What issues will be front and center on the debate stage

USA TODAY has put together a primer on some of the topics that the candidates are expected to tackle over the two nights of debate.       
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Digital Fauna
For a girl to scam the worldto slip out the lies from her bodyshe must open up and risk the penetration of fakesand know herself as a name she didn’t choose.Online lover: Do you tell God the truth?I don’t think we do.I think we have a God-facing self thatcannot be entireeven as it loves and receives.He is only real in that part of us.Compartments of related truthsare not a unity of truth.My lover doesn’t save each part of his heart.He uses it whole over and over againwhile I crouch over each of my portions.Who is more sincere?Our minds abuzz but our bodies never completingjust beckoningthe shameful outlets soaked.Writing is my proofbut proofs are only specifically trueand I think the sum of my specifics is a lie.My heart and blood recedebut my electrics seem to be in loveceaselessly conversing.I don’t agree to this hallucination.I like the decadent privacy of textbut a part of it feels mistaken.Others have taught methat many harmful things require privacy. Surrounding images sayI’m not how I’m supposed to be.It’s only in text that I can belongeven brilliantly.Meanwhile pollen keeps coating the worldgathering into clumps on the water.The snow never melts in the empire’s shade—what am I to do, shaking lily?The network doesn’t always register the murder of their kin.Sometimes there is simply an absence among their numberat the beginning of the nightwhen it’s safer to sleep huddled together.
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COVID-19 Won’t Change Us Forever
Soon after COVID-19 struck the United States, prognosticators began sharing a dreary vision of America’s post-pandemic future. Workers will trade mass transit for their cars and abandon cities for “the hinterlands,” proclaimed a contributor to The Washington Post. Sports fans will swap stadiums for man-cave bunkers and music lovers will watch concerts on their screens, predicted a writer for ZDNet. “Coronavirus Could Make Us Wary of Hugs,” a CNET headline warned, and might “change friendship forever,” The Wall Street Journal pronounced. In June, news stories suggested that the pandemic will “forever” change livestock shows, life insurance, banking, the cannabis industry, the beauty industry, college dorms, the NBA, and golf carts. A writer for the Athens Voice in Greece declared that the hunger for safety will destroy individuality. “We will have lost our human character and the characteristics of humanity,” he wrote. “We will live like amoeba.”Amoeba? Really? I have to say that I find these unending “how coronavirus will change us forever” stories insulting. The assumption is that fear will guide our post-coronavirus lives, not for a few years, but forever. The scaredy-pants prophesying in these stories underestimates humanity’s historic toughness—our plague-defying, atrocity-surviving, don’t-mess-with-me grit. Humanity has endured fires, droughts, civil wars, world wars, earthquakes, terrorism, famines, floods, killer bees, Honey Boo Boo, and near-nuclear annihilation. We may be greedy, shortsighted, and violent, but we’re resilient little creatures too. So the idea that we’re destined for a hug-free, homebound future seems, well, offensive.[Read: We’re living in the retro-future]Let’s give ourselves some credit. No matter how horrific the disaster, no matter how damaged our psyches, we wounded humans always bounce back. We rebuilt San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. We rebuilt Chicago after the great fire. We rebuilt Dresden, Warsaw, Hiroshima, Nagasaki. We grieve, adapt, endure, progress. And frequently we thrive. The Black Death was followed by the Renaissance. The 1918 pandemic was followed by the Roaring Twenties. So why are we destined to become the United States of Agoraphobia, hiding from friends and disinfecting our Amazon packages for years to come?“Trauma like this pervades our subconscious for generations,” an AdAge writer opined, but Americans are adept at shrugging off societal stress and re-embracing normalcy. In an online chat, Thomas Boswell, a baseball authority and columnist for The Washington Post, noted that in 1919, the year after the flu pandemic killed roughly 675,000 Americans (and 50 million people worldwide), Major League Baseball set an attendance record.Don’t get me wrong: I’m a Washington Nationals fan, and while I’d love to watch Max Scherzer and drink an overpriced beer at Nats Park, there’s no way I’d attend a game this year, even if the stadium reopened. I don’t make that decision out of fear. It’s just common sense. We’re only in the second inning of the pandemic, as multiple health experts have stated—and autumn could be worse. But does that mean I’ll avoid the ballpark forever? Will most face-painted fans hide in their homes, particularly if there’s a vaccine? Not likely.[Read: Athletes during the pandemic are learning what fans have always known]Clearly people are suffering—mentally, physically, economically. In a May survey conducted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Harvard Medical School, 55 percent of Americans said they were more stressed than they were before the pandemic. But while our fears can be intense, they’re not necessarily world-changing. As Ruchir Sharma, the chief global strategist at Morgan Stanley, wrote in The New York Times, crises rarely change anything. They simply accelerate existing trends. Predicting our long-term future now, when we’re still in the early phases of COVID-19, is like predicting the postwar world three weeks after Pearl Harbor (or, to use the baseball analogy again, like predicting the outcome of a season on opening day). And let’s not forget: Prognostications are an irresistible exercise for many journalists, futurists, and intellectuals, but they’re usually wrong. Remember when the Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter and others predicted “the death of irony” after 9/11?The September 11 attacks were supposed to change everything about daily life. Our airport experiences were certainly transformed, as we all know from walking beltless and shoeless through security lines, but within three years of 9/11, the airline industry set a record high for passengers, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. While we collectively work to prevent similar tragedies from happening again, we also discover that our desire to explore the world is stronger than our fear.Trauma can even be transformative. Most people are familiar with post-traumatic stress, but the more common reaction is post-traumatic growth (PTG), when people thrive after enduring a negative life-changing event, according to Thalida Arpawong, a faculty member in the Resilience Lab at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine. In one study, more than half of trauma survivors said they felt stronger after their experience and had gained a new appreciation for life. In another, survivors of traumatic injuries (primarily from car accidents) viewed their struggles as “a springboard for growth.” PTG can spur people to reconsider priorities, improve relationships, and take bold actions, such as traveling abroad or changing careers. After disasters such as the 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri, and the 2017 fires in Paradise, California, some survivors found that their pain provided new perspective on what’s important.[Read: There’s no going back to ‘normal’]A desire for growth—not the lingering effects of fear—may ultimately fuel our national and personal recovery. COVID-19 has provided an agonizing reminder: Life is precious. Life is short. A long human life lasts only about 650,000 hours, Bill Bryson wrote in A Short History of Nearly Everything. How will we use our time? Before the pandemic, Americans spending roughly three hours and 30 minutes a day on their phone, 90,000 hours of their life at work, and an average of 54 hours a year in traffic (103 hours a year if you live in the Bay Area). But traumatic events are often a personal wake-up call, Arpawong told me. We will likely emerge from the pandemic craving richer, deeper lives, not more screen time or seclusion. To adapt the words of the great American philosopher Ferris Bueller, life moves pretty fast. If we don’t put on a mask and look around, we might miss something.
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Large crowds in London after coronavirus lockdown lifted
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Despite Rising Coronavirus Cases, Trump's Focus Appears To Be Elsewhere
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The Unofficial Racism Consultants to the White Evangelical World
In the weeks since George Floyd’s death, Philip Pinckney has been inundated with messages from white evangelical pastors who want to take a stand against racism: 40 to 60 phone calls a day, dozens of texts and email chains, endless drafts of sermons and articles. The 34-year-old Black pastor has spent his life in spaces where his race is a point of contradiction. He trained as a cadet at the Citadel, the South Carolina military college whose officers helped orchestrate the attack on Fort Sumter that started the Civil War. He planted a church with the Southern Baptist Convention, a denomination founded to defend slaveholding. Now, as the country reckons with more Black deaths at the hands of police, he has taken up a role he often gets drafted to: an unofficial racism consultant to the white evangelical world.“I don’t know any Black person who raised their hand and said, ‘Yup, I want to do this,’” he told me by phone, driving from Charleston to Columbia to talk with a group of pastors about race and Christianity. “We came into this to plant churches and to disciple people and to raise families and to proclaim, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ And yet, there is this blindness. There is this ignorance. There is hostility that we feel a unique compulsion to move towards.” As Pinckney recently scrolled through his text messages, he noticed that some white pastors reach out only when racial violence is in the news. “We may not have talked since the last Black murder,” he said.A quiet network of Christian leaders like Pinckney has coalesced around the country—a sort of informal fellowship of Black pastors, nonprofit staffers, and ministry leaders who move in predominantly white evangelical circles. While prominent white pastors often get the attention for their statements on racism, their younger, less powerful Black colleagues typically work behind the scenes to facilitate them. The evangelical world can be a distinctly challenging place in which to change people’s attitudes on race: Many of these churches have a long history of resistance to racial equality, and many religious conservatives are wary of the self-described social-justice movements associated with the left.The past month has brought important signs that the evangelical world is shifting in ways that would have been unimaginable only a few years ago. Self-described “apolitical” pastors are in the streets marching alongside protesters. White megachurch leaders have accepted rebuke from their Black peers. Prominent conservative pastors and seminary leaders in Mississippi called for the removal of Confederate battle imagery from their state’s flag. And the head of the Southern Baptist Convention has declared that “Black lives matter.” The way Christian leaders grapple with white supremacy in the weeks to come will be a sign of where white America is heading, and will ultimately decide whom churches can reach with their message. The Black church leaders and other Christians of color who have chosen to remain in white spaces are leading the way.[Read: Southern Baptists and the sin of racism]Many conservative white pastors, including some of President Donald Trump’s evangelical advisers, have for years been freely willing to condemn the “sin of racism” and overt discrimination along the lines of Jim Crow. Conservative pastors have even united around legislation on criminal-justice issues; white evangelicals led the way on last year’s prison-reform bill. But subtle cultural norms—and big political issues—put hard limits on the way many pastors are ready to think about racism.“If you go into a church and say, ‘Hey, man. The white Jesus that we’ve got on the wall is a lie. There’s no way that a Middle Eastern Jew would have looked like that,’ now you’re attacking the Bible,” Pinckney said. “These hills upon which we are prepared to die—that’s where we meet in the conversation about race.”As the writer Jemar Tisby recently detailed in his book The Color of Compromise, white Christian leaders have promoted and excused racial bigotry throughout American history. Theologians made biblical arguments to justify slavery. Prominent southern pastors urged “moderation” in debates about segregation during the civil-rights era. For several decades, conservative Christian leaders have been wrestling with this legacy: As early as 1995, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution condemning the denomination’s role in promoting racial bigotry and apologizing to “all African Americans” for condoning “individual and systemic racism in our lifetime,” whether “consciously or unconsciously.” Southern Baptist leaders have continued to push conversations on what they call racial reconciliation in recent years, and other denominations have made similar efforts.Yet conversations about race among evangelicals are often clouded by disagreements over where the line between racial reconciliation and political activism actually lies. Just four years ago, a Black woman, Michelle Higgins, met tremendous backlash after she delivered a speech at Urbana, a popular youth-ministry conference, arguing that her Christian brothers and sisters should support Black Lives Matter. The summer after Trump was elected, the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention devolved into chaos after a resolution condemning the alt-right got stalled for using allegedly politicized language. When J. D. Greear, the North Carolina pastor who currently serves as president of the denomination, recently recorded a video calling on Christians to say “Black lives matter,” he was careful to clarify that he and his church do not endorse any Black Lives Matter organizations. “The movement, and the website, has been hijacked by some political operatives whose worldview and policy prescriptions would be deeply at odds with my own,” he said. Other white evangelical pastors would not go even as far as Greear. They perceive the slogan as “pulling the tiny thread … that unravels the whole sweater,” Nicole Martin, the director of U.S. ministry at the American Bible Society, told me. White pastors wonder whether saying Black lives matter will mean they have to cede ground on other issues, such as ordaining women or affirming LGBTQ rights, she said. “And my answer to that is: maybe.”[Read: A resolution condemning white supremacy causes chaos at the Southern Baptist Convention]Certain kinds of political activism are widely accepted in the evangelical world. “We’ll have sanctity-of-life Sunday, speaking about the great evil of abortion—which I’m on board with, amen,” Pinckney said. But “that same clarity seems very complicated when it comes to issues of race.” When he was at a lunch with a black friend and a white pastor, says Maina Mwaura, a Southern Baptist–trained minister who has consulted for Christian organizations such as Promise Keepers and Barna, the white pastor refused to listen to the friend’s views on what he saw as the president’s racist comments. The white pastor said he will vote for Trump because he opposes abortion rights, which effectively ended the conversation. “The pro-life agenda is used as a weapon to shut down everything else, including race,” Mwaura told me.Even the language of what constitutes “justice” is controversial among evangelicals. In 2018, a group of pastors led by John MacArthur, an influential white megachurch pastor in California, signed a statement decrying “social justice” and arguing against “postmodern ideologies derived from intersectionality, radical feminism, and critical race theory.” It condemned “political or social activism” as not being “integral components of the gospel or primary to the mission of the church.” This kind of sentiment is common among white evangelical leaders, several Black leaders who work in these spaces told me: White pastors aggressively enforce the boundaries of acceptable conversations on racism, weaponizing any position that bears even a whiff of progressive politics and slapping labels such as “social justice” and “cultural marxism” on arguments about systemic injustice. Black leaders at predominately white organizations are careful to emphasize that caring about racism is a gospel issue.“If it’s just a social-justice thing or a cultural thing, it’s easy to dismiss, because that bases the conversation in ideology,” Arthur Satterwhite III, the vice president of multiethnic ministries at Young Life, a prominent youth-ministry organization, told me. Some white pastors seek out Black voices who echo their own political beliefs, Mwuara told me. “I literally had to go on social media and just say, ‘Please do not send me any more Candace Owens videos,’” he said, referring to the right-wing commentator and former communications director for Turning Point USA. When pastors do this, according to Mwuara, they see it as “teaching us something that we have missed. The problem with that is that you are really discounting 90 percent of Black Americans’ viewpoints.”No matter how much goodwill they may have, white evangelical leaders repeatedly say and do things that are wildly hurtful to people of color in their communities. In June, at the peak of the protests against Floyd’s death, Louie Giglio, the Atlanta megachurch pastor, said in an onstage conversation with the popular hip-hop artist Lecrae and Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy that the term white privilege should be replaced with white blessing to “get over the phrase” that shuts down conversations on racism. Afterward, according to The Washington Post, Lecrae stepped into his unofficial racism-consultant role, telling Giglio how uncomfortable he was with the suggestion. (Giglio later apologized.) Last month, Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, tweeted an image of a face mask decorated with one person in a Ku Klux Klan robe and another in blackface. Several dozen Black alumni of Liberty University, including pastors and other Christian leaders, sent a letter expressing their outrage at his “infantile behavior.” (Falwell Jr. later apologized.) Jua Robinson, a pastor who founded a multiethnic church in Boston and was one of the Liberty letter’s signatories, told me he has become accustomed to seeing white Christian leaders get flummoxed by issues of race:When Robinson was in his early 20s and working on the staff of Athletes in Action, a ministry of the organization formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ, he asked a worship leader to try playing a gospel song. She got flustered, and “basically walked away from it,” he told me. “The chords may be a little different, but if you know that I’m here, and others may appreciate it, why not at least give it a try?” Robinson is often the only Black person in the room at church-related events, he said, and he is regularly asked to speak to his colleagues about race. “Some of these people don’t really have relationships with people of color,” he told me. “I felt like God had given me a voice and a lane and a certain level of trust.”In recent weeks, as the country has confronted the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and other victims of racist violence, white pastors have put out statements and hosted Sunday-morning conversations about the scourge of bigotry in our nation. Yet even these good-faith efforts often indulge “the empty sentimentality that people associate with racism,” Pinckney said, and focus on individual relationships and behaviors: “We need to love each other, to treat each other well.” This is no accident. “Evangelical theology tends to be very personal, highly relational, and therefore, engaging issues of systems and structures becomes incredibly difficult,” says Greg Jao, the director of external relations at InterVarsity, an influential ministry organization that focuses on college campuses. Many white evangelicals may be on board with the idea of banishing racism from their heart, but may not be ready to confront the policy issues, such as racist policing, that enable the kind of violence that killed George Floyd. As of 2018, 71 percent of white evangelicals believed that incidents of police officers killing Black men are isolated and not part of a broader pattern, according to a survey from the Public Religion Research Institute. “A mainly intrapersonal, friendship-based reconciliation [is] virtually powerless to change the structural and systemic inequalities along racial lines in this country,” Tisby told me.[Read: Closing the gulf between white and Black Christians]For all the energy being devoted to addressing racism in the white evangelical world, the aftermath of George Floyd’s death is not necessarily a turning point in how white evangelicals think about race, several Black leaders I spoke with argued. “About every four to five years, there’s a larger national-level racial conversation, and many churches will make some gesture at that,” Jao told me. “Then they don’t speak on it again, don’t notice the things that are happening locally or nationally, until the next major explosion.” One test of the effects of this summer’s protests is whether they will shift conversations about race and policing in conservative political circles. Nearly one-third of white people in the United States identify as evangelicals, and a strong majority of this group is Republican. White Christians are distinctively positioned to push politicians to take this issue seriously.Ultimately, though, the Black leaders I spoke with do their work for the sake of the church, not for political gain. “It’s not the responsibility of the ordinary Black person to educate white people. That, in itself, is oppressive,” says Latasha Morrison, the founder and president ofBe the Bridge, an organization that trains staff at predominantly conservative, white churches and organizations on how to have conversations about race.In Charleston, Pinckney has spent the past month toggling between competing reactions to Floyd’s death: the desire to shield his two young sons from violence, to lead his church with wisdom, to punch a wall. A few years ago, Pinckney and other local pastors formed a collective, 1Charleston, to encourage churches in the city to take on conversations about racism and the gospel. His city knows all too well the devastating effects of racist violence on the church. “I long for the day that I don’t get these messages, and I don’t have to talk about these things,” Pinckney told me. But “the same God who called me to disciple also called me to speak out against injustice.”
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How Mass Protests End
Since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, crowds demanding racial justice have surged into public spaces across the country and throughout the world—with solidarity actions springing up in South Korea and South Africa, Argentina and Australia. Domestically, demonstrations have materialized not only in major cities, but also in small-town America, including places with deeply conservative populations. As several political scientists noted in The Washington Post, "The United States rarely has protests in this combination of size, intensity and frequency; it usually has big protests or sustained protests, but not both."When will the protests end? And what will it mean when they do? Although all waves of mass protest are different, they tend to follow a similar course. Demonstrators can’t stay in the streets forever. When they relent, though, that doesn’t mean they have stopped caring—or that the movement is over. After protests die down, their goals and ideas can survive as the ongoing work of organizing continues.While movements as a whole are propelled by long-term vision and deep-seated grievances, mass protests in particular emerge in response to what some theorists call “trigger events.” Here, a dramatic incident such as a natural disaster, a media exposé, a political scandal, or a killing may ignite passions and prompt outrage, sending people into the streets. A moment of unrest may extend for weeks or even months, especially when guided skillfully by organizers.But activists trying to sustain momentum face serious headwinds. The media are fickle in their attention, and a flitting spotlight makes it hard for activists to be seen and to draw in new people. Already, although issues of racial justice raised by the protest remain a crucial part of public discussion, headlines have moved away from focus on street actions and instead turned to stories such as President Donald Trump's reelection rallies and the surge in new coronavirus cases.[Adam Serwer: ‘Protest is the highest form of patriotism’]Another factor that can slow protests is that they demand a serious commitment of time and energy from participants; eventually, many tire out. As the weeks stretch on, the pressures of ordinary life begin to reassert themselves, and people must return to responsibilities that they might have set aside in a moment of crisis. Some of those who are most committed may be encumbered with arrest and subsequent, time-consuming legal entanglements. As just one example, protests at the 2000 Republican National Convention, in Philadelphia, resulted in hundreds of arrests, bail as high as $1 million for those deemed "ringleaders," and a legal battle that took years to resolve.Either due to strategic calculation or exhaustion, some protest participants may divert their energies into more institutional channels. For instance, many of those who protested the Iraq War in early 2003 turned to focus on electoral work by the summer or fall, believing that the campaigns of candidates such as Howard Dean represented the best hope of unseating President George W. Bush and thereby ending the war.Political officials and other targets of protests may offer short-term concessions to movements or invite high-profile activists to sit on commissions and propose policy solutions. Optimists might cite these as positive examples of reform. Critics are more likely to label them examples of “co-optation” and point out that the changes enacted are only small steps toward addressing the root causes of an issue. Depending on the particulars, either or both assessments could be right (although the fact that corporate PR agencies recommend task forces and advisory boards as means of "managing activism" would suggest that skepticism is warranted). Regardless, the perception that something is being done to address protesters’ concerns can serve to blunt public discontent.For all of these reasons, and with the passage of time, the initial shock of the trigger event fades. At that point, mass protests decline and other components of social movements tend to come back to the fore—that is, until a new trigger reignites the prospect of revolt.[Read: Do protests even work?]Mass mobilizations take place within a wider ecosystem of social-movement activity. Other pieces of movements include building long-term organizations—such as unions and community groups—and taking on "inside game" work, such as electoral campaigns and legislative lobbying. Still other segments of a movement might devote themselves to political education, cultivating personal transformation at the individual level (through spiritual and cultural programs), or to building alternative institutions (such as community spaces, bookstores, food co-ops, and independent media). All of these types of organizing contribute to the movement’s long-term impact, even if they might have varying importance at different times in a movement's lifecycle.When a period of peak protest inevitably dissipates, many media commentators declare the movement dead and decry its inability to realize lasting change. Occupy Wall Street, for example, is regularly cited as a failure, despite the fact that it contributed to a major change in the conversation about economic inequality in America and helped pave the way for the mainstream acceptance of congressional and presidential candidates such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders. It is more accurate to say that mass protests operate in cycles. Organizers laboring on the changed terrain that large-scale mobilizations leave behind can help prepare for future uprisings—establishing infrastructure that can help movements respond when new trigger events launch fresh waves of indignation. The current round of racial-justice actions, for instance, owes a significant part of its vitality to the Black Lives Matter protests that erupted during the Obama administration and the organizing that has continued since.More than ever, America has awakened to patterns of structural racism and the systemic nature of police abuse. Until that system changes, we should expect that even as older waves of mass demonstration recede, new ones are sure to rise.
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Protesters topple Christopher Columbus statue in Baltimore
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New US record of highest single-day coronavirus case total set in Florida
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A shooting at a South Carolina nightclub left at least 12 people wounded early Sunday, a sheriff said.
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Arizona woman’s body recovered at Grand Canyon National Park
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Venice activists did not want to cut the LAPD's budget. They sought to secede from L.A. and become an independent city with a police force under community control.
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Column: Should a former Black church in Venice be turned into a mansion for a white family?
When publishing magnate Jay Penske bought the First Baptist Church in Venice, he had no idea how upset some locals would be.
3 h
Letters to the Editor: The Supreme Court futher erodes the wall between church and state
Taxpayer money should never subsidize tuition at private religious schools, but the Supreme Court wrongly believes otherwise.
3 h
Newt Gingrich: China poses serious threat to US in new space race – no issue is more important
We are beginning the next great space race. It’s the United States versus China, in competition to be first to create systems for commercial space travel, to establish outposts on the moon, and ultimately to colonize other planets.
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Letters to the Editor: Why does Trump obsessively attack Obama? He's jealous
The former president is everything Trump isn't: respected both abroad and at home, a capable leader and much more.
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Letters to the Editor: Comfortable clothing isn't your right as an American. Just put on a mask
Americans are made to wear things all the time that might make them uncomfortable. So why the resistance to masks in a pandemic?
3 h
How to get the most out of eBay as a seller or buyer
Online marketplace eBay has always been a destination for great deals. Here's how to score a good price whether you're a buyer or seller.      
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Letters to the Editor: Ronald Reagan's presidency was one of the most destructive in U.S. history
The Reagan administration's policies in Central America gave rise to the refugee crisis that persists today.
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Ready to engage in real conversations about racism? Author Latasha Morrison can help.
Despite recent outrage from white Americans when Black people are killed or discriminated against, there's still aversion to facing issues head on.        
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