No Trumps๐Ÿ‘ฑ‍♂️ Newsbites
Celebrities join Michelle Obama in urging Americans to support sweeping voting rights bill
Former first lady Michelle Obama and a host of celebrities, including Tom Hanks, Tracee Ellis Ross and Kerry Washington, are calling on Americans to encourage their senators to support a sweeping voting rights package that would thwart efforts by Republican state lawmakers to curb access to the ballot box.

In an open letter published Tuesday by When We All Vote, a nonpartisan organization committed to voter registration that Obama co-chairs, the former first lady and a slew of celebrity signatories urge "Americans of conscience and goodwill to join us in taking a stand for voting rights and to put the power more firmly in the hands of the people."

"We are asking you to join us by calling on your senators to pass the For the People Act immediately," the letter reads in part.

The For the People Act, or S1, aims to expand voting access nationwide. It would bar states from restricting the ability to vote by mail and, among other provisions, call for states to use independent redistricting commissions to create congressional district boundaries. The new bill also includes measures to protect against foreign interference in elections.

Though the act was passed by the House earlier this month, it's likely to hit a roadblock in the Senate -- where it was introduced last week -- as it's not clear there would be enough Republican support to overcome a filibuster.

The open letter says the legislation "is not about choosing one party or one issue over another. It is about commonsense reforms and best practices that make our democracy more open, more fair, and more inclusive."

Among the letter's more than 60 signatories are Alicia Keys, Jada Pinkett Smith, Laverne Cox, Joe Jonas, Leonardo DiCaprio, Carmelo Anthony and Josรฉ Andrรฉs.
Read the full article:

GOP Sen. John Kennedy compares gun violence to drunk driving in hearing after Colorado shooting: 'The answer is not to get rid of all sober drivers'
  • Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana compared the issue of gun violence to drunk driving on Tuesday.
  • "We have a lot of drunk drivers," the GOP senator said. "We ought to try to combat that too."
  • Kennedy's comments come after 18 people were killed in mass shootings in the past week.
Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana on Tuesday suggested that the issue of gun violence is overblown and should be put "in perspective," hours after the United States suffered its second mass shooting in a week.

"We have a lot of drunk drivers in America that kill a lot of people," Kennedy said during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence. "We ought to try to combat that too."

"The answer is not to get rid of all sober drivers," Kennedy continued. "The answer is to concentrate on the problem."

Kennedy further attempted to downplay the matter by drawing comparisons between being a gun owner to being Muslim.

"When a Muslim jihadist blows up a school full of school children, we are often told not to condemn all of the actions of those of the Muslim faith because of the actions of a few. And I agree with that," Kennedy said. "So why doesn't the same rule apply to the 100 million-plus gun owners in America who are exercising their constitutional right?"

Kennedy's comments come after 10 people, including a police officer, were killed in a mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado on Monday, and after eight people lost their lives in three shootings in Georgia last Tuesday.

.. But most Republicans, like Kennedy, have criticized gun-safety measures as making it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to buy guns. Republicans have also often stoked fears that Democrats are trying to take guns away from their current owners.
Read the full article:

Obama says that a pandemic 'cannot be the only thing that slows mass shootings' in response to the Colorado massacre
  • Obama said that COVID-19 should not be the only factor slowing down the pace of mass shootings.
  • A gunman killed 10 people, including a police officer, at a Boulder, CO, grocery store on Monday.
  • Obama said the US must "make it harder for those with hate in their hearts to buy weapons of war."
Officers announced on Tuesday that 10 people were killed during a Monday shooting at a King Soopers grocery store. The victims, all of whom have been identified, ranged between 20 and 65 years old.

A suspect, 21-year-old Ahmad Alissa, is in custody and has been charged in all 10 murders, Insider reported. The motive is so far undetermined.

"In many ways, our lives may soon start to return to normal after a long, difficult year filled with so much loss. But in a normal life, we should be able to buy groceries without fear. We should be able to go to school, or go out with our friends, or worship together without mentally planning our escape if someone shows up with a gun," Obama said.

... Former First Lady Michelle Obama also weighed in on the shootings, tweeting: "I'm heartbroken by these recent tragedies of gun violence, and I just keep thinking about all the leaders who won't take a stand to save lives and yet line up to pass bills that make it harder for us to vote."
Read the full article:

Cash-strapped USPS announces major changes that could mean higher postage rates and slower first-class mail delivery
  • The US Postal Service announced a number of service changes to cut costs on Tuesday.
  • The changes could mean slower first-class mail delivery and higher postage rates.
  • The cash-strapped agency struggled to deliver mail and packages on time over the holidays.
The US Postal Service on Tuesday unveiled a 10-year strategic plan that includes modernizing operations to meet increased e-commerce demands, slowing first-class mail delivery in some cases, and offering fewer hours at post offices in certain areas.

The plan was announced by officials, including Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and USPS Board of Governors Chairman Ron Bloom, at a Tuesday press conference. It is aimed at getting the embattled agency, which operates off of the revenues it earns from mail and package delivery and does not take taxpayer money, onto more solid ground.

"As presently constituted, the Postal Service's ability to serve its twin mandate to bind the nation together and remain financially self-sufficient is profoundly threatened," Bloom said. "Without action, our service will continue to deteriorate, and our public service mission will be threatened".

A major component of the newly unveiled plan is scaling up and modernizing logistics operations to meet the increasing demand for fast package delivery.

The agency also plans to make adjustments to mail services. The Postal Service, which says it has not consistently met its current first-class delivery standards in eight years, plans to extend delivery timelines for some first-class mail by one or two days, and modify hours at some post office locations.

Currently, postage rates start at 35 cents for postcards, 55 cents for regular envelopes, 91 cents for marketing mail, and $7.16 for Priority Mail. Postage and package delivery rates could be increased to meet the evolving demands of Postal Service customers, but any rate hikes would need to be approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission.

Bloom said that while most of the strategic plan is "self-help," the agency will ask for "legislative relief" from Congress to be released from its current requirement to pre-fund all its existing pension obligations and also to be able to integrate its health plans with Medicare.
Read the full article:

Radicalized Christian nationalism is one of the biggest threats facing the US. Christian leaders need to root the extremism from their communities.
  • Today, right-wing extremism is arguably the biggest terrorist threat facing America, and it is entangled with religion. In the Christian context, as is the case in Islam, faith itself is not to blame for extremism.
  • Christian leaders must embrace their responsibility to address the growing extremism in their midst.
With the Senate's decision to acquit former President Donald Trump, it seems that Trump will not be held immediately accountable for his actions that led to the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol. Yet the extremism that led to the insurrection runs deeper than Trump, and it can and must be addressed regardless of what consequences Trump suffers.

At the Capitol riot, the presence of Christianity was undeniable. Footage shows insurrectionists inside the Senate chamber praying at the Senate podium. They held signs reading, "Jesus 2020," a white cross declaring "Trump won", and marched through the halls of Congress yelling "The blood of Jesus covering this place." Many of the rioters were participants in the Jericho March earlier that day.

What is crucial to recognize is that although the mob at the Capitol may have lacked any centrally-organized leadership, the movements that fostered the extremism on display do rely on leaders. And just as Muslim heads of state and Imams around the world have been expected to condemn the acts of terrorists, Christian leaders in America should now be expected to condemn the extremists of Christian nationalism and work to root out extremism from their communities.

Although some Christian leaders have spoken out against the events at the Capitol, many more have stayed silent. Others have even doubled-down on their support for President Trump, criticizing Republicans in the House of Representatives who voted for his impeachment. GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, a born-again Christian, received threatening hate mail from fellow evangelicals. Franklin Graham, the son of the famous pastor Billy Graham, compared Kinzinger and his Republican colleagues who voted for impeachment to Judas, the biblical disciple who betrayed Jesus.

Taking a strong vocal stance is important, but no one should be under the illusion that statements of condemnation are enough. As Muslim communities around the world have learned in the decades since the 9/11 attacks, successful deradicalization efforts require sustained, grassroots engagement at the community level. This means Christian leaders who object to the kind of violent Christian nationalism that was on display at the Capitol need to start doing the hard work of pulling their flocks back from extremism.

Like Muslim extremists, Christian extremists harbor a theocratic worldview, in which they believe their values are superior and they must upend the balance of power and impose their beliefs by any means necessary. They believe the ends justify the means.

Much has been written about how the doctrines of groups like al-Qaida and ISIS deviate from the teachings of Islam. Yet much less has been said about how much the dogmas of Christian nationalism depart from the teachings of the Bible.

Christian nationalists like GOP Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri and the extremists who find inspiration in his words do what they do because they think it will help them gain the power they need to make the changes they believe will make society better. But for Christians, immoral means should never justify moral ends. The teachings of Jesus could not be more clear: followers of Christ are supposed to live their lives a certain way and be a certain type of person — not achieve certain ends. To ignore that crucial precept is to miss the forest for the trees.

... As leaders in their communities, Christian leaders have an obligation to push back. They have to start demonstrating the leadership to resist.
Read the full article:

2020 saw more gun deaths in the US than any year in over two decades, showing even a pandemic couldn't stop the violence
  • There were a record number of gun violence deaths in 2020: 19,379.
  • This represents a huge leap from recent years, and the highest number in over two decades.
  • By one definition, there were also 611 mass shootings in 2020.
"The difference between a fatality and a survivor might be simply a matter of marksmanship," Dr. Garen Wintemute, an emergency medicine physician and director of the University of California Firearm Violence Research Center, recently told ABC News. "There's no such thing as an insignificant life. We pay extra attention when a bunch of lives are lost all at once in a single event. We're less aware of all the people who die or are shot or survive one at a time."
Read the full article:

or Trump-ism

Trumpism refers to the nontraditional political philosophy and approach espoused by Donald Trump and his supporters. The term Trumpism can also be used to directly refer to an outrageous or idiosyncratic statement made by Donald Trump.

Trump, whom many observers consider an anomaly, left the White House by saying, “We will be back in some form.” His legacy is “Trumpism” – a wave of white nationalism.

Trumpisms are Bushisms on steroids.