Gov. Greg Abbott Announces Texas Will Open “100 Percent”

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Photo courtesy of Twitter.

By Terrance Turner

March 3, 2021

Today, Texas Governor Greg Abbott made a game-changing announcement.

In remarks delivered live from Lubbock, Gov. Abbott touted the state’s economy: “If Texas were its own country, it would still have the ninth largest economy in the world.” But due to the pandemic, he said, the economy has suffered. “Too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities. too many small business owners have struggled to pay their bills. This must end,” Gov. Abbott said. And then, he said:

“It is now time to open Texas 100 percent.”

“Everybody who wants to work should have that opportunity. Every business that wants to be open should be open,” the governor declared, adding that “we are in a completely different position” than when he issued an executive order last March. Back then, Texans didn’t even know what PPE was, he said. He highlighted the tests and therapeutics that have become available over the past year, as well as the protective measures citizens have adopted. “Texans have mastered the daily habits to avoid getting COVID. But most importantly,” he said, “in Texas and across the country, we now have vaccines — vaccines to protect Texans from COVID.” More than 5.7 million vaccine shots have been administered in Texas, he claimed.

Gov. Abbott further promised that “by the end of this month, every senior who wants a vaccine shot will be able to get a vaccine shot.” Hospitalizations in Texas are the lowest they’ve been in four months. The same goes for the positivity rate, he said. (According to the Associated Press, “the seven-day rolling average of positive tests has dropped to about 7,600 cases, down from more than 10,000 in mid-February.”) The number of active COVID cases are the lowest they’ve been since November, the governor claimed.

Gov. Abbott cautioned that the virus has not disappeared. But state mandates are no longer needed, he says. Today, he is issuing an executive order that rescinds most of the previous orders he issued. And Gov. Abbott took his already bold pronouncement one step further: “Effective next Wednesday, all businesses, of any type, are allowed to open 100 percent. That includes any type of entity in Texas. Also, I am ending the statewide mask mandate.”

Abbott stressed that personal responsibility is still necessary regarding the spread of COVID-19. Personal vigilance is crucial, he stated: “Each person has their own role to play in their own personal safety, as well as in the safety of others.” Nevertheless, he asserted that the statewide mandates are no longer necessary. Businesses are free to continue capacity limits for safety, he said, but the governor added that “people and businesses don’t need the state telling them how to operate.”

Abbott tempered his bold order with one caveat: if the positivity rate of counties and cities rises above 15% for seven straight days, a county judge may take action of mitigation strategies like a mask mandate. However, nobody can be arrested for breaking rules on masks.

Texas is the latest (and largest) of the states to ease COVID-19 restrictions, as cases and hospitalizations drop. (North Dakota, Montana and Iowa have also lifted mask orders in recent weeks.) But the AP reports that only California and New York have reported more COVID-19 deaths than Texas. According to the New York Times, Texas has been averaging about 7,600 new cases a day recently, a figure that rebounded after a drop in February when testing was disrupted by a severe winter storm. It is among the top 10 states in recent spread, relative to the size of its population.

Significantly, Gov. Abbott delivered his remarks from a Mexican restaurant — on the 185th anniversary of Texas declaring independence from Mexico in 1836.

“The United States vs. Billie Holiday” Sheds Light on a Little-Known Piece of Black History

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By Terrance Turner

Feb. 28, 2021

Tonight, singer Andra Day won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama for her portrayal of jazz singer Billie Holiday in “The United States vs. Billie Holiday”. The film, directed by Lee Daniels, dramatizes how Holiday was hounded by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics for her landmark song “Strange Fruit”.

The song, based on a poem by writer Abel Meeropol, depicts the widespread practice of lynching; the hanging of Black people was a common practice in the American South between the 1860s and 1960s. It was an unflinching description of the brutality that Black people often experienced: “The poem was inspired by a photograph of the lynching of two young black men in Indiana,” writes Edwin Moore. “Copies of such photographs were very popular in the American south, and the images can be easily found on the web […] In many cases, the hanged victims are surrounded by smiling white people waving at the camera. They sometimes have their children with them. The horrible truth is that in parts of the south in the early 20th century, the hanging of black people in public was a family occasion; lynching was part of the social fabric.” It was that practice outlined in the song:

Southern trees bear strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black body swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Meeropol wrote the poem in 1937, around the same time that a Senate bill meant to end lynching in the U.S. failed to pass. He brought the poem to Cafe Society, a club in New York’s Greenwich Village. It had already been set to music, but it was Holiday’s version that would linger. Meeropol called her version “a startling, most dramatic, and effective interpretation.” Daniels depicts Day singing “Strange Fruit” in close-up, with lines about “a fruit for the crows to pluck / For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck / For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop / Here is a strange and bitter crop.”

The song became controversial; many club owners later refused to let her perform the song. But Holiday refused to back down. “‘Fruit’ goes a long way in telling how they mistreat Negroes down South,” she once said. The film depicts the tension between her husband James Monroe, manager Joe Glazer, and Holiday over the song. In one scene, Glazer decides to remove the song from Holiday’s setlist. “I’ve scratched it,” he tells her bluntly. Holiday protests that she should be allowed to sing the song: “It’s important to me.” Besides, “People pay good money to hear me sing it.” (Indeed, her 1939 recording of the song sold over a million copies, becoming one of her best-known songs.)

Glazer retorts that it’s written by Abel Meeropol, “a commie”. “I don’t care,” Holiday responds. She accuses both Glazer and Monroe of being friends with Harry Anslinger (the first head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics). Anslinger decides to prosecute Holiday for the song. In a closed-door meeting with lawmakers, he insists that “this Holiday woman’s got to be stopped. She keeps singing this ‘Strange Fruit’ song, and it’s causing a lot of people to think the wrong things.”

“Why is this so important to you, Harry?” asks one man. (Anslinger might’ve responded that after the failure of Prohibition, his department was soon becoming obsolete. Instead, he uses Holiday’s drug problem as justification: “Drugs and niggers are a contamination to our great American civilization.”

It is that basis on which the federal government begins harassing Holiday. On May 16, 1947, Holiday was arrested for possession of narcotics in her New York apartment. On May 27 she was in court. “It was called ‘The United States of America versus Billie Holiday’. And that’s just the way it felt,” she recalled. She was sentenced to 366 days in jail — one year and one day. Forced to go cold turkey in jail, she eventually lost her cabaret card, which forced her to perform in concert venues and large halls. It was one more indignity in Holiday’s existence, which was marked by sexual abuse, domestic violence, and a heroin addiction that ruined her voice and her life. She was arrested and handcuffed to her hospital bed shortly before her death from cirrhosis in 1959, aged just 44.

Tonight, Andra Day won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama for her uncanny portrayal of Holiday. The last Black woman to win in this category was Whoopi Goldberg in 1986. (She won for her wrenching performance as Celie in “The Color Purple”.)

President Biden Arrives in Houston

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President Biden gets a hug from a young girl who was volunteering with her mom at the Houston Food Bank. Photo courtesy of Twitter (@dougmillsnyt).

By Terrance Turner

Feb. 26, 2021

BREAKING NEWS (12:00 pm): President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden have arrived at Ellington Airport. Upon leaving the plane, they were greeted by Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) as well as Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX), Cong. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (D). The President and First Lady took separate vehicles; the President is reportedly headed to NRG Park, while Dr. Biden is heading to the Houston Food Bank, in northeast Houston. (As it turned out, the president also went to Houston Food Bank. There, he and the First Lady bagged up food to give to Houstonians, according to ABC 13 Houston.)

UPDATE: In a televised address at NRG Park, Biden updated the public about the COVID-19 vaccine efforts in the city of Houston. “I wanna show the American people the extraordinary effort,” he said. “It’s remarkable. About six thousand doses a day here.” People can call by phone, sign up online, drive up, stay in their cars, and get a shot, he explained. That requires massive logistical coordination.

“VP Harris and I did a virtual tour in Arizona,” Biden noted. One nurse told him she felt like she was administering “a dose of hope”. And that’s what Biden was offering in today’s address — along with a lot of information. He’s sent millions of vaccines to local pharmacies (over 7000) because people feel comfortable going there, Biden said. That includes 50 pharmacies here in Houston. Also: pop-up clinics are being deployed to rural areas “to meet folks where they live,” Biden said. Additionally, vaccines are being sent to community health centers, to reach diverse communities. As Biden noted, Black, Latino, and Native American populations have higher rates of COVID-19 infections and deaths than any other group.

COVID-19 hospitalizations are down; they’ve declined dramatically in recent weeks. But “I need to be honest with you,” Biden said. “Cases and hospitalizations could go up as new variants emerge. And it’s not the time to relax. We have to keep washing our hands, staying socially distant, and — for God’s sake — wear your mask. Wear your mask.” The president warned that “the worst thing we could do now is let our guard down.”

The president acknowledged the history that has many Black and brown Americans hesitant about the vaccine (i.e. the Tuskegee experiment). “There is a history in this country of subjugating certain communities to terrible medical and scientific abuse,” he said. “But if there’s one message that needs to cut through all of this: The vaccines are safe. I promise you. They’re safe and effective. Listen to Dr. Fauci. Listen to the scientists,” Biden urged. “I did. And I took my shot publicly to demonstrate to the American people that it’s safe and effective. To address this challenge, we’re gonna launch a massive campaign to educate people about the vaccines,” Biden said.

‘This past year has been one of the most painful years in American history,” Biden concluded. “I met today with Gov. Abbott, Sen. Cornyn — conservatives Republicans. I’m a Democratic president. There’s plenty of things we disagree on, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But there’s a lot of things we can work on together.” One of them, Biden said, is the virus. “We’re not giving shots to Democrats or Republicans; we’re giving shots to Americans,” the president emphasized. “None of this has a a partisan tinge or a partisan element to it.”

Biden highlighted his connection to Houston. At Houston’s M.D. Anderson Clinic, the president’s son Beau Biden was treated when he had brain cancer. “We’re gonna beat cancer. I know we will,” Biden declared. He said if he could be known for one thing, it would be ending cancer as we know it. Biden also noted the landing of a Rover on Mars. That mission was in part developed by a team here in Houston. “We can do anything!” he exclaimed. “America can do anything.”

“Americans never give up, they never give in, they never cry uncle — they just struggle, innovate, and they preserve — and persevere,” Biden said. “God bless you all, and may God protect our troops. You’re the best.”

Tiger Woods Hospitalized After Car Crash

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By Terrance Turner

Feb. 23, 2021

Golf legend Tiger Woods has been hospitalized after a rollover car accident in Los Angeles. The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department says that the single-car accident happened around 7:12 AM and that Woods had to be cut out of the car using the jaws of life. He was taken to the hospital by ambulance. The vehicle sustained major damage, the sheriff’s department said. Woods was the only occupant of the vehicle, per the department.

“Tiger Woods was in a single-car accident this morning in California where he suffered multiple leg injuries,” his manager Mark Steinberg, said. “He is currently in surgery and we thank you for your privacy and support.” The Spectator Index is saying that Woods suffered leg fractures and is currently in surgery.

UPDATE (6:33 PM): A press conference was held roughly an hour ago. Authorities told reporters that Woods was traveling north on Hawthorne Boulevard at Blackhorse Road when he crashed. Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Woods was traveling at a “relatively greater speed than normal” descending down a hill, noting that the area “has a high frequency of accidents.” The sheriff said there were no skid marks and no signs of braking, adding that the golfer’s vehicle hit the center divider, a curb and a tree in the rollover crash.

The windshield had to be removed to free Woods from the vehicle. He was taken to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center by ambulance; he is in serious condition, the Fire Department said. His injuries included a shattered ankle and two leg fractures, one of which was compound, according to a source quoted by the Los Angeles Times. His injuries were non-life-threatening. At this point, there are no signs of impairment or DUI on Woods’ part. He was awake and lucid when approached, authorities said. He was able to identify himself and the vehicle (a 2021 Genesis SUV).

UPDATE (9:37 pm): Dr. Sanjay Gupta appeared on “Anderson Cooper 360” to discuss the medical impact of the crash. Gupta stated that Woods suffered a compound fracture, which means that the broken bone may have broken through the skin (!!!). Also, he was transported to a trauma center and not the closest hospital, indicating that responders were not concerned about his ability to survive the car ride. That would be a good sign — an indication that Woods’ injuries were serious but not life-threatening.

An investigation into the crash is ongoing.

This is a developing story. Check back for more updates.

Inside Aaron Rodgers’ Shocking Engagement

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By Terrance Turner

Feb. 23, 2021

Aaron Rodgers shocked the world on Feb. 6.

During his acceptance speech for the MVP award at the NFL Honors, Rodgers reflected on 2020 and casually dropped a bombshell: “I got engaged, and I played some of the best football of my career.” He later thanked his fiancée in his acknowledgements, though he did not name her.

Now, we know who the lucky lady is: Big Little Lies actress Shailene Woodley. She confirmed the news last night, during an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. When Fallon asked her directly, Woodley answered affirmatively: “Yes. We are engaged.”

The world was shocked by the announcement of their betrothal — after a whirlwind six-month romance. But Woodley doesn’t get why everyone is so surprised. “But for us it’s not new news. So it’s kind of funny. Everybody right now is freaking out over it and we’re like, ‘Yeah, we’ve been engaged for awhile,’” said Woodley. (Maybe people are “freaking out” because of the breakneck escalation of their relationship? Rodgers broke up with racecar driver Danica Patrick in July but got engaged to Woodley by February.)

But if Woodley’s comments are any indication, this betrothal may have been official for some time: “Yeah, we got engaged awhile ago and it’s been … he’s, first off, a wonderful, incredible human being. But I never thought I’d be engaged to somebody who threw balls for a living. But I never thought as a little girl, ‘Yeah, when I grow up I’m going to marry someone who throws balls, yeah!’ But he’s really just so good at it,” she said. “He can throw fast balls, he can throw slow balls, high balls, low balls.” (Indeed: Rodgers had a 70.7% completion percentage in 2020, throwing 48 touchdowns and just five interceptions. So he throws balls very well indeed.)

Fallon then asked her if she’s spent much time in Green Bay and if she is a football fan. “I didn’t really grow up with sports, especially American sports. It was never really on my radar,” she explained. “When we met, also, I knew he was a football guy, but I didn’t know like what kind of a football guy he was. And I’m still constantly learning.”

Despite Rodgers’ legendary career — he took Green Bay to the NFC Championship this year and led Green Bay to a Super Bowl in 2010 — Woodley doesn’t know much about football. “I still have never been to a football game,” Woodley said. That includes this past season: because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Packers stadium was closed. And before she met Rodgers, she hadn’t even watched a game on TV. “Before I met him, I’d never seen one football game,” she said.

“When we met, I knew he was a football guy, but I didn’t know what kind of a football guy he was,” said Woodley. “I am still constantly learning. I don’t get it. He’s good. He’s great. But, like, I don’t understand. Because I don’t know him as the football guy! I know him as like, the nerd who wants to host Jeopardy! That’s the dude I know. He just happens to also be very good at sports.”

The engagement took many by surprise, but E! Online quoted a source who echoed Woodley’s nonchalance. “It’s a quick engagement, but for those that know them, it didn’t come as a surprise.” The source added:  “They had a very intense connection from the beginning. They both knew early on that it was something special and different from what they had experienced in other relationships.” The source also revealed: “They have spent the entire fall together and lived together throughout.”

The engagement is remarkable not just for its rapid pace but for the unusually private way that it unfolded. The two have yet to even be photographed together! Elle magazine described their relationship as “private and low-key” in an article earlier this month. Also remarkable: the sudden shift in Rodgers’ closely guarded personal life. Rodgers, who turned 37 last year, has never married and has no children. For viewers like me, who thought of him as a career-centered, eternal bachelor, the news comes as a shock.

Until now, Rodgers was something of a statistical anomaly. According to the 2015 American Community Survey, 72% of men will marry by age 37. And 76% of men are married by 40. According to a 2009 data brief by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “The probability that men will marry by age 40 is 81%; for women, it is 86%.”

Meghan McCain Dragged on Twitter After Calling for Dr. Fauci’s Ouster

By Terrance Turner

Feb. 22, 2021

On today’s episode of “The View”, co-host Meghan McCain once again voiced controversial views — this time on the COVID-19 pandemic. During a panel discussion about the virus and its impact, McCain played a clip from CNN. In the clip, Dr. Anthony Fauci was asked a question by CNN anchor Dana Bash. A couple who had just been vaccinated wanted to know if they can see their grandchildren, who aren’t yet vaccinated.

“There will be recommendations coming out. I don’t want to be making a recommendation now on public TV,” Fauci said. “I would want to sit down with the team and take a look at that.” Those comments drew the ire of McCain, who went on a lengthy rant. “I was very frustrated when I saw this clip,” McCain said, explaining she has “respect” for the pandemic that has now taken 500,000 American lives and doesn’t mean to “downplay” the tragedy.

“That being said, next week it will be a year since we left the studio and I have been very responsible in many different ways as so many Americans have been,” she continued. “And the fact that Dr. Fauci is going on CNN and he can’t tell me that if I get the vaccine, if I’ll be able to have dinner with my family.”

“It’s terribly inconsistent messaging and it continues to be inconsistent messaging,” she said, comparing the U.S. response to a billboard from Israel she saw online—“Get a shot, take a shot”—that promised people they could go to bars with their friends after getting vaccinated.

“The fact that I, Meghan McCain, co-host of The View, don’t know when or how I will be able to get a vaccine because the rollout for my age range and my health is so nebulous, I have no idea when and how I get it,” the 36-year-old pundit said. “I want to get it. If you call me at three o’clock in the morning, I will go any place at any time to get it.”

“I want to be responsible and obviously wait my turn,” she continued, “but this rollout has been a disaster. And I understand President Trump can take much of the blame, but now we’re in the Biden administration and I, for one, would like something to look forward to and to hope for because if getting the vaccine means that just nothing changes and we have to wait another few years until everyone gets it, there’s already a lot of people not getting it.

“So I’m over Dr. Fauci,” McCain declared. “I think we need to have more people giving more opinions and honestly quite frankly, I think the Biden administration should remove him and put someone in place that does understand science or can talk like these other countries about how we can be more like these other places that are doing this successfully.”

Whoopi Goldberg noted that Israel is a much smaller country than the U.S., and its residents didn’t express as much resistance to mask-wearing. She added that Fauci might be avoiding recommendations for fear they might turn out to be wrong later. McCain wasted not time with a rebuttal: “I know what I’m saying is controversial, I really do. But I’m not a phony and I’m not going to come on air and say something different than what I’m saying privately.”

“It has nothing to do with you,” Goldberg said, attempting to explain that it was time for commercials. McCain continued to argue her point, forcing Goldberg to talk over her and cut to break: “We’ll be right back.”

As you might have guessed, McCain was swiftly pilloried by many on Twitter. Many criticized her as being self-absorbed and entitled:

Demi Lovato Stuns With New Song on “Ellen”

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

By Terrance Turner

Feb. 22, 2021

Singer Demi Lovato appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show today. She discussed her new documentary “Dancing with the Devil”, which chronicles her journey to recovery after a near-fatal overdose in 2018. (Lovato has struggled with both an eating disorder and bipolar disorder. She’s been open about both — and the addiction that nearly claimed her life.)

“I talk about a lot [in the docuseries],” Lovato, 28, told show host Ellen DeGeneres. “The world has been so loving and accepting of me telling my story and just, there’s been so much love and support. What’s great is we live in a time when nobody’s perfect, and we’re not gonna get role models by watching people not make mistakes.”

“We are going to meet and learn from our role models who have overcome their deepest darkest struggles,” she continued. “I wanted to show everyone — first, I wanted to set the record straight.” Lovato explained that “a lot of stories were going around that time that didn’t really know what exactly had happened.” She gets to tell her own story in “Dancing with the Devil,” a four-part docuseries that premieres on YouTube on March 23.

She also opened up about why she cut off all her hair (Lovato appeared with a dramatic short cut, dyed pink). “I just feel so free,” Lovato said in a recent interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. “I feel more authentic to who I am. I also feel like I used to hide behind my hair. I’ve talked a lot about my past being in recovery from an eating disorder, and I used to use my hair to hide behind. It would cover my body. So when I started doing all this work on myself, I thought, ‘What is something I’ve been holding onto my whole life that I need to let go of?’ It was that and… yeah, I just feel more myself now.”

Lovato appeared with singer-songwriter Sam Fischer, who wrote her new song “What Other People Say”. The power ballad explores expectations of other “So the writing session that I wrote ‘What Other People Say’ was supposed to be another artist. They didn’t turn up,” Fischer explains. “It was before anything had happened for me, and I was kind of in a pretty rough mental place; I didn’t think anything was gonna happen for me as an artist,” he said. The song was inspired by Fisher thinking about other people’s expectations of him — expectation he hadn’t met. The confessional lyrics speak of someone who’s lost their way by trying to be what everyone else wants.

Thought when I grew up, I would be the same
As the ones who gave me my last name
I would not give in, I would not partake
In the same old drugs everyone else takes

[Pre-Chorus]
I’m better than that, I’m better than that
I’m livin’ my life so I go to Heaven and never come back
But look where I’m at, look where I’m at
I’m livin’ the life that I said I wouldn’t and wanna go back

First verse and pre-chorus of “What Other People Say”

Lovato belted out the song’s emotional chorus: “I used to call my mom every Sunday, so she knew her love wasn’t far away. But now I’m all ‘messed’ up out in LA, ’cause I care more about what other people say.” After Lovato sang the hell of the song’s first half, Fisher delivered the second verse, which sounds as if it were ripped right from his diary:

I wish I could shelter the boy I knew
From the constant hell I’d put him through

‘Cause I’m all grown up and I’m black and blue
I could use some tape, I could use some glue

From

The two joined forces on the second chorus, which they cleaned up for TV. The original lyrics are printed below, courtesy of Genius:

I used to call my mom every Sunday
So she knew her love wasn’t far away
But now I’m all fucked up out in LA
‘Cause I care more about what other people say
I used to not take chances with God’s name
But it’s been so long since I last prayed
And now I’m all fucked up and my heart’s changed
‘Cause I care more about what other people say

“What Other People Say”

The two blended beautifully, but Lovato was a stunner: she delivered the gut-wrenching chorus with a level of vocal and emotional power I’d forgotten she had. (It’s easy to forget what a great singer she is.) Her duet with Fischer brought me to tears. The performance is embedded below:

Sex, Lies, and Videotape On A Scandalous Episode of #RHOA

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By Terrance Turner

Feb. 21, 2021

“What is your definition of a ‘freak hoe’?”

“Have you ever engaged in any freak hoe activity?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know, Mr. Producer.”

So begins tonight’s episode of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, with cast member Kenya Moore lighting cigarettes and dressed in a sleeveless white dress — in homage to the hit film Basic Instinct (1992). Tonight, cast member Cynthia Bailey celebrated her bachelorette party, ahead of her wedding to longtime love and FOX host Mike Hill. But things got a little out of hand at the party.

Kandi Burruss-Tucker threw a dungeon-themed bachelorette party for Bailey, with all the women dressing up in lingerie and affecting “alter egos” consistent with light BDSM vibes. Kenya Moore went by “Chocolate”; Cynthia went by “50 Cynt”, the nickname she created after she turned 50. (Cynthia turns 54 this year, although you’d never know it by looking at her). Kandi is “Mistress Angel”, setting the rules for the party. “The dungeon is a judgement-free zone,” Kandi tells the girls. “So if you came to judge, take your ass home.” Sexual liberation is the theme of the night.

Image
Photo courtesy of Twitter.

“I am a teacher of sorts,” Kandi explains in a confessional interview. “I teach people how to not give a f–k. Own who you are, and have a good-ass time.” That’s exactly the vibe we get when we see Kandi and Porsha Williams — once fierce combatants — laughing and talking about the party in an earlier scene. Kandi points out that Porsha doesn’t have a mask, only a face shield. “No, I’ma be unprotected,” Porsha laughs. “I want it raw.”

Indeed. The party is a celebration of raw sexuality, planned without Bailey’s knowledge. Kandi arranges the party festivities with the other women, while Cynthia has no idea what’s in store for her. “She’s totally clueless — which, to be honest, isn’t really anything new,” Kandi comments in a confessional.

But Cynthia soon finds out. Kandi gives her a scandalous outfit, complete with vibrating panties, and gives the women $4000 in $1 bills to spend on the exotic dancer who arrived at the party. He is none other than the infamous Bolo the Entertainer — a gorgeous, muscular stripper with pillow-soft lips. He’s inside a glass box, clad in what Marlo Hampton claims is “fake” Chanel. (But that statement rings very hollow coming from a woman whose real job is still unclear after 10 years on reality TV.)

The women go inside. Bolo later joins them, performing a sexy striptease for the ladies that includes somersaults and indecent exposure. Kandi shows Cynthia a sex swing, which she apparently intends to give her as a wedding gift. (Cynthia is caught off guard, to say the least.) Bolo finishes his routine and exits the room, but Kenya demands he return. Porsha goes to a room to recruit Bolo. He asks if the crew are still filming.

The camera crew agree to wrap filming. They leave. The cast members (including Porsha) cover up the remaining cameras. “One of you bitches is eating me out tonight,” Porsha says. But according to Kenya, the story goes further than that. “I heard sexy music, so I come downstairs,” she recalls. Latoya was straddling Porsha, “and they were making out and grinding”, Kenya reveals.

A conversation takes place between Bailey and Bolo. “Congratulations, bride-to-be,” Bolo tells Cynthia. (It’s a conversation that takes place off-camera.) Apparently, Bolo was having conversations with more than just Cynthia. A couple more of the women join him for a “group hug”, Bolo says. In another off-camera conversation — only the audio is captured — Bolo invites interactions with a lewd come-on: “As long as I got a face, you always got somewhere to sit.”

“Oh, my God,” Bolo moans on the videotaped audio. He doesn’t leave until 7:06 AM, according to the Bravo timestamps and footage. Cast member LaToya Ali later reveals she didn’t go to bed until the sun came up. So what actually went down that night?

” A lot of things happened throughout the night,” Kandi says in her interview. But she doesn’t provide many details. The other girls do. The next morning, the women commiserate on the events of the night before. Cynthia and Drew try to piece together what happened that night. Cynthia is asked whether she plans to tell her fiancé Mike what happened. She says she will — but she wants to tell him in person.

“”I saw Toya on top of Porsha, grinding and kissing,” Kenya says. “And then, Tanya was on top of Toya,” Cynthia adds. “Like, they could’ve been kissing. A titty fell in somebody mouth…”

“It was chill…and then it just kept escalating and escalating,” Kenya remembers. “It was some breasts out, and it was some Bolo.”

“Wait. What?” Cynthia asks, in disbelief.

“They heads was disappeared,” Kenya answers. In a later scene, she remarks that castmate Drew Sidora surprised here with her level of commitment to the shenanigans. “Drew — I was totally shocked,” she later comments.

Taken aback, Cynthia asks, “What was Drew doing?”

“What wasn’t she doing?” Kenya asks. She takes it upon herself to launch an investigation into the events of the night before. “I wanna know whose p—y got murdered in these sheets.”

While some of the girls (including Cynthia and Kenya) stay at home, a group involving Kandi, Marlo and Porsha go out to fish. A terrifying moment occurs when Marlo inadvertently catches a shark! Thankfully, the fisherman on site is able to cut the line. The girls discuss the outstanding issues between Kenya and Marlo, who have tangled numerous times over the years. But in the end, Marlo and Kenya appear to have resolved any lingering disagreements in their “friendship”.

The women return to the house to find that no food has been cooked while they were gone. Instead of preparing food, Kenya (the “host”) has prepared to open deliberations in “Bolo Court”. Kandi pointedly asks if any dinner was made. Cynthia responds: “Kandi’s hungry. It’s about to go left.” And it will — once the truth finally comes out.

AOC Flies To Houston, Helps Raise $3 Million For Texas

Photo by KPRC.

By Terrance Turner

Feb. 20, 2021

While Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) faces backlash for his trip to Cancun amid Texas winter storms, one of his political rivals is doing his job for him. House Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) flew to Houston last night, joining Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) to help out struggling Texans. On Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez (known as AOC) launched a fundraiser to help millions facing freezing temperatures without heat, lights, or water as a result of the storm (and Texas’ failure of an energy grid). The fundraiser was a rousing success.

“Wow. We officially raised $1 million for Texas relief at 9:17pm.,” she tweeted Thursday night. “Thank you all so much.” By Friday, she tweeted, that figure had risen to $2 million. She announced she would fly to Houston to join with Texas Rep. Sylvia Garcia to distribute supplies. Ocasio-Cortez is using Act Blue to fundraise, a Democratic fundraising tool that helps her build an email “listserv” as she receives donations, according to CNN.

This morning, AOC partnered with two Texas lawmakers to continue relief work. AOC joined Garcia and Shelia Jackson-Lee of Texas on Saturday morning. According to KPRC, the elected officials met at the Houston Food Bank to pack boxes of meals and share their plan to help Texans hit hard by this week’s deadly weather event. Today, at 11:42 am, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez announced that she helped to raise $3.2 million.

The link included in her tweet (Support relief efforts in Texas — Donate via AB Charities (actblue.com) brings together groups that assist homeless, hungry and elderly Texans. (When you click on the link, you’re taken to a page that requests donations. Your contribution will be split evenly between 12 organizations, including the Central Texas Food Bank, The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center, Family Eldercare, ECHO (Ending Community Homelessness Coalition), Southeast Texas Food Bank, Feeding Texas, and the Houston Food Bank — the largest food bank in the United States.) The chosen organizations either provide food support, elder care, or shelter assistance.

The congresswomen then made a stop to Texas’ 29th District, Garcia’s district, to knock on doors and talk to families impacted. As AOC noted, those impacted were already on the margins to begin with, struggling to make ends meet. “Disasters don’t strike everyone equally,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “When you already have so many families across the state and country, that are on the brink, that can’t even afford and emergency to begin with, when you have a disaster like this, it can set people back for years, not just days.”

UPDATE: The total amount has now reached $4 million, according to AOC.

Sen. Joe Manchin Catches Flak for Opposing Biden’s OMB Nominee

By Terrance Turner

Photo from Getty Images.

Feb. 19, 2021

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has said he will oppose the confirmation of Neera Tanden, President Biden’s nominee for the Office of Management and Budget. This imperils her nomination: unless a Republican joins Democrats in voting for Tanden, she will not be confirmed. Manchin cited negative comments about Republicans that Tanden tweeted while running the left-leaning think tank Center for American Progress.

Slate detailed the controversy over Tanden’s tweets. She says she regrets calling Mitch McConnell “Voldemort,” and Sen. Susan Collins “the worst,” or tweeting that “vampires have more heart than Ted Cruz.” She regretted tweets insinuating that Russians hacked actual voting machines, to Donald Trump’s benefit, in the 2016 election. The social media remarks have been scrutinized, largely on the right, since her nomination. But she was also criticized by the left for tangling publicly with Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT). (She also regrets fighting with pro-Sanders Twitter accounts about the prudence of pursuing single-payer health care legislation.)

Manchin said he thinks Tanden’s tweets will adversely affect congressional relations. “I believe her overtly partisan statements will have a toxic and detrimental impact on the important working relationship between members of Congress and the next director of the Office of Management and Budget. For this reason, I cannot support her nomination,” said Manchin.

As NPR noted, Manchin has a history of breaking with his party. (He also expressed opposition to the $2000 checks in Biden’s COVID-19 relief bill — widely supported by Democrats and many Americans.) But Manchin’s vote this time is drawing the ire of many political observers. They point out that he voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, despite the credible allegation of sexual assault against him. Manchin also voted to confirm former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who used the Bible to defend snatching immigrant children from their parents and who infamously “joked” that he thought “the Klan was OK until I found out they smoked pot.”

Manchin is being attacked on Twitter for what looks like a glaring double standard.