With the Florida Massacre Still Fresh, the Oregon House Just Approved New Gun Controls

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AEDKA STUDIO/SHUTTERSTOCK

In a country (and state) that's grown used to refrains of "too soon" after the massacres that occur at regular intervals, a vote in Oregon's House of Representatives this afternoon came at a poignant time.

A day after 17 people were gunned down at a Florida high school, Oregon representatives took up a bill expanding prohibitions on possessing guns for those who stalk or abuse their partners. House Bill 4145 changes state law to ensure those prohibitions would expand to people convicted of abusing or stalking their significant other, regardless of whether the two people are or have been married.

The legislation has been a priority of Governor Kate Brown, and, as with all gun legislation, has proved a lightning rod in this year's short session. Dozens of citizens have written in on the bill, and the NRA has urged it be killed.

But HB 4145 passed the house this morning 37 votes to 23, with three Republicans crossing the aisle to support the measure and one Democrat—Caddy McKeown of Coos Bay—voting no.

The closure of the so-called "boyfriend loophole" has virtually nothing to do with yesterday's massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida, in which a troubled 19-year-old is accused of gunning down his former schoolmates. Still, that tragedy couldn't help but weigh heavily on today's proceedings.

Rep. Richard Vial, one of the Republicans who supported the legislation, said on the House floor that he regretted the timing of the vote, and that his heart was broken.

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Jinx Dawson Reflects on Coven's Mystifying History

COVEN Jinx Dawson will see you now.
COVEN Jinx Dawson will see you now. Courtesy of the artist

In a pivotal scene in the 1969 film Easy Rider, three men decompress over a campfire and a joint after an uncomfortable run-in with some bigoted middle Americans. George, played by Jack Nicholson, says it best: “Oh yeah, they gonna talk to you, and talk to you, and talk to you about individual freedom, but they see a free individual... it’s gonna scare ’em.”

The same year Easy Rider was trying to slough off conventional society’s hang-ups, Indiana band Coven—fronted by the enigmatic and magical Esther “Jinx” Dawson—released their debut LP, Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls. At a time when most popular music was all about peace, love, and “smiling on your brother,” Coven went the other direction. Witchcraft teems with dark lyrics about witches, magic spells, and pacts with Lucifer. The record even includes a 13-minute satanic mass ceremony. Pair these occult themes with a trained opera singer and some spooky, jangly rock ’n’ roll akin to Jefferson Airplane or Fleetwood Mac, and you’ve got a band of free individuals certainly capable of scaring some people. According to Dawson, audiences were not ready for such devilish musings.

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Sam Harris and the Waking Up Podcast - Coming to Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on Thurs Feb 22nd!

Join neuroscientist, philosopher, and best-selling author Sam Harris as he explores important and controversial questions about the human mind, society, and current events. This will be a live recording of the Waking Up podcast with special guest Sean Carroll.

Tickets available HERE


Piazza Italia Owners Prepare to Open Bar Rione in Time for Summer

Piazza Italia
Piazza Italia/ Steven Hoyt

When he opened Piazza Italia with the late Gino Schettini back in 1999, Kevin Gorretta says he quickly saw a service snag in his soon-to-be popular Pearl District Italian eatery: On busy nights, he and his staff often sent would-be guests to nearby bars with the hope they wouldn’t bail after staff called their cell phones when a table freed up.

This summer, Gorretta and Amy Schettini—Gorretta’s business partner and Gino’s daughter—hope to send those would-be diners to their own bar for a drink when they open Bar Rione in the adjacent space around the corner that’s currently home to the convenience store Pearl Market.

Bar Rione, Gorretta explains, will serve as a de facto Piazza Italia waiting room, as well as a cozy bar that locals can drop by for a quick bite and an Italian-inspired cocktail, which is something of a first for him and Schettini, as Piazza Italia’s never served the hard stuff.

Gorretta says the 33-seat space will showcase a lean menu of small plates like antipasti, soups, salads, sandwiches, and porchetta, along side beer, wine, and the aforementioned booze.

It will also give them the opportunity to provide potential guests a place to eat and sip between the hours of 3 and 5 pm, when Piazza Italia briefly closes between lunch and dinner services.

When it opens, Bar Rione will be open daily, from 3 pm to late.

Gorretta says that once all the paperwork’s been inked, he and Schettini are aiming to open the place sometime this summer.

Stay tuned.


Help! I Grew Too Much Weed

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DAVELONGMEDIA / GETTY IMAGES

Dear Pot Lawyer,

What can I do with all my homegrown cannabis?

We’ve heard anecdotal reports that even non-users are trying their hand at home grows, but are finding that their plants are producing far more cannabis than expected. With the recent industry focus on oversupply in the recreational regime, it makes sense to take a look at an often underexplored source of cannabis in Oregon.

All Oregonians over the age of 21 can grow up to four plants per residence (not per person). If you have a green thumb, you might end up with quite a bit of cannabis—more than you and your housemates can reasonably consume. What can you do with the rest? Here’s the bad news: You can’t sell it. Oregon law prohibits the sale of any cannabis to the public except through OLCC-licensed retailers.

So you can’t smoke it all, and you can’t sell it. What can a green thumb do?

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Here's What You Need to See at the 2018 Portland International Film Festival

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As the robber barons in charge of America attempt to isolate our country from the rest of the world, the Portland International Film Festival makes its annual cinematic case for humankind’s inherent interconnectedness. The 88 feature films and 48 shorts that the NW Film Center has collected will pack Portland theaters for the next two weeks, bringing a can’t-eat-it-all smorgasbord of movies from every corner of the globe. While the diversity of this year’s lineup outlines how privilege, race, and geography can divide us, the films themselves successfully argue that many of our struggles and ambitions are universal.

PIFF’s pulse-taking of global cinema is highlighted by a remarkable movie made close to home: Andrew Haigh’s Lean on Pete (Feb 28) was shot in Portland and in Burns, Oregon, and adapted from Portland-area writer/musician Willy Vlautin’s magnificent 2010 novel. It’s a difficult but extraordinary movie to sit through; while Vlautin’s humanism cushions the book’s tragic but ultimately hopeful story of a latchkey teen and his horse, Haigh’s film is observational and conspicuously unsentimental, keeping in line with Vlautin’s unadorned prose style but giving its rawer elements a knife’s-edge immediacy. Charlie Plummer as the 15-year-old boy is restrained but riveting to watch, and Steve Buscemi, as a no-bullshit horse trainer, is at his very best.

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Blazers Recap: Taking Down the Champs!

It was the best win of the season for the Blazers, and it came at a great time, right before the All-Star break. The Blazers welcomed reigning NBA champions, The Golden State Warriors, to their home court for a nationally televised showdown, and sent the big boys packing with a shocking 123-117 beatdown. Superstar Kevin Durant scored 50, but Portland's now famous backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for a whooping 73 points and outshined everyone. The home crowd went wild for the sweet Valentines Day victory.

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Bruce Ely/Trailblazers.com

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Did Prosecutors Go Too Far in Clearing a Cop in a 2014 Killing? (An Audit Says Yes)

UGLY DETAILS Chains in the back of Kelly Swoboda’s minivan.
UGLY DETAILS Chains in the back of Kelly Swoboda’s minivan. CLACKAMAS COUNTY SHERIFF OFFICE

AFTER KELLY SWOBODA was killed by Portland police four years ago, news outlets across the country shared the lurid details of his van.

Swoboda, whom local cops confronted in March 2014 after reports that he was acting suspiciously around teenage girls, had outfitted his minivan with chains and ropes. The vehicle contained pornographic movies that emphasized the youth of their actresses. Cops found latex gloves and lubricant.

The New York Daily News—writing of Swoboda’s death in a gunfight with a Portland officer, and his earlier attempted kidnapping of a Milwaukie tanning salon employee—dubbed him a “van sicko.” The facts of the case make it hard to disagree.

But how those facts came to light is now a matter of some controversy—one that has ramifications for more recent officer-involved shootings.

In a report released last week, an independent auditor took the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office to task for the way it presented the Swoboda case to the grand jurors who decided whether to charge the cop who killed him, Officer John Romero.

Since 2010, the California-based OIR Group has looked into how the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) handles police shootings. In its latest analysis, the organization extends that scrutiny, arguing prosecutors needlessly—and perhaps unethically—brought the disturbing details of the contents of Swoboda’s van before jurors, even though they had little bearing on the reason Romero shot Swoboda.

“The grand jury presentation should have focused on the overwhelming evidence that Officer Romero acted in self-defense when he used deadly force,” OIR’s report found. “Unfortunately, the grand jury proceeding was infected with evidence about Swoboda’s history, character, and presumed intent.”

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Good Morning, News: Everything Is Terrible but the Winter Olympics

Stay up to date on Portland news and politics. Looking for fun? Here are the best Things to Do in Portland today.

The Winter Olympics are the only good thing about today.
The Winter Olympics are the only good thing about today. Matthias Hangst / Getty

Just fucking awful: 17 people were killed at a Florida high school yesterday, after a 19-year-old man who'd been expelled from the school opened fire. He used a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle, which is a weapon no person needs to own. As usual, the NRA-hamstrung GOP, the party that claims to be deeply concerned about saving unborn children, isn't offering anything but thoughts and prayers for existing children murdered at school.

Your idiot president is calling the shooter "mentally disturbed," as if the biggest common denominator in mass shootings isn't actually ready access to deadly weapons and histories of domestic violence. Trump's planning to speak about the shooting this morning. I recommend watching anything else at all. I hear Moana's good!

Perhaps Trump's got a reason to ignore the domestic violence link: In the wake of White House aide Rob Porter's resignation following news that he was a goddamn alleged repeat batterer, Trump says he's "totally opposed to domestic violence." Which is... deeply unconvincing given that, well, you know.

Today, in conflicts of interest: The O reports on new findings from the Oregon Government Ethics Commission that former Gov. John Kitzhaber may have violated state ethics laws 11 times. The list mainly concerns Kitzhaber's use of his position to benefit fiancée and government payroll recipient Cylvia Hayes' but there's also this bizarre detail. Emphasis mine, because WTF:

Kitzhaber also used his office for personal gain by accepting frequent flyer miles for official state travel and "by permitting state employees to care for Ms. Hayes' pets," according to the report.

Under scrutiny: Staff from a federal boarding school for Native American students in Salem appeared before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce yesterday to respond to questions about Chemawa Indian School. Here's OPB:

In November, [Suzanne] Bonamici and fellow members of the Oregon delegation sent a list of questions to the Bureau of Indian Affairs following an OPB investigation that revealed health and safety shortcomings, questionable diplomas and a culture of secrecy and retaliation at the Salem boarding school.

Today, in bad ideas: Portland architecture firm William Kaven Architecture is moving ahead with that wacky postal building no one asked for.

In Beaverton: International School of Beaverton is on lockout today following a nearby stabbing and robbery.

Good news, maybe: A bipartisan group of senators has come to an agreement on DACA that would protect the status of 1.8 million people eligible for DACA in exchange for increased border security. It would be a huge step forward if the ancient toddler currently running our country doesn't find a way to fuck it up for the rest of us, as is his wont.

Washington State's had a moratorium on the death penalty since 2014. The state senate just voted to repeal it altogether.

Also in Washington State: Raphael A. Sanchez, chief counsel of ICE's Seattle field office, has been charged with trying to steal the identities of people going through immigration proceedings, reports the New York Times.

Today, in product recalls: Hope you haven't been eating any suspicious Australian chocolate.

Here's your update on the Winter Olympics, the only sporting event I truly care about. (Even the cross-country ski races! You can have your head injury monster sports, give me the slow torture of the skiathlon any day of the week!) US alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin won a gold medal in the women's giant slalom yesterday, her first of this Olympics. (She already has one from Sochi.) Everything is terrible but the Winter Olympics*.

Speaking of the Olympics: I don't think we've fully appreciated Mirai Nagasu's triple axel, and since I'm in charge of this news post, you get to see it again. Good morning!

*Except for Shaun White, who honestly needs to hone his apology skills a little better, or at least read Dan Harmon's so he knows what one actually looks like, because, Jesus, dude, get it together.


Join Me in Celebrating the Return of the Triple Axel to American Ladies' Figure Skating

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AT LAST GETTY / W-INGS

If religiously watching all Olympic figure skating events is a hobby you've diligently cultivated since childhood (I know I have!), I don't have to tell you that Adam Rippon's swan arms are perfect, and I REALLY don't have to tell you that Mirai Nagasu is now the first American woman and only the third woman from any country to land a triple axel at the Olympics. Here's video of it if you want to cry:


Will she be able to replicate it in her individual long and short programs? Who cares! (I REALLY do.) To celebrate, let's revisit some great moments in figure skating.

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Could Weed Lead You to Your Next Valentine?

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ENOLABRAIN / GETTY IMAGES

You may not have noticed, but it’s Valentine’s Day! A “holiday” of adjusting your expectations, bitter self-recrimination about lost loves, and questioning the very concept of romance itself. Thank goodness we’re all happy with our relationship statuses, with no chance of being one of those people, right?

Mary Jane wants your heart this Valentine’s Day. From canna-infused chocolates to canna-infused lubes (don’t mix these up—trust me), cannabis is playing a growing role in the massive industrial complex built around love in its many forms. But while cannabis often receives a warm reception in the bedroom, what about the way it’s used and perceived in the process of getting there?

When you first hit puberty and began to woo romantic partners, alcohol was likely involved—from stolen garage beers to warm wine coolers. Then, for many, came college parties and... yeah. Drinking has always been a major part of the dating scene, something that’s even been celebrated in the mainstream. Countless relationships have started with the help of alcohol. It’s called a social lubricant for a reason.

But cannabis comes with a much more complex relationship in getting someone to go home with you, and maybe having them stay.

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The Portland Mercury's Highball Is March 19-25! Here are the 2018 Participants

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Prepare yourself (and your liver! your sweet, innocent liver!) for the Portland Mercury’s HIGHBALL! Brace yourself for 39 specially crafted cocktails available March 19-25… for only $5 each!

We’ve teamed up with 39 of the finest bars and restaurants in Portland—along with our cocktail-lovin’ pals at Beam Suntory—to bring you this one-of-a-kind boozetacular! At each of Highball’s locations, you’ll find specially crafted cocktails. Even better? Each of these fantastic cocktails will be available ALL DAY (not just during happy hour!) and cost you a mere $5!

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Here are all the participating locations:

Alberta Street Pub
Bar Maven
Bit House Saloon
Biwa
Bluehour
C Bar
Clinton Street Pub
Conquistador Lounge
Crow Bar
Dots Cafe
Double Dragon
Doug Fir Lounge
Driftwood Room
Elvis Room
Fifth Quadrant
Gold Dust Meridian
HOME, A Bar
Le Bistro Montage and La Merde Lounge
Liberty Glass
Limelight Restaurant and Lounge
Low Brow Lounge
Loyal Legion Pub
The Lutz Tavern
Night Light Lounge
Noraneko
Oaks Bottom Public House
Proof•Reader
Rae's Lakeview Lounge
The Rambler
Senate
Slow Bar
Smokehouse Tavern
Tilt (Pearl)
Tryst
Valentines
The Wayback
White Owl Social Club
Wilfs
Xico

Stay tuned to the Highball Facebook event and Blogtown for announcements of all the delicious drink recipes—then plot your strategic course and set sail on a river of Portland booze starting March 19!


Celebrate This Valentine's Day with Local R&B

R.LUM.R. Wed 2/14 Doug Fir
R.LUM.R. Wed 2/14 Doug Fir Nolan Knight

I don’t want to break any more hearts, but... despite my writing a column dedicated to the local hip-hop scene, hip-hop is not my favorite genre. I listen to a lot of hip-hop and rap, yes, but nothing tickles my fancy quite like some smooth R&B, rough R&B, or anything resembling soul music. Whether it’s ’90s or contemporary R&B, alt-R&B, indie R&B, neo-soul, or the poorly named PBR&B, it’s more than likely I’ll at least mildly enjoy it.

Lucky for me, Portland’s R&B scene has been blossoming beautifully over the past few years: Soul’d Out Music Festival lineups continue to impress, Tyus keeps releasing quality stuff via Warner Bros. (including his newish EP Phases), and then of course there’s Blossom, whose artistic growth has been a joy to watch. Though unfortunately our local Queen B isn’t playing a show on V-day this year, Blossom recently announced that she’s partnering with No Vacancy Lounge, where she’ll live out her longtime dream of being a resident jazz singer.

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10 Songs for Nursing Your Valentine's Day Heartache

This guy gets it
This guy gets it Wavebreakmedia / Getty Images

Heartbreak is a universal condition—almost everybody's been brutally dumped or cheated on or humiliated when love goes unrequited. There are so many different ways to hurt! And so many different ways to soundtrack that hurt. Valentine's Day is traditionally a holiday when lovestruck jerks get to rub their happiness in everybody else's faces. But history has proven that love sucks eggs, so here are songs...

... For the apocalyptically heartbroken: Skeeter Davis, "The End of the World"
Sometimes breakups can throw your whole world off its axis—reality stops making sense, as illustrated by Skeeter Davis: "Why does the sun go on shining?/Why does the sea rush to shore?/Don’t they know it’s the end of the world/'Cause you don’t love me any more." Perfect for wallowing in your own melodrama.

... For the dumpers: Haim, "The Wire"
Rejection sucks, but rejecting someone also sucks. Haim's "The Wire" is the most uplifting kiss-off imaginable, with sunshiny hand-claps and lyrics about fumbling through a breakup monologue: "Well I know I know I know I know/That you're gonna be okay anyway."

... For the cheatin' hearts: Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty, "After the Fire Is Gone"
They know it's wrong for them to meet! But the fire's gone out at home, and there's nothin' cold as ashes after the fire is gone.

... For those despairing behind convincing facades: Bernadette Carroll, "Laughing on the Outside"
It's embarrassing to be sad in public! That's what makes the sentiment "I'm laughing on the outside/Crying on the inside/Cause I'm so in love with you" so relatable. Plus: excellent whistling action.

... For those caught in the eye of the storm: Charles Bradley, "Where Do We Go from Here"
First off, RIP to the Screamin' Eagle of Soul, who was truly the master of all matters concerning love and heartbreak. If your relationship's going to shit, this one's for you.

... For those who need to scream-sing: Heart, "What About Love?"
Do not underestimate the healing powers of the power ballad. The badass sisters of Heart know how to cross-examine a fickle lover, as proven by the lyric "Don't you want someone to care about you?" Well, don't you?

... For the desperate: Tom T. Hall, "That's How I Got to Memphis"
I often prefer to lick my wounds to whiskey-soaked country songs, like Tom T. Hall's "That's How I Got to Memphis." I don't love that it's about a guy following his ex to another city—obviously she wanted to get the hell away from you, dude—but his desperation is relatable for anybody who's ever held onto the last thread of an unraveling relationship.

... For when you're "fine": Gwen Stefani, "Cool"
"Cool" is peak Gwen, the undisputed queen of public breakups, who wrote many a screed about her ex, No Doubt bassist Tony Kanal, while they were still in the band together (also see: "Ex-Girlfriend"). But "Cool" is about being friends with your ex, and letting the nostalgia coexist alongside the lingering heartbreak ("I'll be happy for you if you can be happy for me"). It's very mature.

... For the bitter: The Magnetic Fields, "You Love to Fail"
Feeling bitter is okay too! It's totally valid to seethe in some self-righteousness (at least for a while). If that's your jam right now, you might find yourself silently fist-pumping to the lines "You only play the games that you know you can lose/You love to fail, that's all you love."

... For the waiters: Shannon and the Clams, "Corvette"
If you've ever wasted your time waiting around for someone to give two figs about you, the sultry doo-wop of Shannon and the Clams' "Corvette" might hit a nerve with you.

Lastly, a bonus for those of you who are blissfully in love: Donnie and Joe Emerson, "Baby" (Warning: They sing the word "baby" 25 times in four minutes).

Here's the Mercury's full achy, breaky Valentine's Day playlist on Spotify:


Flexeril with a Fattie: How Does Cannabis Interact with Prescription Drugs?

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SageElyse / Getty

Numerous studies and countless personal testimonials confirm that cannabis can be an awesome replacement for a number of pharmaceuticals, and is positioned to be a powerful tool to combat the opioid crisis. It has far fewer side effects than most prescribed drugs, and you may insert your own munchies joke here.

But it's not always a great idea to use cannabis and pharmaceuticals together, as there can be unintended interactive effects. And most of us aren't going to ask our prescribing physician if it's cool to take a dab hit with our flu meds, even if that seems like a fine idea when said flu has us praying for the sweet release of death.

Thankfully, there is a site that can help you sort of this quandary.

The straightforwardly named Drugs.com has a section specifically dedicated to helping users determine if the drugs doled out by your doctor play well with what your budtender recommends. The site states that there are "602 drugs (4272 brand and generic names) that are known to interact with cannabis," including 128 major interactions (904 brand and generic names) and 474 moderate interactions (3368 brand and generic names).

I'm no mathpert, but that seems like quite a few, right? Also, there are at least 4272 brand and generic drugs? Dear god...

Type the name of a drug into the search bar, and the results list the potent drug interactions, broken down into four categories: Major, Moderate, Minor, and Unknown.

THIS IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR TALKING WITH YOUR DOCTOR. Rather, it's a tool to give you information, which as we know, is power. That said, I'm not certain Drugs.com is exactly pro cannabis, as they have a section which asks and answers: "What are Illicit (street) drugs? Illicit drugs means illegal drugs, which are sold on the street. Illicit drugs generally have high addictive potential, are abused and cause harm." They classify cannabis as such a drug, even though the majority of Americans now have access to cannabis through state-run medical and recreational cannabis programs. Get woke, Drugs.com.

But elsewhere on the site are 11 reviews for cannabis, with a user rating averaging 9.9 out of a possible score of 10, and reviewers sharing their experiences using cannabis successfully for conditions ranging from anxiety to stage 3 cancer treatments. Ah, the wonder of the internet.


Sorry, Citizen Kane! Black Panther Is the Best Movie Ever!

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Marvel movies get a bad rap for their cheesy dialogue, disjointed plots, and truly absurd, CGI-crowded battle scenes. But you never know when they’ll drop a gem. Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther is one huuuge gem, and comes closer to achieving truth and realness in its story than any Marvel film has before. Fully embracing its Blackness, the film smartly toes the line between history and fantasy.

Black Panther kicks off with a short explainer on Wakanda, a secretive African nation whose mountains contain a super-powerful metal, vibranium. The substance is key to all of Wakanda’s technological advancements—it’s laced into their clothes, weapons, and vehicles. But even as vibranium enabled Wakanda to become a techtropolis, it also led the country to isolate itself.

Then the film really kicks off, beginning in 1992 Oakland, where a Wakandan spy (Sterling K. Brown) concludes his nation’s isolationist ways are allowing other African descendants to suffer from poverty, over-policing, and high incarceration rates: “Our people suffer,” he says, “because they don’t have the tools to fight back.”

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