Change country:

Travis Tritt Concert Cancellations Over COVID Policies Leave Fans Divided

While some fans support the musician and his stance, others are disappointed that their tickets have been canceled.
Read full article on:
Why millions of German residents can't vote
Meet Germany's activists and politicians determined to help open the door for immigrants and other non-German citizens to vote.
9 m
The Ashes: England bowled out for just 147 at the 'Gabbatoir' on thrilling opening day
England collapsed on the first day of the opening Test of The Ashes on Wednesday, eventually being bowled out by Australia for 147.
New high-end apartments open in D.C.’s Union Market district
TOWN SQUARE | Apartment features include stainless-steel appliances, quartz counters, floors that look like wood, an in-unit washer and dryer and keyless entry systems. Some of the units have floor-to-ceiling windows, walk-in closets and patios.
How much control should Apple have over your iPhone?
Amanda Northrop/Vox Some say Apple’s App Store is a monopoly. Apple says it’s just giving customers what they want. This story is part of a Recode series about Big Tech and antitrust. Over the next few weeks, we’ll cover what’s happening with Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. We love our mobile apps. It’s hard to think of something that at least one of the nearly 12 million apps out there can’t do. Order a taxi, buy clothes, get directions, play games, message friends, store vaccine cards, control hearing aids, eat, pray, love … the list goes on. You might be using an app to read this very article. And if you’re reading it on an iPhone, then you got that app through the App Store, the Apple-owned and -operated gateway for apps on its phones. But a lot of people want that to change. Apple is facing growing scrutiny for the tight control it has over so much of the mobile-first, app-centric world it created. The iPhone, which was released in 2007, and the App Store, which came along a year later, helped make Apple one of the most valuable companies on the planet, as well as one of the most powerful. Now, lawmakers, regulators, developers, and consumers are questioning the extent and effects of that power — including if and how it should be reined in. Efforts in the United States and abroad could significantly loosen Apple’s grip over one of its most important lines of business and fundamentally change how iPhone and iPad users get and pay for their apps. It could make many more apps available. It could make them less safe. And it could make them cheaper. The iPhone maker isn’t the only company under the antitrust microscope. Once lauded as shining beacons of innovation and ingenuity that would guide the world into the 21st century, Apple is just one of several Big Tech companies now accused of amassing too much power over parts of the economy that have become as essential as steel, oil, and the telephone were in centuries past. These companies have a great deal of control over what we can do on our phones, the items we buy online and how they get to our homes, our personal data, the internet ecosystem, even our online identities. Some believe the best way to deal with Big Tech now is the way we dealt with steel, oil, and telephone monopolies decades ago: by using antitrust laws to place restrictions on them or even break them up. And if our existing laws can’t do it, legislators want to introduce new laws that target the digital marketplace. In her book Monopolies Suck, antitrust expert Sally Hubbard described Appleas a “warm and fuzzy monopolist” when compared to Facebook, Google, and Amazon, the other three companies in the so-called Big Four that have been accused of being too big. It doesn’t quite have the negative public perception that its three peers have, and the effects of its exclusive control over mobile apps on its consumers aren’t as obvious. For many people, Facebook, Google, and Amazon are unavoidable realities of life on the internet these days, while Apple makes products they choose to buy. But more than half of the smartphones in the United States are iPhones, and as those phones become integrated into more facets of our daily lives, Apple’s exclusive control over what we can do with those phones and which apps we can use becomes more problematic. It’s also an outlier; rival mobile operating system Android allows pretty much any app, though app stores may have their own restrictions. Apple makes the phones. But should Apple set the rules over everything we can do with them? And what are iPhone users missing out on when one company controls so much of their experience on them? Apple’s vertical integration model was fine until it wasn’t Many of the problems Apple faces now come from a principle of its business model: Maintain as much control as possible over as many aspects of its products as possible. This is unusual for a computer manufacturer. You can buy a computer with a Microsoft operating system from a variety of manufacturers, and nearly 1,300 brands sell devices with Google’s Android operating system. But Apple’s operating systems — macOS, iOS, iPadOS, and watchOS — are only on Apple’s devices. Apple has said it does this to ensure that its products are easy to use, private, and secure. It’s a selling point for the company and a reason some customers are willing to pay a premium for Apple devices. Apple doubled down on that vertical integration strategy when it came to mobile apps, only allowing customers to get them through the App Store it owns and operates. Outside developers have to follow Apple’s approval process and abide by its rules to get into the App Store. Apple has a lot of content restrictions for apps that the company says are intended to keep users safe from, for instance, “upsetting or offensive content.” Apple says in its developer guidelines, “If you’re looking to shock and offend people, the App Store isn’t the right place for your app.” But that means Apple mobile devices — more than 1 billion of them worldwide — aren’t the right place for your app, either. Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images The Apple App Store icon. Developers whose apps do make it into the App Store may also find themselves paying Apple a hefty chunk of their income. Apple takes a commission from purchases of the apps themselves as well as purchases made within the apps. That commission is up to 30 percent and has been dubbed the App Store tax. There’s no way for apps to get around the commission for app purchases, and users have to pay for goods and services outside of the app to get around the in-app payment system’s commission. Some of those developers are also competing with Apple when it comes to making certain kinds of apps. Developers have accused Apple of “Sherlocking” their apps — that’s when Apple makes an app that’s strikingly similar to a successful third-party app and promotes it in the App Store or integrates it into device software in ways that outside developers can’t. One famous example of this is how, after countless flashlight apps that used the iPhone’s camera flash became popular in the App Store, Apple built its own flashlight tool and integrated it into iOS in 2013. Suddenly, those third-party apps weren’t necessary. Apple has also been accused of abusing its control to give it an advantage over streaming services. Spotify has complained for years that Apple has given an unfair competitive advantage to its Apple Music service, which came along a few years after Spotify. After all, Apple doesn’t have to pay an App Store tax for its own Music app, which comes pre-installed on iPhones and iPads, or the streaming service, which Apple can and does promote on its devices. (Apple points out that it only has 60 of its own apps, so clearly it’s not competing with every single third-party app in its store, or even the vast majority of them.) “What Apple realized is that if they could control the App Store, they really control the rest of the game,” Daniel Hanley, senior legal analyst at Open Markets Institute, an anti-monopoly advocacy group, told Recode. “They don’t just control the hardware, now they control the software. They control how apps get on — it’s unilateral.” This has all been a big moneymaker for Apple. Apple won’t say how big, but an expert said he believes the App Store alone made $22 billion in 2020, about 80 percent of which was profit. That profit margin estimate suggests that the mandatory commissions Apple takes from those apps far exceed the company’s costs for maintaining the App Store. Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images Because Apple refuses to allow alternate app stores or in-app payment systems, there’s no competition that might motivate it to lower those commissions — which could, in turn, allow developers to charge less for apps and in-app purchases. The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust’s report from the Democratic majority cited numerous examples of developers claiming that they had to raise their own prices to consumers to compensate for Apple’s commission. Apple disputes some of these numbers but, again, refuses to give its own. Its financial statements lump the App Store in with other “services,” including iCloud and Apple’s TV, Music, and Pay. Even so, there’s little doubt that the App Store’s success has helped, if not driven, Apple’s transition from being primarily a hardware company to a goods and services provider. “It’s a nice, fat [revenue] stream where they don’t have to do a ton of R&D,” Brian Merchant, technology journalist and author of The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone, told Recode. “All they have to do is protect their walled garden.” The case for only one App Store (Apple’s) Apple says the security and privacy features its customers expect are impossible to provide without having this control over the apps on its phone. The company calls this a “trusted ecosystem.” Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, recently said that allowing Apple users to get apps through third-party app stores or by downloading them directly from the open internet (a practice known as sideloading) would open them up to a “Pandora’s box” of malware, though iPhones aren’t exactly immune to spyware. Similarly, Apple says its in-app payment systems are secure and private, which it can’t guarantee of anyone else’s. These arguments aren’t necessarily wrong — there are plenty of malicious apps out there — but they don’t account for the fact that Apple doesn’t seem to have any problem with its Mac computers getting their apps from third-party app stores or through sideloading. As for those commissions, Apple is quick to point out that the vast majority of apps, which are free, don’t pay Apple anything at all and still get all of the App Store’s benefits. Many apps are funded by selling ads and user data, which they don’t have to share with Apple, though Apple has recently tried to make this outside revenue stream less lucrative for developers by introducing anti-tracking features into iOS. Those measures, which Apple says are designed to improve user privacy, could ultimately force developers to charge users for apps (more money for Apple!). So when Apple decided to stop much of that data flow, it upended an entire ecosystem worth hundreds of billions of dollars a year — Facebook was even reportedly considering filing an antitrust lawsuit over it. That’s how much control Apple has over its devices and, by extension, a considerable part of the global economy. Christoph Dernbach/picture alliance via Getty Images A privacy notice on an iPhone allows the user to decide whether to permit cross-app tracking. The App Store tax is also in line with what other app stores charge, per an independent report that Apple commissioned last year. Apple, the app store pioneer, was the one that set that 30 percent app store commission rate in the first place. And Apple does allow for ways to get around some of its App Store taxes. People can purchase subscriptions and certain in-app services outside of apps if they have an account with the developer, which means no App Store tax to either raise prices or cut into the developer’s profit margin. Going to the developer’s website to pay also takes several more steps and more time on the part of the customer to do it. But in the US, Apple’s best defense against accusations that its App Store is an illegal monopoly may be to simply point to existing antitrust laws, or at least how courts interpret them. Apple does have a monopoly on app stores on Apple devices, but there’s nothing necessarily illegal about that. Monopolies are only illegal if they operate in anti-competitive ways, and the bar to proving even that is pretty high. For the last four decades, courts have interpreted the law as protecting competition (and, by extension, the consumers who supposedly benefit from it), not competitors. “Our law is very, very conservative,” Eleanor M. Fox, a professor of antitrust law and competition policy at New York University, told Recode. “Companies — even monopoly companies — do not have a duty to deal, and they don’t have a duty to deal fairly.” We’ve seen this precedent at work in the Epic Games v. Apple case. In August 2020, Epic Games, the developer behind the popular game Fortnite, sued Apple over its refusal to allow alternate app stores and payment systems, as well as its anti-steering policy that forbids developers from linking out to alternate ways to pay for app services or even telling users that other payment methods are possible. Apple kicked Fortnite out of its App Store when Epic tried to flout its rules. A federal judge ruled in September that Apple was well within its rights to do so. The judge noted that the App Store had “procompetitive justifications.” Even though she found that Apple had a large part of the mobile gaming transactions market and that the App Store’s profit margins were “extraordinarily high,” she didn’t think it created a barrier to entry for developers, nor that it was harming innovation. (Epic has appealed this ruling.) “Success is not illegal,” the judge wrote. Epic’s only victory was that the judge ordered Apple to allow developers to link out to and inform users about other ways to pay for app services. Apple has appealed that particular ruling, and according to a court filing, the company may even try to charge commissions on purchases made through the alternate payment systems if it’s forced to let developers link out to them. Even when Apple loses, it tries to find a way to win. Philip Pacheco/Getty Images Legal staff representing Epic Games carry documents for trial at the United States District Court in Oakland, California, in May. Apple’s attempts to avoid antitrust actions While Apple insists that it isn’t doing anything wrong, the company appears to be concerned that its control over its devices faces some real threats. Apple historically refuses to give up ground on just about everything, yet it’s already made notable adjustments to some of its more controversial policies that could make some apps or services cheaper, or at least easier for the user to find cheaper ways to pay for them. Some of these changes were mandatory, yes, but others appear to be an effort to ward off harsher regulations or judgments. For instance, Apple loosened its notoriously tight grip on repairs to its devices, allowing more independent shops and, very recently, individual consumers, to have access to the parts and instructions necessary to make certain fixes. This comes in the midst of a push for “right to repair” laws and pressure from the Biden administration and the Federal Trade Commission. But Apple still requires that its own parts be used for these repairs and sets the prices for them. The stickiness and required usage of Apple’s native apps has long been a gripe from many iPhone users and a bad look for the company from an antitrust perspective. So this year, Apple started allowing users to select their own default apps for web browsing and mail; previously, Apple’s Safari and Mail apps were the mandatory default. Users have been able to delete most of the Apple apps that come pre-installed on their phones since 2018. Apple has also given some developers a break on the App Store tax and anti-steering policies, which could reduce prices for consumers. Developers who make less than $1 million a year now only have to pay a 15 percent App Store tax. This came about as part of a settlement of a class action lawsuit, but Apple has presented it as a “Small Business Program” that’s “designed to accelerate innovation” (a phrase that could be read as implying that the 30 percent commission decelerated innovation). Apple is also going to let developers contact customers outside of the app to let them know about alternate payment methods. As part of an agreement with the Japan Fair Trade Commission, Apple will soon let “reader” apps (that is, apps like Netflix and Spotify that offer media for purchase or subscription) link out to their own websites to make it easier for users to purchase subscriptions outside of Apple’s in-app payment system. In 2016, Apple also cut its commission to 15 percent for subscription apps after the first year. Of course, this change was revealed at the same time as Apple’s announcement that it would sell search ads in its App Store, giving itself yet another exclusive source of revenue (and giving users a bunch of ads when they search the App Store). But these concessions do nothing for the source of the vast majority of the App Store’s commissions: games from developers that make more than $1 million a year. And Apple hasn’t wavered on the practices that have drawn the bulk of the accusations that Apple’s practices — including the company not allowing alternate App Stores or sideloading, and not allowing alternate payment systems — are anti-competitive, increase prices for consumers, and reduce their choice. It seems unlikely that Apple will give way any time soon. Unless, of course, it has to. How does Apple’s walled garden grow — or die? There are plenty of reasons why Apple might have to change its ways. The company may have won most of the Epic Games lawsuit (pending Epic’s appeal), but it still faces antitrust action on several fronts that will play out over the coming years. Francisco Seco/AFP via Getty Images Margrethe Vestager, European commissioner for competition, speaks during an online news conference on the Apple antitrust case at EU headquarters in Brussels, in April. A growing number of countries have introduced or proposed laws that specifically target certain App Store practices, or are investigating Apple for potential violations of their competition rules. These include but are not limited to the European Union, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, South Korea, and Australia. Those could result in fines, which Apple, a $2 trillion company, probably isn’t too worried about. It also wouldn’t be the first time Apple has paid a considerable sum over antitrust violations. Another outcome — one that would be a much more troubling prospect for Apple — would be if the company were forced to change its business practices in order to keep operating in those countries. But in the United States, courts haven’t seemed too bothered by Apple’s App Store rules. A federal judge recently threw out a class action lawsuit from developers that said Apple was abusing its monopoly power by refusing to allow their apps in the App Store. As the Epic Games ruling indicates, American antitrust laws (and most courts’ interpretation of them) haven’t done much to change or force change on Big Tech companies. If you’re a lawmaker who is concerned about Big Tech’s considerable power, that’s a green light to propose laws that will. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), for example, said the ruling showed that “much more must be done” about the “serious competition concerns” app stores raise. As chair of the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, as well as a member of the Commerce Committee, she’s in a pretty good position to push through bills that do just that. Klobuchar is a co-sponsor of the Open App Markets Act, a bipartisan, bicameral bill that would do most of what Epic Games wanted. The legislation would force Apple to allow third-party app stores and the sideloading of third-party apps, require that app stores allow alternate payment systems, and forbid anti-steering policies. It would also ban app stores from giving their own apps special treatment or using non-public data from third-party apps to develop their own, competing apps. Patrick Semansky/Getty Images Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) confer at a Senate hearing in September. They, along with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), have sponsored the Open App Markets Act. The Open App Markets Act isn’t the only bill that could drastically change how Apple runs its App Store. Several more are currently making their way through both houses of Congress as part of its package of antitrust bills that target Big Tech. If passed, they’d also force Apple to include other app stores on its devices and forbid it from giving its own apps special treatment. One bill, the Ending Platform Monopolies Act, would even force Apple to break up its App Store and app development units into separate businesses. All of these bills are bipartisan, but it’s far from certain that any of them will become law. If they do, and in something close to their current form, they could benefit consumers by giving them more choice of apps on their phone, and it could make those apps cheaper. It may also subject iPhone users to additional safety and security threats, as Apple alleges, while prices stay largely unchanged. Apple says it supports updates to laws and regulations that benefit consumers, like privacy legislation — which the current bills on the table don’t do much to directly address. The Department of Justice, which has been investigating Apple since 2019, is reportedly preparing a lawsuit concerning the App Store. It and the FTC enforce America’s antitrust laws. Both agencies are headed up by people who have accused Apple of anti-competitive actions or worked for firms that have. Lina Khan, a Big Tech critic who helped write the House’s report, is now the chair of the FTC, and Jonathan Kanter, who advised Spotify when it lobbied Congress to take action against Apple, leads the DOJ’s antitrust division. Both agencies may get a major, needed funding boost if the Build Back Better Act and a bill that increases merger fees for large companies pass. With all of this said, Apple, “the warm and fuzzy monopolist,” is probably in a better position with its ongoing antitrust problems than its fellow Big Tech titans are with theirs. It has, so far, faced relatively less criticism in general, and many of the proposed bills and regulations don’t threaten its business model as much as they do that of the other companies. If Apple were forced to allow other app stores on its devices tomorrow, it would still have plenty of very healthy revenue streams. Those may still include the App Store. It’s not clear that many of Apple’s users would even use or want another app store. The fact that they use an iPhone and not an Android speaks to this. They could prefer or trust the security and privacy protections in the App Store over those of, say, a Facebook app store. Then again, if those other app stores took a lower commission from developers, allowing them to charge less than the Apple App Store does, Apple’s customers may well vote with their wallets, and developers might only offer their apps in stores that give them a better margin. In which case, Apple might just find itself finally having to compete for apps and customers — and maybe even lowering the App Store tax to do it. Apple wouldn’t be thrilled, but it would be just fine.
The case against Big Tech
Mark Wilson/Getty Images Will Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google survive the antitrust onslaught? And will Microsoft face it at all? Big Tech has become Too Big. Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google are facing very real threats to their considerable power over our everyday lives from all sides: lawsuits, federal and state legislation, international action, and a public that is increasingly distrustful of these companies and eager for more regulation and enforcement. Over the last several years, these companies have become bigger and more powerful, and their business decisions have had more impact on our daily lives and society, from the things we buy and where we buy them to the news and opinions we see on social media. What were once considered exciting and innovative products that improved our lives have become, for some, a necessary evil with few competitors. For others, these companies provide a service they use and enjoy. For most, it’s probably a mixture of both. Now we’re seeing a bipartisan movement to check these four companies by testing and expanding antitrust laws and the enforcers of them. Lawmakers have introduced a slew of bipartisan bills in the House and the Senate. Republican and Democratic state attorneys general have signed onto lawsuits accusing them of anti-competitive practices and calling for monetary and structural remedies. Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, both now led by outspoken Big Tech foes, are set to aggressively enforce antitrust laws: They have Big Tech in their sights. We haven’t seen this kind of test of the tech sector since the United States sued Microsoft for antitrust violations in 1998 — a lawsuit that led to the rise of the very companies that are being scrutinized today. Microsoft, meanwhile, has managed to avoid the spotlight this time around despite being more valuable than all of them except Apple (depending on the day). And while these five companies touch all of our lives in some way — sometimes in ways we aren’t even aware of, perhaps buried in the infrastructure of the internet that we use all the time — many people don’t quite understand what they’re being accused of, what antitrust laws are or what they do, and why it’s not as simple as “break up Big Tech” or “let the market decide.” In this five-part series, we’ll break down the arguments for and against these companies, the challenges they face, and how their — and our lives — could change if those efforts succeed. How much control should Apple have over your iPhone? Soumyabrata Roy/NurPhoto via Getty Images Apple is the king of premium phones, tablets, laptops, and watches. It’s also the king of vertical integration: It owns the iPhone, the operating system, and the App Store, which is the only way outside developers can get their apps on iPhones. Apple even makes some apps of its own. Now, the company is accused of abusing its control over its mobile devices to harm competition, stifle innovation, and inflate prices. Apple says it’s just giving its customers what they want and expect. by Sara Morrison Amazon (coming soon) Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images Amazon dominates the e-commerce world and has a very profitable cloud computing arm, but some say that dominance has come at a price, paid by businesses that rely on its Marketplace platform or sell directly to Amazon, warehouse and delivery workers, and consumers. Now, the company is facing antitrust lawsuits and complaints in the US and abroad, and the threat of laws that would forbid it from preferencing its own products. by Sara Morrison Google (coming soon) Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images Google is so interwoven into the fabric of the internet that it’s literally synonymous with internet searches. It dominates the world’s smartphone operating systems, web browsers, email providers, search engines, and the digital ad market. Allegedly abusing this dominance has led to billions of dollars in fines for antitrust violations abroad and antitrust lawsuits from almost every state attorney general in the United States as well as the Department of Justice. by Sara Morrison and Shirin Ghaffary Facebook (coming soon) Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images Facebook, now known as Meta, is the social media giant. It makes billions off of targeted ads based on our data and is accused of spending some of those billions to acquire potential competitors, either to kill them off or use them to secure their dominance. Regulators now want to break Meta up into separate companies, but it won’t be easy. by Shirin Ghaffary and Sara Morrison Microsoft (coming soon) Jeenah Moon/Getty Images Microsoft is one of the most valuable public companies in the world. Its Windows operating system is by far the most dominant. It’s made some huge acquisitions. It’s certainly a Big Tech company. Yet it’s largely been left out of the Big Tech reckoning, perhaps because it had its own version two decades ago. Microsoft’s past could be a preview of the Big Tech Four’s future. by Sara Morrison CREDITS Reporters: Sara Morrison, Shirin Ghaffary Editors: Adam Clark Estes, Samantha OltmanPhoto editor: Bita HonarvarGraphics: Amanda NorthropManaging editor: Nisha ChittalCopy editors: Elizabeth Crane, Tim WilliamsEngagement: Shira Tarlo
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Mocks Lauren Boebert Over Christmas Gun Photo
"Lol," wrote AOC, "all the years Republicans spent on cultural hysteria of society 'erasing Christmas and it's meaning.'"
Serena Williams opts out of Australian Open
The Australian Open’s website Wednesday said the seven-time women’s singles champion would not compete in Melbourne “following advice from her medical team."
'People's Choice Awards' Winners 2021: Dwayne Johnson and Kim Kardashian Win Big
Dwayne Johnson and Kim Kardashian win big at the "People's Choice Awards" 2021.
NYC Vaccine Mandate Blocked by Judge in Blow to Bill de Blasio
The Supreme Court of New York has suspended the mayor's mandate for New York City workers, pending a court hearing set for December 14.
Helicopter Crashes With India’s Top Military General Aboard
The fate of Gen. Bipin Rawat, the chief of the country’s defense staff, wasn’t immediately clear.
Atletico Madrid beats Porto in bad-tempered clash to advance in the Champions League
Atletico Madrid beat Porto 3-1 in a bad-tempered clash to steal a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League.
Goldzilla: This Is What Happens If You Set Your Pet Goldfish Free
The enormous goldfish were removed from a waterway in Canada, with authorities warning they are now an invasive species.
A Musk Bromance Is No Way to Win Friends at VW
The CEO’s admiration of Tesla and his talk of job cuts are the latest distractions at the Wolfsburg headquarters.
Scott Peterson was spared a death sentence. Now he will find out his new penalty
Scott Peterson has been in prison limbo since the California Supreme Court reversed his death sentence in August 2020 for murdering his wife and unborn child. On Wednesday, a court will finally determine his fate.
Early Study Shows Pfizer Vaccine Gives Some Protection Against Omicron
A South African lab experiment found the variant may dull the power of vaccines but hinted that booster shots might help. Here’s the latest.
Medical abortion Q&A: Are abortion pills safe? Can I get out-of-state prescription? Your questions, answered
Medication abortions account for almost half of U.S. abortions. Could they increase as the Supreme Court court weighs the future of Roe v. Wade?
Ahead of her manslaughter trial, here's what we know about Kim Potter, the officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright
The fatal shooting of a 20-year-old Black man named Daunte Wright by a White police officer outside Minneapolis has prompted protests and clashes with law enforcement. This is what we know about the shooter, former Officer Kim Potter.
Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas makes waves, breaks records
Lia Thomas, a Transgender swimmer at the University of Pennsylvania, shattered the Ivy League record in the 500-yard freestyle at the Zippy Invitational and won the finals.
Closing arguments set for today in Jussie Smollett's trial for alleged hoax attack
Closing arguments are set to take place Wednesday in Jussie Smollett's trial, a day after the former "Empire" actor took the stand to rebut allegations that he staged a hoax hate crime and lied to police about it in January 2019.
Japanese billionaire launches into space, plans cash giveaways and a zero-gravity haircut
Yusaku Maezawa, 46, who is flying on a Russian spacecraft, joins a small group of wealthy entrepreneurs who are also private space travelers.
Los Angeles: 34,000 students may be barred from schools over vaccine mandate
About 34,000 public school students in Los Angeles who qualify for the COVID-19 vaccine have not taken the jab and could be barred from in-person learning because they will not be fully vaccinated in time for the Jan. 10 deadline, a report said.
'Call of Duty: Warzone Pacific' Patch Notes, File Size, Weapons List and Map Revealed
The patch notes for "Call of Duty: Warzone Pacific" Season 1 reveal fresh details about the new map, weapon list, tweaked ruleset, update file size and more.
Helicopter carrying Indian military chief crashes
An Indian army helicopter carrying the country's military chief crashed Wednesday in southern Tamil Nadu state, the air force said.
Joe Biden Should Consider Nuclear Strike on Russia Over Ukraine—GOP Senator
Republican Senator Roger Wicker believes America must consider all options, including nuclear attack.
Biden's Supreme Court panel votes to take 'no position' on court-packing
Who will lose access to abortion if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade?
Twenty-six states plan to ban abortion in some form if the Supreme Court OKs Mississippi's ban past 15 weeks or overturns Roe v. Wade altogether.
You're already paying resort fees: These hotels offer you a bang for your buck
Because your hotel resort fees aren't optional, be sure you're reaping your money's worth.
Video of Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck Courtside at Lakers Date Goes Viral
Bennifer sat courtside on Tuesday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles to see the home team's clash with the Boston Celtics.
With inflation spiking, will states and voters give grocery taxes a second look?
Thirteen states have a tax on groceries, which tends to have a greater impact on people who make less money.
Most Americans are concerned about omicron but won't cancel holiday travel, poll shows: Live COVID-19 updates
Forty-seven percent of Americans said that while they've heard of it, they know almost nothing about the omicron COVID variant. Latest updates.
Schools Are Closing Classrooms on Fridays. Parents Are Furious.
Desperate to keep teachers, some districts have turned to remote teaching for one day a week — and sometimes more. Families have been left scrambling to find child care.
School District Investigates Claims of Longtime Sexual Misconduct by Teachers
Six teachers from Babylon High School have been placed on leave as the investigation continues and alumnae come forward with claims.
D.C.-area forecast: A few snow showers possible today; trending milder Friday before a very warm Saturday
Heavy rain showers could move through late Saturday into early Sunday.
Americans Are Addicted to 'Ultra-Processed' Foods, and It's Killing Us
Explosive growth in "ultra-processed" foods that bear little resemblance to anything natural is behind a panoply of diseases. Policymakers are taking notice
Ted Cruz Offered His Services in Resolving National 'Acrimony' About the Election
In this daily series, Newsweek explores the steps that led to the January 6 Capitol Riot.
The West’s Nuclear Mistake
In Germany and here in the United States, politicians who want to be seen as environmentalists are increasing greenhouse-gas emissions by forcing the premature closing of serviceable nuclear-power plants.You might think of Germany as a global environmental leader. But if you look at actual practices, you’ll see a different story. Germany burns a lot of coal, about 22 percent of all the coal burned on this Earth. Only China, India, the United States, and sometimes Russia burn more.That other industrial pioneer, Britain, burns almost no coal. In May 2019, mainland Britain went a week without burning any coal at all. The difference between Britain and Germany—and between Germany’s own rhetoric and its record—can be traced to one fateful decision by outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel: her decision in 2011 to phase out Germany’s nuclear plants.A decade ago, Germany operated 17 nuclear reactors. They produced nearly one-quarter of the country’s electricity. Carbon-free electricity from nuclear power enabled unified Germany to retire the ultra-dirty power plants of the former East Germany without disruption to consumers. Throughout her first six years as chancellor, Merkel had championed Germany’s nuclear industry, dismissing objections as “absurd.” According to Merkel’s allies, she was jolted out of that view by the wreck of the nuclear-power plant in Fukushima prefecture in Japan. In March 2011, an earthquake and tsunami triggered the worst radiation release since the Chernobyl accident in 1986. More than 150,000 Japanese people had to be evacuated from their homes. The New York Times explained the context at the time: “Unlike other world leaders, she is a trained scientist, with a Ph.D. in physics. She reached the momentous decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022 after discussing it one night over red wine with her husband, Joachim Sauer, a physicist and university professor, at their apartment in central Berlin.”You don’t want to say that any of that is untrue. But it’s also not the whole truth. Merkel had a pretty easy time in her first few years as chancellor. Her predecessor, Gerhard Schröder, had cracked the hardest problem left behind by German unification: persistently high unemployment. He drove through tough reforms to streamline Germany’s labor-market rules and social-welfare benefits. The reforms were not immediately popular. Schröder lost the chancellorship in the election of 2005. But as the Schröder reforms went into effect, Germans went back to work. The unemployment rate dropped from more than 11 percent in 2005 to less than 6 percent in 2011, despite the shock of the global financial crisis.Merkel coasted on Schröder’s work through those early years, with approval ratings in the 70s. But then her luck ran out. The 2008–09 financial crisis touched Germany comparatively lightly, but it hit Germany’s European trading partners hard. In 2010 and 2011, the countries of Southern Europe plunged into debt crises that forced a tough choice on Germany: rescue them, or risk seeing the euro currency zone dissolve. Under that pressure, Merkel’s popularity sagged. Her disapproval numbers reached their peak of 43 percent in mid-2010. This was the political context at the time of Fukushima. And you can see why it forced a deep rethink on a profoundly risk-averse, formerly pro-nuclear chancellor.[Read: Nuclear power is hot, for the moment]Germany has long been home to an active, mobilized movement against nuclear energy, much more so than other nuclear-using democracies. You can spend a lively evening with German friends discussing the sources of this movement’s strength. Whatever the origin, however, the antinuclear movement offered a considerable political resource to a politician willing to use it. Many politicians had pondered this opportunity in the past, including Merkel’s immediate predecessors. Merkel grasped it.In the days after the Fukushima accident, she announced that Germany would immediately close its eight oldest nuclear plants. In May, she decided to phase out the more modern nine by 2022. Three of those nine have already been closed, with the remaining six to follow by the end of next year. Nuclear’s contribution to Germany’s electricity output has been cut from the former nearly 25 percent to 11.3 percent, and soon will be zero.Merkel pledged that the gap would be filled by renewables. That promise has not been kept. Germany’s top power source in 2021 has been coal, which provided 27 percent of the country’s electricity. Wind ranks only second.Germany is also burning more natural gas—about 40 percent of it imported from Russia. That dependence will rise in the years ahead. Germany is working with Russia to complete a second under-the-Baltic pipeline with the reluctant acquiescence of the Biden administration. Much of Germany’s hesitance to support Ukrainian democracy against Russian aggression can be traced to Merkel’s choice against nuclear power in 2011.In the decade since Fukushima, Germany has reduced its greenhouse-gas emissions. According to official German figures, the country emitted about 917 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide equivalents in 2011. In 2019, it emitted about 810 million metric tons, an 11.7 percent reduction. That’s a better record than that of the United States, but it pales before nuclear-using Britain, which cut its emissions over the same period by more than 21 percent, a number that suggests what Germany might have accomplished had Merkel chosen a different course.This is a lesson Americans should consider too. The state of California, once a nuclear leader, has decommissioned three of its four nuclear plants, and is planning to close its last in the middle of this decade. Those plants have fallen victim to the same post-Fukushima anxiety that ended Germany’s nuclear era. Their closures portend equally grave consequences for California’s postcarbon future. The still-operating Diablo Canyon plant alone produces about 9 percent of California’s electricity. If Diablo Canyon goes offline in 2024 or 2025, filling that gap will almost certainly require burning more gas. Gas already provides 37 percent of California’s electricity; solar and wind together provide only about 24 percent. In the near term, less nuclear means more gas.[Read: There really, really isn’t a silver bullet for climate change]All energy choices entail trade-offs. Wind interferes with migratory birds and despoils open vistas. Solar panels are manufactured by coerced labor. Fabricating the panels—and disposing of them—can exude hazardous materials into the environment. Nuclear energy, too, has costs and hazards: radiation risks in the present; the disposal of spent fuel that must be safeguarded for centuries to come. But no other technology can so massively and so rapidly substitute for carbon-emitting electrical generation. No government that really regarded climate change as its top energy priority would close nuclear plants before the end of their useful lives.The world is warming because political systems find it hard to act today against the problems of tomorrow. Balancing present fears against future dangers is difficult. Nuclear seems scary. Climate change seems remote. And so in Germany and in California, politicians protect themselves in the here and now with choices whose costs will be paid decades later.In American eyes, Merkel’s reputation has benefited from the comparison with Donald Trump, who singled her out as the democratic leader he disliked most. American journalists even touted her as the true leader of the free world, to jab at an American president who had abdicated that role. There is much to appreciate about her reticent style of leadership. But history may judge that, on one of the most consequential issues of her chancellorship, Merkel not only led from behind, she led in the wrong direction. And unfortunately for the world, Americans seem determined to follow Merkel’s path.
CNN Faces Calls to Fire Don Lemon Over Jussie Smollett's Court Testimony
Jussie Smollett has testified that CNN anchor Don Lemon warned him that police didn't believe his account of an alleged racist and homophobic attack.
‘Drag Race’ Star Sharon Needles Terrorized a 15-Year-Old Superfan. And They Weren’t Alone.
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/GettyFor Annecy, a young queer person growing up in the South, RuPaul’s Drag Race was a lifeline. In the eighth grade, Season 4 winner Aaron Coady, who performs under the stage name Sharon Needles, was “everything” to them. “He talked about being the weird gay kid and I was like, ‘Me too.’”Annecy uses they/them pronouns. Throughout this story, Aaron Coady is frequently referred to by his drag name, Sharon Needles. Multiple sources in this story refer to their experiences with Sharon and use she/her pronouns, as is customary for many drag performers. We have chosen to keep these quotes intact, as opposed to editing for name and pronoun consistency.As they struggled with severe anxiety, panic attacks, and bullying at school, Annecy told The Daily Beast that Drag Race and online drag culture was “one of the few things keeping me happy.” They began going to drag shows and tweeting at their favorite Drag Race contestants. In 2013, when they were 15, Annecy started to interact with their idol, Aaron Coady, on Vine. Annecy, who was frequently suicidal as a teen, recalled one night in which they “took a bunch of pills.” Annecy said they spoke to Coady that night, and he “started talking to me about how he thinks suicide is beautiful and that I should keep eating pills, and kept calling me an idiot and a moron.”Read more at The Daily Beast.
Trump Can Win the Jan. 6 War Even if He Loses the Legal Battle
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/GettyFrom his faux Resolute Desk at Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald Trump can still wield a wrecking ball that damages the congressional investigation of the insurrection—even if he loses his ongoing battle in the nation’s highest courts.Lawyers widely expect Trump will, indeed, fail at his attempt to assert “residual” executive privilege to keep damning documents shielded from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection. But constitutional scholars warn that judges appear poised to give him a slight opening that could severely delay congressional investigators and give resistant witnesses legal ammunition in their own court fights.The potential delays matter even more now that tight-lipped Trump loyalists are stacking up, with news in recent days that former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and ex-Assistant Attorney General Jeff Clark have put themselves on the same “contempt of Congress” path of martyrdom as Steve Bannon for relying on the ghost of Trump’s executive privilege to defy subpoenas and refuse to testify.Read more at The Daily Beast.
Scottish oysters were on the rocks. Now a whiskey distillery is throwing them a lifeline
Oyster populations have plunged by 95% in the UK, but the Glenmorangie Distillery is helping to restore their numbers in Scotland's Dornoch Firth.
‘Benedetta’ Is the Steamy Tale of Two Lesbian Nuns and Their Virgin Mary Dildo
Courtesy IFC FilmsPaul Verhoeven is a satiric provocateur who genuinely believes in—and is drawn to—the power and passion of sex. Benedetta is thus an ideal vehicle for the Basic Instinct, Showgirls and Elle director, recounting the inspired-by-real-events ordeal of a 17th century nun who thought herself the bride of Christ and expressed her divine love through a lesbian affair. Pain, piety, sin, and desire all collide in this hot-to-trot import (in theaters now), which critiques the church and its notions of legitimate holiness via a tale that’s as playfully blasphemous as it is erotic—both of which are epitomized by the unforgettable sight of a handheld Virgin Mary wood carving fashioned into a sex toy.A tempestuous balance between the sacred and the profane is struck by Benedetta, which opens with young Benedetta (Elena Plonka) being transported by her wealthy parents to a convent in Pescia, a small village in the Tuscany region of Italy. Along their journey, they stop to pray to the Virgin Mary and are accosted by a group of soldiers who mock their devotion and attempt to steal a medallion from the girl’s mother. Benedetta warns them that the rustling wind is proof that Mary intends to punish them for their affront and, though they scoff at this idea, they’re proven wrong when one of them receives bird shit in the eye. Benedetta’s saintliness is thereby confirmed from the outset, depicted by Verhoeven with the sort of impish humor that defines his ensuing tale, in which Benedetta is welcomed into the convent and discovers that she’s destined for divine things.If Benedetta speaks directly to God, her new home’s abbess (Charlotte Rampling) is primarily concerned with running and maintaining her own position at the convent. That she’s introduced haggling with Benedetta’s father over the dowry price he’ll pay to have his daughter admitted marks her as a greedy woman consumed by matters more material (and personal) than heavenly. As embodied by Rampling, the abbess is a stern and shrewd ruler who hews to the church playbook to a tee. Benedetta, however, is anything but conventional, as illustrated by her first night at the convent, during which she stops to pray to a giant statue of the Virgin Mary only to have the figure literally fall on top of her, perched prostrate as if it were a lover, its naked breast exposed—at which the adolescent Benedetta instinctively suckles. Unlike Sister Jacopa (Guilaine Londez), who wishes that her entire body was as wooden as her fake finger (and carved with the name of God), Benedetta’s devotion isn’t cold and dead “like a gravestone” but, rather, flesh-and-blood hot.Read more at The Daily Beast.
How Donald Trump Could Help Stacey Abrams Win Georgia
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/GettyThe last time Donald Trump screwed things up for the Republican Party in Georgia—less than a year ago—it cost his party control of the U.S. Senate and the country trillions of dollars (so far). Guess who’s back to offer more “help” to Georgia Republicans?In case you missed it, Trump (who also managed to lose Georgia’s electoral votes during the presidential election to a Democrat for the first time since 1992) is backing former U.S. Senator David Perdue in a primary bid against Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, who angered Trump by not helping him overturn the 2020 election results. Trump wants to get even, but a lot of Republicans just want to get ahead.“I would hate to see two good men run against each other,” Eric Tanenblatt, who served as chief of staff to former Gov. Sonny Perdue, told CNN’s Mike Warren in November. “Having watched the Republican Party become the dominant party in Georgia, it’s puzzling to me [that] we would see a sitting incumbent Republican governor be challenged by another Republican.”Read more at The Daily Beast.
Dan Crenshaw Helps the GOP Form a Circular Firing Squad
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/GettyLet them fight.That was my first thought after hearing Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), fire rhetorical shots at a Texas Liberty Alliance PAC event, calling out some of his Republican colleagues as “grifters” and “performance artists” who only “know how to say slogans real well” which they use to “get all of the attention.” He accused them of reciting lines “they know our voters want to hear.”He was referring to the absurdly named and violent insurrection-supporting House Freedom Caucus and members like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, Louie Gohmert and Mo Brooks, who have accused him of voting for a “vaccine database” to track and punish unvaccinated citizens. In reality, Crenshaw said it was a House bill allocating state funds to update immunization information systems, but to the same group that routinely promotes QAnon conspiracies, a life-saving measure during a pandemic might as well be a mark of “deep state” oppression and a violation of their liberty to stay sick, dumb, and vulnerable.Read more at The Daily Beast.
Why Are Orbs Flooding Your Timeline? Blame the Meme Recession
Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily BeastThe nights are long. The memes are stale. How about a nice orb in these trying times?Maybe you’ve observed an influx in spherical content on social media, or a conspicuous increase in images of wizards contemplating crystal balls. This is no coincidence: orbs are the internet’s hot new three-dimensional shape, supplanting the cube, which saw a surge in popularity among cryptocurrency aficionados last month. As an extremely online year draws to a close and the season’s memes limp through our timelines, web-weary internet users are flocking to the warm, offline nostalgia of basic shapes.We are, a mega-viral tweet theorized last week, stuck in a “meme recession,” filled with phoned-in jokes and recycled concepts. As evidence, the Twitter user cited one of the moment’s insurgent memes: a cartoon of a happy man and an unhappy man on a bus. The unhappy man is labeled with a caption of something unenjoyable (“being a Jets fan”) while the happy man represents something pleasant (“not being a Jets fan”).Read more at The Daily Beast.
Breitbart Launching a MAGA Rival to Politico’s Playbook
Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero/The Daily BeastBreitbart is set to launch a Beltway-centric newsletter, in the vein of Politico’s famed Playbook but for a MAGA audience, The Daily Beast has learned.With a slated launch early in the new year, the brand-new newsletter—which will be written in the outlet’s staunchly populist, anti-establishment Republican voice—will serve as a daily email blast for conservative Hill staffers and media members living inside what the site derisively refers to as “the swamp” or the “D.C. political bubble.”Helmed by Breitbart politics editor Emma-Jo Morris, the D.C. product will serve as one of a soon-to-be five total daily email journals from the fervently pro-Trump publication. Morris joined Breitbart in November, having previously worked as deputy political editor of The New York Post, where she broke a string of stories on Hunter Biden’s emails that were immensely popular in conservative media circles and served as a key talking point late in the Trump 2020 campaign.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here
Casino Tied to Dem Congresswoman Wants to Keep Its COVID Loan Money
Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero/The Daily Beast/GettyIn the year since COVID-19 dealt the gambling industry an awful hand, many companies have seen their luck improve.That’s proven to be good news for Rep. Susie Lee, a Nevada Democrat—politically as well as personally.Last year, Lee notched a major win for her Las Vegas-area district by successfully pushing for casinos to gain access to the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which doled out loans to businesses hit hard by the pandemic.Read more at The Daily Beast.
This Small Tech Company May Actually Be a Ransomware Front Group
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/GettyIt seems innocent enough: a little-known Canadian company that offers an array of tech and consulting services. But a certificate from that company—a sort of signature that can be tacked onto malware—showed up in two pieces of ransomware last month and leading experts told The Daily Beast they believe the small company is actually a front for at least two Russian ransomware gangs.The company—cheerily named “SpiffyTech”—has a number of red flags. For one, if you want to look at SpiffyTech’s leadership team, you’re out of luck. They don’t exist.The site does list four top staffers next to their stylish headshots. But the SpiffyTech operators appear to have stolen each and every photo.Read more at The Daily Beast.
Did Homophobic Fans Troll Rapper Rick Ross Into Changing His Album Cover?
Epic RecordsRick Ross is ready for a new era.The 45-year-old rapper delivered the news last month that he’s dropping his 11th studio album, Richer Than I Ever Been, on Dec. 10. Paired with the announcement was a striking photo of Ross (born William Leonard Roberts II) donning a blush pink fedora and a crisp white cape with a diamond-encrusted brooch pinned to his chest. His face is hidden behind white leather driving gloves, with a glittering ring the size of an AirPod case sitting on his pinky.It’s a stunning photograph, and one that marks a brighter, more artistic approach than Ross usually takes with his promotional images. Many of his past albums feature dark and moody cover art, with Ross presenting himself as an imposing figure, his eyes always shielded by sunglasses.Read more at The Daily Beast.