May 17, 2022

Highlights of Biden’s Address to Congress; 2021 NFL draft begins; Kodak Black Avoids Jail Time; Anthony Alvarez was armed when shot by Chicago Police; Vegan restaurant in Chicago attracts a crowd

Highlights of Biden’s first Presidential Address to Congress

President Joe Biden’s 36 years in the Senate and eight years as vice president allowed him to attend numerous State of the Union and joint addresses to Congress. This Wednesday’s Address focused on the President’s accomplishments since he took office and pitched ahead to his plans.

Biden emphasizes that federal investments are necessary to compete with China. He called on Congress to pass is spending required to compete with emerging countries like China. The funding is for the improvement of infrastructure for drinking water and the modernization of the energy grid. The spending is part of the administration’s American Jobs Plan proposal, which he termed as the “blue-collar blueprint to build America.”

Tax Hikes were also a significant undertaking in the Biden Administration. The President pitched his plan to raise taxes on wealthy Americans and corporations— to cover the estimated $4 trillion in federal spending he is proposing. He believes these are investments that should be made together as one country, and only the government can make them. 

Another highlight of the speech is the achievement of the vaccination goal on his first 100 days in office. Along with his COVID-19 response program is the passage of the $1.9 trillion COVID-relief packages that sent aids to qualified Americans. He praised his administration’s pandemic initiatives as one of the most outstanding logistical achievements of the US.

The speech also mentioned the controversial Border Crisis, where Mr. Biden called on Congress to pass the immigration plans he released on his first day in office. But that proposal lacked the increased border security that Republicans have sought in exchange for legalization. He claimed he is willing to work on a piecemeal approach to include the protection of farmworkers and Dreamers.

As a moderate Democrat, the President reiterated that he welcomes Republican ideas on his antipoverty and infrastructure proposals and would continue to meet with members of the opposing party in the Oval Office. He also appealed to the Republicans to work hand in hand with Democrats to find a consensus on pressing police reforms and policies.

The speech lasted for about 4 hours, without the fanfare of a huge crowd. The audience of 200 attendees wore masks, socially distanced, and seated three seats apart. It was also a historical moment where a President had two women seated behind him – Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “Madam Speaker, Madam Vice President. No president has ever said those words, and it’s about time.” He gleefully greeted them.

2021 NFL draft begins in Cleveland Today

The host city of Cleveland has installed the final pieces of fencing and has set up the last of the picnic tables downtown by Wednesday evening in preparation for the NFL draft that begins Thursday. The 2021 NFL draft event will run from Thursday, Apr 29, to Saturday, May 1.

Setting up this momentous event in Cleveland was paying homage to this old football town and its active fan base. Not being able to host a Super Bowl, the NFL Draft is the next best thing, according to an avid football fan native to Cleveland. Cleveland was highly honored to host the event. The gesture made by the NFL is a token to the city. The lakefront setup sits between the FirstEnergy Stadium and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The festive mood and the entire scene also serve as a symbol of America slowly returning to normalcy after a devastating COVID-19 pandemic. 

The NFL is expecting 50,000 fans every day through the three-day event. The venue will include three different viewing areas, and the fans will be witnessing a prestigious NFL Experience. In the general downtown area, the streets, parks, sidewalk bars are expecting thousands of locals and visitors from all over the country. Local businesses have fully stocked their inventories and have maximized their outdoor dining areas to make up for the loss of income during the pandemic.

Last year, commissioner Roger Goodell had to host the NFL draft from the basement of his home. The NFL followed all the pandemic protocols and restrictions. And the commissioner’s famous chair used during the broadcast will be flown to Cleveland as a symbol of how far everyone has come.

Despite the threat of rain on Thursday’s Opening Night, everybody is determined to bring the nation’s most popular entertainment league back. The scene will look like COVID-19 has never happened. The pandemic is not over, but the party is about to begin. And the NFL is throwing a huge one in the streets of Cleveland, where dreams of a Super Bowl fuel the eternal passion of the fans towards football.

Kodak Black Avoids Jail Time After a Plea Deal in a Sexual Assault Case

On Wednesday, Bill Kahan Kapri, famously known as Kodak Black, 23, entered into a plea deal for a case where he allegedly assaulted a teenage girl in Florida in 2016. The American rapper attended a sentencing hearing at Florence County Clerk of Court, where he pleaded guilty to a lesser sentence of first-degree assault and battery. Black was arrested in November of 2016, as the court records show, and he posted a $100,000 bond on December 1, 2016, for his release.

According to the court records, the charge of first-degree sexual misconduct was the felony filed against the rapper. Under the plea deal, he will be under 18 months probation. Without the plea deal, the rapper will be facing ten years in jail. As a part of the plea agreement that the victim subsequently agreed to, Black will be taking accountability for the harm he caused, and he should issue an apology to the victim.

Ed Clements, the 12th Circuit Solicitor, mentioned that the rapper spoke to the victim who appeared on video, “I apologize to Miss [Jane Doe] and am hopeful we can all move forward. I wish her the best in her life.”

The rapper’s attorneys Beattie Ashmore and Clements did not immediately respond to the media’s request for comment. Billboard reported that the alleged sexual assault of a teenage girl happened in a hotel room in Florence County after the rapper’s club performance. In April 2019, Black also faced more time in federal prison after being arrested for weapon and drug possession. He was supposed to be jailed for 46 months until former President Donald Trump granted him clemency in January of 2021.

“I Want To Thank The President @RealDonaldTrump For His Commitment To Justice Reform And Shortening My Sentence. I Also Want To Thank Everyone For Their Support And Love,” Black tweeted on January 21. “It Means More Than You Will Ever Know. I Want To Continue Giving Back, Learning And Growing.” Kodak Black wrote on his Twitter. He gained recognition in 2014 when his single “No Flockin” was released. 

Anthony Alvarez was armed when fatally shot by a Chicago Police Officer

Video footage of the shooting of Anthony Alvarez was released on Wednesday by the agency that investigates CPD officers’ uses of force, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA). On Tuesday, Alvarez’s family and their attorneys viewed the videos at COPA’s office in West Town. The footage showed a foot chase on the Northwest Side last month, where Alvarez was running away from the police with a gun in his hand when a Chicago officer fatally shot him.

The footage released showed Alvarez leaving a gas station at the corner of Addison Street and Laramie Avenue in the early morning of March 31. While walking through the parking lot, an unmarked CPD SUV quickly pulled up. Alvarez immediately drops a bag he was carrying, and he then runs toward Eddy Street. The two officers then chased him on foot. Alvarez turned west onto Eddy Street, but he tripped and lost his footing. After stumbling to the ground, he stands back up, and the video clearly shows that he was holding a cellphone in his left hand and a gun in his right hand. As Alvarez stood back up, one of the officers yelled to him to drop the weapon before firing five shots at Alvarez. 

The officer who shot Alvarez then informed the police dispatcher that the police fired shots, and they needed an ambulance at the shooting site. Security footage from the vicinity shows officers performing chest compressions before the ambulance arrived. Alvarez died at Illinois Masonic Medical Center shortly after. During a press conference at CPD headquarters, following the release of the footage, Supt. David Brown declined to reveal why the police were pursuing Alvarez in the first place. Authorities have disclosed very sparse details about what instances led to the chase and the fatal shooting. 

The Alvarez family’s attorneys and Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a joint statement: “Both parties are acutely aware of the range of emotions that will accompany the release of these materials, and we collectively issue this statement and ask that those who wish to express themselves do so peacefully and with respect for our communities and the residents of Chicago.”

Vegan restaurant in Chicago, Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat attracts a crowd

Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat, a Chicago Vegan restaurant, is getting the crowd’s attention in the Hyde Park neighborhood. The line of customers extends out into the street just minutes after it opened. Then Tabitha Brown, a vegan social media influencer with millions of followers on TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, showed up.

Brown was finding out what many local music artists, actors, and plant-based connoisseurs already knew: Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat was changing the game in Chicago with meatless versions of fast-food favorites.

“She literally had the restaurant shut down – 200 tickets coming in at one time for egg rolls,” said chef and owner Laricia Chandler Baker.

The Vegan food outlet became so popular, and they had to open a second location in Orland Park just two years after they opened their first store. Laricia Chandler Baker, also called “Chef Fab,” started Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat soon after she and her family adopted a vegetarian diet. She reimagined comfort food favorites like cheeseburgers, Italian beef sandwiches, and pizza puffs into meatless snacks that impressed her friends and acquaintances.

“I’m just so humbled, and sometimes I want to cry. People really love my food! People’s first phrase would be ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe this isn’t meat,'” she said. “So I’m like, we should do a restaurant and call it ‘Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat. “Just to be able to change a person’s lifestyle, the way they eat, and to become a better person, it just feels so great,” “People literally order like five at a time,” Baker said.

Chef Fab’s cravings inspired the restaurant’s menu. She was five months pregnant when first getting the restaurant off the ground. “The Big Mik,” a vegan take on a fast-food giant’s famous burger, is a best seller. As an African-American woman and business owner, Baker is proud of her efforts to create a healthier alternative to fast food in her neighborhood.

To check out the current Vegan Menu of Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat, visit cantbelieveitsnotmeat.com.