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This NFL team is joining forces with police unions to support controversial legislation

Oct. 27, 2017

The San Francisco 49ers and law enforcement have been linked in controversy for well over a year — a result of ex-Niner Colin Kaepernick’s high profile protest regarding civil rights.

The two camps joined together to announce a move supporting gun control legislation. The main goal of the legislation is to ban armor-piercing bullets, silencers and “bump stocks,” which made headlines for changing the Las Vegas shooters weaponry from semi-automatic to automatic.

The Niners have plans to donate $500,000 towards the initiative and part of the donation would go specifically towards nationally publicized PSA’s meant to ease tension between law enforcement and the public.

As gun control legislation is already a highly contentious topic, Robert Harris, secretary of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, underscored the fact that the movement was not aimed at obstructing Second Amendment rights.

“We are unwavering in our support of the Second Amendment. We also believe that common-sense laws should be put into place to protect law-enforcement officers and the citizens they serve,” Harris said. “If as a country we hope to make any progress, it will take all of us to leave our comfort zones.”

In a statement released by the police union and the NFL team, they explain their position:

The duty of law enforcement must also include actively participating in bringing our nation together and working to foster a more understanding and compassionate national dialogue around community and police officer relations. We believe that professional sports teams should utilize their capacity to reach millions of Americans to promote initiatives that help law enforcement professionals and the citizens they serve understand their respective experiences and to listen to one another with an open mind and heart.

The 49ers and police unions intend to reach out to other NFL teams and police unions to garner support for the initiatives.

Team CEO Jed York acknowledges criticism for the stance, but he feels the purpose is what matters.

“If we’re going to move forward, we can’t worry about hurt feelings,” he said. “If we take criticism along the way, we are all willing to take criticism if we can make people safer.”

Reposted with permission.

A former “Price is Right” model is opening up about what she really thinks of Drew Carey

Jan. 11, 2018

Since stepping into Bob Barker’s role as host of “The Price is Right,” Drew Carey has become a staple in households everywhere. According to one former model on the show, the 59-year-old TV personality had big shoes to fill — but he didn’t disappoint.

British model Gwendolyn Osborne-Smith hung up her game show heels in October 2017 after a dozen years as a model on the program. The 39-year-old joined the game show in 2005 — two years before Carey’s arrival — after being spotted during a guest appearance on “The Bold and The Beautiful.”  According to her, Carey helped usher the show into a different era for the models. In his decade as host, the show has seen its first male model and given mics to the models to show off their personalities in addition to their physical features, reported Fox News.

“When Drew Carey stepped in, he was so very happy to make changes and bring ‘Price is Right’ into a new era,” she told Fox News. “We were all ready to become personalities rather than just look like models.”

The actress was one of the first to appear on the series sporting her baby bump, but the show’s host was “supportive” and didn’t force her to “pick between [her] personal life and [her] career.”

“[Carey] was over the moon. And I was, of course, so relieved and elated,” she recalled about telling the host the news of her pregnancy. “He was very happy to have the opportunity, through me, to prove the type of man he was and how different he was than Bob Barker’s era.”

“He celebrates women and uplifts them.”

“I will always be grateful to Drew,” the mother of five gushed. “Before I was married, I was a single mother with a daughter, and he held a high respect for me because of that. I was working with such a respectable man. I’ve never had any concerns of sexual harassment with him. It was actually the opposite. I was embraced and empowered by working with him.”

A fan favorite, Osborne-Smith left the show to take on the mantle of COO of Smith Entertainment Group (SEG), a production company she heads with her husband, former basketball player and sports analyst Kenny Smith.

Ending her time on the show was “bittersweet” for her and Carey both.

“He was very teary-eyed. But he was happy for me,” she revealed. “He and I are good friends, and he knows the journey I’ve been on behind the scenes in terms of production and creating. He’s always been very supportive. It was bittersweet.”

Reposted with permission.

China has banned Katy Perry from the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, and the reason is surprising

Nov. 17, 2017

The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is crumbling faster than the Great Wall of China.

The Shanghai-based show is set to air on CBS on Nov. 28, but a slew of high profile faces — including pop singer Katy Perry — won’t be present.

According to Page Six, an insider disclosed that Perry — who was slated to perform and booked well in advance — had attempted to apply for a Chinese visa but was denied.

The “Chained to the Rhythm” songstress was originally approved to enter the Communist nation, but the decision was reversed after officials rediscovered a controversial incident from a few years back. In 2015, Perry had performed in the Taiwanese capital of Taipei wearing a glittery, sunflower patterned dress. Sunflowers were apparently the adopted symbol for Taiwanese anti-China protesters, and at the time, caused international outrage in the communist nation. (China and Taiwan have been embattled in a longstanding conflict.)

The fact that she also waved a Taiwanese flag during her performance to show support for the country apparently didn’t help matters.

According to a Page Six source, Chinese officials are known to comb the internet for controversial news, which is how the issue resurfaced.

“She was initially granted a visa to perform at the VS show in Shanghai, then Chinese officials changed their minds and yanked her visa,” they explained. “For every artist who wants to perform in China, officials comb through their social-media and press reports to see if they have done anything deemed to be offensive to the country. Maroon 5 was banned a few years ago because one band member wished the Dalai Lama happy birthday on Twitter.”

Gigi Hadid also suddenly dropped out of walking in the show, after  confirming her booking in August. She tweeted, in part, “I’m so bummed I won’t be able to make it to China this year. Love my VS family, and will be with all my girls in spirit!” Her announcement came on the heels of the revelations that four models from Ukraine and Russia — Julia Belyakova, Kate Grigorieva, Dasha Khlystun and Irina Sharipova — had also been denied visas. According to Page Six, supermodel Adriana Lima’s visa has also been held up due to a “diplomatic problem.”

If Katy Perry’s controversial dress is any indication, Hadid’s own past controversy came back to bite her. Earlier this year, she came under fire for “racism” after her fellow model and sister Bella, shared a since-deleted video of her laughing and squinting her eyes while holding a cookie featuring the face of a samurai.

Insiders with the show say the Chinese government is firmly to blame for turning the show into an international media disaster and coordinators are “on the verge of nervous breakdowns.” In addition to people not being allowed in the country, producers are being denied access to shoot anywhere outside of the Mercedes-Benz Studio, where the show is being filmed.

“If you’re going to China, you want to show that you are in China!” an insider griped to Page Six.

“It’s just a nightmare for all the media trying to cover [the show],” said another source. “These TV companies are spending a fortune on it, and they don’t even know what they can shoot when they get there.”

Unfortunately for all the “Katy Kats” out there, they’re going to have to find somewhere else to see their queen. Harry Styles is set to replace the singer along with a rumored performance from resident Victoria’s Secret pal, Taylor Swift.

Bob Foster: An End of An Era

Journalism Writing - MASC 203, Portfolio, Writing

With one semester left, Robert “Bob” Foster looks forward to his future.

“I gotta go; I’m tired now. I’ll come back and joke and jive, but academia has burned me out. The only job I’ll have is to walk to the mailbox and get my check,” he said with a laugh.

The Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Communication Arts professor is lively, gesturing wildly and adding sound effects when he shares his life’s stories. At 68, he has many.

Zannutul Ferdous, a junior in his non-major drawing class, appreciates his perspective.

“You can tell he really isn’t like any other professor to tell at VCU. It’s interesting that he’s been all over the world and seen so many things. It’s insightful,” Ferdous said.

Foster has been a member of the VCU Arts community for 37 years. He graduated from the university with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in 1977.

He always knew he could draw, but never expected to be here today.

“I went through high school, got out of there, took one art class and realized I wasn’t interested,” Foster said.

He was born on Nov. 13, 1946, in Swiftown, Mississippi. He was the fourth generation to live on a cotton plantation. An only child when farm families were large, his parents let him ride their cotton sacks to the fields when he was only four, an experience he remembers fondly.

Foster attended a segregated school until the fourth grade. The change in education after moving to an integrated school was drastically noticeable.

“When I think back on it, I was being programmed by the system with inadequate education. It was like going from the United States to Russia. I didn’t understand anything,” he said.

Science and math were never his strong suits, but Foster still wasn’t focused on art. He just hoped to avoid being drafted into the Vietnam War, which had killed three friends. He entered the Air Force and worked as a heating specialist and after being discharged, worked as a windshield inspector. This was a hard job he didn’t enjoy.

“I came home and I was hot. I was mad. I was angry. I said, God what am I gonna do? A commercial came on advertising an art school. I said that’s it,” he said.

A friend’s mother eventually pointed him to VCU — he would later earn a Masters of Fine Arts at Syracuse University — where he made many undergraduate connections that would lead to his current position.

For Foster, education is about instilling the basics. As a student, he felt he and others weren’t given an essential foundation and only a handful of his own professors provided the necessities.

“My photography teacher taught me how to see. I learned that form should be felt before you touch it. When the picture starts speaking to you, you don’t have to be there to explain it. That’s what I try to teach all of my students,” he said.

With his focus on the fundamentals, Foster considers himself to be boring. However, his list of endeavors and experiences are extensive. He once ran from a bodyguard named Igor while attending an international exhibition in Soviet Union Russia. He’s a brown belt in Shotokan karate. He developed the Scientific and Preparatory Medical Illustration track at VCU.

He jokes often about relaxing after accomplishing so much. Still, he won’t retire from art completely. He wants to turn his focus on history. Foster plans to paint the experiences of the colored troops who fought in the Siege of Vicksburg, beginning with his great grandfather and uncle.

According to Foster, more people should know about the local African Americans who contributed in the Civil War.

“I want to tell the story, our story…so that people can understand what we’ve been through and maybe they’ll evaluate themselves.”


New VCU housing might be a risky business

Journalism Writing - MASC 203, Writing

VCU is home to more than 30,000 students. Figuratively speaking, that is.

In reality, the university struggles to house all of the thousands of students who want to live on campus. It’s no surprise, then, that the university is expanding its housing. New dorms, West Grace Street at Harrison Street and West Broad Street at Ryland, will be completed in Aug. 2015 to the benefit of 411 students.

With this good, however, comes a potential bad. The new dorms are being built directly beside a well-known liquor store run by the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Kendall Crawford, a former VCU dorm security guard, understands the potential risks.

“I’ve seen students getting in trouble for drinking in dorms or coming home drunk. I have friends who’ve gone through bad situations where alcohol has played a role. A new dorm right there is easier access to drinks and the potential for mistakes can go up,” she said.

Students of legal age might be tempted to take advantage of the nearness and buy alcohol for underage friends or make more frequent trips to make purchases.

There will be nearly 200,000 square feet of upper-class residential space. More students will be accommodated and research shows that students living on-campus show greater academic success and have more chances to meet friends.

Still, the proximity to the liquor store has the potential to intensify risky alcohol behaviors in students living so close. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), many students come to colleges with established drinking habits. and campus environment can exacerbate the problem. The NIAAA states that for students between 18 and 24, an estimated 599,000 are unintentionally injured while under the influence annually, 696,000 are assaulted by another student who was drinking, and 97,000 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault.

Angelica Watts, a student living at the Lofts at Capital Garage nearby the construction, worries about the already problematic area.

“Right now, it is already very noisy, especially on the weekends with the club being right there. [Is] a new dorm going to make it worse and with easy access to alcohol? The police are going to be here all of the time,” Watts said.

Officer Greg Felton of the VCU Police Department agrees that drinking, underage or otherwise, poses a significant risk for students.

“The consequences for most people are and can be a lot higher than they actually counted on. You’re talking academic ramifications. Ramifications about where you live and you’ve got your criminal situation,” Felton said.

The potential consequences do seem abundant and calls into question how VCU currently handles alcohol abuse on campus. Several resources and awareness campaigns exist on campus to educate students, such as The Well and Win or Lose Cruiser. With these, there is hope that informed new residents won’t be too negatively affected by their placement.

Officer Felton, however, doesn’t see the new location posing a significant increase in alcohol related dangers.

“I think our challenge is unchanged,” he said. “I think prevention is about sharing information, informing, educating, and for us to do our job. Folks need to remember what the law is. Regardless of where you live, if you don’t want to have an issue with consumption or possession of alcohol, don’t drink until you’re 21.”

The ABC store in question was unavailable for comment.

Senate candidate Ed Gillespie visits VCU

Journalism Writing - MASC 203, Writing

Providing accessibility to the “American dream” is the focus of Republican nominee Ed Gillespie’s Senate campaign.

Gillespie, 53, addressed Virginia Commonwealth University students on Monday and highlighted his plans for economic growth.

“Too many hard working Virginians are feeling squeezed between lost jobs, stagnant wages, reduced working hours, and higher prices for healthcare, energy, college, food…the right policies would ease the squeeze,” he said.

The 30-minute long address and question-and-answer session with Gillespie was co-sponsored by VCU’s Robertson School of Media and Culture and The Society of Professional Journalists and organized by Mass Communications professor Jacob Geiger.

Gillespie presented his five-point agenda to provide more opportunities for Virginians. The first item was his plan to replace The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, with a more affordable option that put patients first.

“In the commonwealth of Virginia, 250,000 of us would lose our insurance this year due to restrictions, regulations, and mandates in the Affordable Care Act,” Gillespie said.
When asked, Gillespie gave specifics on his own proposal which included age-based refundable tax credits and provide protections for those with preexisting conditions so they could not be denied insurance. He mentioned that the Affordable Care Act is estimated to cost $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years. Gillespie said his proposal would save tax payers $1 trillion.

He also discussed his second goal, which is to provide tax and regulatory relief. Gillespie mentioned that America had the highest corporate tax rate in the world, which is “driving American jobs and investment in companies oversees.”

The next three points in his agenda included harnessing American energy production, reforming the education system and taking control of federal spending to reduce the deficit.

When asked about raising the minimum wage, Gillespie said that he supported the current wage but offered an alternative work incentive tax credit, which would be like an additional check coming in to support minimum wage earners.

“The Congressional Budget Office says that a federally mandated increase in minimum wage to $10.10 would destroy between half a million and 1 million jobs. There are better ways to help the working poor than to have the working poor become the unemployed poor,” Gillespie said.

In response to a question about how his lobbyist background would affect his legislative approach, Gillespie brought focus to his bipartisan experience in the White House and private sector and his willingness to cross party lines.

“I will a have very simple test for every vote I cast in the United States Senate…will this bill ease the squeeze on hardworking Virginians and if it doesn’t, I won’t vote for it,” he said. “I don’t care whose bill it is.”

Gillespie is running against the Democratic Party incumbent, Mark Warner, and Libertarian Robert Sarvis. Warner took the Senate office in January. 2009.

Gillespie shared that reforming student loan repayments to reflect income to ease the ability for college graduates to repay student loans was a point of agreement between himself and Sen. Mark Warner.

In his opening remarks, Gillespie shared an account about being the descendant of Irish immigrants and the first generation in his family to go to college and working his way through school. One of his first jobs was as Senate parking lot attendant.

“To go from immigrant janitor to west wing of the White House in two generations time is the American dream and I want to make sure that everyone has that kind of opportunity.”

Humanity Helping Sudan Project: Media Strategy

Journalism Writing - MASC 203, Writing

HHSP: Social Media Plan

The #FEED50K campaign already aims to use social media to promote campaign with the hashtag. However, the hashtag is currently not widely known. I would expand on the recognition first with tangible products containing the hashtag, such as stickers and flyers to share around the many local campuses. Because Humanity Helping Sudan is headquartered in Richmond, this would not be very difficult. Through this, students (who are generally the most social media savvy) and the general public can recognize the hashtag before going online to search for it. Additionally, I would employ online viral sharing tactics such as the one used to raise awareness for ASL. There would be a challenge attached to the #FEED50K hashtag that users could do, share using the hashtag on multiple platforms, and challenge their friends and family to complete or donate to the organization. Finally, HHSP has garnered some public recognition through Manyang Kher’s awards and his introductions to celebrities such as Beyoncé would be useful. I’d reach out to her (because of her recognition of the organization) or any other public figure and request that they share hashtag on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. in any capacity. A small “shout out” from a household name would go very far, especially in a humanitarian campaign such as this.

HHSP: Fact Sheet

  • HHSP was founded locally in 2008 by Manyang Reath Kher, who previously spent 13 years in refugee camps as one of the 20,000 “Lost Boys of Sudan”
  • Three main objectives of HHSP are to combat the severe regional food shortage, provide agricultural and vocational training for refugees, and increase clean drinking water ways in the region
  • Organization has raised thousands of dollars for refugee communities in Sudan and Ethiopia.
  • #FEED50K aims to raise at least $50,000 or one dollar per fishing net
  • Kher was a finalist for the 2012 VH1 Do Something Awards, where he received a $10,000 community grant for HHSP

Humanity Helping Sudan Project hosting #FEED50K social event

2571 Hungary Spring Rd.

Henrico, United States 23294

Nov. 12

Christabel Duah
Media Communications

RICHMOND, Va. –  The Humanity Helping Sudan Project’s (HHSP) #FEED50K campaign was launched to help these victims of the post-war crisis in South Sudan.

#FEED50K aims to raise at least $50,000 to supplement community growth within Sudanese refugee camps. The funds will be used for purchasing fishing nets and medical supplies, building chicken farms, organizing teaching programs and building drinking wells.

On Oct. 30, the organization is hosting a social event to celebrate all of its #FEED50K supporters and the current successes of the campaign. The event will be held at the American Red Cross at 420 E. Cary St. and is sponsored, in part, by Tropical Smoothie.

The event also aims to get donations for the non-profit and raise awareness about the campaign’s goals. All proceeds raised at the event and for the non-profit go towards helping more than 50,000 Sudanese refugees that are at-risk for hunger and malnutrition. Many of them are children and are struggling without support.

HHSP founder Manyang Reath Kher believes educating the public is vital for the organization’s success.

“The public can take a stand and be a movement in the state of health. If we educate the people about what’s going on, they will jump,” Kher said.

HHSP is planning for future fundraising and cooperative events with Virginia Commonwealth University organizations.

“When I came to America, I had people to support me and help to start HHSP and it is important to expand this support so we can exchange goods with partners,” Kher said.

HHSP was founded in 2008 by Kher, a Sudanese refugee and University of Richmond alumnus, to give back to his people and “help refugees help themselves.” The organization provides equipment and supplies that the impoverished can use to sustain themselves and their communities. In six years, the organization has gained support from sponsors including the American Red Cross, VH1, and Whole Foods. HHSP is a certified non-government organization (NGO).