SAG AFTRA Actors strike

Actors Get Back to Work After Successful Negotiations Between SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP

After 118 days of industry disruption, SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher announced that a deal was reached with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) to end the actors strike. The Screen Actors Guild + American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) members are free to resume working, bringing a sigh of relief to the actors and the production team of all the projects that were abruptly suspended back in July.

Fran Drescher President SAG Aftra

New episodes of TV shows typically take the summer off leaving room for the heavily promoted summer blockbusters to hit theaters. With the strike happening in the summer of 2023, movies were still released but any promotion by the actors was not permitted. Considering promotion has been known to account for 25-50% of the total movie budget (like how 2022’s Marvel Studios blockbuster Thor: Love and Thunder cost $250 million to make and $100 million to promote), a lack of press tours may have left dollars on the table for the movie production companies.

Household name actors aside, Hollywood is not so friendly to unknown names or background extras. Minimum pay was low, streaming revenue didn’t pay, and AI was positioned to be utilized by the production companies in any way the see fit. SAG-AFTRA was able to secure a deal that brings solutions for some of these concerns.

Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller On the Picket Lines
Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller On the Picket Lines – GOTHAM/GC IMAGES

SAG-AFTRA’s deal

  • More than one billion dollars in new wages and benefit plan funding;
  • A streaming participation bonus;
  • Minimum compensation increases that break the so-called “industry pattern;” 
  • For the first time, consent and compensation guardrails on the use of AI;
  • Raised Pension & Health caps that will channel more value into our funds; and 
  • Critical protections for diverse communities.

Studio heads are way out of touch

The heads of the studios and their tens of millions of dollars seem to forget just how they are able to keep their outrageous income. Disney’s CEO Bob Iger, with his $31 million dollar annual income, was outspoken about how the demands were unrealistic. Meanwhile, the actors and writers are the ones making the content that pays his massive income.

Disney CEO Bob Iger says Actors & Writers are not ‘being realistic’

These media CEOs are certainly out of touch, especially since they are accustomed to receiving millions of dollars year over year for increase in pay. Other CEOs are making just as much, if not more. Netflix CEO Greg Peters ($34.7 million) and Paramount CEO Bob Bakish ($32 million) are just a few of the CEOs working for the companies fighting against the writers and actors for their asks.

Delays and Scheduling Conflicts For Actors Push Release Dates Further Away assembed a short list of the productions that are ready to resume:

Movie projects resuming production

  • “Deadpool 3” (Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
  • “Gladiator 2” (Paramount Pictures)
  • “Beetlejuice 2” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
  • Untitled “Venom” sequel (Sony Pictures Releasing)
  • “It Ends With Us” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Stranger Things Season 5
Stranger Things Instagram Post

TV shows resuming production

  • “Abbott Elementary” Season 3 (ABC)
  • “Young Sheldon” season 7 (CBS)
  • “Severance” Season 2 (Apple TV+)
  • “Euphoria” Season 3 (HBO)
  • “The Last of Us” Season 2 (HBO)
  • “The White Lotus” Season 3 (HBO)
  • “Hacks” Season 3 (Max)
  • “Stranger Things” Season 5 (Netflix) 
  • “Wednesday” Season 2 (Netflix)
  • “Yellowjackets” Season 3 (Showtime)

Release dates for these and for all projects that were impacted by the strike will likely be “pending” for a bit. If there were season premieres or movie releases on your radar for 2024, there is a chance that it could be 2025 or later until it will be ready for the public. For now, the media companies can enjoy investing $500,000 or more to restart the projects that were left on hold while SAG-AFTRA negotiated for better terms for their 160,000 members and set up guardrails for the future of AI in the movie industry.

The seat of the House speaker stands empty as the House of Representatives continues voting for a new speaker on October 17, 2023.

Jim Jordan Lost More Votes in Round Two. Listen to the Threating Voicemail Targeting the Wife of Republican Congressman Who Did Not Vote For Him.

Bullying and death threats by Jim Jordan (R-OH) supporters were part of the pressure campaign to members of their own Republican party to push him closer to the Speaker of the House. It did more harm than good.

It was implied that Congress was to do the third round of voting today, Thursday October 19, 2023. Republican nominee Jim Jordan is not backing down from being the nominee for Speaker, even though the threats have reportedly turned more members against the Congressman. With doing only one voting session per day and skipping Wednesday all together, the urgency to get things done doesn’t seem to be a priority.

Threatening Texts

The texts sent to non-Jim Jordan voters came from supporters within their own party, and the Capitol Police has been investigating the origins of these texts. A few of the texts were shared with the media to illustrate the severity of the attempts to flip votes.

231018 text 1of2 ac 659p d2f3ce Jim Jordan Lost More Votes in Round Two. Listen to the Threating Voicemail Targeting the Wife of Republican Congressman Who Did Not Vote For Him.
231018 text 2of2 ac 659p 28da40 Jim Jordan Lost More Votes in Round Two. Listen to the Threating Voicemail Targeting the Wife of Republican Congressman Who Did Not Vote For Him.

It is one thing to target Congress members, but targeting family members is way out of line. “The wife of Representative Don Bacon of Nebraska has begun sleeping with a loaded gun after receiving increasingly menacing anonymous calls and texts.”

The infighting continues as have the threats, pushing votes away from Jordan and the Congressmen and women were not having it. In fact, they were pretty clear about being even less likely to vote for him, and the attempts were publicized via many distribution channels. Miller-Meeks (R-IA) sent out the following press release regarding the bullying.

Jim Jordan Miller Meeks Letter Jim Jordan Lost More Votes in Round Two. Listen to the Threating Voicemail Targeting the Wife of Republican Congressman Who Did Not Vote For Him.

Jim Jordan Lost Support in Round Two

Despite continuing to lose votes and making matters worse, Jordan believes he can change that. Here is the summary of the second round of voting:

Jim Jordan Jeffries Vote Jim Jordan Lost More Votes in Round Two. Listen to the Threating Voicemail Targeting the Wife of Republican Congressman Who Did Not Vote For Him.
New York Times
Jim Jordan Second Votes Jim Jordan Lost More Votes in Round Two. Listen to the Threating Voicemail Targeting the Wife of Republican Congressman Who Did Not Vote For Him.

Have any of these Republican Congress men and women consulted with their constituents about how they would like to be represented? Jim Jordan was not well liked by most Republican voters, especially the ones who are the traditional conservatives and moderates. If anyone is up for re-election in 2024, these Jim Jordan backers may be in for a rude awakening.

The third round of voting for Speaker of the House is set to resume Friday, October 20th at 10AM Eastern Time.

Here are some links to YouTube livestreams that have broadcasted the voting live:

Washington Post

Fox News

PBS NewsHour

NBC News


Jim Jordan Congress

Just Twenty Minutes Into The Vote for Speaker of the House, Republican Nominee Jim Jordan Did Not Have Enough Votes to Win.

Round 1: Jeffries (D) – 212, Jordan (R) 200, Other (R) – 20

It has been about two weeks since Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was removed as Speaker of the House, leaving Congress unable to get any work done until someone can meet the threshold of 217 votes. As of this first round, no one secured the required 217 votes.

How did we get here?

January 7, 2023 – McCarthy became Speaker of the House in January after voting for 15 rounds due to a handful of Republicans with demands that included a change to the House rules that allowed any one member of the House to call for a motion to remove the Speaker at any time for any reason. After initially nominating and voting for Donald Trump for Speaker, Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) leveraged his strong holdout to get McCarthy to adopt this rule to earn his (and a handful of other Republican representatives) vote, leading to the win for McCarthy.

Here is a quick recap of the events around McCarthy’s vote into power:

September 30, 2023 – With a government shutdown just one day away, McCarthy put forward a bipartisan deal to keep the government running for 45 more days (through a temporary spending bill known as a CR, or Continuing Resolution). This allowed active-duty military troops to get paid, air travel to remain at status quo, and keep food on the table for millions of families. With no Speaker, it has been two weeks and no progress has been made to meet the 45 day government shutdown deadline extension that sealed the fate of McCarthy’s speakership.

Gaetz warned McCarthy that he would file a motion to vacate the Speaker, calling for his removal if he decided to work with Democrats to ensure a Continuing Resolution. Gaetz followed through with his threat and called for the vote to remove McCarthy two days after the bipartisan bill to avoid a government shutdown was signed. With such a slim majority and only a simple majority required for the motion to vacate to happen, McCarthy ultimately lost the uphill battle after all Democrats and 8 Republicans voted to remove him. The Republicans were reportedly furious and tensions ran so high that the House was adjourned for a number of days to give time for everyone to calm down.

Where are we now?

Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) were the two candidates within the Republican party that were voted on behind closed doors, with Scalise winning the majority vote 111-99 over Jordan. Scalise announced his nomination on October 11. By October 12, Scalise withdrew his candidacy, paving the way for Jim Jordan to be the official nominee for the Republicans.

212 Democrats are 100% united behind Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), so it is the “Hard No” Republicans that are under scrutiny to see how they will vote. For round 1, 20 Republicans voted for an alternative candidate simply to not vote for Jordan.

Watch the live voting count here.

US Government Election for Speaker of the House 2023
1st round of voting for the new Speaker of the House did not reach the 217 threshold. No Speaker has been selected.

What Happens Next?

To become Speaker of the House in this particular session, someone needs to earn 217 votes. After round one, Jeffries (D) received 212 votes and Jordan (R) received 200. Only five more votes for Jeffries are needed for a historic win for a Democratic Speaker of the House while the Republicans hold the majority. Jim Jordan can only afford to lose 4 votes, and he has lost 20.

Alternate plans have been discussed, but there is no clear alternative to Jim Jordan. In the days after McCarthy was ousted, moderate Republicans and hard-no Republicans were near 50 against Jordan, but after today’s vote, it was clear that there were plenty who caved to the pressure.

Let’s see how round two shapes up.

To watch these sessions live, here are some sources on YouTube to check out:

Washington Post

Fox News

PBS NewsHour

Amazon Prime Deals With Packages

Amazon Prime Big Deal Days are October 10 – 11, Driving Competitors to Have Their Own Promotion Events

Amazon has long changed the game when it comes to having sales events, almost forcing the big retailers like Target and Walmart (among others) to have competing deal days within weeks of each other. Amazon has been promoting Prime Big Deal Days pretty heavily and consumers have come to expect the sale during the year as a way to boost sales during the year rather than waiting until the biggest shopping day of years past, Black Friday.

This year, Amazon and Walmart are similar in how to get the deal on the sale items. If you are familiar with Amazon’s “Lightning Deals”, Walmart is doing an event that started before October 10th and goes for an entire week called “Flash Deals”. Same concept, but different retailers, attempting to draw consumers in to make their purchases prior to Amazon’s promotions.

Amazon Deal Days
Amazon Deal Days

Walmart’s week of “Flash Deals” has already started, and has the same concept as Amazon’s “Lightning Deals”. Amazon’s “Flash Deals” in a way but branded as “Lightening Deals” has been a part of Amazon’s promotional strategy, where there are certain products with really steep discounts and there is a countdown to how much longer the deal is valid. Typically the deals are only for a few hours unless they sell out of their stock of the Lightning Deal and the waitlist opens. Once the Lightning Deal is over, the product will still be available but it will be at regular price.

Walmart Deals Amazon
Walmart Deals are from October 9 – 12

Target held their discount event from October 1-7, potentially drawing in those savings-savvy shoppers to see while on their Target run. The sales at Target seem to be more in-store focused with heavy promotion using the percentage off type sales.

Buy or Wait?

Sometimes you may find things on Amazon that are on sale but in reality, do not give much savings when listed at full price. It’s frustrating to see the price drop after a sale that was meant to be a discount because it is difficult to track price changes over time for the same product to correctly confirm how much money is actually being saved. If you love data or just want to see how much prices have changed over time there are a number Amazon price trackers (many with browser extensions) that you can use all year round.

Amazon price tracker on
Amazon price tracker on

For example, let’s say you are looking for laptops and see that one is on sale. You can take the link of the product on Amazon and plug it into the search box, resulting in a historical timeline of the price. The site can be used all year round, so if you are into finding the best price of anything anywhere, this site can be a game changer for you.

Get ahead of the crowds

There are hundreds of deals out there beyond Amazon at other retailers. Having these major sales events in October makes it difficult to have another giant sale a month later, so there is no certainty on which sales are going to be better. If you are considering getting a head start on Christmas gifts so that you don’t have to go broke in December buying everything everywhere all at once, this week may be the time to get it all over with.

USA Soldiers American Flag

Members of Congress Still Get Their $174,000 Salary During a Government Shutdown. Others Will Have to Work Without Pay. But Wait, There’s More.

As of September 29, 2:00 pm Central Time, the government shutdown is actually possible. Politicians, experts, strategists, and professors are among those who have been providing different examples of what the shutdown will look like. From unpaid TSA personnel to 19,000 unpaid border agents, this government shutdown isn’t as irrelevant as people may think. Below is a partial list of how we the people will be affected (with sources) by reporting the plans that might be implemented.

Cybersecurity and Physical Security Support to the Nation’s Critical Infrastructure: CISA would also be forced to suspend both physical and cybersecurity assessments for government and industry partners. Perhaps more cyberattacks are in the works now that this deadline is looming and the government shutdown has worldwide coverage.

Disruptions to Air Transportation from Multiple Sides: If you have flights to catch, get ready for some “significant delays” if the government shutdown happens. On average, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screens 2.5 million passengers every day. There is already a pilot and air traffic controller shortage so if the government shuts down there will be fewer people to work these positions. If they are given the opportunity to continue working they would be required to continue working, but without pay.

“CBP agents and officers working at over 300 ports of entry and protecting more than 6,000 miles of border under challenging circumstances would be required to continue performing their vital missions without pay.” This includes issues like securing borders, seizing fentanyl, combating child exploitation, and arresting human traffickers.

government shutdown
U.S. Border Patrol

About 1.3 Million Active-Duty Service Members Will Serve Without Pay: With the government shutdown, all military personnel will continue in a normal duty status regardless of their affiliation with excepted or non-excepted activities until such time as Congress makes appropriated funds available to compensate them for this period of service.

Hardship for Nearly 40,000 Active Military Personnel: The U.S. Coast Guard may not even be paid for their unpaid work unless a specific appropriation is passed. They are also unique in that they are not allowed to apply for unemployment benefits either. This is not the case for the other military branches. Additionally, unlike civilian employees, they are not able to file for interim support such as unemployment benefits to supplement their income until an appropriation is passed.

government shutdown
U.S. Coastguard

Small Business Administration (SBA) to stop processing new business loans for small businesses:

Each weekday the government is shut down, and small business loan applications will be halted, which may cause small business owners to turn to high-interest, price-gouging non-government loans.

Pro-Life? Not After Birth: The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program serves about 50% of babies born in this country and is at risk. Head Start, which supports education for 3- and 4-year-olds across the country, and women and children who count on WIC would soon start being turned away at grocery store counters, with a federal contingency fund drying up after just a few days and many states left with limited WIC funds to operate the program.

Senior citizens may have a hard time getting food too: Meals on Wheels, which brings food to elderly people many of whom can’t drive or go to the store on their own, could also get interrupted.

Newborn baby

What is the hold up? The Republicans are demanding that their specific budget cut proposal pass. Members of Congress indicate that this 8% budget cut proposed will result in:

  • 800 fewer Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents and officers
  • 50,000 pounds of cocaine, more than 300 pounds of fentanyl, more than 700 pounds of heroin, and more than 6,000 pounds of methamphetamine let into our country due to cuts to CBP
  • 110,000 children would lose access to Head Start slots
  • 65,000 children would lose access to childcare
  • 60,000 seniors would be robbed of nutrition services like Meals on Wheels
  • 2.1 million women, infants, and children would be waitlisted for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
  • Up to 40,000 fewer teachers, aides, or other key staff across the country, affecting 26 million students in schools that teach low-income students and 7.5 million students with disabilities
  • Nearly 70 fewer Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents, who are often some of the first federal law enforcement on the scene of a mass shooting to help local law enforcement identify at-large shooters—and 13 furlough days for ATF’s entire workforce
  • 4,000 fewer rail safety inspection days next year alone, with nearly 11,000 fewer miles of track inspected annually—enough track to cross the United States more than 3 times
  • 145 fewer members of local law enforcement due to cuts at the Department of Justice
  • Nearly 300,000 households—including 20,000 veterans and 90,000 seniors—would lose housing choice vouchers, putting them at greater risk of homelessness
  • A roughly $500 reduction to the maximum Pell Grant for 6.6 million students
  • 4,000 fewer FBI personnel, including agents who investigate crimes
  • 250,000 American workers would be denied job training and employment services—resulting in 35,000 fewer workers gaining the opportunity of a Registered Apprenticeship
  • 50,000 workers would lose an average of $1,000 in back wages they are owed
  • People applying for disability benefits would have to wait months longer
© Vincent Giordano |

A government shutdown should not be a bargaining chip. The congress members still get paid a pretty nice $174,000 salary so they don’t necessarily feel the impact. Maybe it is time to include Congress in one of these categories where if the government shuts down they also have to work for free. Otherwise, there is no urgency to get things done on time, and these elected officials end up harming their constituents and their livelihoods.

Hopefully this article will be irrelevant soon! Congress – do your best.


Political Terms Defined: Fascist, Socialist, Communist, and Democracy

As political turmoil ensues, name-calling is getting increasingly…convoluted. The definitions of words like “fascist” or “socialist” are thrown around quite a bit, but in many cases, the true meaning of the term is misunderstood or misinterpreted.

These words are the go-to insults to hurl at the other side, regardless of whether they are being used correctly. So what do all these terms actually mean? Here are some examples of the recent rhetoric and topics of discussion that need some clarity.

Words, phrases, and theories that can help in any political conversation

Democracy – Not to be completely associated with “Democrats”. Whether you identify as a Democrat or Republican, the US form of government is commonly called a Democracy in which the leaders are chosen by the people.

Merriam-Webster defines democracy as a. a government by the people especiallyrule of the majority, or b. a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.

Between the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, citizens are given freedoms that cannot be infringed upon. Lately, one of the most referenced amendments is Freedom of Speech.

Freedom of speech

This amendment is often misinterpreted as being allowed to say anything to anyone without any trouble or legal implications. However, this is not entirely true.

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh states some of the limitations of the First Amendment:

The First Amendment only protects your speech from government censorship. It applies to federal, state, and local government actors. This is a broad category that includes not only lawmakers and elected officials, but also public schools and universities, courts, and police officers.  It does not include private citizens, businesses, and organizations.

Here are some examples of Permissible restrictions on expression”

Private companies can’t be forced to publish or broadcast opinions they don’t agree with.

Private businesses can fire someone for expressing political views

Telling a group of people to go commit violence, making threats, knowingly spreading lies, obscenity, defamation – will likely have consequences that could result in lawsuits of millions of dollars.

Here is a short summary of Democracy vs Fascism before diving into Socialism:

Fascism vs Democracy – What’s The Difference? – Political Comparison – The Infographics Show

Fascism vs Socialism (Fascists and Socialists)

Fascism – A single individual is in control of everything, including the conduct of the people, society, and industries in the country. Private ownership is restrictive, and there is no freedom of speech for anyone. Fascism aims to strengthen the nation in prosperity rather than the people of the nation.

Socialism – Public welfare is the priority of Socialism, with the eradication of poverty as the driver of this form of government. The Powers are owned by the people and control is decentralized and distributed among the states. There is a strong focus on balancing the social classes.

Comparing Fascism and Socialism

WallStreetMojo summarises the differences between Fascism and Socialism in a few charts below.

Fascism Socialism

Fascism vs. Socialism – A Comparison Infographic

What about Communism?

Now that socialism and fascism have been compared, let’s throw communism into the mix for comparison as well.

Communism definition

Communism vs. Fascism – A Comparison Infographic

The more you know

There are surely plenty more forms of government across the world that were not covered here, but at least for now, Fascism, Communism, and Socialism appear to be the insults most often used in a verbal argument regarding the “left” and the “right”. At least now you can be sure you are using the right term to describe the type of political affiliation just in case you may actually be complementing them instead of trying to intentionally hurt them. So instead, be nice out there and all just get along.

Writers Guild Strike Hollywood 2023

Without the Writers, There Would Be No Hollywood

Creating entertainment in Hollywood was much simpler before streaming. The writers wrote, the actors acted, the show would air, and everyone would get paid for their part in the project along with residuals if the show was picked up for syndication or re-runs. This was the structure that everyone involved in creating the show could rely on to earn income after the series had come to an end.

Now that the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) has joined forces with SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists), it is not just the writers and actors feeling the pain. The shutdown has a ripple effect that reaches all the workers behind the scenes as well. Lighting, sound engineers, set design, catering, makeup artists, and a ton of other occupations that are crucial to the process may also be out of a job.

NBC TV Show Friends
ID 176589996 © Info849943 |

At the heart of the strike are two major demands – fair pay and regulations for AI technology that will soon come for all industries everywhere. While there are not many examples of just how far AI could impact Hollywood, the possibilities are endless. AI could end up being the “writers” for movies and shows. Using this technology wouldn’t create anything new, it would take bits and pieces of what exists out there on the internet and make a script.

It is possible that AI could also take the likeness of actors and actresses to where they may be seen in the movie but not actually be acting in the movie. There may not be a need to hire extras if AI can create them. If there were no sets, no actors, no writers, or no crew, everything would be generated, not created.

SAG AFTRA Hollywood Movie and Writers Strike 2023
SAG AFTRA Hollywood Movie and Writers Strike 2023

Meanwhile, the top Hollywood executives made hundreds of millions of dollars over the past 5 years.

The top Hollywood exec made $498 million in the last 5 years

Making movies and shows in Hollywood sounds like a very prestigious and lucrative career if you associate the industry with the top 1% of actors making millions of dollars per movie or per episode. But the writers are the heart of Hollywood. The stories are made into scripts by the writers. To get a project off the ground, the script must make the rounds to the production studios, and the actors must connect with the script and the story to want to bring it to life. The directors need to believe that the story can be brought to life. The audience needs to have that emotional investment in the storyline, characters, and progression from beginning to end.

Hollywood move TV set
ID 111716913 © Ppengcreative |

Do the right thing

The giant Hollywood studios do have a plan – wait until the writers run out of money. “The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses,” a studio executive told Deadline. Another with inside information about the tactic called it “a cruel but necessary evil.” – Distractify

Without the writers, no story would be told, no characters would be created, and popular culture would barely exist as it is today. Actors wouldn’t have any projects they would want to be a part of. The studios continue to make a lot of money, but without the writers, they wouldn’t have anything to make money from.  

Hollywood Movies and TV Writers on strike
Writers Guild on Strike 2023

For more information about the Writers Guild of America, where to picket, and how to help, click the image below or this link here.

Writers Guild Reports - The State of the Industry Hollywood
Writers Guild Reports – The State of the Industry

Read The State of the Industry WGA Report.

Threads Twitter

Threads Has Potential, Just Don’t Feed the Trolls

Over the past decade, Twitter has become increasingly toxic. Like very toxic. No one can say anything without some troll ruining the moment, which sometimes negatively affects the mental health of the replies on a non-confrontational tweet. These actions are unnecessary and hurtful, made for no reason except to cause stress and fear. Today we have three major players: Twitter, Truth, and Threads.

Today, that seems to be the entire purpose of Twitter. A completely non-political tweet turns somehow turns political and aggressive in the comments, giving trolls a sense of power to bully others when there are no consequences. To put the toxicity in perspective, there are websites and articles out there that focus on how to deal with Twitter Trolls. Twitter did not start off this way at all. It was pretty much the only player in this form of social media – the type where you put your thoughts out there and respond to posts with text. It started with the unofficial rules we grew up with: Treat others how you would want to be treated, and if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say it at all.

Elon Musk’s Frustrating Twitter Changes

When Elon Musk bought the company for $44 Billion, it was the nail in the coffin for many of the tweeters who have been just dealing with it because although toxic, Twitter still had attributes that users find worthwhile. The platform was working just fine before the Musk takeover as he promised a priority of free speech for one and all. The decisions that were to follow, like making blue verification checkmarks pay-to-play (also for Meta), journalists were banned for no reason, and most recently, Twitter limits the number of tweets that one can READ daily.

Musk tweet Threads Has Potential, Just Don't Feed the Trolls

The initial change regarding limits to just reading was implemented on July 1:

“Users cannot view tweets without logging in to the platform. Verified accounts can now read 6,000 posts per day, unverified accounts 600 posts and new un-verified accounts 300 posts. After that, users will get a message that says, ‘rate limit exceeded”‘”

Musk has said that limit will “soon” increase to 10,000 for verified, 1,000 for unverified and 500 for new unverified.

Thread’s Daily Active Users Decline

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for Meta to launch Threads, so much so that the app was released a day early. Those who use Instagram regularly were the first to sign up, and based on the current number of followers I have on Threads, it appears about 10% of my followers have signed up.

“Threads saw daily active users decline from 49 million on July 7th to 23.6 million on July 14th, SimilarWeb writes in a new report.” 

Threads Twitter Zuckerberg
Updates from Mark Zuckerberg

Yes, the daily active users have declined. Yes, there are limits that are going to be involved with the early versions of Threads. But that’s how it usually goes. Threads isn’t the most user-friendly platform. Twitter’s existence has been part of the social media ecosystem for over a decade and it will take a longer time for users to decide if Threads is worth switching over to full-time.

Threads has limited features, but users understand that this is a typical part of creating an app of this magnitude. These missing features and glitches that came with the initial launch were noticeable, but the community of the early adopters to this day has been exuding, promoting, and showing the love for a toxic-free experience. So far, the comments have been respectful or have been expressed as individual posts instead of disagreeing with hate and ganging up on one person who has an opposing opinion.

Threads 3 Threads Has Potential, Just Don't Feed the Trolls
@subdoctamusic on Threads

Of course, it is easy to be selective and find the evidence that backs the claim or the point being made. But this sentiment is felt by many on the platform, and so far, there seems to be a community effort to keep it this way.

Twitter’s Negativity and Spam

My experience today on Twitter was exactly what I was used to. Trolls commenting on posts intend to make other tweeters feel attacked and bullied. For example, this initial post had nothing to do with politics. It was about the Women’s World Cup ramping up and innocent questions about predictions on what country may win. No transgender narratives. Nothing political. But here is the tweet and comments that were added to the post.

CNN Sports Threads Has Potential, Just Don't Feed the Trolls
Tweet negative Threads Has Potential, Just Don't Feed the Trolls

Hoping for the Best, But Only Time Will Tell

With Twitter’s restrictions on July 1 and Threads’ launch on July 5th, it is incredibly early to make any legitimate predictions on what the future holds. For now, Threads has proven that the app really is updating and fixing issues in real-time, touting an impressive 0.02% crash fixes. The ease of switching between Instagram and Threads so smoothly is a definite plus. There are features that are still coming, but as long as love and positivity remain a priority on the platform, I’m done with Twitter.

New Thread Updates 7.18 Threads Has Potential, Just Don't Feed the Trolls
These Threads updates were published on July 18th, already adding value to the platform.

This is a developing story.

minimum wage It has been 10 years and the federal minimum wage is still $7.25 per hour. Meanwhile, members of Congress make $174,000 per year.

It has been 10 years and the federal minimum wage is still $7.25 per hour. Meanwhile, members of Congress make $174,000 per year.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s historical data, the federal minimum wage in 2012 was $7.25 per hour. In 2022, the federal minimum wage has not changed. $7.25 per hour isn’t enough to buy a meal at many fast-food restaurants. $7.25 per hour. That’s $58 for an 8-hour day, $290 per week, or $1,300 monthly. At minimum wage, an individual earns about $15,000 a year before taxes. Members of Congress and the Senate make $174,000 per year.

Minimum wage map It has been 10 years and the federal minimum wage is still $7.25 per hour. Meanwhile, members of Congress make $174,000 per year.
U.S. Department of Labor – State Minimum Wage Laws

Childcare and annual earnings leave no money to survive and provide

As a quick comparison, according to the U.S. Department of Labor National Database of Childcare Prices, the first year of childcare for infants in 2022 ranges from an estimated $8,310 for small counties to $17,171 for large counties. If there is a worst-case scenario, a full-time job at $7.25 per hour is not enough income for childcare for an entire year. This does not include rent, electricity, food, phone, and everything else needed to live.

Median cost of childcare It has been 10 years and the federal minimum wage is still $7.25 per hour. Meanwhile, members of Congress make $174,000 per year.

National federal minimum wages

Minimum wages are set at the federal level and state levels, but not all states have their own laws about minimum wage. Arguably, employers on average probably pay higher than minimum wage, but sometimes just barely. Having two or three jobs is necessary to survive. 

Minimum wage charg 1 It has been 10 years and the federal minimum wage is still $7.25 per hour. Meanwhile, members of Congress make $174,000 per year.
U.S. Department of Labor – 2012 vs 2022

Why tipping your server makes a difference

For those in the service industry, tips are the main source of income. In Texas, if you are tipped at least $30 (thirty) per month, your employer is only required to pay $2.13 per hour. Texas Law Help’s website states that “If you earn less than $5.12 per hour in tips in a work week, your employer must make up the difference so that you receive $7.25 per hour in that work week.” Hopefully, most businesses are paying more than $7.25 per hour, but the costs of everything else – rent, food, tuition, childcare – has definitely increased over ten years.

The Economist’s Big Mac Index

One of the most interesting ways to analyze currency exchange rates across the world is using the cost of a Mcdonald’s Big Mac in different countries, known to economists as the Big Mac Index. How much did a Big Mac cost 10 years ago? In the US, a Big Mac in 2012 cost $4.26, and $5.15 in 2022 – an increase of about 21% which equates to less than $1, but an increase nonetheless. 

The publication The Economist explains: “The Big Mac index was invented by The Economist in 1986 as a lighthearted guide to whether currencies are at their “correct” level. It is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity (PPP). The Big Mac index has become a global standard, included in several economic textbooks and the subject of dozens of academic studies.” 

In conclusion

The point is, Big Macs are about $1 more expensive now than they were 10 years ago, but the federal minimum wage of $7.25 has not changed. Childcare costs as much as a full-time job and we need to change that. It is time for both federal and state to raise this so people can actually afford to live.


McDonald’s provided the costs of the Big Mac over time, and The Economist created the index using data from McDonald’s across the world and with different currencies. The methodology can be found here. The data generated by The Economist are available under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Putting all of the data together, the chart takes a look at each state’s minimum wage in 2012 vs. 2022. The hourly wage data was taken directly from the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Divisions. The two horizontal lines show the cost of the Big Mac in 2012 and 2022, over the ten years.  In 2023, there are 18 states (AK, AZ, CA, CO, DC, FL, ME, MN, MO, MT, NV, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OR, SD, and WA) that currently have scheduled annual adjustments for their minimum wages based on varying formulas. Most of these increases occur around January 1st. Individuals should consult the relevant state labor offices for information on the particular formula used to adjust the state minimum wage.

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Happy Bully Politics

Politics Today Is Everything That Our Parents Taught Us Not to Do: Yelling, Lying, Bullying, and Being Disrespectful in Public

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” – The U.S. Constitution: Preamble.

jfk quote Politics Today Is Everything That Our Parents Taught Us Not to Do: Yelling, Lying, Bullying, and Being Disrespectful in Public
ID 70673639
 © Heidi Carlton |

Humanity used to be inspiring. In the 90s, the future looked bright and exciting and the evolution of technology was bringing people together to share experiences with each other face-to-face. Decades later, social media evolved into a platform for mean people filled with hate (the “trolls”) to anonymously bully people outside of their group for no reason other than the fact that they disagree with one another. Most of us are just tired of hearing the same news stories with no solutions and the same clickbait clicks on YouTube. Here is a quick recap of what is frustrating and how I interpret each of these situations.

Social Security and Medicare

medicare Politics Today Is Everything That Our Parents Taught Us Not to Do: Yelling, Lying, Bullying, and Being Disrespectful in Public

Social Security benefits are probably not top of mind for Millennials or Gen-Z, but take a look at your paycheck stub and check out the money that the government takes out of your paycheck. That’s for Social Security and Medicare. Personally, I interpret the statement “get rid of Social Security and Medicare” as “say goodbye to the money I’ve been legally forced (like every US citizen with a Social Security number) to contribute for Social Security and Medicare for when I retire”, which is supposed to ensure that I will have a partial income of some sort. I’m not well versed on how these work down the road, but I know money is taken out of my paycheck and it might not be there later on.

🚨Republican Mike Lee BUSTED in LIE OF THE YEAR

“It will be my objective to phase out Social Security, to pull it up by the roots and get rid of it,” Lee said in the video. “People who advise me politically always tell me that’s dangerous, and I tell them, in that case, it’s not worth my running. That’s why I’m doing this, to get rid of that. Medicare and Medicaid are of the same sort and need to be pulled up.” – -Senator Mike Lee of Utah

Why is legalizing marijuana a problem?

According to the National Library of Medicine, “Marijuana is superior to and has fewer side effects than prescription medications. Participants reported that marijuana was more effective for certain conditions compared to some pharmaceutical prescriptions.” We are moving in the right direction, but there are tons of misconceptions about the benefits of cannabis. Pain, anxiety, sleep, and the other symptoms that can be managed by cannabis can be found in the form of everything from tea to chocolate to pills to traditional forms of marijuana. America has an opportunity to potentially curb additions and deaths due to opioids. In my non-medical professional opinion, marijuana should be the first line of defense before moving to opioids where patients will always be at risk for addiction that can lead to heroin and then to fentanyl. 

weed Politics Today Is Everything That Our Parents Taught Us Not to Do: Yelling, Lying, Bullying, and Being Disrespectful in Public

Read: Louisiana Lawmakers Approve Medical Marijuana Employment Protections For State Workers: “The fact is we have an opioid problem that gets discussed in this building all the time. We are seeing that for a lot of patients, medical cannabis is an exit strategy,” said Kevin Caldwell, MPP’s southeast legislative manager. One of the biggest benefits of all is the billions of dollars of tax revenue for the state. This tax wouldn’t be money that had to be cut from other programs. For example, “As of March 2022, states reported a combined total of $11.2 billion in tax revenue from legal, adult-use cannabis sales.”

The actions taken immediately after a mass shooting – “Thoughts and prayers”

I used to be so optimistic about being able to make changes about this one, but I’m losing hope. It seems like it has only gotten worse and feels impossible to get on the same page with “the other side”, and now my 9-year-old is learning active shooter drills at school. There have been so many of these school shootings that I can’t keep them straight. Public figures responding via tweet with “Thoughts and prayers” is starting to be one of those terms as common as “bless you” after a sneeze. Days and weeks after a gun-related tragedy, voices for gun control grow loud and are pleading for change.  The “right” lacks empathy and is tied to gun lobbyists. The “left” is trying to make a ton of changes to gun legislation all at the same time as an ‘all or nothing’ way to go about it. Round and round we go.

Public safety now includes guns and not answering the front doors

school kids Politics Today Is Everything That Our Parents Taught Us Not to Do: Yelling, Lying, Bullying, and Being Disrespectful in Public

I don’t feel safe anymore. Mostly because I go everywhere by myself, so I made some adjustments to how I would fight off someone. Can we go to church? Yes, but they (the bad guy) target churches.  Can we take our 6-year-old’s to school? Yes, but the bad guys also target schools. Can we go to the mall or the movies? Yes, but the mall and movies have been targets as well. Back in the 50s, the women who were at home alone all day didn’t really think twice about answering the door when there was someone knocking. They were just fine opening the door to the solicitors selling vacuums or Tupperware and even knives. Today, I don’t open the door. Unless I am expecting someone, I speak through the closed door and tell them to come back later.

What are the benefits of creating laws that make others feel this society has no place for them?

Kids react to different situations based on how their parents are reacting to them. If everyone would just mind their own business, more people would feel like they are part of the communities where they live and work.  Kids didn’t think anything about drag shows and probably didn’t even know what “drag” meant until it was brought to the spotlight by people trying to ban it.  So the anti-drag people are creating their own problems so they can come out on top as the one who solves the problem – the very problem that they used as a scare tactic in order to appear as an effective problem solver.

I don’t know why we can’t be the role models that we want our kids to be. Congresspeople should go to their district and livestream their town halls to prove that they are doing something to make their constituents feel heard and taken care of. Baby steps are better than continuing to somehow slide back from all the hard work and progress we made over 50 years. When big things happen, people have big reactions that could shift their outlook on life.  Just because we have a congressperson representing where we reside does not mean they get to do whatever they want.  Congresspeople are supposed to be listening to their constituents, not falling in line behind their Washington D.C. leader just because they were told to. It doesn’t make sense to have a “fall in line” methodology. Maybe “agree to disagree” or just vote “present”, but to get voted in by promising your constituents that you care about them and then abandon everything once they are out of sight and out of mind is something that will not only be a stain on your service to the country but will be written in the history books for the Americans to read about the most hated and least qualified politicians that have ever lived.  But if things keep going the way they are going, there won’t be any books to read about it anyway.

Just an opinion, based on my frustrations.

It’s hard to feel optimistic about the future.  My daughter wasn’t old enough to know the world before COVID-19 and she knows how to use “Karen” properly, as do all of her elementary school friends. We all literally learned the colors of the rainbow in Pre-K and Kindergarten. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. Adults are turning this rainbow thing into such a big deal that kids can’t learn about colors in art class. The art teachers aren’t associating the rainbow colors with anything besides the fact that teaching the colors of the rainbow. It is the crazies that are introducing the concept of “rainbow flags = bad”.

I think we need to go back to the mentality that our parents, caretakers, grandparents, teachers, and everyone else taught us – if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. And treat people the way you want to be treated.

538560203.0 Politics Today Is Everything That Our Parents Taught Us Not to Do: Yelling, Lying, Bullying, and Being Disrespectful in Public

Here are a couple of caveats for this article: I’m a moderate democrat and a responsible gun owner. There are things I agree with on both sides of the aisle.

Simon Says Independent Artists Phillip Good and John Stella Drop New Track "Simon Says" and Lands on Apple Music's Top 100

Independent Artists Phillip Good and John Stella Drop New Track “Simon Says” and Lands on Apple Music’s Top 100

Call it fate, a coincidence or pure luck, the collaboration between Phillip Good and John Stella on their new track “Simon Says” was the magic that made the song something special.

But in reality, the pieces of the puzzle for independent artists are hardly based on good luck. Of the 100,000 songs that are uploaded to streaming services every day by the mainstream heavy hitters like Beyoncé as well as the independent artists taking the leap and uploading their first song, being able to stand out enough to chart #88 on Apple Music’s Top 100 in any of the genres is a feat that should be celebrated.

Phillip Good and John Stella have musical tastes across the spectrum, from country to hip-hop to pop.  Phillip just started into music about two years ago, accelerated by a bunch of viral TikToks that sparked his new passion, leaving the world of sales to go full time into the new career. Relocation across state lines, networking and finding a crew in Fort Myers, FL was only the start to the grind, and he is determined to keep going strong.

phillip photo Independent Artists Phillip Good and John Stella Drop New Track "Simon Says" and Lands on Apple Music's Top 100
Phillip Good

John Stella’s musical talents came much earlier in his life, learning to play the guitar and other instruments that set a strong foundation for the complexity that often comes with the territory of producing music. John was able to transfer the musicianship into learning how to produce on his own, making the process of laying down a new track much more streamlined for everyone.

Stella photo Independent Artists Phillip Good and John Stella Drop New Track "Simon Says" and Lands on Apple Music's Top 100
John Stella

It wasn’t as much about luck as it was about hitting the streets and meeting people in person; that old-school type marketing and promo that was popular back before social media when there were artists handing out mixtapes in hope of gaining momentum to build a fan base that will grab the attention of record labels.

“Let’s just go out and just let’s just try to like manhandle people and just make them download [the song], right there, and I’m gonna give them $1. And worst case scenario, we get 200 people. We don’t hit iTunes, but we get 200 people that are going to be listening to our music now,” Phillip said.

“It’s so easy in this music industry to think that you should be handed everything just because you’re doing this and you’re doing that. But now you got to put yourself out there”, John said. “It takes a long time to be comfortable in your own skin you know, and especially in music. I’m so proud with where I came from but I wouldn’t be anywhere if it wasn’t for my friends and my family.”

As Phillip Good and John Stella forge ahead with more collaborations and individual projects set for release this year, the skills that they are learning from each other, from their peers, from their campaigns, and from their new fans are allowing them to refine their brands and grow them with passion, pride and positivity knowing that they have nowhere to go but up.

Check out the track here! Listen to “Simon Says”

See the interview with Phillip Good and John Stella on YouTube here or listen to the podcast version here

Phillip Good

TikTok: Phillip Good has over 715K followers on TikTok, making his way into music with his daughter featured in many of his most viral videos. for merch, show dates and more

Phillip Good: Facebook

Phillip Good: Instagram

John Stella

John Stella – Facebook

John Stella: Instagram

TikTok: @_johnstella


Check out my blog and other podcast episodes!

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Cyber Crime Death Threats, Harassment, and Stalking Online Can Result in Both Federal and State Prosecution. Here Are the Laws in Your State.

Death Threats, Harassment, and Stalking Online Can Result in Both Federal and State Prosecution. Here Are the Laws in Your State.

It’s reported on the news all the time. Or maybe you have experienced it yourself. Either way, the internet has normalized harassment, death threats, doxxing and other traumatic actions committed by people who find it acceptable to do these things as long as they have a computer screen to hide behind.  But did you know that depending on the severity, there are laws in place that can result in both state and/or federal felony charges?

Across the country, state lawmakers are actively working to further define what constitutes as a chargeable offense and at what level of severity the charges would result in. Even the lawmakers who are on the receiving end of the threats are starting to share screenshots of their messages which has resulted in the attackers getting fired for this type of behavior.

What is “doxxing”?

“Doxxing (also spelled doxing) is the act of revealing someone’s personal information online. Doxxing is a form of online harassment that means publicly exposing someone’s real name, address, job, or other identifying data. Doxxing happens without a victim’s consent, with the aim of humiliating or bullying a victim.”

What actions are eligible for federal prosecution?

Online Harassment field manual Death Threats, Harassment, and Stalking Online Can Result in Both Federal and State Prosecution. Here Are the Laws in Your State.

Online Harassment Resources and Laws by State

Below I have compiled a list states and the laws and resources to provide a high level review of what it means for the victim being harassed online and the potential penalties for the perpetrator. Some links will go to non-government resources and some will take you straight to the state’s statutes, but all are meant to be a quick reference if you are experiencing anything mentioned in this article. You may have a strong case to press charges, so if you think there is a chance something bad could happen, it wouldn’t hurt to see what the police can do early on. You should consult a lawyer for guidance on what can be done, and since I am not a lawyer nor am I giving legal advice it is up to you on how you want to approach.

Click on any of the boxes to see the information for your state.

Stay Safe Out There

If you legitimately feel that your life may be at risk, don’t second guess yourself. Take screenshots, pictures, recordings, messages and anything else that can be added into the police report. The police have a non-emergency phone number or you can go to the police station on your own.  You never know how many others have come forward with the exact same experience, and talking to the police may assist in finding the repeat offenders.

Please Note:

PEN America is deeply grateful to Covington & Burling LLP and C.A. Goldberg, PLLC Victims’ Rights Law Firm for providing pro bono feedback and insights on legal considerations for people facing online abuse. We are also grateful to TrustLaw, Thomson Reuters Foundation for facilitating this pro bono legal support. 


Will Smith Trevor Noah 7 Will Smith Returns with "Emancipation"

Will Smith Returns with “Emancipation”

Will Smith took the step back to the spotlight to talk about the new movie Emancipation, based on a true story of a slave named Peter and his escape from the plantation to find his family but is hunted throughout Louisiana on his way north where he would eventually join the Union Army.  More about the movie on a follow up article, but it is time for him to address the elephant in the room.

Will Smith walked out to Trevor’s desk looking somber and nervous.  After talking about the new movie, Trevor shifted the tone to prepare for a very serious conversation with Will about the night of the Oscars and the fact that it was simultaneously one of the best days and worst days of his life.

“That was a horrific night as you can imagine, you know there’s many nuances and complexities to it but at the end of the day I just, I lost it, you know and I guess what I would say you just never know what somebody’s going through”, he said. “Not that it justifies my behavior at all, I guess the thing that was most painful for me is I took my heart and made it hard for other people and it’s like I understood the idea where they say hurt people hurt people.”

will and jada Will Smith Returns with "Emancipation"
(Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

 Not justifying his actions, but mental health is an complex thing to navigate for everyone.  For child actors growing up in Hollywood where it is the only life they know, it is extremely more complex. He admitted in his memoir (released in 2021, months before the 2022 Oscars) feeling extreme guilt for not protecting his mother when his father was physically abusing her during his childhood. According to a number of experts from this article on PsychCentral who provided their professional opinion of The Slap, witnessing situations as a child like his father’s behavior can most definitely result in PTSD, with one of the symptoms being hypervigilance.  Personally, some behaviors Will exhibited that night at the Oscars could have been a symptom of hypervigilance as defined in the linked article, like taking things personally (assuming Chris Rock was offending Jada) and focusing intently on people’s expressions or tone of voice (seeing Jada’s expression).  It is so easy to judge celebrities because we see them a few times a year at these events, but as previously mentioned, you never know what anyone is going through.

Will talked about a few of the ripple effects that hit him hard and haven’t gone away. The most heartbreaking questions he had to answer were from younger family members. “My little my nephew Dom is nine and he is the sweetest little boy. We came home and it’s like he had stayed up late to see his uncle Will you know and we’re sitting in my kitchen and he’s on my lap and he’s holding the Oscar and he’s just like ‘why did you hit that man Uncle will?'”

When it comes to his peers who had a part in this movie, Will said “The one thing that’s killing me… so ‘Emancipation’ is Antoine’s Masterpiece…an absolute Masterpiece um Bob Richardson the Director of Photography and Ben Foster and just all the way down it’s like these top artists in the world have done some of the best work of their career and the idea that they might be denied because of me is like killing me dead. The thing that is so critical for me is that these people came and they trusted me and they were down for me and you know I just I hope that their work will be honored and their work will not be tainted based on you know a horrific decision on my part.”

Will Smith Trevor Noah nephew story2 Will Smith Returns with "Emancipation"
Photo: The Daily Show with Trevor Noah/Comedy Central

Trevor Noah did a great job with asking him the right questions without dragging Chris or Jada back in to this mess. Will used his go-to uncomfortable laughter to get through the questions, sometimes with real tears, and did not shy away from Trevor’s very straightforward and honest questions. The interview wrapped up with very introspective final thoughts:

“Over this last couple of months I had to forgive myself for being human and it’s like, trust me there’s nobody that hates the fact that I’m human more than me, just you finding that space for myself within myself to be human it’s like I’ve always wanted to be Superman. I’ve always wanted to swoop in and save the Damsel in Distress, and I had to humble down you know and realize that that I’m a flawed human and I still have an opportunity to go out in the world and contribute in a way that fills my heart and hopefully helps other people.”

You can watch the entire interview on YouTube here.

In the vast majority of cases, I strongly believe that the art (the movie ‘Emancipation’) needs to be separated from the artist (Will Smith) whenever these types of things happen(the recent notable exceptions: Kanye West, R. Kelly due to the nature of what they did). Of course they never in a million years thought that they would have this issue to deal with, but we are all human and Will is the one who is reminded 24/7 of the ripple effects of his actions.

“Emancipation” will be in theaters starting December 2, followed by the global release on Apple TV+ on December 9.

100322 Apple Original Films Emancipation Premiere Big Image 01 Will Smith Returns with "Emancipation"

Remember that 5 minute video he released a few months back? I am now convinced that he nor his PR team was behind that. Of the three questions that he answered in his video – “Did Jada make me do it” – that was not something he needed to address at that time and he did not owe that to us. So much therapy needed to take place to really get into the reasons why he did it. Totally speculating here, but what if she knows that one of his protective triggers is to roll her eyes and then he feels obligated to do something about it? The product placement, style of the set, what Will was wearing, how they shot the video – that looks like a “Red Table Talk” produced by Jada. Even her video addressing the slap left Will’s name out of it, and seemed lack of the type of support you should be giving your spouse in the most devastating time in his life. Read my article here where I break down these observations.

Note: The transcript of the Will Smith interview with Trevor Noah was edited to take out the words that were repeated two or more times in a row to make it easier to read.

snl screen Dave Chappelle Hosts SNL With Some of His Most Beloved Characters of All Time

Dave Chappelle Hosts SNL With Some of His Most Beloved Characters of All Time

Dave Chappelle hosted SNL this weekend with musical guest Black Star. The cancel culture police are already on a roll with this one, but as a reminder, it’s a comedy show. But if you are a Chappelle Show fan, this episode is a must watch. 

Dave Chappelle Stand-Up Monologue – SNL

With so much political chaos in the world, there was plenty of material for Dave’s stand-up heavy SNL episodes. He is one of the few hosts that seems to have been granted a strong hold on the creative control for their episode.  He called out that he wasn’t going to be in the particular skit because he was too getting old and played it off as someone else on the cast will be filling in (which ended up being part of the bit throughout the episode).  But in reality, knowing how Chappelle is all about supporting up-and-coming comedians, he likely wanted to give the opportunity to the new cast members to get as much screen time as possible to be the stars of their own skits. Well that and he is getting old and can do whatever he wants.

If you are a Chappelle Show fan, make sure you checkout the stand-up monologue, followed by the parody of the SNL parody of House of the Dragon. And SPOILER ALERT: Prepare for the long waited yet brief return of  Player Hater of the Year 2002 Silky Johnson, Tyrone Biggums, and the infamous portrayal of Rick James.

House of the Dragon – SNL

I liked the episode. There are always offensive jokes. But comedy comes in many forms, so if this isn’t your speed that’s totally ok. But don’t ruin it for everyone just because you don’t like it.

What did you think of the episode?

Roe v Wade Foster Care edited Abuse, Trafficking, Assault and Neglect in Texas Foster Care Will Only Get Worse After Abortion Bans

Abuse, Trafficking, Assault and Neglect in Texas Foster Care Will Only Get Worse After Abortion Bans

Trigger Warning: The subject matter that is referenced in this article may cause distress or discomfort with topics around child trauma, abuse, neglect, assault, and other potentially uncomfortable information.

The Problem

There seem to be a few justifications that the “pro-life without exceptions” lawmakers like to use on a regular basis: Abortion is murder. Pro-choice somehow equates to child abuse. It can be argued that their laws by their own logic make pro-life lawmakers guilty of their own hypocrisy.

For example, when a mother is literally dying but she cannot get a medical abortion due to the “no exceptions for the life of the mother” clause mandated by the government. Then, if the mother does die because she was not given the abortion she needed for her life, the baby also dies.

The pro-life argument does not stand once the child is born, as illustrated by the spending cuts enacted by the states with the bans. This could mean that if the state concludes that the mother is not fit to raise the child, they go to foster care where trafficking is not rare.

trafficing in care Abuse, Trafficking, Assault and Neglect in Texas Foster Care Will Only Get Worse After Abortion Bans
Children and Youth Missing from Texas DFPS Conservatorship & Human Trafficking Data Fiscal Year 2021 Report

Forcing young girls to deliver a baby that their bodies can’t safely handle and then have that child get taken away by Child Protective Services because they don’t have the means to care for the child financially because they aren’t even old enough to have a job makes no sense. All the while suffering mental health trauma that will go untreated because it is unaffordable. Like in Texas, where “Texas officials celebrated end of abortion rights after cutting Medicaid extension”.

I’m about to jump into some data on how foster care and adoption currently operate. Before I get into the data and the details, it is worth mentioning the following:

  • Not all unplanned pregnancies end in giving the baby up for adoption.
  • Not all unplanned pregnancies are a burden and a strong support system -families, pastors, friends, neighbors – can provide a healthy, happy upbringing full of love.
  • About 1 out of 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage which can often require a medical abortion.
  • Adoption services have the best intentions and make every effort to evaluate the home life of the parent(s) to ensure the child has a stable and loving family.
  • Not all foster care situations are the same, and children adopted from foster care can be just as wonderful and well-adjusted as any child.
  • The role of Child Protective Services can be very effective in providing a stable life for children.
  • As with anything published online, one instance or example does not represent the entire population of the subject discussed.
  • Anything that is hyperlinked will take you to where the data was sourced.
  • The children are not illegal immigrants. White, Black, and Hispanic children make up the majority of the foster care population.
  • There are some sarcasm and opinion-based comments.
  • For anything you read with biased or one-sided opinions, it is good to fact-check from reputable sources if the source itself if biased.

The goal of this article is to provide a different point of view to start the conversation. Never attack anyone personally for their beliefs online or in person. Opposing views are welcome, just be polite.

Foster Care in the United States

trends in foster care Abuse, Trafficking, Assault and Neglect in Texas Foster Care Will Only Get Worse After Abortion Bans

According to the data from the US Department of Health and Human Services, over 632,000 children in the United States were served (entered, existed, or temporarily placed) in the foster care system in 2020. Nationwide, 20,000 kids age out of foster care each year, many without much of anyone or anything to call their own. In any given year, 155,000 kids are waiting to be adopted with a waiting period of 9 to 18 months from the day of the official start of the paperwork. Many of these kids have special needs where they need care around the clock, special medical equipment, ongoing medical treatments, surgeries, and everything else. Some kids don’t arrive in the foster care system until they are older and often have behavioral issues or arrive with siblings that generally make them less likely to be adopted compared to younger children.

Click to read: Texas Adoption Resource Exchange (or click image below)

banner7 Abuse, Trafficking, Assault and Neglect in Texas Foster Care Will Only Get Worse After Abortion Bans

If someone is looking for a child to adopt, there are official websites that have the profiles of the children needing permanent homes. Potential parents can use the online database where you can handpick the children based on a profile of characteristics and pictures. It is heartbreaking to think that a child would be adopted only if they have the exact criteria parents are looking for. Unless I’m misinterpreting the system, if you don’t like the child you can return him or her to foster care. This is a scenario where it just is what it is, and it is the norm. Personally, I have no clue how to suggest otherwise so I don’t want to attack the system.

See: Search for Children Waiting for Adoption

Adoption Search Tool Texas 1 Abuse, Trafficking, Assault and Neglect in Texas Foster Care Will Only Get Worse After Abortion Bans

Meanwhile, the state of Texas is abusing the abused.

US District Judge Janis Jack has been presiding on the class action representing the children of Texas and the infringement on their 14th amendment rights via a lawsuit against the Abbott administration for the last 11 years.

Watch: 237 children sleeping in CPS offices as Texas foster care ‘capacity crisis’ worsens

list of timeline Abuse, Trafficking, Assault and Neglect in Texas Foster Care Will Only Get Worse After Abortion Bans

The Department of Family and Protective Services is overwhelmed in the lone star state so foster homes are at capacity and cannot accept placements of children legally or safely. The children stay with the CPS workers in motels, offices, churches, and other unlicensed facilities which has led to increased cases of sexual abuse, children going missing and children going hungry in the care of the state. During and after Covid-19, many foster care facilities closed either due to cost or failed inspection that proved the existing foster care facilities to be unsafe and illegal.

numbers of sleeping home Abuse, Trafficking, Assault and Neglect in Texas Foster Care Will Only Get Worse After Abortion Bans

The situation is not being taken seriously by the Abbott administration.

For example, during COVID-19 1,000 beds were taken away when these facilities closed down with little warning and no backup plan. One of the solutions that Texas provided for foster care overcrowding was to spend about $ 2.1 million (in 2021) to move children out of state. The Abbott administration’s lack of competence and failed promises were all part of the Texas supreme court’s decision to hold them in contempt of court with a 355-page ruling: “M.D.; bnf STUKENBERG, et al, Plaintiffs, VS. GREG ABBOT, et al, Defendants” civil suit CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:11-CV-00084. In this 2020 ruling discussed above, the following steps have been addressed: “The Court finds Defendants to be in contempt of Remedial Orders 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 22, 25, 26, 27, 29, 31, 37, and B5”

To show how little progress was made, this is a statement from the same judge from 2015:

“In her scathing, 255-page ruling, Judge Jack reprimanded the state for running a system where children “almost uniformly leave state custody more damaged than when they entered.”

Watch: A breakdown of Texas’ broken foster care system and the fines it’s facing

ISSUES ADN JUDGES Abuse, Trafficking, Assault and Neglect in Texas Foster Care Will Only Get Worse After Abortion Bans
FOX 26 News Edge anchor Kaitlin Monte breaks down a legal situation that has been ongoing for about a decade, accusing Texas of running an unsafe foster care system

The proof is there, the stories are real, but still, the children remain invisible

Judge Jack made the following statements, which can be found on (Page 270) of this contempt order against the Abbott administration.

  • Subsequent sexual aggression manifesting as child-on-child sexual or physical abuse is also “typical, common, and widespread throughout Texas foster care.”
  • “They were tazed by security officers hired by DFPS to stay at these unlicensed placement areas.”
  • “One is a 14-year-old who entered foster care in 2010 and has had 42 placements”

In a separate incident, a woman who sexually abused children at one facility was fired but was hired at another foster care facility for victims of sex trafficking, and proceeded to continue soliciting and selling nudes of girls in her care. Watch/Click: Bastrop foster care facility under investigation for reportedly trafficking children I FOX 7 Austin

In August 2022, Fox News reported on another story that a Texas CPS employee recently told a 14-year-old, confirmed by a video of that conversation, that if she wants to have the basic needs – food, water, shelter – that she has to become a prostitute. Watch/Click: CPS worker fired after allegedly telling 14-year-old girl to become a prostitute

As reported earlier this year, Gov. Greg Abbott announced a priority to have CPS remove children from their homes and added the classification of gender-transitioning procedures as child abuse.

Gov. Abbott piles on another group to weigh down the system that is actually in happy, healthy homes. Instead of focusing on the dangerous and traumatic situations, Governor Abbott’s priority is now taking focus away from those who need it by hunting down the trans kids in their happy homes.

“Investigating Gender-Transitioning Procedures As Child Abuse because the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is responsible for protecting children from abuse, I hereby direct your agency to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation of any reported instances of these abusive procedures in the State of Texas,” reads the letter. “To protect Texas children from abuse, DFPS and all other state agencies must follow the law as explained in OAG Opinion No. KP-0401.”

– A press release from the office of Gov. Abbott

Abbott Administration is not able to use federal funds because they didn’t meet the requirements of the Family First Prevention Services Act.

It has been reported that Texas was projected to lose $17.4 million in federal support in 2022 and $25.6 million in 2023 because the state is not compliant with the Family First Prevention Services Act. No, there is nothing that can be blamed on the Biden administration. It was actually enacted in 2018 by President Trump with bi-partisan support to “strengthen America’s child welfare system by signing a historic Executive Order (EO) aimed at improving outcomes for children and families. This EO focuses on three key areas of action: improving partnerships, improving resources, and improving oversight”. Although this EO is currently in place, “DFPS is expecting a loss of $17.4 million in federal support in 2022 and $25.6 million in 2023 because Texas is not compliant with Family First, court documents showed.”

This is also worth noting:

“In 2017, the 85th Texas Legislature passed sweeping reforms in response to the crisis of the state’s struggling child welfare system. The landmark reform known as community-based care decentralized the state’s foster care system by giving local private and nonprofit charities primary responsibility for caring for and managing the cases of children in foster care in their region. One year later, the Trump administration enacted the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), which seeks to shift the focus of child welfare toward preventing the removal of children into foster care. Although the effective date for the act was October 1, 2019, Texas elected to delay implementation until October 1, 2021.”

Texas Public Policy Foundation

From Bad to Worse to Invisible and Forgotten

Read: Gov. Greg Abbott spends an additional $30 million on Operation Lone Star to aid local governments

The foster care system in Texas is beyond broken. But requests for increased funding in the state are being granted to Operation Lone Star. Read the report on the Texas Family First Prevention Services Act plan that has quite a few sad realities here.

My message to lawmakers: Be prepared to explain to taxpayers, religious institutions, Medicaid programs, CHIP, food stamps, children taken away from their mothers from lack of funds to keep a roof over their heads at a $7.25/hour minimum wage, and how you treat the so-called “handouts” that you literally are the cause of and then determine how much you intend to value the life of the child.

Now that abortions are nearly totally illegal, the system is preparing for an influx of children to enter the foster care system from mothers who are too young to work, with no money to provide shelter, or some with no options at all. The mothers who had to endure the life “begins at conception” law will result in the state taking the child away to live a life of assault and trauma at the hands of those lawmakers.

5 weeks Abuse, Trafficking, Assault and Neglect in Texas Foster Care Will Only Get Worse After Abortion Bans

A message to the brothers, boyfriends, uncles, friends, and fathers:

Every single person who is on the side of this version of “pro-life” women of reproductive rights should think about what they would do if any unspeakable things resulting in a pregnancy happened to their 12-year-old daughter. Or granddaughter or sister or friend or wife or grandmother. Not even the most wonderful, loving, knight in shining armor dad can save his princess from the government’s control of her body. All he can do is helplessly watch her suffer, because hundreds of old men in the government control her body, and he can’t do anything about it.

AdobeStock 391909770 1 Abuse, Trafficking, Assault and Neglect in Texas Foster Care Will Only Get Worse After Abortion Bans

For the sources from this article, click on the hyperlinks above. To read more about the topic that is based on the laws:

Click here to read the entire FAMILY CODE CHAPTER 264. CHILD WELFARE SERVICES

For a long list of reports, court documents, contempt of court orders against Texas, and legislation that detail the actions taken on child welfare in Texas, click to visit the direct link to the list:

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