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A TV creator criticizes a 44-year-old U.S. policy to the president's face, and Obama mostly agrees.

"The way we treat non-violent drug crimes is problematic, and from a fiscal perspective, it's breaking the bank."

A TV creator criticizes a 44-year-old U.S. policy to the president's face, and Obama mostly agrees.

"It's draconian, and it doesn't work," Simon told the president.

That was "The Wire" creator David Simon in a video posted to the White House YouTube channel about the war on drugs. Simon and President Barack Obama engaged in a candid, personal conversation.

Simon spent years as a Baltimore police reporter before he began writing for TV. His experience makes him uniquely qualified to have this kind of discussion.


There was something special about this meeting. After all, it's not everyday that a sitting president invites someone to the White House to criticize a 44-year-old national policy.

Though "The Wire" wrapped up its final season before Obama took office, its commentary on the effect of the war on drugs is as relevant as ever.

The series gave viewers a look inside the world of crime and presented it in a way much less black and white than other shows; the line between good and evil was especially blurry. In Simon's world, corruption was everywhere, including the police.

With so many highly publicized cases of police brutality and killing of unarmed black men going on, it's really easy to begin to see reality leak through the show's fiction.

When he was a state legislator, Obama noticed the negative side effects brought on by the war on drugs.

Instead of rehabilitating criminals, the current system is set up to make people even more likely to commit a crime once they're released. It's broken.

Simon spoke frankly, telling the president that the current system places offenders as "permanently part of the other America and can't be pulled back."

After being released from prison, many people convicted of crimes find that their pre-prison lives have been pretty much washed away. This isn't exactly an ideal way to rehabilitate and reintegrate people back into society. But that's kind of the point: The war on drugs is about locking people up for as long as possible and isn't usually all that concerned about in what condition people are released back.

There are arguments from both the political left and right for putting an end to the drug war.

The current system is ethically dubious, unfairly targets people of color, ineffective, and unbelievably costly. Though Democrats and Republicans alike have criticized the policy, it remains in place.

"What we're doing is counterproductive," Obama said, noting that we spend so much time and money keeping non-violent drug offenders in jail rather than focusing on education.

If so many agree this isn't working, why don't we change it?

From an administrative point of view, President Obama says that Attorney General Eric Holder has been working with prosecutors and their offices in an effort to change how they prosecute these crimes. However, he concedes that unless Congress takes action on their end, things aren't likely to change.

"Ultimately, we're going to need legislation, and that's where awareness comes in handy," he said.

Watch this really interesting, personal conversation between President Obama and David Simon below:


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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Yamiche Alcindor/Twitter, U.S. Department of State

It takes a lot to push a career diplomat to quit their job. A diplomat's specialty, after all, is diplomacy—managing relationships between people and governments, usually with negotiation and compromise.

So when the U.S. special envoy to Haiti, whose "diplomatic experience and demonstrated interagency leadership have been honed directing several of the United States government's largest overseas programs in some of the world's most challenging, high-threat environments," decides to resign effective immediately, it means something.

Daniel Foote, who was appointed special envoy to Haiti in July of this year, explained his decision to quit in a strongly-worded letter to Secretary of State Blinken. His resignation comes in the wake of a wave of Haitian migrants arriving at the southern U.S. border and widespread reports of harsh treatment and deportations.

"I will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs in control of daily life," he wrote. "Our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed, and my recommendations have been ignored and dismissed, when not edited to project a narrative different from my own."

Foote went on to describe the dire conditions in Haiti:

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