Don’t Forget to Fact Check!

This is just a friendly reminder that just about every news source nowadays is quite biased and might not be bringing you all the facts. We are so fortunate to live in the age of the internet, to live in a time when we can have all the TRUE facts at our fingertips. One of the times that fact-checking is most important is in political news. It is important to know that opposing candidates and biased news sources will report false facts about a candidate who just might be the best person for the job.

I’ll provide a personal example. There is a rather large newspaper in the Inland Empire, The Press Enterprise and quite frankly it does not report the FACTS on any issue. Instead of news, it prints the opinions of the writers and the owners of the paper. I find it hard to read this particular newspaper because I know that much of what I am reading is false and/or opinion. This is unacceptable and it brings into question the integrity of professional journalism today. Forget about the Brian Williams scandal, it happens every day in newspapers and on TV news programs across the nation.

TV is a breeding ground for biases and misinformation and we see it all the time on Fox News and MSNBC. Somewhere in the middle of Fox and MSNBC is the truth, THAT is what we must follow and believe. It’s sad that shows like Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, shows of the comedy and parody genres, actually present the news more realistically than actual news programming. They’re great shows and the way they use parody and satire to get their audiences to see the TRUTH is amazing, but audiences should be able to access factual news on every news show and news network in the country.

So next time you’re watching or reading the news and find a story suspicious, just GOOGLE IT!


Pope Francis, a Saint in the Making

Pope Francis has got to be the most forward-thinking person to ever hold the papal authority. Everything he has done for the Catholic church has only made it stronger and he serves as a shining  example of how to always consider love before anything else when interacting with other humans. Pope Francis has proven that he is the best person to lead the church away from hundreds of years of corruption, over-spending and close-mindedness. His efforts to rebrand the Catholic church as one that focuses on love and peace are truly remarkable. Before I continue, and in case you have forgotten just what is so historic about him so far, let’s review some of the Pope’s highlights over the past two years:

  • He is the first Latin American Pope in over 1,000 years and the first from the Americas.
  • He refused to live in the Papal Apartment and opted to live in a Vatican hotel suite instead. He then began auctioning off items from the apartment among other papal possessions to benefit the homeless.
  • He is known to sneak out of Vatican City from time to time to feed the homeless.
  • He is open to gays in the church and supports civil unions.
  • He has been a strong fighter against child abuse in the catholic church.
  • He has reformed the church’s spending habits, being a very anti-frivolous spender. He even cut Vatican employee bonuses and has redirected those funds towards benefiting the homeless.

And his latest announcement came just this week. He has spoken out against sexism and has demanded that women around the world be paid equal wages to men for equal work. It appears Pope Francis is “leaning in” and joining the fight for global women’s rights. This is revolutionary, I’m sure he’s making all of his predecessors turn in their graves with his progressive reforms to church policies.

Pope Francis is a champion for change on a global scale. He has called out everyone who refuses to love humanity and the environment. Pope Francis has even met with atheists, and has declared that they should be respected by all Christians as long as they are good people (but that pretty much goes for every person and every group according to the Pope).

This Fall, he will be making a trip to the United States. Although I’m not Catholic, I would love to attend his Mass and witness this trailblazer in person.


“Clear” is a Pretty Dark Place

Imagine being sucked into a group of people who welcome you like you’ve never been welcomed before. They convince you that if you give them all your money they will make your wildest dreams come true. They convince you to tell them all your secrets, you even allow them to implant false memories in your mind and pass them off as the truth, your inner most sacred thoughts on your past life. This process allows you to feel “clear.” As you move up the ranks of the organization you get your hands on “top secret” information about past “intergalactic civilizations” and you gain access to knowing the “truth.” But the “truth” is nothing more than a bad, drawn out science fiction story and you’ve committed your life to it. Sound confusing? I think so too.

This is the dream of L. Ron Hubbard and all of his followers are living it in the church of Scientology. Hubbard was a master manipulator and somehow he got away with it. All this and more is told in the HBO Documentary Going Clear. I had the opportunity to watch this documentary last night, and although it was a bit too long, the information brought forth in it is absolutely undeniable.

From what Going Clear presents, Hubbard was only looking for a get rich quick scheme. He ran with it, and ended up going crazy in the process. From tax evasion to slavery in prison camps, the documentary reveals the dirty ways in which the Church of Scientology keeps its power through brainwash and blackmail. The celebrity of the organization is what traps so many people. Celebrities like John Travolta, Kirstie Alley and Tom Cruise keep Scientology’s secrets. They go around and claim that the institution is the greatest belief system, the greatest thing to ever happen to them. And although it is believed that they are coaxed into making these types of statements, we will never really know until one of them tells the world. It would take a celebrity like one (or a few) of them to start the fall of Scientology.

What is so scary about Scientology, if what it stated in Going Clear is correct, is that everything that is shown (“auditing,” belief in “intergalactic civilizations,” worshiping of L. Ron Hubbard, violent beatings by Scientology leader David Misgavige, etc.) is known and perfectly accepted by Scientologists. It either doesn’t phase them or Scientology has so much “dirt” on your life and secrets that everyone is afraid to stand up and revolt.

As I stated before, Going Clear is a bit long but I would rank it as one of the most eye-opening documentaries along with Food Inc., Miss Representation, and PBS’ docu-series Latino Americans.


THE Interview: One That Will Go Down in History

It’s been all the talk on TV and Social Media since it aired on ABC’s 20/20 last Friday night, and the Bruce Jenner interview with Diane Sawyer has proved to be an interview that will go down in history as one that will teach lessons, one that will break down barriers, and one that will save lives. Bruce Jenner’s last interview as Bruce and he prepares to become “her.”

At age 65, Bruce Jenner, “the World’s Greatest Athlete,” has decided it’s time to come out as transgender and complete the process to become a woman. At age 65, Jenner states that he does not want to die as someone other than who he really is. When the interview begins, the audience can see how nervous and emotional Jenner is. Even though his emotions are evident, Jenner is able to stay strong and explain life as a transgender perfectly.

Going into the interview, the media speculated on what it would do to Jenner’s image. After the interview, the message was clear: Jenner is HUMAN. Not a freak, not gay or straight. Bruce Jenner is human. Bruce Jenner did not wake up one day and decide he wanted to be a woman, he woke up one day and realized that he has been living a lie his entire life. As Jenner explains, he has felt that he was a woman trapped in a man’s body since he was a young child. As I’ve said before, we’re all human and this topic can be hard to wrap your head around. Sawyer asks all the right questions and Jenner answers with all the right answers to explain the topic in a very understandable way.

Jenner is viewed as a hero of humanity in this interview, and if you haven’t watched it yet I highly recommend it. I finally found the interview online and watched it today, it is truly groundbreaking. It’s the story of a person trying to figure out how to be herself. Jenner has gone from being the world’s greatest athlete running away from the fear of society to a person who is running the race to become accepted as a woman.

This interview teaches us all what it is to be transgendered. This interview is going to save and empower so many transgendered lives. As I already mentioned, this special edition of 20/20 is a MUST WATCH. The whole world needs to watch the interview in which Bruce Jenner becomes a champion for change for America and the rest of the globe.


See You in CUBA


Late last year, President Obama announced that the United States would soon normalize its relationship with Cuba after over 50 years in which the U.S. and Cuba had virtually no relationship. The President then asked Congress to lift the trade embargo and more recently requested that Cuba be taken off the list of states that sponsor terrorism. This landmark decision was followed up with a historic meeting between President Obama and President Castro at a summit in Panama. I believe this to be a sign that the United States can let go of the past, a sign that we are a nation that believes in second chances. A new partnership with Cuba can be extremely beneficial for both nations.

After over 50 years, the United States and Cuba are talking on good terms again, there’s no telling what we can do for them and the same goes for what relations with Cuba can do for our economy. After all this time and with the Cold War long behind us, it just makes sense to make amends and start with a clean slate.

As the doors of Cuba open to the United States, people are rushing for the chance to visit the island country. From politicians to television shows, everybody wants in on this page of American history. Even a Broadcast and Photo Journalism class from Cal State Fullerton will be traveling to Cuba in the Fall semester to volunteer and observe life as a Cuban.

What intrigues me most about this entire reuniting with Cuba is thinking about all the events that had to happen behind the scenes before President Obama could announce that we would normalize relations. All the people involved from the Secretary of State to the messengers and the secrecy that had to be kept. Madam Secretary, which airs Sunday nights on CBS, reveals just how much happens unknown by the public before something major like this can occur. How many secret meetings had to be held before the two countries could come to an agreement?

Overall, I am excited about this new change in U.S. foreign affairs and I hope to have the chance to travel to Cuba someday!


I Love Riverside and You Should Too

When traveling around the country people have either heard of Riverside, CA or they haven’t. Based on my own experience, I would say about 65% of the time people from other states have heard of Riverside but do not consider it a “must visit” destination. I’m here to convince you why it truly is worth a visit, especially if you’re planning to visit Southern California for a few weeks.

To the people who live in Riverside, or close to it, I encourage you to take a good look at the city around you when driving down Mission Inn Avenue and take in the beauty. There are not many cities in the country that offer such a cozy feeling while also being surrounded with so many opportunities for adventure. Luckily for us, California has a very diverse landscape, geographically speaking. So we have hills and mountains along with rather flat regions. We have beautiful landscapes to view and perch our houses on as opposed to dry flat land that some of the other states in the southwest have to live with. We honestly don’t realize how spoiled we are, not only in SoCal but also in Riverside.

To anyone planning on travelling to Southern California, let me recommend that you choose to stay in Riverside. Not only are there plenty of things to do in the city or immediately outside of the city limits, Riverside is less than an hour from the mountains, less than an hour from the beach, less than an hour from the desert and about an hour from downtown Los Angeles. All of these destinations and the city of Riverside are worth visiting absolutely any time of the year.

Aside from the places you can visit in close proximity to Riverside, the city itself has things going on year round! If you’re in town between Thanksgiving and New Year’s the WORLD FAMOUS Festival of Lights at the Mission Inn is a tradition you should take part in at least once in your life! But even if it isn’t the holiday season, The Mission Inn has the best hotel and spa and has several dining options. Downtown is full of fun little businesses to visit and along with that, it has tons of nice little coffee shops. My new personal favorite is Molino’s Cuban Coffee Shop across the street from the Historic Mission Inn, if ever in town THAT’S where you should get your coffee after a morning or evening hike at Mount Rubidoux.

There’s a reason Forbes listed Riverside as the 8th coolest place to live in America. The city is filled with art and culture from the Fox Performing Art Center to the Riverside Metropolitan Museum. It is home to one of the best public universities, UC Riverside. And the best place to find authentic Mexican cuisine in a restaurant, Olivia’s. All these things and more make Riverside a special place to live. Whether it’s the beautiful Victorian houses that capture your heart or the perfect antique book you find at Downtowne Bookstore, you’re sure to love Riverside just as much as I do.

And to my family in Lubbock in the big TX, you may get mentioned on TV and in movies more than us, but we’re right down the road from where those TV shows and movies are made.


A Tribute to Soul Music, in Honor of Percy Sledge

Percy Sledge, a soul man in the truest sense, lost his battle with cancer today. He came from a time when music was all about soul. I’ve said this before, but I feel that most music of today’s world has lost its soul. And in some cases if modern music does have any soul it’s because it’s a complete rip off of music from the likes of Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson.

In honor of Percy, I’ve decided to discuss the ways in which soul music has changed over the years. There was a time when soul music was only considered “Black music” and today we have successful soul singers like Ed Sheeran. Soul music has crossed racial and generational barriers and continues to be the heart of music.

From Jennifer Hudson to Adele, several popular singers today have roots in soul music. It may get far less radio play than it did in the 50s, but soul music is still known and loved today.

You still get chills when you hear an incredibly soulful voice. I suppose what has changed most about music with soul is the lyric. The songs done by soulful singers are increasingly “pop” sounding, but the voice is still soul wrenching.

Yes, music with soul has changed since the days that Percy Sledge and Otis Redding ruled the airwaves but it still is at the heart of all R&B music and I believe Musiq Soulchild is the best example of that. If you haven’t heard his music yet, you MUST. He defines everything that R&B/Soul music should be today.

When Percy Sledge performed, he left his heart and SOUL on the stage. That’s inspiring. No matter what we do, whether we sing or dance or write, we should do it with all our heart and soul. We should leave all we have on the stage (whatever the “stage” may be for you). It’s important to live life with a passion for something, Percy did that and so should we.