Category Archives: News

COUNTDOWN: Biggest U.S. News Events of the 2010s

As we wrap up the decade and start a countdown towards welcoming a new one, the Michigan Herald Tribune staff wanted to look back at some of the most impactful events of the 2010s. While this list is not exhaustive, we believe it captures some of the most impactful events that have or are likely to shape our world in the decades to come. Here is our countdown of the biggest news events in the United States this decade.

11. Avengers: Endgame tops 2.8 billion as highest grossing film of all time. Endgame beat out the precious record-holder, Avatar. (2019)
No entertainment company dominated the decade like Marvel Studios and this 2019 film culminated a decade of dominance by becoming the highest grossing film of all time. The movie also broke the record for fastest to 2 billion in box office sales after just 11 days, breaking the previous mark held by Avatar (47 days).

10. CIA contractor, Edward Snowden, leaks news of widespread illegal National Security Agency data collection of American citizens. (2013)
Edward Snowden leaked what may have been the biggest governmental scandal of the decade when documents were released via Wikileaks detailing a widespread spy operation that warrantlessly collected data on American citizens.

9. UberCab launches its service in San Francisco, California. (2010)
The growth of the “gig economy” and ride-sharing apps changed the landscape and definition of public transportation across major US cities before spreading to communities across the nation. The popularity of such apps infiltrated to other industries and companies such as Airbnb, Lyft and VRBO to name a few.

8. Streaming Video Platforms (2010s)
Nothing has seemingly changed more than the consumption of video media in the United States over the last ten years. Video stores, theaters and cable tv have all receded into near obscurity over the last decade as Netflix, HULU, AmazonPrime, YouTube and various other companies have dominated the space.

7. Facebook becomes the world’s largest photo host. (2011)
Perhaps one of the biggest cultural paradigm shifts of the decade was the ubiquitous nature of social media. Proof of concept became increasingly clear when Facebook became the world’s largest photo host.

6. Rise of ISIS. (2014)
ISIS declared the establishment of its caliphate in 2014 during the second presidential term of Barack Obama, making waves across the middle east and beyond. By 2019, however, ISIS had been widely defeated in the region, leading President Donald Trump to announce that ISIS had been defeated as an established force.

5. Same sex marriage is made legal across all 50 states by Supreme Court decision. (2015)
The supreme court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges swiftly struck down gay marriage limitations across the United States. The decision followed the early part of the decade’s shift towards increasing LGBT rights and major politicians such as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton flipping camps to support the measure.

4. Election of Donald Trump as president over Hillary Clinton (2016)
In what may be the biggest upset in US political history, Donald Trump became the 45th president of the United States after overcoming 3% or less odds to attain the office in his bid against Hillary Clinton. Oddsmakers had a Clinton presidency riding at 97% or above in the days leading up to the election.

3. First cross country commercial freight delivery completed by self-driving semitruck. (2019)
While the institution of this change to American commerce may take several years to materialize. It is certain that this moment will be looked back on as a defining one in the history of the US and global economy. Self-driving commercial trucking is destined to shape industry in ways not unlike the invention of automobiles, themselves.

2. Raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound ends in assignation of al Qaeda’s top man.
Following the biggest story of the previous decade, the destruction of the World Trade Center Buildings on 9/11, a team of Navy Seals, known as Seal Team 6, underwent a daring late-night raid on a compound housing global terrorist figurehead, Osama bin Laden. The raid ended in the killing of bin Laden and the acquisition of valuable intelligence in the fight against global terror networks. (2011)

1. Amazon.com (2010s)
Nothing has likely shaped industry more than the growth of Amazon.com. The website has been an absolute juggernaut that expanded from a used book site to offering every product imaginable at the click of the mouse and free two-day shipping. The website singlehandedly has kept shippers such as UPS, FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service throughout the decade and even expanded into marketing its own products and services, which it now couples with its third party brands. Amazon has redrawn the entire map of the global economy and shaped the future for the foreseeable future.

Just Outside the List:
1. Donald Trump becomes first president to enter North Korea after meeting with Kim Jong Un in DMZ. (2019)
2. Hurricane Sandy makes landfall in NYC and other northeast cities. (2012)
3. Political movements: Occupy Wall Street (2011), TEA Party (2013), Black Lives Matter (2014), #MeToo (2017)
4. Mass Shootings/Terrorism: Boston Marathon Bombing (2013), Pulse Nightclub Shooting (2016), Las Vegas Shooting (2017), Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting (2012), Aurora Movie Theater Shooting (2012), Marjory Stoneman Douglas Shooting (2018).
5. Rise of “Fake News” term. (2016)
6. FISA abuses and FBI surveillance of the Trump presidential campaign. (2016-2019)
7. Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy in U.S. military (2011)

Congress & FDA Officially Limits Sale of Tobacco Products to 21+

In news that will shock many, anger some and confuse most, the Federal government has officially raised the legal purchase age of tobacco products in all 50 states to 21 years old.

The legislation follows other recent advancements on anti-tobacco advocacy with new restrictions being levied against so-called “vaping” products.

While many might agree with the result, the method is sure to turn heads. The massive nationwide turn was not passed after debate on the house and senate floor or with a bill titled the S.M.O.K.E. Act or some other kitschy acronym, commonplace in congressional legislative circles.

Instead, this incredible shift was passed as a part of a massive annual government spending bill. While “pork” or other line-items have been the standard in Washington for generations, this particular instance is sure to make Americans scratch their heads as the measure was snuck into a spending bill when the context of the move has nothing to do with annual appropriations.

Supporters of the move tend to lay their support at a general disapproval of the habit. Opponents seem to be a much more diverse crowd and is made up of smokers and non-smokers alike that point to the backdoor way legislation was passed into law via a spending bill and the odd dichotomy of an 18 year old being able to enlist in active duty military, something one could justifiably considered to pose a rather dangerous risk to their health, but forbade from purchasing alcohol or tobacco products due to their harmful effects.

Regardless of the feeling Americans may have regarding the intent of the legislation, it seems that the method Congress took to achieve it is likely to leave a bad taste in their mouth; perhaps far worse than that of tobacco smoke.

Michigan Democrats Propose Host of "Red Flag" Laws

Michigan Democrats in the state house and senate have proposed a spectrum of so-called “red flag” laws, which are being described as “extreme risk protection orders.” The charge for new state legislation is being led by democratic State Senator Rosemary Bayer of Beverly Hills.

Democratic State Representative Robert Wittenberg of Huntington Woods compares the red flag statutes to other parts of the Michigan judicial code, saying, “It’s similar to a personal protection order. Some of the same evidence can be used, like social media posts or other things like that.” Under some proposed legislation, a petition could be brought before a judge for review. If the judge decides against the individual at the center of the inquiry, weapons may be removed for up to a year.

Senator Bayer links her support to these proposals to a personal friend who committed suicide by firearm when she was a teenager. Similarly, proponents of the various legislation suggest the action would help prevent some violent crime and instances of suicide by those owning firearms.

Michigan democrats follow other states New York and Virginia that have made news lately with the passage of various new gun laws.

Virginia governor Ralph Northam recently passed a budget increase in the state corrections budget to account for the imprisoning of Virginians refusing to comply with the state’s weapon ban that requires forced confiscation or delivery by gun owners of certain types of firearms.

Opponents of red flag law legislation claim it is a violation of constitutional liberties provided by the 2nd and 4th amendments, since no actual criminal conviction or indictment is required to enact the state-sponsored removal.

Whether legislation will gain traction in either branch of the state congress is yet to be seen, but there is sure to be vocal support and opposition throughout the process by activist groups on both sides and legal challenges should any piece of legislation be signed into law by Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Small Town Rallies Around Local Family Following Unexpected Loss

As much of “small town America” is hollowed out with a resurgence of populations shifting back towards cities and their amenities, jobs, entertainment and the various other benefits that they provide, many might wonder why some resist the tidal urge and choose to remain part of their rural communities.

The dynamic is reminiscent of local news interviewing a hurricane hold-out that refuses to leave despite having every reason to pick up stakes and get out of dodge.

However, what is lost in the flash and glow of city lights are the things that people find so appealing about small-town America: cost of living, familiarity, multi-generational family businesses, low crime, good schools and perhaps most importantly, community.

In a small town, everyone is your neighbor. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that the small community of Kent City, Michigan came together to support one of their own after tragedy struck a local family.

Kent City is just about as deceiving a name as they come. The small town is comprised of an estimated population of just under 1,200 and land acreage that is populated with more apple trees than people.

In a town where everyone knows your name, events that might not rise to the level of front page news in Grand Rapids, a metropolitan area of over 1 million and just 15 miles south of Kent City, a small community can be rocked by them.

Local high school senior, Alex Solorio, passed away unexpectedly on November 25, 2019, just ten days after his 18th birthday.

Solorio, an avid soccer fan, played for the Kent City Eagle varsity soccer team and earned the sportsmanship award at the conclusion of their 2019 fall season. News of his passing impacted the greater Kent City and the local soccer communities that had come to know Alex over the years.

Just a little over a week later on December 4th, local pizzeria Papa Piccione’s, owned and operated by local and Kent City graduate, Jeff Sabin and his wife, decided to use their business to raise funds for the Solorio family in their time of mourning.

Sabin first began using his small business as a means to raise money for various causes in 2012. Since then, the pizza parlor has raised money for families in need, local sports programs and non-profits, and most recently the Solorio family. Sabin did not know the Solorio family personally, but in a small town everyone is your neighbor. Everyone is like family.

We reached out to Sabin to inquire what led him to host the fundraiser:

“I’m a local Kent City graduate and have two kids of my own, so this broke my heart deeply. I have a soft spot for my community and will help them any time I can.”

In the end the fundraiser topped at just over two thousand dollars over the course of the 12-hour day.

There is never “good” that comes out of the tragedy of losing such a young and beloved member of a small community like Kent City, but there can be love and that was on full display as neighbors came to support one of their own.

If there is one thing the residents of Kent City have shown this holiday season, it is that there is still something worth protecting in small town America.

Memorial donations may be made to the Kent City High School Soccer program.

The 100th Birthday of the Grand Rapids Santa Parade

There will be several reasons to celebrate during the Art Van Christmas parade this weekend, other than Santa’s early visit to Grand Rapids. This parade serves as a kickoff to the holiday season, and it happens to be the parade’s 100th birthday.

The parade started in 1919 as the Wurzburg’s Santa Clause Parade on Campau Square. Its main goal was to bring people in and excite them for holiday shopping. The parade was soon taken over by the Grand Rapids Jaycees.

It wasn’t until 2010 when Art Van Furniture joined the board for the parade, bringing a partnership with WoodTV8 to broadcast the event on live television.

The parade is currently the second largest in the state and competes with Detroit’s Thanksgiving parade. The event attracts about 30,000 individuals each year, and even more who watch the parade on live television.

Along with Santa’s early visit, promotions coordinator Wayne Bersano said that Miss Michigan 2019 Mallory Rivard will be making a special appearance.

The event is free for families and individual goers, and there will be time for a meet and greet with St. Nick after the parade. More information about the event can be found at https://www.santaparadegr.com/.

Santa Claus’ Early Visit to Grand Rapids

There is simply no better way to kick off the 2019 holiday season than the annual Grand Rapids Santa Parade. This year’s parade will mark the 100th year in a row that Santa Claus has come to town the Saturday before Thanksgiving and greeted the glittering eyes & bright smiles of children from Grand Rapids and beyond.

The “real” Santa Claus, known to those with the requisite North Pole clearances as Kraig Haybarker, is from Lowell, Michigan and resides there with his wife. His journey started in 2002 when two young kids met him at church and called him Santa because he literally resembled the jolly gift and joy giver.

He was then presented with the opportunity from the director of the Chamber of Commerce from Lowell to be their Santa during the holidays. Since then, he has completed studies at CWH Santa School and continues to spread joy wherever he goes.

When asked what the most rewarding part of his job was, Haybarker said the best part was obviously the kids and celebrating their innocence. All negative thoughts and troubles disappear in the moment when Haybarker meets children and their families, he said.

“Every visit I make is rewarding in its own way,” Haybarker stated. In his time as Santa, he has worked with hospice programs for young children and shared that he has attended funerals of kids he’s met while dressed in full Santa gear.

“It was the best way to honor them,” Haybarker said.

All parade attendees will have the opportunity to meet Haybarker as Santa on November 23 for the Grand Rapids 100th Anniversary Santa Parade. The parade is expected to start at 9 am. More details regarding the parade and tips for viewers and participants can be found at https://grkids.com/grand-rapids-santa-parade/.

ABC Anchor Details Epstein Story Being Spiked by Execs in Leaked Video

A shocking revelation swept online forums and, no doubt, corporate boardrooms at ABC this week as James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas group released leaked video of Good Morning America and 20/20 co-anchor, Amy Robach, making stunning accusations in August regarding editorial decisions at ABC as far back as 2016. Robach divulges distressing information of ABC’s alleged spiking of a story involving notorious pedophile and financier, Jeffrey Epstein, and several global power players, ranging from Prince Andrew to Bill Clinton.

Robach’s troubling claims in the video have been answered by defensive press releases from ABC, which aims to fight back against the onslaught of negative public reaction. ABC argues in the statement that the story did not rise to the required limits of their network’s journalistic standard, but continued to investigate in the past three years.

Robach informs her producer, sitting off screen in the video, that the Epstein story, which had just broke following his arrest in August was something she had long known and worked to expose at least as early as 2016. She alleges to have convinced Virginia Roberts (now Guiffre) to come forward and tell her story. She goes on to explain that Guiffre made several other pieces of corroborating evidence, including photographs, and witnesses available to ABC.

However, critics have been quick to point to a host of other recent stories that have seemingly passed ABC’s journalistic muster, only to be quickly debunked or presented by the outlet with little to no corroborating evidence (See: Jussie Smollet, Covington Catholic Students, Brett Kavanaugh accusers).

Further complicating the public perception of the story, the timeline of events detailed by Robach fall in line with the run up to the 2016 presidential election. Bill Clinton’s alleged involvement and Guiffre’s accusations cause additional concern that the story was dumped for less than ABC’s “journalistic standards.” As Robach mentions, “there were a lot of powerful men,” surrounding Epstein and this all seems to continue to stoke the fires of public conspiracy theories regarding Epstein’s pedophile ring and recent death.

Robach concludes by saying what many in professional circles and general public have argued in recent weeks: “Epstein did not kill himself.”

This story continues to develop and may pose serious legal problems for ABC. While the story may or may not have risen to the level of reporting from the anchor desk, it remains to be seen if these apparent victim statements and other pieces of evidence were turned over by ABC to the FBI or other law enforcement. The requirement to disclose even suspected incidences of child abuse to authorities is mandated by Federal and New York State law, though such laws may not always apply to journalists. Calls have been raised for ABC to release the interview in the wake of Epstein’s operation being roundly verified.

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