Making the News

Take That, Take That, Take That.

Oh Diddy, Oh Sean, Oh Puffy, Oh P. Diddy, Oh Love aka Brother Love, Oh Sean Combs, what are we going to do with you? Diddy had an interview on Revolt TV with Charlamagne tha God, where he endorsed Joe Biden, because “there are no other choices.” He also warns of a race war if Trump is re-elected and about the new political party he is starting. I know that’s a lot for one interview, but, Diddy is nothing if not, extra. In the interview, Diddy says we are currently in a “war of love vs. hate, not a presidential election.” One point I agree with, is that getting Trump out of office, is the number one objective right now. Previously, Diddy, threatened to withhold his vote, if Biden wasn’t clear about what he was going to do for Black America. He even started a withhold the vote “campaign.” He now understands just how irresponsible that stance was, especially, in this election. I am glad he figured it out. Better late than never, I guess.

Diddy also talked about future plans of a new party. The Black Party, is a new political party he has started. He says Black Americans have no political power or leverage. He has partnered with activists and politicians, but he is the money behind the movement. The number one goal? To unify and get behind an agreed upon black agenda. He also said, that this party is not for the “scary black people;” but for the ones that want to move things forward. Well, between Diddy and Ice Cube, this should at the very least be interesting.

Run Me My Money!

Students are filing lawsuits left and right against universities that have gone virtual due to the pandemic. “Class-action lawsuits calling for partial reimbursement of tuition and fees are continuing to amass nationwide — from Ivy League institutions to goliath state university systems to small private colleges — with potentially hundreds of millions of dollars at stake.” The students have had enough. They argue they paid for a “robust’ college experience, then the pandemic hit, and everything was virtual. The students believe this was a breach of contract and that the loss in this instance should be on the school, not on the students. 

To add insult to injury some schools have raised or maintained tuition levels for this fall despite everything being virtual. Now that’s just insulting. The fact that higher education is so expensive anyway is one thing. But, to make no changes even though you are offering less services and have less overhead is just wrong. Sorry, colleges and universities, gotta say, I hope you lose this fight. 

Gotta a Smoke?

Menthols are the last tobacco flavor allowed to be sold in the US. Why? Could it be because, according to the FDA, 86% of Black smokers use menthol, compared to 46% of Hispanic smokers, 39% of Asian smokers, and 29% of White smokers. This issue has gotten more shine recently because of Covid-19 and its devastating effects on the Black population, especially those with lung disease, which are often related to tobacco use. Two organizations, Action on Smoking & Health and the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council, sued the FDA in June for failing to regulate menthol cigarettes. On Sept 3, the American Medical Association joined the suit saying, “For generations, tobacco companies have promoted menthol cigarettes to the African American community, preying especially on African American youth. The results are clear and grim; African Americans…are more likely than Whites to die from smoking-related diseases.”

It seems clear that the demographics of the smokers are playing a role in regulation. Especially, when it takes just five years for vape flavors to be banned because White mothers were upset their children were addicted to bubblegum flavored products. This compared to methanol which has remained on the shelf with essentially, no restrictions for the last 50 years. Sounds like racism to me. 

Of course the tobacco companies, in all their duplicitousness, have responded. R.J. Reynolds, who makes Newport, says regulating menthol would create an illicit market that would lead to more police crackdowns and raids. Really, a huge illicit menthol cigarette market. I don’t think so. Philip Morris says menthol bans would harm public health, because some cigarette smokers have switched to menthol varieties of products that are less risky. Since when, in the history of the world has banning cigarettes been harmful to public health? Altria Group Inc., which sells Marlboros, said “menthol cigarettes do not affect population harm differently than non menthol cigarettes.”  Even though, “menthol cools and numbs the throat and reduces the harshness of tobacco smoke, making menthol cigarettes more appealing for kids who are starting to smoke.” Specifically, black children; sounds like different harm to me. 

OOOH, Facebook, you in trouble!

The New Yorker published a piece last week entitled, “Why Facebook Can’t Fix Itself.” Facebook is having a terrible time with monitoring content. Lately, every time Facebook is in the news it’s about why they can’t keep hate speech and misinformation off its platforms. Facebook’s stated mission is to “bring the world closer together.” It considers itself a neutral platform and has notoriously resisted censoring its users’ speech.

In theory, users are not allowed to post hate speech. Yet, it appears daily. Many “world leaders—Rodrigo Duterte, of the Philippines; Narendra Modi, of India; Donald Trump; and others—routinely spread hate speech and disinformation, on Facebook.” The theory is that it is too financially risky for Facebook to actually ban them from the platform. 

So, what do they do instead? They allow politicians and other groups to post whatever they want and compromise their own standards in the process. They also employ a public relations department of 500 people, whose sole job is to spin the idea that they can’t help it due to outside forces.

Facebook tries to convince us that they are only a great place to connect and share photos. That they are not a vehicle for hate speech and misinformation. They also like this narrative that they are too big and have too many users to really monitor it properly. A spokesperson for Facebook said they have invested billions in keeping hate off its platforms. And that’s too bad because it hasn’t worked. So is facebook too big? I’m not buying it. But, they say they are trying. In the meantime, you can get all the hate filled speech you like on its services. 

On the other hand, Facebook has also been under fire for mistreating the 15,000 content moderators they employ. They work around the world and around the clock. Facebook settled a class action suit in May from workers that say the job caused P.T.S.D. because they spend their time trudging through the filth of the internet. Facebook’s training for these moderators also appears to be subpar. I’m not sure what the answer is but, what they are doing sure isn’t working. So, what else you got?