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Friday, January 12, 2018

Posted By on Fri, Jan 12, 2018 at 5:03 PM

click to enlarge Tweet from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Tweet from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Yesterday, President Donald Trump referred to Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as "shithole countries." The remarks were made during a discussion with U.S. senators about a new bipartisan immigration bill.

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here," Trump reportedly said. "We should have more people from Norway.”

As is typical following Trump's customary inflammatory comments, the reaction was swift. CNN's Don Lemon opened his show saying, "This is CNN Tonight. I’m Don Lemon. The president of the United States is racist."

CNN's Anderson Cooper took time on his show to reflect on his experience covering natural disasters in Haiti and the people he met there. “Let me be clear, the people of Haiti have been through more, withstood more, fought back against more injustice than our president ever has,” an obviously choked-up Cooper said.

Predictably, on the other side of the aisle, Fox News pundits were blasé about Trump's comments. "This is how the forgotten men and women of America talk at the bar," said Fox's Jesse Watters.

But here in Pittsburgh, John Block, the publisher of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette apparently believes Trump's remarks were too inappropriate for the front page.  A tweet posted by the P-G's verified Twitter account last night states, "Our publisher is requesting us to remove @realDonaldTrump's "vulgar language" from the lede in our @AP story about his vulgar language."

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Posted By on Fri, Jan 12, 2018 at 2:15 PM

Last week, the San Francisco Chronicle broke the restaurant industry’s most recent sexual-harassment allegations, this time against chef Charlie Hallowell of Pizzaiolo, Boot & Shoe Service and Penrose. Up went the pieces on Eater, Grub Street and others that chronicled the abuse, the chef’s resulting “step back from the restaurants daily operations,” his statement/apology and the predictable mention of how this is happening a lot more frequently lately.

And of course, it is. The last three months have brought a wave of public awareness of the abuses that happen regularly inside the restaurant industry. Thrust into the spotlight by the #MeToo movement, previously untouchable heavy hitters like Ken Friedman, of The Spotted Pig; Todd English, of the Plaza Hotel; Mario Batali, of Eataly; and John Besh, of The Besh Restaurant Group, among many others, have felt the flames of outrage lick their heels.

Pete Wells, restaurant critic at The New York Times, entered the ring with his Jan. 2 piece, “Scandals Keep Breaking, But Restaurateurs Have Yet to Own Up,” citing the lack of real consequences for the accused other than being damned in the court of public opinion. Even that, he points out, doesn’t seem to be having much of an effect on businesses like The Spotted Pig, where “there was still a two-hour wait for a table,” just downstairs from the private dining room many employees reportedly called the rape room.” The allegations from staff and former staff of all these men detail horrors so alike in tenor that it numbs the mind to read report after report; there is a sinking feeling in one’s gut that this darkness is widespread and, worse yet, homologous.

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Posted By on Fri, Jan 12, 2018 at 1:02 PM

Attendees of 2017 Union of African Communities of Southwestern Pennsylvania Diversity Awards in Pittsburgh - PHOTO COURTESY OF FACEBOOK
Photo courtesy of Facebook
Attendees of 2017 Union of African Communities of Southwestern Pennsylvania Diversity Awards in Pittsburgh
On Jan. 11, President Donald Trump referred to African immigrants who utilize the U.S. lottery system as coming from “shithole countries.” U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), who was in the Jan. 11 meeting discussing immigration with Trump, said during a Jan. 12 press conference that the president’s comments were “hate-filled, vile and racist.”

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Posted By on Fri, Jan 12, 2018 at 8:21 AM

Continuing our roundup of Martin Luther King Jr. Day events that didn’t make it into our print issue:

On Mon., Jan. 15, the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater presents the 9th Annual East Liberty Celebrates MLK Day, anchoring a weekend of events at various venues all over that neighborhood and nearby.

A performer at a previous year's MLK Day at the Kelly-Strayhorn - PHOTO COURTESY OF KELLY-STRAYHORN THEATER
Photo courtesy of Kelly-Strayhorn Theater
A performer at a previous year's MLK Day at the Kelly-Strayhorn
The flagship event is a noon-4 p.m. festival at the Kelly-Strayhorn and neighboring Northway Christian Community Church East End. The program of performances, conversations and hands-on activities is open to guests of all ages with an admission price of pay-what-makes-you-happy.

The theme is “We Are the FUTUREMAKERS, Our Community Is Our Future.” Activities include the #FUTUREMAKERS412 “hashtag wall,” co-presented with BOOM Concepts. The idea is “to share your 2018 commitment through text, picture, or video.”

The event also includes activity tables hosted by Assemble, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Reading is FUNdamental, New Voices Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Glass Center and more.

The performances begin at 2 p.m., and feature local artists including Dreams of Hope, Blak Rapp M.A.D.U.S.A., Hope Academy, Alumni Theater Company and Nick Daniels - The DANA Movement Ensemble.

The Kelly-Strayhorn is located at 5941 Penn Ave. Northway Christian church is located at 5941½ Penn.

For more information, see here, or call 412-363-3000.

When the Kelly-Strayhorn party breaks up, you can head over to the Union Project for its 16th Annual MLK Day Celebration, with arts activities and a community meal. The event runs from 2-7 p.m. For more info, see here.

Other related events include a Sat., Jan. 13, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary program titled “Black Bodies and the Justice of God,” from 2-7 p.m. at the Seminary, at 616 N. Highland Ave.

And from 4-6 p.m. Sun., Jan. 14, Repair the World hosts a free MLK Listening Party, with King-themed media and performances. Learn more here.

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Posted By on Thu, Jan 11, 2018 at 3:21 PM

Carnegie Mellon University hosts its 19th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Writing Awards reading.

The event features the winners of the contest, high school and college students from the region writing about "difference and diversity."

Issues addressed this year, according to a press release, include racial and sexual identity and "the current political climate."

The awards program was founded and is directed by Jim Daniels, a CMU English professor and acclaimed poet and fiction writer.

The first-place winner in the high school prose category is Emma Steckline, 15, a CAPA High School student who wrote an analysis of LGBTQ representation in the media.

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Posted By on Thu, Jan 11, 2018 at 10:55 AM

click to enlarge The LGBTQ Pride Flag
The LGBTQ Pride Flag
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest pro-LGBTQ organization, released its 2017 annual report detailing every state's legislative efforts to provide, or inhibit, equality for LGBTQ Americans. The Pennsylvania state government, again, left much to be desired for those advocating for LGBTQ rights.

The HRC gives four general scores to states, with “working toward innovative equality” being the best and “high priority to achieve basic equality” being the worst. Pennsylvania ranked “high priority to achieve basic equality” in 2017. (The state also received this distinction in 2016, 2015 and 2014.) Pennsylvania is also the only state in the Northeast U.S. to be given the bottom score for LGBTQ equality. It should be noted that some Pennsylvania cities, like Pittsburgh, have been given high-marks by the HRC, despite the low grades on the state level.

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Posted By on Thu, Jan 11, 2018 at 9:38 AM

We're spotlighting Martin Luther King Jr. Day events that didn’t make it into our print issue.

Here's one:

On Sat., Jan. 13, the Community Empowerment Association and state Rep. Ed Gainey commemorate MLK’s Poor People’s Campaign with an inaugural collection for the Emergency Relief & Disaster Preparedness Distribution Center.

The center will collect and distribute smoke detectors, water pitchers with filters, carbon-monoxide detectors, and children’s winter coats.

The collection takes place from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

The center is located at 7120 Kelly St., in Homewood; for more information, call 412-371-3689, x 44.

For more on the event, see here.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Posted By on Wed, Jan 10, 2018 at 4:30 PM

click to enlarge CP PHOTOS BY MEG FAIR
CP photos by Meg Fair

On an only mildly chilly night in Pittsburgh, a small crowd gathered early at Stage AE for the VIP experience pre-doors. The feeling in the group was one of nervous excitement and uncertainty about what to expect upon entering the nearly empty venue.

Around 5:30 p.m., about three dozen of us were brought into the venue to play the signature St. Vincent guitar, pose at her bright pink press podium from the album artwork, and explore the merch table without a crowd. But most importantly, this VIP experience included an acoustic performance (“Laughing With A Mouth of Blood” and “Prince Johnny”) and a half hour or so of discussion.

I don’t call it a Q&A because it wasn’t like a press conference. She asked as many questions of us, if not more, than were asked of her, and the questions ranged from serious to silly. I took off my journalist cap and asked her what her favorite holiday is (“Halloween, I guess. Or, no! A nice Easter, actually.”) I won’t say much more on it, just that it was an absolute privilege to engage with such an empathetic, funny and brilliant artist. If you have a strict, "Don’t meet your hero" rule, she’s one artist worth breaking it for.

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Posted By on Wed, Jan 10, 2018 at 3:57 PM

click to enlarge The Racial Justice Town Hall was a precursor to the Summit Against Racism next week.
The Racial Justice Town Hall was a precursor to the Summit Against Racism next week.
Talking about racism isn't new. Actual actions resulting from talks are less common. But for 20 years, the annual Summit Against Racism has worked to bring together Pittsburgh residents and those in power to develop solutions to the racial injustices still very much present in our society.

Last evening, organizers behind the annual event brought together elected officials, leaders and representatives to not only speak directly to constituents, but to listen to the experiences of those facing everyday racism. The town hall acted as a preview of the 20th Summit Against Racism scheduled for Jan. 20 at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Posted By on Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 3:38 PM

The third edition of this forum for "smart talk about stuff that matters" hits Downtown venues Feb. 24-March 4. The line-up, presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and the Humanities Center at Carnegie Mellon University, was announced at a press conference this morning.

The theme is Continuum: Past, Present, Future, with a focus on how ideas persist and reappear over time.

From left: Rick Sebak, John Fetterman and Gisele Fetterman (with kid) - CP PHOTO BY BILL O'DRISCOLL
CP Photo by Bill O'Driscoll
From left: Rick Sebak, John Fetterman and Gisele Fetterman (with kid)
The five featured events include visits from Guy Raz, host of popular NPR podcasts including the TED Radio Hour and How I Built This; PostSecret: The Show; and feminist documentarians Allison Rapson and Kassidy Brown.

Other guest of these on-stage conversations, complete with audience Q&A, include such local luminaries as filmmaker Rick Sebak; X-Men and Hip Hop Family Tree cartoonist Ed Piskor; and high-profile couple John Fetterman and Gisele Fetterman, the former the mayor of Braddock and a candidate for lieutenant governor, the latter a social activist. And local artist and performer Vanessa German interviews Edda Fields-Black, historian and the librettist for a forthcoming symphonic work honoring the enslaved Africans who worked the rice fields of the South.

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