About the Author
Alex Austin is originally from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and is a graduate of the University of Alabama. He currently resides in Tuscaloosa, AL.

Taking The Right Stand By Not Standing

On Friday night, an NFL preseason game that would not have otherwise been of any great consequence played home to a silent political protest which has got the whole nation a-flutter.

San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick chose not to stand during the playing of the national anthem before the game.

In explanation, Kaepernick said,”I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

The last sentence is of course in reference to the numerous cases concerning the alleged use of excessive force by police officers in dealing with citizens of racial or ethnic minorities.

The 49ers made their stance quite clear in the immediate media wake of the event, releasing a statement which read, “The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pregame ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose to participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”

Quite frankly, that should be the end of the story.

Kaepernick expressed his constitutional right of free speech to silently protest for a stance that he believes in.

Unfortunately, as with most statements made in the name of racial or other hot-button questions, this was thrown out the window in the eyes of many who fell back on the out-dated notions of “national pride” and “patriotism”.

In just the last two days, there has been a mountain of criticism thrown onto the gesture.

The three arguments that have most often been made against Kaepernick’s actions are: un-American, disrespectful, and negative.

First, the use of ones constitutional rights is about as American as it gets.

The founding principle of this country is that every citizen has certain rights and freedoms which are universal (“unalienable rights”).

Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression, both covered by the First Amendment to the Constitution, are the exact rights Kaepernick is taking full advantage of here.

If a fan in the stadium for the same football game chose not to stand, nothing would be made of it. A figure in the public light has the exact same freedoms.

Secondly, a national flag or national anthem should not be respected by default. A country is nothing more than artificially-drawn lines built and altered as it suits the needs of people or environment.

A flag is nothing more than a piece of cloth which is marked with certain colors and patterns which are recognized as “representing” a particular country or region.

Respect for these ideas are not earned, but instead demanded and coerced by tradition and peer pressure.

It is not disrespectful, as there is no inherent respect which comes with the flag or anthem.

Furthermore, declining to stand for the anthem, or declining to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in school, is not disrespectful to the service men and women who fought and died for this country.

Those soldiers and civilians gave their lives not to protect the rights of the many, or powerful, but to protect the rights of all citizens.

The disrespect here is insinuating that these sacrifices were made to promote your personal way of life.

Lastly, this idea that what Kaepernick did was “publicity stunt” or shines a poor light on those who Kaepernick is supporting (read: minorities) is dripping in white privilege.

It is easy for current and former players to deride Kaepernick’s actions when they are not personally affected by the circumstances which the man is protesting.

I have also heard someone say that Kaepernick “should be doing positive things”, in other words, that he should be working in his community to bring about positive change.

While this is a good thought, it does not take into account that this is not a problem restricted to a single community.

It is a national issue and deserves national attention.

This man is choosing to put his public persona and, perhaps, money on the line to defend his beliefs.

That is not “negativity”.

That is making a choice and living with the consequences of that choice.

Question: was it negative when NBA star Dwyane Wade appeared on a panel for ESPN’s The Undefeated to talk about gun violence in Chicago one day before his cousin was shot and killed by a stray bullet only a few blocks away?

Of course not.

Just as Wade witnessed first-hand the violence of the inner city growing up, so too has every person in this country borne witness to the very thing that Kaepernick was protesting.

In fact, it is imperative that people in the limelight, celebrities and the like, do their part in showing solidarity with those whose voices have so long and often have been shouted down.

They should do just as Kaepernick has done, use a gesture, whether in silent protest or in grandiose discourse to bring these issues to the forefront.

Personally, I hope that Kaepernick continues to observe his constitutional rights.

More than that, I hope that people come to understand that gestures like this are not made to get the media talking about the person who made the gesture, but instead about what that gesture represents.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Mike Morbeck/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Make No Mistake, There is Terrorism Happening in Oregon Right Now

A group of upwards of 150 armed men have taken over a building on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns Oregon.

But don’t let CNN or other parts of the “mainstream” media fool you. This is not an act of “protest” by concerned “patriots”. This is terrorism by anti-government vigilantes.

This is the culmination of a long trail of events leading back to 2001. You can look here for a name-by-name breakdown of events, but I’ll give you the CliffsNotes version.

Over the New Year holiday, a group of about 300 protesters marched through Burns, led by Ammon and Ryan Bundy, sons of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, best known for refusing to pay about $1 million in taxes and engaging in an armed stand-off with the Bureau of Land Management back in 2014.

They were marching in protest to the sentencing of Dwight and Steven Hammond, who were found guilty of arson of federal and public lands.

By Friday, Ammon had led his group to take control of the refuge, claiming that they would control the building for years if they had to.

Do those sound like the words and actions of protesters to you?

If you said yes, congratulations, you’re part of the problem.

You see, this is being handled very differently than say when there were protests and riots in Ferguson, MO or Baltimore.

In both those cases, the entire 24/7 news cycle covered the events. With every major TV news station talking about nothing else for weeks.

For this story? Well, CNN had it on the front of their website, while ABC used the term “peaceful protest”.

Oh, and another thing that occurred in both the above cases that hasn’t happened yet in Oregon. The National Guard was called in.

“Here’s the problem: what the terrorists will ask for is something the federal government can’t give them.”

In Ferguson, there were armored vehicles patrolling the streets. And that was against (primarily black) people armed with stones, bricks, and foul language.

A federal building is being held by (white) people carrying semi-automatic weapons. They are being negotiated with.

Let’s just call this what it is and get it over with. This is terrorism. Plain and simple.

I won’t go into a long spiel about why it is because I’ve already done that. Different names, different places, different reasons, same conclusion.

There is no argument. As I see it, the more interesting questions are how will the federal government respond.

In a situation such as this, only two options are readily apparent. You either attempt to settle this peacefully, or you send in the military.

To me, the correct choice is the latter.

Historically, law enforcement and the government have preferred peaceful settlement. It is not only cheaper, but it saves lives. No reason to put soldier’s lives at risk if it isn’t necessary.

Here’s the problem: what the terrorists will ask for is something the federal government can’t give them. They will ask for the release of the (rightly) imprisoned Hammond men. This is impossible as it would be a slap in the face of the justice system.

Also, these terrorists, or at least the leaders, can’t walk away scot-free. Even though the building they are holding was empty and they have not brought injury or death to anyone, they still perpetrated an armed take-over of a federal building. Doesn’t matter if it’s on a small wildlife refuge or the White House, same rules apply.

The final problem with this arrangement is that it could open the doors for other like-minded people to take similar actions. They will feel emboldened by the fact that “those guys in Oregon got away with it, why not me?” Who’s to say in that scenario that such a thing couldn’t then happen in Texas, or Florida, or Minnesota?

So how would I suggest they bring this act of terrorism on US soil to an end? Well, I’m not a military man by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have an idea.

All the Oregon National Guard (and whomever else the government decides to send out) has to do is create a perimeter around the building and wait. They know exactly where the building is, and they know that it is solely occupied by terrorists. What they have is the makings of a good old-fashioned siege.

The terrorist leaders have called on others to join them, and to bring guns and supplies. You nip that in the bud by closing off the roads and paths. One guy in a truck will probably turn back at the sight of 20 guys with guns in his way.

As for how long this will take, Bundy has said that they plan to stay for years. I give it to the end of the week. They will realize that they are surrounded, out-gunned, and haven’t eaten well. Morale will be low and the “patriotic” gusto which started this ordeal will be nonexistent.

Then the final question is what to do after the terrorists’ surrender? That boils down to whether or not this action constitutes treason. According to US law, treason is defined as:

“Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”

The phrase “levies war” is the kicker. It’ll be up to the Justice Department to determine that one.

But regardless of how this plays out, the men holed up in that building in Oregon should be considered terrorists by both the media and the law.

To do any less is an indictment upon the character of the media and an indication of what stories we can expect in 2016.

Cover Photo Credit: Ken Lund/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Big Brother Time: China in Process of Creating “Social Credit” Scores

China is in the process of creating a nationwide database of “social credit” in order to not only rate the financial strength of their citizens, but also their trustworthiness.

Unlike the US or UK, China does not have a nationally recognized credit score system. However, also unlike the aforementioned countries, China’s new initiative will not only determine how good people are at paying bills. It will also be used to rate how obedient they are to the state.

Currently, this plan is in somewhat of a beta stage, as eight Chinese companies have set up sites to issue these credit scores.

Possibly the most high-profile of these is called Sesame Credit, a joint venture between Alibaba, Asia’s largest online retailer, and Baihe, China’s largest matchmaking service.

However, neither company will reveal how they determine or calculate the scores, nor will they directly speak to Western media out of fear of losing the lucrative government contract.

Conversely, they will admit that shopper’s purchases will be taken into account. As Li Yingyun, Sesame’s technology director, told the Chinese magazine Caixin:

“Someone who plays video games for 10 hours a day, for example, would be considered an idle person, and someone who frequently buys diapers would be considered as probably a parent, who on balance is more likely to have a sense of responsibility.”

This is a very controversial point, as it leaves the door open to the government deciding who can do and buy certain things based on subjective, and possibly stereotyped, life decisions.

From a different angle, this type of credit system is being valued as little more than another authoritarian propaganda tool.

In the extensive government planning outline, the Chinese government states in Article 5, Section 1 that it will actively encourage competition between citizens to work for high scores by incentivizing trust-keeping and punishing trust-breaking.

Many Westerners are beginning to see this as China hiding an Orwellian “big brother” behind the façade of a game. For more on that angle, there is the relatively short, but oft-linked video from Extra Credits on the matter.


As of now, the system is opt-in. However, as part of China’s most recent Five-Year Plan, the “social credit” system, in one form or another, will be mandatory in 2020.

Cover Photo Credit: Danny Mekic’/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Are the Philadelphia 76ers the Worst NBA Team of All-Time?

For fans of the Philadelphia 76ers (such as myself), the 2015-2016 season has been a continuous nightmare.

Currently, the boys from the City of Brotherly Love have a record of 2-31, and with the exception of the equally-listless Lakers on New Year’s Day, the possibilities for wins are are few and far between.

The stats alone spell out a lot of woes. The team is last in PPG (92.0), last in point differential (-12.4), and 24th in points allowed (104.4).

On top of that, they have the youngest roster in the NBA at 22.9 years of age. They have only played one man over 30 (Carl Landry) and their leading scorer is a 20-year-old rookie.

I highly doubt any team could win boasting those figures.

But it’s not enough for the Sixers to just be seasonally bad. They are historically bad.

The phrase “worst team” is, admittedly, subjective. However, if you look at history, the case for the current iteration of the Sixers to hold that dubious title is strong.

The worst team in NBA history by winning percentage was the 2011-2012 Charlotte Bobcats (.106). However, that was in a strike-shortened season. For a full 82-game season, the record low is held by the 1972-1973 Philadelphia 76ers (.110).

Those Sixers won a paltry nine games. The current roster is projected to win fewer than five contests, which for the record would be a winning percentage of .061.

That sound you just heard was a collective groan coming from the vicinity of Constitution Hall.

I believe it is safe to say that the argument for the 2015-2016 76ers being the worst team of all time is cemented.

With that in mind, let’s take a minute to talk about the franchise as a whole.

General Manager Sam Hinkie is in the running for worst GM of all time in any sport. The news site FiveThirtyEight, summed this up pretty nicely.

And when other owners are petitioning the league to step in, you know you’re in trouble.

Hiring Jerry Colangelo as Chairman of Basketball Operations? Excellent.

Hiring Mike D’Antoni as an Associate Coach and sort-of Offensive Coordinator? The fanbase collectively facepalms.

Long story short, unless Colangelo takes over the GM duties, this team will go nowhere this season. And while theoretically they could only go up from here, that’s what was said at the end of last season too.

Cover Photo Credit: Doug Kerr/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

If Not Kobe, Then Who Is The Greatest Laker Of All Time?

In the 68-year history of the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers (the nickname makes more sense now, doesn’t it?) there have been a laundry list of excellent players. These great names have been instrumental in the franchise’s success.

With Kobe Bryant announcing that he will retire at the end of this season, now seems like as good a time as ever to list the top 5 players in franchise history.

Now this is only this writer’s personal list and there are arguments that can be made for a number of individuals.

A few things to note before the listing begins.

This will only encompass the respective players on-court careers. So as important as some people have been behind the scenes and in the front office, those achievements will not be considered.

As this is a list of all-time Lakers, the years and statistics listed will only be for those years that the players were part of the franchise.

  1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, C, (1975-1989) 22.1 Pts, 9.4 Reb, 2.5 Blks

Photo Credit: Tony Hisgett/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

How can you go wrong with the NBA’s leading scorer? While he was originally drafted 1st overall in the 1969 Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks, Kareem spent 14 of his 20 season in Los Angeles. A major part of the 1980s “Showtime” teams, he was league MVP three times and an NBA Champion five times while playing in southern California.

2. Earvin “Magic” Johnson, PG, (1979-1991, 1996) 19.5 Pts, 7.2 Reb, 11.2 Ast

Photo Credit: tenaciousme/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: tenaciousme/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Another 1st overall pick, this time in 1979, “Magic” was a 6’9″ point guard and the distributor for the aforementioned “Showtime” teams. By the time his career ended, he was a five-time NBA Champion and a three-time MVP. One of the best play-makers of his size, Magic paved the ways for modern players like LeBron James and James Harden to be their teams’ primary ball-handlers.

3. Kobe Bryant, SG, (1996-2016) 25.2 Pts, 5.3 Reb, 4.8 Ast (as of this writing)


Photo Credit: Keith Allison/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The “Black Mamba”, he is and has been the face of the Lakers for the majority of his 20-year career. Though he was only MVP on one occasion, he was a part of five championship teams. Bryant also holds the Lakers record for points with 32,785 as of this writing.

4. Jerry West, PG, (1960-1974) 27 Pts, 5.8 Reb, 6.7 Ast

Photo Credit: Prayitno /Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Prayitno /Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The 2nd overall pick in 1960 (right behind fellow Hall-of-Famer Oscar Robertson), West does not have the accolades of others on this list. He was never league MVP and he only won one championship, though he was an All-Star selection every year he played. However, his pure play-making ability earned him nicknames such as “Mr. Clutch” and “Mr. Outside”. Nowadays, he is also known as the inspiration for the silhouette that makes up the NBA logo today.

5. George Mikan, C, (1947-1954, 1956) 23.1 Pts, 13.4 Reb (only BBA/NBA stats available)

Photo Credit: jpellgen/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: jpellgen/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Mikan was the first superstar of professional basketball. He arrived with the Lakers in his second professional season when they were part of the National Basketball League. The franchise jumped the next year to the Basketball Association of America, which the following year became the NBA. He led the Lakers to five BBA/NBA championships, while leading the league in scoring three times and rebounds twice.

Cover Photo Credit: jpellgen/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Are There Too Many Bowl Games?

Ah, the FBS Bowl games.

A litany of college football action stretching from December 19 through January 11, encompassing 41 games and involving 80 teams. From the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl to the National Championship Game.

But while each of these games bring their own sense of basic enjoyment, even more so for the players and fans of those who are deemed worthy to compete in them, the basic question must be raised: are there too many bowl games?

In short, yes there are.

While it is a treat to have as much college football as humanly possible, and there is no shortage of pride when it comes to these post-season games, there are certainly too many in existence.

To understand why there are too many, one must understand what the bowls are meant to represent.

They are meant to be a reward, a pat on the back for success during the season.

However, in recent years, the meaning of “success” has become stretched.

For example, the Cure Bowl features a 5-7 team (San Jose State) facing a team that needed a win on the final weekend to reach .500 (Georgia State).

Another interesting thing that the bowls bring to the fans is an opportunity to see teams play against opponents that they would never face otherwise. But this novelty is undermined this year by the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, which features two teams from the Mountain West Conference  (Nevada and Colorado State).

How do so many absurd bowl match-ups come about? For starters, take in this statistic. Of the 128 FBS programs in the country, a whopping 62.5% of teams make it to the post-season in some respect.

This makes a mockery of the idea of the post-season, and calls into question their true purpose (which is to make money for the numerous sponsors and TV networks).

The real question is not if there are too many bowl games. The real question is how many bowl games should there be.

The answer to this question: 14.

To put it simply, only the top 26 teams, as ranked in the final College Football Playoff standings, should qualify for the post-season. These are the teams that not only have good, if not excellent, records, but they showcase the best of the conferences (and Independent teams). Why one more than the standard 25-team rank? On the surface, it is because an even number of teams must be chosen. But pragmatically, it is to allow for the inclusion of the best military academy (if not already ranked).

Below is this writers personal list of which bowl games should exist. Some of these may not be the heaviest hitters on the normal schedule (and one doesn’t even really exist), but there are reasons for all of them.

  • Military Appreciation Bowl (Annapolis, MD) – This game already features the top military academy. In the event that one of the academies makes it to the CFP, the naming tag still works.
  • Detroit Bowl (Detroit, MI) – Currently, the bowl game in Detroit is called the Quick Lane Bowl. Give this a new name and continue to play it, because there deserves to be at least one bowl game not in the south or west.
  • Hawai’i Bowl (Honolulu, HI) – Just as the NFL Pro Bowl used to be played in Hawai’i as a sort of vacation destination, this will allow college players who normally wouldn’t play in that city/state to enjoy the experience.
  • Music City Bowl (Nashville, TN) – Normally a very solid bowl game. Could be used for the SEC, ACC, and/or Big East teams in the 20-26 range in the rankings.
  • Texas Bowl (Houston, TX) – Mainly here because Texas is too big (both in size and football fanaticism) to only hold one bowl game. Good site for Big 12, SEC, AAC, Sun Belt and/or C-USA competition.
  • Poinsettia Bowl (San Diego, CA) – Who wouldn’t want to go to sunny San Diego for a bowl game? Not to mention that the Mountain West teams could use a closer bowl destination.
  • Peach Bowl (Atlanta, GA) – A staple of the bowl game schedule. Usually includes an SEC team, but this year is hosting an ACC-AAC match-up.
  • Citrus Bowl (Orlando, FL) – Another bowl game with a lot of history which falls just outside the “Big 5”. Would be a nice fit between the New Year bowls and the National Championship.
  • Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA) – The “granddaddy of them all”. Will of course continue the Big 10 vs. Pac-10 history.
  • Fiesta Bowl (Phoenix, AZ) – Not as historic as the other FBS bowls. Good place for the match-up of next two teams behind the playoff contenders.
  • Cotton Bowl (Arlington, TX) – A major bowl in the house that Jerry Jones built. Kind of wish they still used the proper Cotton Bowl, but that’s life.
  • Orange Bowl (Miami, FL) – Historically the place for the ACC champions vs. Big East champions match-up. Few places better to hold a football game outside in January.
  • Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA) – Normally reserved for the top SEC team. In the age of the CFP, it continues to be held in high regard.
  • National Championship Game (Various) – The one game to decide the champion. Will continue to bounce around the five FBS bowl sites.

Now this plan probably isn’t perfect, and there would be some hiccups in the early years. But eventually, everyone would adjust just as they have adjusted to the new playoff system.

In the end, while not everyone will be happy, enough people will be to keep this bowl game line-up intact and bring the bowl games back into reverence as the games which decide who the best teams really are.

Cover Photo Credit: Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Person Of The Year? Bernie Sanders Wins Time Magazine Readers’ Poll For Prestigious Honor

Democratic Presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders came out victorious in a poll to see who TIME Magazine readers thought should be named as its “Person of the Year.”

Sanders finished with 10.2% of the vote, well ahead of human rights activist Malala Yousafzai, who garnered 5.2%, and Pope Francis’ 3.7%.

However, when TIME announced the official shortlist for the coveted award, neither Sanders, nor any of the top 10 vote-getters in the readers’ poll, were named.

The 8-person list is made up of Republican Presidential contender Donald Trump, Russian president Vladimir Putin, German chancellor Angela Merkel, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, transgender activist Caitlyn Jenner, and Black Lives Matter activists.

TIME’s editors will select the Person of the Year, which they define as the person who had the greatest impact on the news this year, Wednesday on NBC’s Today.

Cover Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey/Flickr (CC 2.0)

When It Comes To Mass Shootings, Your “Thoughts And Prayers” Are Meaningless

The following is the opinion of the writer of this piece and not necessarily of Rise News.

It happened again Wednesday. Another community was shaken to the core by violence and the ubiquitous sound of gunfire.

This time, it was San Bernardino, CA. As the full facts of the incident are still being sorted out, this will not be a rant about terrorism.

Instead, this is about the reactions. According to the Boston Globe, there have been 355 mass shootings in 2015. Note that, as of yesterday, there have been 336 days in 2015.

Here’s a pause to let that sink in.

The United States of America, the “free” country that champions “liberty” is the site of more than one mass shooting a day.

And if you think that number will taper off as the year draws to a close, you are delusional. There will be more.

But again, this isn’t about what could be done to stop this, or what should be done. This is about the people who actually have the power to make changes, and yet do nothing.

Every time a tragedy like this occurs, people jump on social media to send condolences to the victims. This ranges from Mr. and Mrs. Doe to the President.

And with many of these posts, a common phrase is typed. A phrase which has become the default for grief; “My thoughts and prayers”.

This phrase, and variations thereof, is absolutely meaningless. It is just as meaningless no matter who says it, but it is particularly nauseous to read when it is spouted by the very people who should be doing something.

Allow me to break down why it’s meaningless in a rational sense before the political discourse starts.

Thoughts do not get anything done. Words do not get anything done. Actions get things done. And until there are actions taken, nothing will change.

It is up to normal human beings to create change.

The New York Daily News hit this on the nose with cover that ran on Thursday.

You will notice that all (save for House Speaker Paul Ryan) of the Twitter posts the headline highlights are from present contenders for the GOP presidential nomination. You might also notice that they are all Congressmen.

These very men, along with many others of course, have the power to enact new laws. They could put into place stricter gun regulations, or alter conceal-carry laws, or something. But they don’t. And they won’t.

The simple reason: gun violence gets them paid. We all know about the NRA, the National Rifle Association.

While not all gun-owners are registered members, the NRA makes up the largest gun lobby in Washington. As a lobby, they dole out money in the form of campaign contributions to various elected officials.

Of course, this is with the understanding that said officials will work for the benefit of the NRA by either passing or blocking certain bills in either state or national Congress.

So do you want to know how much the NRA is putting in politician’s pockets? Well the numbers are sometimes sketchy, but you can look here and here to start.

Igor Volsky the Director of Video at Think Progress sent out a series of Tweets yesterday, along with an article detailing how much money certain members of Congress received from the NRA.

The common ground between all these politicians listed? They all sent out Tweets yesterday with some version of “thoughts and prayers”.

To sum this all up, look at a Tweet posted yesterday by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT):

This is poignant because of where Murphy is from.

In 2012, he was the Representative for Connecticut’s Fifth District, which included Newtown, the site of the Sandy Hook massacre. He has seen his constituents killed, and he is tired of seeing the same ever-repeating platitudes said with no substance to back them up.

It is time for America and Americans to open their eyes. These are not one-off incidents of lunatics. This is terror enabled by the very people who should be doing their best to keep Americans safe.

It is time to stop gun violence. And it is time to call out those who put the almighty dollar above safety and security.

This will happen again. And when it does, there will be no time for your “thoughts and prayers.”

Cover Photo Credit: Ben Townsend/Flickr (CC 2.0)

So When When Will The Warriors Finally Lose A Game?

The Golden State Warriors have started the season 19-0. They own the record for the best start to an NBA season. They are the defending champions and they have the reigning league MVP.

But every team has to lose some time, right?


Well, in a bit of news that won’t shock many and will rouse the haters, if Golden State doesn’t lose soon, they are going to go to celebrate New Year’s still perfect.

How soon are we talking? The next six games.

The Warriors just started a 7-game road trip with a gutsy 106-103 win over the Utah Jazz. They were trailing in that game as late as a minute left in the 4th quarter before Steph Curry started doing Steph Curry things, nailing a three over Rodney Hood in a play that you have probably already seen at least four times.

But it’s not just Curry.

Draymond Green, owner of two triple-doubles already this season, laid out a 20/9/7 line.

Not to mention that the Warriors did this without Harrison Barnes, a key component in the small-ball offense that no team has been able to stop so far this season.

However, all that being said, Golden State is not going 82-0. That is crazy talk. But if the Warriors are going to end 2015 at anything other than 32-0, which team is going to hand them a loss?

Well, as previously mentioned, Golden State is currently on a road trip. And they are playing a few teams that gave them problems earlier in the season. They defeated Toronto 115-110, and they needed overtime to put away the Nets. However, you have to look a little further down to find the team with the best odds.

And that team is the Indiana Pacers. Granted, they are on their own West Coast trip this week, but they have two full days off before they play the Warriors on Dec. 8.

The Pacers also have the comeback player of the year so far in Paul George. George is playing the best basketball of his career, and he certainly has the ability to out-score Curry. The Pacers would have to play defense like the 2013-2014 version of the team, but it’s not impossible.

If Golden State gets by Indiana, the next game to look at for their first loss would be when they face LeBron and the Cavaliers on Christmas Day. You can never count out King James against any opponent, after all.

Get past the Cavs on Christmas? Then the discussion has to turn to 72-10.

Cover Photo Credit: Keith Allison/ Flickr (CC by-SA 2.0)

Terrorism By Any Other Name Is Just As Deadly

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines terrorism thusly:

“The use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of achieving a political goal.”

Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? However, in the wake of the shooting which occurred at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic, another term is being thrown around: domestic terrorism.

Domestic terrorism is an act of terrorism which is committed by a citizen of the country in which the attack takes place. Note the wording of that definition.

You cannot explain “domestic terrorism” without including “terrorism”. Quite frankly, there should not be two different definitions, as there should not be multiple terms to define what is expressly terrorism.

By allowing multiple terms and definitions to come into play, it has reached a point where people can no longer agree on what is and what is not terrorism. This is particularly poignant when looking at the opinions of the topic by two people who under normal circumstances have very similar viewpoints.

Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas and current Republican presidential contender, said on CNN’s State of the Union when speaking about the alleged gunman:

“What he did is domestic terrorism, and what he did is absolutely abominable”

Now one could (and should) rip the former governor to shreds for the incendiary and blatantly false things he said later in that same interview. But the fact is that he called the murder of three people “domestic terrorism”. Considering that he would like all Planned Parenthood clinics to be shuttered, that says a lot about what he considers an act of terror.

On the other side of this coin is Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee.

On ABC’s This Week, the congressman pointed to the mental health of the alleged shooter:

“It’s a tragedy. It’s, I think, a mental health crisis…I don’t think it would fall under quite the definition of domestic terrorism, although I’ll leave that to the Justice Department to make that determination.”

Now usually, Rep. McCaul and Huckabee would be of the same mind when it came to political mindset. However, it seems that the head of the congressional committee on Homeland Security does not seem to know what terrorism is, either.

It is simple; mass murder carried out for political reasons is terrorism. It does not matter if it is in Colorado or Paris or Nigeria or Iraq.

And if you are in agreement with Rep. McCaul about the alleged gunman’s mental state, remember that he outright said, “No more baby parts” when police questioned his motives. This was not a random attack which killed three random people.

This was a hostile shooting carried out to harm people who dared use their rights to safe and legal healthcare for whatever reason they happened to be there. That is terrorism, plain and simple.

However, there is another reason why people are hesitant to label this an act of terrorism, and that reason is almost more dangerous than the continued politically and racially motivated acts of violence we see all across the country.

The fact is that because the alleged shooter is white, he is being defended.

You may recall last June when Dylann Roof killed nine people at the Charleston AME Church. President Obama immediately labeled the massacre an act of terror.

However, the mainstream media, GOP leaders, and even the FBI would not use the word “terrorist” or “terrorism” to describe Roof or his actions.

FBI Director James Comey stated at the time:

“Terrorism is an act done or threatened to in order to try to influence a public body or the citizenry, so it’s more of a political act and then, again, based on what I know so far, I don’t see it as a political act.”

This, of course, is in blatant disregard to Roof’s admission that the attack was racially motivated. If a Muslim shot up a Catholic church, it would be terrorism. Apparently if a white man shoots up a black church, it isn’t.

Who is called a terrorist is so blatantly based on racist and xenophobic attitudes that a study led by University of Illinois communications professor Travis Dixon found that while, according to the FBI, about six percent of domestic terrorism suspects were Muslim, a whopping 81 percent of the domestic terrorism suspects described on national cable and network TV news programs were Muslim.

Regardless of who commits the act or what the mainstream media or politicians want to call it, terrorism should be outed as terrorism.

For years, America has fought a phony “War on Terror” without knowing or accepting that terrorism happens in our own backyard, and by people who may have turned out to be your neighbors.

It is time to stop segmenting terrorism by where it happens, who it affects, and who perpetrates it. It is time to step up and call terrorism what it is: terrorism, plain and simple.

Cover Photo Credit: Jagz Mario/Flickr (CC by-SA 2.0)

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