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Trump's anti-democratic 2022 playbook takes shape as Biden faces off with Putin

Former President Donald Trump's grip on the Republican Party is tightening as the 2022 midterm elections approach and GOP candidates launch campaigns at every level of governance -- from school boards to the US Senate -- with hopes of attracting his endorsement and strengthening the anti-democratic movement fueled by his lies about last year's presidential contest.
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Biden's weakness on Ukraine makes Putin feel free to act up
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André Leon Talley Defined Style on His Own Terms
André Leon Talley, who died on Tuesday at the age of 73, made the fashion world take notice of Black design genius. In the late 1990s, he regularly championed Kevan Hall, Stephen Burrows, Willi Smith, and many others in his Vogue “StyleFax” column, firmly placing these emerging designers in the mainstream. By that time, he had spent years attempting to map a new American fashion genealogy—one that now extends to superstar Black designers of today such as LaQuan Smith, Mimi Plange, Kerby Jean-Raymond, and Christopher John Rogers, whom Talley presciently called “the future” of fashion.Talley’s name is rarely spoken without a mention of Vogue, as if even being hired by the publication, which many view as the fashion bible, was his biggest accomplishment. Talley was indeed a pioneer at Vogue at a time when powerful African Americans in the industry were rare. As the magazine’s first Black creative director, he infused its pages with models of deeper hues and with garments that referenced the African diaspora. From his hiring until he left Vogue, in 2013, Talley never forgot the Black readers who’d subscribed to Vogue because of him—and he kept on battling an institution that was often antagonistic to his changes. But Talley’s influence stretched far past Vogue. In particular, it included his vision for a more democratic fashion world.Talley first gained widespread notice in 1978 as the Paris bureau chief of Women’s Wear Daily. Having studied French language and literature, he found a home there, even when his European counterparts were less welcoming. In Paris, Talley continued to build the persona that would eventually win over readers and designers alike. His style foundation was rooted in the Black church of racially segregated Durham, North Carolina, where, as a child, he had marveled at the women and men who strutted in their Sunday finery. In his own outfits, Talley would mix that sacred glamour with the profane sensibilities of Studio 54, with its edgy silhouettes and hedonistic celebrity appeal. His look was a medley of floor-length robes, tailor-made caftans, Russian ushankas, mauve alligator coats, snakeskin boots—all held together by the refined demeanor Talley had honed on the campus of North Carolina Central University, an HBCU, and the Ivy League Brown University. He was a Black man, standing at 6-foot-6, the likes of which Paris had never seen. Andre Leon Talley and Marina Schiano circa 1980 in New York City (Photo by PL Gould / IMAGES / Getty) Talley’s blended style reflected his desire for a more heterogeneous fashion industry. Over the course of his long career, his editorials became as bold as his looks; for example, his 1996 Vanity Fair spread “Scarlett ’n the Hood” subversively starred Naomi Campbell as the Gone With the Wind protagonist. His singular voice, however, could not be confined to the page. The hint of a southern accent, affectation of old Hollywood ingénues, and touches of French made his every shout of “Saucy!” or “This is a look!” ring out with an air of familiar authority. That charm made him a fan favorite during his appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show or his brief stint as a judge on America’s Next Top Model. Talley also bore the scars of being one of one—including the time early in his career when, he says, a publicist at Yves Saint Laurent regularly referred to him using the racist, homophobic epithet “Queen Kong.”[Read: Fashion’s racism and classism are finally out of style]Talley, a son of the Jim Crow South, was used to being the target of soul-crushing slurs. His stint as Ebony’s New York City–based editor in the early 1980s offered respite from the violence of the broader fashion world. Sadly, his transformative year at Ebony is one of the most overlooked periods of his career. Talley was pleased when he learned that this landmark African American lifestyle magazine was willing to pay the $22,000 salary he’d been earning at Women’s Wear Daily. Hiring Talley was a strategic move for Ebony’s co-publisher Eunice Johnson, a savvy businesswoman who had been steadily building the magazine’s global presence since the 1950s. Together, the two traveled Europe, meeting with haute-couture designers and acquiring wares. They were busting down racial barriers, those vestiges of the interwar period when the industry was even more segregated.Ebony, not Women’s Wear Daily, made Talley a household name in the Black community. “Finally, I had a job that would make my entire church family and all my aunts and cousins proud,” he wrote in his 2020 memoir, The Chiffon Trenches. He was free to design whimsical fashion spreads, without having to navigate the racial fault lines of mainstream publications. Talley’s remarkable work at Ebony likely caught the attention of Vogue executives, who would hire him just a couple years later.[Read: Why Ebony magazine’s archives were saved]Talley loved cultivating his own fantasy universe in magazine pages but was especially keen on building real-life community with those he respected, as was evident in the institutions he affiliated with. Largely ignored by the New York fashion schools, Talley chose to return to his roots, making his educational home in the South, outside of America’s style epicenter.In 2000, Talley began a long and fruitful relationship with the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). After honoring Talley with the SCAD Lifetime Achievement Award in Fashion that year, they renamed the prize after him. Each subsequent year, Talley assisted in the selection of the recipient. Over the past two decades, honorees have included Oscar de la Renta, Stephen Burrows, Miuccia Prada, Vera Wang, Karl Lagerfeld, and Tom Ford. One of the beauties of the award is that these fashion giants must leave the comforts of their urban milieux to receive their award in Savannah—and most have.SCAD gave Talley a place to formalize his vision for a more liberated fashion future. There, he curated exhibitions, served as a trustee, and mentored the next generation of designers and stylists. As a boy, Talley immersed himself in the romantic photos he saw in magazines in order to block out images of racial terror that played on television. In his last two decades, he built a fashion hub in the Deep South that his former self could have only imagined. As he wrote in his memoir, “Nothing like this had ever been offered to me in New York or Paris.”Talley’s legacy is not just one of chronicling and directing trends; it’s also of encouraging people on the margins to invest in themselves. “I don’t live for fashion … Fashion is fleeting. Style remains,” Talley says in the opening sequence of his 2018 documentary, The Gospel According to André. Beyond his impact at Vogue, he inspired the everyday Black, brown, and queer folks who admired him to define creative freedom on their own terms—and in their fearless self-stylings, his memory remains. Throughout his storied career, Talley was often isolated in rooms with the white fashion elite, frequently finding himself indebted to them in unsettling ways. By the end of his life, his message to future generations was: Never wait for a seat at the table. Build your own table.
Can Russia back down in Ukraine?
A convoy of Russian armored vehicles moves along a highway in Crimea on January 18. Russia has concentrated an estimated 100,000 troops with tanks and other heavy weapons near Ukraine. | AP Russia’s invasion threat looms, and there have been no diplomatic breakthroughs yet. “My guess is he will move in. He has to do something,” President Joe Biden said of Russian President Vladimir Putin during a Wednesday press conference. Biden was describing the predicament his counterpart has created for himself in Eastern Europe, as Russia has stationed tens of thousands of troops along the Ukrainian border. Biden added that there is space to work with Russia on a peaceful solution if Putin wants it, but if he escalates, “I think it will hurt him badly.” It was a remarkably blunt — maybe too blunt — assessment of the standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine, which is staring down the threat of a possible Russian invasion. The crisis has built and built, lately with renewed signs of Russian aggression, from cyberattacks on Ukrainian government websites to the Kremlin moving troops to neighboringBelarus for joint military exercises. Against this backdrop, diplomatic talks in Geneva between the US and Russia sputtered earlier this month, and renewed efforts between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday produced no big breakthroughs. Blinken said Friday that the two would speak again after the US consults with its allies and responds to a series of demands from Russia. It’s one sign there might still be a way out of the crisis, if not exactly an optimistic one. Some of the big-ticket demands on Russia’s list are nonstarters with US and NATO allies, something Russia also probably knows. For example, Moscow wants guarantees that NATO would not expand eastward, including to Ukraine, and a rolling back of troop deployment to some former Soviet states, which would turn back the clock decades on Europe’s security and geopolitical alignment. These demands are “a Russian attempt, not only to secure his interest in Ukraine, but essentially re-litigate the security architecture in Europe,” said Michael Kofman, research director in the Russia studies program at CNACNA, a research and analysis organization in Arlington, Virginia. In other words, this is about Ukraine. But Ukraine is also a stage for Russia’s own insecurities about its place in Europe and the world, and how Putin’s legacy is tied up all in that. “For Russia, what it sees as Western encroachment into Ukraine is a very big part of how the West has been weakening Russia, and infringing on a security interest for all of this time,” said Olga Oliker, program director for Europe and Central Asia at the International Crisis Group. All of this makes it difficult to see a diplomatic way out, especially when 100,000 troops are posted along the Ukrainian border. Russia has denied that it has plans to invade, and few believe Putin has fully made up his mind on what he wants to do. But with all the threats and ultimatums, Putin may still have to do something if he cannot wrest concessions from the West. “In a certain way, [he] has put himself in a corner,” said Natia Seskuria, associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute. “Because he can only do this once.” Diplomacy isn’t totally dead. But it’s not going great. Russia presented the United States with its demands last month. It requested “legally binding security guarantees,” including a stop to eastward NATO expansion, which would exclude Ukraine from ever joining, and that NATO would not deploy troops or conduct military activities in countries that joined the alliance after 1997, which includes Poland and former Soviet states in the Baltics. Kyiv and NATO have grown closer over the last decade-plus, and actively cooperate. But Ukraine is nowhere close to officially joining NATO, something the US openly admits, and something Russia also knows. Still, NATO says Ukrainian future membership is a possibilitybecause of its open-door policy, which says each country can freely choose its own security arrangements. To bar Ukrainian ascension would effectively give Russia a veto on NATO membership and cooperation. Removing NATO’s military presence on the alliance’s eastern flank would restore Russia’s influence over European security, remaking it into something a bit more Cold War-esque. Russia almost certainly knew that the US and NATO would never go for this. The question is what Putin thought he had to gain by making an impossible opening bid. Some see it as a way to justify invasion, blaming the United States for the implosion of any talks. “This is a tried-and-true Russian tactic of using diplomacy to say that they’re the good guys, in spite of their maximalist demands, that [they’re] able to go to their people and say, ‘look, we tried everything. The West is a security threat, and so this is why we’re taking these actions,’” said David Salvo, deputy director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy and a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund. On the other hand, Russia’s hardline requests — alongside its aggressive military buildup — may be intended to get the West to move on something. “I don’t think that this was intended by Putin to fail, as some think. I think it was intended to extract concessions,” said Anatol Lieven, senior research fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. “And the question, of course, would be just how many concessions would satisfy the Russian government and obviously allow Putin to build up his domestic prestige.” And that really is the question, especially since, so far, nothing seems to have really worked. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, a seasoned negotiator, met with Russian counterparts in Geneva earlier in January but made little progress. Blinken and Lavrov met Friday for 90 minutes; the meeting yielded no breakthroughs but Russia and the US agreed to potentially keep at it, after the US delivers written answers to Russia’s demands next week. “I can’t say whether or not we are on the right path,” Lavrov told reporters, according to the New York Times. “We will understand this when we get the American response on paper to all the points in our proposals.” Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS via Getty Images Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shake hands ahead of security talks at the Hotel President Wilson in Geneva, Switzerland, on January 21. Russia might not like the responses on NATO, but there are spaces where the US and NATO could offer concessions, such as greater transparency about military maneuvers and exercises, or more discussions on arms control, including reviving a version of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or even scaling back some US naval exercises in places like the Black Sea, which Russia sees as a provocation. “There is still potentially room on those fronts,” said Alyssa Demus, senior policy analyst at the Rand Corporation. “That’s entirely possible that the US and Russia or NATO and Russia could negotiate on those — and then maybe table the other issues for a later date.” But if the US and NATO extendthose olive branches or others, that might not be enough for Putin. Neither of thesewill resolve Putin’s fundamental sticking point. He has repeatedly framed the US and NATO as a major security threat to Russia for his domestic audience, including spreading disinformation about the West being behind the real chaos in Ukraine. “Having built up this formidable force, and issued all manner of ominous warnings, he’s got to come back with something tangible,” said Rajan Menon, director of the grand strategy program at Defense Priorities. Moscow will likely continue the diplomatic route for as long as it thinks it serves its interests. ButRussia has previously said it wouldn’t “wait forever.” “If they decide that it’s not worth continuing to talk — that they’re not going to get enough of what they want from talking — then they might as well fight,” Oliker said. “Then they’re doing it because they think the fight is going to get them closer to that solution than not fighting.” Russia could opt to destabilize Ukraine — but it’s already been doing that Russia has deployed troops, tanks, and artillery near the Ukrainian border, movements that look as though Moscow is preparing for war. But what kind of war will determine the humanitarian, political, and economic tolls, and the response of Ukraine, the United States, and Europe. And, really, Ukraine is already at war. In 2014, Russia illegally annexed Crimea, and exploited protests in the Donbas region, in eastern Ukraine, backing and arming pro-Russian separatists. Russia denied its direct involvement, but military units of “little green men” — soldiers in uniform but without insignia — moved into the region with equipment. More than 14,000 people have died in the conflict, which ebbs and flows, though Moscow has fueled the unrest since. Russia has also continued to destabilize and undermine Ukraine, including by launching cyberattacks on critical infrastructure and conducting disinformation campaigns. It is possible that Moscow takes aggressive steps — escalating its proxy war, launching sweeping disinformation campaigns and cyberattacks, and applying pressure in all sorts of ways that don’t involve moving Russian troops across the border and won’t invite the most crushing consequences. But this route looks a lot like what Russia has already been doing, and it hasn’t gotten Moscow closer to its objectives. “How much more can you destabilize? It doesn’t seem to have had a massive damaging impact on Ukraine’s pursuit of democracy, or even its tilt toward the west,” said Margarita Konaev, associate director of analysis and research fellow at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET). And that might prompt Moscow to see force as the solution. What happens if Russia invades There are plenty of scenarios mapping out a Russian invasion, from sending troops into the breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine to seizing strategic regions and blockading Ukraine’s access to waterways, to a full-on war with Moscow marching on Kyiv in an attempt to retake the entire country. What Russia does, ultimately, will depend on what it thinks will give it the best chance of getting what it wants from Ukraine, or the West. Any of it could be devastating, though the more expansive the operation, the more catastrophic. Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty Images Ukrainian troops stand in a trench on the front line with Russia-backed separatists near Verkhnetoretske village, in the Donetsk region of Ukraine on January 18. A full-on invasion to seize all of Ukraine would be something like Europe hasn’t seen in decades. It could involve urban warfare, including on the streets of Kyiv, and airstrikes on urban centers. It would cause astounding humanitarian consequences, including a refugee crisis. Konaev noted that all urban warfare is harsh, but the specifics of how Russia fights in urban settings — witnessed in places like Syria — has been “particularly devastating, with very little regard for civilian protection.” The colossal scale of such an offensive also makes it the least likely, experts say, and it would carry tremendous costs for Russia. “I think Putin himself knows that the stakes are really high,” Seskuria, of RUSI, said. “That’s why I think a full-scale invasion is a riskier option for Moscow in terms of potential political and economic causes — but also due to the number of casualties. Because if we compare Ukraine in 2014 to the Ukrainian army and its capabilities right now, they are much more capable.” (Western training and arms sales have something to do with those increased capabilities, to be sure.) Such an invasion would force Russia to move into areas that are bitterly hostile toward it. That increases the likelihood of a prolonged resistance (possibly even one backed by the US) — and an invasion could turn into an occupation. “The sad reality is that Russia could take as much of Ukraine as it wants, but it can’t hold it,” said Melinda Haring, deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. Still, Russia could launch an invasion into parts of Ukraine — moving to secure more of the east, or south to the Black Sea. That would still be a dramatic escalation, but the fallout will depend on what it looks like and what Russia seeks to achieve. The United States and its allies have said that a large-scale invasion will be met with aggressive political and economic consequences, including potentially cutting Russia off from the global financial system to nixing the Russia-to-Germany Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Biden, during his Wednesday remarks, said that if Russia invades it will be held accountable, though “it depends on what it does. It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and then we end up having to fight about what to do and not to do.” Some accused Biden of signaling that Russia could get away with a baby invasion, though the White House later clarified that any move across the Ukrainian border will be met with “a swift, severe, and united response” from the US and its allies. Ukraine has said there is no such thing as a “minor incursion.” But those remarks also reflected the challenges of trying to contain Russia in a place the United States and Europe do not themselves want to fight, and where allies do have competing interests. And Putin, of course, already knows this. “The question is,” Konaev said, “how much military power [Russia is] willing to commit to where it will call it a day and call it goals achieved?” Has Putin backed himself into a corner? Putin’s ultimatum — give me Ukraine, and a say in Europe, or I may do something with all these troops — is a dangerous one. Not just because, well, war, but because it has created a situation where Putin himself has to deliver. “He has two options,” said Olga Lautman, senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, “to say, ‘never mind, just kidding,’ which will show his weakness and shows that he was intimidated by US and Europe standing together — and that creates weakness for him at home and with countries he’s attempting influence.” “Or he goes full forward with an attack,” she said. “At this point, we don’t know where it’s going, but the prospects are very grim.” This is the corner Putin has put himself in, which makes a walk-back from Russia seem difficult to fathom. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen, and it doesn’t eliminate the possibility of some sort of diplomatic solution that gives Putin enough cover to declare victory without the West meeting his explicit demands. It also doesn’t eliminate the possibility that Russia and the United States will be stuck in this standoff for months longer, with Ukraine caught in the middle and under sustained threat from Russia. But it also means the prospect of war remains. “The Russian government has not decided definitely on war. In other words, there is still a possibility of compromise,” Lieven said. “But that war is certainly much, much more likely than it has ever been since 2015.”
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The Filibuster Is Still Doomed
To hear Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema tell it, they hoped to defend voting rights. They also hoped, even more fervently, to defend the Senate filibuster.In the end, they did neither.It’s true that by joining their Republican colleagues this week to reject a rules change and block a pair of voting-rights bills, the two Democrats ensured that the filibuster remains temporarily intact. But Manchin and Sinema’s goal was not merely to block a piece of legislation or preserve a procedural rule in the short term. As Manchin himself put it, “We must never, ever, ever, ever tear down the only wall, the necessary fence, that this nation has against the excesses of the executive branch and the resultant haste and tyranny of the majority.”[Read: Democrats moved the filibuster overton window]Yet as Manchin also acknowledged, his arguments in favor of the filibuster have failed to persuade. Forty-eight of his Democratic colleagues—including many who supported the 60-vote threshold in the past—decided that voting rights were more important than the filibuster. So did past presidents. So did the current president. So did Stevie Wonder. So did Oprah.In other words, although the most recent attempt to thwart the filibuster did not succeed, neither did the most recent attempt to defend it for future generations. The filibuster now has three paths forward—and all of them end, one way or another, in its demise.The first and most obvious possibility is that Democrats will one day win a Senate majority that doesn’t depend on Manchin and Sinema. Because so many states are bright red, and because so many state-level anti-voting laws are now likely to go unchecked, there’s no guarantee that such a majority will materialize soon, but at some point one may. Ninety-six percent of sitting Democratic senators have already voted to change the rules. Unless Republicans can maintain power indefinitely, the days of the Senate’s 60-vote threshold are numbered. The second way the filibuster could fall is far worse for Democrats: Republicans could regain full control of Washington and decide that the 60-vote threshold has outlived its usefulness. The last time the GOP held the House, White House, and Senate, in 2017, Republicans ignored President Donald Trump’s repeated calls to end the legislative filibuster. But if they regain control of Washington in 2024, the situation will be very different. Any newly elected Republican senators will belong to a party in which fealty to Trump—a filibuster opponent—is the most important plank. And even their long-serving colleagues may decide that, in a body governed mostly by precedent, Democrats have set a new one. Mitch McConnell or his successor can point to dozens of recent statements and speeches by their colleagues across the aisle arguing that the filibuster either should be ended entirely or ignored when a sufficiently crucial bill demands it.This is especially true if Trump, or a Trumplike president, wants to rig elections nationwide. The overwhelming majority of Senate Democrats are now on the record articulating a principle: Protecting voting is an important enough priority that it is worth going around the filibuster in order to advance it. The same principle, repurposed under Donald Trump’s misleading definition of “election integrity,” could be used by Republicans to justify nationwide anti-voting laws as well. (Such arguments would be, of course, in bad faith. But that won’t prevent anyone from making them.)Then there’s a third possibility: Someday we look back on this moment and realize that the filibuster that Manchin and Sinema were extolling, the guardrail against tyranny of the majority, was already dead—at least to Republicans. After all, during the Trump era, Republicans didn’t just pass massive upper-income tax cuts via budget reconciliation, which requires a simple majority vote. They also ended the filibuster for Supreme Court confirmations, installing the most conservative high-court majority in generations. That Court is now poised to accomplish a wish list of Republican legislative priorities—overturning Roe v. Wade, expanding gun rights, and hamstringing the government’s ability to issue regulations, among others—without having to find 60 votes for a single piece of legislation.If Republicans regain the Senate, Democrats can filibuster conservative legislation. But that won’t matter much if filibuster-proof judges issue conservative rulings that have essentially the same effect. The full impact of the Court’s rightward turn has yet to be felt, but it’s possible that, thanks to these judges, the Senate’s rules are less a wall than a valve, facilitating conservative policies while blocking progressive ones. A real campaign to defend the filibuster would include restoring the 60-vote threshold for confirmations, and to her credit Sinema has suggested that she would be in favor of doing just that. But so far, just as she has failed to persuade many Democrats to join her in preserving the current 60-vote threshold, she has failed to persuade many Republicans to join her in trying to strengthen it.[David Litt: The Senate filibuster is another monument to white supremacy]Over the past year, reformers fought an uphill battle to convince senators that the chamber’s rules should be changed. But over that same time period, two of those senators set out on a no-less-quixotic quest: convincing their skeptical colleagues that the Senate rules should remain unchanged. They came up short. The filibuster is doomed.The shame, and quite possibly the tragedy, is that Manchin and Sinema doomed voting rights along with it.
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The NFL Puts Black Coaches in an Impossible Situation
Coaches such as David Culley, just fired from the Houston Texans, and Brian Flores, of the Miami Dolphins until very recently, face a major problem in the NFL. It’s not their pedigree. It’s not their experience. It’s not their ability to relate to players. It’s not their offensive or defensive schemes.It’s that they’re Black.That conclusion might seem harsh, but it’s been almost 20 years since the NFL adopted the Rooney Rule, which was intended to give candidates of color a better shot at head-coaching jobs and was eventually expanded to cover front-office openings as well. What the league has to show for its efforts in 2022 is the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin as the lone Black head coach in the league. The reason is painfully obvious: In a league where roughly 70 percent of players are Black, owners have no real interest in seeing Black coaches thrive.The league currently has eight head-coaching jobs open, and the names of a bevy of Black coaches have popped up as potential interviewees or even leading candidates. Yet most will be passed over, and the few who get hired are likely to inherit difficult situations—in which they won’t be extended the same patience that their white counterparts enjoy.This is just how the NFL operates. The firings of Colley and Flores highlight the double standards and unrealistic expectations that Black coaches routinely face.[Jemele Hill: NFL owners have a problem with coaches of color]Last year, the 66-year-old Culley was the only Black head coach to be hired, and now he’s gone after just one season. The Texans’ 4–13 record certainly looks bad, but keep in mind that the team released its three-time Defensive Player of the Year, J. J. Watt, a few weeks into Culley’s coaching tenure. The star quarterback, Deshaun Watson, sat on the bench all season because the Texans were hoping to trade him away. Watson is currently facing 22 civil lawsuits that allege he engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior with a number of female massage providers.Despite that turmoil, the Texans won the same number of games under Culley this season as they did under his predecessor, Bill O’Brien, last season—and O’Brien had Watson on the field. If anything, Culley outperformed any reasonable expectations based on what he had to work with. Last week, when reporters pressed the Texans’ general manager, Nick Caserio, about why Culley was fired, Caserio had nothing to offer: “It’s not necessarily one specific thing,” he vaguely explained. “In the end, there was some differences about next steps or how we move forward, not necessarily rearview mirror about what has happened.”The reason Caserio couldn’t provide much insight is because the Texans put Culley in a position where he had no chance to succeed. Culley came in with 27 years of NFL coaching experience but had never before had a real opportunity to be a head coach. The Texans handed him a thin roster lacking any high-impact players.Before hiring Culley for the top coaching job, the team also interviewed Josh McCown, a veteran NFL quarterback who has never coached professionally and hasn’t played in the league since 2019. In fact, McCown’s only coaching experience has been at a high school in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Texans are now considering him again, fueling speculation that McCown was their first choice and that they hired Culley last year only because they feared how rejecting the more experienced coach would look.Just the fact that McCown, who is white, has been able to interview twice for a head-coaching job with a practically nonexistent résumé speaks to what Black coaches are up against in the NFL. Maybe Culley wasn’t the right long-term fit for the Texans, but if the Texans used him as a shield to hire the coach they actually wanted, that would be beyond insulting.[Jemele Hill: Jon Gruden just put it in writing]Unfortunately, in the NFL Black coaches are expected to perform miracles quickly, and when they don’t, it usually costs them their job. In 2018, the Arizona Cardinals fired Steve Wilks after one season. Like Culley, Wilks took over a team with poor prospects, not least because the Cardinals general manager, Steve Keim, had made a series of questionable draft choices. But Wilks was the one who paid the price.Culley has been judged far more harshly than the Detroit Lions head coach, Dan Campbell, who is white. The Lions have been a woeful franchise for decades. This season, the team flirted with going winless for the second time in franchise history. Campbell won one fewer game than Culley, but despite the Lions’ 3–13–1 record, the mood around Campbell is optimistic and hopeful. Sports Illustrated recently published a listicle bearing the headline “4 Signs Dan Campbell Is Right Coach for Lions.” It praised him for being brought to tears early in the season when Detroit lost to Minnesota and slipped to 0–5. “It is so refreshing to see a head coach who gets emotional,” the author wrote.Some optimism is warranted: Under Campbell, the Lions, who lost many close games, have been more competitive than their record suggests. Campbell certainly deserves more time to see if he can turn the Lions around. But many Black coaches in similar positions don’t get the same benefit of the doubt when they can’t show immediate improvements. And sometimes, even when the results are impressive, that’s still not good enough.The Lions are the same franchise that fired Jim Caldwell in 2017 after he led the Lions to two playoff appearances in his four seasons as head coach. Caldwell, who is Black and went to a Super Bowl as the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts in 2010, had three winning seasons, including his final season, when Detroit was 9–7. The Lions thought they could do better than Caldwell. But they couldn’t. Matt Patricia, the Lions’ next coach, failed to have a winning season, never went to the playoffs, and finished his Lions tenure with a 13–29 record. Caldwell was 36–28.Meeting a fate similar to Caldwell’s was Flores, who was fired despite guiding the Dolphins to their first back-to-back winning seasons since 2002–03. Some reports ascribed the shocking move to Flores’s conflicts with the general manager, Chris Grier, and the starting quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa. Testy relationships within a football team are nothing new. But plenty of other coaches with strong personalities keep their job, especially after showcasing the kind of promise that Flores exhibited.[Jemele Hill: ‘Some team has to want me’]Even if Flores lands at another team—he’s rumored to be the top candidate for the New York Giants’ opening—or other Black coaches are named head coaches in the current hiring cycle, his firing and Culley’s have left a unique stain on the NFL’s hiring process for head coaches.Since its inception, the NFL has twice expanded the reach of the Rooney Rule in an effort to force NFL owners to consider minority candidates more seriously. The rule was well-intentioned, and sometimes over the years it has appeared to have some impact. But no substantive change will occur as long as NFL owners continue to see Black coaches as expendable. These owners’ failure to value Black male leadership becomes obvious at this time every season—just as it did last year. Unfortunately, it’s a serious problem that the NFL doesn’t seem to have the motivation or will to solve.
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The hidden lesson in the new free Covid-19 tests
A woman receives a package with a rapid Covid-19 test in Gentbrugge, Belgium. In the US, free tests by mail are starting to roll out. | Philippe Francois/Belga Mag/AFP via Getty Images It is possible to create programs that don’t burden the people who need them most. This is an excerpt from the newsletter for The Weeds. To sign up for a weekly dive into policy and its effects on people, click here. This week, the Biden administration rolled out a plan to send up to four free Covid-19 tests to every household in America. But you probably already knew that. At times, there were over 700,000 concurrent visitors to the page on the USPS site — more than every other .gov page combined. The enthusiastic response was remarkable because it was unusual. There are at least three different ways the Covid-19 test rollout succeeded where people expect government to fail: It highlighted the failures of industrial and regulatory policy that have led to widespread shortages in at-home Covid-19 tests, and delays in results coming back from test sites. It brought back memories of new government websites being unable to handle high traffic volume (e.g. It was quick and simple:The only information people needed to provide was their street address. The execution wasn’t perfect (a flaw affecting some apartment dwellers led the government to limit some buildings to a single four-test order) but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm. Which tells us something about how difficult Americans expect it to be to interact with the government, especially when trying to get the assistance the government has promised them. Emotional labor, but for government There are a few ways to think about these bureaucratic struggles. One, coined by Annie Lowrey in a 2021 Atlantic feature, is the “time tax” — the amount of time and energy that people waste interacting with the government. But my preferred term, popularized by the academics Donald Moynihan, Pamela Herd, and Hope Harvey is “administrative burden” — which refers not only to the concrete loss of time and money, but to the cognitive and psychological burdens of having to learn and comply with government rules. It’s hard to say just how much administrative burden there is. There’s no attempt to synthesize information about it even at the federal level, let alone the state and local governments that are responsible for implementing most safety-net programs. The best way to understand it is to look at all the labor involved to access a specific program: unemployment benefits in North Carolina, for example. The one overarching truth is that administrative burdens particularly harm people already marginalized because they’re most in need of assistance and because they’re most likely to have difficulty jumping through all the hoops. Maybe they don’t have a computer, maybe they don’t speak English or understand legalese, or maybe they have to forgo shifts at work just to go to the right office to submit a form. By extension, any restriction on who is eligible for benefits increases administrative burden, not only for people who apply and are found ineligible but also those who have to do more work to prove eligibility in the first place. The Covid-19 test webpage could be easy because there were no restrictions; it didn’t need to ask about anything besides your address. There’s also a second-order way that making programs universal fights administrative burden: When politically empowered, privileged Americans are inconvenienced by something, they’re more likely to make noise and get it to change. But there is little if any political incentive to reduce the burden on people who politicians don’t typically listen to or need to court, such as noncitizens or people disenfranchised due to criminal records. If you work in government or as a service provider — or if you are or know someone who’s been further marginalized by the hassle of administrative burden — I’m really curious to learn more about what you’ve seen. You can email It’s always good when The Weeds can talk about policy not only from the perspective of its designers, but also its users.
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Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger involved in multi-vehicle accident
Actor and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was involved in a multi-vehicle crash Friday evening in Los Angeles with a representative telling People magazine that he wasn't hurt.
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‘Batman’ sidekick Burt Ward recalls lasting friendship with Adam West: ‘We just clicked’
Adam West passed away in 2017 at age 88. Burt Ward, who starred as his trusty sidekick Robin, revealed they shared a lasting friendship.
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Stefanos Tsitsipas advances to Australian Open fourth round -- but didn't realize he'd won
Stefanos Tsitsipas had to dig deep to beat Benoit Paire in the third round of the Australian Open -- so deep that immediately after he'd won, he didn't even realize the match had ended.
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Mötley Crüe's Nikki Sixx opens up on sobriety, why he left California for Wyoming: ‘It’s home’
The Mötley Crüe co-founder and bassist looks back at his formative years in a memoir published in late 2021 titled “The First 21: How I Became Nikki Sixx."
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Abcarian: Ivanka Trump wanted to be at the center of it all. And now, boo-hoo, she is
What happened in the Oval Office on Jan. 6, 2021? And why does the Trump Organization seem to be so shady about its assets? Surely, Ivanka knows.
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Nick Kyrgios says he was threatened by Croatian doubles entourage
Australian firebrand Nick Kyrgios said a coach and trainer of world number one doubles pair Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic had threatened to fight after their doubles match at the Australian Open.
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5 books not to miss: John Darnielle's 'Devil House,' new Danya Kukafka thriller
The Mountain Goats singer-songwriter John Darnielle releases dark new novel "Devil House," and Danya Kukafka returns with a haunting thriller.       
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Metro’s next leader will face ridership challenges and a looming ‘financial cliff’
Short-term problems have obscured what transit leaders say is coming into greater focus with each passing month. Federal workers are not returning in numbers needed to cover the transit agency’s nearly $2 billion annual operating costs.
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Josh Allen is the perfect fit as Buffalo's quarterback: 'He understands Bills fans'
Bills fans believe Josh Allen is one of them — he believes it, too. Allen leads Buffalo vs. the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes on Sunday.       
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New Yorkers want gun violence to end. A controversial police unit returns to help
New York City's new mayor, Eric Adams, a former NYPD officer, says the unit will help curb gun violence and will be run differently than the original, which was ruled unconstitutional.
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We asked how you are finding joy in the pandemic. Here are 12 surprising ideas
It's been two long years of COVID gloom. But NPR's readers didn't let it keep them down. From cicada tracking to open-water swimming to roller-skating squads, you share how you bring the fun.
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‘That raise meant nothing’: Inflation is wiping out pay increases for most Americans
After years of barely budging, wage growth is finally at its highest level in decades. A global pandemic, combined with swift government stimulus and unexpected labor shortages have put workers in the drivers’ seat, giving them the kind of negotiating power they’d never imagined. But in an unexpected twist, the same strong economic recovery that is emboldening workers is also driving up inflation, leaving most Americans with less spending power than they had a year ago.
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22 for ’22: Composers and performers to watch this year
How Carlos Simon, Kamala Sankaram, the Living Earth Show and 19 more artists are changing the classical landscape.
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The 49th anniversary for Roe V. Wade could be its last unless you take action
Some states are poised to enact draconian bans on abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned. It's time to take legislative action to protect access to abortion.       
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Hinge added a new voice recording function. Will it change how we digitally date?
The dating platform's newest voice function has gone viral on TikTok, where people show off the most ridiculous and earnest responses, and it is seemingly bringing digital daters closer together.
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What the fallout from the Supreme Court's Texas abortion ruling means for the future of Roe
As the Roe v. Wade ruling celebrates its 49th anniversary on Saturday, the vast majority of abortions have been outlawed for nearly five months in the second most populous state in the country.
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What to Watch for in Saturday’s N.F.L. Playoff Games
The divisional round games feature a style clash in the early meeting between the Bengals and Titans. Then, the 49ers will try to extend their postseason streak against the Packers.
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Would Putin Really Invade Ukraine For This?
How the Biden administration’s high-stakes diplomacy to avoid a crisis in Ukraine is going.
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Native American tribe's eviction plan raises civil rights concerns. Should US government intervene?
A Native American tribe's plan to evict tenants from HUD-assisted homes, the latest clash in a long disenrollment dispute, is under federal review.       
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Gavin Newsom clarifies calling train thieves ‘gangs’: 'Forgive me ... They're organized groups'
California Gov. Gavin Newsom clarified this week that when he called criminals accused of stealing packages from cargo trains in the state "gangs of people" he wasn’t implying the thefts were gang-related.
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Why Please Don’t Destroy’s Warp-Speed Absurdity Is the Future of Saturday Night Live
When Lorne Michaels retires, the show will need a new guiding light, or three.
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Living on water and broth: Voting rights activists turn to 'political and moral' hunger strikes
Faith leaders, students and activists have gone on hunger strikes to press for a federal voting rights bill, a tactic used in the civil rights era.      
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Ron DeSantis Won’t Kiss the Trump Ring
It was another week of mostly meaningless political rifts.
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Joe Biden 'Open' to Vladimir Putin, Volodymyr Zelenskiy Summit as Russia Agrees to Talks
The U.S. said it would provide written responses to Russian security demands amid soaring tensions over its military build-up by Ukraine.
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Pakistani convicted murderer takes top school score, wins scholarship
A Pakistani inmate serving a life sentence for murder in an overcrowded Karachi prison has won a scholarship for further study after taking one of the highest scores in the city's higher secondary school exams last year.
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