Sen. Chris Murphy's sobering mass shooting reality check will have you calling for action.

"The paralysis you feel right now — the impotent helplessness that washes over you as news of another mass slaughter scrolls across the television screen — isn’t real," wrote Sen. Chris Murphy.

"It's a fiction created and methodically cultivated by the gun lobby, designed to assure that no laws are passed to make America safer, because those laws would cut into their profits," the Connecticut Democrat continued.

As many other politicians followed the standard routine of blaming gun violence on mental illness and offering "thoughts and prayers" in the wake of yet another mass shooting — this one in a Sutherland Springs, Texas, church — Murphy issued a statement urging immediate and tangible action.


Murphy speaks out following the Pulse night club shooting in 2016. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

The reaction to this most recent shooting in Texas, which killed at least 26 churchgoers and injured 20 others, has become disturbingly routine.

The attack, reportedly carried out by 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley, came less than five weeks after the Las Vegas massacre (58 dead), 16 months after the Pulse night club shooting in Orlando (49 dead), and five years after the Sandy Hook shooting (27 dead). CNN's Brian Stelter called the Texas shooting "unfathomable," but a look at the regularity with which these massacres happen suggests otherwise.

Murphy, who was the congressman for the city of Newtown, Connecticut, during the Sandy Hook shooting, is urging us to take a look at these horrors for what they are: a part of American life that we can put an end to if we want to.

"None of this is inevitable," Murphy wrote. "I know this because no other country endures this pace of mass carnage like America. It is uniquely and tragically American. As long as our nation chooses to flood the country with dangerous weapons and consciously let those weapons fall into the hands of dangerous people, these killings will not abate."

The First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, following a shooting on Nov. 5, 2017. Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images.

Too many members of Congress are bought and paid for by the gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association. Murphy wants to change that.

In recent years, the NRA has gotten increasingly extremist in its positions and messaging. They count on people being too shocked to act, and they count on that to defer any sort of legislative solution to some undefined future time when it's no longer "disrespectful" to the victims to want to do something that will prevent there being future victims.

Murphy is calling on his colleagues to reconsider whether it's worth it to pander to the gun lobby at the cost of American lives. If they can't or won't do that — which you can find out by contacting your representative and senators to find out where they stand on the issue — it's up to everyday citizens to vote them out of office.

"The terrifying fact is that no one is safe so long as Congress chooses to do absolutely nothing in the face of this epidemic," Murphy concluded. "The time is now for Congress to shed its cowardly cover and do something."

Courtesy of Tiffany Obi
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With the COVID-19 pandemic upending her community, Brooklyn-based singer Tiffany Obi turned to healing those who had lost loved ones the way she knew best — through music.

Obi quickly ran into one glaring issue as she began performing solo at memorials. Many of the venues where she performed didn't have the proper equipment for her to play a recorded song to accompany her singing. Often called on to perform the day before a service, Obi couldn't find any pianists to play with her on such short notice.

As she looked at the empty piano at a recent performance, Obi's had a revelation.

"Music just makes everything better," Obi said. "If there was an app to bring musicians together on short notice, we could bring so much joy to the people at those memorials."

Using the coding skills she gained at Pursuit — a rigorous, four-year intensive program that trains adults from underserved backgrounds and no prior experience in programming — Obi turned this market gap into the very first app she created.

She worked alongside four other Pursuit Fellows to build In Tune, an app that connects musicians in close proximity to foster opportunities for collaboration.

When she learned about and applied to Pursuit, Obi was eager to be a part of Pursuit's vision to empower their Fellows to build successful careers in tech. Pursuit's Fellows are representative of the community they want to build: 50% women, 70% Black or Latinx, 40% immigrant, 60% non-Bachelor's degree holders, and more than 50% are public assistance recipients.

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Yesterday I was perusing comments on an Upworthy article about Joe Biden comforting the son of a Parkland shooting victim and immediately had flashbacks to the lead-up of the 2016 election. In describing former vice President Biden, some commenters were using the words "criminal," "corrupt," and "pedophile—exactly the same words people used to describe Hillary Clinton in 2016.

I remember being baffled so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

But none of that was true.

It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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via @Kingkeraun / Twitter

Keraun Harris, who goes by the name King Keraun, is a popular comedian on social media who's appeared as an actor on HBO's "Insecure" and ABC's "Black-ish."

On Monday, he posted a video on Twitter sharing the story of how a white woman had his back during a recent traffic stop.

"I just got pulled over, and for the first time, I watched a white woman record my whole traffic stop," she said.

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With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

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