors from different academic disciplines and social backgrounds. Taught for ten weeks by close to 20 different professors, Dartmouth’s Black Lives Matter coursework stands as a comprehensive example of a cross-disciplinary concentration that recognizes and situates history in a contemporary, American context.

Princeton’s #BlackLivesMatter class looks to examine the “historical roots and growth of the Black Lives Matter social movement,” and is “committed to resisting, unveiling, and undoing histories of state sanctioned violence against Black and Brown bodies.” Princeton’s #BlackLivesMatter’s course description reads as such: “This seminar traces the historical roots and growth of the Black Lives Matter social movement in the United States and comparative global contexts. The movement and course are committed to resisting, unveiling, and undoing histories of state sanctioned violence against Black and Brown bodies. The course seeks to document the forms of dispossession that Black Americans face and offers a critical examination of the prison industrial complex, police brutality, urban poverty, and white supremacy in the US.” The course’ sample reading list includes selections from Angela Davis, Claudia Rankin, and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor.

Princeton’s course will be taught by Professor Hanna Garth, who has previously taught “Race and Racisms,” “Postcolonial and Decolonial Theory,” and “Theories of Social Justice.” Garth’s self-defined interest in “the ways in which people struggle to overcome structural violence” and past experience has well-prepared her for teaching this class. Garth remarks, “All of my research, teaching, and mentoring is designed around my commitment to feminist methodologies and critical race theory.”

While some have aggressively asserted that Princeton’s course readings are from a former communist party leader who once made it on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, their negativity further highlights the necessity of this course. While these assertions may be true, it is telling that certain critics commonly overlook the individual’s many (more recent) accomplishments. The author in question is Angela Davis – a revered, respected, and well-educated civil rights activist, philosopher, academic, and author. By painting Davis as an unpatriotic, dangerous criminal, it distracts from the important lessons that are to be learned from this influential leader. Similarly, Fox News’ article on Princeton’s new course links their mention of the “Black Lives Matter” movement not to an explanation of what the movement is, but instead to a page on US protests. As opposed to creating an educational resource for what the BLM Movement is, conservative critics are quick to jump to claims of Black violence and riots.

Especially in 2021, as the United States grapples with the fight for racial and civil justice, discussions surround race, policing, prison reform, and politics are more pertinent than ever. It is absolutely essential that our nation’s college students are exposed to critical race theory and critical thinking. By shielding America’s youth from the necessary history of this country – which is still being experienced today – we are only putting them in a position of increased vulnerability and ignorance. Knowledge is power and educating oneself on society’s issues is the only way to efficient work towards progressive social change. Hopefully, as the most prestigious academic institutions begin to model examples of intersectional and anti-racist coursework, other colleges and universities will soon follow suit.

Allison Christensen for use by 360 Magazine

Hundreds Stranded on I-95

By: Skyler Johnson

A major bottleneck left hundreds of drivers stranded on the I-95 near Fredericksburg, Virginia due to a crash involving six tractor-trailers during a severe winter storm. With 5 to 11 inches of snow, it became difficult to clear debris and highway wreckage. Drivers were left cold, dehydrated, and hungry while waiting for rescue. As temperatures continued to decline, government workers were sought after to facilitate movement.

One of those stranded was Senator Tim Kaine. Kaine was on a 2-hour drive to the Capitol but ended up waiting more than 20 hours, canceling negotiations for voter rights legislation.

The I-95 runs along the east coast from Miami to Canada. The whole event delayed families and commuters on one of the busiest highways during one of the busiest periods of the year.

Fortunately, the Good Samaritans distributed oranges, bottled water, and provisions to those who had not eaten for hours. As the roads became frozen, many drivers were unable to leave their vehicles until they could be saved by the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Allison Christensen for use by 360 Magazine

Virtual Meeting w/ Biden × Xi

By: Conan Zhang

US President Biden and China’s Chairman, Xi Jinping had their first virtue summit on November 15th. This summit was set towards the improvement of bilateral cooperation but there was no concrete action after three and a half hours of the conference.

The summit had its focus on a wide range of issues, including human rights, climate change, and the economy. However, among all the topics, the future of Taiwan has been one of the major focuses of the globe.

Since the uncertainty of the global pandemic and political concern, Xi has canceled all his traveling plans since January 2020. The two leaders have spoken through telephone twice this year, nevertheless this time they were intended to lead a more exhaustive discussion of the previous issues.

Although the summit was taken place virtually, the place was carefully selected. Xi along with his allies was at the East Hall in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Biden and his team were at the Roosevelt Room at the White House.

During the conference, each side has mentioned their dispute which concerns them the most. While the disservice has been deeply rooted which offered little room for compromise. Although Xi called Mr. Biden “my old friend” at the beginning of the summit and used a metaphor that compared the two superpowers to ships that navigate together in the ocean’s wind, under the water, there is disagreement and conflict which is hard to be resolved.

Spotlight focus: Taiwan Affairs

Taiwan affairs are always the most significant issue among China and US. The White House and Xinhua News Agency, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, have individually quoted Biden and Xi’s speeches, which demonstrated their respectively different opinions.

According to a statement issued by the White House, Biden said that “the United States is still committed to the ‘One China policy, which is implemented under the guidance of the “Taiwan Relations Act”, the three joint communiqués and the six guarantees.”

While on the other hand, Xinhua News Agency quoted Biden as saying, “The U.S. government is committed to pursuing the long-term and consistent one China’ policy and does not support Taiwan independence.

Despite the fact that Xi Jinping always mentioned Taiwan in the past, This time his words are tougher, and more sounds like a warning. He warned that “Taiwan independence” is “very dangerous. It is playing with fire, and you will burn yourself if you play with fire.” He emphasized that the one-China principle and the three Sino-US joint communiqués are the foundation of China-US relations.

Seek common ground while reserving differences

It is impossible to solve the enormous divisions that occur among the world’s two superpowers through just one meeting. While the virtual summit between Xi Jinping and Joe Biden obviously has removed the concern whether China-US would spiral into a new Cold War. The relationship is rebounding from the Trump era which there was a great misunderstanding. Cooperation of the world is urgently needed, since the COVID pandemic, economic recession, and climate crisis.

Although there is dissension in many ways, the communication was structural and honest, The fact that the summit has taken place for almost four hours is a clear sign that both leaders are putting a great amount of effort to achieve substantive and constructive results. They showed a strong desire to eventually find a way to reach a consensus. And Biden in his word said that we need to have “commonsense guardrails” and prevent the China-US competition from “veering into conflict”.

Conclusion

China-US collaboration and benign competition are appreciated by the world. History has witnessed the benefits of both superpowers working together from the Financial crisis of 2007–2008 to the joint declaration on enhanced climate actions announced recently in Glasgow. Just like what Xi mentioned at the begging of the summit, “Humanity lives in a global village, and we face multiple challenges together. China and the US need to increase communication and co-operation.”

health via 360 Magazine for use by 360 Magazine

New Act May Worsen Staffing Crisis

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), representing more than 14,000 nursing homes and long term care facilities across the country that provide care to approximately five million people each year, said that two provisions in the Build Back Better Act (H.R. 5376) will have a devastating impact on nursing homes and could force thousands more facilities to further limit admissions or possibly close their doors.

The provisions, one that would require nursing homes to have a registered nurse (RN) on-staff 24 hours a day and another that would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct a study on minimum staffing ratios and implement the regulations within one year, are unfunded mandates that conservatively, would cost the nursing homes industry billions of dollars a year and require hiring more than 150,000 new caregivers. 

“We strongly support having a RN on staff in nursing homes 24 hours a day, as we originally proposed in our reform agenda earlier this year. However, current data shows that the nursing homes are facing the worst job loss among all health care providers. We’ve lost 221,000 jobs since the beginning of the pandemic, and recovery is a long way away. Nursing home providers are doing all they can to attract and retain new workers, but the applicants simply aren’t there. The provisions in this bill do nothing to help us strengthen our workforce and will only force thousands of nursing homes to further limit the number of residents they can serve,” said AHCA/NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson. 

AHCA/NCAL estimates that if the HHS study found that nursing homes need to increase clinical and direct care staff by 25 percent, it would require hiring more than 150,000 RNs, licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and certified nursing assistants (CNAs), costing $10.7 billion per year. 

Current requirements mandate that nursing homes have a RN on staff eight hours a day. Under the proposed mandate in the legislation, AHCA/NCAL estimates it would require hiring 21,000 more nurses, costing $2.5 billion a year.

Phil Fogg, President and CEO of Marquis Companies, who operates more than 20 long term care facilities in California, Nevada and Oregon, said if Congress enacts these provisions without the necessary resources and recruitment programs, it could have a devastating impact on nursing homes and the residents they serve across the country.

“The workforce and economic crisis long term care providers are already experiencing is unprecedented. Lack of qualified workers is forcing providers to limit their admissions and, in some cases, close their doors permanently. Providers simply cannot attract more caregivers to our profession and meet the requirements of these mandates without financial support from Congress,” said Fogg, who is also the chair of the AHCA Board of Governors.

“We all share a common goal and that is to strengthen our workforce and provide the best possible care for our residents. But these unfunded mandates could further exacerbate the challenges we face and ultimately limit access to care for millions. We are eager to work hand-in-hand with lawmakers to find meaningful solutions that will ensure seniors continue to receive the highest quality care and caregivers have access to good-paying, rewarding jobs,” said Len Russ, operator and administrator of Bayberry Care Center in New Rochelle, NY.

Mel Quargrainie for use by 360 Magazine

Rittenhouse Murder Trial Reaches The End

By: McKinley Franklin

After 24 hours of deliberations, Kyle Rittenhouse has been found not guilty on all charges. Read more about the case and Rittenhouse’s shooting on the night of August 25, 2020 at a Black Lives Matter protest HERE.

Let’s analyze the trial and how the jury came to their decision.

The Rittenhouse trial resumed once again on November 11, as the closing arguments of the case have commenced. At the top of the day, the case progressed, and Judge Bruce Schroeder dropped the sixth count that Rittenhouse faced. This sixth count accused Rittenhouse of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18. Although the prosecution objected this, Schroeder ultimately ended up dropping the charge.

Rittenhouse’s attorneys also filed for a mistrial shortly after the charge was dropped. Schroeder conveyed this news, announcing that Rittenhouse’s team had filed an official motion for mistrial, which read “The state has repeatedly violated instructions from the Court, acted in bad faith and intentionally provided technological evidence which was different from theirs. For those reasons, the defendant respectfully requests the Court find ‘prosecutorial overreaching’ existed, that overreaching was intentional and in bad faith and thereby grant the defendant’s motion for a mistrial with prejudice.”

The prosecution started their closing arguments first, having head prosecutor on the case Thomas Binger speak about Rittenhouse’s intentions of being in Kenosha. Binger urged the jury to question the intention that Rittenhouse had in Kenosha on the night of the shooting. Binger continued his argument for the prosecution by debunking the rumor that Joseph Rosenbaum, one of Rittenhouse’s two victims, threatened to kill him earlier on the night of the shooting. The prosecution highlights this to communicate to the jury that they believe Rosenbaum posed no real threat to Rittenhouse when the shooting occurred.

As the closing argument resumed, businesses in Kenosha started boarding up their storefronts amidst the final verdict of the case. 500 Wisconsin National Guard troops are reportedly on standby in Kenosha as well.

The prosecution wrapped up their final closing arguments with Binger arguing that Rittenhouse was not acting in self-defense. Binger points out that Rittenhouse killed two unarmed men and wounded another with a firearm that did not belong to him. While Binger has used several videos from the shooting as evidence to the jury, he urged the jury that Rittenhouse is guilty of all the counts against him.

Binger closes, “He committed first-degree reckless homicide against Joseph Rosenbaum. He put Richie McGinniss’s life in jeopardy. He put jump-kick-man’s life in jeopardy. He intended to kill Anthony Huber and he attempted to kill Gaige Grosskreutz. The question is whether or not you believe that his actions were legally justified, and I submit to you that no reasonable person would have done what the defendant did. And that makes your decision easy.”

The defense began their closing argument critiquing the arguments of the prosecution. Rittenhouse’s defense attorney Mark Richards argues that Rosenbaum was intentionally trying to attack the defendant and that he even had his hand on the gun. Richards asked the jury to “use your common sense and judgment” when contemplating if Rosenbaum was a real danger to Rittenhouse when the shooting occurred.

As the closing argument continued, defense attorney Richards argued that there has been a “rush to judgment” in the case. Richards pointed out that after the shooting on August 25, 2020, there were rumors circulating about the shooting and Rittenhouse’s intentions. There was talk about the fact that Rittenhouse crossed state lines to attend the protests and brought his AR-15 with him.

Richards then stated that Gaige Grosskreutz should have not provoked Kyle Rittenhouse. The defense attorney says that Grosskreutz should have “let him be and go give aid and comfort” to Rosenbaum who was just previously shot by Rittenhouse. Richards also argues that Grosskreutz was proceeding on Rittenhouse when he was shot, and this was part of the reason for him shooting.

Richards goes on with his point that Rittenhouse was not searching for trouble when he went to Kenosha despite what the prosecution argued. The defense states that Rittenhouse “feels for this community,” and that he was not trying to start conflict.” The defense soon after wrapped up their closing arguments, and the court went on break.

After returning from the break, the prosecution began their rebuttal. Attorney James Kraus argued that it was unnecessary for Rittenhouse to react to threats by using deadly force. The prosecution says that Rittenhouse should have used all other methods of self-defense before turning to shooting.

Deliberations for the Rittenhouse trial began on November 16, 2021. The panel of 18 potential jurors was narrowed down to 12, with those who were not chosen to serve as alternates. The jury consists of five men and seven women. During the first day of deliberations, the jurors made two requests for more copies of the jury instructions. The jury was dismissed on November 15 after a little over eight hours.

The second day of deliberations continued for the Rittenhouse trial again on November 17, 2021. Judge Schroeder did receive a question from the jury during the morning of November 17, asking about the reviewal process of video evidence in the case. The question was essentially if the jurors would be able to view videos in private or in the courtroom.

Schroeder also addressed the fact that he had not had a chance to read the defense’s motion for mistrial with prejudice. He explains that only one day prior to November 17 he received the motion. Schroeder continues, stating “And I really think before I rule on a motion, I should let the state respond. So why anyone would think, it is odd for the judge to sit on a motion to dismiss, I have no idea.”

Following the request of video evidence earlier during the day of November 17, this permission was granted to the jury. The jury requested a livestream video shot by Gaige Grosskreutz. The livestream was shot moments after Rittenhouse shot Joseph Rosenbaum.

Deliberations continued through November 19, and after 24 hours of deliberations, the jury found Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty on all charges he faced.

Judge Bruce Schroeder spoke to the jury and thanked them for their efforts, stating “”All of you – I couldn’t have asked for a better jury to work with, and it has truly been my pleasure. I think without commenting on your verdict… the verdict themselves, just in terms of your attentiveness and the cooperation that you gave to us justifies the confidence that the founders of our country placed in you.”

Allison Christensen for use by 360 Magazine

Kyle Rittenhouse Murder Trial

By: McKinley Franklin

18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse is currently on trial for the killing of two men and wounding of another. Rittenhouse’s shooting occurred on the night of August 25, 2020, in Kenosha, Wisconsin at protests that occurred following the police shooting of Black man Jacob Blake. On the night of the shooting, Rittenhouse shot at a total of four people, resulting in two fatalities and one wounding. Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber were killed, and Gaige Grosskreutz was wounded.

Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty to six charges, including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, and first-degree attempted homicide. The prosecution seeks out to show that Rittenhouse’s acts were uncontrolled and criminal, whereas the defense argues that he was acting in self-defense.

Let’s recount the night of August 25, 2020:

Prior to the night of Rittenhouse’s killings, Kenosha had endured two nights of protests concerning the shooting of a local Black man, Jacob Blake. The protests were referred to as chaotic, and police were using rubber bullets and tear gas to “control” crowds.

At around 10 pm on the night of the killings, Rittenhouse, 17 at the time, held an AR-15-style rifle outside of a used-car dealership with other armed men. While testifying, Rittenhouse said that he was asked to help guard the dealership to prevent looting and arson. He also testified that he had a medical kit with him and that his goal was to help anyone who may become injured that night.

During his testimony, Rittenhouse states that Rosenbaum threatened his life twice this night, and that he eventually ambushed him. Rittenhouse says that he tried to run from him, and that Rosenbaum threw a bag at him that he mistook for a chain. Then, Rittenhouse aimed the rifle at Rosenbaum, and Rosenbaum proceeded towards him, Rittenhouse also testifying that Rosenbaum grabbed his gun. Rittenhouse states that he then heard a gunshot behind him, and then fired four times at Rosenbaum, killing him.

After fleeing the scene of the Rosenbaum shooting, a crowd followed him, and he began to get hit with a skateboard by Huber and had rocks thrown at him. This caused him to fall to the ground, and Huber hit him with the skateboard again. Again, Rittenhouse states that Huber grabbed his gun and even “felt the strap coming off [his] body,” and he proceeded to fire a shot, killing Huber.

Grosskreutz, also armed, then ran up to Rittenhouse, with his hands raised in a “surrender” position. Grosskreutz continued to proceed towards Rittenhouse, and he fired a shot towards him, hitting him in the arm. Rittenhouse testifies that Grosskreutz was pointing the pistol towards his head before he shot.

After the shootings, Rittenhouse testified that he approached police with his hands up, but they ordered him to get out of the way and go home. Rittenhouse then turned himself in at the Antioch Police Department an hour after these events.

The murder trial has drawn in a great amount of attention, for numerous reasons. Most recently Judge Bruce Schroeder, who is overseeing the case, made an inappropriate joke regarding Asian food. As the court was prepping to take a lunch break on November 11, 2021, the judge stated, “I hope the Asian food isn’t coming… isn’t on one of those boats from Long Beach Harbor.” Schroeder’s comment seems to refer to the supply chain backlogs that have stemmed from overcrowding problems in California ports. John Yang, president, and executive director of AAJC says that the judge’s comment “harms our community and puts us in the crosshairs of micro aggressions as well as physical violence.” Schroeder’s insensitive comment comes only a week after a juror in this trial was dismissed over another inconsiderate joke. This time, the juror made a joke concerning the police shooting of Jacob Blake, the shooting that ultimately has direct correlation to the Rittenhouse trial. Schroeder summarizes “what he remembers” about the comment the juror made, stating that, “He was telling a joke … he made a reference about telling a joke about ‘Why did it take seven shots to shoot Jacob Blake,’ something to that effect.” Prosecutors argued that the comment alludes to racial bias, and both the defense and prosecution agreed to dismiss the juror. In response to the dismissal of the juror, Schroeder stated that, “It is clear that the appearance to bias is present and it would seriously undermine the outcome of the case.”

The jury of eight men and 10 women will be reduced to 12 by a drawing of names earlier next week, when they expect to finish the case. More on the current status of the case HERE.

For use by 360 Magazine

Al Sharpton Responds

Today, November 11, through the trial of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, William Bryan’s lawyer Kevin Gough shared some objections and concerns to the judge. Gough’s objection came from the presence of civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton being in the courtroom. He expressed to the judge, Judge Timothy Walmsley, that the presence of such civil rights leaders is “intimidation.” Reverend Al Sharpton was in attendance of the trial for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery on Wednesday, November 10, 2021. While in attendance at the trial, Reverend Al Sharpton organized a prayer vigil with his parents outside of the courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia. Reverend Al Sharpton has since released this statement following the accusations of his presence being used for intimidation:

“The arrogant insensitivity of attorney Kevin Gough in asking a judge to bar me or any minister of the family’s choice underscores the disregard for the value of the human life lost and the grieving of a family in need spiritual and community support.

My attendance yesterday and in the days to come is not disruptive in any way and was at the invitation of the family of Ahmaud Arbery who have stated that publicly.

The only way I could have been identified as a member of the ministry is if I was recognized for my public position and leadership. How else would the defense attorney know who was a “black pastor” or not?

This objection was clearly pointed at me and a disregard to the fact that a mother father sitting in a courtroom with 3 men that murdered their son do not deserve the right to have someone present to give spiritual strength to bear this pain. This is pouring salt into their wounds.

I respect the defense attorney doing his job but this is beyond defending your client, it is insulting the family of the victim.”

Judge Timothy Walmsley who is overseeing the case indicated that he would not make blanket rules over attendance of the public and acknowledged that the company of Reverend Sharpton would not be a distraction.

Background on the Case

Sunday, February 23, 2020, the unarmed, Black twenty-five year old Ahmaud Arbery was chased and killed by three armed white men in a neighborhood in South Georgia and was killed. The National Action Network has continuously stood by the family of the victim in their quest for justice and continues to criticize the range of the jury for the case. The jury consists of eleven white women, three white men and one Black man in a county that is predominately Black. Though Judge Timothy Walmsley acknowledges the presence of “intentional discrimination” in the range of the jury, he states that the trial over the killing of Arbery will proceed.

*Additional coverage from USA today

Mars illustrated by Mina Tocalini for 360 MAGAZINE.

Water Infrastructure Funding Act

The California Legislative Analysts Office has just produced a report to estimate the financial impact of the “Water Infrastructure Funding Act of 2022,” a proposed ballot initiative that aims to increase the annual supply of water to Californians by five million acre feet. The contents of this report are good news for every Californian. More water. Lower water bills.

The initiative calls for two percent of the state general fund to be set aside to develop new water supplies. Projects eligible for this funding would include the development or expansion of facilities for:

  • Groundwater cleanup and storage.
  • Stormwater capture, treatment, and storage.
  • Water recycling.
  • Surface reservoirs.
  • Desalination of seawater or brackish water.
  • Water conveyance, such as canals or pipes.

Also eligible for funding are water conservation programs to achieve up to 1 million acre-feet of the total objective of 5 million acre-feet of water.

Among the fiscal effects predicted by the Legislative Analyst include increased state spending on water supply projects, and potentially less funding available for other state activities. Notwithstanding the multi-billion budget surplus California’s legislature currently enjoys, this redirecting of spending for water projects is what the initiative proponents intend. The State of California has neglected its water infrastructure for decades. With climate change promising dryer winters and a reduced Sierra snowpack, this is the perfect moment for California to prioritize spending on a resilient water infrastructure.

Assemblyman Devon Mathis (R, Tulare), a supporter of the initiative who has gathered endorsements from a growing bipartisan list of state legislators, had this to say in response to the LAO report: “This is a first of its kind ballot initiative. We set the goal based on our state’s current and future water needs, set ongoing funding for a diverse set of eligible project categories, and placed a sunset for when the goal is reached.” Mathis added, “This is a vote for people to lower their water bills, and for cities and school districts to upgrade their water systems without breaking their local budgets.”

Mathis is correct. As the LAO report notes, “it could result in water customers paying lower water bills than they otherwise would in the absence of the measure.”

One of the proponents, Lisa Ohlund, the retired general manager of the East Orange County Water District, explained the long-term benefits of this initiative, saying “climate change projections have many water districts concerned about their ability to reliably deliver safe water in quantities that will protect people, trees and the economy. This initiative focuses tax dollars on this enormously important problem at a pivotal time. We must take action to prepare for the increasingly harsh storms that will dump large amounts of rain on California, and the extended dry periods where we must look to water recycling and desalination to help fill in the shortfalls. California lead the world in water in the last century; we need to do the same in this one.”

To learn more about the progress of this game changing initiative, visit their website HERE.

Millennials × Spirits Making a Difference In The World

It is no secret that millennials are making changes in the world around us every day. From social justice, equality, politics, climate change, and social media, the world is changing every day because of them.

Millennials outnumber Gen X and will soon outnumber Baby Boomers among voters. Not only have they revolutionized the economy, but they have also shifted today’s culture in many ways. For example, millennials are well-known for how much they use social media. The millennial generation uses social media as a voice to reach hundreds, or even thousands, of people worldwide. Because of how they use social media, they are forever changing human interaction.

Millennials are making significant changes every day, and one of those changes is in alcohol trends.

In the last few years, millennials have become more focused on the quality of alcohol and the variety of flavors the alcohol industry offers. The demand for beer has decreased within the last decade while wine, whisky, vodka, and other spirits have grown.

Millennials have become more conscious of the quality and ingredients in alcohol than their Baby Boomer and Gen X counterparts. Nowadays, millennials are looking for value and health benefits in exchange for their money and are looking more at hand-crafted and artisanal alcohol products.

Many vodka brands are borrowing tactics from gin because of these changes. They are moving to a much lighter serve and lower-alcohol offerings to appeal to the millennial generation. Many of these brands are becoming “healthy” alcohols by removing sugars and adding botanical flavors.

Glasgow Distillery Company‘s co‐founder Mike Hayward says, “The success of gin has opened up the consumer’s thirst for new and interesting products that have botanicals and natural flavor at the core. We see this as a great opportunity to attract consumers to the vodka category by creating a range of products that meet the desire for interesting and innovative spirits presented in a new and exciting way.”

One vodka brand is taking a few ideas from the millennial generation and using their social responsibility to donate to groups trying to change the world while making a “smooth, crisp, and warming sipper.”

Organika Vodka, founded in 2016 in Russia, focuses on the ideals of sustainability in all forms. From locally sourcing renewable resources in the Lake Baikal region to working side-by-side by the indigenous people and developing a biodegradable spirits bottle, this company is striving toward showing just how much of a difference a company can make toward sustainability and ecological consciousness. By creating a more ecologically conscious alcohol, Organika is changing the industry for the better.

There are three varieties of Organika Vodka: Organika, Organika Life, and Organika White Truffle. While each kind is made with highly oxygenated water from Lake Baikal and 100% grain BIO spirit, they each have one ingredient that differentiates them.

Organika is made with Siberian Larch Extract, which can be found in different parts of the world, while the most valuable species is found in Siberia. It is said that Siberian Larch is known for strengthening blood vessels, which makes it a natural aphrodisiac.

A well-known tonic called sagan-daila is used to create Organika Life. Sagan-daila means “life-giving” and is said to stimulate the brain, kidneys, and heart activity. It is also said to relieve fatigue and hangovers.

Organika White Truffle is made with not only sagan-daila but also the white truffle mushroom, which is said to rejuvenate the body and “positively influences the men’s power.”

Not only does this company focus on being sustainable and ecologically conscious, but they are also focused on the preservation of rare animals like the Amur Tiger, the Far Eastern leopard, the snow leopard, and the polar bear.

The majority of their charitable donations are given to the World Wildlife Fund who actively sought out the brand for a partnership after being “so moved” by Organika’s efforts in rare animal preservation. Even during the height of COVID-19, Organika continued to support its partners.

If there is one thing millennials also care about significantly, it is most definitely animals. Suppose millennials cannot get behind a sustainable and ecologically conscious vodka brand that is making significant changes in wildlife. In that case, I am not sure what they would get behind. Not only does Organika use organic ingredients and locally source them, but they are also donating toward saving animals all around the world. I would say that is a win-win on both accounts.

With millennials caring more about what is in their drinks than the experience of drinking them, it is no surprise that vodka companies are making changes in their production.

In an interview with Forbes, Jonathan Hemi, the managing partner of Crystal Head Vodka, said, “Clean, additive-free, high-quality liquid is where we see opportunities as well in different expressions through different types of grains.” In other words, clean and sustainable alcohol is creating more opportunities for vodka brands like Organika to make significant changes in the alcohol industry.

Organika has recently signed contracts with the Miami Dolphins and the Breakthru Beverage Group in Florida, expanding their reach into the United States from Russia and Germany.

The contract with the Miami Dolphins sees Organika at the Hard Rock Stadium from the 2021 season to the 2023 season. Fans of the Dolphins will be able to experience Organika vodka and Organika Life. They are also planning on using aluminum cups instead of traditional plastic for their drinks in the stadium.

The partnership with Breakthru Beverage opens new sales and distribution opportunities in Florida for Organika Vodka in the ultra-premium vodka category while also distributing the brand into 14 different states and Canada.

Sustainability and change are essential for both millennials and Organika Vodka to thrive. Not only can millennials help Organika change the world for wildlife, but Organika can also produce clean and eco-conscious alcohol for millennials. Both of these groups are working to change the world differently, but imagine what they could do working together. With the social-media-hungry millennials, there is no telling just how much Organika can achieve with its mission of preserving wildlife.

Meghan McCain Speaks Against Antisemitism

Top Individuals Positively Influencing Jewish Life include Attorney General of New York Letita James, Comedian Bill Maher, Selma Blair, Noa Tishby

“I cannot stay silent when I see or hear antisemitism,” said actress Debra Messing on receiving the Algemeiner newspaper’s ‘Warrior For Truth’ award. “During Will and Grace it was important to me that Grace’s Jewishness be central to her identity because representation matters. I know that speaking up is a value shared by all of us here.” TV personality Meghan McCain followed Messing in the award ceremony, passionately declaring, “Antisemitism is abhorrent and innately un-American. We are Americans. What do Americans do when we meet up with the fanatical movement bent upon the eradication of Jews? We fight them. We’re going to fight these people too,” said McCain, “there is no place in America for antisemitism.”

The Ambassador of Israel to the U.S. and U.N. Gilad Erdan, philanthropist Nina Rennert Davidson, and Algemeiner Editor in Chief and CEO Dovid Efune, with his wife Mushka Efune were also honored at the Algemeiner newspaper’s 8th annual J100 Gala at the Rockleigh Country Club on October 12, 2021.

Joseph Borgen, the victim of a vicious antisemitic attack earlier this year in Manhattan and who McCain invited onto ABC’s The View, was a guest speaker.   It was an emotional moment at the J100 gala when McCain and Borgen met in person for the first time. “The only publication that continues to act as a voice for me and bring attention to my situation is The Algemeiner,” said Borgen, “They bring light to the issue and hold people accountable for what took place. They make sure that antisemitism is not washed away or forgotten.”

Ambassador Erdan, introduced by Malcolm Hoenlein, reinforced this position, saying, “The biggest threat facing Israel and the Jewish people today is the deadly combination of lies and disinformation. Disinformation may begin as words but violence is only one small step away.” 

Dovid Efune and Chairman Simon Jacobson shared the importance of the evening, “After the events of the past year,” said Efune, “when we witnessed again 1,000 strands of falsehood weaved together into a thick rope of hate, that a line has been firmly drawn under our long-held conviction that lies can kill and that the truth saves lives. It is often the case that stories first reported by The Algemeiner would simply not see the light of day, that the historical record would remain uncorrected, without the diligent skills of our team. The voice of the Algemeiner is indispensable.”

Nina Rennert Davidson implored the live crowd to join her and the other honorees in their fight, “Please speak up at board meetings and parties. Please do not allow your schools to have speakers, teachers and curriculums that attack Israel. If we do not respect our heritage, how can we ask anybody else to?”

TV journalist Dana Arschin served as Master of Ceremonies. The Event Chairs were Neil and Sharon Book, with Bernard-Henri Levy as Honorary Chairman. 

The J100 Gala celebrated the release of the Algemeiner’s highly anticipated J100 List. The Algemeiner newspaper releases an annual list of 100 significant individuals who positively influence Jewish life, called the J100 List. On the importance and relevance of the J100, Efune said, “This year we’ve placed particular emphasis on those standing at the forefront of the battle for truth.” 

The 2021 list includes Attorney General of New York Letita James, comedian Bill Maher, actresses Noa Tishby and Selma Blair, actor Jonathan Lipnicki, celebrity chef Jake Cohen, Morton Williams Supermarket owner Avi Kaner, publising mogul Mathias Doepfner, Papaya Global CEO Eynat Guez, and MLB athlete Jacob Steinmetz. 

Watch all speeches HERE.

Billed as the Jewish answer to the TIME 100, the full list, and a description of why they were chosen, can be found at HERE

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Now celebrating its 49th anniversary, The Algemeiner newspaper has been labeled the “fastest growing Jewish newspaper in the US” by CNBC. It has been described by former Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor as “the voice of the Jewish people and Israel” and hailed as “brave and relentlessly accurate” by longtime New Republic editor Marty Peretz.