- Former First Lady Michelle Obama and a slew of celebrities signed a letter urging the American people to reach out to their senators in support of the For the People Act.
- The bill was passed by the House of Representatives earlier this month and features massive expansions to voting rights, including increasing voter registration options, making Election Day a holiday, and requiring two weeks of early voting in federal elections.
- In addition to encouraging U.S. citizens to organize, the letter also asked the Senate to move quickly with this bill and even eliminate the filibuster in order to do so.
- The letter was sent by Obama’s election non-profit When We All Vote. Liza Koshy, Janelle Monáe, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Selena Gomez, Tom Hanks, Kerry Washington, who are all co-chairs of the group, were among the big names attached.
Celebrities Sign Letter Urging Voting Rights Expansions
Michelle Obama, Ariana Grande, Janelle Monáe, Selena Gomez, Liza Koshy, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and more stars signed a letter with When We All Vote on Tuesday urging Americans to contact their senators in support of the For the People Act, a bill aimed at expanding voting rights nationwide.
The bill was passed by the House of Representatives in early March. Among other things, it will increase voter registration options by allowing same-day and online registration, require two weeks of early voting for federal elections, make Election Day a holiday, and restore the right to vote for people with felony convictions.
Voting rights have become a priority for many Democrats as there are currently 43 states that have carried over, introduced, or pre-filed 253 bills with provisions that restrict voting access.
“What’s happening is this: After more Americans than ever voted in the last presidential election, some state leaders believe that silencing them is the only way to maintain their grip on power,” the letter said. “They’re hoping to choose their voters, rather than the other way around.”
The signers of the letter — which also include Billie Eilish, Blake Lively, Jennifer Lopez, The Jonas Brothers, Tom Hanks, and Kerry Washington — encouraged readers to write to and call their senators to fight against these bills, which “particularly impact Black, Brown, and young people.”
“Some of these undemocratic measures have already become law, with others surely to follow,” the letter added.
The letter mentioned the Jan. 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol and said that even though some of the insurrectionists are facing justice now, the threat to democracy still exists.
“We write to you today as citizens who love this country and care deeply about its future,” the letter said. “And right now, the most important thing we can do to protect that future is to rise together in support of the For the People Act currently before the Senate—the most significant piece of legislation to strengthen our democracy since the Civil Rights movement.”
The letter also specifically called on the Senate to eliminate or reform the filibuster if that allows the For the People Act to be passed more swiftly. They described it as “a relic of Jim Crow and an arcane chamber rule increasingly abused to create gridlock and forestall progress.”
“We cannot continue to allow the will of the majority of Americans to be overshadowed by an oppositional few fixated on maintaining power,” it said.
Stars Spread the Word Online
Many of the stars who signed the letter shared it on social media to encourage their followers to organize.
“Now is our chance to protect and strengthen our democracy and put power back where it belongs—with the people,” Selena Gomez wrote.
The issue remains in the Senate’s court. On Wednesday, Senators discussed the For the People Act during a hearing. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said it should be a priority for the country.
“Instead of the Republican Party trying to win back voters they lost in this election, they’re trying to disenfranchise voters,” he wrote on Twitter. “The #ForThePeople Act is a priority of this Congress to fight this and renew Democracy.”
Still support is largely divided along party lines and the bill faces opposition from many Republicans, including Sen. Mike Lee (R-Ut.) who wrote an editorial dubbing it the “Illegal Voting Act.” Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) called it a “solution in search of a problem.”
See what others are saying: (Complex) (The Independent) (USA Today)
Joe Rogan Holds Spot As Top Podcaster on Spotify in 2022
Earlier this year, some threatened to boycott the platform over Rogan and the health misinformation he shared on his show.
For the third year in a row, “The Joe Rogan Experience” was the number one podcast on Spotify, the company revealed in its yearly “Wrapped” feature on Wednesday.
“The Joe Rogan Experience” became exclusive to Spotify in 2020 after the host signed a lucrative deal with the audio streaming platform. “Call Her Daddy” by Alex Cooper, also a Spotify exclusive, followed Rogan on the charts. “Anything Goes With Emma Chamberlain,” which will become exclusive to the service next year, came in third.
Rogan’s podcast has made several headlines over the last year as the podcaster faced backlash from medical professionals and major musicians for touting COVID-19 misinformation. Niel Young asked to have his music removed from Spotify in protest of the company’s deal with Rogan, and several other artists soon followed.
Just a few days later, several clips resurfaced of Rogan using a racial slur. Many called to boycott Spotify for platforming Rogan, but his popularity did not seem to fade by the year’s end.
There are over four million podcasts available to stream on Spotify and over the last year, the platform has expanded into new markets.
It also has started launching podcasts from several high-profile figures, including Kim Kardashian’s “The System,” and Meghan Markle’s “Archetypes.” Both of those debuted mid-year and did not crack the annual top-five list.
Comedian Gives David Beckham Ultimatum: Exit Role at Qatar World Cup Or £10K in Donations Gets Shredded
“Not just the money, but also your status as a gay icon will be shredded,” Joe Lycett said in a video.
Pressure on Beckham
Comedian Joe Lycett posted a video on Sunday saying he would shred £10,000 if soccer star David Beckham does not pull out of his deal to be an ambassador for the Qatar World Cup.
Ahead of the event, which kicks off on Nov. 20, many have been raising concerns about human rights abuses in Qatar. The country criminalizes homosexuality, and it can be punishable by death.
Beckham’s deal to represent the country was reportedly worth £10 million, and many are frustrated that the athlete took such a big check from a country with known anti-LGBTQ laws. In his video, Lycett noted that Beckham has been openly supportive of his gay fans and was the first premiere footballer to do a photoshoot with a gay magazine.
In an attempt to get Beckham to bow out of his role, Lycett, who is pansexual, offered an ultimatum.
“If you end your relationship with Qatar, I’ll donate this £10,000 of my own money, that’s a grand for every million you’re reportedly getting, to charities that support queer people in football,” he stated. “However, if you do not, at midday next Sunday, I will throw this money into a shredder.”
“Not just the money, but also your status as a gay icon will be shredded.”
Beckham’s Reputation “Shredded”
Lycett said he would livestream the money shredding if that’s what the situation comes to. If Beckham does not back out of the World Cup, Lycett noted he will be forced to “commit what might be a crime,” as destroying legal tender is against the law in the U.K.
“Although even then, I reckon I’ll get off more lightly than I would if I got caught whacking off a lad in Doha,” Lycett quipped.
Lycett then linked to a website titled https://benderslikebeckham.com/, which includes a written version of his message, as well as a countdown to when he will either shred the cash or send it to a non-profit.
Lycett is not the only U.K star to raise concerns about issues in Qatar. Singer Dua Lipa shut down speculation that she would be performing at the World Cup over the weekend by saying she has no intentions to visit the country until “it has fulfilled all the human rights pledges it made when it won the right to host” the event.
Other stars, however, including BTS’s Jung Kook, are slated to take the stage.
See what others are saying: (CNN) (The Hollywood Reporter) (BBC News)
Federal Judge Dismisses Dave Portnoy’s Lawsuit Against Insider
The online personality called the decision “disappointing” but not “overly surprising.”
A federal judge in Massachusetts dismissed a defamation lawsuit Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy filed against Business Insider, several outlets reported on Monday.
According to a report from The Washington Post, Chief Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV decided that Portnoy did not successfully prove that the news outlet acted with “actual malice” or “reckless disregard for the truth” when it published two articles about his sexual relationships.
The first article, published in Nov. 2021, detailed stories from women who said they had “violent” and traumatizing sex with Portnoy. A second piece was published in Feb. 2022 and includes sources who said Portnoy filmed sexual encounters without consent.
Portnoy has repeatedly denied the allegations and maintained that the sexual encounters were consensual and positive. He sued Insider in February following the publication of the second article.
Per The Post, Saylor tossed the complaint because it did “not allege that Insider’s anonymous sources were fake, or that the articles misrepresented what the women told [Insider’s reporters].”
“Furthermore, plaintiff admits that Insider investigated its first article for months, requested an interview with him, sought his comment before publication, included his denials, and hyperlinked to his news conference and his lawyer’s full denial letter,” the judge’s decision continued.
Saylor also noted that Insider corroborated their sources’ claims with photos, texts, medical reports, receipts, and accounts from their friends.
While Portnoy argued that these stories were an invasion of privacy as they pertained to his private sex life and the women involved were not his employees, Insider held that their claims were relevant.
“When a rich, famous, and powerful person uses their power in a way that is harmful to other people, it is newsworthy,” Nicholas Carlson, Insider’s Global Editor-in-Chief, previously wrote in an editor’s note.
Saylor largely agreed with that, saying that issues of consent and power are part of “legitimate public interest,” including in instances that arise outside “the employment context.”
An Insider spokesperson told The Post that the outlet is “pleased and gratified that the judge dismissed his complaint.”
“We knew from the start that our reporting was careful, fair, and accurate, but it’s gratifying to see that validated in court,” Julia Black, one of the reporters named in the lawsuit, tweeted in response to the news.
For his part, however, Portnoy has criticized the judge’s decision, calling it “disappointing” but not “overly surprising.”
“Every single lawyer said it was an uphill battle, every legal expert said it was an uphill battle, that it’s almost impossible for a public figure to prove defamation,” he said in a video posted to Twitter. “The laws are stacked against me.”
Portnoy said that he turned in texts and other evidence he believed would prove the sexual encounters were positive but claimed “the judge didn’t even really look at the evidence.”
He later read an excerpt from the judge’s decision that said Portnoy “can’t seek to prove actual malice by challenging statements that defendants did not publish.”
“In other words: Business Insider did not publish any of my shit, I can’t talk about it, it’s not part of the case,” Portnoy explained. “It’s inadmissible.”
He said he could appeal the decision if he wanted, but added he was not optimistic about how that would turn out for him. He floated the idea of suing the sources themselves, noting he thinks he would stand a better chance in such a case.