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The former vice-president cemented his comeback while Flavor Flav was fired over a dispute that may or may not have been about Bernie Sanders

The kaleidoscope of the Democratic race was shaken up again this week as Joe Biden cemented his remarkable comeback with a series of victories on Super Tuesday. But his leftwing rival Bernie Sanders was far from beaten. Heres who was up and down this week in US politics.

Great week: Joe Biden

Joe Biden supporters: cheering on the frontrunner. Photograph: Barcroft Media/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Only a couple of weeks ago we were all reading the Biden campaign its last rites. But after the former vice-president to Barack Obama pulled off an impressive victory in South Carolina, his fellow centrists Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar dropped out and backed him, allowing Biden to present himself as the most viable moderate candidate going into Super Tuesday. It worked a treat; Biden won 10 states, including Texas and Massachusetts, the home state of former liberal contender Elizabeth Warren. The race is far from over, but Biden has decisively reclaimed the mantle of frontrunner from Sanders. He wont give it up easily.

Disappointing week: Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders: still in the race. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

The leftwing firebrand increased his national poll lead following his landslide in Nevada, and had hoped to present himself as the unassailable frontrunner with an emphatic victory on Super Tuesday this week. But only in California did such a victory manifest itself, and he will have been particularly disappointed to have lost Texas, Virginia and Massachusetts. In national polling Biden has now reclaimed a slight lead. Nevertheless, California is so big that its huge delegate haul keeps Sanders firmly in the race, and he has a passionate and impregnable base of support particularly among the young and Latinos which is likely to see him fight hand-to-hand through the next weeks and months of primaries, probably all the way to the Democratic convention in July.

Bad week: Elizabeth Warren

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Elizabeth Warren: key moments from her 2020 presidential campaign

On paper Warren could have been the ideal candidate to unite the liberal and centrist wings of the party, but after a strong early start she only managed to cut through again in her powerful attacks on Bloomberg during the debates. She was squeezed out by Sanders on the left, her healthcare plans came under harsh attack in the media, and sexism also played a role in her failure to catch fire.

She quit the race on Thursday after a disastrous showing on Super Tuesday in which she failed to place higher than third anywhere even on her home turf of Massachusetts. One of the hardest aspects of ending her campaign, she said, was thinking about all those little girls who are going to have to wait four more years for a female president.

But asked whether she would now be endorsing either Sanders or Biden, Warren said: Well, lets take a deep breath and spend a little time on that. We dont have to decide that this minute. Warren swinging behind either of the remaining candidates could have a significant impact on the next phase of the race.

Terrible week: Mike Bloomberg

Mike Bloomberg: $500m and out. Photograph: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

The billionaire former New York mayor bet the farm on skipping the first few states and making a big entrance on Super Tuesday. It didnt happen. He spent $500m of his $60bn fortune and all he had to show for it was a victory in the US territory of American Samoa, which he won with a grand total of 175 votes. It was an ignominious end for a man who many accused of trying to buy the race, and he bowed out quickly on Wednesday morning, throwing his weight and, many will hope, his money behind Biden.

Worst week: Flavor Flav

Flavor Flav: not a fan of Trump. Photograph: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Thanksgiving dinners across America have been ruined in recent years by family rifts over Donald Trump between liberal youngsters and conservative uncles. But it was an argument over Sanders that tore apart another tightknit group this week: Public Enemy, the pioneering political rap group led by Chuck D and Flavor Flav.

The clock-wearing rapper and dancer was summarily fired over a dispute about a Chuck-led lineup playing at a rally for the Vermont senator, leading to vituperative criticism from his bandmate: If there was a $bag, Flav wouldve been there front & center. He will not do free benefit shows, Chuck tweeted.

Spotted at the airport in San Diego by the the Guardian, Flav denied that support for Sanders was at the heart of the dispute, saying: I dont have anything against Bernie. I think hes a good person and I wish him luck Fuck Trump!

Too much politics ruins everything and I hate it, lamented one fan, having perhaps assumed that Fight the Power was an Amish anthem about foregoing electricity.

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That the film coincides with a pandemic which will kill the uninsured, sick and elderly is just another layer of discomfort

My entertainment options this week were a movie in which liberal elites hunt down and murder deplorables for sport deaths that are ultra gory and played for laughs and a Hulu documentary in which Hillary Clinton explains with a chuckle and a smile why the policies supported by her 2016 opponent, Bernie Sanders policies like universal healthcare and prison reform, which would help countless Americans are just not doable. In other words, essentially the same thing.

The Hunt was supposed to be released last fall, but it was put on hold after some people wondered if a movie about political polarity and divisiveness in contemporary society, in which a bunch of poor people die violently was really going to be a good idea. Released now, the controversy is its main selling point. And since we are in the beginning stages of a pandemic for which the United States is not remotely prepared and in which the uninsured, elderly, and poor are much more likely to die well, lets just say the timing creates a certain tone.

The co-writer and producer Damon Lindelof who recently read the legendary anti-fascist comic Watchmen and thought, huh, okay, but what if instead we made the cops the heroes? has created a world where a group of rich, NPR-listening liberals, who bicker about gendered language and whether black or African-American is the more acceptable term, drug, abduct, and murder Trump voters for sport. One of the Trump voters actually isnt a Trump voter but is brought there by mistake, and not being a redneck hillbilly idiot, she manages to fight back. I think thats a metaphor. For something.

Ultimately the film wants to pretend to be a commentary on cancel culture and our new culture wars. It turns out the whole plan for liberal elites to hunt deplorables becomes a reality because deplorables cant take a joke about liberal elites hunting deplorables. The slapstick deaths are supposed to indicate that hey, were just playing around here, rather than show a callous disregard for human life on the part of the film-makers. And if you dont find it funny to watch a woman impaled on spikes or a man blown up on a landmine or a woman choking to death after shes poisoned, you must be one of those humorless cancel culture freaks who need to learn to take a joke.

But of course if youre from and of the coasts its easy to believe these new culture wars are just about a difference of opinion about gun control or abortion and not about the hopelessness and loss of meaning and instability causing the deaths of despair killing white middle Americans without college degrees through suicide and addiction. Its similar to how one segment of the population will remember the culture wars of the 1990s as a discussion about whether a crucifix of Jesus Christ submerged in urine should be considered art, and not about whether the thousands of gay people, IV drug users, hemophiliacs, and others deemed ultimately disposable by the government and society should have been allowed to die from Aids. Or as a debate about whether children should be exposed to vulgarity in music, and not about whether black people or people in poor neighborhoods should be murdered, brutalized, and harassed by the police forces that claim to protect them.

Its not clear that anyone involved with this film has ever even been to the south. The star, Betty Gilpin, plays a working-class woman named Crystal who spends the entirety of the film holding her jaw as if she is trying not to let any spit from the chewing tobacco dribble out, and yet at no time does she partake in chewing tobacco. Its like she saw a picture of someone once and thought, Oh, that must be how they do it down there, but no one explained to her its not just that all southerners have a severe underbite. But then no one involved in the production thought it might be weird for the action of the film to play out in Croatia, a country still dealing with the aftermath of its own uh, lets call it political polarity and divisiveness, I guess.

Im sure the millionaires who endorsed billionaire Mike Bloomberg in the Democratic primaries will watch this movie on their private jets and have a good chuckle at the depiction of clueless and out-of-touch elites heading to Croatia on their private plane with a cargo full of white trash. Oh my God, thats so us! I also enjoy a little caviar snack while on my way to my private manor in the Balkans. And then theyll go back to deciding which underprivileged group should receive their charity this month instead of just paying their taxes, which could fund an adequate public healthcare system that would keep people from having to beg online to afford chemotherapy.

Cinemas across the US are currently closing because of coronavirus; perhaps only the elites who can afford private screenings of The Hunt in their palatial estates will be able to see it. In the meantime, the rest of us are about to go on quarantine lockdown, forced to sustain ourselves on whatever mediocre bilge Netflix has put out this week. I think thats a metaphor. For something.

  • Jessa Crispin is the host of the Public Intellectual podcast. She is a Guardian US columnist

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Singer says senator is the Real Deal who offers the big changes needed to beat Trump

Neil Young has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president, saying the Vermont senator is the real deal to win the Democratic nomination.

Writing on his personal website, the 74-year-old musician said that Sanders policies on climate change, student debt, healthcare and the minimum wage were the big changes required to beat Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

I support Bernie because I listen to what he says, he wrote. Every point he makes is what I believe in. Every one. In 2016, if Bernie had run instead of Hilary Clinton, I think we would not have the incompetent mess we have now.

The DNC will spread their talking point that Bernie is divisive Thats because Bernie is not with the DNC. Bernie is with you I believe Bernie Sanders. I believe Bernie is the Real Deal.

Young became a dual US-Canadian citizen in January. He told the LA Times last year that his main reason for applying for US citizenship was in order to vote against Trump in the election, specifically because of US government inaction on climate change.

Youngs praise for Sanders follows other musical endorsements from the rapper Cardi B, the pop stars Lizzo, Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande, the indie musicians Weyes Blood and Jeff Magnum from Neutral Milk Hotel, and Youngs former bandmate David Crosby.

Weyes Blood (@WeyesBlood)

January 21, 2020

David Crosby (@thedavidcrosby)

Instead of doing what the pundits say I voted my conscience I voted for Bernie

March 3, 2020

David Crosby (@thedavidcrosby)

Ok ….gonna say it
I support Bernie Sanders
I’m going to vote for him
I like him

August 30, 2015

The Strokes, Vampire Weekend and Bon Iver performed at various campaign rallies for Sanders last month.

But the legendary rap group Public Enemy parted ways with their longtime hypeman Flavour Flav following a dispute after they agreed to perform in a Los Angeles rally for Sanders this month.

Both parties said the dispute was not about to Sanders politics, but what Flav saw as an unauthorised use of his likeness, image, and trademarked clock in promotional material. Flav clarified to the Guardian: I dont have anything against Bernie. I think hes a good person and I wish him luck.

Sanders has also been endorsed by the director Spike Lee, the actor Danny DeVito, the author Naomi Klein, the journalist Glenn Greenwald and the philosopher and academic Cornel West.

Danny DeVito (@DannyDeVito)

Bernies gonna do it!

March 5, 2020

Danny DeVito (@DannyDeVito)

Bernie…Bernie…Bernie…Bernie… Bernie…Bernie…Bernie…Bernie… Bernie…Bernie…Bernie…Bernie…Bernie…Bernie…Bernie…

May 9, 2017

Lucy Dacus (@lucydacus)

how do you get a video as a tattoo?

February 27, 2020

In politics, the Vermont senator has been endorsed by the congressional representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and the civil rights activist and former presidential candidate Jesse Jackson Sr.

Sanders main remaining opponent in the Democratic race, Joe Biden, has been endorsed by the former presidential candidates Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker and Pete Buttigieg, the actor Alec Baldwin, the musician Cher and the fantasy author George RR Martin.

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Plenty of Iowans like the former hedge fund manager. But that might not necessarily translate into actual votes

I will not let someone run down the field and kick my teammate in the face, a billionaire former-hedge fund manager and Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer told the crowd of voters in Clinton, Iowa, on Friday.

His audience, a mostly older, mostly white crowd huddled into a music venue on the bank of the frozen Mississippi river, nodded approvingly.

Steyer appeared to have won the support of the anti-face kicking wing of the Democratic party. If he is to win the Democratic nomination, however, Steyer will have to build a broader coalition. His strategy so far has mostly involved spending lots and lots of money ($201m in 2019), but having just watched one billionaire become president, can Democrats really stomach another?

In Clinton, Steyer said he views politics through the lens of team sports hence the talk of faces, and kicking. Steyer was speaking in front of a big yellow sign which said Beat Trump on it, although from the back of the room an American flag slightly obscured the b, offering a rather different message.

Ive spent the last 10 years putting together coalitions of people, to fight what I think is unchecked corporate power, Steyer said.

Im running because I think corporations have bought the government.

Steyers fortune he is worth about $1.6bn has drawn comparisons to Donald Trump, and like the president, Steyer was born in New York City.

Steyer hates the comparison, which is understandable, and it does miss out some important points of difference. Steyer hardly grew up poor his dad was a lawyer and Steyer was sent to elite, fee-paying schools but unlike Trump, Steyer made his own fortune through the Farallon Capital investment firm, which he started in 1986.

Still, its easy to see how that background might not go over very well in somewhere like Clinton, where the high street is lined with shuttered businesses and the median household income is $34,000, well below the state average.

I dont like rich guys, said Brian Driscoll, a 68-year-old retired hardware store owner.

But I like Tom. Self-made rich which is totally different than inheriting it. And is he rich? I dont know that he is, he gives it all away.

The giving away of money is another difference between Steyer and Trump. In 2012 Steyer sold his stake in Farallon, and committed himself full-time to philanthropy, becoming well-known in charity circles. He founded NextGen America, a not-for-profit which mobilizes young people to vote, and has invested tens of millions of dollars in state elections.

Supporters listen to Tom Steyer at a town hall meeting in Davenport, Iowa. Photograph: Matt Marton/EPA

In 2017, Steyer started the Need to Impeach campaign, aiming to boot Trump out of office, throwing tens of millions dollars into the effort.

He started out with not a lot and he built it up, said Anita Smith, a 77-year-old who used to work at the sprawling dog food factory that greets visitors to Clinton, pumping out both steam and a vague smell of meat.

And he stopped his job and he gives to good causes, not like Trump. With Trump its just: Me, me, me.

Nevertheless, there have been grumblings, about Steyers campaigning methods. By 13 January he had spent $123m on tv and digital advertising, according to NPR. Not including fellow Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor who is even wealthier than Steyer, that is more than all the other Democratic candidates combined.

Steyer has also been able to hire more campaign staff than some of his better known rivals. In Iowa on Friday all that money translated into a surprisingly high turnout at the Clinton event, despite being held in the middle of a work day, and later on Friday about 100 people traveled to a Steyer town hall in Dubuque, about 60 miles north along the Mississippi.

Still, there is a big difference between getting people to come to a candidates campaign event and actually winning votes.

I do have a lot of reservation about Bloomberg and Steyer just like lets just buy our way in, said Vanessa Kettner, 40. She was visiting her boyfriend in Iowa, but will cast her primary vote in California, on 3 March.

Kettner was open to voting for Steyer, potentially, but preferred the more progressive candidates, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Indeed, for all the goodwill Steyer received in Clinton, none of the people the Guardian spoke to actually planned to vote for him, and it was a similar story in Dubuque. You can lead a horse to water, but you cant make it vote for you.

At the Dubuque event, Steyer talked about how, as an activist, he has taken on corporations, helping to fight oil companies to protect Californias clean-air laws, and tackling tobacco companies. He also railed against campaign financing. Wealthy people and corporations have too much sway over the outcome of elections, in Steyers view, and are controlling our politics.

But given Steyers grave warnings about the influence of money in politics, his response when the Guardian asked if he was trying to buy the election seemed a little contradictory.

You cant buy an election. The question is do Americans hear you say something thats differential, important, and do they trust you? Steyer said.

Theres no way that anybody, including Mike Bloomberg, can buy an election, the only thing you can do is see if Americans respond to what you have to say, and who you are, and what youve done in the past.

And you can look at my history and see Ive had over a decade of fighting as an outsider and beating these corporations, and Americans can see that too.

On Monday, when Iowans go to the caucuses, well find out if that is, actually, how Americans see it.

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The Minnesota senator is reaching out to Iowas smallest towns and rural settlements ahead of the vital February caucus and seeing increasing numbers

Craig Hiller, an Iowa farmer, had just enjoyed a hot chocolate on Amy Klobuchars campaign bus as it made a stop in the small town of Rockwell City, population just 2,100.

Hiller, whose state is the vital first one to cast ballots in the partys nomination race to pick an opponent to Donald Trump, was impressed by the Minnesota senator, a fellow midwesterner who desperately needs a strong showing in Iowa to boost her 2020 presidential campaign.

Who we need is someone who someone whos down to earth, who no one can hate, Hiller said on Rockwell Citys Main Street as Klobuchars bus rolled to its next stop in Cherokee county, 50 miles west. I dont know anyone after tonight who fits that better than Amy Klobuchar.

That sort of reaction is music to Klobuchars ears as she carried out a gruelling tour through 27 counties in rural Iowa in an attempt to build a groundswell of support through reaching out to the states smallest towns and rural settlements. With this strategy, even a couple dozen attendees counts as a success.

Amy Klobuchar on her bus in Iowa. Photograph: Tom Cullen/Storm Lake Times

On her arrival in Rockwell with temperatures below freezing 25 people including Hiller had piled aboard the big green Amy bus for hot chocolate. Two dozen others had turned out to see the Minnesota senator in tiny Ida Grove that same day, a county that doesnt even have 1,000 registered Democrats. But most striking to Klobuchar was a crowd of around 50 packing the Sac County Cattle Company on a Sunday night just before Christmas. Its where the Republican congressman Steve King, who hails from Kiron, 30 miles south, stumps and dines with family. The proprietor said Klobuchars crowds were at least the size of Kings, or any other Republican who has come calling.

Klobuchar said those gatherings are a sign of what to expect on Iowas caucus day on 3 February. Klobuchar sits at about 6% support among probable Iowa caucusgoers, according to the most recent Des Moines Register Iowa poll in October, but a strong debate showing in Los Angeles brought her notice. She says its evidence of momentum, just like the folks coming out to see her in increasing numbers.

Were approaching this like we can win, and all signs are pointing in the right direction, Klobuchar told the Guardian. A crowd that size in Sac City, anywhere in rural America, means something. Im especially glad its in Steve Kings backyard.


Klobuchar is blunt about her shared background with Iowas voters. She brags about being from the midwest, and how she can win in rural Minnesota counties that Trump took by 20 points. In the last Democratic debate she took a dig at the location of a rivals fundraiser by saying shes never been to a wine cave, but shes been to a wind cave in South Dakota. A mention of Trump is usually followed with a mention of the tanking of corn and soybean prices from trade wars. Her entire argument is built around electability in midwest swing states such as Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio.

Hes treating farmers like poker chips in one of his bankrupt casinos, she said to the delight of her audience at one stop. By contrast, she says she remembers her neighbors saving spare cash in coffee cans growing up.

Amy Klobuchar laughs during her introduction at the Marion county Democrats soup luncheon in Knoxville, Iowa, on 17 February 2019. Photograph: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The question is whether her momentum, which is mainly confined to Iowa, is too little too late. In less than six weeks, caucusgoers will trudge through a frigid night to precinct meetings in schoolhouses and courthouses while she may be chained to Trumps impeachment trial in the US Senate, which is set to start sometime in January and last for an unknown time.

To say its an uphill battle would definitely be accurate, even charitable, said Brad Best, a longtime caucus observer and political science professor at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake. In an ironic way, her stardom in the Senate will hurt her campaigning in Iowa, where she desperately needs to do well.

Yet, there are precedents. John Kerry came from the shadows in 2004 less than two weeks before the caucuses to win, and later secure the nomination. Klobuchar says a doubling of office spaces in Iowa and positive responses in Des Moines Register/CNN Iowa polls are signs of hope. Best says her strongest advantage is that overwhelming majorities of probable caucusgoers have favorable opinions of her and list her in their top three selections.

Id say I know Iowans pretty well, and they really like honesty, which is what we arent seeing from the man in the White House, Klobuchar said, citing the 39 counties in Iowa that voted for Trump in 2016 and Barack Obama in 2008.

She says people there have a thirst for economic prosperity that can be achieved realistically, not with promises like Medicare for All. She never mentions challengers from the progressive wing by name. We can win them back telling the truth. We can bring those people back.

Amy Klobuchar greets people during a campaign stop in Estherville, Iowa, on 27 December 2019. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Congressional candidate JD Scholten, a Sioux City Democrat running against King, likes Klobuchars strategy of dwelling on rural voters. He just capped off a 39-county bus tour of western Iowa in a camper.

Scholten said voters in rural areas like Sac City and Rockwell City are easier to organize than in Democratic metro strongholds such as Des Moines or Iowa City. Those who show up in Rockwell City are reliably Democratic and less issue-focused. Rarely do they see a candidate with Klobuchars resume. When they do, they leave with a strong impression.

Its a lot easier to get viability in Sac county than Polk county, said Scholten. She recognizes that people are familiar with her. Sac City isnt a long way from the Iowa-Minnesota border.

Those who hear Klobuchars message like her focus on the midwest. After the Sac City event, one farmer who declined to offer his name because his landlord is Republican said Klobuchars retelling of family stories from the iron ore mines and farms of northern Minnesota struck him as authentic.

Its not a story she picked up from somewhere. Its one you can tell shes from here, shes one of us who faces the same problems we do, he said.

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Like other black conservatives, the rapper and designer downplays racism while promoting bootstrap virtue-signaling

Kanye Wests middle name, Omari, means God is highest. So it is fitting that the producer-rapper-designer has found himself spreading the gospel. While touring the country promoting his new album Jesus is King, West has professed commitment to his faith in what appears to be both a promotional and redemption tour. This weekend West will appear at the megachurch of the prosperity pastor Joel Osteen, who was caught in controversy for reportedly waiting days to open his church doors to Hurricane Harvey victims.

Over the decades of Kanye Wests career, the multi-hyphenate artist has been many things. It was perhaps inevitable that this would create some contradictions. Recently, on Jimmy Kimmel Live, West lectured a Gucci-wearing black lottery winner about the importance of eschewing luxury consumer goods even though West purchased his eldest daughter a $62,000 tiara when she was barely a year old.

While signifying black cultural and religious traditions his album is peppered with samples of black church staples like James Clevelands God Is West advances the gospel of white evangelicals. Although he has challenged conventions in nearly every aspect of his artistic life, Kanye West has been born again as a conservative.

Its easy to descend into overwrought analysis about Kanye Wests tortured genius. But perhaps the simplest way to understand Kanyes otherwise incoherent ideology is to remember that hes a rich man acting as a rich man does. His endeavors, including his path to salvation, are thus colored by his station in life. Jesus is King is a testimony, and a believably earnest one, about having gone through emotional depths and leaning on a higher spirit to come out on the other side. Having emerged relatively intact, West embraced the teachings of free market liberalism, not black liberation theology. While he may not fully preach the prosperity gospel, his brand of Christianity centering on personal salvation and individual triumphs, rather than communal uplift suggests hes at least a prosperity parishioner.

Like other black conservatives, West downplays systemic racism while promoting bootstrap virtue-signaling. His dad was a Black Panther and mom a participant in civil rights sit-ins, as he is prone to tell interviewers. But, he alleges, they looked past racism. Like Condoleezza Rice and Clarence Thomas referencing their black, southern roots, West wants to maintain some legitimacy in a community that he also wants to divorce. Hes a product of good old-fashioned hard work, he believes, and afforded the liberty to wear a Maga hat without scrutiny. This is not the liberation espoused by Moses or Harriet or Fred Hampton, but the personal freedom of white Nimbys and states-righters.

Viewed that way, it begins to make sense how Kanye could so flippantly claim slavery was a choice. This rhetoric is typical to the conservative framing of healthcare, housing, education and any other social service they assert should be unfettered by big government. This language is seductive, and it at least partly explains how 14% of black men who went to the polls in 2016 voted for Donald Trump. If the American right wing were not so tinged with white supremacy, it would likely attract even more. The demands of black men in a patriarchal society that both expects their leadership and extracts their resources can make any charlatan preaching about prosperity seem like a prophet.

The reality of black economic subjugation also means that black communities have created their own versions of the self-help paradigm, and it possibly shaped Kanyes worldview. Tenets of self-determination doing for self, and not relying on handouts from The Man are prevalent everywhere from the Nation of Islam to the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense to the New Afrikan Peoples Organization. But unlike the Reagan-era trickle-down bastardization of self-determination, doing for self was also paired with doing for each other.

It is through this self-help and communal-help prong of the black power movement that black liberation theology emerged in the midwest, including in Kanye Wests own hometown of Chicago. It grounded the teachings of Chicagos Jeremiah Wright, Detroits Albert Cleage, and Northwestern-trained James Cone. But these theologians were not millionaires arguing with Forbes about adding the adequate number of zeros in their net worth. Despite the trove of black church traditions West could pull from, he went in the opposite direction, associating with the Trumps and Osteens of the world. Aligning with power over people is merely Kanye doing what a rich man does.

While making remarks reminiscent of Bill Cosbys infamous pound cake speech, West descended into stream of consciousness ramblings with a Fast Company interviewer last month; he lambasted black people for wanting Popeyes chicken sandwiches and voting for the Democratic party. True to Kanyes trademark contradictions, he dedicated an entire track on Jesus is King to Chick-fil-A, the fried chicken sandwich maker owned by homophobic, evangelical Christians.

While Jesus may save Kanye West, black capitalism wont save the rest of us, no matter how many gospel samples accompany the self-serving proselytizing.

  • Malaika Jabali is a public policy attorney, writer and activist whose writing has appeared in Essence, Jacobin, the Intercept, Glamour and elsewhere

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Residents of the Tennessee city the Kurdish capital of America feel sold out but unsurprised by troop withdrawal

If you spend enough time in Kurdish places, from sidewalk tea stands in the shadow of the Erbil citadel to the bullet-pocked alleys of Diyarbakir and the dusty fields along Syrias frontlines, there is a proverb you will hear. It goes like this: The Kurds have no friends but the mountains.

It means that in the end, when Kurds are under attack and facing death, the mountains they retreat to will be the only things to protect them, whatever alliances they may have had before.

Youll hear it in Nashville too, in Little Kurdistan, a strip of grocers and eateries tucked between an Aldi and a Waffle House along the Nolensville Pike.

This week, Donald Trump announced he was pulling US troops from Syrias border with Turkey, seemingly giving the green light for Turkey to attack Kurdish forces allied with America. For many Kurds in Nashville many of whom came here and prospered after fleeing for their lives the sudden reversal was nothing short of a betrayal.

A Kurdish grocery store in Nashville. Photograph: Josh Wood/The Guardian

He betrayed the whole Kurdish nation, said Salah Osman, the imam at the Salahadeen Center mosque. We knew this is what would happen. We knew after they used [the Kurdish forces], after they did their job, they would leave them to face their future without any friends.

To most Americans, Nashville is the country music and bachelorette party capital, a place for boozy and raucous fun at neon-lit honky-tonks on Broadway. But it is also the Kurdish capital of America, home to an estimated 15,000 Kurds, the largest such population in the US.

When members of the Nashville Kurdish community like Osman look at images of Syrian Kurds fleeing Turkish attacks, crowded into the back of trucks or fleeing on foot with whatever they can carry, they think of their own experiences.

There are those who were in the first wave, arriving in the 1970s after a failed rebellion in Iraq. There are those who fled Saddam Husseins genocidal al-Anfal campaign in the late 1980s, and those who fled after George HW Bush encouraged Iraqis to rise up during the Gulf war but then did not provide assistance.

There are those who were born in refugee camps to parents who escaped with only the clothes on their backs. There are those who fled in the mid-90s, after Saddams forces, briefly pushed out of northern Iraq, stormed back in. There are those who risked their lives as interpreters for the US military, after the 2003 invasion.

More recent arrivals have fled from Syria and from oppression and violence in Turkey.

Sakir Cinar says sleep has been hard to come by since it was clear that Turkey was going to attack Syrias Kurds. Photograph: Josh Wood/The Guardian

It is unlikely that the latest violence will bring another surge in Nashvilles Kurdish population. Under new asylum rules, applicants must first try to seek safe haven in a third country. It is nearly impossible for Syrians to get US visas under Trumps travel ban and the administration has set the refugee cap at an all-time low.

Kirmanj Gundi, a Tennessee State University professor, came to Nashville in the 1970s. He spoke no English and the Kurdish community numbered in the hundreds.

I dont know how to express my feelings, he said this week. Its sad. Its frustrating. We feel we are betrayed again. We feel we are sold out again. We feel we are used again.

Gundi came to America after the Shah of Iran cut off funding to Kurdish rebels in a deal with Iraq. He watched more Kurds arrive in the 90s. The betrayal by Trump, he says, is more intense, the wound is deeper They were promised that they would be protected.

Trump did not stop at clearing the way for a Turkish attack. He has sought to justify his decision by painting Kurdish forces who did the bulk of the fighting against Islamic State in Syria as potentially fair-weather allies.

On Wednesday, Trump even defended his decision by saying the Kurds didnt help the US during the second world war.

At a rally in Minneapolis on Thursday evening, Trump was speaking about Turkeys offensive against Syrian Kurdish forces and his decision to withdraw US troops when he suddenly brought up how he has to send letters to the families of soldiers killed in blue on green attacks, where were teaching people how to fight and then they turn the gun on our soldiers and shoot them in the back.

He had previously praised Kurds for being among Americas most loyal allies.

We feel like when Donald Trump makes statements like this, it affects our position in this country and how some other citizens may perceive us as a threat to this country, which we are not, said Zaid Brifkani, a Kurdish American doctor in Nashville who is president of the Kurdish Professionals Group in the city.

We are part of this community, we are part of this American dream.

We are free here

Nawzad Hawrami, the director of the Salahadeen Center, says Kurds like him have found freedom in Nashville. Photograph: Josh Wood/The Guardian

At the centre of Little Kurdistan, around the Salahadeen Center mosque, Kurdish stores are interspersed with a Latin American nightclub and a hibachi restaurant. Earlier this year, Nashvilles public schools approved adding Kurdish-language electives in high schools. During Ramadan, when the mosque is open all night, the police department stations a squad car outside. Some in the older generation only speak Arabic and Kurdish. Their children have American accents.

We are free here. As a Kurd, as a Muslim, we are free more than in our back home countries, said Nawzad Hawrami, director of the Salahadeen Center, who lived in the Iraqi city of Halabja during al-Anfal. This is a great country, a great nation.

Sakir Cinar got asylum in the US two years ago after, he says, he made a Facebook post critical of Turkeys president, Recep Tayyip Erdoan, that led to a mob attacking his restaurant and his arrest by Turkish authorities.

In Nashville, working as a cook, he can say what he wants. He can speak Kurdish without having to look over his shoulder. He can speak with a journalist in public, without fearing repercussions.

But the Turkish attack on Syria has left him sleepless, glued to his phone, checking for updates.

My insides are hurting, crying. I just can pray, he said.

A mural depicting scenes of traditional Kurdish life is painted on the side of a Kurdish grocer in Little Kurdistan, Nashville. Photograph: Josh Wood/The Guardian

Nashvilles Kurds are unsure they can make a difference. Tennessees two Republican senators have spoken out. On Friday, hundreds of members of the Kurdish community protested in downtown Nashville. But at the end of the day, they are a small community with little ability to leverage state elections, let alone foreign policy.

Trump has said he will try to broker a deal between Turkey and the Kurds and has raised the possibility of working to destroy and obliterate Turkeys economy if it does anything off limits. But despite widespread criticism, even from his closest allies, he has stood by his decision to withdraw.

While many in Little Kurdistan feel betrayed, Trumps behavior has not soured their thoughts on America.

When it comes to America, there are opportunities, said Gundi, the professor. When you compare America with any other nation America comes out head and shoulders above any country in the world.

Brifkani, the doctor, said: I dont think Trump represents true American values.

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The majority Latino city in Texas was shaken to its core but El Pasoans say a strong sense of family and community will help them heal

Its a white guy who says it first.

Its Saturday evening at the high school stadium, hours after a terrorist gunman killed 22 people and left dozens wounded at the Cielo Vista Walmart in El Paso. A prayer vigil has concluded, and a small group of mourners linger to try and make sense of it.

One by one they tick off the reasons: weak gun laws, a complacent Congress, a president who stokes racism and xenophobia. Aside from David Williams, theyre all Hispanic. But its Williams who adds: Its a clash of cultures, its Hispanic versus white. Everyone nods in agreement.

While it was racism that compelled the shooter to draft a hate-filled manifesto aimed at Hispanics, racism that pushed him to drive 10 hours to the border and attack a community over 80% Latino, the shooting served to highlight the starkly different cultures that came together that day: one culture comprising large extended families living in close proximity and with strong religious ties, and another more fractured and isolated in the sprawling suburbs of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

All day, Williams, a local surgeon, has been hearing the same thing from his neighbors and fellow El Pasoans: This kind of thing would never happen here, meaning someone from El Paso would never carry out such an act of mass violence. His wife, Elizabeth OHara, a former journalist who is Hispanic and grew up in El Paso, has even told him: Brown people dont do this kind of thing.

Now, standing next to her husband, she adds: I finally had to ask him, What is wrong with your people?

The question had been bothering him long before she asked, he says, particularly every time a lone white male opened fire on a large group of people. And while Williams is no sociologist (hes a podiatrist), his own experience marrying into a large Hispanic family in a predominantly Hispanic city had given him perspective into this particular tragedy.

White people, he says, have spent the last half century closing themselves off in the suburbs, originally to separate from minorities. In the process, our families have fractured and gotten smaller, our visits less frequent, until the only time we see our extended kin is on Facebook or at funerals. Williams is speaking from his own familys experience, but its similar to mine and that of many white Americans.

But that is not El Paso, Williams says. El Paso is exactly the opposite. Here youre gonna have your parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles always around, whether you like it or not. Most families see each other on a weekly basis, if not more. On the weekends, you can drive by any El Paso park and theyre full of Hispanic families cooking out, listening to music, playing volleyball, just being together. You rarely see a white family doing that.

Jose Ozuna installs American flags next to crime scene tape at a makeshift memorial honoring victims outside the Cielo Vista Walmart in El Paso. Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Its very hard for a member of that community to not feel supported, he adds. Theres always someone to talk to. White kids, on the other hand, are talking to kids in chat groups. I do think there is a clash of cultures and maybe thats why we dont see darker-skinned people doing this kind of mass killing.

The research backs it up, says James Alan Fox, a professor at Northeastern University whos studied and written extensively on the subject, most recently in the book Extreme Killing: Understanding Serial and Mass Murder. Especially strength in community. Mass shooters generally dont have a strong support network, Fox says. People who have the support of friends, neighbors and families have a sounding board to help get them through the hard times and help give them a reality check.

That sense of community is what brought Arturo Rodriguez back to his hometown from Las Vegas, where he lived for over 20 years while serving in the air force. In fact, Rodriguezs daughter was attending the Route 91 Harvest music festival in October 2017 when another terrorist gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of a nearby hotel, killing 58 and wounding more than 400 others. She escaped, he says, but the aftermath reminded him of something about where he grew up.

Im not saying Las Vegas isnt strong, he says, but we are more family oriented here. Our religion is stronger, our values are stronger. Its the reason I returned home.

A woman standing near Rodriguez reminds him: We have to remember this wasnt someone from our community. Its a statement Id hear again and again, along with: Thank God he wasnt Hispanic.

By now, the lights of Juarez are flickering yellow just a mile across the border. The group pauses to look at them and OHara says: Weve been here for 400 years, long before we were part of the States. This guy doesnt get to change our DNA in one day.

The next day, I walk to the international bridge downtown to have a look at the border. The terrorists manifesto cited a Hispanic invasion, parroting the words Donald Trump has used over and over in his tweets and speeches, and in more than 2,000 Facebook ads seen by as many as 5.6 million Americans.

Like other cities along the border, El Paso has seen huge numbers of migrants crossing from Central America seeking asylum, but today I see no signs of an invasion. Theres a new 18ft metal wall snaking below the pedestrian bridge that replaced the old barbed wire. And on the bridge itself, just regular Sunday traffic: people from both sides of the border shopping at Paseo de Las Luces and eating ice cream with their kids a fraction of the 70,000 people who cross daily to shop and work and attend college the way theyve done for generations.

Watching them lug their plastic bags and push strollers, Im reminded of what a man said earlier at a restaurant. I dont have any answers, he told me. But our wall didnt stop this guy from coming here and killing us.

When the two cultures came together that day, as Williams says, the result was more than a tragic loss of life. Others I speak with say that El Paso lost a kind of innocence. That morning at Walmart, America and its twin diseases of gun violence and white nationalism finally found their way in, and now everything has changed, especially themselves.

This is especially evident later that afternoon when I visit a local gun store. The faade of Gun Central, located along Interstate 10, is decorated in rah-rah Christian nationalism: red, white, and blue bunting, a mural that proclaims A Savior is Born next to a manger scene and shining star of Bethlehem. And lording itself above it all is an AR-15 assault rifle spewing fire. But inside this bunker of white Maga gun culture just two miles from where bodies were still being recovered, I dont encounter the expected enthusiasts marrying God and the second amendment. Instead I find a store packed with terrified people, mostly Hispanic, buying guns for the first time.

Im on high alert, says April Sanchez, who works in marketing and who along with her husband and son is buying her first weapon. I never thought Id carry a gun, but now I want something to defend myself.

This isnt something Im proud of, she says. It makes me sad and angry that Im even here. Im heartbroken, but Im also afraid.

I just want to give us both some peace of mind, says Denzel Oliver, 29, an army veteran whos buying a handgun for his girlfriend, Christabelle Guzman. He adds that Saturdays shooting is going to change this community forever. He points to the crowds lining up for handguns and assault rifles, high-capacity magazines and ammo, and says: Just look, it already has.

On Sunday evening, the Interfaith Alliance of the Southwest holds a vigil at Ponder Park for El Pasoans to come together and pray. Thousands flock to the baseball diamond, many wearing T-shirts that read El Paso Strong and buttons bearing the word HOPE.

For two hours there is prayer and singing, tears and raw, unfiltered anger at the gunman who attacked this community; the terrorist who robbed its families of its mothers and fathers, tias and abuelas, cousins and friends who held it together and would never come home again; the lonely boy from the suburbs whod gone straight for the jewel of the culture.

But that evil would not win, not when people come together and call it by name.

For the sake of the dead and the survivors and their families, we pray for the strength to brace ourselves for the just action ahead, to choose life and the blessing, says Dylan Corbett, director of the community organization Hope Border Institute.

For we will go forward from this night with our own manifiesto: love, inclusion, compassion, hope, justice all that makes El Paso and the borderlands truly great.

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SoulCycle says it does not support fundraiser by Stephen Ross, chair of company that owns Equinox

Customers of the fitness companies Equinox and SoulCycle are calling for a boycott of the trendy brands after news that a high-profile billionaire investor will be hosting a fundraising event for Donald Trump in the Hamptons on Friday.

The real estate mogul and private investor Stephen Ross, who is worth nearly $10bn, is scheduled to host a Trump fundraiser at his mansion in Southampton, the Washington Post reported this week.

Tickets for the event cost $100,000 for lunch and a photo opportunity with the president and $250,000 for a package that includes a roundtable discussion with Trump.

Ross, who is also the owner of the NFL team the Miami Dolphins, is the chairman of Related, the company that owns Equinox Fitness, the upmarket gym chain, and other fitness brands.

Equinox has a 97% stake in SoulCycle, acquired in 2011, the boutique fitness brand that just expanded from the US to the UK and has an A-list following for its pricey classes that combine stationary cycling with motivational pep talks from fashionable instructors in rooms lit only with candles and booming au courant playlists from high-class music equipment.

In response to the social media backlash against the event, SoulCycle released a statement addressed To Our Soul Family from its CEO, Melanie Whelan. Whelan said the cycling company has nothing to do with the event and does not support it.

Were committed to all our riders and the communities we live in. Mr. Ross is a passive investor and is not involved in the management of SoulCycle.

SoulCycle (@soulcycle)

A note from our CEO

August 7, 2019

The statement echoed a joint statement released by Equinox and SoulCycle on Wednesday. Mr. Ross is a passive investor and is not involved in the management of either business, the statement read.

But Twitter users were quick to assert that Ross was more than a passive investor of the companies, furthering calls to quit SoulCycle and Equinox.

Philippe Reines (@PhilippeReines)

No way to spin this. Boycott @soulcycle & @Equinox.

August 7, 2019

Bill McKibben (@billmckibben)

Apparently, every time you turn the crank on a SoulCycle the world gets one foot further away from dealing with the climate crisis #BoycottEquinox

August 7, 2019

Celebrities joined in on the chorus of boycotters voicing their anger with the news.

billy eichner (@billyeichner)

Just contacted @Equinox to cancel my membership after many years. Money talks, especially with these monsters. If its too inconvenient for u to trade one LUXURY GYM for another, then you should be ashamed. (No disrespect to the many wonderful employees at my local Equinox). Bye!

August 7, 2019

The gym is my personal hell but if youre a member of Equinox perhaps it is time to say peace(out)-inox ayyyyy Im still sick yes but fuck equinox, wrote the model and TV host Chrissy Teigen on Twitter. Oh and fuck soulcycle but I thought that way before this anyhow.

Welp. Buh-bye @soulcycle. Wont miss ya! tweeted the actress Sophia Bush.

SoulCycle has a cult following and is primarily located in the United States largest cities, which vote overwhelmingly Democratic. The company itself has tried to tout its liberal values, hosting LGBTQ Pride-themed rides and playlists during Pride Month this past June. Figures including Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey have said they are fans of the company.

Though Ross didnt explicitly endorse Trump as president during his 2016 campaign the billionaire held a fundraiser for the failed presidential candidate Jeb Bush at his Palm Beach mansion in January that year he seemed to be impressed with the presidents skills as a promoter during the election.

In a Bloomberg interview in February 2016, Ross said of Trump: Hes great. He makes people feel good about themselves. If youre spending time with Donald alone, you can not not like Donald.

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Trumps tirade against Elijah Cummings is the latest in a long history of targeting prominent political leaders of color

Donald Trump is facing fresh accusations of racism after launching a Twitter tirade at the weekend against Elijah Cummings, a prominent minority Democratic congressman, and referring to Baltimore, in the latters majority black district, as a rodent-infested mess.

The presidents comments ignited yet another firestorm over race issues in Washington, just weeks after he was widely condemned for attacking four congresswomen of color, in what appears to be a deliberate strategy going into the 2020 election.

Trump, who rose to political prominence by falsely insisting Barack Obama was born in Kenya, has a long history of targeting minorities and people of color.

Some researchers have questioned if the divisive approach will work, particularly as polling finds that a growing majority of Americans believe Trump has made race relations worse.

Here are prominent political leaders of color that Trump has attacked in personal ways:

Al Sharpton

Trump on Monday directed his ire at the Rev Al Sharpton, a longtime black activist who earlier in the day shared a photo of himself en route to Baltimore from his base in New York City.

Stating that he had known Sharpton for 25 years, Trump went on to attack the the civil rights advocate, who is ally keenly sought by Democratic 2020 candidates, as someone who hates whites and cops.

He would ask me for favors often. Al is a con man, a troublemaker, always looking for a score, Trump tweeted.

Sharpton responded with a photo featuring himself, Trump, the Rev Jesse Jackson and soul great James Brown at a 2006 conference, adding Trump told him at the time he respects my work.

Different tune now, Sharpton noted.

The Squad

Trump tweeted this month that four congresswomen of color who are all US citizens should go back to where they came from. The tweetswere directed at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and were widely decried as racist.

Trump nonetheless doubled down and singled out the four freshmen Democrats, known as the Squad, at a rally in North Carolina. His criticism of Omar, who came to America as a Somali refugee and is a naturalized citizen, prompted chants of send her back from the crowd.

Omar described the episode as a defining moment in American history.

Maxine Waters

Maxine Waters, a congresswoman from California, has been a frequent target of Trumps, amid her fierce criticism of his administration. Trump has repeatedly derided Waters, a member of the congressional black caucus, as crazy and an extraordinarily low-IQ person.

Maxine Waters has been a frequent target for Trump. Photograph: Erin Scott/Reuters

The feud between the two escalated last year when Waters encouraged supporters to show up and protest against Trump administration officials in public places, be it restaurants, stores or gas stations. Those comments drew a rebuke from Democratic Party leaders, who pushed back on harassing political opponents.

LeBron James and Don Lemon

Last year, Trump mocked the intelligence of NBA superstar LeBron James and CNN host Don Lemon both prominent men of color after James criticized Trump in an interview with Lemon.

LeBron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon, Trump wrote. He made LeBron look smart, which isnt easy to do.

James, whose interview focused on his work for at-risk children and inner city youngsters, said Trump was trying to use sport to divide the country. James comments were a reference to Trumps attacks on sportspeople of color who have kneeled during the US national anthem to draw attention to police brutality and criminal justice reform.

Andrew Gillum

During the 2018 midterm elections, Trump went after Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum in what opponents saw as racially loaded language. Gillum, who was vying to become the states first black governor, had been serving as the mayor of Tallahassee.

Without evidence, Trump labeled Gillum a thief and accused him of overseeing one of the most corrupt cities in the country. Trump, who campaigned for Ron DeSantis, the Republican who went on to win the race despite a controversial attack on Gillum, also said Florida would become a crime-ridden, overtaxed mess if Gillum were elected governor.

Barack Obama

Trumps attacks on Barack Obama have been wide-ranging and a constant fixture of his political career. And many of them have invoked the former presidents race, or made a thinly veiled attempt to cast the nations first black president as foreign.

Trump was among the most vocal proponents of conspiracy theories around Obamas birthplace. He repeatedly called on Obama, who was born in Hawaii, to release his birth certificate. When Obama did so, Trump falsely claimed it was a fraud.

Trump also routinely linked Obama, a Christian, to Islam, in a bid to stoke fears around his faith. During the 2016 election he referred to Obama as the founder of Isis and, years ago, Trump complained about crime in Baltimore and blamed our great African American president.

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