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Archive for the ‘Personal Empowerment’ Category

Puerto Rico’s Uprisings Have Empowered a New Leadership Among the Oppressed – Truthout

Posted: February 24, 2020 at 1:42 am

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The U.S. federal governments disastrous response to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria illustrates a longstanding history of an exploitative domestic policy on the island. Recent earthquakes have not only rocked Puerto Ricos infrastructure but have emphasized the United Statess negligence of its own citizens. Journalist and Columbia University professor, Ed Morales, describes Puerto Rico as the symbol of marginalized communities all over the U.S. and the world. He joins activist and scholar Rosa Clemente to discuss the personal and political implications of the islands ongoing debt crisis, recovery efforts, and an intersectional movement that challenges the political establishment.

Laura Flanders: Rosa, I got to start with you because the last time I was looking at you, you were just back from the Island, you were saying, Were looking at a Puerto Rico for finance and not for people. What does it look like now?

Rosa Clemente: I still believe that the ultimate goal will be to have Puerto Rico, but no Puerto Ricans in it. And the more these two years have passed, with the work of Naomi Klein and Ed and Yarimar Bonilla really kind of laying out what we thought was potentially going to happen, but when you begin to read it and how theyve all contextualized it, its very real. And I think we have to understand, more, that there are a group of particularly young, white, rich men that want to try out all this cryptocurrency and Bitcoin and see Puerto Rico as the staging ground for that.

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Talk a bit about what this fantasy has been to you because this is personal, this is family fantasy.

Ed Morales: Theres a lot of people who knew that was a fantasy all along. But when you get to the average Puerto Rican, like my family and some people that I know, they really felt like the status was working for them on a certain level. They were able to have a middle-class home and a car and go shopping at malls like you have in the United States. But the economy of Puerto Rico was never self-sustaining, and the government has been in debt, going all the way back to the 70s, to ameliorate that.

Was it never self-sustaining? Never couldve been self-sustaining, or was it created [to be] not self-sustaining, which is to say dependent?

Morales: Yes, it was never self-sustaining because, well first of all, Puerto Rico was a colony of Spain for 400 years before the United States, and they were collaborators with the Spanish colonialism as well, and they were the ones who had most of the property in the sugar industry. But when the U.S. came in, they adjusted the tax laws to favor outside interest, and the U.S. sugar companies were able to take over most of the best land for sugar, and the U.S. economy started to dominate the Puerto Rican economy, and it was never really allowed to grow on its own. The Jones Act [made] it impossible for trade to happen. The U.S. set up Puerto Rico as a free-trade zone in the early 20th century, as a prelude to NAFTA in a way, by just there were no duties charged to the U.S. for imports from Puerto Rico, and then the U.S. dumped all of its consumer stuff, that it wasnt selling in the U.S., onto Puerto Rico.

Talk about the is it called the Downes Bidwell case, that determined the status, and contextualize that a little bit for us?

Morales: What happened in the 19th century, with a lot of territories that the U.S. acquired, which were put on the road to statehood, like a lot of the places in the middle of the country and in the West those were thought of as incorporated territories, which meant that they were on the paths [to] statehood. But at the end of the 19th century, when the U.S. decided to start this colonial empire and expand beyond its borders to maybe create a security zone in the Caribbean and to the South. Fighting the war with Spain, they acquired these territories filled with people who they mistrusted, or were just outright racist towards, because they were not white, they were mixed. Theres a lot of prejudice against mixed people as well. They would say things like, Mixed people have the worst aspects of both white and Black, so they did not consider Puerto Rico, or the Philippines, as candidates for statehood.

And they created this new category called unincorporated territory. And Downes v. Bidwell, which was decided on by two of the same Supreme Court judges that decided on Plessy v. Ferguson, which established separate but equal, they said that Puerto Rico was belonging to, but not a part of, the U.S. And so, what that allowed them to do was treat Puerto Rico in ways that was [an] advantage to the United States. For instance, they gave Puerto Rico the title of state so that it couldnt declare bankruptcy. They did it that way, but when it was to their advantage to consider Puerto Rico a foreign area, then they consider it as foreign and thats constantly still being done.

What has this scenario meant for you, your family, your life?

Clemente: So, I would say when the hurricane hit, my parents called and was like, Youre going, right? And I said, Yeah, I got to raise some money, but Im going. When I visited my titi in the hospital in Bayamn, at first, they werent letting anybody go in, they were very afraid of infections. And when they let me go in, I had to put on a hazmat kind of suit, so not to get other people sick. And she was in so much pain because she lost everything in the house and had broken her leg. She had an infection, and the nurse said, At this time, were only doing surgeries to save peoples lives right now. So, the part that my aunt was in was where, eventually, people would have to have amputation because they didnt even have medicine to stop the infection. So, its real, its visceral.

The older Ive gotten, I understand exactly what Puerto Rico is and the colonial status. So for me, when I got there in July and saw the unity of various, different Puerto Ricans you might believe in statehood, independence, colonial, you mightve been gone from the island, you might be coming back to the island from here, the United States it was like that moment I always prayed for. I was like, Oh, this is it. It reminded me of the struggle around Vieques. At one point, everybody mightve had a different political solution, but we knew, immediately, that Vieques has to we have to stop it from being a bombing range.

The U.S. base that the Navy was using for weapons testing.

Clemente: Right, and on May 1, 2003, that victory happened, and the U.S. Navy left. Now, to this day, theyve never cleaned it up. And at the moment, Vieques doesnt have a hospital, so anybody that gets sick in Vieques have to go to Fajardo.

But when I was at those protests to see the amount of young people, to see LGBTQ, trans Puerto Ricans, to see anarchist-leaning young people, to see feminists. I mean, even walking through old San Juan, they had changed all the names of the streets, put tags over them, like this is not Calle de la Fortaleza, now this is Calle Libertad.

Morales: It was like a new kind of nationalism for me. It was like an intersectional nationalism because a lot of the failings of nationalism, in the past, [have] been that its been too patriarchal, male-dominated. And so, this inclusivity of women who were at the forefront and LGBTQ people, I thought, was really encouraging and a model for what could happen in the U.S., or what is sort of happening in the U.S., a little bit.

Is there a chance that this whole Ricky Resign movement could stay focused on the systemic corruption that youre talking about and maybe the direction of development for the island?

Clemente: I think what a lot of people dont know is that before that, five days before, the FBI indicted Julia Keleher, the secretary of education, and her entire staff, for corruption, for stealing. Julia Kelehers the one that gave the go ahead to close over 200 schools in Puerto Rico. She also has ties to Betsy DeVos. So, its like, you peel one layer and youre like, Okay, right. And then this do we want a governor thats going to still represent the same type of corruption?

Ricky Resign, that movement, powerful enough to oust this governor, although maybe not get to the heart of everything. What happens to it now?

Clemente: Well, what has been happening, I think, also, that the intersection of particularly young, Black Puerto Ricans taking leadership, affirming who they are, I think thats always [an] important step toward liberation. And were seeing that really play out, culturally and politically, on the island, which is exciting. And now, they have been having peoples assemblies. Theres even people who are rewriting what a Puerto Rican constitution can look like. For me, those are signs of empowerment. Theyre signs that say we can no longer depend on some governmental structure or an elected official.

You write repeatedly, in the book, that there are ways in which Puerto Rico has been a canary in the coal mine for people in the U.S. Would you read a little part that speaks to that because over and over again, in your book, that comes across.

Morales: Even as the real crisis began to snowball in Puerto Rico, it would not become apparent to the United States, largely because there has been traditionally almost no media coverage, outside of The Laura Flanders Show, of the island, outside of the occasional crime wave or hurricane. In fact, awareness of the crisis would become widespread at first, only through the business press, which I had to spend hours going over. We saw a threat to not only American investors, but also the municipal debt market itself. But the mainstream awareness of Puerto Ricans as a people and a nation has created a formidable discourse, one that would emerge suddenly, to disrupt the stark silences and to directly or indirectly remind America that the loss Wall Street and Congress had worked so hard to externalize will not be so easily when the people who must pay for it are not as separate as had been thought. Through the debt crisis, as much as the United States tried to maintain its distance, Puerto Rico would finally become a permanent internal problem.

And that really symbolizes how Puerto Rico is a symbol of marginalized communities all over the U.S. and the world, that the debt crisis in Puerto Rico bears a lot of resemblance to the financial crisis of 2008 where they had all of these bad mortgages that they gave to people who couldnt afford to pay them back. Its a very similar mechanism.

Both of you, thank you for your book, Ed, its beautiful, and continue to do the reporting youre doing, Rosa, and well continue to play it.

Clemente: Thank you, Laura, for continuing to cover Puerto Rico.

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Puerto Rico's Uprisings Have Empowered a New Leadership Among the Oppressed - Truthout

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February 24th, 2020 at 1:42 am

Sectors Realizing the Full Potential of DeFi Protocols In 2020 – Cointelegraph

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As the new decade unreels, a new wave of disruption seems to be coming to the shores of the global financial system. That wave is called decentralized finance protocols.

Decentralized finance, or DeFi, simply refers to financial software that is built on the blockchain to make it easy for anyone to piece together digital assets and financial smart contracts. Think of DeFi as a Lego system for the finance industry.

According to Defi Pulse, an analytics site that tracks the sectors growth, the entirety of the DeFi ecosystem achieved its highest valuation in 2019 when its value peaked beyond $600 million in June. In 2020, the value locked in the entire ecosystem has more than doubled, peaking at a value of $1.2 billion.

Incidents such as the global financial crisis of 2008 highlight serious weaknesses in the traditional global financial system. DeFi is emerging as a palatable solution to provide an alternate future for the traditional financial sector.

In fact, beyond the finance sector, DeFi has the potential to increase innovation as well as improve operational efficiencies in various ways. As DeFi applications widen across different sectors and industries, more and more investments are steadily pouring into the DeFi ecosystem.

Related: DeFi Begins to Move From a Niche Market to Mainstream Finance

The DeFi ecosystem has largely been populated by Ethereum-based protocols as a result of its early beginnings at the tail end of 2018 with the launch of MakerDAO. However, more diversity is underway as the sector matures and increases in liquidity, a report says.

From decentralized credit and lending systems, predictions markets and asset management, DeFis applications have caused quite a stir in the mainstream space for their capacity for enabling multiple efficiencies. As DeFi solutions continue to grow while bringing about financial inclusion and empowerment, here is a look at the sectors where DeFi is flourishing in 2020.

Prediction markets are created for the benefit of researchers, speculators and traders looking to bet on future events. Generally, their main purpose is for market participants to take advantage of the outcomes of events. The predictions can range from exchange averages to quarterly sales reports of a specific company, to elections and even commodity prices.

One of the companies using Ethereums blockchain to bring about decentralization to this sector is Veil, which is built on top of Augur (Ethereums leading prediction market protocol) and enables anyone to create, report and trade in their predictions.

From politics, finance, sports and worldwide events, the Augur predictions market can correctly rule on the occurrence of real-time events while ensuring trustless communication and bet settlements on a decentralized network.

Another company at the forefront of enabling decentralized finance in the predictions market is Gnosis. With Gnosis, anyone can create customized forecasting applications with conditional tokens that make it possible to trade the outcome of an event.

If blockchain was the internet, then digital wallets would serve as the equivalent for browsers. Simply put, digital wallets act as the gateways to blockchain, and therefore all interactions with the blockchain are made on a digital wallet. However, finding a balance between simplicity and security while developing digital wallets is a challenge.

Also, managing digital wallets requires accurate knowledge of private and public keys, as mismanagement of these keys can lead to irreversible losses of the wallets contents. Furthermore, the steep learning curve not to mention technical talk about hot and cold wallets mostly goes over most peoples heads.

These challenges can become barriers to mass adoption. DeFi tools can, however, be used to improve simplicity in terms of asset management on a digital wallet.

MetaMask is a good example of how this can be done. The company has created a platform that enables interactions with distributed networks on a simple browser. This means an Ethereum decentralized application can be run on a browser without the need for using the full Ethereum node. Users can also open a wallet on their browser in just 30 seconds without giving up personal details.

Balance an Ethereum wallet developing company that is working to build a simple, user-friendly interface for an open-source financial system is also pioneering this sector. In terms of security and simplicity, Argent has boosted security and simplicity by giving users full control of the wallet. Users also get to choose easy-to-read wallet addresses unlike the complex cryptographic texts found in most digital wallets.

Another application that gets as close to a decentralized bank as it can is Zerion. The company has created a simple user interface with support for multiple wallets, not to mention a detailed transaction list of users DeFi investments.

Managing a digital wallet can be complicated for most people. Not only can a user lose their crypto funds through exchange hacks or misplacement of a private key, simply sending crypto to a wrong address leads to an irreversible loss of crypto funds.

For that reason, providing DeFi insurance is a sure way of giving users a decentralized experience similar to what traditional companies are offering in the sector. DeFi insurance protocols like Etherisc can be used to collectively build risk transfer solutions.

With Etherisc, whenever certain conditions are met as a result of unprecedented weather calamities, flight delays or attack from hackers, a smart contract self-executes to dish out immediate payouts. Nexus Mutual is also implementing DeFi insurance, but instead of only covering risky events, they cover users against the failure of smart contracts.

By pulling funds from multiple individuals into a smart contract, several people get to share risks, thereby eliminating the need for an intermediate insurance company. As a result, DeFi is also making insurance payouts more cost-effective.

It goes without saying that in a digital world, the most important data is personal data. However, there is less and less privacy at a time when such data is increasingly being referred to as the new money.

Multiple online businesses such as exchange platforms and even social media companies are beginning to ask users for their passport and national identification documents to prove nationality or address for verification. Unbeknownst to most people, personal data stored by most centralized institutions can easily be stolen and sold to third parties, especially if users have weak passwords.

Decentralized identifiers easily solve this problem by enabling users to create and manage their data, therefore, reducing the risks that come with centralized storage of personal data. Selfkey, for instance, offers decentralized identifiers that not only eliminate the need for centralized authorities but also give users self-sovereignty over their data. Instead of disclosing too much personal data while interacting with online platforms, Selfkey users can selectively choose what data to disclose during authentication processes.

Other companies building tools to enable online data privacy include Civic, a wallet provider for safe crypto and personal data management; Telegram Passport, offering unified authorization for online identity verification made by the creators of the Telegram messenger and Telegram Open Network; and uPort, a company focused on creating scalable and secure data exchanges.

Freelance work and the gig economy is seen by most to be the future of work. However, even as the number of freelancers in the modern workplace continues to grow, one of the biggest challenges that freelancers face is getting paid for their work.

From delayed payments to high fee charges from third-party service providers, freelance workers are mostly forced to move from one platform to the other as a result of a poor payment structure. With decentralized finance, smart contracts can be used to guarantee payment for work done.

Also, since crypto payments are instant and global, the gig economy can get rid of third-party service providers who charge exorbitant fees. Gitcoin is one of the companies pioneering DeFi in the freelance and payments sector, providing a marketplace for open-source development. Once an open-source project is complete, funds from the users of the product are directed to developers who contributed to the open-source project.

Ethlance is also making life easy for freelancers with its autonomous platform that connects freelancers to employers with zero service fees and free membership. Freelancers can also use services such as the Ink Protocol to access a decentralized payment system that can be integrated with any marketplace. The platform enables peer-to-peer transactions with a reputation system that can be imported or exported for use on multiple marketplaces.

Given that there are multiple inefficiencies in the current global financial system, DeFi tools offer an easy solution that can eradicate cybercrime, increase liquidity and reduce costs. Furthermore, DeFi protocols are capable of giving everyone access to quality financial services regardless of their status or location.

Related: Decentralized Finance, Explained

According to market analysts, the value of Ethereum locked in DeFi applications is growing even though the price of ETH has fallen since its last peak in June 2019. Crypto Wolf, a Twitter-based analyst, believes that Ethereums price will follow the growing trend of DeFi application in a parabolic curve.

However, despite the rapid growth of DeFi applications, a lot remains to be seen as to whether blockchain itself the building block of DeFi applications will be able to accommodate the transactional demands of the mainstream public.

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Sectors Realizing the Full Potential of DeFi Protocols In 2020 - Cointelegraph

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February 24th, 2020 at 1:42 am

Top 100 Hip-Hop/Rap Albums of the Decade: #50-41 – The Stanford Daily

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J.I.D, Vince Staples and EarthGang round out this week's rankings of #50-41 of the top 100 hip-hop/rap albums of the decade. (Graphic: HELEN HE/The Stanford Daily)

To read more about the background of the list and my thoughts on making it, check out the introduction to my rankings. Without further ado, here are #50-41 of my top 100 hip-hop/rap albums of the 2010s list:

50. J Cole: 2014 Forest Hills Drive (2014)

J Cole went double platinum with no features. By now, everybody has probably seen the memes, but they really do have some merit. 2014 Forest Hills Drive was truly J Coles breakthrough album. After a group of mixtapes and two studio albums, Cole was still looking for the album to really put him into the top echelon of the rap industry. This album delivered on this aim. From the intricate storytelling of Wet Dreamz to the albums biggest hit No Role Modelz to the emotional and uplifting Love Yourz, Cole provided something for a wide audience and delivered his most successful project yet.

Favorite Songs: 03 Adolescence, Wet Dreamz, No Role Modelz, Apparently

49. Elzhi: Lead Poison (2016)

Former Detroit-based Slum Village Member, Elzhi, brought incredible lyricism and writing to his sophomore studio album. Lead Poison is one of the greatest recent displays of lyricism and delivery from a severely underrated artist. One of Elzhis trademark abilities is his vivid storytelling, which is constantly present in Lead Poison, particularly in songs like Friendzone, Weedipedia, and February. All of these songs present soul, emotion and lyrical work that is to be admired. The personal and captivating Detroit emcee coasts smoothly and effortlessly over a variety of soulful, old-school hip-hop-influenced beats.

Favorite Songs: Friendzone, Alienated, Weedipedia, February

48. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib: Piata (2014)

As the first project from what would come to be one of the best current rapper and producer duos in hip-hop, Piata is one of the most innovative and refreshing gangster rap albums in the modern era. The Gary, Indiana-native rapper Freddie Gibbs and the famous producer Madlib show one of the most unique chemistries that led to a glorious collection. Two artists with very different styles and backgrounds, the typically hard and menacing Gangsta Gibbs meshes effortlessly with the soulful and jazzy background of producer Madlib. An unlikely duo comes through with some of their own best work that happens to work excellently as a collective masterpiece.

Favorite Songs: Shame, High, Harolds, Lakers, Robes

47. Big K.R.I.T: 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time (2017)

Justin Scott, better known as Big K.R.I.T, represents the South with a unique pride and passion. Spirituality and introspection are constants in 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time, withScott developing an album that really allows listeners to get a better understanding of his personal life and his struggles. In a time where the Atlanta trap scene seems to dominate much of the hip-hop scene of the South, 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time feels like Big K.R.I.Ts attempt to preserve lyrical, jazzy, soulful rap and give the South deeper representation outside of just Atlanta trap music.

Favorite Songs: Drinking Sessions, Price of Fame, The Light, Bury Me In Gold

46. Capital STEEZ: AmeriKKKan Korruption (2012)

Beast Coast and Pro Era founder, the late Capital STEEZ, certainly made his mark on modern East Coast hip-hop before his unfortunate passing in 2012. The spiritual, witty and philosophical lyricist left us with only one individual full length project. AmeriKKKan Korruption is a mixtape full of political commentary, lyricism, wordplay and a true old-school East Coast hip-hop feel. One of the marvels of this album was that Capital STEEZ was only 18 years old at the release of this project. Who knows what could have been given the potential displayed in one of the best mixtapes of the decade?

Favorite Songs: Dead Prez, 135, Dead on Arrival, Vibe Ratings

45. J Cole: Friday Night Lights (2010)

Before he was a superstar rapper, J Cole was a young kid from Fayetteville, North Carolina and the first signee to Jay Zs Roc Nation label. In retrospect, many would consider mixtape J Cole to be a completely different artist than album J Cole. The hunger and emotion shown by Cole throughout Friday Night Lights is extremely captivating and instantly makes him an intriguing rapper worthy of listening to. J Cole delivers some of his most emotionally-rich and promising work along with some of his finest rapping that results in a top-tier modern rap mixtape.

Favorite Songs: The Autograph, Premeditated Murder, Home For The Holidays, Villematic, Before Im Gone, See World

44. Rapsody: Eve (2019)

Looking at the tracklist of Eve gives the listener a good idea of what the album is about. Every track is named for a Black female icon, with tracks including Serena (Serena Williams), Maya (Maya Angelou) and Sojourner (Sojourner Truth) among many others. In the third studio album for Rapsody, she continues her messages of Black empowerment with a new twist and an innovative approach. Rapsody uses her ever-strong lyricism and artistry to explore a long line of important Black women in an album of triumph and empowerment.

Favorite Songs: Iman, Sojourner, Ibtihaj, Whoopi

43. J.I.D: The Never Story (2017)

J.I.D introduced himself to much of the rap world with his studio debut The Never Story. An Atlanta native who found his rap start through the Spillage Village collective, J.I.D quickly came onto the main scene of rap due to his incredible writing and rapping ability. Already showing the potential to be a rap legend, J.I.Ds flow and lyricism can compete with practically any current artist. The Never Story is a compilation of diverse production, soul, narrative and pure rap. Every song showcases great writing, but J.I.Ds verses on Lauder will go down as some of the best lyrical work of the entire decade. This will likely be a debut that is looked back at as an introduction to one of the greats in rap.

Favorite Songs: Lauder, D/vision, Hereditary, All Bad, NEVER

42. Vince Staples: Big Fish Theory (2017)

When looking at total body of work from the decade, very few rappers did quite as well as Vince Staples. Vince managed to put out a group of seven high-quality projects with no real weak spots in his discography. If I had really wanted to, I could have considered all 7 of these major projects in the top 100, but for the sake of the list, I thought it was unfitting to give one artist seven spots. Nevertheless, Big Fish Theory was some of Vinces boldest and most adventurous work. His second studio album plays host to a highly experimental combination of electronic, rap house and avant-garde dance music. Vince utilizes a variety of sounds in his production selection, but lyrically never strays too far from what he does best. Big Fish Theory is a very well-done chaotic and artistic journey through the paranoia of Vince Staples.

Favorite Songs: SAMO, 745, Party People, BagBak, Big Fish, Yeah Right

41. EarthGang: Mirrorland (2019)

Two of the original members of Spillage Village and now two members of J Coles Dreamville Records, EarthGang (Johnny Venus/Olu and Doctur Dot/WowGr8) released their Dreamville debut with the mystical Mirrorland. The duo paints a reflection of their city of Atlanta, and displays from start to finish their incredible flexibility and versatility. The transitions between trap, funk, jazz rap, neo-soul and R&B are so seamless and well-executed that it is hard to even notice how many different styles exist in tandem with each other. The vocal and rapping abilities of Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot are present throughout, and are always in sync with the array of production that is offered. The comparisons between EarthGang and legendary Atlanta duo Outkast have already begun, and for good reason, given the style and incredible potential made apparent with albums like this.

Favorite Songs: Top Down, Bank, Proud Of U, Fields, Wings

After every segment of my Top 100 rankings are published, I will be creating a Spotify playlist with my favorite songs from the albums that are in each section. Just go to my Spotify Profile (@nicholassligh) where I will be posting the playlists in descending order of rank. Go to this link to view this weeks playlist for albums 50-41! I hope that my list gives credit to deserving artists and helps people that enjoy Hip-Hop/Rap (and even those less familiar with the genre) to find new music that connects with them and that they simply enjoy.

Contact Nick Sligh at nick1019 at

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Top 100 Hip-Hop/Rap Albums of the Decade: #50-41 - The Stanford Daily

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February 24th, 2020 at 1:42 am

That time Mike Bloomberg installed an AC unit in his SUV – POLITICO

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A week later, in an episode described by the New York Post as something akin to a comedy routine, city workers were spotted hoisting a standard room air conditioner into the side window of one of Bloombergs SUVs. It was an experiment, City Hall said at the time: a more green alternative to keeping Bloombergs SUV cool instead of his security detail idling their engines as they awaited the mayors return.

The image of a pampered billionaire scolding school children to suck up the sweltering conditions is just one example of the challenge confronting Bloomberg as he attempts to play Democratic Party savior. His money has made him a force in the presidential primary, but a litany of past statements and policies suggest hes disconnected, at best, from working people.

The disparity was on display at Wednesday nights debate, when Bloomberg scoffed at the suggestion that he could quickly gather up and release his tax returns.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, I make a lot of money and we do business all around the world, and we are preparing it. The number of pages will probably be thousands of pages, he said. Then, winning some scoffs in the room, Bloomberg added, I cant go to TurboTax.

Bloomberg has a history of dust-ups with blue-collar unions and unapologetic defenses of Wall Street and his own extreme wealth his estimated personal fortune is pegged at more than $60 billion while shrugging off complaints from those less off.

On Wednesday, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden took turns blasting Bloombergs wealth, including over his failure to release his tax returns. (He promised, in response, to do so within weeks.)

Democrats are not going to win if we have a nominee who has a history of hiding his tax returns, of harassing women and of supporting racist policies like red lining and stop and frisk, Warren said. I'll support whoever the Democratic nominee is, but understand this: Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant billionaire for another.

A competing campaign provided other examples of statements that could come back to haunt Bloomberg as he tries to win over moderate voters.

In 2014, Bloomberg called President Barack Obamas effort to raise the minimum wage one of the most misguided things we can do.

In 2012, Bloomberg said legislation to mandate a "living wage" reminded him of communism, remarking, The last time we really had a big managed economy was the USSR.

In remarks before the Economic Club of Chicago in August 2012, Bloomberg seemed to praise Paul Ryan, who was then Mitt Romney's running mate, for pushing to cut entitlements.

Nobody's going to stand up and say to the AARP, We are going to really cut back your benefits. Except maybe Paul Ryan has said that. And, you know, I don't know how that plays, conventional wisdom is it's political suicide, but maybe that is the way to break out.

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And in 2013, Bloomberg brought one economic discussion back to air conditioning. In a New York Magazine story, when asked about income inequality, Bloomberg noted that today 80 percent of the poor in the United States have air conditioning and 70 percent have cars, making them better off than in most countries.

One of the things thats different today is the poor 80 percent [nationally] have air-conditioning. Seventy percent have cars. When we grew up we didnt have air-conditioning. Air-conditioning in the schools, the subways. Are you crazy? Now, by most of the worlds standards, you aint poor, the billionaire said.

The old measure just looked at your income. It didnt look at what services you need. Im not being cavalier about it, but [in] most places in the world, our poor are wealthy. Theres a lot of tragedy around the world.

The Bloomberg campaign pointed to a lengthy list of his accomplishments as mayor to help lower-income people, including keeping poverty rates down, providing housing assistance across the city, raising teachers wages, doubling school funding, boosting graduation rates to a record 66 percent and closing achievement gaps between non-white and white students.

From doubling spending on public schools to pioneering economic empowerment and public health policies that were duplicated world wide Mike has an extraordinary record, said Bloomberg senior adviser Stu Loeser. And as we've already seen, he is deploying the resources to tell people about it.

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That time Mike Bloomberg installed an AC unit in his SUV - POLITICO

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February 24th, 2020 at 1:42 am

All You Need To Know About Eco-Conscious Travel In AfricaAnd The Best Sustainable Safari Experiences To Have In 2020 – Singapore Tatler

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Swap hours in a jeep for more intimate encounters with Africas sensational wildlife using these adventurous modes of exploration

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Ernest Hemingway once said: I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up that I was not happy. An overwhelming feeling of happiness and gratitude is not uncommon when visiting the continentespecially so when you go on a safari. Safari used to be a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, but more and more people are bitten by the safari bug, says Nico Heath, co-founder of luxury travel agency Lightfoot Travel.

For many, seeing lions and leopards in their natural habitats represents the ultimate in transformative travel. Unfortunately, human incursion and climate change are placing environmental pressures on the wildlife and the landscape. Droughts and poaching are having a detrimental effect on animal numbers and habitats are shrinking, Heath says. As an added incentive to return to the savannah, many safari lodges are making environmental protection and community empowerment top priorities, which means that guests of luxury lodges can give back while enjoying first-class holidays.

(Related: 5 Underrated Non-Safari Destinations In Southern And East Africa)

Wilderness Safaris, a sustainable luxury safari operator with camps in Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, helps protect more than two million hectares of prime wilderness across seven biomes, harbouring 39 threatened mammal, bird and reptile species. The company donated US$14.7 million to conservation in 2018, more than three times the value distributed to shareholders. Another US$3.77 million was devoted to community development and welfare providing schools, bore holes and other services to communities in need.

Going on safari is a means of protecting these unique ecosystems, says Dr Neil Midlane, group sustainability manager of Wilderness Safaris. Our company ethos and commitment to restoring the wildlife and the large tracts of land we are privileged to manage means that everyone travelling with us is contributing, making them all conservationists by proxy. Each guest enables us to continue doing what we do.

(Related: Tatler Asia's Travel Editor-At-Large Jeremy Jauncey On Why Rwanda Is A Must-Visit Destination For Animal Lovers)

Apart from conservation, Lightfoot Travel is also a passionate advocate of undertourism, so it consciously picks and promotes destinations that need support, like Zimbabwe. Dr Midlane says that despite the political and economic uncertainty in the country, the safari lodges are safe, comfortable and great value for money. There are many gems in the national parks that provide outstanding, authentic safari experiences, and this year is an ideal time to visit Zimbabwe, before demand drives the prices up.

Its great timing, then, that Wilderness Safaris is planning to upgrade its Ruckomechi Camp in Zimbabwe as well as its Duma Tau Camp in Botswana soon; its also opening Little DumaTauan exclusive, intimate camp featuring four tented suitesin August 2020.

As more people crave safari experiences, there is also an increasing number of alternative ways to enjoy themsomething I discovered on a trip to Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

(Related: This Is The Safari Camp In Botswana Where Prince Harry And Meghan Markle Fell In Love)

Luxury safari lodges are providing spectacular excursions beyond the confines of the traditional game drive jeep. With the help of expert guides, I was able to encounter the vast plains from a whole new perspective: venturing on foot, flying high in the sky and cruising on serene waters. Exploring the terrain this way transformed my safari experiencegiving me a new lens on the flora and fauna of the veld, a change of perspective that is sure to enrich both first-time and veteran safari-goers alike.

What: A walking safari at Linkwasha Camp in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

I had been looking forward to taking a walking safari, but now, just before heading out, I am not so sure. While on our game drive the night before, we had seen a pride of lions on the move and a lone cheetah lounging a mere 100m from the main lodge. At breakfast on the veranda of Linkwasha Camp in Zimbabwes Hwange National Park, I gaze across the plain to the camps deserted watering hole which, hours earlier, had been bustling with elephants, zebra, and antelope.

To head out of camp at dawn and enter the untamed wilderness on foot without the protection of a jeep seems insane. I eat my toast with a trembling hand, and tell my travel companions that I might meet them afterwards, but they cajole me. If it comes to it, they say, our expert guide Peter is an excellent marksman. Its a fact that isnt entirely reassuring.

Nevertheless, we set off from camp in single file, Peter leading us with a loaded rifle in his hands. A professional guide for 36 years, he knows the plants, the birds, the animals and the land better than anyone, and it isnt longjust a dozen metres from camp, in factbefore he spots something of interest. A weathered and dismantled kudu skeleton lies scattered on the ground. Kudu resting in pieces, he jokes.

Around it are the enormous, wrinkled tracks of elephantsat least 30cm wide and twice as long, headed in a straight line for the watering hole. They had crossed right through our camp last night, and from our seats around the fire pit we had watched wide-eyed as their dark, towering forms lumbered in the shadows metres away, and stopped for a sip at the camps swimming pool. Peter points to the tracks of an eland and a zebra, and gives us a detailed geological history of the landscape before we silently move on.

On foot, one can delight in the details of the veld. I crouch down to place my hand inside the lilypad of an elephants footprint. I touch the raw bark of a teak tree that has been scarred by elephant tusks. I peer into an elegant pile of polka-dot feathers, which have fallen where a bird once flew. It feels liberating to walk and stretch and generate my own momentum after so many hours in the jostling jeep.

Its peaceful. Theres no sound of a generator or an engine. I feel my nerves relax into the rhythm, tension replaced by the pleasant tingle of bravery for being here on the ground. No one speaks as we scan the grass and trees to the horizon. Only the crunch of our boots and the sharp trill of birdsong accent the safaris silence.

(Related: Save Wild Tigers Founder Simon Clinton Says Its Global Conservation Campaigns Represent The Voice of The Iconic Species)

What: Boat cruise at Ruckomechi Camp in Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe, and a ride aboard a traditional makoro canoe at Jao Camp in Okavango Delta, Botswana

A raft of hippos stares at usears pivoting, nostrils flaring, their dark marble eyes locked on our fishing boat floating in the Zambezi river. Every once in a while one rises or descends with a loud, discontented snuff of air or swoop of water, and we coexist, if not happily then civilly, here in one of the most majestic of rivers. We hopped aboard our river cruiser at Ruckomechi Camp, a lodge and 10 luxury tents with spectacular views across the Zambezi Valley in Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe.

My travel companions and I are fishing in the loosest of senses. There is bait on our hooks, which are bobbing in the water, but we dont care to catch anything, really. Were too busy chatting, drinking sodas and beers, and marvelling at a landscape so beautiful were giddy with it.

Mana Pools National Park is at our starboard side, and through our binoculars we can see a small pack of wild dogs, an endangered species and safari rarity, lying on the dusty ground. Beyond them is the low-lying cliff where, the evening prior, we had our sundowners by a campfire and watched the swollen African sun sink beneath the river, blazing pink and orange.

Tall grass and marshland fill the valley, and after days spent in dry, beige safari camps, its a relief to be surrounded by so much moving water. The fecund valley formed by the Zambezi escarpment, a dramatic ridge of lilac-shaded mountains rising 500 to 600 metres above the riverbed, is lush, green and achingly romantic.

Its hard to remember that the opaque, muddy water is treacherous, full of crocodiles and hippos, and only big mammals dare to swim here. When we take the boat out again at sunset, we watch a pair of elephants taking a drink. Ive seen hundreds of elephants by now, from every angle except this onehead on and belowand Ive never seen what happens next, as they step into the water and slowly swim across the channel between river islands, their trunks raised like snorkels just a few metres away from us.

Our guide has one last gem to show us as he pulls up beneath a bare tree full of southern carmine bee-eaters. The exquisite, fluttering jewels of fuchsia, carmine and turquoise flash in the air above us, darting in and out of the nests they have carved into the steep face of the riverbed.

The sun setting scarlet behind us amplifies their gorgeous colourso vivid and iridescent it seems otherworldlyand Im grateful that we took the boat rather than a drive that night, or we would never have seen the incredible beauty of these birds, an entrancing sight that no photograph or video can ever really capture.

Depending on the time of year, one can also ride a canoe along the river banks. Elsewhere, such as in Jao Camp at the Okavango Delta, Botswana, guests can go on safari by mokoro, a traditional dugout canoe which is propelled by someone pushing with a pole from the stern of the boat. Without a motor and floating 20cm above the water, this type of safari provides a truly immersive experience as you quietly glide past purple lilies and beneath the tall papyrus to admire the buffalo, antelope and birds at eye level, drinking at the waters edge.

What: Helicopter safari at Jao Camp in Botswanas Okavango Delta

Its not often that Im excited by the sight of a pilot removing all of our aircrafts doors, but this time I am alight with anticipation. Our pilot Michael, from Botswana-based Helicopter Horizons, is preparing to give us unobstructed views of the Okavango Delta.

There has been an unparallelled drought in the delta this year, and much of the lush green river basin is bone dry. The boats which are typically used for water safaris have been beached, and their current position, perched bizarrely high in the bush, is the only indication that the road we are driving on is, in fact, a river bed that is usually submerged a few metres underwater.

The newly refurbished Jao Camp, with its luxurious suites rising on stilts above what is normally a mist-covered marshland of waterlilies, for the time being looks across a sandy basin that has become a highway for kudu, buffalo, zebra and even a heavily pregnant lion. But this parched panorama isnt typical of the delta, so the camp has kindly arranged a 45-minute helicopter flight and we can see what this semi-aquatic paradise usually looks like.

(Related: Tatler Itinerary: Wine Tasting To Luxury SafariHow To See It All In South Africa)

Soaring 100 to 300m above the bush, I realise that this is what my safari experience had been missing. It is the vista I didnt realise I had been waiting forthe long backs of elephants, the shadowed ridges of their spines, ears waving over their shoulders as they walk in parade; a flock of white herons flying in formation over tall, emerald-green grass; shimmering clouds and blue sky reflected in a mirror-like lake. These are the safari scenes I remember from the nature documentaries I love. Now, here they are, right before my very eyes.

From this ethereal view I can see flocks of Egyptian geese, countless giraffes, resting hippos and antelopes of many varietiesrare red lechwe, tsessebe, sable and even a rare sitatunga wading to its knees in the shallow poolsin a patch of delta where the Okavango River is still flowing, far away from where Jaos jeeps would be able to reasonably reach.

(Related: Singita Opens Kwitonda Lodge And Kataza House In Rwanda, Dedicated To Gorilla Conservation)

Whats most astounding from above are the lines that crisscross the delta between tree-lined islands and scattered towers of Egyptian palms. They are the elephants highways, says Michael, through our headsets. Herds of elephants have instinctively followed these submerged paths for generations, working the route deeper into the riverbed, even when it is flooded.

Looking out over the vast network of paths that lead elephants on their migration across Southern Africa is astounding. Wind in my face, soaring above the delta with a spectacular view of the mesmerising landscape, I cant help but feel a little thankful for the drought that initiated this incredible helicopter ride. A birds-eye view of the delta is second to none.

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All You Need To Know About Eco-Conscious Travel In AfricaAnd The Best Sustainable Safari Experiences To Have In 2020 - Singapore Tatler

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February 24th, 2020 at 1:42 am

14 Daily Affirmations For Confidence And Self-Empowerment

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You may have already read some helpful pieces that help you design your own Law of Attraction affirmations, ones that target your highly specific goals and help you to become fully in tune with the things you want to manifest.

However, its also well worth taking the time to think about general affirmations you can use.

Your manifestation potential is always higher and potent when you feel genuinely good about yourself and connect with your own strength. Here are some guidelines for coming up with your own self-empowerment affirmations, along with a few examples that you can use or adapt.

You can benefit from virtually any affirmation that focuses your attention on your best qualities, your capacity for change, your belief in a better world and your sense of the deep wells of power inside you.

For example, you might try making a list of ten things that you feel insecure about. Then, deliberately try to come up with affirmations that gently but persistently guide you towards the opposite perspective.

That being said, the mindset youre in when you say your affirmations is almost as significant as the words themselves. You should aim to be in a state similar to that associated with mindfulness exercises, in which youre fully connected to the sense of inhabiting your body, and your thoughts are slower than usual.

You might worry that you dont have time to get into this mental zone.

But, you can take a shortcut by simply taking ten deep inhales and exhales before your affirmation ritual. This quickly transports you into a calmer, more focused and receptive state.

If youd like to start with some basic self-empowerment affirmations instead of (or before) trying to create your own, here are some highly recommended phrases that work well for many Law of Attraction practitioners.

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14 Daily Affirmations For Confidence And Self-Empowerment

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February 9th, 2020 at 6:51 pm

Religion news Feb. 8 – The Republic

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Services and studies

Dayspring Church Apostolic Worship begins at 11:15 a.m. at the church, 2127 Doctors Park Drive, Columbus. On Sunday, the church will be inspired by, Master of Mercy. This is taken from Matthew 15:22 where, Have mercy on me, O Lord is the plea from the woman of Canaan. Every visitor will receive a free gift.

The Sunday Education Session starts at 10 a.m. and covers Two Lessons in Discipleship, as shared in Luke 9:51-62.

Bible Study is Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. and is a Group Session sponsored by Heart Changers International, LLC on Depression, Stress and Grief. These help build our Personal Empowerment and walk.

Our Prayer of Power starts at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and is preceded with requests and instructions on prayer.

The Celebrate Recovery Group session starts at 6:30 p.m.

Ignite is the Youth Growth Session that happens every third Friday.

For more information please call (812) 372- 9336, or email

East Columbus United Methodist Sunday events begin at 9 a.m. at East Columbus United Methodist Church at 2439 Indiana Ave. in Columbus, with fellowship time in the foyer with beverages and snacks. Worship begins at 9:30 a.m.

Sunday School begins at 10:40 a.m. for all ages and Bible interests.

First Presbyterian The church continues their journey through the Gospel of Mark. On the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany, the church will focus on Mark 6:1-29 where they will read of Jesus giving Instructions and Warnings to the disciples (which is also the sermon title). All are invitied to come!

Worship begins at 9:30 a.m., 512 Seventh Street in Columbus. Infant and toddler care is available 9:15 a.m. to Noon. The Mens and Womens Support Groups meet on Fridays at 7 a.m., and a second Mens Support group (working age men) meets every Monday at 6:15 a.m.

People in the community in need of a meal are invited to our Hot Meals offered Friday at 5 p.m. (please enter through the glass doors on Franklin). We are an LGBTQ-friendly church. Open and affirming to ALL.


First United Methodist On Sunday, February 9, at the 9 a.m. Traditional Service and 11 a.m. The Table, Jennifer Riddle will deliver the message, Who Are We? at the church, 618 Eighth Street. The scripture will be Matthew 5:13-20 and Isaiah 58:9b-12.

Sunday School for all ages begins at 10:10 a.m. Childcare is available during the service.

On Friday, Feb. 14, FUMC will have an opportunity for you to renew your vows. Stop by the church chapel from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. or from 5 to 6:30 p.m. for a brief ceremony with one of our pastors. The event is free, but donations are encouraged for Love-a-Child, Learning Tree Preschools Scholarship Fund.

Information: 812-372-2851 or

Flintwood Wesleyan The church is located at 5300 E. 25th St.

Today our Scout Troop will be having a Pancake Breakfast in The Friendship Center. Come and support the program and eat some good pancakes!

Sunday services are Amplify (non-traditional) at 9 a.m. and The Well (traditional) at 11 a.m. Both Amplify and The Well are in the main sanctuary and led by Rev. Wes Jones, Senior Pastor. Pastor Jones is doing a series on Jonah. Sunday School classes meet in their regular rooms at 10 a.m.

The Prayer Team meets at 8 a.m. Adult Choir Practice is 5 to 6 p.m.

Sunday evenings Celebrate Recovery begins with a meal at 5:25 p.m. in The Friendship Center and the meeting starts at 6 p.m. upstairs in Curry Hall. The public is invited to attend.

Connections, a ladies study group, led by Pastor Teri Jones. The group meets the second and fourth Monday of each month at 10 a.m. in The Friendship Center.

In the Beginning, a small group Bible Study, meets Tuesday evenings at 6 p.m. They are now meeting in the basement of the church in the young adult classroom. They are studying the book of Genesis. You can start at any point so new members are welcome to join.

Wednesday activities begins with a meal at 5:30 p.m. The program, iKids (Ignite Kids) On Fire For Jesus! starts at 6:15 p.m. This program is for kids in Pre-K through the sixth grade. The Prayer Team meets at 6:15 p.m. in the Prayer Room. Youth meets at 6:30 p.m. downstairs in the church. Bible study is at 7 p.m. in the sanctuary.

Our SAM Luncheon will be held Thursday, February 13th. This will be our Valentine tribute. Luncheon is from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Thursday: Cub Scout Pack #588 will meet when events are scheduled and Boy Scout Troop #588 will meet at 7 p.m.

Small group Cover to Cover is a Christian book club that meets the second Saturday of each month at 10 a.m. to select a new book and discuss the book they just read. Group meets in The Friendship Center. If interested contact Kim Rutan at 812-343-2217 (call or text) or via email at

Our Heart of Ministries Auction and Dinner will be Friday, March 6th stating at 5:30 p.m. Lots of great items up for auction plus the best desserts in town. The dinner is free and all proceeds goes to fund local, regional, and global ministries.

March 8th is Baptism Sunday. If you wish to be baptised, please get in touch with Pastor Wes.

In the event of severe winter weather, we will announce service/activity cancellations via local television networks, The Flintwood website, The Flintwood Facebook page, and the Flintwood App.

For further information, call 812-379-4287 or email Church office hours are Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Our website is

Garden City Church of Christ On Sunday at the 10 a.m. service, Garden City Church of Christ will start the four-week sermon series called Mission: Possible (His Mission. Your World.). Everyone in the community is invited to attend.

This sermon series will offer clear Bible teaching designed to empower you to share your faith with people right in your own neighborhood. Discover Gods mission for your life, how to connect with people, how serving others can open hearts to the gospel, and how paying attention to your own spiritual growth can strengthen your witness.

Garden City Church of Christ is located at 3245 Jonesville Road, Columbus.

For more information about the church, visit or call 812-372-1766.

Grace Lutheran Rev. John Armstrong will preach on Sunday. Worship is at 8 and 10:30 a.m., with Sunday School for all ages at 9:30 a.m.

Alpha, an introduction to the Bible continues Tuesday, Feb. 11, 6-8 p.m. with the topic Why and how should I read the Bible?

Searching Scripture begins Tuesday, Feb. 11, 6-8 p.m. with the topic The Ten Commandments.

The church is located at 3201 Central Ave, Columbus.

Old Union United Church of Christ The 10 a.m. Sunday service will begin this Sundays events.

Sunday school will be at 9 a.m. with fellowship at 9:40 a.m.

The church is located at 12703 N. County Road 50W, Edinburgh.

Petersville United Methodist Church The Rev. Stormy Scherer-Berry will present her message, Live With Integrity, at the 9 a.m. worship service on Sunday morning at the church, 2781 N. County Road 500E, Columbus.

The congregation will be asked to remember that something with integrity is stable meaning that all the parts are supporting the whole. Scripture from Matthew 5 will be shared by the liturgist. Teresa Covert will give the childrens sermon. The loose change offering for the coming six months will be given to the Love Chapel Food Bank. The goal for the Hope Food Bank is 2020 items for the year. A time of fellowship will follow the service, and, during that time, the pastor will conduct a question and answer session concerning the possible division of the world-wide United Methodist Church.

The Bakers Dozen Bible study will meet Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the home of Larry and Connie Nolting; the Journey Bible study also will meet Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the home of Chris Kimerling. On Tuesday, the Sit and Stitch group will meet at 6:30 p.m. at the Nolting home. New members are always welcome at any of the groups.

Choir practice will be Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. at the church; on Thursday morning, a new combination Bible study/Prayer Time Group will meet at 10 a.m. at the church. Questions may be directed to Barb Hedrick at 812-371-2897.

The United Methodist Womens group will host a Valentine Dinner at the Chaparrel Restaurant in Shelbyville on Feb. 15 at 5:30 p.m. for all the men and women of the church and their guests. Contact Thelma Fiesbeck at 812-379-4044 to make reservations.

Coming up Feb. 25 will be a Fat Tuesday meal at the church to raise funds for the Clay Township Fire Department; serving will be from 5 to 7 p.m.

Information: 812-447-9357; 574-780-2379

Sandy Hook United Methodist The church will be having a Bible study on the book of Ruth for six winter Wednesday evenings from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. starting Jan. 8 through Feb. 19 (there will be no study January 29). This video-based study is part of the Epic of Eden Bible studies.

Please contact the church office at 812-372-8495 or if interested in participating (so books can be ordered).

The church is located at 1610 Taylor Road, Columbus.

St. Paul Lutheran The fifth Sunday after Epiphany will be celebrated Sunday at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 6045 East State Street, with Pastor Doug Bauman delivering the message Let Your Light Shine based on Matthew 5:13-20 at the 8 and 10:45 a.m. services.

Beginning Sunday, the Spanish Worship Service will be held each Sunday in the Fellowship Room at 10:45 a.m. led by Vicar Daniel Fickenscher.

New members who have joined the church in the past six months will be recognized and welcomed into the congregation during the Christian Education Hour beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Open enrollment for the 2020-2021 preschool and kindergarten registration continues. Classes are for children who are 3, 4 or 5 by Aug. 1. Information: 812-376-6504 or

Financial Peace University classes continue, 6 p.m. at the church. Classes teach how to beat debt and make a plan for the future together. Information:

Information: 812-376-6504.

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbus On Sunday at 10 a.m., The ABCs of Presence will be presented by Rev. Nic Cable and Jan Lucas. Can being present really be as easy as 1-2-3? Probably not. But cultivating a practice of presence in your personal life and in our life as a congregation can lead to greater happiness and wholeness. Join us for this service as Rev. Cable explore the ABCs of Presence.

The church is at 7850 W. Goeller Blvd., Columbus.

Information: 812-342-6230.

Westside Community Pastor Robert Vester will lead the service this Sunday at 10 a.m. at the church at the corner of 46 West and Tipton Lakes Blvd. This Sunday will begin the start of a new series on the seven deadly sins.

The childrens program for birth through sixth grade meets at the same time as the 10 a.m. worship service.

For more information on studies or small groups that meet throughout the week, contact the church office at 812-342-8464.


North Christian Church The church is looking for singers to join their Chancel Choir. Rehearsals are Wednesdays at 6 p.m. at the church, 850 Tipton Lane, Columbus.

For more information, contact the Music Director, Travis Whaley, at


Community Church of Columbus An eight-week parenting course entitled Parenting with Love and Logic is designed for parents of children ages 6 and under. Starting Tuesday, Feb. 18th at 6:30 p.m., the course will be offered at Community Church of Columbus, 3850 N. Marr Road, as part of the Tuesday Connection series. Dinner is also available each week at 5:30 p.m. along with child care at no cost.

Other groups offered Tuesday Connection include Celebrate Recovery, Griefshare, I Marriage, Moms Next, Starting Point, Insight, Financial Peace University, and MSG (Middle School Girls).

Flintwood Wesleyan Our Heart of Ministries Auction and Dinner will be Friday, March 6th stating at 5:30 p.m. Lots of great items up for auction plus the best desserts in town. The dinner is free and all proceeds goes to fund local, regional, and global ministries.

March 8th is Baptism Sunday. If you wish to be baptised, please get in touch with Pastor Wes.

First United Methodist Tuesday evenings from Jan. 7 to Feb. 25, the church will host a grief support group. Meetings will begin at 5:30 p.m. The group will explore grief using Julie Yarbroughs book, Beyond the Broken Heart: A Journey Through Grief. It will take place in the Blue Room (Room 216) at the church, and is open to anyone. To register, or for more information, call the church office at 812-372-2851.

On Friday, February 14, FUMC will have an opportunity for you to renew your vows. Stop by the church chapel from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. or from 5 to 6:30 p.m. for a brief ceremony with one of our pastors. The event is free, but donations are encouraged for Love-a-Child, Learning Tree Preschools Scholarship Fund.

North Christian Church The Centering Prayer Group that meets in the North Christian Prayer Chapel, Lower Level #6, on Friday mornings from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. This is a drop-in prayer group, meaning that you can come as your schedule allows. Familiarity with Centering Prayer and its spiritual practices is not necessary. For more information, consult the Centering Prayer page at

The church is hosting the senior project of a Columbus North High School student who is collecting items for children who are in the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program. The CASA program helps children who have been the victims of abuse and neglect. Items being collected include things to help comfort the kids like stuffed animals, blankets, etc., and hygiene items like toothbrushes, shampoo, lotions, etc. Donations should be brought to North Christian Church 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Monday through Friday or 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Thursday.

Petersville United Methodist Church The United Methodist Womens group will host a Valentine Dinner at the Chaparrel Restaurant in Shelbyville on Feb. 15 at 5:30 p.m. for all the men and women of the church and their guests. Contact Thelma Fiesbeck at 812-379-4044 to make reservations.

Coming up Feb. 25 will be a Fat Tuesday meal at the church to raise funds for the Clay Township Fire Department; serving will be from 5 to 7 p.m.

St. Paul Lutheran An eight-week grief support Bible study entitled, Hope When Your Heart Breaks continues on Monday, Feb. 10 at 2 p.m. in the churchs Conference Room. Those learning to live without a loved one are welcome.

Zion Lutheran Church The church, at 1501 Gaiser Drive, Seymour, will hold its Annual Ham and Turkey Dinner with all the trimmings Sunday Feb. 9, from 4 to 7 p.m. The public is invited.

A freewill offering will be taken. Proceeds will go to mission projects. Carry-out will be available. Call the church office with questions at 812-522-1089.

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Religion news Feb. 8 - The Republic

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February 9th, 2020 at 6:50 pm

New play, Pry It From My Cold Dead Hands, to premiere at Shadowbox Theatre – Windsor Star

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Trevor Wilhelm

Updated: February 5, 2020

Rebecca Mickle, centre, playing Giselle holds a life-changing hatbox as Stephanie Cragg, left, Cindy Pastorius, Luke Boughner, behind, Gregory Girty and Colin Zorzit, round out the cast in Pry It From My Cold Dead Hands at Shadowbox Theatre, 1501 Howard Ave. Wednesday. Nick Brancaccio / Windsor Star

A new play called Pry It From My Cold Dead Hands, from Windsor-based writer Edele Winnie, will have its world premiere in February at The Shadowbox Theatre.

Producers call it a zany comedy, a mystery, and a story of personal empowerment wrapped in one unique package.

Starring Rebecca S. Mickle, Stephanie Cragg, Cindy Pastorius, Colin Zorzit, Greg Girty, and Luke Boughner, its the story of an introverted young woman who finds herself in possession of a life-changing hatbox.

Winnies play, directed by Michael OReilly and Fay Lynn, was the winner of the 2019 Windsor-Essex Playwriting Contest.

The script was instantaneously engaging, said OReilly. It made me think of a professional improv troupe, where everyone is saying yes to every suggestion, which propels the story forward. Every wacky opportunity is taken.

The production runs Feb. 7, 8, 13, 14, and 15 at The Shadowbox Theatre on Howard Avenue. All shows start at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25. Theyre available in advance at If youre paying cash, you can also buy them at the door while they last.

Rebecca Mickle playing Giselle holds a life-changing hatbox in Pry It From My Cold Dead Hands at Shadowbox Theatre Wednesday. Pry It From My Cold Dead Hands is a zany comedy, a mystery and a story of personal empowerment. Nick Brancaccio / Windsor Star

A new play called Pry It From My Cold Dead Hands, from Windsor-based writer Edele Winnie, will have its world premiere in February at The Shadowbox Theatre. Courtesy of The Shadowbox Theatre / Windsor Star

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New play, Pry It From My Cold Dead Hands, to premiere at Shadowbox Theatre - Windsor Star

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February 9th, 2020 at 6:50 pm

Local News Teen Empowerment head helps youth find their way February 6th, 2020 – BayStateBanner

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Center for Teen Empowerment Executive Director Abrigal Forrester. PHOTO: MERRILL SHEA

At just 21 years old, Abrigal Forrester was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Even though he was a first-time offender, his decade-long incarceration was due to a mandatory minimum sentence.

Forrester now leads a completely different life. Following his release, he spent 18 years in nonprofit youth development work. Today, he is the executive director of the Center for Teen Empowerment, an organization that helps low-income teenagers inspire their urban communities and advocate for change. Forrester helps these teenagers recognize their self-worth and envision crime-free communities.

The concept of teen empowerment that we use which is really having young people thinking about their values and beliefs is actually the process I personally went through, said Forrester. He was forced to confront his set of values after time in prison values that he had acquired in order to survive.

I adopted what I consider to be a street-corner value system, said Forrester. These values eventually led Forrester down a bad path, he said.

Teens in low-income, crime-ridden environments often face severe trauma. Forrester said that many kids are responding to things that arent their fault.

Youre just really rolling with your emotions, he said. The Center for Teen Empowerment helps these teenagers assess possible strategies to avoid rash decisions.

One of the keys is giving them this space, and asking them to take the time to think, said Forrester. The young people are told to take a step back and lets look at whats happening in your life, in your community, from a 40,000-foot view.

Once teenagers gain a clearer perspective, they can recognize the systemic issues that disproportionately affect their community. They can also look at policies to advocate against, said Forrester.

The main thing we do is hire youth to unpack their own personal challenges, and then identify what are the issues that are impacting the community that they live in, he said.

For instance, the teenagers take a deeper look at mental health and trauma. Its a big issue for them, said Forrester, and there are many issues that subsequently compound this trauma.

Young people at Teen Empowerment also look at criminal justice reform, said Forrester, and how the juvenile justice system is impacting youth.

Stanley Pollack started the Center for Teen Empowerment in 1992. The centers mission was to facilitate disagreements between different populations, said Forrester, as gangs ran rampant throughout the city. The center focused on youth intervention and violence reduction.

Today, the center has branches in Boston, Somerville and Rochester, New York. More than 120 young people are involved in hundreds of social initiatives, amounting to 5,000 community leaders participating in peace-building efforts.

Our concept is paying young people to work on themselves and to look at the issues that are impacting their communities, said Forrester. He later added, Theyre paid to be peer influencers which allows them to go back to the communities that they come from and organize events and activities to educate, make aware and make action positive action.

The Center for Teen Empowerment hosts various events to promote outreach. Forrester said that hes currently working on a peace conference to kick off the summer. The peace conference is a compilation of events by the Centers performing arts initiative. The performances encourage self-expression and inform the community about issues that impact youth.

Forrester, who took on the executive director role in 2019, has big plans for the centers future. What we hope to do, really, is to expand and partner with agencies that do great work (with) positive youth development, he said. That includes partnering with local communities as well as regional expansion.

One of the goals, he says, is to think about, How do we move ourselves to be a nationally-based organization?

For now, the Center for Teen Empowerment will focus on giving young people a voice. With this voice, they can implement strategies and transform their communities.

Those who are closest to the problems are the ones who understand the solutions, Forrester said.

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Local News Teen Empowerment head helps youth find their way February 6th, 2020 - BayStateBanner

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February 9th, 2020 at 6:50 pm

Fitness and workout trends to watch out for in 2020 – The Standard

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When youre healthy, it means that you not only look good, you actually feel good(Shutterstock)

A healthy lifestyle can be described in so many ways depending on how you choose to look at it. In a few words, it is a balance between your mental, physical and spiritual being functioning in harmony inside your body. When youre healthy, it means that you not only look good, you actually feel good.

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Driven by health reasons or a desire to look a certain way, many have jumped onto the fitness ship. The result? A rise in fitness and workout solutions that promise heaven and earth and this year is no different.

Many fitness trends continue to evolve. People are more willing to try new things and explore new ways to get fit. As the fitness clout continues to expand, here are some of the most popular trends to watch out for in 2020.

Almost everything is accessible online these days and fitness is no exception. The world is at a point where customers want to get the most out of fitness companies and brands without all the hustle.

This has sparked a trend where you dont really need to meet up with a trainer to get the body you want. All you need to do is get in touch with an online trainer who will send you a personalized workout plan and thats it! Follow it and youre on your way to meeting your goals.

This year, people are also taking fitness into their own hands. A lot of people are looking for what works for them and, in a real sense, this is a form of empowerment. Home workouts and personal plans are helping people listen to their body and do what works for them while saving money too.

The motivation comes from being active and enjoying it without other pressures. People are embracing home Zumba sessions after work, stocking up on simple workout equipment or even creating personal routines with the help of videos on YouTube. Theres something about a gym environment thats empowering and motivating?(Shutterstock)

Mental health is also a vital part of fitness. For a long time, the focus was on body goals and mental health took a back seat. A number of people struggle with depression and anxiety so yoga has become a source of comfort.

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It combines stretching and meditation to boost your mood which then helps you to feel great while you work out. For many, working out when in a vulnerable state of mind is quite difficult.

Having a good diet is at the forefront of fitness. You cant eat unhealthy food and still expect to get your desired results. There is still a lot of focus on meal plans and diet teas which are still slightly controversial. Nonetheless, more people are realizing that options like surgery shortcuts arent for everyone. The traditional route of working hard for what you want and appreciating the journey is all worth it in the end. Having a good diet is at the forefront of fitness(Shutterstock)

This is one of the biggest trends that is still popular in 2020. Industry players and mainstream media are upping their game in encouraging people to be comfortable in their own skin and not let society dictate how they should look. We all have different body types so we dont have to be skinny to be fit. Some things are beyond our control so the definition of fitness is really changing. A number of people struggle with depression and anxiety so yoga has become a source of comfort(Shutterstock)

Lets be honest, the gym will always be trendy. Theres something about a gym environment thats empowering and motivating. Home workouts are great but, sometimes, it could backfire when theres no one else there to push you.

The gym is great for strength training and muscle building, which many of us still desire. Being in the gym is also therapeutic because its a place where you can be away from work pressures and other draining distractions.

With work, school and home schedules, were busier than ever. Too many things are going on all the time so it can be hard to keep up with a workout schedule. Thanks to technology, we have on-the-go fitness trackers that help us reach our goals and stay fit. Something as simple as a phone or a smartwatch is able to help you reach your goals by tracking your daily movements.

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Fitness and workout trends to watch out for in 2020 - The Standard

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February 9th, 2020 at 6:50 pm

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