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    Should Russell Brand Stay Out Of Politics?




    I have a rather embarrassing admission to make. From the ages of 18 to 21 my best friend and I used to spend almost every single Sunday morning YouTubing videos of Russell Brand. We were somewhat obsessed with his stand-up comedy and both quietly confident that if he was to ever meet us, he would fall as head-over-heels in love with us and we had with him. Then, Russell began getting political.

    I am not entirely sure what made me shy away from taking an interest in what he was saying but I know that, for several years, I have made a conscious effort to avoid listening to his opinions on ‘serious stuff’. Maybe it was partly because I worry about a political system based on the cult of personality, or maybe, more selfishly, I did not want to experience the fall of a hero when I realized Russell’s charm was entirely sophomoric. But as Russell’s political musings gained publicity, particularly around the issue of drugs and now the conflict in Gaza, my friends have begun insisting that I take notice.

    I was filled with joy to discover that, not only does Russell speak utter sense, but also he is courageous enough to say what needs to be said, regardless of the fact it can and will impact upon him negatively. His intellect and courage are laudable but it is his love of humanity that makes him brilliant.

    You do not have to agree with what Russell Brand is saying, but you cannot deny that what he is doing is incredibly important. He is promoting debate and interest in politics and the political system; a system that is failing to engage and inspire the next generation and is furtively happy with a lack of public participation.

    Russell clearly recognizes the danger of apathy and knows that whilst we continue to stand with our backs turned away from politicians, business people and media moguls, they will continue to push through personal agendas which only advantage the elite.

    Russell received a great degree of criticism when he called for British people to abstain from voting, stating that:

    “As long as the priorities of those in government remain the interests of big business, rather than the people they were elected to serve, the impact of voting is negligible and it is our responsibility to be more active if we want real change.” 

    There were remarks made by several newspapers that Russell’s proposition was further alienating those who already lack power and was undermining British democracy. But I believe Russell is what the philosopher Cornel West would describe as a ‘deep democrat’. As Cornel states, “democracy is not so much a form of government as a set of principles.” Russell advocates for the core principles of true democracy: accountability, justice and a fair distribution of power. Though his proposal may seem extreme, it is motivated out of a love of people and a belief that they deserve better:

    “The only reason to vote is if the vote represents power or change. I don’t think it does. I fervently believe that we deserve more from our democratic system.”

    With the recent online fracas between Russell Brand and Sean Hannity of Fox News, I have seen numerous Twitter comments calling for celebrities to “stay out of politics.” Such comments are missing the crux of a fair, democratic society. No one should stay out of politics. Behind the fame and fortune, celebrities are people too, with personal and political beliefs which are as valid as anybody elses. Whilst we should always be wary of the cult of personality, the responsibility rests with us, the receiver of celebrity opinion, to critically analyze any information we hear and make up our own mind about political issues. We cannot and should not prevent others from having their say.

    What Russell is saying is not new. The fact that he has managed to wriggle himself in to the diminutive group of people who can say what they want and still be published in the papers and shown on the television is a game well played. It is likely that if Russell had not been a successful comedian that he would now simply be another well-meaning lefty without the platform to make necessary change.

    As Russell himself acknowledges, he is an obvious target for ridicule: “It’s easy to attack me, I’m a right twerp, I’m a junkie and a cheeky monkey, I accept it.” And I admit, at times, I squirm a little when he makes an incredibly brilliant and illuminating point and follows it up with a cheap comment for entertainment purposes. People castigate his eccentric presentation and his interweaving of jokes with serious issues for undermining the content of what he is saying. Regardless of the fact that his presentation is jocular, Brand is being listened to; the same cannot be said for many of our politicians. Sadly we are at a stage where our comedians are politically braver than our politicians.

    It is a depressing reality that more attention is paid to the glitz and glam of Hollywood than is paid to the flaws in our system that mean a poor man can go to prison for falsely claiming £72 a week, whereas a rich man can get away with not paying £120million income tax. It is our reality nonetheless and  one that Russell Brand is not responsible for. However, whilst he is part of the glitz and glam, it can only be beneficial that he uses his moment in the spotlight to draw attention to issues of real importance. Long may his moment last.

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    Rebecca Joy Novell is a Qualified Social Worker working with gangs in central London. She graduated from The University of Sheffield in 2012 with a Masters in Social Work. Rebecca has been involved with Youth Justice since 2008 in a variety of voluntary and paid roles and is currently undertaking a Professional Doctorate in Criminal Justice. She was elected to the Professional Assembly for The College of Social Work, is part of the Criminal Justice Reference Group for the British Association of Social Workers and regularly blogs for The Guardian’s Social Care Network. She is also the author of Starting Social Work: Reflections of a Newly Qualified Social Worker. Her blog can be found at



    1. Claire Noll

      August 6, 2014 at 8:12 am

      I’d say most people should be involved with politics. It is not for an elite few. Although many forget …

    2. Donavin Kupi Dona-k

      August 5, 2014 at 8:58 pm

      Help.. #No_Money..No_Food hitting dis #Link u mst knw u hv helped much

    3. Andrew Meyer

      August 5, 2014 at 4:18 pm

      No one should stay out of politics however, why do we assume that anyone of these folks has a more valid opinion than Joe Smuckatelli?

    4. Lilac Hills

      August 5, 2014 at 12:01 pm

      ” No one should stay out of politics. ” Enough said

    5. Michael C Leeson

      Michael C Leeson

      August 5, 2014 at 9:22 am

      no every activity has a political dimension we all have to speak up Social work itself is a political activity

    6. LuAnn Schwing

      August 5, 2014 at 9:17 am


    7. Marilyn Lewis

      Marilyn Lewis

      August 5, 2014 at 8:19 am

      No. He’s brilliant

    8. Amanda Kelsey

      August 4, 2014 at 10:49 pm

      This guy pranked a sexual assault hotline…

    9. Teri Gary

      August 4, 2014 at 9:26 pm

      I understood his rgument bout not voting but I think that we should all vote no matter what.

    10. Beth Morello

      August 4, 2014 at 6:53 pm

      Russell Brand makes some really good points. I agree that apathy is dangerous.

    11. Sheila Potter

      Sheila Potter

      August 4, 2014 at 6:38 pm

      He can come to my house I’ll take care of him he’s sexy

    12. Carol Douglas

      August 4, 2014 at 4:48 pm

      Russell Brand should keep out of everything hahaha

    13. Sandy Wauchop

      August 4, 2014 at 4:45 pm

      Wow who would believe him

    14. Eileen Hendriksen

      Eileen Hendriksen

      August 4, 2014 at 4:40 pm

      Politics affect everyone…therefore everyone has a right to comment on them or otherwise participate in them!

    15. Becky Visco McKeirnan

      August 4, 2014 at 2:13 pm

      Why do we assume that simply because he is an actor/comedian that he can’t have an intelligent, thoughtful, reasoned, & thought-provoking opinion??!! Are we as social workers only “one note” people with no other interests or ideas? I know I’m passionate about & interested in things other than just social work. Doesn’t mean my opinions are any less valid.

    16. Melanie Lopez-Miller

      August 4, 2014 at 2:05 pm

      He has ALOT of interesting points to make tho, and he does seem to speak the TRUTH.

    17. Angie Harper Hall

      August 4, 2014 at 12:24 pm

      Everyone has right to speak their mind!

    18. Stephanie Suian

      August 4, 2014 at 11:41 am

      He is speaking the truth and those who are corrupt should follow suit or step down. We live in the idea of a democracy that is run through dictatorship. What he says is simple and true. He should replace all politicians and the political system.

    19. Princess Laura

      August 4, 2014 at 11:36 am


    20. Sameer Shaikh

      August 4, 2014 at 11:20 am

      being human.

    21. Chasidy Brewster Walker

      August 4, 2014 at 11:12 am

      Yes! Or! He could head on over and speak with the terrorists himself. I think everyone would be okay with that….

    22. Yvonne Clarke

      August 4, 2014 at 10:44 am

      Stay out.

    23. Holly Watt

      August 4, 2014 at 10:19 am

      He is one of the only people speaking the truth. Why would we want to shut that down? (Good read)

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    Participant Launches Partnership Campaign to Support Domestic Workers Amid Covid-19 Crisis



    Image owned by the National Domestic Workers Alliance

    Participant, the leading media company dedicated to entertainment that inspires audiences to engage in positive social change, launched the Care For The People Who Care For You campaign in partnership with the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) to galvanize support for domestic workers amid the novel coronavirus crisis. The digital initiative centers around a video, produced by Participant’s digital content studio, SoulPancake, to highlight the impact the COVID-19 crisis has had on domestic workers, of whom 7 out of 10 have lost 100% of their income because of the crisis, and seeks to educate employers on how to best support them.

    The video depicts the acute challenges that the pandemic has placed on domestic workers, who typically do not receive benefits like sick leave and thus far have been excluded from much of the government assistance packages. Told from the perspective of a domestic worker navigating health and financial concerns, the goal of the video is to educate and encourage employers to support those employees who care for them every day.

    Over the course of the Care For The People Who Care For You campaign, Participant will direct employers to the NDWA’s Employer Resource Hub, which outlines a range of steps one can take to offer both emotional and financial support, from calling and checking in to paying for cancelled services. Additionally, viewers can donate to NDWA’s Coronavirus Care Fund, a fund that will offer immediate emergency assistance for domestic workers facing hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Proceeds from the fund will be administered through ALIA, NDWA’s online benefits platform which allows employers to offer domestic workers a range of benefits they otherwise would not have access to, such as paid time off and sick leave.

    “We’re delighted to partner once again with Participant to bring attention to domestic workers in this time of crisis,” said Ai-jen Poo, executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. “Nannies, house cleaners, and home care workers across the country are facing tremendous challenges during this pandemic, from risking their health while working jobs on the frontline to losing income they need to support their own families. We urge employers to show care for those who have cared for them and their families.” 

    “During this uncertain time, it is critical to highlight the needs of and support the communities who are most impacted,” said David Linde, CEO of Participant. “We’re proud to continue our partnership with Ai-jen Poo and the entire team at the National Domestic Workers Alliance to bring awareness and for those who care for us and our families.”

    The new initiative is a continuation of Participant’s Roma social impact campaign, which launched alongside the Academy Award®-winning film ROMA,  to increase the visibility and value of domestic workers in popular culture and accelerate solutions to support their economic security. The new video is a reimagination of the initial spot SoulPancake created for NDWA, which promoted their online platform, ALIA, as a solution for providing domestic workers with benefits. The video, which received over 1.7 million views, generated a 98 percent increase in page views and a 905 percent increase in users on

    For more information on how to support this campaign, please visit here to learn more.

    About Participant

    Founded by Chairman Jeff Skoll and under the leadership of CEO David Linde, Participant combines the power of a good story well told with real world impact and awareness around today’s most vital issues. Through its worldwide network of traditional and digital distribution, aligned with partnerships with key non-profit and NGO organizations, Participant speaks directly to the rise of today’s “conscious consumer,” representing well over 2 billion consumers compelled to make meaningful content a priority focus.

    As an industry content leader, Participant annually produces up to six narrative feature films, five documentary films, three episodic television series, and more than 30 hours of digital short form programming, through its digital subsidiary SoulPancake. Participant’s more than 100 films have collectively earned 74 Academy Award® nominations and 19 wins, including Best Picture for Spotlight and Green Book and Best Foreign Language Film for Roma and A Fantastic Woman. Participant’s digital division, SoulPancake, is an award-winning provider of thought-provoking, joyful, and uplifting content that reaches an audience of more than 9 million fans.

    About National Domestic Workers Alliance

    National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) is the leading voice for dignity and fairness for millions of domestic workers in the United States. Founded in 2007, NDWA works for respect, recognition and inclusion in labor protections for domestic workers, the majority of whom are immigrants and women of color. NDWA is powered by 70 local affiliate organizations and chapters and by a growing membership of nannies, house cleaners and care workers across the nation. NDWA is home to Alia, an online platform to help domestic workers access benefits, and in 2019, launched a campaign to pass the National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, federal legislation sponsored by Senator Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.

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    New Release – ReMoved 3: Love is Never Wasted



    Photo provided by Remove3: Love is Never Wasted.

    Kevi’s story, though fictional, allowed me to paint for you a visual picture of how much it hurts to have a mother leave you all alone. It invites you to yearn with him—to share his longing to capture a woman that you know you probably never will. It shows how wildly untameably beautiful such an enigma is to her son, with her hair dancing in the wind and the scent of her teasing in and out of his existence.

    Mostly, it helps you understand that there’s more to the story than just her. For kids like me, who were raised by many parents, it’s not just about our bio moms, you see. Sometimes, it isn’t even mostly about that mom. It’s also about this foster mamma who feels warm and soft and safe. It’s about how you never want to live without those feelings or her arms around you again.  

    Maybe it’s about that foster daddy that you just aren’t sure about. He might hurt you like all the other daddies you’ve ever known. But, maybe he won’t…

    Through the Author’s Pen & Own Experience of Foster Care

    My mother’s purse was her survival kit. She never forgot it.

    She often forgot us. But she never forgot it.  

    Inside that purse, she carried an envelope. The envelope held all the things one would normally file away in the safety of their home. Instead, she carried those things—the few markers of our meager existence—in a manila in her handbag.

    I suppose this was the only way for her to hold onto anything in a life where change usually happened in a moment’s notice. It wasn’t uncommon for us to ditch all of our possessions when the police discovered us living in a condemned or abandoned building. Also, as a battered woman, Mamma always had to be prepared to run on the days it seemed Daddy might actually kill her.

    The purse and the envelope may have been an insignificant thing to anyone else, but for a kid like me, it proved that everything outside of it could be taken in an instant. It signified my mother, how she’d come to be, and the struggles of her life.

    That’s why I made the biological mother’s purse a significant part of the story in ReMoved 3. As I wrote “Love Is Never Wasted,” I tried to infuse it with those things that would make it feel real to others who had walked a similar journey. I sought to put in specific feelings and moments that kids in foster care would really connect to.

    As a foster kid, you often find yourself torn between families because each one holds a piece of what you need. You long to understand your biological parents and to know what it was like when you were budding in your mother’s womb. You have to know because, on some level, your body still remembers. The body can’t forget the place it was first fed.

    Let’s not overlook, though, that you need more than roots to grow. Our bodies instinctually know this as well. We must also feel that we are safe, that nourishment is always available, and that the sun can shine most every day.

    Photo provided by Remove3: Love is Never Waste

    Ideally, our kiddos would get all these needs met from the same person. Sadly, that is not always the case. For the 400,000 plus kids in the U.S. foster care system a solitary caretaker will not be found to meet all their needs. Our best hope for these kids is that love can be absorbed from multiple sources. We hope that, collectively, they get enough of what they need from the world around them to grow healthy and strong.

    Like Kevi’s story, my own life was changed by having multiple temporary parent figures. Though not ideal, this piecemeal parenting experience is what taught me how to love.

    There were the moments that my birth mom snuggled me in bed. In the submission of sleep, she would occasionally relax and offer some warmth. These memories of cuddling my mom inspired the scenes of Kevi snuggling his birth mom in the film. Even the direst situations usually have some moments of bonding.

    When my mother didn’t have any affection to give, my big brother stood in the gap. He frequently acted as a caretaker, comforting me, protecting me, and feeding me on the days everyone else forgot to. Because of my big brother, when my new little brother entered the world and cried out for protection, I knew how to answer that call.

    Unfortunately, I could only answer it slightly better than our mom did.  You see, I was only six. Then seven. By eight, I felt like I was dying. My enchantment with my mother began to wither, along with my body and soul. I called out to the universe for something to take me from the daily pain that she and my father put me in.

    Foster care was the answer I received.

    Sadly, foster care brought more pain. It’s difficult to describe the feelings that come from being ripped from one’s life source, especially when that life source is also robbing you of life. Regardless of her failures, though, she was still the first person who had held me. Now, I found myself miles from her familiarity. I frequently asked myself if anyone could love me in this strange new place, where nobody looked or acted like me and Mamma.

    Some of them couldn’t love me, it seems.

    Yet, some of them could and did. Some of them even did without any expectation of return. Most of them who loved me were only able to hold me for a moment in time. No matter how fleeting my time with them was or how heartbroken I was upon leaving, these people became the beautiful springtime of my memory. From each moment I got with them, I would continue to flourish and grow; although, I wouldn’t necessarily see that at the time.

    Thousands of uncertain days would pass under the gloomy cloud that we call foster care. Though I acted it out differently than our character Kevi, I was a mess during most of those days.

    But a new day would eventually come!

    I would grow up. Slowly, I would discover that my life had been changing. As an adult, I would finally find that it was all my own. With my newfound sense of freedom and control, I would choose to become the wife to a husband who loved me selflessly.

    Of all the guys I could have chosen, including the kind who may have felt more familiar, how did I know to settle on one like him? The faces of several good foster fathers smiled distantly behind the man I had chosen to spend my life with.

    After years of being loved in a way I’d never felt loved before (by my husband Doug), I would become a mother. Despite the years of worry that I’d be a parent like him or her, I found that I was actually more like her and her and him. Tortured childhood and all, I was brimming with love to give, thanks to those who had poured love into me.

    This forced me to ask an important question: How could a girl, who had been miserably failed by the people who gave her life, find herself building a completely different world than the one she grew up in?

    The answer was clear. I had gotten to this place because an alternate reality had blown into my childhood. It had changed me. Its name was foster care. For me, foster care wound up carrying the faces of seven different homes over seven years. When I was 15, its name became adoption.

    Ironically, this system of child protection that had starved me is also the very thing that helped me thrive. Foster care brought so much internal destitution, but it also brought moments of witnessing healthy, selfless, loving, human interactions.

    I hope “Love is Never Wasted” reveals that even small moments with a child can show him he has a choice in how he lives his life. Because of my time in care, I now knew that there was not just one possible way to be. Throughout my foster care experiences, I had, here and there, tasted the essence of something sweeter and more fulfilling than my past life. I became hungry for more of it.

    I now exist as living proof (hidden behind my stories) that love always offers nourishment and that a little bit of it can go a very long way.

    A lot of it can make miracles.

    A little bit of love carried me out of my tortured childhood. A lot of it led me to the place I am today and a little boy named Kevi.

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    The Tonight Show Makes Television History





    On Thursday, September 13, 2018, Central Park was buzzing with more than just insects and birds. The SummerStage was bright with lights and music, and filled with 1,500 people. Jimmy Fallon, the host of The Tonight Show, partnered with T-Mobile to make television history.

    As local New Yorkers and fans alike took their seats at Central Park SummerStage the anticipation for the beginning of the show built. This was no ordinary show – this was the first ever late-night show in Central Park. Fallon had promoted the event earlier in the week with People TV and even took Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie behind the scenes.

    The show began with ear-blasting cheers and applause from the audience as Jimmy Fallon took the stage. His energy radiated through the audience as he welcomed the crowd.

    “Welcome to The Tonight Show at SummerStage in Central Park!”

    As the crowd settled down, Fallon jumped into his monologue, introducing his guests for the night. Country music superstar Carrie Underwood and promoting her new movie “A Simple Favor”, actress Blake Lively would be joining Fallon, along with a few other surprise guests throughout the show. Playing alongside The Roots are members from none other than the New York Philharmonic.

    “New York City is here tonight, ladies and gentleman!”

    Like the rest of The Late Night Show’s tapings, tickets are free. Fallon kindly reminds guests who got tickets to the taping that if they paid for them, “I’m sorry, and welcome to New York City.”

    Although Fallon has grown up and lived in New York all his life, he’s only been to Central Park once before. For those who weren’t familiar with the park they took some time for a quick tour and to introduce the must-see sights. The highlights?

    • The Ramble – also known as where all the bodies on “Law & Order” are found.
    • Hamilton Statue – or the only other place in New York City you can see Hamilton without spending $1,000.
    • Strawberry Fields – where every bad guitar player in New York goes to ruin Beatles songs.
    • Boathouse – where bad dates get stuck because they’re on a boat.
    • Great Lawn – or as New York City dogs call it “The Master Bathroom”.

    Before Fallon continued the show he took some time to thank T-Mobile.

    “I wanted to thank T-Mobile for helping to make all this happen. Really, thank you, guys. They’ve been so great to us, and so, so great and fun to work with. They have so many amazing artists that work with them. You guys may have heard of one of them… Justin Beiber.”

    The crowd exploded in applause again. Turns out, Fallon and Bieber were in Central Park earlier that week and decided to do a skit of their own. Dressed in disguise with wigs and mustaches, they used earpieces to dance to Bieber’s hit song “What Do You Mean”.  The duo made their way through Central Park dancing, singing, and photobombing the park’s visitors. The catch? Only they could hear the music.

    In addition to the skit with Bieber, Fallon introduced a new game called Name That Song Challenge. Fallon and Blake Lively went up against Carrie Underwood and surprise guest appearance, Henry Golding. The pairs faced off in a music challenge – whoever could name the song played by The Roots and The New York Philharmonic the fastest won each round.

    Fallon interviewed Lively about her new movie “A Simple Favor“, her outfit the night of the movies premier, and some throwbacks including a picture of her dressed as Baby Spice. As Underwood took her spot on the couch, Fallon excitedly asked her about her new album, “Crying Pretty” which was released the same night at 12 am.

    To finish off the first-ever late night show in Central Park, Underwood took the stage, performing “Love Wins” off her new album. The audience stood with pink flashing batons and bracelets in the air in honor of T-Mobile. The energy between Underwood and the audience radiated through SummerStage, Central Park.

    After the taping, Fallon and Underwood performed a fun karaoke duet of “Islands in the Streams” just for the audience to enjoy. The episode aired at its usual 11:35 timeslot and was a huge success for the first of its kind. Check out clips, pictures, and tweets on #FallonCentralPark and T-Mobile’s #AreYouWithUs for additional fun clips.

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