Things That Matter

Presidential Hopeful Kamala Harris Wants To Invest $1 Billion To Test The Shameful Backlog Of Rape Kits In The US

Ahead of her scheduled appearance on the Rachel Maddow show, Kamala Harris made a huge announcement on Thursday. The 2020 Democratic presidential nominee and former District Attorney said that if she wins the White House, she wants to invest $1 billion to eliminate the rape kit backlog nationwide. 

Kamala Harris’ plan is the “first of its kind of a 2020 Democratic candidate, the California Democrat’s plan would invest the money into states, allowing them to close their rape kit backlogs and prevent further buildups, within her first term” if elected into the Oval Office, according to CNN

The 2020 Democratic presidential nominee tweeted that her plan to close the nationwide rape kit backlog “would cost about $2 million less each year than what taxpayers have spent on Trump’s golf trips.” 

According to CNN, “the campaign linked this rollout to the news of Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire indicted this week on charges of sex trafficking and sexually assaulting teenage girls.” Earlier this week, when news broke, Harris also called for U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta –– who served as Miami U.S. Attorney and cut the plea deal for Epstein –– to resign. 

“It’s time we had someone in the White House who is committed to fighting for survivors, not protecting predators,” she tweeted.  

According to END THE BACKLOG, a national non-profit organization founded by actress and activist Mariska Hargitay with the mission to transform society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, “every 92 seconds, someone is assaulted in the United States.” 

END THE BACKLOG also reports that it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of rape kits sit untested in the police department and crime lab storage facilities across the country. This is what’s known as the rape kit backlog. But since most jurisdictions do not have systems in place for counting or tracking rape kits tested, END THE BACKLOG says “we cannot be sure of the total number of untested rape kits nationwide.” 

Rape kits are used by medical professionals to collect evidence while they examine survivors of sexual assault. The DNA extracted from rape kits is a useful tool to solve and prevent sexual assault crimes as well. Refinery29 reports that in the past decade, “about 225,000 known untested rape kits have been uncovered.” 

And while a growing number of states across the U.S. are fighting toward ending the backlog, there’s more work to be done. Since it costs an average $1,000 to $1,500 to test one rape kit, Harris’ plan to invest $1 billion to end rape kit backlog nationwide would hopefully make a powerful difference.  

In a statement to CNN, Harris said, “The federal government can and should prioritize justice for survivors of sex abuse, assault, and rape. As California’s Attorney General, I committed resources and attention to clearing a backlog of 1,300 untested rape kits at state-run labs, and we got it done within my first year in office. We need the same focus at the nationwide level to pursue justice and help hold predators accountable.” 

She also took to Instagram to announce her proposal of investing $1 billion to end rape kit backlog nationwide. In her caption, she wrote:

“In the last decade, roughly 225,000 untested rape kits have been uncovered. Too many survivors aren’t getting the justice they deserve. As president, I will close the nationwide rape kit backlog by the end of my first term.” 

According to USA Today, Harris’ proposal “states would receive additional funding for testing if they conduct an annual count and report of untested rape kits. The plan also would require law enforcement agencies to submit rape kits ‘within a short time frame,’ update victims who want to know about the status of testing of their rape kits and would increase the availability of rape kits for law enforcement, particularly in remote and rural areas.”  

CNN also interviewed RAINN President Scott Berkowitz said that Harris’ new proposal “would do wonders for ongoing efforts.”

“The backlog has been a huge and ongoing problem, we’ve been making progress on it over time, but having that large of a federal commitment would do wonders for testing the rest of the cases that haven’t been tested yet,” he said. 

“From the survivors’ standpoints, these kits are the result of really long, really unpleasant rape examinations where soon after the assaults, they are poked and prodded and they gather everything from the victim’s body and the clothing. It’s the last thing anyone wants to go through and to put yourself that and not have evidence even tested is a terrible statement and demoralizing,” he adds. 

Many women on social media were also open about how necessary and overdue this investment on the rape kit backlog would be. 

Kanye West Announces His Run For President And The Internet Has A Good Laugh But Can He Actually Run?

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Kanye West Announces His Run For President And The Internet Has A Good Laugh But Can He Actually Run?

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

When will 2020 finally come to an end along with all of its shenanigans? That is the question so many are wondering after yet another not so surprising bombshell of an announcement from Kanye West – who in a tweet this weekend announced his candidacy for President of the United States.

Sure, Yeezy has often times claimed to be planning a run for president. He’s said it in 2014, 2015, and 2019. What makes this time different? He says he’s running for this year – 2020 – with the election just months away.

Many are rightfully skeptical of West’s announcement but even if the rapper isn’t totally serious, his simple announcement could have serious consequences on the actual election.

Kanye West celebrated the 4th of July by announcing his intention to run for President of the United States.

It’s official, Kanye West is running for President. Allegedly. His announcement came in the form of an out-of-the-blue tweet amid the 43-year-old’s promotion for his new single, pictures of him with Elon Musk (who has voiced his support for a West presidency, FYI) and promotion of the Gap X Yeezy collaboration.

He tweeted: “We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States,” followed by the hashtag #2020vision.

Now, this is far from the first time that Yeezy has revealed his intentions to join the presidential election at some point in the future.In fact, just last year the rapper said he planned to run for the presidency in 2024: “When I run for president in 2024, we would’ve created so many jobs that I’m not going to run, I’m going to walk.”

So no one should be surprised that West has once again announced a potential run. But we are. And it’s largely because he says he’s planning a run for this year – 2020 – with the election just months away.

However, West hasn’t yet fulfilled any of the legal requirements to launch an actual candidacy.

Credit: Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Despite his hastily announced ‘candidacy,’ West has yet to fulfill a single requirement to actually run for president. So his tweet was rightfully met with scepticism, given that we are only four months away from when Americans are supposedly heading to the polls.

If West was serious about running, he’ll have to do so as an Independent – which is still technically possible. But deadlines for those intending to run in several states have already passed. However, there is still time to register in some states, but for Texas, New Mexico, Indiana, Maine and North Carolina the deadline has passed. For the majority of other states, the deadline is August.

According to the BBC, West does not appear to have registered his name with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for November’s election. The closest name the FEC database shows is a candidate called “Kanye Deez Nutz West”, who filed their papers with the Green Party in 2015 under the address “1977 Golddigger Avenue, Suite Yeezus” and appears to have raised no money.

Even though he hasn’t legally started his campaign, even a potential candidacy could have a major impact on the 2020 race.

Credit: Dimitrious Kambouris / Getty Images

Over the years, Kanye has appeared to show support for both democrats and republicans since his rise to fame. He once denounced Republican president George W. Bush, famously accusing him of not ‘caring about Black people’ during the tragic Hurricane Katrina. However, in recent years, he has declared his support for Trump, both verbally and symbolically, by wearing a Make America Great Again red cap and holding meetings with Trump.

So as far as what a Kanye West presidency would like like…is anyone’s guess.

However, an even bigger concern is the rapper’s planned candidacy and how it could potentially help Trump’s bid for reelection. Anyone who may have voted for Trump in the past but is now on the fence, could see in Kanye a middle ground between Trump and Biden, Many fear a repeat of Jill Stein’s candidacy in 2016 that many say helped push the election in Trump’s favor.

Some fear that some torn between voting between Trump and Biden would instead make a protest vote for West – which could again throw the 2020 election to Trump. Even if West isn’t an official candidate on the 2020 ballot, many fear that people could write in his name.

Even though many expect his candidacy to be a publicity stunt, the Internet exploded with amazing memes.

Social media users have reacted both with shocking and hilarious tweets following the rapper’s tweet.

Many viewed West’s announcement as a publicity stunt just meant to add fuel to the dumpster fire that is 2020.

The year started off with record-setting Australian brush fires, an Amazon jungle burning to the ground, then came Coronavirus and a global pandemic and the continued murder of unarmed Black men by U.S. police forces followed by a massive movement for racial equality – 2020 has been one hell of a ride. And many think Kanye may simply be trying to get his name in the calendar of events.

Could the White House be a set for the Kardashian’s hit reality show?

Even though Donald Trump has basically already turned the White House into a reality TV set, the Kardashian’s could make it a real deal. They’re hit TV show is now in its 18th and allegedly finally season, but a chance to film in the White House could definitely help reignite the franchise.

Golden State Killer Confesses To Rape And Murder, After Families Have Been Waiting For Decades

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Golden State Killer Confesses To Rape And Murder, After Families Have Been Waiting For Decades

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Although his crime spree took place more than thirty years ago, the Golden State Killer has only recently been held accountable for the unspeakable crimes he committed up and down the state of California.

Thanks to advancements in DNA testing, police found a suspect and this week the Golden State Killer confessed to dozens of crimes committed from Sacramento to San Diego.

His victim’s families have celebrated the move as a first step on the path towards justice for their loved ones.

One of California’s most prolific killers has pleased guilty to his crimes and will spend the rest of his life in prison.

The Golden State Killer terrorized California for more than a decade, before his trail went cold. After being arrested in 2018 thanks to advancements in DNA testing, Joseph DeAngelo was charged with several crimes (including burglaries and murders) and named as the Golden State Killer.

Since his arrest, police have been building a case against him and this week charged him with additional crimes, for which he has pled guilty to on all counts. He pled guilty to 13 counts of first-degree murder and special circumstances – including murder committed during burglaries and rapes -– as well as 13 counts of kidnapping, and he acknowledged more than 50 rapes he was not charged for because of California’s statute of limitations.

DeAngelo will be sentenced in August, and will kiley serve 11 consevutive life terms without the possibility of parole. According to Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Amy Holliday, he agreed to plead guilty to all charges to avoid the death penalty.

With his guilty plea, victim’s families will finally be able to face him in court and seek justice.

Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Some of the Golden State Killer’s victims, were raped or murdered as far back as 1974. So their families have been waiting for justice for decades.

After dozens of false leads and dead ends, the case was followed up on after advancements in DNA. And now, the Golden State Killer has been identified and charged with the crimes that have left dozens of families in untold pain.

The plea means that his victims can give their impact statements starting August 17 — much quicker than if he had gone to trial in a prosecution that the six district attorneys involved said might have taken as long as a decade.

“Today’s court proceeding brings us one step closer to ending the horrific saga of Joseph DeAngelo and his decades long crime spree,” Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton said Monday in a news release. “In this case justice did not move swiftly, it was a long time coming. However, our victims remained steadfast and brave throughout this entire process.”

The Golden State Killer had a long crime spree and dozens of victims.

Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Although DeAngelo was just arrested in 2018, his crimes date back to 1974. He has admitted to burglaries, rapes, and murders ranging from northern to Southern California. He earned nicknames such as the Visalia Ransacker, the Diamond Knot Killer, the Original Night Stalker and the East Area Rapist. Officials only later realized the crimes were all the work of one man.

The former police officer, Vietnam War veteran and auto mechanic was arrested in April 2018 after police tracked him down by matching his DNA with a genealogy website.

Investigators created a family tree dating back to the 1800s in order to identify him as a suspect. Detectives followed him and collected a piece of rubbish he had thrown away, finding the same DNA recovered from several crime scenes.

Now, the Golden State Killer’s gripping crime story will be told in a six-part HBO series.

Just one day before DeAngelo pled guilty to all charges, HBO debuted a miniseries detailing his crimes and the victim’s stories. The series, based on author and researcher Michelle McNamara‘s own investigation, combines archives of footage and police files, as well as exclusive new interviews with detectives, survivors and relatives of DeAngelo.

McNamara remained focused on the victims of the crimes throughout her process, and she earned the right to “walk off with 37 boxes of Golden State Killer evidence, according to Assistant Orange County Public Defender Scott Sanders.