Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank Walks Back Trump Praise after Backlash from Brand’s Top Celebrity Endorsers

Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank (l); Misty Copeland, Stephen Curry, Dwayne Johnson (photos via thegrio.com)

article via thegrio.com

BALTIMORE (AP) — The CEO of Baltimore-based sports apparel company Under Armour is responding to criticism he received after calling President Donald Trump “an asset to the country.” Kevin Plank wrote an open letter to Baltimore published as a full-page advertisement in The Baltimore Sun Wednesday.

He wrote that his choice of words during an interview with CNBC last week “did not accurately reflect my intent.” Three celebrities the company sponsors — basketball star Stephen Curry, actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and ballerina Misty Copelandwere among those voicing concerns about his praise of Trump.

Plank says the company stands for equal rights and job creation and believes “immigration is a source of strength, diversity and innovation for global companies based in America.” He says the company opposes the president’s travel ban.

Source: Under Armour CEO walks back Trump praise after backlash from brand’s top celebrity endorsers | theGrio

Under Armour Star Endorsers Dwayne Johnson, Misty Copeland and Stephen Curry Speak Out Against CEO’s Pro-Trump Statements

Under Armour spokespeople The Rock, Misty Copeland, Stephen Curry (photo via abcnews.com)

Under Armour star endorsers Dwayne Johnson, Misty Copeland and Stephen Curry (photo via abcnews.com)

article by Katie Richards via adweek.com

Some of Under Armour’s biggest celebrity endorsers – ballet dancer Misty Copeland, NBA star Stephen Curry and Hollywood icon Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson—are speaking out against the apparel brand’s CEO for referring to Donald Trump as “a real asset” to American businesses.

In an interview earlier this week with CNBC, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank shared several positive thoughts about Trump as a leader and supporter of corporations: “He’s highly passionate. To have such a pro-business president is something that’s a real asset to this country,” Plank said on Halftime Report. “I think people should really grab that opportunity. … He wants to build things. He wants to make bold decisions, and he wants to be decisive. I’m a big fan of people who operate in the world of ‘publish and iterate’ versus ‘think, think, think, think.’ so there’s a lot that I respect there.”

His comments led to a flurry of criticisms on Twitter and have now percolated to some of the brand’s top star athletes and performers.  Copeland, star of the brand’s iconic “I Will What I Want” ad, uploaded a lengthy post to Instagram today. While she praises the brand for supporting her over the years, Copeland did not mince words about Trump. “I strongly disagree with Kevin Plank’s recent comments in support of Trump as recently reported,” she wrote in the Instagram post. “Those of you who have supported and followed my career know that the one topic I’ve never backed away from speaking openly about is the importance of diversity and inclusion. It is imperative to me that my partners and sponsors share this belief.”

She said she has spoken with Plank privately about his opinions in great detail but that, “as someone who takes my responsibility as a role model very seriously, it is important to me that he, and UA, take public action to clearly communicate and reflect our common values in order for us to effectively continue to work towards our shared goal of trying to motivate ALL people to be their best selves.”

With more than 10 million views, Copeland’s Under Armour ad from 2014 was a huge hit for the brand and resonated across the industry as an example of how marketing could celebrate strong women. Since the ad debuted, Copeland developed her own Under Armour clothing line, appeared on the cover of Time magazine and was named by the American Ballet Theater as its first African-American principal dancer. She hasn’t been alone in criticizing the brand’s founder and top executive.

Another major endorser for the brand, Golden State Warriors point guard Curry, also spoke out against Plank, although less directly than Copeland. When asked by The Mercury News about Plank’s description of Trump as “a real asset,” Curry responded by saying, “I agree with that description, if you remove the ‘et’ from asset.”

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson also posted his response to Plank on Instagram. “These are neither my words, nor my beliefs,” Johnson writes. “His words were divisive and lacking in perspective. Inadvertently creating a situation where the personal political opinions of UA’s partners and its employees were overshadowed by the comments of its CEO.”

To read more, go to: Under Armour’s Star Endorsers Are Coming Out Against the CEO’s Pro-Trump Statements – Adweek

Starbucks to Hire 10,000 Refugees Worldwide in Latest Expression of ‘Conscious Capitalism’

(SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

article by Barbara Thau via forbes.com

For Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, caramel macchiatos and pumpkin spice lattes are as integral to the coffee-chain’s brand as its college tuition reimbursement and veterans hiring programs.

Now Schultz is once again flexing Starbucks’ “conscious capitalism” muscles with a plan to hire 10,000 refugees at its restaurants worldwide, he said in a letter to employees on Jan. 29 that’s posted on Starbucks’s website.

The move is a swift, direct response to Donald Trump’s executive order to effectively ban people from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. (including Somalia and Sudan), including refugees fleeing wars.  As Schultz sees it, Starbucks’ new pledge is designed to ring an alarm bell with a vigor that the moment calls for.

“We are living in an unprecedented time, one in which we are witness to the conscience of our country, and the promise of the American Dream, being called into question,” he said in the letter. “These uncertain times call for different measures and communication tools than we have used in the past.”

Starbucks is hashing together a plan to hire 10,000 of the world’s 65 million refugees over the next five years in the 75 countries where it operates stores, starting with the U.S. market.

Under Schultz’s direction, Starbucks has long viewed business and what’s been called ethical retailing, or conscious capitalism, as related paths. And Schultz has carved a distinct niche as a social-activist CEO, of sorts.  He has repeatedly pointed to his upbringing in a low-income family in the Bayview Housing projects in Brooklyn New York as informing his philanthropic outlook.

It’s one that’s reflected in Starbucks’ policies, such as its pioneering move in 1988 to offer health insurance for part time workers, to backing causes from high unemployment to countering racism.

To read more, go to: http://www.forbes.com/sites/barbarathau/2017/01/30/starbucks-to-hire-10000-refugees-in-latest-expression-of-conscious-capitalism/#5610d9cb622c

ACLU Receives $24 million in Donations Last Weekend in Response to Trump’s “Muslim Ban”

(photo via washingtonpost.com)

article by Katie Mettler via washingtonpost.com

In the weeks after the Nov. 8 election, when Donald Trump secured a surprise victory to become president of the United States, the American Civil Liberties Union received so much money in online donations — more than $15 million — that an official with the 100-year-old organization called the flood “unprecedented in our history.”

That was before Trump had even sworn the oath of office. Eleven days ago he did just that, then spent his first week as president signing executive orders and making good on some of his campaign promises, spurring massive protests across the country and the world — about women’s rights, the environment and what Trump calls his “extreme vetting” of travelers to the U.S. from seven predominantly Muslim nations.

Amid the swift and intense backlash, the ACLU seems once again to be benefiting directly.This weekend alone, the civil liberties group received more than $24 million in online donations from 356,306 people, a spokesman told The Washington Post early Monday morning, a total that supersedes its annual online donations by six times.

In an interview with CNN, the ACLU had a one-word reaction: “Wow.” Before the donations had soared to $24 million, Anthony Romero, ACLU executive director, told Yahoo News he was blown away by the influx.“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Romero told Yahoo News. “People are fired up and want to be engaged. What we’ve seen is an unprecedented public reaction to the challenges of the Trump administration.”

To read full article, go to: The ACLU says it got $24 million in online donations this weekend, six times its yearly average – The Washington Post

Brooklyn Federal Judge Ann Donnelly in Brooklyn Temporarily Blocks Trump’s Muslim Ban

article by Brandee Sanders via newsone.com

U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly of the Eastern District of New York put a temporary ban on an executive order issued by President Donald Trump on Saturday that was put in place to prevent Syrian refugees and travelers from Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.  According to the Huffington Post, Donnelly declared that the ban “violates the rights to Due Process and Equal Protection guaranteed by the United States Constitution.”

From the Huffington Post:

The American Civil Liberties Union, immigrants’ rights groups and refugee relief organizations had filed the action in federal court Saturday morning on behalf of two Iraqi nationals who were detained at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, asking for a declaration that the order is unconstitutional and requesting an injunction to prevent its implementation against other travelers who may be equally harmed.

“The petitioners have a strong likelihood of success in establishing that the removal of the petitioners and others similarly situated violates the rights to Due Process and Equal Protection guaranteed by the United States Constitution,” U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly of the Eastern District of New York wrote in her order.

The legal action named Trump in his official capacity as president, as well as the Department of Homeland Security and other high-ranking officials. Although temporary and subject to appeal, it represents the first major constitutional setback faced by the new administration.

ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt says that the ruling will protect people from other countries who have permission to be in the U.S. “This ruling preserves the status quo and ensures that people who have been granted permission to be in this country are not illegally removed off U.S. soil,” he told the Huffington Post.

To read more, go to: Brooklyn Judge Temporarily Blocks Trump’s Muslim Ban | News One

Obamas Announce New Community-Based Endeavor via The Obama Foundation (VIDEO)

Michelle and Barack Obama (photo via Obama.org)

Michelle and Barack Obama (photo via Obama.org)

article by Ryan Reed via rollingstone.com

On the morning of Donald Trump‘s inauguration, outgoing President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled The Obama Foundation, (https://www.obama.org) their first major project upon exiting the White House. The Foundation will be based in the south side of Chicago and facilitate projects “all over the city, the country and the world.”

In a video, the Obamas ask viewers to help shape the Foundation by contributing suggestions via the site’s “Your Voice” section. “After eight years in the White House, Michelle and I now rejoin all of you as private citizens,” Obama said. “We want to thank you once again from the bottom of our hearts for giving us the incredible privilege of serving this country that we love.”  To watch it, click this link: https://youtu.be/ODVxuN6m6E8

Before they get to work on this massive endeavor, the former First Couple plan to enjoy a much-needed vacation. “First, we’re gonna take a little break,” Michelle Obama said. “We’re finally gonna get some sleep and take some to be with our family – and just be still for a little. So we might be online quite as much as you’re used to seeing us.”

To read more, go to: Watch Former President Obama, Michelle Obama Announce New Endeavor – Rolling Stone

Obama Commutes Sentences of 330 Drug Prisoners on Final Day of Presidency

President Barack Obama (photo via huffingtonpost.com)

article by Ryan J. Rielly and Elise Foley via huffingtonpost.com

President Barack Obama shortened the sentences of 330 federal prisoners on Thursday, less than 24 hours before Donald Trump takes office. With Thursday’s announcement, Obama has now granted commutations to 1,715 federal prisoners.

A review of Thursday’s list indicates that all of those 330 clemency cases were for drug or drug-related cases. Obama’s announcement followed the Tuesday commutations of the sentences of Chelsea Manning and of more than 200 federal prisoners charged with drug offenses.

“With this last act of mercy, President Obama has closed out a historic effort to restore some balance and fairness to a federal prison system that has caused needless destruction of thousands of lives and families,” Jessica Jackson Sloan, national director of the #cut50 initiative, said in a statement. “We continue to waste our precious resources to lock up people who have committed drug-related crimes that do not warrant decades, and certainly not life, in prison.”

Jackson Sloan said there are “still too many people incarcerated in the federal system who are not a threat to public safety” who would be “assets, mentors, and leaders in their communities if they were given the chance to come home.”Clemency lawyer Brittany Byrd, campaign director for #cut50, said Obama had “saved Trenton Copeland’s life” by granting him clemency.

To read full article, go to: Obama Grants 330 Drug Prisoners Early Freedom On Final Day Of Presidency | The Huffington Post