Popular local business review and search site Angie’s List is canceling its expansion plans in response to Indiana’s “religious freedom” law.
Since the year after its 1995 founding, Angie’s List has been headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. The $315 million corporation which lets users review local businesses, especially home improvement professionals, has been planning a $40 million renovation of its own, moving its headquarters across town and adding 1000 new jobs over five years.
But thanks to state lawmakers and Republican Governor Mike Pence‘s new IndianaÂ Religious Freedom Restoration Act, those expansion plans have been canceled.
“Angie’s List is open to all and discriminates against none and we are hugely disappointed in what this bill represents,”Â CEO Bill Oesterle said in a statement today, adding, the expansion is “on hold until we fully understand the implications of the freedom restoration act on our employees, both current and future.”
The company’s statement notedÂ it “will begin reviewing alternatives for the expansion of its headquarters immediately.”
The IndyStar adds that Angie’s list “hinted that moving some parts of the company out of state is ‘on the table.'”
Oesterle has said in the past that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed Thursday by Gov. Mike Pence, was non-inclusive and would make it harder for the state’s companies to attract top talent.
Oesterle is well known in Republican and business circles, and he was former Gov. Mitch Daniels’ campaign manager in 2004.
The decision by Angie’s List to pull back its investment in Indiana is part of a huge and growing negative response from businesses and other financial interests across the country that do business or are based in Indiana, and other publicÂ individuals and entities,Â including the world’s largest and most-respected corporation, Apple, Inc., the City of San Francisco,Â the White House, Broadway’sÂ Audra McDonald, $4 billion software firmÂ Salesforce,Â $50 million annual gaming convention Gen Con, Fortune 500 member Cummins,Â Eskenazi Health, Eli Lilly and Co.,Â Yelp,Â Hillary Clinton,Â George Takei, Pat McAfee, Jason Collins,Â Ashton Kutcher, Miley Cyrus,Â James Van Der Beek, Sophia Bush, Dustin Lance Black,Â Mara Wilson,Â Jack Antonoff,Â the Mayor of Indianapolis, and the State of Indiana’s own tourism board.
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NY Summer Camp Bans Anyone Who Has Been Vaccinated — and Pushes COVID Vaccine ‘Biological Weapon’ Conspiracy
On Saturday, The Times of Israel reported that Camp Hikon, a planned Orthodox Jewish summer camp in upstate New York, has stated its plans to bar vaccinated children or counselors from the facility — and that their website is laden with conspiracy theories and misinformation about COVID-19.
Advertisements for Camp Hikon, planned for upstate New York, appeared on email listservs popular in the Orthodox Jewish community just days after a private school in Miami made news for discouraging teachers from getting the vaccine and telling children they were not to have contact with vaccinated people,” reported Shira Hanau. “The camp’s announcement also comes as posters encouraging people not to get the COVID-19 vaccines appeared in Midwood, Brooklyn, the Orthodox neighborhood where one member of the founding team runs a natural foods store.”
According to the report, the camp is a project of Brooklyn “health coach” Naftali Schwartz, who has “no formal training in medicine or public health.”
“Drawing on a debunked theory spread by the anti-vaccination movement, the camp’s website cites the ‘experimental nature’ of the COVID-19 vaccines,” said the report. “According to the false theory, living in close quarters with vaccinated people could ‘enhance’ the spread of the coronavirus. The website refers readers to a site called NutriTruth which claims vaccines are a ‘biological weapon,’ and to a livestreamed discussion between several notable anti-vaxxers.”
As of Saturday, no families have yet signed up their children for Camp Hikon.
Conservative religious groups have drawn national attention for their distrust of vaccines, as the effort to immunize the population from the coronavirus pandemic has revved up. Some right-wing religious leaders have even denied the existence of the pandemic itself. In evangelical circles, televangelist John Hagee proclaimed that “Jesus is the vaccine” — a claim that was roundly mocked after it was revealed he got the vaccine himself.
Image via Shutterstock
‘Shouting Into the Void’: Trump’s Social Media Launch Laughed Off by Experts
On Saturday, Business Insider profiled the ways that former President Donald Trump’s banishment from social media has affected the viability of his message on the national stage — and the halfhearted way he is trying to make up for what he has lost.
“Former President Donald Trump’s new ‘communication platform’ launched this week was widely mocked as little more than a ‘glorified blog,'” reported Thomas Colson. “The site — revealed on Tuesday — followed Trump’s longtime adviser Jason Miller promising that Trump would soon create a social media platform that would ‘completely redefine the game’ on social media.”
“‘A challenge for Trump is that the most effective online engagement requires interaction,’ Peter Loge, associate professor school of media and public affairs at the George Washington University, told Insider,” continued the report. “‘Fans want to feel as if they have a relationship with their favorite celebrity. These ‘parasocial relationships’ are what keep fans coming back and buying more stuff,’ he said. ‘At this point, Trump is just shouting into the void. He isn’t letting anyone shout back.'”
This week, Facebook’s independent oversight board, commonly referred to as the social network’s “Supreme Court,” upheld the former president’s ban from the platform following his conspiracy theories that contributed to the violent invasion of the U.S. Capitol. However, the board also urged Facebook to create more workable standards for issuing such bans, and revisit the Trump case in six months.
MAGA Students’ Attacks on LGBTQ Unity Week Met With Civil Rights Complaint Filed With Dept. of Education
A group of high school Democrats in South Dakota have filed an official complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Dept. of Education claiming their annual Unity Week events are under a “coordinated” attack by pro-Trump MAGA supporting students, and the school administration has refused to do anything to stop the bullying and targeted harassment.
South Dakota High School Democrats, representing students at Aberdeen Central High School, charge there is a “coordinated effort by certain students to target, harass, and bully those students celebrating the week.” In their complaint they also say “racist and homophobic slurs are openly spouted” at students, and there are images of these being spread on social media.
“They actively seek to target and harass the students while bringing their ‘religious’ and hateful beliefs to the forefront of student life,” the letter reads.
“The administration reportedly does ‘nothing’ in response to these actions,” they say, charging that the Aberdeen School District has allowed the “targeted harassment” to “go unrestrained.”
According to one student, the complaint reads, “this coordinated harassment campaign happens every year.”
BREAKING: After talking with numerous students from the school, we have deemed it appropriate to file a complaint with the Department of Education Civil Rights Division. pic.twitter.com/C9roDmEluK
— SDHSD (@SoDakHSDems) May 7, 2021
NCRM has not verified any of these images below but KELO News reports Friday evening: “Social media posts from Central High School in Aberdeen are getting a lot of attention. The posts include pictures of students who appear to be against a ‘Unity Week’ the school was hosting.”
The social media posts include screenshots from Snapchat with messages against the week. One of the screenshots encourages students to carry a Bible with them around school and to not talk to anyone participating in the dress up days. It goes on to say ‘God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve or Eve and Bri and Adam and tractor.’
Another screenshot appears to feature students holding Trump flags with expletive text over the picture that is anti-LGBTQ.
Here is one tweet that appears to represent some of what the complaint alleges:
Hate has no place in our state. The Aberdeen school district needs to take appropriate actions immediately. https://t.co/0MSmRX7ZGp
— SDHSD (@SoDakHSDems) May 7, 2021
On TikTok a video describes what LGBTQ and minority students are facing this week. The young woman, who says she is a student at Aberdeen Central High School, says some of the students participating in the unity week’s events were told to go kill themselves. Some students were pushed down stairs, and the anti-LGBTQ students “blocked the entrance to the school,” while yelling expletives.
“The school board has done nothing about this,” she says. “This is absolutely repulsive.”
@dollop.of.daisyplease don’t let this video get taken down. This needs to be heard #fyp#spreadtheword#viral#important#lgbtqplus#translivesmatter#share#blowthisup♬ original sound – Dollop.of.Daisy
Aberdeen News adds that the schools superintendent sent parents a letter saying appropriate disciplinary action has been taken, but refusing to say what that is, who the students are. The letter appears to suggest parents should counsel their children but the situation is over.
Based on the students’ letter and social media posts it’s clear they do not believe it is.
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