Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I hope you all have good reasons to be extra thankful this year. I have all the latest news on the Wilson verdict for you, the President’s reaction and how one local (and fellow xoJane reader) is coping with all of this.
Plus, some interesting news from Israel and how one New York City councilman is trying to fight Uber’s surge pricing.
What do you think of the Ferguson decision? Please discuss in the comments or tweet me directly @AmandaLauren.
The Verdict Is in And The Public Is Not Happy
We all know at this point that a grand jury decided that Officer Darren Wilson is not going to be indicted for the murder of Michael Brown. It seems the majority of people feel justice has not been served, including Brown’s parents, who made the following statement through their attorney:
We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions. While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen...
Join with us in our campaign to ensure that every police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera. We respectfully ask that you please keep your protests peaceful. Answering violence with violence is not the appropriate reaction. Let's not just make noise, let's make a difference.
President Obama gave a speech on Monday night regarding the verdict, hoping for peace.
We need to accept that this decision was the grand jury's to make. There are Americans who agree with it, and there are Americans who are deeply upset, even angry. It's an understandable reaction. But I join Michael's parents in asking anyone who protests this decision to do so peacefully….
In Ferguson and the surrounding areas, businesses and cars have been set on fire, and demonstrators and reporters alike have been tear-gassed and smoke bombed by the police. The National Guard has been deployed. By Tuesday afternoon, 61 people had been arrested.
I asked xoJane reader Ashley, who lives in Florissant, a suburb near Ferguson, for a first-hand account of the situation:
It's horrifying. About an hour after the verdict was announced my husband and I could hear helicopter, gunshots, screaming. One of our streets is completely closed down because most of the businesses have been looted, set on fire, and destroyed. One of which was Cathy's Kitchen, which is owned by a black woman who fed the protesters for free when this all began. The National Guard is containing most of the chaos, but they are not doing much to defer it. They did resort to tear gas, after smoke bombs didn't work. There are burned out police cars and civilian vehicles lining the streets. My town is a crime scene. I don't feel safe.
There have also been nationwide demonstrations overnight, some of which shut down a section of the 101 Freeway in Los Angeles, and stretching from Times Square to Union Square in New York.
Hagel Is Out
This week President Obama announced that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is resigning. While the president has said that both he and Hagel felt it was an “appropriate time for him to complete his service,” reports say Obama actually asked Hagel to step down. Overall, the president was not happy with how Hagel has handled the defense strategy in the Middle East, the rise of ISIS and the current situation between Russia and Ukraine.
Hagel, who is a Vietnam vet and former Nebraska senator, will remain in office until his successor is chosen. Michele Flournoy, who is a former defense official, is on the short list to replace Hagel. If she is hired, Flournoy will be the first female Secretary of Defense.
Arabic No Longer An Official Language In Israel
Israel’s cabinet passed a bill officially defining the country as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Prime Minister Netanyahu said,
Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people. Israel is an exemplary democratic country – that is the way it was and the way it will be. A country that anchors personal equal rights for each of its citizens.
But many people are worried that citizens won’t really have equal rights and the bill could make an already tumultuous situation worse between Jews and Muslims. Hamas representatives stated the bill could lead to a “religious war.”
In short, the bill institutionalizes Jewish law as a basis for legislation. It also delists Arabic as the second official language of the country.
The Prime Minister outlined his plan, saying:
We will anchor in law the national rights of the Jewish people, alongside with assurances of the personal rights of each citizen. That combination is what is important, and what I will promote in the principles of this law. We will continue to do this to make clear the fact that Israel is a Jewish democratic state.
Brooklyn Councilman Tries To Stop Uber Surge Pricing
Councilman David Greenfield, who represents the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bensonhurst, Borough Park and Midwood, has had enough of Uber’s surge pricing and he’s not going to take it anymore. He recently introduced legislation that would cap Uber’s surge pricing, prohibiting fares from going up more than 100%. Currently, the app allows fares to be increased over 900% during peak weekend hours and periods of inclement weather, leaving people with ridiculously high bills.
Surge pricing is a fancy name for price gouging. It’s an unchecked system in the regulated taxi and livery industry that takes advantage of New Yorkers. A yellow cab in New York City may not charge you $225 for $25 ride simply because it's snowing—neither should Uber.
The bill would penalize drivers with fines ranging from $200 to $1000 for repeat offenders or possible license suspensions.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission is currently reviewing Greenfield’s proposal. Uber has declined to comment and no word yet if other municipalities are following suit.
· On Tuesday, a federal judge in Arkansas ruled that the state’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, but for now the ruling is on hold pending an appeal from the state.
· Alfonso Ribeiro and his partner Witney Carso are holding the mirror ball trophy and have been crowned season 19 winners of "Dancing With The Stars." And yes, they did “the Carlton dance” one last time on the finale!
· A new study in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior shows that women in leadership roles (like female executives) are more 47% more likely to suffer from depression than men in similar positions.