When did Handshakes Become Front Page News?

By Persephone

Sorry I haven’t written much the last few weeks.  I’ve been wiped keeping up with my job at Safeway, my mom, and a class.  I really don’t have time to work on this article right now, as I get up to go to work in just five hours.

However, I’ve noticed a weird trend in the media in recent months, and I just have to wonder…when did handshakes become such a big fucking deal?  We see an incompetent, rambling idiot who has been given far too much power by both the executive and the Republican legislative branches, and all anyone seems to want to talk about is how the Polish first lady shook Melania’s hand first.

Oh.  My.  God.  I don’t give a shit about the awkward handshakes between Trump and Merkel, Trump and Macron, or Trump and just about every person who comes near him.  I don’t need to spend countless hours analyzing his body language.  I already know he’s an idiot with a high opinion of himself who doesn’t know how to relate to anyone on an equal footing.  This is nothing new.

We’ve got tons to worry about coming out of this G20 summit.  President Cheeto went out of his way to make excuses for Putin, even suggesting that we hire Russia to figure out how to prevent election hacking from occurring again.  Now, that’s something we should focus on.  He also stood by his withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.  Germany is now getting recognized more and more as the frontrunner of industrialized nations, rather than the United States.  These are all concerns that our country should be facing, and instead twitter obsesses with GIFs about freaking handshakes.

My sister is convinced that Russian bots are promoting such harmless hilarities online as a distraction from the real problems at hand.  And I’m starting to believe it.

So, to all those people out there reading and watching everything that’s going on–keep paying attention.  Yes, you can find Trump’s foibles hilarious.  I laughed my ass off when he couldn’t find the limo literally right in front of him.  However, you also can’t grow complacent.  He might be incompetent, but not everyone he’s involved with is.

Don’t get caught up on the idiocy of Trump.  He’s not the only asshole with power.


On This Independence Day, Try to Remember Why You Love Your Country…

By Persephone

July 4th has rolled around, and I’m scrambling to hang onto my patriotism.  It’s only Tuesday, and this week has already sprung multiple scandals that only further anesthetize our indignation.  New Jersey governor Chris Christie was photographed hanging out on a beach that was closed to his constituents because he’d refused to sign the budget.  President Cheeto retweeted a badly edited video depicting him beating up the human form of CNN, then his people said it was just a joke.  Because constantly threatening the free press isn’t the first sign of a dictator or anything.  North Korea now claims that they’ve developed a missile with the range to hit the United States.  I really have no idea how Trump isn’t worn out by now.  I personally feel worn down to a frazzle.

Yet, this is the holiday where we’re expected to don red, white, and blue clothes and host family barbecues.  We’re supposed to blindly adore everything about our country or we’re just unpatriotic.  Right now, so-called “snowflakes” are being told over and over again that they should just step back and let Trump do his job.

I say fuck that, but that doesn’t actually weaken my dedication to my country.

I might not follow all the cornier traditions of this holiday.  I’m not wearing red, white, or blue today.  There’s a fire ban in my area, so I’ll be avoiding fireworks.  No one’s invited me to a barbecue, so I’m in the clear there.  I didn’t put out an American flag.  Yet, I don’t feel that I’m unpatriotic.

Patriotism means loving your country, despite its flaws.  It doesn’t entail pretending those flaws don’t exist.  We snowflakes protest and call our congressmen because we don’t like what we’re seeing.  We love our country, and we love the people in it.  Our country is a diverse amalgamation of various cultures, and yes, our past is pretty fucked up.  Trump is only the tip of the iceberg when you look back at slavery and the slaughter from our ancestors taking land from native tribes.  Americans have taken from those they view as vulnerable for centuries, and this trend will only continue if we don’t stand up for our country.

I am an American.  I hate the current American president.  Every time I hear him talk, I grind my teeth and think back longingly to George W. Bush.  You know things are dire.  I hate how the rest of the world views us because this clown is our Commander-in-Chief.  We are better than this.

I say this, because I genuinely love my country.  This situation is grave, but we will rise above it.  I only hope we don’t elect another asshole like Cheeto during my lifetime.  I’d like to believe we’ll have learned our lesson for a few decades.

As a Poor Person, I’d like to Tell Our President One Thing: Screw You.


By Persephone

Last week, President Cheeto held a rally in Ohio.  There was no particular reason for the rally, other than our Commander-in-Chief needed the adulation that only blind loyalty can provide.  During his speech, he said many rambling, bullshit statements, as is his want.  He said one thing, though, that’s really stuck with me.  I kind of need to address it.

In response to criticism over nominating multi-millionaires and businessmen in his cabinet, filling all key positions with the extremely wealthy, Trump grew quite defensive.  He claimed that he would want only a rich person in charge of the economy, as “in those particular positions, [he] just do[es]n’t want a poor person.  Does that makes sense?”

As a poor person, let me tell you: it doesn’t.  If you’re going to insist on putting people with zero political experience in the White House, why must they be the obscenely rich?  CEOs and higher-up businessmen don’t understand what the economy is like for the working class.  Most of them were born wealthy–they have no other perspective.

Could you imagine if we actually placed poor people in these key cabinet positions?  I’ve lived paycheck-to-paycheck my entire adult life, and it sucks.  It sucks a lot.  There is nothing fun about counting every dime you spend.  Having admitted that, you’d have to be a complete idiot not to admire how well I can stretch out $200 over two weeks before my next paycheck.  It’s quite the acquired skill.

And that’s my point.  Big businessmen throw around huge amounts of money at the drop of a hat.  Their only purpose is the bottom line, and government is not a business.  The government’s purpose is to protect and assist the citizens of the United States.  When you place guys who are used to screwing over their working class citizens in charge, you’re sort of defeating the purpose, aren’t you?

Why wouldn’t it make sense to hire a poor person to work on the economy?  We know which areas are lacking and which could be cut back.  We can set budgets like nobody’s business.  We do what has to be done.  And we don’t screw over the working and middle classes in order to accomplish our goals.  We’re kind of awesome.

I’m also not thrilled over the idea that being poor automatically means we’re stupid.  Trump didn’t outright say it, but the implication was crazy obvious.  I’m currently working on two Master’s degrees, so I’m not exactly a typical member of the working class, but I’ve met many an intelligent individual in my various professions.  There’s a difference between being educated and being smart.  As Trump attended the University of Pennsylvania, this fact grows ever more blatantly clear.

One last thing–Trump said all this at a rally with his most loyal voters.  His most loyal voters are primarily the white and the working class.  He told the people who voted for him and continue to support him that they are too dumb to work in the cabinet.

Jeez, what an asshole.

Photo from youtube.com

How Did the Senate Manage to Make the GOP’s Health Care Bill Even More Nightmarish?

By Persephone

Seriously, this is a skill.  For eight years, the Republicans of Congress have bitched and moaned that Obamacare (a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act) needs to be repealed and replaced.  They have droned on and on about this topic, listing it as a primary priority.

Well, they’re finally in a position where they can repeal it, with Republican majorities in the Senate, House of Representatives, and the White House.  Repealing is probably all they want to do, in reality.  They just want it to go away.

But they can’t.  And they know that.  The ACA has been around for a number of years now, and it turns out that Americans like having access to affordable health care.  Is it a perfect solution?  Of course not.  What we need to do is bite the bullet and finally take on socialized medicine, like most other industrialized nations have done before us.  However, doing so will really piss off the GOP, so don’t hold your breath that this will occur any time in the near future.

This leaves Congressional Republicans in an uncomfortable position.  They’ve preached so much on the evils of Obamacare that I don’t think it really occurred to them that they’d have to actually find an alternative (and viable) solution if they are to ever truly rid themselves of it.  Hence the mad dash to get a bill up and running.  They didn’t actually have anything ready.

The House passed a shit-bill last month which even they knew was terrible.  Not only would it cut funding for medicaid but it would render health care unaffordable by millions of Americans.

Luckily, the Senate took that crap-sandwich which was the American Health Care Act and created their own version.  They received quite the legitimate criticism for this bill, as they speedtracked the bill and kept it strictly behind closed doors.  Mitch McConnell was the lead driving force behind the AHCA, and its content was finally released last Thursday.

Whew, boy.  We thought the House’s version was cold and heartless.  Not only does this bill cut even more spending on medicaid and not force insurance companies to offer policies to individuals with preexisting conditions, but it defunds Planned Parenthood.  We’ve mentioned several times on this website the success Planned Parenthood has had with basic needs like cancer screenings and birth control for the poor.  It has actually lowered the abortion rate since abortion was legalized in the 1970s.  Millions of people stand to lose coverage if this bill goes through.  Those people left with insurance will face higher premiums for insurance that offers less coverage.  Rates will raise significantly for the poor and the elderly.  So, yeah.  There’s that.

So, who wins in this bill?  It turns out that there are significant tax breaks for the significantly wealthy.  We are trading the lives of millions for the pocket change of a few.

Talk about a step in the right direction.

Why Do Democrats Keep Losing?

By Persephone

Several days ago, Republican Karen Handel won the House of Representatives seat for Georgia’s 6th district.  Why did this make national news?  Because Democrats poured money into their Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff.  It was the most expensive House race in history.  Democrats across the country placed huge expectations on this race, seeing it as a true testament to changes in public opinion since Trump’s election.

Yet, the Democrats still lost.  In fact, there have been several special elections in the past several months, and they all went Republican.  This even includes Montana’s one representative, who assaulted a reporter the day before the election.

How do the Democrats keep losing?  A multitude of possibilities have been suggested.  For one thing, all the seats they’ve lost have belonged to historically Republican areas.  It would have been remarkable if Democrats had won them, which is perhaps why they’ve struggled so hard to turn them.

For another, Trump has only been president for five months.  This might have felt like closer to fifty for those of us who cannot stand him, but not so to Trump supporters.  Trump supporters still argue that he’s new to this, that we haven’t given him a chance, that the political climate is against him.  They also believe his excuses of the fuckups caused by his office over the reports presented by legitimate journalists.

Sigh.  It’s going to take more time for those loyal to President Cheeto to ever admit that he’s really an orange toddler with way too many attention issues.

So, yes, these are legitimate arguments, but I’d like to propose an alternative explanation.  Take the campaign between Ossoff and Handel in Georgia.  Ossoff was a young, inexperienced candidate who put forth a moderate, kind persona.  He seemed a man who genuinely cared about his constituents.  Handel famously admitted in one debate that she didn’t believe in a livable wage.  Her only dirt on Ossoff seemed to be that he was a Star Wars nerd in college and didn’t technically live in the district (though he was born and raised there).  Then, she won anyway.

So, why is that?  Why do the Republicans keep winning these elections, as they’re even now pushing a new health care act through the Senate that will viciously cut spending on the poorer populations in order to grant tax cuts for the extremely wealthy?

My thoughts: their message is stronger.  While Democrats argue amongst themselves, trying to figure out which issues are more important to the citizens they represent, the Republicans blaze forward through their own agendas, their constituents be damned.  They unite with each other, even when their bills prove unpopular and cruel.  When Republicans and Democrats debate, Democrats try for a more moderate voice, saying that things will improve while Republicans yell for a complete overhaul of the system.

Are the Democrats better for our health care, our environment, our livelihoods, our wages, and our social policies?  Undoubtedly.  However, they don’t present the same strong, united front that Republicans do.

In short, Democrats aren’t assholes.  As President Cheeto has demonstrated, it’s only the assholes who seem to be winning lately.

This doesn’t mean that Democrats will never win again.  Our country tends to go in cycles between Republicans and Democrats for the majority.  The Democrats will have their moment once again, and hopefully they’ll be able to clean up whatever mess is left behind.

Because we know that there will be a mess.  While the Republicans might seem strong, their cares have very little to do with their own constituents’ needs.  When you see a party slash funding for Planned Parenthood (which is there to serve the poor), medicaid, the Environmental Protection Agency, foreign diplomacy, and education, their concerns have nothing to do with their constituents.

Until their constituents realize this, the Democrats will keep on losing.  This means the Republicans will continue on as they have, their power unchecked.

This latest blow in the elections is very telling for a variety of reasons.  It is not good news for anyone.

I Never Thought I’d Say This…But Thank Goodness Trump’s So Incompetent


By Persephone

So, our president recently bragged to the President of Panama Juan Carlos Varela.  What did he brag about?  Only an American accomplishment a century old.  President Cheeto brought up the Panama Canal and its usefulness, as if this was a recent development.  To his credit, Varela immediately corrected Cheeto, pointing out that the canal was made a “100 years ago.”

The Panama Canal played a significant role in our history.  It was a bloody, expensive mess that might have ultimately boosted the economy in Panama but certainly didn’t in the short-term.  I could go on about the history of the canal, but let’s instead focus on the fact that our president actually believed that this was created recently.

Before you’re filled with an uncontrollable rage/disgust over our president’s incompetence, I need to you take a step back.

Yes, he’s a dumbass.  Unbelievably so.  He’s such a moron that he strongarms French leaders, salivates over his own daughter‘s hotness, challenges his popularity by threatening to shoot strangers, mistakes whether activists dead a century are alive or not, tweets stupid statements that undermine his own legal team, puts his family in positions of power in the White House despite anti-nepotism laws, fires the man investigating him, doesn’t fill in important cabinet positions despite months of time, spends every fucking weekend golfing at his own resort at the taxpayers’ expense, picks fights with reality tv stars, and oh, my god.  I need to stop this list now.  It’s just too long.

So, yes, he’s stupid.  It’s astounding that he doesn’t spend his hours drooling into his oatmeal.  I’ll admit, witnessing so much gross incompetence and corruption has broken my heart a dozen times over in the last seven months.

But, think about it.  How would this presidency differ if Trump were capable?  What if he’d been half as smart as he believes he is?

If he’d possessed an ounce of tact, Trump’s Muslim Ban would have passed.  Easily.  It was only his constant speeches and tweets that provided the court system with the evidence to combat it.  With intelligence, President Cheeto would have been able to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency as well as the Department of Education–two departments the Democrats want but the Republicans find superfluous.  Who needs clean air or literate children?  Such amenities cost money, and Republicans only like spending that on themselves.

With two brain cells to rub together, Trump would have already repealed and replaced the Affordable Care Act.  He would have been able to work with the Russian government more covertly.  He’s insanely obvious about his dealings with Putin at the moment.  He probably would have bombed Syria, leading us to another war in the Middle East.  North Korea would have considered him more  of a threat, so we might also be headed into a nuclear war.

More than all that, surprisingly, is that citizens of the United States might not have taken notice of what was going on until it was too late.  Thanks to President Cheeto’s blatantly apparent stupidity, much of the American population “woke up.”  I was one of them.  When Cheeto got elected, I went from being informed perhaps slightly more than the average to reading every news article that crosses my path obsessively.  Because of his incompetence, I’ve noticed all the crazy shit Trump’s been dragging us into.  It’s hard not to.  He’s just that dumb.  If he hadn’t been that dumb, I probably would have figured we’d just elected another Republican.  We’ve survived those before.  I would have figured we’d be okay.

But we wouldn’t have been.  Intelligent or not, Trump’s agenda would have remained the same, and that’s a scary thing.

So, whenever you feel like screaming when Trump tweets yet another bit of classified information or makes another obvious threat against someone investigating him, just remember how lucky we are.  He’s a total twit, and that’s how we’re going to survive this.  Even Congressional Republicans can only defend Trump’s “inexperience” so much before Trump finally gets arrested for treason, collusion, money laundering, obstruction of justice, conflict of interest, or the host of other blatantly illegal activities he’s partaken of just since coming into office.

So, thank goodness he’s an idiot.  That’s what’s going to save us.

Picture from businessinsider.com

To the Progeny of President Cheeto…


By Persephone

So, today is Father’s Day.  I spent pretty much this whole weekend selling Father’s Day cards at Safeway (my new summer job), which would have been a lot more fun if my father wasn’t dead.  It’s been a good decade since the idea of Father’s Day didn’t fill me with regret and despair.  But I digress…

To all of President Cheeto’s children, let me wish you a happy Father’s Day.  Today is the day when you can thank your father for all that he has done for you.

To Donald Trump, Jr., today is the day to remember that your father’s desire for power in the form of the United States Presidency will lead to your business’s ultimate doom.  Your upcoming years are sure to be consumed with various lawsuits concerning your father’s conflicts of interest under the Emoluments Clause.  This isn’t to mention the investigations concerning RICO, obstruction of justice, treason, and money laundering.  May your lawyers prove bloodthirsty and worthy of their high salaries.

To Ivanka Trump, what the fuck?  You’re even in the White House while all this shit is going on with your bogus “Assistant to the President” position, and your dad is still tweeting dumb statements involving words like “covfefe” and blaming Hillary Clinton for everything.  Your dad signs executive orders like they’re going out of style (even they’re just memos in disguise) and offends every world leader he meets.  This is the same father who marvels over your figure and makes entire rooms full of women uncomfortable.  Why are you not stopping him?  More importantly, why are you still supporting him?  This is the same guy who bragged about assaulting women and spouts racist, violence-inducing declarations whenever he’s left by himself too long.  It’s time to put a little distance between yourself and him.

To Eric…you know how every comedian makes fun of your relationship with your father?  They mock your father’s lack of interest in your well-being, claiming that your dad forgets your name and avoids you like the plague.  On some level, this joke probably feels somewhat true to you.  Let me place your mind at ease on this score.  Your dad really doesn’t care about you.

Tiffany: your mother Marla Maples really did you a solid when she took you to California upon your parents’ divorce.  Maintaining emotional and professional distance from your father has granted you quite the low profile, considering your last name.  Keep up the good work and send your mom some flowers, stat!

To Barron, keep your mom close.  Moving into the White House is an event she has postponed for a reason.  Watch your father for any sudden changes in behavior, shower your mom with loads of affection to remind her who the real love of her life is, and prepare to run for the hills.  You’ll know when it’s time.

In one of the presidential debates, one of the audience members asked a pretty lame question in a vague effort to make Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump compliment each other.  This guy wanted to know just what the two presidential candidates liked about one another.  Hillary pointed out that Trump’s kids were all in attendance, as that says something about his role as a father.

To me, it says something about the control President Cheeto exercises over his offspring.  I adored my father.  In retrospect, he would have made a half-way decent president.  For one thing, he was an environmental scientist.  Climate change deniers would have been pissed with my Dad’s agenda.  Even so, I wouldn’t have shown up to every event like the Trump kids do.  I’m an adult.  I have a life.  The Trump kids have multiple businesses to run, yet they take the time to make every public appearance their father asks of them.

Suspicious.  Even in their 30s, these Trump kids leap at their father’s command.  It’s way disturbing.  They really should rethink their priorities.

And maybe grow up in the process.

Picture from politico.com

Why Always With the Circus?

By Persephone

I really don’t have a lot of time to write right now (it’s the last week of school, and my schedule’s been crazy…which is so unusual, right?)  However, I just looked over some of the news this week, and I kind of had to take a step back.

Seriously–it’s only Wednesday, and the President of the United States has already found time to send out a tweet to derail his lawyers’ fight to uphold the Muslim ban.  So, that ruling has been upheld, and the Muslim ban is still banned.

My favorite Russian Presidential hopeful Alexei Navalny has been arrested again.  He was protesting this weekend and was immediately arrested.  Vladimir Putin sure is convincing the world that he’s not threatened by Navalny’s increasing popularity.  Keep it up, Navalny!  I really am such a fan…

Then, the real cherry on top was Tuesday’s interrogation of Jeff Sessions.  I’ve never heard such an incompetent Southern drawl in my life.  And I’m from Oklahoma.  I feel rather offended here, actually.  All we learned from that testimony is that Sessions really doesn’t know how to articulate his words, and that he won’t admit to anything.  So, nothing new.

Even so, that’s a lot of news for two days into the week.  What a roller coaster.

What is WRONG With These Guys?


By Persephone

Seriously–what the hell?  Mitch McConnell’s been telling reporters how proud he is that the GOP majority had put the kibosh on Obama’s appointments in the federal court system.  Republicans have had a majority in the Senate since 2015, and since then McConnell and his ilk have ignored most of Obama’s appointments to the federal courts.  This includes the infamous move by the Republicans to refuse holding a hearing for Merrick Garland onto the Supreme Court for nearly a year.  It was a total dick move, especially considering that they’ve even praised Garland in the past for his moderate and fair tendencies.

You just can’t please these people.  All they cared about was a Democrat nominated these judges, and they weren’t going to approve any of these candidates.

So…yeah.  Now, McConnell’s totally patting himself on the back (or shell, if you will), since now Trump will be able to fill those positions with lifetime appointees.  God dammit.

This attitude is already following up a rather weird year.  The House Republicans voted for the stupid new Health Care Bill to get through, despite how most of them hadn’t read it.  Republicans have been falling over themselves defending Trump at every turn.  This week, Paul Ryan totally claimed that it was only inexperience that caused Trump to clear the room so that he could speak to James Comey alone.  You know, to commit obstruction of justice by asking him to drop an active investigation.  Because only an newbie president with no knowledge of the consequences would clear the room first before saying anything incriminating.

Seriously, Paul Ryan?  How much of a stretch is that?

This isn’t even adding in John McCain‘s weird questions at Comey’s testimony or the election of a House Representative from Montana after he committed actual physical assault on a reporter.  “Everyone makes mistakes,” as Republicans claimed after Greg Gianforte of Montana literally beat up a reporter.  It’s a general attitude that Republicans can do no wrong, even when it’s obvious that they are very much doing wrong.

I’m not saying that the Democrats are all saints here.  I’m really not.  They have a tendency to be smug and ignore people in rural communities.  However, they don’t defend their own when they severely screw up.  When Anthony Weiner lied to the press and claimed his phone had been hacked after he’d sent a dick pick, the Democrats dropped him like a hot potato.  When Jon Edwards used campaign funds to hide an affair, the other Democrats distanced themselves really quickly.  They might defend smaller transgressions, particularly those of a personal nature as we really don’t give a shit as long as everyone involved were consenting adults, but Democrats will not tolerate abuse of political power.  I rather like that.

Photo from politico.com

So…Yup. Not a Whole Lot There. What Wasn’t There Was Pretty Telling, Though.


By Persephone

After so many weeks of waiting and speculation and intrigue, James Comey finally provided his testimony in front of the Senate this morning.  It was probably the largest viewership the Senate’s ever had, not that this would take much.  Anyway, the hype was crazy.

To be honest, the only way Comey could have lived up to the high expectations attached to his testimony were if he either claimed Trump was secretly an alien from a neighboring galaxy or if he’d revealed that President Cheeto and Vladimir Putin had been twin brothers all along.

In other words, it wasn’t gonna’ happen.  This didn’t stop the media from counting down to the last minute, though, nor did it discourage bars in Washington, D.C. from offering a free round of drinks every time Trump tweeted during the testimony.  (Trump was surprisingly silent…something tells me his staff confiscated his phone for the day.  Translation: hundreds of disappointed Americans had to watch this testimony sober.)

Even so, there were a few interesting moments in the testimony.  First of all, Comey’s memos were constantly referred to.  Trump and Comey had nine one-on-one meetings over the last several months–an unusually large number considering Comey only met with Obama twice–and Comey started writing down everything about them from the very first.  As I’ve mentioned before, the memos really don’t read all that official-like.  They have a touch of romance novel and mainstream thriller about them.  It makes them a more interesting read, but I find Comey’s responses…dramatic, to say the least.

Anyway, the Senators found it weird that Comey wrote up each meeting in such detail, even asking at one point if he did that for anyone else.  It turns out only Trump possesses that level of unorthodox creepiness that inspires the people near him to write everything he says down.  Not even Jeff Sessions can compete.

Secondly: there was an awful lot that Comey wouldn’t admit.  He wouldn’t say if Trump had colluded with the Russians to get elected.  He wouldn’t explain what was hinky about Jeff Sessions’ recusal in open session.  He wouldn’t talk about the Steele Dossier (the famous “golden shower” document). Jared Kushner’s back communication channels with Russia also received no further discussion.  Comey’s go-to response was, “That’s not something I can answer in an open setting.”  There was just a lot that he wouldn’t say, and a lot of it had to do with Trump and his cabinet.  That, at least, was rather telling.

Third: Comey is pissed about Russia.  American elections might be messed up in the first place, as our country is a rigmarole of contradictions and misinformation, but at least it’s our own damn mess.  When another country screws us around and molds our opinions, then he gets pissed.  You don’t mess with the U.S., as far as he’s concerned.  It was an interesting perspective.

Fourth: Comey has a thing for his wife.  Apparently, she’s more fun to hang out with than a psychotic president with an agenda and no political experience.  Who knew?

In the end, it was an interesting testimony, but we didn’t learn anything earth-shattering.  Anything genuinely juicy was saved for the closed session in the afternoon.  Now, that I would have paid good money to observe.

Oh, well.  Maybe James Comey will write all of that in a memo, too.

Photo from cnn.com