Climate Change Activists Dump Charcoal In Rome’s Trevi Fountain

Climate change activists in Rome, Italy turned the blue water of the Trevi Fountain black with diluted charcoal this past Sunday. 

The group consisted of 10 individuals from the climate activist group Ultima Generazione, which translates to ‘Last Generation.’ The group carried multiple banners, one of which stated “Let’s not pay for fossil campaigns considering what is happening in Emilia Romagna,” specifically referring to northern Italy, where there are multiple floods which some experts have linked to climate change. 

“Our country is dying.”

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Rome police stated that all of the activists were arrested and are facing vandalism charges. 

The counselor for personnel, urban security, local police, and local authorities in the Lazio region, Luisa Regimenti, condemned the recent act in a written statement. 

“This was the umpteenth demonstrative act of eco-vandals that hit a symbol of Rome universally known in the world.”

“[Dying the fountain] was a serious gesture, a worrying escalation that must be stopped with a safety plan for the monuments and the works of art most at risk in Rome and Lazio,” she continued. 

Mayor of Rome Roberto Gualtieri tweeted: “Enough of these absurd attacks on our artistic heritage. Today the #FontanadiTrevi was smeared. Expensive and complex to restore, hoping there is no permanent damage. I invite activists to compete on a confrontational terrain without putting the monuments at risk.”

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Mayor Gualtieri also explained to the local media that in order to correct the dying of the fountain, authorities would have to empty the dyed water and dispose of it: “This will involve a significant intervention. It will cost time, effort, and water.” 

This incident marks the third time this year that a famous Italian fountain was used for activists protesting for action to be taken towards flooding cities. 

In May, charcoal was dumped into the Fountain of Four Rivers in Piazza Navona, and in April, the Barcaccia fountain at the base of the Spanish Steps endured the same fate. The Last Generation has claimed responsibility for all three incidents. 

“Charcoal in the water of the Trevi Fountain, 1 out of 4 houses in Italy is vulnerable to floods. How much longer do we have to wait for those in government to take concrete action?”

Flooding in the northern Italian area has killed at least 14 people and displaced more than 36,000 residents. 

“The climate crisis is affecting territories with increasingly intense extreme events, with risks to people’s lives, and impacts on the environment and the economy. And Italy once again proves unprepared,” said Italian environmentalist association Legambiente in a press release.

Target Store

Target Announces Diversity Plans To Increase Number Of Black Employees By 20%

Companies all across the country have been put under fire in recent months as the Black Lives Matter movement has been mainstreamed, prompting consumers to call on their favorite brands to step up their inclusion and advocacy for racial justice. 

This Thursday, Target pledged to increase the amount of Black employees across its entire workforce by 20% over the next three years. Target has around 350,000 employees in America, a majority of which are white, especially in their executive and leadership positions. 75% of its leadership team is White and 8% is Black; based on data from 2019. 

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When it comes to the retailer’s overall workforce – including part-time employees – 50% are White, 25% Latino, and 15% are Black; making up the top three groups. Within their pledge, however, Target also mentioned their many previous initiatives to increase representation within their stores and in their corporate offices. They claimed to have doubled their representation of non-White officers in the past five years; equating to about 30%. However, only 5% of that population is Black. 

Target also mentioned how now more than half of their stores are run by women and a third are managed by people of color, however, during a movement that is heavily focused on the injustices Black individuals face on a daily basis, consumers aren’t satisfied with the minimal effort they believe Target has put forward. Chief human resources officer for Target, Melissa Kremer, recently posted a news release regarding Target’s new pledge for inclusivity. 

“Inclusivity is a deeply rooted value at Target and we’ve had an ambitious diversity and inclusion strategy for many years for our guests and team. We know that having a diverse workforce and inclusive environment creates a stronger team.”

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Kremer went on to claim that Target would be emphasizing its recruitment and hiring of Black employees and look for new ways to advance their careers once they join the company. Anti-racist training will be implemented as well as new diversity programs that will focus on things like technology, merchandising and marketing; all aspects of Target’s corporate culture that’s mainly run by White individuals. 

Target is no stranger to publicly advocating for issues of social justice. They’ve made public statements telling customers not to carry guns in stores and welcomed all transgender customers to use their bathrooms and changing rooms whenever they need; which caused conservative groups to boycott the brand. 

After George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis Police this year, Target CEO Brian Cornell and other top executives released a statement expressing their pain over Floyd’s death, and made a call for change. He joined a subcommittee of the Business Roundtable to look for new policy recommendations that would directly address the issues with US law enforcement as well as create more opportunities for individuals who were previously incarcerated and looking for work. 

Other retailers joined target in this initiative by donating to civil rights causes and setting new standards when it comes to hiring and recruiting employees in the future. 

Basketball going through Net

Etan Thomas Wants Sport Team CEOs To Do More To Fight Against Racial Inequality

Etan Thomas played in the NBA from 2001 to 2011. Now, he’s a published poet, motivational speaker, but most importantly, an activist.

I Cant Breathe Sign

Minneapolis Officer Responsible For George Floyd’s Death Charged With Third-Degree Murder

His name was George Floyd and his murder has sparked a huge demand for social justice and change amid a worldwide pandemic.

Supermodel Emily Ratajkowski Endorses Bernie Sanders

While many know of Emily Ratajkowski for her tremendous Instagram following, the Polish-American supermodel also works as a political activist, using her platform to advocate for liberal causes. During the previous Democratic presidential nomination, she endorsed Bernie Sanders due to his progressive policies like environmental justice and Medicare-for-All, so it’s no surprise that she has chosen the Vermont senator again as the ideal candidate in the fight against Trump at the ballot box this November. Ratajkowski first declared her endorsement during a podcast hosted by popular liberal filmmaker Michael Moore, where the two also discussed issues relating to women’s rights and the need for a radical candidate who will energize voters and convince them to head to the polls. And in a video produced in coordination with the Sanders campaign, Ratajkowski summarized the reasons for her support of the democratic socialist candidate, praising him for his long history of supporting progressive causes and the authenticity of his character.

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Given the high-profile nature of Ratajkowski’s celebrity status, her endorsement is likely to have a meaningful positive impact on the Sanders campaign, with the first votes being cast in Iowa less than a month away. Ratajkowski told Moore during her appearance on his podcast that she wanted to do as much as she possibly could to support Sanders, meaning it’s likely that the supermodel will make appearances at campaign rallies as the election season continues. As justification for supporting a candidate who is an older, white man over a woman candidate or a candidate of color, Ratajkowski commented that now is a time for action, not symbolism, and opined that a populist, anti-establishment candidate like Sanders has a better chance of defeating Trump in the general election than a moderate like Joe Biden, who is often regarded as a safer choice at a time when the primary issue on Democratic voters’ minds is the need to prevent the incumbent candidate’s re-election.

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Ratajkowski joins a growing field of high-profile endorsements, including Michael Moore and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, both of whom appeared at a campaign event to offer their support shortly following the senator’s heart attack late last year. Recently, Sanders announced an impressive fundraising haul of $34.5 million for the fourth quarter of 2019, and he currently leads the polls in some of the early-voting states, worrying members of the party establishment who fear that such a radical candidate would interfere with establishment goals or cost the Democratic party the presidency. That being said, Sanders enjoys particular popularity among significant demographics who are most likely to experience frustration with their experience of politics as usual, most notably young voters and non-white voters, two major coalitions that may be inclined to sit out during elections after being disillusioned by the political process. As such, turnout among these key demographics may be the determining factor in Sanders’ ability to clinch the nomination and, ultimately, the presidency.


Escalation of Protests Threatens Citizen Unity in Hong Kong

Pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have been ongoing for several months now, and show no signs of stopping, as government officials continue to push back against protestors’ demands and demonstrations only escalate in size and frequency. The protracted duration of these protests, however, is leading to a fracturing among activist groups, as some protestors are changing their tactics in response to continued inaction from elected officials and China. Incidences of property destruction and even violence are becoming more frequent as some activists see this behavior as a necessary response to a realization that peaceful protests have not been effective. However, not all protestors are onboard with this approach, as many activists continue to insist upon continuation of non-violent civil disobedience. As such, there exists a divide in the philosophical approach of Hong Kong activists, and while the two factions tolerate each other’s tactics for the moment, the lack of unity among protestors threatens the movement overall.

It’s worth noting that the majority of violence during Hong Kong protests comes from the local police, who use rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse what they call “riots.” Though Hong Kong is generally considered safe, with low rates of violent crime, increasing amounts of violence during protests make visiting Hong Kong currently a dangerous proposition. Police action against protestors is non-lethal, but water cannons and other methods of crowd control still have potential to cause serious injury. Additionally, protest leaders are at risk of being jailed, leading protestors to use encrypted apps like Telegram to communicate and organize, and causing protestors to adopt a more decentralized approach. While this approach makes it harder for the Hong Kong and Chinese governments to stop protests, it can also lead to a divergence of tactics among protestors, as some protestors prefer a more destructive approach than others.

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These protestors commit acts such as using makeshift battering rams to break into legislative buildings, destroying computers and vandalizing the walls with graffiti. Additionally, protestors have moved from throwing umbrellas and water bottles at police to throwing bricks and Molotov cocktails, in addition to petrol bombs. Protestors who resort to these tactics view them as a necessary evil, and consider their actions non-lethal and a response to the escalation of violence committed first by police. Angry mobs of protestors have even gone so far as to detain Chinese officials, and prevent ambulances from providing first-aid to injured people. Police, on the other hand, have claimed that they don’t resort to violence unless it is initiated by protestors, but in the chaos and confusion of a violent protest it can be hard to determine who is at fault for initiating dangerous and harmful conduct.

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A survey conducted by Chinese academics in June indicated that roughly half of protestors felt that non-violent protests were no longer effective. Now, after several months have passed and the government has not budged, that percentage is even higher, even though protestors who favor violence threaten to alienate their fellow pro-democracy citizens. Many of the protestors are students and young people, who are more prone to engaging in reckless behavior and endangering their own safety and the safety of others. But young people also have the most to lose if protests are not successful, as control of Hong Kong is set to return to Beijing in 2047, when these teenagers will still be fairly young.

Protestors have adopted various elements of popular culture as symbols to express their discontent. A phrase from the popular Hunger Games series of books, “if we burn, you burn with us,” has been used to describe the philosophy of many protestors, who feel that maintaining their freedom is so important that it is worth risking destruction. A popular meme references Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” series of films, where the word “bill” is a pun referring to the controversial extradition bill which initiated the recent protests in Hong Kong. And protestors in the streets have sung the song “Do You Hear the People Sing,” featured in the musical Les Miserables.


Nike Commercial Featuring Colin Kaepernick Wins Emmy in Creative Arts

Ever since he decided to kneel instead of stand for the National Anthem before football games in order to protest police brutality against minorities, Colin Kaepernick has been the subject of controversy. The 31-year-old football player and activist has made no secret of his political opinions, devoting much of his public image to exposing racial injustice and mistreatment of minorities in America. While many commentators across the political spectrum have decried Kaepernick for politicizing a sports event and disrespecting American traditions, others have praised him for using his platform to draw attention to an important issue at great risk to his career and safety. Hoping to capitalize on this sentiment among American consumers, Nike has partnered with Kaepernick for a series of advertisements featuring the football player, many including the tagline “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

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Although the television event formally announcing the winners of the Emmys has not yet been broadcast, winners in a few categories have been revealed ahead of time. This includes the Outstanding Commercial category, which Nike won for a two-minute advertisement entitled “Dream Crazy,” in which various professional athletes, including paraplegic athletes, are depicted practicing their sport while Kaepernick provides voice-over commentary. The ad was met with tremendous controversy owing to extreme differences in opinion surrounding Kaepernick, with some threatening to boycott Nike over their endorsement of the football players and others uploading videos of themselves destroying or disfiguring their Nike equipment in response. Nevertheless, the ad campaign has proven to be a successful one for Nike, which has continued to use Kaepernick’s image in their marketing materials and has sold out of Kaepernick-branded items.

Many of the nominees this year were companies who leveraged the medium of advertising to send an overtly political message, a sign of the times in a year when the worlds of entertainment and politics seemed to blend to an extent not witnessed before.

The success of the politically divisive advertising campaign represents Nike’s proficiency in taking advantage of the current zeitgeist for marketing purposes. The campaign was successful because it resonated with people’s attitudes regarding the intersection of politics and sports, and even the negative attention brought about because of the ad benefitted Nike, as it gave the campaign significantly greater exposure. The stock market reacted positively to the ad’s debut, as Nike’s stocks rose by 5% in the weeks following the premier. Though Kaepernick, being arguably the most galvanizing political figure in sports, was the focus of the advertisement, other socially conscious athletes such as LeBron James and Serena Williams made appearances, and their inclusions undoubtedly contributed to the ad’s impact.

Nike had fierce competition in the category from other nominees whose advertisements were similarly impactful. Apple was another nominee for their advertisement, “Shot on iPhone XS – Don’t Mess with Mother” which features breathtaking imagery depicting the natural world with an environmentalist message, as was Netflix, whose commercial, “Great Day in Hollywood,” focused on black writers, directors, actors, and other creative figures in the entertainment industry. Many of the nominees this year were companies who leveraged the medium of advertising to send an overtly political message, a sign of the times in a year when the worlds of entertainment and politics seemed to blend to an extent not witnessed before.