Things That Matter

Venezuelan Blackout Claims 21 Lives, Opposition Leaders Blame Maduro Regime

Venezuela was thrown into darkness over the weekend as power failed across the South American government. Power went out abruptly on Thursday night leading to chaos and desperation in a country already facing a prolonged and debilitating crisis. The blackout worsened the already troubled mess gripping Venezuela. So far, 21 people have died because of the blackout according to opposition leaders.

Power outages have left Venezuela crippled since they were first reported on Thursday afternoon.

Venezuelans continue to flee the failing South American country with no hope for a future in their homeland. Some parts of Venezuela have been without power for almost five days. The power outage is the last straw for some Venezuelans who have been holding out for Venezuela’s success and President Nicolás Maduro’s inevitable defeat.

The power outage has devatasted the already strained and failing healtchare system in Venezuela.

Credit: @MariaCorinaYA / Twitter

María Corina Machado, an outspoken member fo the opposition party, tweeted about the reality of what the power outage looks like for the vulnerable people in Venezuela.

“And the babies in incubators? And the patients in intensive care? And those who require dialysis today? And those who need to keep their chemotherapy medications in the refrigerator? You are responsible for these deaths,” Machado tweeted. “You will face justice.”

One video of a woman carrying her 22-pound 19-year-old daughter’s body is showing the human toll the crisis and political struggle is causing in Venezuela.

According to Daily Mail, Elizabeth Díaz watched her daughter die in her arms during the power outage. The daughter was suffering from cerebral paralysis and severe malnourishment when she fell ill on Saturday. Despite going to two different medical facilities, Díaz was turned away by medical professionals due to the power outage and walked to a local morgue. Her daughter’s body is still in the morgue since she can’t afford a burial for her daughter.

Venezuelans living abroad has tweeted the impact the power outage has had on their family’s lives.

Credit: @gabyurdaneta / Twitter

The Venezuelan blackout is being blamed on mismanagement and corruption within the Maduro regime that has crippled the Venezuelan economy. Venezuelans have taken to the streets in recent years demanding that Maduro step down as the country’s president but he has refused to let go of power.

Maduro and his government officials are blaming the blackout on an orchestrated cyber attack led by the U.S. government and the opposition.

“The power outage and the devastation hurting ordinary Venezuelans is not because of the USA,” tweeted Mike Pompeo, the Secretart of State, in response to Maduro’s claims of U.S. interference. “It’s not because of Colombia. It’s not Ecuador or Brazil, Europe or anywhere else. Power shortages and starvation are the result of the Maduro regime’s incompetence.”

Doctors are working in the dark to help patients in need during the blackout.

The Venezuelan government has not given citizens nor the international community an indication of how long the power will remain out in the country. Videos of women giving birth in dark hospitals throughout the country are being shared on social media.

There are reports that newborn babies and vulnerable patients are dying in hospitals in Venezuela due to the lack of power.

The blackout was reportedly caused by a failure at the San Geronimo B substation.

San Geronimo B produces 80 percent of the electrical power for Venezuela and the substation has been down since Thursday. There is no idea when the substation will be back online. Employees are the substation were sent home indefinitely as the country stayed dark throughout the weekend.

President Nicolás Maduro is claiming that the government is fighting to get the elctical system back online.

Credit: @NicolasMaduro / Twitter

“We continue to wage a strong battle to free the National Electrical System,” Maduro tweeted. “Progressively, we are working to prevent and protect the system from attacks intending to block the reconnection. With hard work, love, and resistance, we will overcome.”

Interim President Juan Guaidó took to Twitter to share is concern about the ongoing crisis.

Credit: @jguaido / Twitter

“Without light, water, food, the desperation can lead people to a limited state of taking sustenance for themselves,” Guaidó tweeted. “The reports coming out of various cities are consistent of the usurping regime continues to impede on the solution of the crisis.”

There is no end in sight, according to some experts, and the world waits to see if Venezuela will find their way out of this power crisis.

READ: The Crisis In Venezuela Is Worsening. Here’s What You Should Know Right Now

‘Bullying Crisis Has Become A Global Epidemic’⁠— Monica Lewinsky Talks Bullying In Her New Anti-Bullying PSA

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‘Bullying Crisis Has Become A Global Epidemic’⁠— Monica Lewinsky Talks Bullying In Her New Anti-Bullying PSA

Noam Galai / Getty images

There may be no better person placed in our culture to talk about online bullying and harassment than Monica Lewinsky. Her story has been co-opted and manipulated for personal and political gain purposes for over two decades now. It’s taken long enough for the culture to catch up. She’s been speaking up about this for years and finally, she’s in control of her own narrative. In her latest campaign, the PSA “Epidemic”, Monica Lewinsky wants to raise awareness about the silent and lethal epidemic that is online bullying. 

Online bullying is a silent and lethal form of harassment and Monica Lewinsky wants to raise awareness around this issue so we don’t miss the signs.

credit Youtube The Epidemic

In her latest campaign, the third of a series of ads designed to raise awareness about a silent and lethal epidemic, Monica Lewinsky wants to shine a light on how this silent and invisible this form of bullying can be, and how a psychologically challenging situation can quickly escalate and become physical. In “Epidemic”, we’re introduced to a teenage girl whose health seems to be deteriorating for no apparent reason over the course of the film.  First she stays home from school, she can’t eat, she can’t sleep. In a panic, she reaches out for a bottle of pills. The viewer sees her go from a normal teen to an unconscious girl in an E.R. It’s obvious that she’s been sick all along, but what’s the disease?

The words “The story is not what it seems” appear across the screen. “Go to the-epidemic.com/realstory to get the message.”

Once you follow the link, a new screen message asks viewers to enter their phone number. When the video starts over, the person watching it is receiving the same texts messages that Hailey, the protagonist of the film, is getting. The cruel messages are a deluge of threats, harassment and abuse. And by receiving the texts, viewers don’t just watch it all unfold, they experience it. “It’s like the difference between seeing something in 3D and seeing something in VR,” Lewinsky told Glamour of the campaign’s interactive elements. It makes the abuse that people face on the internet, through their phones, and IRL feel real, immediate, and dangerous. 

Although cyber-bullying happens online, the feeling can be very real, and it can even lead to sickness.

credit Youtube The Epidemic

The feeling of being bullied isn’t just one of fear and shame. Bullying can affect your physical and mental health in potentially dangerous ways. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), being bullied can increase your risk of sleep difficulties, anxiety, depression, headaches, stomachaches, and more. Since bullying can lead to illness, it’s a sort of sickness in itself. Andd that’s exactly what Lewinsky is trying to convey in the PSA in partnership with advertising agency BBDO New York, and Dini von Mueffling Communications.

“We compare [bullying] to an illness for several reasons,” Lewinsky, an anti-bullying advocate, speaker, and former bullying victim, told Teen Vogue. “Just last year, a Pew Research Center survey found that 59% of U.S. teens have been bullied or harassed online. But the problem is, it can be hard to see the signs when somebody is going through something like this. With cyberbullying, even though it may take place online, it has offline consequences — and these consequences range from bad to grave.”

The film was a deeply personal project for Lewinsky who was bullied on a national scale in 1998.

credit Instagram @Notablelife Lewinsky was famously bullied on a national scale after her relationship with former president Bill Clinton went public when she was 24 years old and an intern at the White House. She has personal experience with how severe bullying can be and it’s something she’s spoken out about consistently. It’s that very issue which made this project a challenge she wanted to tackle. “It was hard for me to do this,” she admits. Drawing from her own experiences, Lewinsky, wanted to capture what she calls “that cascading feeling, that overwhelming feeling, the tsunami of texts that come in and the vitriol.” Not just in the video, but in the messages that participants receive. With “The Epidemic”, Lewinsky wants to show victims of bullying that they’re not alone and that they don’t need to remain silent about what they’re going through. 

While bruises and cuts are visible to parents, teachers, and friends, emotional wounds can be harder to spot.

Credit Twitter @MonicaLewnsky

“This is everybody’s worst nightmare—to miss the signs,” Lewinsky said on The Today Show. “And I think one of the best things that we can be doing is have these kinds of conversations, and what we hope to be a positive result from this PSA is that it brings awareness to the kinds of conversations parents should be having with their kids.” Lewinsky who is now 46 years old, remembers that when she was growing up, her parents would tell her, “Be home by sundown.” They wanted her to to be safe. But now, as she notes, “kids can be safe in their physical home, but they’re not emotionally safe because of what may be happening online.” 

The PSA supports a several organizations, including Amanda Todd Legacy, The Childhood Resilience Foundation, Crisis Text Line, Defeat The Label, The Diana Award, Ditch The Label, Organization for Social Media Safety, Sandy Hook Promise, Sit With Us, Think Before You Type and The Tyler Clementi Foundation. If you or someone you know is being bullied, tell someone right away or call the bullying hotline to speak with a professional. If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text Crisis Text Line at 741-741.

Here’s What The Candidates Had To Say About The Billionaires And Their Responsibilities To Pay Taxes

Things That Matter

Here’s What The Candidates Had To Say About The Billionaires And Their Responsibilities To Pay Taxes

elizabethwarren / juliancastrotx / Instagram

Democrats have officially wrapped their third round of Democratic debates. Last night, 12 candidates for the Democratic nomination went head to head on the debate stage in Ohio. The biggest topics of the night were President Trump’s sudden withdrawal of troops in Syria leaving the Kurds vulnerable to Turkey’s attacks and what to do with billionaires. There were some clear winners and losers from the debate. Here is your quick breakdown from the candidates trying to be the Democratic nominee for president.

Elizabeth Warren delivered a powerful message on the inequalities of the abortion debate.

“I think there are a number of options. I think as Mayor Buttigieg said, there are many different ways that people are talking about different options and I think we may have to talk about them,” Sen. Warren said when asked if she’d add justices to the Supreme Court to protect reproductive rights. “But, on Roe v. Wade, can we just pause for a minute here. I lived in an America where abortion was illegal and rich women still got abortions because they could travel. They could go to places where it was legal. What we’re talking about now, is that the people who are denied access to abortion are the poor, are the young, are 14-year-olds who were molested by a family member. We now have support across this country. Three out of 4 Americans believe in the rule of Roe v. Wade. When you’ve got three out of four Americans supporting it, we should be able to get that passed through Congress. We should not leave this up to the Supreme Court. We should do it through democracy because we can.”

The U.S. has seen a series of laws passed on the state level aiming to limit access to abortion. The laws have attempted to shutter Planned Parenthood clinics, which offer many more services than abortions, and Alabama’s law sought to put physicians in prison for 99 years for performing abortions. Louisiana has a law that is being heard by the Supreme Court this session that could force all but one doctor in the state to stop performing abortions.

Julián Castro spoke out about increasing police brutality and deaths at the hands of law enforcement.

“I grew up in neighborhoods where it wasn’t uncommon to hear gunshots at night,” former HUD Secretary Castro said when asked about preventing handgun homicides. “I can remember ducking into the backseat of a car when I was a freshman in high school across the street from my school, my public school because folks were shooting at each other.”

Castro continued by speaking about a topic that has been frequently discussed among the candidates, government buybacks of guns. Castro pointed out that he doesn’t like the idea of a mandatory buyback program since some people have not been able to define it. Furthermore, Castro states that if authorities are not going door-to-door then it isn’t going to be effective.

According to a Pew Research Center study conducted using data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 39,773 people died from gun-related incidents in the U.S. in 2017. The deaths came from suicides, murder, law enforcement, accidents, and undetermined circumstances.

Castro also made a point to name the latest victim of deadly police violence.

Atatiana Jefferson was home in Fort Worth, Texas with her nephew playing video games when neighbors called the police to check up on Jefferson. The officer who killed Jefferson, Aaron Y. Dean, resigned before he could be fired, according to The New York Times and has been charged with murder in the death. It is also reported that there have been six police-involved killings in the Fort Worth area this year.

Beto O’Rourke doubled down on his plan to create a mandatory buyback program of assault rifles.

If someone does not turn in an AR-15 or an AK-47, one of these weapons of war, or brings it out in public and brandishes it in an attempt to intimidate, which we saw when we were at Kent State [University] recently, then that weapon will be taken from them,” former Congressman O’Rourke told the audience when asked about finding the weapons and taking them away. “If they persist, there will be other consequences from law enforcement. But the expectation is that Americans will follow the law.”

Bernie Sanders, fresh from a health scare, let the billionaires have it.

“When you have a half-million Americans sleeping out on the streets today; when you have 87 million people uninsured or under-insured; when you have hundreds of thousands of kids who cannot afford to go to college and millions struggling with the oppressive burden of student debt,” Sanders said. “Then you also have three people owning more wealth than the bottom half of American society, that is a moral and economic outrage and that truth is we cannot afford to continue this level of income and wealth inequality and we cannot afford a billionaire class whose greed and corruption has been at war for 45 years.”

The night was filled with other candidates bringing up issues of the opiate crisis, Russian meddling in American democracy, the need to bring dignity back to jobs, and Biden was confronted about the Ukrainian scandal his son is involved in.

READ: From Gun Reform To Immigration, Here Are The Highlights Of Last Night’s #DemDebate