Things That Matter

AOC Took A Republican Congressman To Task For Saying He Regularly Loans His Guns To Friends

Gun violence is one issue most Americans agree on. According to reports and polls, 86 percent of Americans, including 80 percent of Republicans and 70 percent of gun owners, support universal background checks on all gun purchases. However, Texas Republican Dan Crenshaw thinks universal background checks are too much because he lends his guns to friends and background check would stop that. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez turned his tweet about letting friends borrow guns into a teachable moment for the Congressman.

Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw used a story of a woman defending herself to admit he lets friends borrow his guns to stay safe.

Credit: @DanCrenshawTX / Twitter

According to the news story, a woman was being robbed by 5 men and used a gun to defend herself. In response, Rep. Crenshaw tried to use the moment to argue against universal background checks on gun purchases. Rep. Crenshaw states that he would not be able to loan out his guns to friends without accountability.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez retweeted him and questioned his friends’ inability to pass basic universal background checks.

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez took Rep. Crenshaw’s words and posed the question, “Why are you ‘lending’ guns to people unsupervised who can’t pass a basic background check?”

Universal background checks for gun purchases have proven to lower the likelihood of violent and deadly criminal activity with firearms. With a background check, people who pose a danger to others or themselves either through mental disorders or prior felony convictions would be denied access to firearms.

There is currently a national law that all licensed gun sellers have to follow. Democratic lawmakers and citizens are pushing for a stronger law that would also require background checks at gun shows and through unlicensed dealers.

Rep. Crenshaw responded criticizing Rep. Ocasio-Cortez.

Credit: @DanCrenshawTX / Twitter

According to Rep. Crenshaw, Rep Ocasio-Cortez labeled his friends as domestic abusers. However, if you refer to the original tweet, Rep. Crenshaw stated that he would not be able to loan out his guns because of universal background checks.

In her usual fashion, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez did not back down and drop some education on the Texas representative.

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

According to 24/7 Wall St., New York ranks 48th for gun deaths in the U.S. while Texas comes in at 28th place. California is in 43rd place and Alaska is the No. 1 state for gun-related deaths. Another study by the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, states with weaker gun laws, like Texas and Alaska, tend to have higher gun-related deaths.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez continued her educational series of tweets by highlighting the work by House Democrats to close the boyfriend loophole with the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

The boyfriend loophole refers to a loophole in the Lautenberg Amendment that leaves a chance for domestic abusers to purchase firearms. The amendment only stops abusers who are or were married to the victim, have a child with the victim, currently live with the victim, or are the parents of the victim from purchasing a firearm. This means that boyfriends who stalk their victims are not prevented from purchasing firearms endangering the lives of those men and women who have no legal protection.

Emily Miller, the author of “Emily Gets Her Gun: But Obama Wants to Take Yours” chimed in defending Rep. Crenshaw.

Credit: @EmilyMiller / Twitter

“Emily Gets Her Gun: But Obama Wants to Take Yours” paints the tragic shootings in Newtown, Connecticut and Aurora, Colorado as emotional manipulations to erode the rights of legal gun owners. Miller argues that the anti-gun lobby used examples of mass shootings to distort reality and go after gun owners in the U.S.

But, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez was not backing down from her argument for background checks and greater gun safety and reform.

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

According to the Los Angeles Police Department, there are several factors as to why women do not report domestic violence. Among the long list of reasons, one listed by the police department is that the abuser is seen as an upstanding member of the community. As such, many believe that or witness the law enforcement officers ignoring their pleas for help because of the abusers status in the community.

The public persona as a shield is something Rep. Ocasio-Cortez used to bolster her argument.

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

LAPD further explains how weapons mixed with abusers can be a fatal combination.

“Where a batterer possesses weapons and has used them or has threatened to use them in the past assaults on the battered victim, the children or self, the batterer’s access to those weapons increases the potential for lethal assault,” reads the LAPD website.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez ended her thread about loaning friends guns by drawing a comparison.

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

There is a reason people are licensed for various things. It is about accountability and the safety of society as a whole. By lending out guns to people, there is an increased risk of gun-related deaths and promoting the practice can have dangerous and deadly consequences.

During the debate, people responded to Rep. Crenshaw and one person shared a real-life example of the dangers of lending out guns.

Credit: @RiotwomennnTemp / Twitter

Lauren McCluskey was a track athlete at the University of Utah. Her ex-boyfriend, Melvin Rowland, borrowed the gun from his friend, Nathan Daniel Vogel. Vogel and Sarah Emily Lady had purchased the gun illegally because Lady lied on Vogel’s behalf to bypass the waiting period.

READ: Victims Of The El Paso Massacre Received Visits From Edward James Olmos And George López And Their Reactions Are Everything

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AOC Calls Out the GOP for Their Silence on Trump’s Hairstyling Expenses: ‘They’re Spineless, Misogynistic Hypocrites’

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AOC Calls Out the GOP for Their Silence on Trump’s Hairstyling Expenses: ‘They’re Spineless, Misogynistic Hypocrites’

MARIO TAMA / GETTY IMAGES

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is, once again, speaking out against the sexism and double standards she faces every day as a female politician.

On Sunday, The New York Times published a bombshell report exposing President Donald Trump’s long-concealed tax records. Not only did the article report on the miniscule amount Trump paid in federal income taxes in 2016, it also revealed that Trump wrote off $70,000 worth of hairstyling expenses while he was on “The Apprentice”.

Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to respond to the reports of Trump’s opulent spending (as well as the GOP’s silence) with her usual panache.

“Last year Republicans blasted a firehose of hatred + vitriol my way because I treated myself to a $250 cut & lowlights on my birthday,” she wrote. “Where’s the criticism of their idol spending $70k on hairstyling? Oh, it’s nowhere because they’re spineless, misogynistic hypocrites? Got it.”

As a refresher, AOC was publicly dragged in 2019 when conservative outlets reported that the democratic-socialist congresswoman bought a “$300 haircut” in from a “pricey salon” in Washington, D.C.

Conservative outlets tried to paint Ocasio-Cortez’s $250 haircut as proof that she didn’t actually believe in her political ideals that involve protecting the poor.

“There is nothing wrong with spending money to make yourself look better, especially as a personality who depends upon visual mediums for her power,” said Richard Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government to conservative publication The Washington Times. “But it is a bad look to spend hundreds of dollars to get your hair done to make a video decrying income inequality.”

There was a public backlash to those who criticized AOC’s spending habits, though. “This would obvs never be a story about a man,” wrote one Twitter-user before adding: “If her hair was raggedy, that would be the lead story instead.”

It should be noted that Ocasio-Cortez did not use taxpayer money to fund her haircut. There is also no evidence that she wrote off the haircut as a business expense.

The misogyny AOC is referring to comes from the fact that conservative pundits were quick to call her (a female politician) vain when she paid for what they considered a “pricey” haircut while refusing to condemn Trump for spending much more money on his appearance.

These criticisms of her spending habits comes from deeply engrained sexist beliefs that all women care about is their looks. But Republicans seems to harp both on Ocasio-Cortez’s looks and spending habits more than her male colleagues’.

For example, Vice President Mike Pence didn’t get much push-back for spending $600,000 of taxpayer money to fund a limo trip to visit Trump’s golf course in Ireland.

But double-standards weren’t the only thing AOC called out via Twitter. She also blasted Trump for paying such a small amount in taxes when hardworking Americans are paying their fair share.

“In 2016 & ‘17, I paid thousands of dollars a year in taxes as a bartender,” she wrote. “Trump paid $750.”

“He contributed less to funding our communities than waitresses & undocumented immigrants,” she continued. “Donald Trump has never cared for our country more than he cares for himself. A walking scam.”

On his side, President Trump has never shied away at his ability to avoid paying taxes. When Hillary Clinton brought up his habit of not paying taxes in their 2016 debate, he shamelessly replied: “That makes me smart.”

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Twitter’s AIs Prefer Ted Cruz With Boobs And White Skin Over Black

Things That Matter

Twitter’s AIs Prefer Ted Cruz With Boobs And White Skin Over Black

Ever notice how on some social platforms like Twitter or Instagram that you yourself are mysteriously unable to crop your display images on your own? That’s because Twitter prefers to let their algorithms make the decision. Over the weekend users on Twitter discovered the surprising dangers of letting algorithms crop your own images.

Education tech researcher Colin Madland drew attention to the issue while speaking out about how the video-calling program Zoom, often crops the head out of his black person coworker while on calls.

It didn’t take long for Madland and other users to discover that Twitter’s AIs use discriminatory equations to prioritize certain faces as well. In short, the social platform’s AIs prefer white faces over Black ones.

In response to the discoveries, a Twitter spokesperson acknowledged that the company was looking into the issue “Our team did test for bias before shipping the model and did not find evidence of racial or gender bias in our testing. But it’s clear from these examples that we’ve got more analysis to do. We’re looking into this and will continue to share what we learn and what actions we take,” they stated.

Of course, Madland’s discovery is nothing new. In 2019, test results from the National Institute of Standards and Technology revealed that some of the strongest algorithms online were much more likely to confuse the faces of Black women than those of white women, or Black or white men. “The NIST test challenged algorithms to verify that two photos showed the same face, similar to how a border agent would check passports,” Wired points out. “At sensitivity settings where Idemia’s algorithms falsely matched different white women’s faces at a rate of one in 10,000, it falsely matched black women’s faces about once in 1,000—10 times more frequently. A one in 10,000 false match rate is often used to evaluate facial recognition systems.”

Still, it didn’t take long for users on the platform to ask what other physical preferences Twitter has.

Turns out the AIs prefer Ted Cruz with large anime breasts over a normal-looking Ted Cruz.

(To better understand this Tweet, click the link above)

The user who tested the image of Cruz, found that Twitter’s algorithm on the back end selected what part of the picture it would showcase in the preview and ultimately chose both images of Cruz with a large anime chest.

It’s nothing new that Twitter has its massive problems.

For a platform that so controls and oversees so much of what we consume and how we now operate, it’s scary to know how Twitter chooses to display people with different skin tones. The round of jokes and Twitter experiments by users has only revived concerns on how “learning” computer algorithms fuel real-world biases like racism and sexism.

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