The NAACP is defending this white judge after his shocking statement about the KKK.
Judge Wayne Shelton/Tennessee Courts

During a murder trial in Tennessee, Judge Wayne Shelton made a statement to the defendant that has drawn equal parts outrage and praise.

"I grew up in a time where people wore white robes and they shot at black people, and now we see young, black men wearing black hoodies shooting at black men and doing a much more effective job than the klan ever thought about doing," Judge Shelton, who is white, told defendant Vincent Merriweather, who is black.

Merriweather is accused of murdering another black man with gunshot to the head after the two reportedly got into an argument during a basketball game.


After Judge Shelton’s comments were first reported there was an instant backlash on social media, with people accusing him of being racist and insensitive.

However, one person who disagrees is Jimmie Garland, head of the local Clarksville branch of the NAACP.

"My initial reaction was, he was on point," Garland said. "He's telling the young people, 'Stop killing yourself. Stop doing the job that, back in the early 30's and 20's and 10's, they did wearing robes and wearing pointed caps. You don't have to do that.'"

Defenders of Shelton’s comments say he told Merriweather during the trial that “black lives matter” and that he was “tired” of seeing black people killing each other.

Judge Shelton reportedly made similar comments during a case in 2015 when he told a defendant:

“What a horrible tragedy this is,” he said. “Black lives matter… The Klan doesn’t exist anymore. Who doesn’t care about black lives now? I’ll let you answer that. I’m tired of black men killing black men. If I offended anyone … I can’t help it.”

Shelton said he isn’t ethically allowed to comment on his remarks because of judicial guidelines preventing him from making “off the bench” commentary. But a number of local activists weighed in both in favor and against his remarks.

One of the most interesting comments came from local black activist Terry McMoore, who said that while he didn’t support the way Shelton made his remarks, he also claims to know Shelton personally and defended his reputation against accusations of racism:

"I do know that he had no malice intent at all toward black people, and I know his intentions were good and genuine,” McMoore said.

"Again I don't think that Judge Shelton meant any harm in what he said, but next time let's use regular words, regular dialogue and not popular phrases or quotes to say what we really want to say about all crime as a whole," McMoore added in an interview with the Leaf Chronicle.

Lainey and baby goat Annie. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse
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Oftentimes, the journey to our true calling is winding and unexpected. Take Lainey Morse, who went from office manager to creator of the viral trend, Goat Yoga, thanks to her natural affinity for goats and throwing parties.

Back in 2015, Lainey bought a farm in Oregon and got her first goats who she named Ansel and Adams. "Once I got them, I was obsessed," says Lainey. "It was hard to get me off the farm to go do anything else."

Right away, she noticed what a calming presence they had. "Even the way they chew their cud is relaxing to be around because it's very methodical," she says. Lainey was going through a divorce and dealing with a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis at the time, but even when things got particularly hard, the goats provided relief.

"I found it impossible to be stressed or depressed when I was with them."

She started inviting friends up to the farm for what she called "Goat Happy Hour." Soon, the word spread about Lainey's delightful, stress-relieving furry friends. At one point, she auctioned off a child's birthday party at her farm, and the mom asked if they could do yoga with the goats. And lo, the idea for goat yoga was born.

A baby goat on a yoga student. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse

Goat yoga went viral so much so that by fall of 2016, Lainey was able to quit her office manager job at a remodeling company to manage her burgeoning goat yoga business full-time. Now she has 10 locations nationwide.

Lainey handles the backend management for all of her locations, and loves that side of the business too, even though it's less goat-related. "I still have my own personal Goat Happy Hour every single day so I still get to spend a lot of time with my goats," says Lainey. "I get the best of both worlds."

Lainey with her goat Fabio. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse

Since COVID-19 hit, her locations have had to close temporarily. She hopes her yoga locations will be able to resume classes in the spring when the vaccine is more widely available. "I think people will need goat yoga more than ever before, because everyone has been through so much stress in 2020," says Lainey.

Major life changes like Lainey's can come around for any number of reasons. Even if they seem out of left field to some, it doesn't mean they're not the right moves for you. The new FOX series "Call Me Kat", which premieres Sunday, January 3rd after NFL and will continue on Thursday nights beginning January 7th, exemplifies that. The show is centered around Kat, a 39-year old single woman played by Mayim Bialik, who quit her math professor job and spent her life's savings to pursue her dreams to open a Cat Café in Louisville, Kentucky.

Jeff Harry started making similar moves when he was just 10-years-old, and kept making them throughout his life. After seeing the movie "Big,"Jeff knew he wanted to play with toys for a living, so he started writing toy companies asking for next steps. He finally got a response when he was a sophomore in high school — the company told him he needed to become a mechanical engineer first.

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Katie Schieffer is a mom of a 9-year-old who was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after spending some time in the ICU. Diabetes is a nuisance of a disease on its own, requiring blood sugar checks and injections of insulin several times a day. It can also be expensive to maintain—especially as the cost of insulin (which is actually quite inexpensive to make) has risen exponentially.

Schieffer shared an emotional video on TikTok after she'd gone to the pharmacy to pick up her son's insulin and was smacked with a bill for $1000. "I couldn't pay for it," she says through tears in the video. "I now have to go in and tell my 9-year-old son I couldn't pay for it."

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Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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In strange-but-true news, the last known surviving spouse of a Civil War veteran just died last month.

How is that even possible? The U.S. Civil War took place from 1861 to 1865, and no one who survived the war is still alive. However, there are two things that make it possible: 1) As much as we might like to imagine that Americans fighting over the right to own Black people was super ancient history, the Civil War was just 160 years ago. That's two 80-year-olds living back to back. 2) Some people live long lives and have unlikely marriages, which makes for fascinating historical stories like this one.

Helen Viola Jackson died December 16 at age 101. She was 17 when she married 93-year-old James Bolin, a widower who had served as a private in the 14th Missouri Cavalry of the Union army, in 1936.

A 17-year-old marrying a 93-year-old definitely raises some eyebrows, but the story is actually kind of sweet.

A statement shared by the Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival offers context to the union:

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Nearly a year into the deadliest pandemic in a century, the U.S. is still battling not only the virus, but Americans living in denial of reality as well.

Take this video of a group of anti-maskers who stood in front of a Trader Joe's entrance and tried to argue that they had every right to shop there without masks. The woman narrating the video states that they have "a right to commerce" (they don't—there's literally no such right), that Trader Joe's doesn't have the right to require masks (they do—it's their store), that the mandate to wear masks in public places can't be enforced because it's not a real law (it can—), and that they were not there to demonstrate, but just to buy groceries (umm, right).

The manager, to his credit, did what he could to calmly talk with these people while also making it clear that they were not going to enter the store without a mask.

"The point you're trying to make isn't going to be made with us," he said. "It can be made with your government...I am not here to debate policy. I totally respect for you to think anything you want to think...my job, as manager of the store is to enforce the mandate, whether you believe in it or not."


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