News: Justify Wins at Belmont, Trump Stuns at G7, and De Niro Goes Crude at Tonys

Triple Crown Winner

Photo by Joshua Sarner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Three year-old colt Justify won the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, becoming the 13th Triple Crown winner in history. Justify was trained by Bob Baffert, who also trained American Pharoah (the 2015 Triple Crown winner). Another horse owner and another jockey have accused Restoring Hope, another one of Baffert’s horses, of blocking for Justify to keep other horses from outrunning him.

G7 Summit

President Trump made quite a splash at the G7 Summit in Quebec, where he talked tough on trade policy. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded with sharp criticism. Trump maintains that Americans have been getting a bad deal on foreign trade. He also says that the U.S. spends too much on defense, while other countries spend too little – and unfairly expect us to be the world’s policeman.

Mourning Bourdain

The world grieved the loss of Anthony Bourdain, the famous chef, writer, and television host. Anderson Cooper delivered a heartfelt remembrance of the beloved star, and chefs and diners around the world shared their personal memories of him. Bourdain once stood up for a woman who was being taunted on the internet for her cheery review of Olive Garden. He said she offered an important perspective. He published her book under his imprint, and even wrote the foreword. Owners of a restaurant visited by Bourdain made a huge donation to a suicide prevention hotline.

If you or someone you know is struggling, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

De Niro Gets Crude

The Tony Awards took place last night, and actor Robert De Niro did not mince words. “F*** Trump,” he said, and received a standing ovation. Students from Parkland, Florida performed “Seasons of Love” at the celebration of Broadway musicals.

Anti-Gun Performer On Probation for Gun Crime

Hip hop star Vic Mensa performed to a cheering crows at the March for Our Lives on Saturday, March 24th. What Vic Mensa’s fans might not have known, however, is that the rapper has a troubled history with guns.

In 2016, Beverly Hills police caught Vic Mensa carrying a concealed weapon without a valid permit. Police pulled him over for running a red light and having tinted windows. When he told them about the gun, his legal trouble really began.

Two Felonies

Not only was Mensa carrying without a permit, but the gun was loaded and unregistered. The Los Angeles District Attorney pressed felony gun charges.  Mensa could have faced up to 2 years in prison. He agreed to plead no contest to the concealed carry violation in exchange for the DA dropping the charge of possession of a loaded unregistered firearm.

The deal allowed Mensa escape jail time by paying a fine and going on probation for two years. Less than a year into his probation, Mensa is speaking out about gun control. He posted a video of his March for Our Lives performance to Instagram with the caption, “Ban the AR-15.” After the rally, Mensa challenged gun rights advocate and fellow hip hop star Killer Mike to a debate. Killer Mike maintains that Americans have the right to purchase AR-15s if they so choose. Mensa, in contrast, wants the AR-15 outlawed.

If the star wants to dictate new gun laws, shouldn’t he have to at least follow our current gun laws first?

Gifts for Every Activist!

This year, we wanted to make a gift guide for our Standvocates. Whether you’re looking for stocking stuffers, small gifts for neighbors, or just one larger gift for your best activist, we’ve got you covered! Here are a few of our favorite gift items this year:

Moleskin Hardcover Notebook – In a world increasingly reliant on digital technology, it’s nice to have a fun notebook to organize your thoughts. This affordable, sturdy notebook is just the thing to help you stay on top of the many demands on your time.

External battery – Running down the power on your phone or tablet can be very frustrating, especially if you don’t have power outlet nearby. Prepare your busy activists for anything with this handy, portable charging battery.

Back-to-Back World War Champs T-shirt – In these times when people worry so much about political correctness, you sometimes need to remind people around you of what makes this country great. Celebrate America’s victories for freedom around the world with this Back-to-Back World War Champs t-shirt everywhere you go.

Pocket Constitution – Our founding documents are among the most important pieces of literature for any American to read. This pocket-sized copy of the U.S. Constitution lets you take the greatest form of government in the world wherever you go. Stock up on these this year to add to any gift or stocking, and don’t forget to grab one for yourself!

Desk Organizer – People lead busy lives these days, whether at home or at work, and sometimes it can be hard to keep track of where you keep everything. With this desk organizer, never again lose your copy of that important memo, or make sure you always have a spare pen on hand.

Flag Pins – No American should be ashamed to be proud of this country. These flag pins can help you display that patriotism for all to see, whether at home or out in public. Give these to all your neighbors to bring a little patriotism back for the holidays!

The Quest for Cosmic Justice by Thomas Sowell – Keeping your mind sharp is one of the most important things Americans of all ages can do. In The Quest for Cosmic Justice, renowned Stanford economist Thomas Sowell demonstrates how progressive notions of social justice can actually be harmful to individual rights. This is perfect for anyone about to go off to college to prepare themselves to battle the social justice movement on their campuses!

Personal alarm – Staying safe no matter where you are can be a real challenge. Using this personal alarm, now you or your loved one can signal for help should they ever be in an unfortunate situation where they require help. This alarm is small enough to fit in a small bag and is simple for everyone to use. It’s perfect for the busy activist that is always out canvassing for their local cause!

Reagan-Bush Long-sleeve shirt – If you’re feeling nostalgic, this Bush/Reagan campaign shirt is the perfect gift for you! Remind people of one of the greatest Presidents of the 20th century with this fun vintage tee.

We hope this activist gift guide makes it easy to finish up your Christmas list this year! Let us know if you decided to give any of our suggestions!

Monday Morning Memo – Wildfires, Ivanka, Weinstein, Kaepernick

California Wildfires

As of today, 40 people have died in the wildfires engulfing the Napa Valley region. 400 people are still missing. As firefighters tackle the blaze, local authorities have lifted the mandatory evacuation orders for several local neighborhoods.

One survival story is a heartwarming moment in the midst of devastation. Jack Weaver was walking through his mother’s burned yard in Windsor, California. Weaver’s mother was unable to evacuate with her dog, and the family feared that Izzy – a 9 year old Bernese mountain dog – perished in the blaze. Instead, Izzy came bounding towards Weaver. She was unharmed, slightly dehydrated, but now back with her loving family.

Ivanka Launches Businesswoman’s Fund

Ivanka Trump launched a new women’s entrepreneurship fund in partnership with the World Bank. Called the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (WeFi), the program will help women in impoverished countries gain access to financial tools such as seed funding and low-interest loans. The program has already received $350 million in donor committments. WeFi will be vital resource for women living in places that deny women access to traditional banks.

Weinstein Scandal Snowballs

After an explosive New York Times report on Harvey Weinstein’s pattern of sexual harassment, more victims have come forward to share their stories. British actress Lysette Anthony has become the latest woman to accuse Weinstein of rape. More than two dozen women have come forward and said that Weinstein harassed or assaulted them. As the stories spill out into the public sphere, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to terminate Weinstein as a member.

Feinstein to Face Primary Challenger

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) will face a primary challenger in her bid for reeelection next year. Kevin De Leon, a current California State Senator, wants to replace Feinstein. Feinstein has been moderate in her criticisms of President Trump. She has not supported calls for impeachment, and has asked for patience in waiting for Trump to come around to the Democrats’ political agenda. De Leon pitches himself as more progressive than Feinstein, and tougher against Donald Trump.

Kaepernick Challenges NFL

Colin Kaepernick has reportedly filed a grievance with the NFL, accusing team owners of colluding. Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers at the end of last season. No team has picked him up, despite his fairly strong record as a quarterback. Kaepernick was the first NFL player to start kneeling during the national anthem.

Big Government Horror Stories from Friday the 13th

This month, we asked our StandUnited Facebook fans to share their big government horror stories. And wow, did you deliver! We’ll be sharing more of these scary and true stories on Halloween. In the meantime, check out these…

Personal Experiences

“We can see our hospital out our living room window, but Obamacare wouldn’t allow my wife to go to that hospital. Instead, we had to drive to a hospital 50 miles away.” – David

“I had an insulin pump and my diabetic numbers were wonderful. Enter Obamacare, they took away my pump. We have tried numerous pill and injection combinations, but so far, nothing is working. I am praying for a repeal and that I, along with others, can have pumps back.” – Janie

“Before Obamacare, my health insurance went up an average of 3% per year for 30 years. Then, when the ACA was passed, the cost of that same exact insurance policy went up 247% in just 3 years. Then, I called the exchange on August 2nd to drop my wife’s coverage, because she became eligible for Medicare. They dropped her coverage a month sooner than I told them to, and told me they couldn’t change it back, even though it was their mistake. I waited to drop my coverage until I became eligible for Medicare, and they told me that the change wouldn’t take effect for 15-30 days, and I would still be responsible for payments until then!” – James

“Bought Obamacare, it was cancelled, and they told me they didn’t cover in my area. I could not enroll again until the open enrollment period. In the meantime, I was uninsured and a tumor in my neck cost me about $15,000.00 out of our savings. When I enrolled, our insurance company stated that our town was in their area. Later, they called and said it wasn’t. Of course, we received no refunds on the premiums we had already paid.” – Donna

“Someone I know is now over half a million dollars in debt with medical bills because Obamacare messed up her original heath insurance.” – Karen

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Do you have a terrifying tale of big government? We want to hear from you. Stay tuned on our Facebook page for the next chance to submit your story!

Monday Morning Memo

The weekend’s top news stories, brought to you by StandUnited:

Horror in Las Vegas

At an outdoor concert on Sunday night, 64 year old Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd. He killed at least 50 people and injured hundreds more. This is now the deadliest shooting in U.S. history. President Trump called the attack “an act of pure evil.” 

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, and even alleged that Paddock had converted to Islam. However, as of Monday morning there is no proof of Paddock having any connection to ISIS. Paddock stayed at the Mandalay Bay hotel for several days leading up to the attack. Police found him shot dead, likely self-inflicted, when they raided his hotel room.

Please join with the StandUnited staff today in thinking of the victims, their families, and first responders.

Terror Abroad

A terrorist stabbed two women in Marseille, France, on Sunday. According to the French Interior Minister, the man “had several identities.” French military police shot and killed the man shortly after the stabbings. ISIS has claimed responsibility, calling the attacker “a soldier of the Islamic State.”

Two car attacks took place in Edmonton, Canada. One terrorist drove a car into a police officer and then stabbed him. A second terrorist, possibly an accomplice, plowed a car into a crowd of pedestrians. At least 4 people are injured. Canadian authorities have announced that one of the suspects is a Somali refugee who was previously known to authorities.

Trump vs. Yulin Cruz

Carmen Yulin Cruz, Mayor of San Juan, gave several television interviews slamming President Trump’s response to Hurricane Maria. Wearing a shirt that said “help us we are dying,” Yulin Cruz accused Trump of ignoring the devastation in Puerto Rico. Viewers noticed that, during the video, Yulin Cruz is shown standing in front of pallets of supplies. Trump fired back on Twitter, accusing her of trying to score political points and having unreasonable demands.

Yulin Cruz’s narrative began unraveling on Sunday. A mayor of a neighboring town told the press that Yulin Cruz has not attended a single meeting with FEMA officials, though they have repeatedly invited her.

Conditions on the ground improved greatly over the weekend. According to FEMA assessments:

  • 59 of 69 hospitals are now open
  • Most gas stations are now open
  • Roughly half of gas stations are now open.

The Juice is Loose

O.J. Simpson walks free once again, following his release from prison on Sunday. The former football star served 7 years in a Nevada prison for kidnapping and armed robbery.

State officials have announced that O.J. will live near Las Vegas while under monitoring by a parole officer. For now, O.J. is beginning to enjoy life on the outside. His first meal as a free man? McDonald’s.

Chaos in Spain

The province of Catalonia held an independence referendum this weekend. Spanish authorities tried to shut down polling places, using riot gear and violence to intimidate voters. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy refused to acknowledge the referendum.

Anthem-Kneelers Want to Save THIS Statue

…and no, it’s not a Confederate statue. The very same group protesting the existence of Confederate monuments desperately wants to save a statue of Ray Lewis.

A statue of football star Ray Lewis stands outside of M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens. Lewis, a former Ravens linebacker, now works as an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. Before the Ravens game in London last Sunday, Lewis walked onto the sideline and knelt during the anthem.

Calls to Remove Statue

Some Ravens fans and NFL watchers have called on M&T Bank Stadium to remove the statue of Ray Lewis. Plenty of others support keeping the statue. The Ravens organization has not yet commented on the issue, but the Maryland Stadium Authority already fears vandalism. The governing body for Maryland sports arenas has stepped up security near the statue. This security will likely continue at least through the Ravens-Steelers game this Sunday.


Not a Protest?

“I dropped on two knees — both knees — so I can simply honor God in the midst of chaos,” Lewis said of his actions. He has previously advised Colin Kaepernick to “let [his] play speak for itself,” rather than drown it out with politics.

7 Facts You Never Knew About Melania Trump

Melania Trump brings her unique upbringing and interests to the role of the First Lady. This week, she made a speech at the United Nations about ending cyberbullying. Most people think of Melania as a former model turned First Lady, but her life includes so much more than meets the eye.

7 Facts About Melania Trump

1. Melania is the first FLOTUS in American history to have grown up outside of the United States. Louisa Adams, wife of John Quincy Adams, was born in London, but her father was American and raised his daughters as Americans. Melania moved to America at age 26.

2. A love for fashion runs in her family. Melania’s mother, Amalija Knavs, worked as a patternmaker for a children’s clothing manufacturer. As a child, Melania would sketch clothing designs that her mother Amalija would then sew.

3. If she hadn’t chosen to pursue modeling, Melania might have been an architect. She studied architecture at the University of Ljubljana for one year.

4. Barron Trump can thank his mother for his middle name. Donald Trump picked out “Barron” for his first name, and Melania chose “William” for his middle name.

5. Melania’s modeling career landed her a spot in one of America’s most famous ad campaigns. In 2005, she appeared in an Aflac commercial.

6. Though she stays quiet about political controversies in public, Melania isn’t shy about sharing her opinions with the President. She told US Weekly, “I’m not political in public, I’m political at home.” Melania also challenges the President occasionally. She says, “Do I agree with everything he says? No. I have my own opinions too, and I tell him that. Sometimes he takes it in and listens, and sometimes he doesn’t.”

7. Melania speaks several languages, though sources disagree on how many she speaks fluently. She speaks English, of course, as well as German and her native Slovenian. Some outlets report that she also speaks Italian, French, and Serbo-Croation. Melania has passed the gift of multilingualism on to her son. As a child, Barron reportedly learned basic Slovenian from his mother.

Trump Speaks at UN General Assembly

President Trump made his United Nations debut this morning, with a speech that charted the course for American involvement in the UN. He hammered North Korea for its increased nuclear aggressions. Calling Kim Jong Un “rocket man,” Trump named North Korea “an existential threat.”

“Rocket Man” on Notice

“If it [the US] forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” Trump said. The President also mentioned the American military members who gave their lives not only to defend America, but to defend freedom in many of the UN member countries.

The United States funds 22% of the UN’s budget, far more than any other country. China contributes less than 8%, and India does not even pay a full 1% of the UN’s costs.

Global Community

Trump called for “a great re-awakening of nations” to usher in strong leadership. The alternative,

Though many heads of state bristled at Trump’s “America first” message, at least one praised Trump’s leadership. “In my more than 30 years at the UN, I have never heard such a brave and clear speech. President Trump told the truth about the world’s lurking dangers, and called for them to be addressed with fortitude, to ensure the future of humanity,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

9/11 Hero “Man In Red Bandana” Documentary Debuts

Welles Crowther lost his life while rescuing total strangers during the September 11th attacks. The former college athlete was working as a securities trader in the South Tower. When terrorists struck the building, he called his mother and left her one last message: “Mom, this is Welles. I want you to know that I’m okay.”

A Hero In Crisis

Next, Crowther recalled the volunteer firefighter training he had received as a teenager. He started ushering people down and out of the building, even carrying one person who was badly injured. Crowther tied his red bandanna – the one item he always carried – around his face to keep from inhaling the smoke and debris. He ran back up inside the tower. According to 9/11 survivors, Crowther reached the 78th floor where he started putting out fires and administering first aid. He then brought that group of people downstairs, and started back up the staircase.

The South Tower collapsed with Crowther among those victims still inside. His body was found in the stairwell, along with the bodies of several FDNY first responders. Crowther was 24 years old.

A Family In Shock

Crowther’s grieving parents and two little sisters knew nothing of his last hours, save for the voicemail he left for his mother. They may have never known of their son and brother’s heroism if not for two survivor accounts printed in the New York Times on May 26, 2002. Two women who survived the attacks – Ling Young and Judy Wein, who had never met one another – credited “a man in a red bandanna” with saving their lives.

Young and Wein put the pieces together and contacted the Crowther family. More survivors emerged who also had stories of being saved by “a man in a red bandanna.” All told, Welles Crowther saved an estimated 18 lives.

In Wein’s words, “People can live 100 years and not have the compassion, the wherewithal to do what he did.”

Documentary Tells the Story

Crowther’s life, especially the tragedy and heroism of his last day, is the subject of a new documentary. Fittingly titled “Man In Red Bandana,” the movie traces Crowder’s steps and shows the tremendous impact he had by saving total strangers. The documentary runs through September 14th in select theaters. The film’s tag line says it all: “He went up, so others could come down.”