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Kendrick Carmouche Is The First Black Jockey In The Kentucky Derby Since 2013 

Kendrick Carmouche is set to become the first Black jockey to participate in the Kentucky Derby in eight years, however, that’s only part of his story, and he’s ready to tell the rest of it. 

Carmouche grew up the son of a jockey in Louisiana, so he was exposed early on in his life to the culture and lifestyle. He would wake up at 4:30 in the morning and follow his father into the area bush tracks where he would watch and help him practice. 

When he was 16-years-old, back in 2000, he began riding professionally himself. Ever since he’s enjoyed a long 21-year-long career that moved him from Louisiana to Texas to Philadelphia, and now he’s positioned as one of the best jockeys in New York. Back in September 2018, Carmouche suffered a painful leg injury that forced him to endure a lengthy six-month recovery. However, his return to the tracks has given him some of the greatest achievements in his career. 

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In the fall of 2020 he earned the riding title at Aqueduct and his first Grade 1 victory back in December 2020. Now, on May 1st of this year, he will be riding in the Kentucky Derby for the first time. 

“If you don’t dream it, it’s never going to happen. I dreamed it. To be here at this point and how long it took and the hard work that I put in to get to this point, going to the Kentucky Derby, this is icing and everything on the cake.”

When asked about advice that he would give to young jockeys who will be watching him compete in May, Carmouche claimed that “You have to polish yourself. You have to ride smart. You have to do all the correct things and grind it out until that happens. This is where I want to be.”

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Carmouche is the first Black jockey to compete in the Kentucky Derby since Kevin Krigger, who finished in 17th back in 2013. Originally, Black jockeys were the majority of competitors in the derby, winning 15 out of the first 28 races in the beginning of the Derby’s history. Now, Carmouche marks one of the very few Black jockeys in the United States, and he says he hopes to inspire many others to follow in his footsteps. 

“I think people just need to open their eyes and realize it doesn’t matter what color you are. You work hard. You’re an honest person. You want the best for you and your family and the team you’re putting together at the track so you can win races. It’s no black or white. It’s just purple or green, whatever you want to call it. We all bleed the same.”

Carmouche said his confident attitude comes from his father, who pushed him to leave home and pursue this career when he was younger. “My parents told me to get the hell out of Louisiana. They told me, ‘Go make yourself your own home.’ People get it twisted. They try to make their home where they’ve been at all their life. You can’t do that. You’ve got to go make your own home with your own family, your own kids.”

Sylvester Carmouche, his father, and several other family members are planning to make it to Louisville on Derby Day to watch Kendrick ride.

Travel Journal

Travel Journalist, Kendra Greene, Wants Us To Embrace The World’s More Offbeat Museums

Kendra Greene is a travel journalist who specializes in exposing some of the world’s most fascinating and unknown vacation spots.

Black Lives Matter Paper

Juneteenth: The History Behind Black Independence Day

Juneteenth is a nationally celebrated holiday among black Americans meant to honor the end of slavery in the United States. The holiday takes place on June 19th, this Friday, and while it’s not recognized by the federal government as a national holiday, it’s definitely celebrated as one. This Juneteenth is gearing up to be one of the most important in history, as America is currently enduring a national reckoning on race that was prompted by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and hundreds of other black Americans who were killed by the police. 

Millions of individuals all over the world have been protesting for ‘Black Lives Matter’ and nationwide police abolition. There’s also been an emphasis on defunding the police to redistribute the billions of dollars they receive every year into things this country actually needs, such as medical gear for the Covid-19 pandemic were still enduring. 

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So what exactly is the history behind Juneteenth? On June 19th, 1865, General Gordon Granger and his fleet of Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, where they announced to citizens that all enslaved black people were to be freed and the Civil War had ended. This occurred about two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. When Lincoln initially delivered the Proclamation, there weren’t enough Union troops in Texas, and the South in general, to enforce it. Once Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered, Union forces became strong enough to begin enforcing the Proclamation. 

When General Gordon Granger arrived in Texas, he was quoted stating that “the people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”

The holiday gets its name from combining the month of June and the nineteenth, but is also referred to as Emancipation day, Juneteenth Independence Day, and Black Independence Day. Celebrations for Juneteenth are held in all 50 states, more or less, but especially in the South. Normally individuals celebrate by hosting picnics, rodeos, religious ceremonies, educational workshops on black history, and historical services geared towards children, according to the holidays official website

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As previously mentioned, nearly all states in America recognize Juneteenth as a holiday, but it’s still not recognized nationally by the government. However, this year big business names such as Nike, Twitter, and even the NFL have recognized Juneteenth as a company holiday. Cliff Robinson is the founder of Juneteenth’s official website, and he recently claimed that he’s never seen the site get more traffic then it has this year. 

“There’s been far more attention on [my] website this year, and more companies have reached out to asking for speakers to provide virtual educational seminars on the significance of the holiday. The holiday this year may hold more significance for a lot of people because of the social unrest and racial upheaval that’s taking place. But [the fact] that many Americans were not aware of the holiday until recently is part of the problem,” Robinson said. 

Robinson believes that the momentum behind the movement could give Juneteenth the backing it needs to be nationally recognized. Beyond just Juneteenth, individuals with privilege are truly beginning to understand and listen to black voices and the ways the system has failed them, so this Friday should truly be a celebration. 

If you’re planning on attending a Juneteenth celebration this weekend, make sure you’re still abiding by social distancing/health and safety procedures. It’s necessary and good to celebrate, but we’re still very much enduring a pandemic, so wear a mask and stand 6 feet apart!

Black Lives Matter Flag

Author Carol Anderson Parallels America’s Fight For Racial Justice To 100 Years Ago

Carol Anderson is the Charles Howard Candler Professor and Chair of African American Studies at Emory University. In her spare time she writes op-ed pieces for The Guardian that cover issues in America regarding racism, white supremacy, our Justice System, and more.

Electric Guitar

Radiohead Launches Digital “Public Library” to Chronicle Band’s History

Radiohead is perhaps one of the world’s most influential rock bands of all time, as its groundbreaking records like “OK Computer,” “Kid A,” and “In Rainbows” have revolutionized not just the genre of alternative rock but also the way music is distributed and consumed. For years, however, the website radiohead.com has been relatively barren, including only links to buy records, merchandise, and concert tickets. The band has decided to change that by launching the “Radiohead Public Library,” which chronicles the band’s history by presenting a collage of various projects the band has worked on as well as documents relating to these projects, including promotional materials, recordings of concerts, and more. The website functions not only as a historical archive, but as a method for fans of the band to offer their support by purchasing music or merchandise, as many of the items presented on the “public library” contain links to online stores.

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Much of the content provided on the “public library” contains artwork produced by Stanley Donwood, a longtime collaborator of the band who is known for his abstract, psychedelic artwork that has given the band’s album artwork its distinctive look. The artwork for the “King of Limbs” record, for instance, depicts otherworldly ghostlike figures among a woodland backdrop, matching the album’s themes of nature and alienation, and the artwork for “OK Computer” depicts an abstract representation of a highway, corresponding with the record’s themes of modernity and transportation. While the “public library” offers visitors an opportunity to purchase music and merchandise, it also offers a lot of free content, including free streams of music and recordings of previous concerts. While the collection of content available on the digital library is expansive, it does not contain everything, as some limited-edition music releases as well as solo projects created by the band’s members are not included.

Radiohead is no stranger to unusual methods of distributing their content. “In Rainbows,” which came out in 2007 long before the advent of streaming services like Spotify, was released via a website that allowed customers to pay whatever they felt was appropriate, including nothing, in exchange for a link to download the songs. The band’s experiment ended up being tremendously successful, as “In Rainbows” became one of Radiohead’s most critically-acclaimed and financially successful albums. “The King of Limbs,” meanwhile, was offered in a unique “newspaper edition,” which included a CD, two vinyl records, and a newspaper included fictional and poetic news stories. While “The King of Limbs” was mostly well-received, this experimental distribution method proved to be less successful than the one pioneered for “In Rainbows.”

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Given the band’s decades-long history and the large number of albums they’ve released over the years, it’s no surprise that Radiohead is interested in taking a look back at their expansive career and sharing their history with fans. The “public library” also represents an economic opportunity for the band, as they are reissuing old t-shirts as well as other merchandise on their store. Given the band’s massive and enthusiastic fan base, this merchandise is likely to sell out quickly, so if you’re interested in picking up a Radiohead-themed t-shirt or hoodie, now is the time to do so. 

San Juan Islands

Why Travel Abroad When We Have Amazing Hidden Islands Here?

With Christmas firmly behind us many of us are looking forward and seeing where we would like to head off for our annual vacations. And while destinations such as Europe, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand are always popular for American tourists, we also have some amazing “home-grown” destinations waiting to be discovered.

While over 40 million visitors head to Seattle each year – spending roughly $7.8 billion in the city and surrounding areas – few continue to the beautiful San Juan Island.

Situated sixty miles off the northwest coast of America and a mere 40-minute seaplane journey, the island can easily make one forget the busy Seattle lifestyle and settle into a lifestyle that is more relaxing and full of neighborly spirit.

While many coastal areas have been built up over the years to accommodate tourists, the 20-mile main island has remained unspoilt. Traffic is also a rare sight with no traffic lights and few other drivers meaning you have less stress as you navigate your way around the island.

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You can also visit the island via one of the cruise lines that stop off, including UnCruise and American Cruise Lines, however it is worth adding the trip to any other cruise that offers it. Many head here to watch the whales that are often spotted as well as to visit the seaside villages that welcome you like a long lost relative.

Make sure you take advantage of any offers to fly into the region, as you will get to see some amazing views not just of San Juan Island but also of all the 400 islands that are located nearby, although some are far smaller than the main islands, making them look like diamonds glistening in the water.

San Juan Island is not without its history. Back in the 1800s the American army had a base on the island while the British army also had a base there, albeit thirteen miles apart. During the twelve years they were both based there they appeared to live in peace, with athletic races between the two camps. The British camp created some formal gardens and these are still open for you to visit today. The camps also remained respectful of each other’s culture with the Americans celebrating the birthday of Queen Victoria while the British attended Independence Day celebrations.

However this was to change in 1859 when a pig escaped from a British farm and headed towards a vegetable patch of an American settler, who subsequently killed it. Although he apologised to the pig’s owner a disagreement was had over the worth of the pig. With this disagreement in full flow both the British and Americans tried to declare themselves owners of the islands therefore enabling them to enforce their own laws.

When it was clear neither side was prepared to settle the dispute the American military sent in 60 troops while the British responded with a full warship. The US then sent a further 450 more troops with the British sending another two more warships. When the US president decided to send army leaders to meet with the British a decision of joint occupation was made. Kaiser Wilhelm I – an independent arbitrator – held a ‘trial’ in neutral Switzerland that decided the Americans should own the islands and the British troops withdrew from the island within the next two weeks.

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If history is not your idea of fun you could always head to Lime Kiln Point State Park, also known as Whale Watch Park. Situated between the two camps – which you can still visit – tourists are treated to sights of orcas. Head down towards the shoreside path and make your way to the charming 1919 lighthouse and you should be able to see the beautiful creatures as they swim past.

Further along the waterfront is Roche Harbor. Situated in an impressive setting, the 1886 Hotel de Haro is a major attraction for loved-up couples to hold their weddings. The island’s sculpture park is nearby and has an amazing array of strange sculptures that move with the wind.

The main town on San Juan Islands is Friday Harbor and is home to around 2,000 residents. Not only can you visit the whale museum here you can also book boat trips to see the many marine mammals in the area including seals, humpbacks and of course, orcas. However if you want to see them while eating a great meal head over to Friday Harbor House and enjoy the sights from their clifftop restaurant.

Nearby Orca island – named after a sponsor of one of the Spanish explorers who originally found and named the island – is only a short plane or ferry ride and can be reached via Friday Harbor.

With an eclectic range of restaurants, cafes, parks, boutiques and galleries, many tourists like to head to the historic village of Eastsound.

If the great outdoors is your preference then head to Lopez Island, which offers great hiking and cycling trails.

Capitol Building

US Senators Clash Over Impeachment Trial Procedures

Right after the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach Donald Trump, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi surprised pundits everywhere by making a strategic move no one saw coming: instead of immediately deciding upon impeachment managers to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, she decided to withhold the transmission of articles as leverage to coerce Senate Republicans to vote for what she considers to be a fair trial, which includes the calling of witnesses and the production of documents. Currently, Congress is in recess for the holidays, but negotiations surrounding the trial proceed nevertheless, even as lawmakers visit their families and constituents at their homes. 

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has called upon four Republicans to vote in favor of allowing documents and witnesses during the trial, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell starkly opposes. As the procedures for the trial will be determined by 51 votes, and Schumer already has all 47 Democratic Senators onboard, only four Republicans would have to defy McConnell to ensure a trial with witnesses and documents. Given the fact that the president himself has said that he’d like to see witnesses during the trial, and almost 2 in 3 Republicans also want top Trump aides to testify at the Senate trial, Schumer and the Democrats hope that pressure from constituents will be enough to convince the necessary four Republican senators to side with Democrats on this matter.

Given the dramatic and historic nature of this impeachment, people around the world are paying very close attention to the U.S. Congress during these critical next few weeks, as the rules of the trial will have to be determined soon for it to begin early next year as intended. Accordingly, U.S. senators, who ultimately will shortly decide whether the president is fit to remain in office for the rest of his first term, are using the media to amplify their message either for or against a fair trial as they try to build their cases. Today, The New York Times published an opinion piece written by Patrick Leahy, a Democratic senator from Vermont, who wrote of the historic implications of the Senate’s upcoming decision, as this impeachment trial, no matter how it ends up proceeding, will set precedent for future impeachments and forever define Congress’s role in checking the misconduct of a duly elected president.

The actions the Senate takes over the next several weeks will at least in part outline the shape of future impeachments and more clearly define the nature of Congress’s power to check the executive branch.

In the piece, Leahy argues that the outcome of the upcoming trial will determine the validity of the Senate itself, and more broadly the importance of truth in our government. Leahy, who has served as a juror on six impeachment trials of five judges and one president, notes that senators must swear an oath to carry out “impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws,” and fears that the Senate will shortly abandon the idea of taking this oath seriously. This is because several Republican senators, including Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham, have already said they’ve made up their minds and that they don’t expect to act as fair jurors during the trial.

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Impeachment trials are wholly separate from other types of trials, as they are conducted in the Senate, which briefly operates as a court of law during the proceedings. The Senate has the sole responsibility of setting the rules of its trial, and as the Senate is characterized by the presence of partisan politicians who are unflinchingly loyal to the president, Democrats fear that the trial will end up being fundamentally corrupt. Already, McConnell, who will act as one of 100 jurors, has pledged that “there will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this,” creating a rare case of a trial in which the jurors collaborate with the defendant to ensure the outcome favored by the defendant. Presidential impeachments are rare in American history, and as such there exists little precedent for how they should be carried out; as such, the actions the Senate takes over the next several weeks will at least in part outline the shape of future impeachments and more clearly define the nature of Congress’s power to check the executive branch.

Auction

Rare “Nintendo Playstation” Prototype to be Sold at Auction

If you’re at all familiar with the world of video games, you know that Nintendo and Sony, which makes the popular Playstation series of gaming consoles, have been fierce competitors for many years. But before Sony entered the video game industry with the release of the original Playstation, it had actually cooperated with Nintendo to develop a gaming system, though the results of this effort never saw the light of day. In fact, the name “Playstation” comes from this collaboration, as Sony adopted the moniker for itself after its relationship with Nintendo fell apart. Engineers from both companies worked to develop a prototype, the so-called “Nintendo Playstation,” which had both a cartridge slot and a CD slot, taking advantage of Sony’s expertise with the then-new digital storage medium. Only about 200 of these prototypes were ever created, with nearly all of them thought to have been lost or destroyed; the only known remaining prototype was discovered in a box full of junk after being sold at an auction for $75. Now, the prototype’s owner has announced he would sell it at an auction, and it is expected to sell for over a million dollars.

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For technology and video game enthusiasts, the Nintendo Playstation prototype is a fascinating historical artifact that suggests how the world of video games today could be vastly different if the relationship between Nintendo and Sony hadn’t turned sour. The Nintendo Playstation was intended to be built on top of the wildly successful Super Nintendo console, adding the feature of a CD-ROM drive as well as enhanced processing power. The device would have been sold in two forms: an accessory to the Super Nintendo called the Super NES CD-ROM, and a standalone console, which would have been called the Playstation and would have offered full compatibility with Super Nintendo games. However, in large part as a result of the breakdown of negotiations between the two companies and Nintendo’s collaboration with Phillips, one of Sony’s main competitors at the time, plans to release the device were cancelled. In the aftermath, the Sony Playstation went on to compete directly with the console that succeeded the Super Nintendo, the Nintendo 64.

It’s unclear as of yet exactly how much the system will sell for at the February 27th auction, but the Diebolds are sure to profit handsomely from the sale.

Few people know exactly what ended up happening to the 200 or so prototypes that were developed. But one of them ended up being sold in an auction held by Advanta Corporation, a company connected with Sony’s former CEO, for $75, with no one at the time recognizing the real value of the prototype. It sat in a box in an attic for years before being re-discovered by the son of the man who bought the prototype, who then shared pictures of the device online, drawing the attention of a large Internet community that immediately recognized the device, who described it as “priceless” and a “piece of history.” Dan Diebold, the man who shared pictures of the prototype online, also posted a video showcasing the device, which ended up getting over a million views. But people still doubted the authenticity of his claim, accusing Diebold of having orchestrated a hoax.

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Dan and his father, Terry, recognize the historicity of their possession, and have done their best to preserve and study the device. Fortunately, it still works, though the software being developed for it was never completed and thus its functionality is limited. That being said, it is fully compatible with existing Super Nintendo games, and it is also capable of playing back audio CDs. The console’s owners brought it to Ben Heck, a technology expert, who tore down the console to learn more about how it was built and also fixed some small problems with the device. Additionally, the father-and-son team spent years touring the system around the world, giving global fans an opportunity to see the device in person, an endeavor which they claim made them no money. Someone in Norway offered to buy the device for $1.2 million, but the Diebolds refused this offer. The upcoming auction will be hosted by Heritage Auctions, which previously sold video game artifacts like a sealed copy of the first Mega Man game for $75,000. It’s unclear as of yet exactly how much the system will sell for at the February 27th auction, but the Diebolds are sure to profit handsomely from the sale.

Human Genome

Scientists Sequence 5,700-Year-Old Human Genome

Despite rapid scientific advancements over the past several years, little is known about the lives of prehistoric humans, who left behind no written records and few artifacts. However, scientists were recently able to sequence a prehistoric human genome from DNA left in birch pitch, discovered in Denmark, which was used as chewing gum 5,700 years ago and was preserved in mud. This rare insight into our species’ genetic history gives scientists new information about our distant past, particularly with respect to how human beings have changed genetically over the past few millennia due to evolution. The discovery represents a breakthrough in our understanding of prehistoric human life, as the research presents insights into the diet, lifestyle, and genetic makeup of our distant ancestors.

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The results of the research were published by Nature in a paper that provides extensive detail about the methodology used to analyze the birch pitch as well as the implications of this analysis on our understanding of human history. By looking both at the complete human DNA which was found in the pitch as well as DNA from other plants and animals that the prehistoric individual may have eaten, the researchers determined information about the nearly six thousand year old person and extrapolated from this data to speculate about the larger culture she was a part of. 

The human DNA revealed that the person, whom scientists named “Lola,” was female and probably had dark skin, dark brown hair, and blue eyes. Given that the birch pitch was found in Europe, the fact that Lola had dark skin is notable, as it suggests that the spread of the trait of light skin pigmentation did not occur until later in history. Additionally, the DNA showed that Lola was lactose-intolerant, supporting the theory that tolerance to lactose evolved later in the history of human evolution after the beginning of dairy farming.

Lola, and by extension people who lived in Denmark at the time, likely lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, suggesting that this lifestyle persisted for longer in prehistory than scientists had previously assumed. In addition to providing a complete picture of Lola’s genome, the tree birch sample also gave scientists a snapshot of her “oral microbiome signature,” or the various species of bacteria that lived in her mouth at the time. 

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One of the species of bacteria they discovered was Streptococcus pneumoniae, suggesting Lola may have been suffering from a respiratory infection at the time. They also found evidence that Lola may have had mononucleosis, commonly known today as “mono.” Additionally, the scientists found DNA from animals and plants that were likely part of Lola’s diet, including hazelnut and mallard, supporting the opinion that Lola and the people living around her primarily found their food by hunting and gathering. While the evidence provides a genetic snapshot of a moment in Lola’s life, other details of her story, including her age and the cause of her death, will likely never be known.

 

American Flag

President Trump Will Be Impeached Tonight

Currently, members of the House of Representatives are debating the articles of impeachment that were approved by the House Judiciary Committee last week. All Republicans are expected to vote against impeachment, and nearly all Democrats will vote to impeach. Former Republican representative Justin Amash, who changed his party to Independent after criticizing the president’s conduct with Ukraine, will also vote to impeach. Members of the House of Representatives will have the opportunity to speak today as they list their reasons for or against impeachment before they vote. The arguments they are presenting, often in a raised voice, are repetitive and predictable; Democrats stress the urgency of removing Trump from office due to the national security risk he imposes, whereas Republicans criticize the process and partisan nature of the proceedings, defend the president’s behavior, and accuse Joe Biden and others of misconduct. As Democrats control more than half of the seats in the House of Representatives, it’s virtually certain that the president will be impeached after a vote which is scheduled to take place tonight.

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Though impeachment is now a virtual certainty, the timeline for when it will occur may change. That is because Republicans have done nearly everything in their power to delay the proceedings, forcing a vote to dismiss them, which of course failed, and engaging in other tactics to delay the inevitable. Depending on how long today’s proceedings run, the vote may be rescheduled for tomorrow morning. This happened last week, when Jerry Nadler moved to wait until the following morning to vote on whether to approve articles of impeachment and send them to the full house after the proceedings ran late into the night. Nadler wanted to avoid criticism that the vote took place late at night, and thus at a time when most people would not be paying attention, so he instead called the vote at 9 AM the next day. Depending on how much time the debate before the vote takes, Democrats may choose to do so again, given the importance and level of controversy surrounding impeachment.

Pelosi reiterated her stance that she desperately wanted to avoid impeachment, fearing the damage it would do to the country, but the president’s conduct left her no choice

As usual, the president gave his opinion on today’s impeachment on Twitter, tweeting a common refrain that the investigation is a witch hunt and his behavior was perfect. In all capital letters, and using several exclamation points, Trump urged his followers to pray for him, an apparent response to Nancy Pelosi’s claim that she prays for the president “all the time.” Trump expressed offense at this remark, accusing Pelosi of lying and claiming she hates him; in response, Pelosi reiterated her claim, and when asked whether she hated the president, she angrily rebuked the charge, offended by the use of the word “hate.” When asked why she thought Trump accused her of lying about praying for him, she said that Trump constantly projects the truth about himself by accusing others of the same wrongdoing he is in fact engaged in, so because Trump does not pray for Pelosi, he believes she must be lying about  praying for him. The conflict escalated when Trump sent Pelosi an angry six-page letter, written very much in the style of his tweets, full of capital letters, exclamation points, and baseless accusations. Pelosi stated that she didn’t read the full letter as she is too busy, but that she got the gist of it, and described it as “sick.”

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In keeping with her commitment to solemnity and prayerfulness during this process, Pelosi and other female Democrats dressed in black clothing to set a somber tone for the day. In her remarks, Pelosi reiterated her stance that she desperately wanted to avoid impeachment, fearing the damage it would do to the country, but the president’s conduct left her no choice as she and other Democrats feel they would be derelict in their duties if they did not vote to impeach. Tonight’s vote will officially ensure that a trial of some sort will take place in the Senate, which is expected to happen in January, though the details of the trial are as-of-yet unknown.