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Mother of Child in “Success Kid” Meme Sends Cease and Desist to Rep. Steve King for Unapproved Use



  • The mother of “Success Kid” sent a cease and desist letter to Rep. Steve King for using the copyrighted meme of her son on a fundraising ad without permission. 
  • King has come under fire on numerous occasions for having white nationalist, racist, and other offensive views. 
  • Laney Griner, Success Kid’s mother, does not want the photo of her son to be associated with anything negative. 
  • Griner is demanding that the meme be removed from all platforms it was used on, that a public statement be made acknowledging its misuse, and that refunds be issued for all profits the photo brought in. 

King Hit With Cease and Desist 

The mother of the child pictured in the viral “Success Kid” meme hit Rep. Steve King (R-IA) with a cease and desist after he used the copyrighted photo in a fundraising ad without permission. 

According to The Washington Post and BuzzFeed News, the letter was sent to King on Monday. He used the photo in an ad linked on his Facebook page, where he frequently posts right-leaning memes making fun of Democrats. The meme featured a photo that has been dubbed as “Success Kid,” where 11-month-old Sam Griner is making a tiny fist pump with a hand full of sand. Text over the picture read “FUND OUR MEMES!!!”

“QUESTION: Do you enjoy our memes??” The post reads. “If so, please click the link below and throw us a few dollars to make sure the memes keep flowing and the Lefties stay triggered. Thank you!”

The link went out to a WinRed fundraising page, which also included the photo. While in public office, King has repeatedly been criticized for making racist and white nationalist comments, as well as offensive comments about immigration and rape. Prominent fellow Republicans, like Liz Cheney, have condemned him for some of his remarks. 

Mother Reacts to King’s Use of Photo

Laney Griner, Success Kid’s mom, first acknowledged the ad on Thursday after a Media Matters reporter shared it on Twitter. 

“Just so it’s clear – I have/would never give permission for use of my son’s photo to promote any agenda of this vile man or that disgusting party,” Griner wrote. 

On Monday, Griner shared a longer thread explaining why she was upset with the use of this photo, which she took in 2007 and copyrighted in 2012. She said that King’s use of it implied “that he has some kind of ownership in it.”

She said that Success Kid is about positivity and has no association with King. “I do not endorse Representative King and, like most people, I strongly disagree with his views,” she added.

Consistent with the demands of the letter, Griner stated that she wanted the meme removed from King’s webpages, a statement acknowledging that the photo was misused, and a refund of the money that the photo brought in. If King does not comply, Griner will sue.

Griner has previously made money from the use of her photo. Success Kid has been featured in a variety of ads, including a Coca-Cola Super Bowl commercial. 

President Barack Obama also used the photo in 2013 after obtaining permission from Griner. 

Griner spoke with the Post about King’s use of her image. She explained that she did not want the photo of her son, who is now 13, to be associated with anything negative, and King “is about as negative as you can get.”

“It’s just the antithesis of what the meme’s reputation is,” she told them. 

She also explained that she is liberal and politics were a major factor in her reaction, but she would not rule out letting other Republicans use the photo.

King has removed the photo from his Facebook and it no longer appears on his WinRed page. According to the Post, he has not yet responded to Griner’s letter. 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (BuzzFeed News) (The Hollywood Reporter)



Video of Man Punching Woman’s Reclined Airplane Seat Sparks Debate



  • When a woman on an American Airlines flight reclined her seat, the man behind her responded by repeatedly punching the back of it. 
  • After a flight attendant was called to help, she allegedly sided with the man and offered him a free cocktail. 
  • The woman, Wendi Williams, took to social media to share her side of the story and express her frustration. The video she posted of the incident has since gone viral. 
  • Some have admonished Williams for reclining her seat in such tight quarters, while others have publicly condemned the man for his behavior.

Tensions Rise in the Sky

An airplane passenger went public with her story of a man punching the back of her seat when she reclined it during a flight, and the Internet has had a lot to say on the matter. 

Wendi Williams took an American Airlines plane from New Orleans to Charlotte, North Carolina on Jan. 31 — a flight that lasts around two hours. The man behind her couldn’t recline his own seat, as he was sitting in the last row of the plane. Williams said he asked her to put her seat up because he was eating, which she says she did. Then when he was finished she reclined it again. That’s when the trouble started — the man responded by hitting the back of William’s seat.

Williams began recording the punches and even called a flight attendant for help, but the employee allegedly brushed her off. Instead of reprimanding the man in the last row, Williams claimed the flight attendant offered him a cocktail and told Williams to delete the footage. 

“She rolled her eyes at me and said, ‘What?’” Williams tweeted. “She then told him it was tight back there and gave him rum!”

Williams has been posting about the incident to her Twitter page over the last week, calling the man’s actions an “assault.” She said that prior to the start of her video, in behavior not caught on camera, the man’s aggression was worse.

American Airlines responded to Williams directly on Twitter, asking her to direct message them with her contact information. Williams replied that she had reached out to them multiple times. Several hours later, she reported on Twitter that she had talked to an American Air representative but felt as if an adequate apology wasn’t given for their flight attendant’s actions. Williams threatened to “press charges” in the wake of her dissatisfaction.

In a statement, American Airlines said it was looking into what happened.

“The safety and comfort of our customers and team members is our top priority,” the airline said.  

Williams also said that the man’s punches have caused her physical pain, and revealed that she has pre-existing back issues. She wrote that since the plane ordeal, she has “lost time at work, had to visit a doctor, got x-rays, and have [had] horrible headaches for a week.”

Online Reactions

The debacle caught widespread attention and the video of part of the incident went viral, bringing in many mixed reactions.

After it was revealed that Williams was sitting in coach, some thought she shouldn’t have reclined her seat with such little room.

“Wendi….it seems you started this in the first place by reclining your seat too far…” one person wrote. “Just don’t recline. And the middle seat gets both armrests. Basic etiquette.”

While some did admonish the man for punching Williams, they still thought she was in wrong as well for reclining her seat.

“I’m calling a double technical,” one Twitter user wrote. “Don’t recline. Especially into the poor sap in the last row of the plane which doesn’t recline AND is adjacent to the lav. But, also… don’t punch someone’s seat, dude.”

Others defended the woman, arguing that she has a right to recline her seat, especially because it was designed with that feature. There was also widespread criticism of the man for taking the approach that he did.

And some Twitter users even pointed to the gender dynamic, arguing the situation was extra problematic because it was a man punching the seat of a woman and a power imbalance.

See what others are saying: (NBC) (Fox News) (KRQE Media)

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Chicago High Schoolers Stage Sit-In After Teacher Allegedly Tells Student ‘Go Back to Your Country’



  • When a Latina student at Senn High School in Chicago refused to stand during the national anthem, her teacher allegedly said, “go back to your country.”
  • Students complained to the principal but felt there wasn’t enough being done, so they staged a sit-in on Wednesday to protest the lack of action and call for the removal of the teacher.
  • Chicago Public Schools said they are investigating the teacher’s alleged comments and support students who are peacefully raising concerns.
  • The teacher was removed from the school pending the investigation.

Claims of Racism 

Chicago high school students held a sit-in on Wednesday after a teacher allegedly told a Latina student “go back to your country” when she refused to stand for the national anthem last month. 

When Senn High School held a Hispanic heritage assembly on Jan. 30, 17-year-old Yésica Salazar and several other senior students remained seated for the national anthem. It was an act of silent protest against police brutality, U.S. immigration policies, and anti-immigrant rhetoric. 

According to the students, two teachers approached them and asked one if she was eligible for free or reduced lunch. When she responded that she was, the teacher told her that she should stand because people had died for this country. The student left the auditorium.

The teacher then turned to Salazar, asking her if her legs were broken. She told him no and started to explain her reasons for sitting.

“Before I could finish my sentence, he responds back with the famous line: ‘Go back to your country.'” Salazar told NBC News

Salazar, who is a U.S. citizen, was hurt by the remark.

“I felt very offended because my parents have fought hard to be a part of this country,” Salazar told The Chicago Sun-Times.

Sit-In Protest

The group of seniors complained about the incident to their principal, Mary Beck, but felt like the school’s response had been too slow. They held Wednesday’s sit-in, along with other students, to protest the lack of action and call for the removal of the teacher. 

In several videos that have circulated on social media, students can be heard chanting, “we want justice, we want peace.”

Another video shows Beck addressing the students.

“I notified CPS. I notified everybody within three hours of receiving the report. It is all in writing, it is all time-stamped,” she said. “I did my job. I continue to follow through based on the guidelines and policies that we have in place.

She is then interrupted as students start yelling, “So why is he still here?” referring to the teacher. Beck also receives some boos from the crowd.

This was not the only drama that unfolded during the sit-in. Chicago police reported that a 15-year-old student was arrested during the demonstration. She and another student began fighting, police said, and when a 55-year-old staff member tried to break it up, she pushed him to the ground. 

Chicago Public Schools said they have launched an investigation into the teacher’s alleged national anthem comments, and spokesperson James Gherardi said they support students who are peacefully voiced their concern. 

“CPS is committed to fostering learning environments that embrace and support all students, and the alleged actions of the teacher in question run counter to our beliefs and priorities as a school district,” Gherardi said.

According to Block Club Chicago, the teacher was removed from the school pending the investigation.

See what others are saying: (Newsweek) (Time) (Chicago Sun-Times

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Should Freedom of Religion Protect Humanitarians Giving Food & Water to Migrants At The Border?



The U.S. federal government said that Humanitarians from the religious immigration reform group No More Deaths broke the law when they trespassed on a wildlife reserve to leave water for migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Eventually, nearly all charges were reversed due to the religious freedom restoration act. The law says that even in circumstances where a law doesn’t mention religion, it can still violate peoples’ religious liberties, which was the case for No More Deaths. Check out this week’s video to learn more about who ruled in favor of the humanitarians and why their religious liberties were being violated according to one judge’s ruling.  

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