About the Author
Setareh Baig is a writer and editor. She recently graduated from Florida State University and served as the editor-in-chief of the school's newspaper, the FSView & Florida Flambeau. You can follow her on Twitter at @heysetareh_.

American Apparel Files For Bankruptcy

American Apparel finally filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy early Monday. While the stores will remain open, more than $200 million in bonds will be exchanged for stocks as part of the company’s reconstructing. It was a long time coming, as the retail chain has not made profit since 2009. American Apparel will shrink its debt from $311 million to $120 million.

American Apparel founder Dov Charney will receive the blunt of the loss, as his stake in the company will be removed. The bankruptcy comes one year after Charney was ousted from the American Apparel board for allegations of misconduct, including sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior in the workplace and mishandling money. After being fired from the company in 2014, Charney made efforts to exert control of the company, causing the company to file a restraining order against him.

The company said in a court filing that it will remove stores that are unprofitable, but it did not say when or how many. Though the retail chain’s future is unknown, the bankruptcy should absolve enough debt for the company to remain in business.

Cover Photo Credit: dovcharney/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Textbook Company Receives Backlash for Interpreting Slaves As “Workers” and “Immigrants”

A Texas mother took to YouTube to voice her frustrations after textbook giant McGraw-Hill rewrote slavery out of history. In a section titled “Passage of Immigration,” Roni Dean-Burren noticed that slaves were referred to as “workers” and “immigrants.”

The passage reads, “The Atlantic Slave Trade between the 1500s and 1800s brought millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States to work on agricultural plantations.”

“The Atlantic slave trade brought millions of workers … notice the nuanced language there. Workers implies wages … yes?” Dean-Burren wrote on her Facebook.

Dean-Burren notes in her video that the Textbook also includes a passage saying that many Europeans and English people “came over to work as indentured servants for little or no pay.”

McGraw Hill heard of the backlash and took to Facebook to respond to Dean-Burren, announcing it will be updating the textbook in its next print and in digital format.

“We believe we can do better,” McGraw-Hill posted on its Facebook. “To communicate these facts more clearly, we will update this caption to describe the arrival of African slaves in the U.S. as a forced migration and emphasize that their work was done as slave labor.”

This isn’t the first time Texas textbooks have received backlash for revisionism – ten university scholars accused Texas textbooks of including biased statements about Islam, Native Americans, capitalism, religion and the Civil War.

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Gunman Down, At Least Seven Dead At Oregon’s Umpqua Community College Shooting

A shooter opened fire Thursday afternoon at Umpqua Community College, killing several students at the campus in southwest Oregon.

According to the local KGW News, there have been 7-10 fatalities and at least 15-20 people injured, while one female was shot in the chest. Police say that the shooter is now dead.

This is the 45th school shooting in 2015, according to Huffington Post’s Political Editor Sam Stein’s Twitter account. 

This is a developing story. Check back to Rise News for updates.

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Peeple: The Dystopian App That Lets You Rate Humans

Like we rate restaurants, cars, movies or books on a one-five star scale, soon we’ll be able to rate actual human beings.

Peeple, a startup which already has over seven million-dollar backing, will let anyone who’s ever known you assign you a rating and review, without your consent.

The founders, Julia Cordray and Nicole McCullough said they find no reason why anyone wouldn’t want to showcase their character online; McCullough told the Washington Post that she wanted to create the app to have something that will allow her to determine who she trusts her kids around.

Cordray and McCullough defended their empathy as two women in tech, stressing the app’s “integrity features.” To rate and review someone, you need to show you know them in three categories: personal, professional or romantic. Reviewers must be 21-years or older with a Facebook account. If you want to review someone, you must have that person’s phone number. Positive ratings will post immediately, while negative ratings will be queued for 48 hours to give the chance to dispute it. However, technology isn’t perfect – a bad review can still be posted immediately if stars are high enough, and a 48-hour window isn’t necessarily a strong deterrent from bullying or harassment.

If somebody reviews you, there is no option to opt out of having your profile in the service. Feedback for the app has been overwhelmingly negative: nobody seems to want their character rated and commodified on a one-five star scale. Those worried about the potential for cruelty raise concerns about consent, mental illness, stalking, harassment and representation of people of color.

In an almost absurd response to creating an app dedicated to public unsolicited reviews without consent, Peeple’s Twitter account has been made private.


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Edward Snowden Is Now On Twitter

Welcome to Twitter, Edward Snowden.

Snowden has become a household name after revealing top secret documents from the U.S. government to the public, ousting them for spying on millions of U.S. citizens.

Though the whistleblower is currently in exile in Russia (he was granted asylum in Moscow), he has continued to lead public conversation about privacy, surveillance and the NSA through video interviews and streaming speeches. According to The Intercept, the handle @snowden was taken by someone who hadn’t used Twitter in three years, so Twitter agreed to give the handle to Snowden.

Snowden’s only follow? @NSAGov.

Bernie Sanders Speaks at Conservative Christian College

A self-proclaimed Democratic socialist is an odd choice for the convocation speaker at the world’s largest evangelical Christian college. Nonetheless, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders spoke at Liberty University in Virginia Monday morning.

“I think it is a very good idea for people in politics and government to reach out and talk to people whose views may be very different,” Sanders told USA Today. “It’s easy enough to talk to people who agree with you, but it’s a lot harder to talk to people who have some fundamental disagreements with you.

Sanders said that his support of gay rights and pro-choice ideologies clash with the university’s faculty and staff, but he hopes to find common ground, discussing income inequality, morality and childhood poverty.

“I believe in women’s rights and the right of a woman to control her own body. I believe in gay rights and gay marriage,” Sanders began at Liberty, which was met with an applause from students.

In March, Senator Ted Cruz used Liberty’s convocation as his platform to announce his run for presidency. This past weekend, Sanders joined forces with Cornel West on the campaign trail in South Carolina at Benedict College.

Watch the speech below:

Cover Photo Credit:Marc Nozell/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

This Period Underwear Is Disrupting The Feminine Hygiene Industry

Talking about menstruation makes people squeamish. It’s a reality that stems from the patriarchal mentality that women should be ashamed of their body’s natural occurrences. Menstruation remains a stigmatized taboo, and women are made to feel embarrassed for who they are.

Every woman has experienced that fear: a visible leak resulting from an unchecked period. From grade school into adulthood, sometimes women forget when to be prepared, their menstrual cycle comes at unexpected moments or they do not have enough support to hold the bloodflow.

Even worse: Lack of access to feminine hygiene products remains an epidemic in many parts of the developing world. Women miss school during their period, and some even have to drop out from getting too far behind. The stigma these women face in other parts of the world limits their potential to get normal paying jobs.

One company is out to change that. Miki Agrawal is the CEO and founder of THINX—a women’s underwear line designed to contain menstrual flow. For every pair of underwear purchased, seven AFRIpads, a Ugandan feminine hygiene brand that produces washable, reusable feminine hygiene products, are donated to one women. Instead of only donating the pads, AFRIpads creates jobs for local women to create the reusable products in developing countries.

Their technology has four layers—a moisture-removing layer, a stain-resistant antimicrobial layer, a layer that is supposed to be the equivalent of a pad, and lastly, a leak-resistant layer.

The underwear comes in three styles—thong, cheeky and hip-hugger. Different styles are designed to hold different levels of bloodflow. The hip-hugger is made to hold at least two tampons worth of blood.

Since the invention of the tampon, there have been no real strides in feminine hygiene, Agrawal told Forbes. She hopes to disrupt the feminine hygiene industry and reduce waste from tampons and pads, getting rid of landfill that results from the traditional means of hygiene.

“I want to change the culture around women’s most normal time of month — and not while wearing grandma panties or pads that feel like a diaper,” Agrawal told Forbes. With underwear that is cute, cost-effective and environmentally friendly, Agrawal is revolutionizing how women experience periods on a global scale.

Judge Orders Jail To Kentucky Clerk Who Denied Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

A Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples was taken into custody for contempt of court earlier today.

“The idea of natural law superceding this court’s authority would be a dangerous precedent indeed,” U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning told Davis, according to the Washington Post’s report.

Rown County clerk Kim Davis harbored national notoriety over her refusal to comply with the Supreme Court order to allow same-sex marriage licenses. Davis said that issuing same-sex marriage licenses would violate her faith, so she ordered her employees to deny all marriage licenses, whether they were same-sex or not.

Her supporters applauded her decision, viewing the federal government’s legalization of same-sex marriage a violation of freedom of religion. However, others viewed her defiance as a violation of fundamental human rights.

In February, Davis issued a marriage license to a transgender couple despite refusing to marry same-sex couples. Camryn and Alexis Colen, who identify as pansexual, had their marriage license issued on February 26 by Davis, who did not ask for Camryn’s birth certificate. Camryn, a transgender man, still has female marked on his birth certificate.

Legislative leaders in Kentucky called for a compromise for same-sex couples to be married in Rowan County without asking Davis to compromise her faith, and not hold her in contempt until they found a resolution.

It is not immediately clear how long Davis will spend in jail.

Cover Photo Credit:David Goehring/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Hearing Begins Today For Six Officers Charged In Death Of Freddie Gray

Hearings began today in Baltimore for the six police officers charged for the arrest and death of Freddie Gray.

Gray, a 25-year-old black man, was arrested on April 12, and died one week later in police custody after suffering a fatal spinal injury.

The hearing will be the first verbal argument for a case that has spanned over five months in written motions.

Today’s arguments will focus on three motions: a call for the case to be dismissed, the state’s attorney to be recused, and whether the six officers charged will face trial together or separately.

Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., who drove the police van that Gray suffered injuries in, is charged with second-degree murder. Three other officers are charged with manslaughter: Officer William G. Porter, Sgt. Alicia D. White and Lt. Brian W. Rice. Facing lesser charges are Officers Garrett E. Miller and Edward M. Nero. All officers involved pleaded not guilty and waived their right to attend the hearing.

Attorneys representing the officers called for the dismissal of the case or the recusal of Moseby because they allege that Moseby’s office issued orders to crack down on law enforcement in the location Gray was arrested. “Mrs. Mosby herself is now an integral part of the story and as such is a central witness,” the motion reads. “In the charges relating to the initial arrest and/or detention of Mr. Gray, Mrs. Mosby herself has become essential exculpatory evidence.”

In the weeks following Gray’s death, nationwide protests occurred against police brutality and treatment of black people at the hands of the state. Protestors gathered at the steps of the courthouse in Baltimore at around 8 a.m., along with protests happening throughout cities across the country.

Twitter user @kwamerose was apparently arrested today at a Freddie Gray protest in Baltimore.

Today’s hearing will also see a call to move the hearing to a different location.

Stay with Rise News as we continue to cover this developing story. Send tips to [email protected].

Cover Photo Credit: POLICEDIVER2/Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

‘George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People’: Ten Year Anniversary Of Kanye’s Iconic TV Moment

10 years ago today, Kanye West went on live television and told the world that George Bush doesn’t care about black people.

On September 2, 2005, four days after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the nation, in front of 8.5 million viewers, his sentiment reflected the frustrations of the American people in response to the failure of the federal government to provide aid to the thousands of victims of the category 5 hurricane.

“I hate the way they portray us in the media,” West said during the Concert For Hurricane Relief, NBC’s live broadcast to aid victims. “If you see a black family it says they’re looting, if you see a white family, it says they’re looking for food.”

At the time, the show’s producers and viewers dubbed the moment as controversial television. Today, it is considered one of the most iconic moments in television history.

Looking back ten years later, we can see how the rest of West’s speech was equally controversial to the George Bush line, as he criticized the Iraq war and acknowledged the disparity in the way media treats black victims and white victims.

Ten years later, #Bushdid911 broke barriers of conspiracy theory status to becoming a widespread Internet movement and joke in its own right. As the topic of police brutality and the killing of black people at the hands of the state have been brought to the forefront of political discussion, West’s ideas on the unfair media portrayal of black people are increasingly relevant today.

“We realize that a lot of people that could help right now are at war fighting another way—they’ve given them permission to go down and shoot us,” West said in 2005.

West’s veracity in that moment has become a casual topic in the realm of pop culture as well. Two nights ago at the MTV Video Music Awards, West announced he’s running for president in 2020. Jokes aside about the delivery of his speech, West’s raw emotions have cascaded into a cultural movement for a younger generation to fight to be heard.

“This is a new mentality. We’re not gonna control our kids with brands. We not gonna teach low self-esteem and hate to our kids,” West said at the VMA’s. “We gonna teach our kids that they can be something. We gonna teach our kids that they can stand up for theyself! We gonna teach our kids to believe in themselves!”

While West isn’t necessarily a master of delivery in these unplanned and sincere moments, maybe he doesn’t have to be, as long as we take a step back and listen.

What do you think about Kanye West’s role in American political discourse? Tell us in the comments below. 

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