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steffanie rivers

The Journal of Steffanie Rivers: Do As I Say – Not As I Do

Steffanie Rivers

Steffanie Rivers

*Ten-year-old top-secret files that became unclassified confirm the CIA tortured suspected terrorists in their custody.

These interrogation techniques were supposed to force prisoners to spill secret plots against the United States.

The trouble is it’s against CIA policy to torture prisoners. And what’s worse, no worthwhile information was obtained through the torture tactics. Maybe the suspects weren’t terrorists after all.

Now the United States’ principal intelligence agency will be seen as bullies in the eyes of the world. It’s that image – before it was imagined, now it’s confirmed – that has contributed to America being the target of said terrorist plots.

From Afghanistan to Ukraine, U.S. troops have a history of staging interventions at the slightest sign of international discontent. When opposing Islamic extremists fought each other and threatened the democratic efforts in Iraq, U.S. troops jumped in that conflict. And when Russia sent its military into bordering Ukraine, U.S. troops got involved there too. How did either of those issues directly affect America? They didn’t. Political busy-bodies, the United States government is. The American slogan should be “Do as I say, not as I do.”

From the CIA down to local law enforcement, people in authority create protocol de jure, but operate under de facto rules of engagement. Why else would CIA agents abuse prisoners under their authority in direct opposition to their own policies? Why else would a gang of police officers videotaped jumping an unarmed man, choking him and restricting his breathing until he dies be allowed to walk away without being held criminally liable for his death? Because they explain away their actions as being for the good of the cause. These last two weeks of protests won’t do much – if anything – to improve interaction between the police and the black and brown citizens they are sworn to protect. You can change unfair laws, but you can’t legislate hearts.

No, white people don’t care what we think. White people only care what other white people think. When other world leaders start to question the civil unrest they see going on in America and hold the United States accountable, Only then will American leaders see the need to make a change.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Email her at [email protected] to send comments, questions or speaking inquiries.

bill cosby

The Journal of Steffanie Rivers: In Support of Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby

*If the women who have come out of the woodwork with claims of rape against entertainment icon Bill Cosby were trying to derail his comeback, they are gaining momentum. Cosby’s Netflix comedy special has been postponed indefinitely. And NBC’s plans to create a sit-com with Cosby have been canceled for now. I guess the network, which depends on advertisers, decided to bow out before they were forced to. But subscriber income is how Netflix pays its bills: The streaming video service gets paid regardless, which makes it hard for me to understand why these two power house production companies would allow unsubstantiated claims against someone with a proven track record to determine how they operate.

The line of women in this campaign against Cosby is getting longer. Most people are thinking ‘If so many women are claiming it, it must be true.’ I don’t agree. As a woman, it is not my intention to dismiss another woman’s feelings of mistreatment or abuse. But my most pressing questions about these allegations are: Why didn’t these women – all of them of age when they claim their assaults occurred – file charges at the time? Why wait thirty years later, when there’s no evidence to support your claims?

Some of these allegations never were made public until now. A few were made public then, but never have been proven and Cosby never was charged. Still, that hasn’t stopped his accusers from giving TV interviews and writing newspaper editorials. I’m not sure why the powers-that-be feel it’s news-worthy to turn old news into headlines, especially since there’s no new evidence or new charges. It’s next to impossible to get mainstream media to give two minutes worth of coverage to women and children of a certain economic status who go missing everyday. But somehow these women – who essentially are guilty of slander right now – have convinced somebody with power that their stories are worthy of our attention.

Cosby has refused to comment about any possible rape investigation, except through his attorney who said Cosby is not guilty of the allegations. But in light of so many women who feel it’s their duty to tell the world about their alleged bad experience, I feel obligated to tell you about my good experience with Bill Cosby. Maybe if I start it off others who have had good encounters and those whom he has helped in the entertainment industry will line up in his defense.

I met Mr. Cosby in early 2014. I’m a flight attendant and he was a passenger on my flight from Hartford, Connecticut to Dallas. As many celebrities do, Cosby asked to board the flight ahead of other passengers so he could have extra time to get settled in his seat. My flight crew agreed he could. A TSA agent escorted Cosby to the plane, because he was traveling alone. He didn’t even have a body-guard with him. Most celebrities of his caliber never travel by themselves. But there he was, no assistant in sight.

From the moment he stepped on board, Mr. Cosby was full of personality. He offered to take pictures with the pilots and us flight attendants, even before we asked him. And when I asked Cosby if his wife was traveling with him (because I was so amazed that he was traveling alone) he said “Yes, she’s in my carry-on luggage in the overhead bin!” The jokes flowed off his tongue like water from a faucet. I’ve had other celebrities to board early on other flights before, and most of them are pleasant. But none of them took the time to laugh and talk with me as Mr. Cosby did.

I asked him where he was headed. He said he was on his way to Lubbock, Texas by way of Dallas to speak to a group of teens about the importance of a good education, goal-setting and having a life plan. He and I were alone and engaged in conversation for at least twenty minutes. But as soon as other passengers started to board I had to turn my attention to them and my other duties.

At some point during the boarding process Mr. Cosby started to fall asleep in his seat. Most first-class passengers didn’t know the man sitting among them was the entertainment icon, because he wasn’t trying to hog the spotlight or be noticed. At that point he wanted to sleep. It wasn’t until I asked if he wanted me to wake him for his meal did any of the other passengers seem to take notice of who he was. He didn’t drink or eat anything. He slept the entire flight. He didn’t try to hem me up in the galley for a private conversation or close contact. Some passengers do that. But not Bill Cosby. And after he woke up towards the end of the flight he told me “this was the best first class service I’ve ever had,” even though he slept through it all. But it put a smile on my face, nonetheless.

In between my flight duties I took time to hand-write Mr. Cosby a letter. In it I thanked him for the pictures, for his work to promote family values and his efforts to inspire the next generation. Also, I invited him to be a paid participant in upcoming events my private company produces for aspiring comedians and entertainers. Yes, I gave Bill Cosby my personal contact information for business purposes.

I wrote you a letter, Mr. Cosby,” I told him, and I passed it to him as he left the flight.

A week or so later I received an email from someone on behalf of Cosby. In essence, the email said Cosby had read my letter and wanted to respond to my request for his participation in our events. Although he was unavailable to participate at the time, the email stated he would keep my request on file.

I felt honored that The Bill Cosby would take time out of his schedule to read a hand written letter from a stranger and then have his people respond to me. He didn’t use my personal contact information for anything other than what I had intended. It was proof for me that he is the genuine, trustworthy person I always thought him to be.

I’m sure there are others – women and men – who have nothing but positive things to say about their experiences with Bill Cosby. Maybe some of the young actors he mentored in their careers should speak up on his behalf. Surely mainstream media outlets will do for us what they have done for the unsubstantiated accusers: Let the world know we stand up in support of Bill Cosby.

Steffanie Rivers

Steffanie Rivers

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Email her at [email protected] to send comments, questions or speaking inquiries.

Steffanie Rivers

The Journal of Steffanie Rivers: The Value of A Woman (Kim Kardashian)

kim kardashian frontal nudity1a

*At a time when entertainers and A-list actresses are trying to retrieve their nude photos from the internet, Kim Kardashian has allowed her full frontal nude and booty shots to be posted for all to see. Does she realize that means baby Nori one day will be looking at her momma’s naked ass all over the internet too. Or is it that Kim K just doesn’t care?

Most parents have done things they don’t want their children to know about. But they don’t have pictorial evidence of their bad behavior. That makes it easier to speak with parental authority when their children ask them why they shouldn’t engage in the same. But if there’s video of your mother starring in a homemade porn movie with a man who’s not your father, a music video of your mother simulating sex on a motorcycle and pictures of your mother’s naked body on every social media site as proof of how she actively tried to break the internet, it will be hard to picture her in an authoritative capacity when it counts most.

What sound objection will Kim and Kanye West give to their daughter that’s going to keep her off the stripper pole or keep her from experimenting with drugs or prostitution or from being America’s next top porn star? Ask actor Lawrence Fishburne what he’s going through right now. Obviously they haven’t thought that far ahead. I did, and I don’t even have children.

I’m not sure when it happened for me, if my mother instilled it in me or if I came to the realization myself; but at some point early in my cognitive development I decided – regardless of how much attention I get because of my physical assets – my breasts and my behind are not my best attributes and I never will treat them as if they are. In the words of Tavis Smiley: You might know some of me, but that’s not the sum of me.

I guess Kris Jenner is too busy with her new man that’s young enough to be her oldest son to be dispensing motherly advice. Or maybe her mom is the person who told Kim a fat ass is the best she has to offer to the world.

Regardless of how it happened, Kim K’s self-worth and body image are one in the same. The happy couple wedding photos, the family pictures and those candid shots of her with baby Nori on her hip are plentiful. But the image of Kim Kardashian, the wife and mother, isn’t her thing. Kim K, the sexy vixen: That’s her sweet spot! That’s her brand. As long as her breasts and booty hold up, as long as her Instagram likes are plentiful and Twitter followers and Facebook friends keep growing her relevance is validated.

Let’s tell Kim K what her mother obviously failed to convey: Women are worth more than the sum of their parts. And let’s require more from her than 140 characters and a booty shot. Parents are supposed to act in the best interest of their children. So we’ll be helping ourselves in the process. When looking at Kim K’s pictures our boys will learn the wrong way to value a woman. And our girls will learn that self-exploitation is the norm. Since children are going to look at the pictures anyway, parents might as well look at them with their children and have a meaningful conversation about them. This is our collective chance to keep our daughters and little Nori off the pole. Kim and Kanye can thank us later.

Steffanie Rivers

Steffanie Rivers

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Email her at [email protected] to send comments, questions or speaking inquiries.

Steffanie Rivers

The Journal of Steffanie Rivers: Ebola: More Questions Than Answers

Steffanie Rivers

Steffanie Rivers

*I’m no alarmist, but it should be evident to anyone who’s been paying attention that the Center for Disease Control is behind the curve when it comes to having all the information needed to effectively fight the Ebola virus in the United States.

There’s conflicting information about how Ebola is transmitted from one person to the next, the CDC isn’t sure how long it takes for an infected person to show signs of the virus in their system or what symptoms are clear indicators of an Ebola infection.

And once you get it, there’s no known cure. Whether you live through it or die from it is a toss-up.

For an agency with more questions than answers about Ebola, the CDC is too quick to give quarantined people a clean bill of health.

And those who contracted the virus – including the pet dog – are being allowed back home too soon without knowing the possible long-term effects on a person’s (or pet’s) internal organs or immune system.

And these are only a few observations from my non medically trained, common sense point of view.

Ever since two of the nurses caring for Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas during his final days contracted the deadly strain, there is growing concern about who can get it and who can’t. It seems Nina Pham, the nurse who was part of Duncan’s ICU team after his diagnosis, never was exposed to any of his bodily fluids, which the CDC insists is the only way to contract the virus. Pham’s primary contact with Duncan was to transport him from one area of the hospital to another. So how did she get it? Yet other nurses who helped comfort Duncan in his last days and were exposed to his sweat, vomit and bloody diarrhea (as a result of dehydration and organ failure) have shown no signs of contracting the infection.

And that’s where the 21-day quarantine comes in. Those who were in physical contact with Duncan before and after he was diagnosed with Ebola during his stay in Dallas have had to be quarantined. So far everybody has passed the 21-day quarantine. But some healthcare officials say 21 days might not be long enough. Depending on the strength of their immune system, someone could take as long as 42 days to contract Ebola. And that temperature screening everybody must pass in order to leave west Africa or before being allowed into the United States…, some say that’s a waste of time and money. For one thing everybody doesn’t come down with a fever before getting sick. And if they do, by the time the fever is linked to Ebola it’s possible that sick person already could have infected other people. That’s how Duncan was able to leave Liberia and how Dallas nurse Amber Vinson was allowed (by the CDC) on a commercial airliner from Cleveland back to Dallas despite having Ebola in their systems. Neither of them showed signs of having a fever, according to CDC standards.

I just did a Google search of Ebola symptoms. On the list are red eyes, raised rash, stomach pain and bleeding from all orifices. A fever isn’t on this particular list. The list of symptoms are every-changing.

While the CDC information says Ebola is contracted only through direct contact with body fluids of an infected person, that is in direct conflict with how Pham contracted Ebola, as she never was in contact with Duncan’s body fluids. At least that’s how it was reported. Maybe the virus is transmitted through the air much like the flu. Or perhaps, like a germ, the virus can live on commonly used surfaces for an extended amount of time. Maybe the CDC knows this and is hesitant to confirm it. Maybe the agency isn’t connecting the common sense dots.

That’s why it’s important for the Dallas nurses who were in close contact with Duncan but haven’t been diagnosed yet and Kaci Hickox, the Maine nurse who returned from West Africa last week, to be quarantined or under observation at the very least for an extended amount of time beyond 21 days. Yes, we appreciate their work and sacrifice as healthcare professionals. Sure it’s inconvenient to put their lives on hold. But they should err on the side of caution, if not for the sake of everyone they unknowingly could infect, for the sake of their own health and that of their loved ones.

If Ebola is as dangerous as international and national healthcare officials declare it to be, there’s no way it would affect a cluster of people as it has and then poof, disappear without a trace. But that’s what the federal government would have us believe by not proving adequate followup information.

Until the CDC comes up with a better plan of attack the United States should consider a moratorium on all flights leaving west Africa. Ghana stopped allowing flights into its airports from other west African countries three months ago. That government knows what the United States has yet to realize: Preparedness is not an event, but a process.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Email her at [email protected] to send comments, questions or for speaking inquiries.

steffanie rivers

The Journal of Steffanie Rivers: Early Voting is A Privilege, Not A Right

Steffanie Rivers

Steffanie Rivers

*When an unarmed Michael Brown was shot multiple times and killed by Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson last August, residents in that area said they were determined to make a change first by civil protests then by electing new leadership in November.

Yet all the talk about showing up in full force to the polls in Ferguson so far has been just that – talk. St. Louis County Board of Elections reported only 128 new people registered to vote between Aug. 9 and Oct.6, the two months between when Brown was killed and the cut off date to register for the November election.

In July 2013 when Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law helped George Zimmerman get away with murdering Trayvon Martin, it wasn’t too long before people in more than twenty other states realized they too, had a version of Stand Your Ground. And incidents with racial overtones were being defended by that same law. Those people vowed to fight the law at the polls come election day.

More than 886,000 Floridians registered to vote in 2012 the year Zimmerman shot and killed Martin, the interest in the political process most likely was fueled by Stand Your Ground. Between 2013 and September of 2014 only half as many new voters registered, an indication that – despite pervasive racial incidents there – the desire to force change might have been short lived.

Even I promised to do my part. I took a class to become a Texas assistant registrar, able to register voters in my county by going door-to-door and setting up registration booths at events. It was my way of doing what I could to inform more people and get them registered for the November general election.

Early voting has begun in the District of Columbia and only 32 states. I cast my early vote last week in Texas. Early voting is the process whereby registered voters can show up to the polls days in advance of the official Election Day and cast their vote. Unlike absentee ballots that are collected via mail, you don’t have to have an excuse to participate in early voting. Why are there some states that don’t have early voting? Or why Florida (of all places) has shortened its early voting from 14 to 8 days should be under investigation. Allowing every registered person the chance to vote should be a fundamental goal of every board of elections. Early voting seems like a no-brainer to me. The twelve hours set aside to vote on Election Day can be a challenge that keeps some away from the polls.

It was early voting in 2008 that helped then Sen. Barack Obama capture a majority of the popular and electoral vote to become America’s first black president. Republicans know this too. Now they claim early voting is too long, too expensive and opens the process to fraud. Never mind the probable millions of voters illegally turned away on Election Day for decades. And what about the hanging chad fiasco and stolen election of 2000? Republicans weren’t concerned enough about the voting process then. At least with early voting, if there’s a legitimate issue with a voter there’s time to address it and still be allowed to participate in the process.

But if people don’t take advantage of early voting, it’s just another reason some states will use to shorten it, end it or never start it. It’s evident some people don’t want you to vote to begin with. Keep the odds in your favor: Take advantage of early voting and tell your friends and family to do the same.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Email her at [email protected] to send comments, questions or for speaking inquiries.

steffanie rivers

EUR Columnist Steffanie Rivers Featured on TLC’s ‘Extreme Cheapskates’

steffanie rivers

*When it comes to making a dollar out of fifteen cents some people could learn a few tips from Steffanie Rivers.

Rivers, a self-described cheap skate, says she has become an expert at using other people’s money and resources to pay for her expenses.

And it’s all legal. She’s done such a good job at it, Rivers will be featured in the third season of TLC’s Extreme Cheapskates tonight, Wednesday, Oct. 8 at 9pm Eastern/Pacific.

At a time when social networks such as Face Book, Instagram and Twitter are in the business of putting everybody’s business in cyberspace, Rivers said featuring her cheap skate ways on national television was not at the top of her things to do list when the opportunity presented itself.

“I saw a Craigslist ad in search of cheapskates who were willing to tell their story,” said Rivers. “So I answered the ad, did a video interview with show producers and a few months later they were standing in my living room videotaping me,” she added. Rivers said producers told her it was the best episode of cheapskates in the history of cheapskates!

What cheap skate habits got Rivers the national spotlight? For starters she’s a flight attendant who spends at least four nights a week away from home. All the sample shampoos, lotions and other toiletries she collects from hotels keeps her from having to spend her own money. Those samples also make great gifts, she added. She collects newspapers and magazines that are left behind by passengers on the airplane which saves her from having to pay for those items. And the perfume pages in those popular magazines, she tears out the pages and uses the fragrances to smell expensive without having to pay the expensive prices.

“I believe in phantom power,” so when I leave town I turn off all the power at the circuit breaker to help save money,” Rivers said. And when she’s not working Rivers uses the free wi-fi service at local retail establishments in her neighborhood. So she saves the cost of monthly ISP fees.

Most people think the life of a flight attendant is glamorous, flying to exotic locations and different countries. Rivers said she loves her job and earns a good living, but she said the key is saving what she earns to make her money go even further, and she’s not embarrassed one bit when co-workers and neighbors notice her cheap skate ways. Overall Rivers saves at least $500 a month as a penny-pincher.

“Most people waste money and resources everyday on things that could save them tons of money,” said Rivers, adding that “I choose to keep my money and still live a comfortable lifestyle.”

Producers liked the episode featuring Rivers so much there are talks about doing a followup show or other show opportunities in the future. In the meantime Rivers will reveal more of her cheap skate ways on Extreme Cheapskates on TLC tonight (10-08-14). Check your local listings for viewing time(s) in your area. You can comment on the episode #ExtremeCheapskates and @tcbstef on Twitter during the show.

By the way, if you’ve never seen “Extreme Cheapskates,” all we’ll say is that you are in for a very interesting experience. Just check out the trailer for an upcoming episode:

 

(EUR’s Steffanie Rivers On TLC’s Extreme Cheapskates)