‘Scandal’ Takes On Institutionalized Racism And Police Brutality In Ferguson-Inspired Episode

March 6, 2015 by  
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Thursday night’s “Scandal” focused on the shooting of an unarmed black teen named Brandon Parker in Washington, D.C., less than two miles from the White House. In the episode, called “The Lawn Chair,” tensions run high as the boy’s father positions himself in front of his son’s body with a shot gun, refusing to move from the crime scene. Mere days after being held hostage and auctioned on the black market, Olivia Pope is brought on the help the police force manage the incident. She works to avoid a riot, but soon finds herself disillusioned by the people she is defending.

It doesn’t take long for Liv to be swayed by the injustice, and she joins forces with the activist leading the crowd surrounding Brandon and his father Clarence. “All lives matter,” she chants.

She then does some classic Olivia Pope maneuvering to convince Attorney General David Rosen to grant a subpoena for footage of the altercation. “That man standing over his son’s body thinks he’s going to end up in one or two places: jail or a drawer in the morgue … I lived in complete fear” she says to Rosen, referencing her too-recent kidnapping. “Imagine living like that every single day of your life.”

When they finally get the tape, the video shows Brandon reaching for something in his jacket. The police claim he had a knife, and, sure enough, a knife is found on his body. But his father is outraged. “He doesn’t carry a knife,” he says, over and over.

Through her usual super-human powers, Liv is able to prove the knife did not belong to Brandon — it was evidence from an earlier arrest; Brandon was just reaching for a receipt — and puts the offending office behind bars. “What the hell is it with you people? Yeah, you people,” the (unabashedly racist) policeman who shot Brandon yells at Olivia when she confronts him at the station. “You people have no idea what loyalty is, what respect is. You’re here because you were supposed to help us and you spend every second of it trying to tear me down and push your own damn agenda.” It’s a sobering moment where the camera finds the black officers in the room, focusing on each of their faces as the cop spews his racist agenda.

During the final moments of the episode, Nina Simone plays in the background and Liv tells Clarence the officer is behind bars. Justice is served. She then brings him to the White House and the episode closes with Clarence crying in President Fitz’s arms. A final shot shows Brandon being zipped into a body bag.

“In the end, we went with showing what fulfilling the dream SHOULD mean,” Shonda Rhimes tweeted at the end of the episode. “The idea of possibility. And the despair we feel now.” Here’s what Kerry Washington and the rest of Twitter had to say:

We had a great deal of debate about this ending. Whether to be hopeful or not. It was really hard. #scandal

— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) March 6, 2015

In the end, we went with showing what fulfilling the dream SHOULD mean. The idea of possibility. And the despair we feel now. #scandal

— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) March 6, 2015

Weeping. As if I hadn’t read it and didn’t act in it. Just weeping. #scandal

— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) March 6, 2015

Everybody was VERY quiet after the table read for THIS episode. #scandal

— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) March 6, 2015

These stories make me sick. And watching them fictionalized makes me sick too apparently. #Scandal

— Alissa (Uh-LEASE-Ah) (@AlissaHenryTV) March 6, 2015

For me, #Scandal is fun campy entertainment. A storyline around a black boy being killed by the police….that’s too real for me

— Franchesca Ramsey (@chescaleigh) March 6, 2015

It’s almost like having diverse voices in TV leads to interesting commentaries on the world around us or something. #Scandal

— Ryan McGee (@TVMcGee) March 6, 2015

I wonder if non-Black viewers actually feel our pain after seeing this episode. Shonda slapped you in the face with OUR reality.#scandal

— Courtney (@CourtneyCymone) March 6, 2015

Tonight’s episode of @ScandalABC will stay with me. Deeply powerful, moving, soul-stirring work. #ScandaI

— Prasanna Ranganathan (@PRanganathan) March 6, 2015

Justice looks like the complete dismantling of the prison industrial complex. #ScandaI

— Dante Barry (@dantebarry) March 6, 2015

Mixed feelings because this is how we wished things would’ve been resolved in real life #ScandaI #ScandaIABC

— Patchuli Oil & Weed (@AshleyShyMiller) March 6, 2015

What did I say? A nice and tidy ending that shows that justice will be served in America. Don’t have time. #ScandaI

— Africana WomaNINJA (@MelanieCoMcCoy) March 6, 2015

It’s sad we can only get justice when we write it into fiction. #ScandaI

— Nessa. (@curlyheadRED) March 6, 2015

If only "justice" moved as swiftly as on #Scandal.

— PrestonMitchum (@PrestonMitchum) March 6, 2015

Scandal has changed the landscape of network TV by changing who gets to speak with authority. Three years in, it remains revolutionary.

— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) March 6, 2015

Between Nina Simone and actually showing the body being zipped into a body bag, Shonda Rhimes wants her viewers to FEEL OUR PAIN! Thank you

— bevysmith (@bevysmith) March 6, 2015

they should just broadcast an hour of silence after that #scandal episode. #AmericanCrime might be good but who can emotionally deal now?:/

— Kevin Allred (@KevinAllred) March 6, 2015

Also, an Emmy is coming for that episode, y’all know that right. #ScandaI

— Trillary Crosley (@HillaryCrosley) March 6, 2015

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Ross Hyzer: Help Us Blow Up the Sun

March 6, 2015 by  
Filed under Humor

Frankly, the sun has had it too good for too long — thanks in large part to corrupt scientists and beachgoers and plants, all pushing their radical pro-sun agenda. But that doesn’t change the facts at hand.

Read more: Super PACs, Koch Brothers, Climate Change, Satire, Political Satire, Humor and Satire, Humor, Political Humor, Comedy News

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Top Brits Call On The U.K. To Decriminalize Drugs

March 5, 2015 by  
Filed under Videos

British businessman Richard Branson and U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg have advocated for drug policy reform in the past. But experts say their op-ed calling on the U.K. to end the war on drugs, published Tuesday in The Guardian, is especially noteworthy as British elections near.

“Doing this in advance of the election is symbolically important,” Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, told The Huffington Post. “It’s rare for such a significant party to take such a bold stance on drug policy.”

Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, and Clegg, a Liberal Democrat who has been deputy prime minister since 2010, argue in their article that the country’s prohibitionist approach to drug use has failed, and its residents would be better served by policies that emphasize treatment instead of punishment.

“As an investment, the war on drugs has failed to deliver any returns,” they write, pointing to a growing criminal market, rising incarceration rates of “people whose only crime is the possession of a substance to which they are addicted,” and no meaningful reduction in drug use across Britain’s population. “If it were a business, it would have been shut down a long time ago. This is not what success looks like.”

Polls suggest that Clegg’s party stands little chance of victory in Britain’s general election on May 7. But Nadelmann noted that Clegg’s longtime support of drug policy reform has already helped to change the discourse. And now that Clegg is taking a firmer stance, it will likely become a key issue for the Liberal Democrats.

“His commitment to the issue and his outspokenness has helped legitimize the drug policy reform perspective in British politics,” Nadelmann said. Over the past several years, he said, even conservative publications like the Daily Mail have begun to shift the tone of their drug coverage. “The tabloids have evolved from being knee-jerk drug war proponents to having significantly more moderated views,” he said.

bransonclegg
Nick Clegg appears with Richard Branson during a talk on drug policy.

The United States officially declared “war on drugs” in 1971 under President Richard Nixon. According to Nadelmann, the U.K. began adopting its harshest policies a decade later, during the Margaret Thatcher administration. Now, as Clegg and Branson write, “the west is undergoing a tectonic shift; and the U.K. seems oblivious to it.”

They cite legalization of recreational marijuana in four U.S. states, along with decriminalization and harm-reduction efforts in Portugal, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Denmark, as proof that their country lags behind. Since Portugal introduced one of the world’s most sweeping decriminalization efforts in 2001, teenage drug use, drug-induced deaths and HIV/AIDS rates have declined, while the number of individuals receiving treatment for addiction has increased.

“The Portuguese system works, and on an issue as important as this, where lives are at stake, governments cannot afford to ignore the evidence,” Branson and Clegg write. “We should set up pilots to test and develop a British version of the Portuguese model.”

A recent Guardian poll found that 84 percent of Britons think the war on drugs can’t be won and that 88 percent think marijuana should be either legalized or decriminalized. Sixty-one percent of respondents, however, answered “no” when asked if “certain drugs that are currently illegal” should be legalized or decriminalized. Meanwhile, a new political group that calls itself the Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol party plans to use the U.K.’s general election to advocate for marijuana reform.

Clegg and Branson didn’t go so far as to say Britain should legalize drugs as well as decriminalize them. Nadelmann said this tactic may work in their favor.

“When someone advocates for full-scale legalization, it tends to distract attention from more important and realistic incremental reforms,” Nadelmann explained. For him, meaningful reform includes ending marijuana prohibition, reducing incarceration rates and emphasizing treatment over criminalization. The position of Branson and Clegg “reflects the more nuanced and sophisticated drug policy dialogue that has evolved,” he said.

Read Branson and Clegg’s entire Guardian op-ed here.
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Renee Fisher: The Dress

March 4, 2015 by  
Filed under Humor

Rumors began circulating that the same person who posted the original photo of The Dress was about to unleash a photo of a Pair of Shoes on Tumblr. Therapists’ phones began ringing off the hook.

Read more: The Dress That Changes Color, Humor, Satire, Pop Culture, The Dress, Tumblr Dress, Blue-Black-Dress, White-Gold-Dress-Blue-Black-Dress, White Gold Dress, Fifty News

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Will The Marathon Trial Re-Traumatize Boston?

March 4, 2015 by  
Filed under Videos

The memory of John Adams will hover over the courtroom of U.S. District Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. Wednesday in Boston, where the trial of accused Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will finally commence.

In 1770, 27 years before succeeding George Washington to become second president of the United States, young John Adams stepped forward as an attorney to represent reviled British soldiers, who were charged with killing and wounding colonists during the infamous Boston Massacre, whose anniversary is this week. Himself a harsh critic of British occupation, Adams represented the soldiers on principle, to assure a fair trial for highly despised defendants.

It’s hard to imagine that even the fury of colonial Bostonians, who would shortly launch the American Revolution, exceeded the vehemence felt today toward the perpetrators of the Marathon bombing in April 2013.

At the finish line in Copley Square, across from the Boston Public Library in the heart of downtown, two pressure cookers filled with ball bearings and other projectiles exploded in rapid succession.

Three spectators, including an eight-year-old boy, were killed. The boy’s younger sister — who lost her left leg — was among 264 survivors who were injured and treated at 27 local hospitals. 14 victims required amputation.

Tsarnaev, now 21, is accused of planting one of the bombs and of participating in the murder of an MIT police officer three nights after the bombings, when the defendant and his brother Tamerlan (now dead) were allegedly planning to flee Boston. In the ensuing police chase, the suspects detonated Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) shattering the late-night silence of the Boston suburb of Watertown — blasts I heard from my home several blocks away.

With armed and dangerous criminals at-large and rampaging through the streets, the entire city of Boston and many surrounding towns were locked down the following day while police searched for the assailants. That night, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found wounded and hiding in a boat in a backyard in Watertown, where he was taken into custody.

These disturbing events are seared deeply into the collective memory of Bostonians. The city now prepares for the trial, which could last until June when we all pray the mountains of snow from this punishing, endless winter will have finally melted into the glory of a New England summer.

As the courtroom drama begins this week, important questions of justice and of healing hang in the balance. For an upcoming episode of the Humankind public radio program, I ventured to Harvard Law School to discuss them with Prof. Nancy Gertner, a civil rights lawyer, who served 17 years as a U.S. district judge in Boston.

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She recalls that agonizing week of shock, first responders and memorial services. “The city rose up to shore each other up at every public event, at every opportunity and the stories of people helping one another are legion. So it was remarkable in that respect and what I hope is that legal system lives up to those standards, this extraordinary admirable result.”

But she has her doubts. In a city where many of us know someone who ran in the 2013 marathon, where nearly everyone has seen the video footage that apparently depicts Dzhokhar Tsarnaev planting a backpack near the Boylston Street finish line, within a few feet of children, can he get a fair trial?

The American system presumes even people accused of the most hideous acts, such as those that played out on the streets in Boston in 2013, to be innocent until proven guilty — because prosecutors are imperfect human beings, because prejudice clouds judgment, because we are not North Korea or Syria.

“The Constitution privileges the defendant’s right to a fair trial,” says Judge Gertner. “And while the community has an important interest, an important role to play, the victims clearly have an important role to play, I think the victims’ interest is in the legitimacy of the process and I think that a process that doesn’t appear legitimate and appears skewed doesn’t help anyone.”

Gertner asks why the trial needs to be in Boston, where nerves are still raw. “The best model here was the Oklahoma City bombing case, which was tried in Denver… which is the only analogous situation. A building was blown up which was the centerpiece of the community and everyone was affected.”

Gertner co-authored a Boston Globe Op-Ed piece in December advocating that Tsarnaev plead guilty in exchange for prosecutors agreeing to recommend a life sentence (rather than the death penalty, which federal prosecutors are seeking). For now, the defense maintains Tsarnaev’s innocence and prosecutors have agreed to no plea deal to date.

As the trial recreates the crime and its repercussions in devastating detail, one concern is the likelihood that Boston will be traumatized all over again and that deep emotional wounds that victims have worked hard to heal will inevitably be torn back open. A plea deal would spare the city a graphic re-enactment of the tragedy, yet victims would be allowed to testify and confront the defendant in the sentencing phase.

So now that a jury has been selected, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev — who has spent nearly two years incarcerated under close watch at the Federal Medical Center in Devens, Massachusetts — will have his days in court in the tradition of John Adams. That’s what sets us apart from terrorists.

Trials are unpredictable events. But perhaps in this one we’ll get closer to answering the one question that defies pop psychology and haunts everyone: Why?
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ESPN’s Robert Flores Pokes Fun At Nick Young Yet Again, Insults His Shooting Percentage

March 3, 2015 by  
Filed under Videos

ESPN anchor Robert Flores fired back once more at Los Angeles Laker Nick “Swaggy P” Young late Monday night, this time taking on the basketball player’s skills.

“If you look at his numbers, there is a 70 percent chance that if he takes a shot at me, he’s going to miss,” Flores quipped on ESPN Radio’s Sedano & Stink show, when asked about his feud with Young. “I’m just looking at the numbers. So, I’m good. It’s all good.” (Young is currently shooting just at 36.6 percent.)

Young and Flores have been firing back and forth at each other the last couple days in what has certainly become the week’s most bizarre media feud. Flores first started the rather random battle on Sunday when he said on “SportsCenter” that Young’s girlfriend, Iggy Azalea, was “trying to kill hip hop.”

“We learned [this week] that, according to the Lakers’ Nick Young, a dolphin recently tried to kill him,” Flores said. “So, Nick, while dolphins are trying to kill you, your girlfriend is trying to kill hip hop. Let’s call it even, okay?”

On Monday, before Flores’ “70 percent” jab, Young fired off a series of tweets in which he told Flores that his “job is to talk about sports not what me and my chick got going on.”

youngtweets
Thanks to For The Win for sharing

Young later deleted the tweets. Flores said Monday night it was “all in good fun,” “just a joke” and dismissed that there is any real beef.

But after the ESPN anchor took yet another shot, it’s safe to say: Your move, Swaggy.
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MiddleSexy: Cranky Is As Cranky Does

March 3, 2015 by  
Filed under Humor

Everywhere we went, I found myself inadvertently gathering data on aging and ill temper. After a week of solid fact finding, including a watershed experience in the lounge of a packed Outback steakhouse, I am now prepared to share my findings, including causes and potential cures.

Read more: Aging, Perimenopause, Menopause, Menopause Symptoms, Emotional Health, Mood, Getting Older, Satire, Women News

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Now You Can Watch ‘House Of Cards’ As A Peppy, Upbeat Sitcom

March 3, 2015 by  
Filed under Humor

If you already finished binge-watching “House of Cards” this weekend and have consumed nearly all the available data on it, here’s one more item to co…

Read more: House of Cards, House of Cards Sitcom, House of Cards Sitcom Theme Song, Political Humor, Media Humor, Funny Videos, Video, Comedy News

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Here Are The Top 10 Billionaires Of 2015

March 2, 2015 by  
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On Monday, Forbes released its annual list of the world’s billionaires for 2015. There were some surprises: Michael Jordan made the list! — but when it comes to the richest people on earth, some things don’t change much.

Here are the top 10 billionaires of 2015, listed with the source of their wealth and estimated net worth according to Forbes:

10. Liliane Bettencourt, L’Oreal, $40.1 billion
liliane bettencourt

9. Jim Walton, Walmart, $40.6 billion
jim walton arvest

8. Christy Walton, Walmart, $41.7 billion
christy walton

7. David Koch, Koch Industries, $42.9 billion
david koch

6. Charles Koch, Koch Industries $42.9 billion
charles koch

5. Larry Ellison, Oracle, $54.3 billion
larry ellison

4. Amancio Ortega, Zara, $64.5 billion
amancio ortega

3. Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway, $72.7 billion
warren buffett

2. Carlos Slim Helu, telecom, $77.1 billion
carlos slim

1. Bill Gates, Microsoft, $79.2 billion

bill gates

This year’s list is pretty similar to 2014′s — Gates and Slim Helu were ranked numbers one and two last year, as well — but there was a bit of shuffling, including Loreal heiress Lillian Bettencourt rising one spot to reach the rarified air of the top 10.

In fact, it was a good year for women overall, Forbes reports. Though men make up an overwhelming majority of the full list, this year women accounted for 197 out of the 1,826 billionaires — up from 172 the year before.

For the full list of 2015 billionaires, head over to Forbes.
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John Oliver Explains How America’s Infrastructure Is Like A Lego Set

March 2, 2015 by  
Filed under Humor

If you weren’t aware that U.S. roads, bridges and dams are in serious state of disrepair, allow John Oliver to put it plainly: “We aren’t just flirtin…

Read more: Video, John Oliver, John Oliver Infrastructure, Last Week Tonight, John Oliver Dams, John Oliver Roads, John Oliver Legos, Political Humor, Comedy News

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