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Thief stole $500K in jewelry from ex-NBA star Allen Iverson: cops
A thief snatched $500,000 worth of jewelry owned by former NBA great Allen Iverson from a Philadelphia hotel, police said. An unidentified man grabbed a backpack belonging to Iverson, 45, containing the bling from the lobby of the Sofitel Hotel on South 17th Street early Monday, Philadelphia police said. “The scene was held and the...
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nypost.com
Amazing video shows a dozen strangers lift an SUV off a woman pinned underneath
A group of bystanders rescued a woman who was pinned under an SUV in New York City. Amazingly, she walked away with no broken bones.        
usatoday.com
After Ukraine Interview Spat, State Dept. Bans NPR Reporter From Travel With Pompeo
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lashed out at another NPR reporter during an interview on Friday
time.com
Times New Roman Trends Following Heated Twitter Debate About the Best Font: 'I Am Bitextual'
A heated discussion about which font type and size people prefer has sparked much controversy on Twitter.
newsweek.com
Case-Mate gets eco-friendly with its new Eco94 cases
Fitting with the sustainable trend that is washing over tech, Case-Mate is teaming with The Nature Conservancy to create a series of eco-friendly phone cases for iPhone models from the iPhone X to the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
edition.cnn.com
Lamar Odom says death of ‘brother’ Kobe Bryant is worst pain since losing his infant son
Lamar Odom on Tuesday said the loss of former Lakers’ teammate Kobe Bryant “feels like a long-lasting nightmare” — calling it the worst pain since the death of his infant son. “It seems rather surreal. It feels like a long-lasting nightmare,” the 40-year-old former hoops star told “Good Morning Britain” about Sunday’s helicopter death of...
nypost.com
Browns' Kareem Hunt laments being cut from Kansas City Chiefs during traffic stop: 'I should be playing for a freaking Super Bowl'
Cleveland Browns’ running back Kareem Hunt found himself in trouble again after getting pulled over last week for speeding, and getting caught with marijuana and an open container of vodka.
foxnews.com
What we know: The latest updates on tragic accident that killed Kobe Bryant, eight others
Basketball has been put on pause in L.A. as players and fans continue to mourn the tragic deaths of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others.       
usatoday.com
Face Masks Are Selling Out in U.S. Over China Coronavirus Fears, but Experts Say They Won't Protect Against Infection
A total of five cases of the new coronavirus have been confirmed in the U.S. since the outbreak started in China in late 2019.
newsweek.com
Breaking hotels of their single-use plastic habit
Until recently, the travel industry hadn't done much about its reliance on single-use plastics. But that's changing, with an increasing number of customers demanding (and getting) more sustainable amenities such as larger, refillable toiletry dispensers.
edition.cnn.com
Breaking hotels of their single-use plastic habit
For Sam Thompson, it was literally a watershed moment that came unexpectedly.
edition.cnn.com
Storm system bringing snow, ice and thunderstorms from Heartland to the East Coast
A large storm system in the heartland continues to cause treacherous road conditions for millions with ice, snow and thunderstorms.
abcnews.go.com
Kobe Bryant’s Fans in California Remember the Lakers Legend
Tuesday: More details emerge about the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant. Also: An early encounter with the star.
nytimes.com
Dallas Pastor T.D. Jakes announces new foundation
The foundation will offer job training and classes in science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
cbsnews.com
Former Belgian King Albert II admits he fathered love child over 50 years ago
The stunning about-face by the 85-year-old ex-monarch comes after a DNA test proved he is the biological father of Delphine Boel.
nypost.com
The Spotted Pig closes following settlement announcement, 'rape room' accusations
Ken Friedman, the owner of the onetime celebrity hot spot, confirmed the news on Monday.
foxnews.com
CDC issues strongest coronavirus warning yet
The CDC has issued its strongest travel warning yet, urging Americans to avoid all non-essential travel to China, where more than 100 people have died after getting the coronavirus. The virus has infected more than 4,500 and spreads from person to person. Health officials are investigating more than 100 possible cases in the U.S. Dr. Jon LaPook explains the threat on "CBS This Morning’s” Morning Rounds.
cbsnews.com
Bolton news does not change calculus for Senate Republicans
Revelations in the New York Times of a book manuscript by former national security adviser John Bolton claiming President Donald Trump told him he wanted to continue withholding aid from Ukraine until its government announced investigations "into Democrats including the Bidens" offer the latest twist in the impeachment saga. But the news is unlikely to change the political calculus of Republican senators who were already unlikely to convict the president.
edition.cnn.com
Bolton news does not change calculus for Senate Republicans
Scott Jennings writes that the new revelations in John Bolton's book are unlikely to sway the minds of Republican senators on impeachment.
edition.cnn.com
Japanese coach driver who met Wuhan tourists catches coronavirus: ministry
A Japanese coach driver has been infected with the new coronavirus after coming into contact with Chinese visitors, officials said on Tuesday, the first reported case of a possible transmission inside Japan.
reuters.com
AP probe raises doubts about murder conviction
Myon Burrell has served more than 17 years for the shooting of an 11-year-old girl _ a case originally prosecuted by presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar. But an Associated Press investigation uncovered myriad inconsistencies in the case. (Jan. 28)       
usatoday.com
Super Bowl LIV: 15 bizarre prop bets for the big game
A record 26 million Americans are expected to bet $6.8 billion on Super Bowl LIV, as more states legalize online gambling and the public becomes comfortable with it, according to newly released data from the American Gaming Association. And much of that will be spent on prop bets, which have not only piqued the public's interest, but have become ever more bizarre in nature over the years.
foxnews.com
Trump legal team dismisses Bolton book storm
• Bolton blows impeachment case back open • Commentator on defense: Are you kidding?
edition.cnn.com
Trump ally Doug Collins to launch primary challenge for Senate seat in Georgia
Collins is expected to challenge appointed GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler, setting up a heated party showdown that could split Republicans in the state.
nypost.com
Bernie Sanders surges in the polls, but what do voters really think?
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has surged in the polls ahead of the Iowa caucus. CBS News political contributor Jamal Simmons joins “CBS This Morning” to discuss what that means to voters on the ground. He also comments on what John Bolton’s testimony would mean for the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
cbsnews.com
American Law Does Not Take Rape Seriously
When Harvey Weinstein arrives at the Superior Court of New York each day, frail, aged, sometimes hobbling on a walker, he settles into a courtroom crowded with spectators and freighted with a legacy of distrust. On the prosecutor’s side sit two women alleging that the Hollywood producer sexually assaulted them; four others who would buttress their claims that he is a sexual predator; and, in spirit if not in fact, dozens other accusers and legions of people who see in Weinstein the original villain of the #MeToo movement. Across the aisle, supporting Weinstein and his attorneys, are the skeptics of this and other rape prosecutions, those who cite the false allegations against the lacrosse players at Duke and the fraternity brothers at the University of Virginia. And permeating every moment of the proceedings, every motion and witness testimony, every cross-examination and jury instruction, is the disturbing history of rape prosecution in America.What’s happening in the Manhattan courtroom is a watershed for Weinstein and, perhaps, for victims who almost never see their abusers held accountable. Rape is rarely investigated or prosecuted, making sexual assault the easiest violent crime to get away with. This is changing, but slowly—less like the tsunami of the #MeToo movement and more like a tide rising in centimeters. The trials of Weinstein, and Bill Cosby before him, surely mark progress. But as Tania Tetlow, a former federal prosecutor and the president of Loyola University New Orleans, observes, “It’s a sad sort of progress that we now believe victims when the 40th or 50th victim comes forward.”Skepticism about sexual violence seems to be written into Western society, and certainly into Western jurisprudence. Lord Matthew Hale, a 17th-century judge in England, captured the sentiment when he instructed jurors to consider carefully the allegations of the victim before them. A rape charge “is an accusation easily to be made and hard to be prove, and harder to be defended by the party accused,” he advised, adding that the woman’s testimony should be examined “with caution.”If those words seem prehistoric, then consider this guidance from the Model Penal Code, a blueprint for states to look to when writing their criminal codes. The code, a project of the American Law Institute, was published in 1962. It originally suggested that a woman must report an assault within three months, the so-called prompt-outcry rule that makes even the stingiest statute of limitations today look generous by comparison. The authors wrote that a prosecutor must not take the woman’s word at face value, but find external corroboration in “an attempt to skew resolution of … disputes in favor of the defendant.” They further noted the “dangers of blackmail or psychopathy” by a “vindictive complainant,” and recommended that jurors evaluate a woman’s testimony “with special care,” given “the emotional involvement of the witness.” States drew heavily on the code, and that’s how it read until 2012—that’s right, 2012—when lawyers began to make revisions.Rape laws in most states were written in such a way as to make rape virtually impossible to prosecute,” says Jane Manning, a former sex-crimes prosecutor in Queens, New York, and currently the director of the Women’s Equal Justice Project, a nonprofit that advocates for survivors of sexual assault. First, she says, until a wave of changes beginning in the 1960s, the “corroboration requirement” meant that a woman’s testimony was worthless unless it could be proved by external evidence. If a man robbed and then raped a woman, her testimony could convict him of the robbery but not the assault.Second, a woman had to show “earnest resistance”—proof that she fought or fled, even if doing so would have put her life at risk. Third, if she dared to proceed to court, her own sexual and personal history were fair game, leading to brutal questions: Were you a virgin? How many partners have you had? Why were you at that bar? These questions theoretically spoke to her “chastity” and credibility. And finally, the law provided no refuge for a woman married to a sexually abusive husband. Rape was part of the marriage contract. From Genesis to 19th-century America, a wife was the man’s property. “Raping your wife made no sense at all,” Tetlow says. “You had perfect rights to her. But for someone else to rape your wife—that was an incredible affront to the husband’s dignity, and a sort of ruination of his property.”In the past five decades, progress has proceeded in fits and starts. All states have effectively eliminated the corroboration requirement. Most have extended the statute of limitations, though in a dozen states, a victim must report the assault within a decade, sometimes less. Not until the ’70s did the federal government and states begin to enact rape-shield laws, barring defense attorneys from grilling a woman about her sexual history. By 1993, marital rape was technically outlawed in all 50 states. Yet about a dozen states have loopholes in the law, such that a man cannot be prosecuted for raping his wife if she is, say, drugged or asleep. Minnesota changed its law only last year, after a woman went public with her story: She had found videos of her husband raping her while she was unconscious, drugged; in one video, the camera zooms in to show her face, and the face of her young son lying next to her.But if some of the rules have changed, the attitudes that animated those rules live on, a vile inheritance passed down to the current generation. Despite the #MeToo movement, those attitudes continue to shape the events in the courtroom, the jury room, and society.This makes the People v. Harvey Weinstein a tricky proposition for the prosecutors. According to The New York Times, more than 90 possible accusers have been whittled down to two. The first is Mimi Haleyi, who alleges that Weinstein forced her to have oral sex at his apartment on July 10, 2006. The other, Jessica Mann, had hoped Weinstein would help her break into acting until, she alleges, the producer forcibly raped her in the spring of 2013. She’s considered an “imperfect” witness—a troubling idea to begin with—because evidence has emerged that she continued a relationship with Weinstein for years after the alleged assault.Prosecutors are also calling on four other women to bolster their case and increase the penalty. They’re charging Weinstein with “predatory sexual assault,” which carries a life sentence, and to that end, last week they called Annabella Sciorra (best known for her role in The Sopranos) to describe how Weinstein allegedly raped her in her Gramercy Park apartment in the winter of 1993–94. Finally, three other victims—Dawn Dunning and Tarale Wulff, both aspiring actresses, and Lauren Young, a model—will testify about alleged assaults in 2004, 2013, and 2005, respectively. The prosecutors hope to show that Weinstein had a modus operandi: inviting women into a hotel room or going to one of theirs, offering to help them with their movie career, asking for a massage, pressuring them for sex, remaining in contact afterward. As for the dozens of other women who claim he harassed or abused them, the incidents happened too long ago or didn’t meet the standard of sexual assault—or, perhaps reasonably, the alleged victim did not want her life scrutinized and publicly maligned by the defense.As they try to prove their case, prosecutors must grapple with the legacy of skepticism toward women’s allegations of rape. True, lawmakers and judges may have excised the more odious barriers to proving rape allegations. But the sentiment remains: Today’s laws are direct descendants and carry the same disbelief, under a new name. In short, even in 2020, the woman’s character and behavior are on trial as much as the man’s.Consider the rule that a woman’s testimony is worthless without external evidence. “It’s no longer the case that there’s a corroboration requirement as a formal matter,” notes Deborah Tuerkheimer, an expert on rape law at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law and a former sex-crimes prosecutor in Manhattan. “But how often do we hear someone say, ‘Well, it’s just a he said, she said case’?” Of course the state should guard against false allegations that can ruin a man’s reputation, Tetlow says. But it’s as if “somehow, uniquely of all crimes, rape involves an extraordinary amount of false reporting,” and so a woman’s word deserves higher scrutiny. Tetlow says studies show that about 5 percent of rape allegations turn out to be false—no higher than any other crime.I came across this sentiment time and again when researching my Atlantic story on why so few rapes are investigated and prosecuted. Usually, the victim never sees a courtroom. Police tend to pursue only cases involving a “righteous victim”—for example, a woman raped by a stranger with a gun, in an alley, who fought back, who had a clean record, and who had no alcohol in her system. That is a “real rape,” worthy of investigation. But 80 percent of the time, the victim knows her assailant. Prosecutors avoid those cases, even if they believe the woman, anticipating that a jury will not. Central to the “he said, she said” conundrum lurks the issue of consent. How do you prove she resisted, without cuts and bruises? How do you prove the encounter wasn’t a “party rape,” in which a woman drinks too much and has sex, or a matter of “buyer’s remorse”—when a woman consents to sex and then regrets it in the light of day? In part driven by public outcry, Harvey Weinstein’s case has, against the odds, reached the courtroom. But even here, the issue of consent, and the credibility of the women in this “he said, she said” case, has shaped the prosecutors’ decisions. Early on, for example, they centered their case on Lucia Evans, who alleges that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him at his office in 2004. The district attorney suddenly and publicly dropped her, after a source told investigators that Evans had said the act was consensual—something Evans denies.When a victim does come forward, she does so at her peril, inside the courtroom and out. Rape-shield laws theoretically prevent a defense attorney from exposing a woman’s sexual history, Tetlow says. But if the victim’s behavior “doesn’t look like the behavior of a nun, she will be attacked.” Society—part of it, at least—may have abandoned the chastity standard and accepted that women should be as free to express their sexuality as men. But in effect, the law has not caught up. At least one alleged victim told The New York Times that she opted not to come forward, because her lawyer warned her that Weinstein would hire investigators to dig through her past. Weinstein’s defense attorney, Donna Rotunno, spelled out the modern-day equivalent of the chastity requirement when she told ABC News: “If you don’t want to be a victim, don’t go to the hotel room.” According to Manning, the former sex-crimes prosecutor, the message is clear: “A woman who goes into a man’s hotel room is by definition a loose woman, and she deserves whatever happens to her.”One might think that the fame and accomplishment of some of Weinstein’s accusers would empower them. But Tetlow says no one is spared. “I don’t think that there’s any woman in this country, no matter how powerful, who doesn’t understand that they can be taken down in a moment.”Which in fact happened. Two decades ago, Weinstein invited the young actress Ashley Judd to his hotel room for a breakfast meeting; would she give him a massage, a shoulder rub, watch him take a shower? After she declined, he spread word around Hollywood to avoid her; she was “a nightmare to work with.” He exacted the same revenge on the actress Mira Sorvino around the same time.Professional concerns aside, getting a conviction for rape is a long shot—and a nightmare. When a woman alleges rape, the defense (and the jury) dissects not only her character and history, but also her behavior during and after the alleged assault. Here’s where the descendants of two pillars of rape law come into play: forcible compulsion and earnest resistance. Did he overpower her, and did she kick and scream or run away? For the Manhattan prosecutors to prove the first-degree rape of Jessica Mann or the first-degree criminal sexual conduct (oral sex) perpetrated against Haleyi, they must demonstrate that Weinstein forced the women to comply, or made them fear he would injure them. It’s not enough that they allegedly told him to stop. This is a high bar for a crime with no witnesses, reported long after any possible bruises had faded and DNA had disappeared. And New York is not an outlier: About half the states have a forcible-compulsion requirement.If the force standard seems antiquated, the resistance standard predates, and defies, everything scientists have established about the neurobiology of trauma. Why didn’t she fight? Why didn’t she run? Why didn’t she scratch his eyes out or kick him where it hurts? These are ridiculous questions to rape survivors. You never know how you’re going to react in that moment of terror. I interviewed one victim who offered her assailant iced tea, hoping he’d be satisfied with that. Another pretended to enjoy herself so he wouldn’t kill her—a choice that, trauma experts say, is rational, not inculpatory. We’d never expect a robbery victim to fight back, Manning says, “but there’s still this ancient prejudice in the back of our mind that when it comes to rape, a virtuous victim should put up a fight.” Even though Weinstein did not wave a knife or a gun, his accusers said they nonetheless felt terrified for their safety, and their careers.Here we arrive at the heart of Weinstein’s defense: that these were willing partners, as evidenced by their behavior in the days and even years afterward. Already, Weinstein’s attorney has suggested that the women were using Weinstein, not the other way around—“that they were doing this to get ahead in the industry,” Northwestern’s Tuerkheimer says, “and maybe it wasn't something that they wanted because they were wildly attracted to Harvey Weinstein—but this was transactional.”Exhibit A for the defense is a series of emails from Mann, who claims that Weinstein raped her on March 18, 2013. “I hope to see you sooner rather than later,” she wrote three weeks after the alleged assault, one of hundreds of warm emails she sent him over the years. The next day she wrote, “I appreciate all you do for me, it shows.” Five months later: “Miss you Big Guy.” Four years later, she was still writing: “I love you, always do. But hate feeling like a booty call. :).”“Friendly emails do not mean it’s consensual,” Tatlow notes. “But they are very tricky to explain to a jury.” Still, she says, put yourself in the alleged victim’s shoes: Harvey Weinstein may hold the keys to her every career opportunity. “The desire to somehow make nice and hope that you can still get what you have earned in your career is very strong. It’s easy to blame women, but I don’t know why you would blame them for that versus blaming the man who would put them through such hell.”Veronique Valliere, a forensic psychologist who works with both sexual perpetrators and victims, says that for most victims who know their assailant, reaching out to him, “even if it feels wrong,” helps them sort through their confusion. They need some sort of admission from him to set their world back on its axis: “Even just an acknowledgment and apology, like, ‘Hey, I was a little drunk last night. I went a little too far. Sorry.’” It’s easier for a victim to deny that a friend or mentor or colleague assaulted her than to deal with its fallout. “Because to say I’ve been raped, I have to say my friend is a rapist,” Valliere explains.Manning argues that you can draw a straight line between the marital-rape exception—that it’s okay to rape your spouse—and the pattern of assault and reconciliation common in acquaintance rape. “It is still surprising to many jurors that a woman could continue in a personal or professional relationship after a rape. And the victim is sort of trapped.” But she says that to those who work with domestic-abuse survivors, “it’s a familiar story.”What happens in the jury room—the narratives that dominate the discussion, and the unvoiced biases in each juror’s head—makes the outcome anyone’s guess. Valliere knows this all too well. She testified as an expert witness in the first trial of Bill Cosby, in 2017, who was accused of drugging and assaulting a 29-year-old acquaintance. (Dozens of women said Cosby assaulted them, but the prosecution relied on only one victim, Andrea Constand.) Valliere explained to the jury that victims and perpetrators often act counterintuitively: Perpetrators can be charming and kind; victims can seem engaged in the friendship. Cosby talked with Andrea Constand’s mother and insinuated himself into the young woman’s life; Constand called Cosby 53 times after the assault. Ultimately, facts didn’t matter. The jury hung for reasons unrelated to the evidence. One juror spoke with a Pittsburgh TV station and explained, “My personal feeling is, whatever the man did, he has already paid his price—paid, suffered. He’s looking bad. I was wondering if he was going to make it through the whole trial.”Philadelphia prosecutors retried Cosby in 2018. The second time, they brought in five other women, who served as witnesses to describe Cosby’s signature: his pattern of mentoring, drugging, keeping in touch—a strategy the New York prosecutors have adopted in their case against Weinstein. The second jury convicted Cosby.Weinstein’s defense team seems to be following Cosby’s script, Valliere observes. Weinstein looks fragile and old. “He doesn’t look dangerous. He doesn’t look sexual. He doesn’t look like what the victims are going to portray him as—a powerful, confident, arrogant, persistent, and coercive offender who feels entitled to take what he wants. It doesn’t surprise me that he came in on the walker.”Valliere adds that many verdicts come down to likability. She remembers that in lunch breaks during his trial, Cosby would step outside the courthouse to greet hundreds of his fans gathering in the plaza. “Hey, hey, hey!” he’d call out. “Hey, hey, hey!” they’d chant back. Cosby was America’s Dad, adored by many despite his transgressions. “I think there may be one thing that Weinstein doesn’t have that Cosby did,” she says. “I don’t get the impression that he was ever a particularly likable public figure.”The fact that Weinstein is being tried at all is, again, progress. But society’s—and the law’s—distrust of women’s accounts will die slowly. An unspoken high standard still seems to prevail in these cases: Not only must the state prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but it must prove the victim’s purity as well. If a man were robbed at an ATM, it wouldn’t matter what he was wearing or what time of night he was withdrawing money; the dispositive fact is that a robbery occurred. If two men brawled at a bar and one broke the other’s nose, it wouldn’t matter whether they came to the bar together; the fact is, an assault occurred. Only when the victim is a woman and the crime is sexual can such personal details derail a prosecution—whether she knew her assailant, how she interacted with him before or after the assault, what her sexual history entailed. Only in sexual-assault cases are these private matters as important as the allegation. Maybe the prosecution of Harvey Weinstein will shift society’s view of a woman who says she has been raped. What it won’t change is the law itself.
theatlantic.com
3M is cutting 1,500 jobs in a global restructuring
Industrial conglomerate 3M is laying off 1,500 workers globally as the company looks to restructure.
edition.cnn.com
Chipotle cited with 13,253 child labor law violations in Massachusetts
Chipotle agreed to pay a $1.3 million fine for more than 13,000 child labor violations at several of its Massachusetts locations.
edition.cnn.com
Aus Open Day 9: Margaret Court protested, Federer's great escape
Day 9 of the Australian Open brought a protest against Margaret Court, Roger Federer escaping seven match points against Tennys Sandgren and Ash Barty marching on to the semifinals.
edition.cnn.com
Why the media is so polarized — and how it polarizes us
Amanda Northrop/Vox Read an excerpt from Why We’re Polarized, the new book by Ezra Klein. The following is an excerpt from Ezra Klein’s new book, Why We’re Polarized, published by Simon & Schuster and available January 28. We talk a lot about the left/right divide in political media. But we don’t talk enough about the more fundamental divide that precedes and, in some ways, causes it: the interested/uninterested divide. In All the News That’s Fit to Sell, economist James Hamilton writes, “News emerges not from individuals seeking to improve the functioning of democracy but from readers seeking diversion, reporters forging careers, and owners searching for profits.” That’s a bit more cynical than I’d be — a lot of us really do want to improve the functioning of democracy — but as a description of the overall economic system that surrounds our work, it’s useful. You can’t understand the news without understanding the financial and audience forces that shape it. The first thing to appreciate is that those forces have changed, and changed dramatically, in recent decades. Consider the options available to eager political news consumers in 1995. They might have had a hometown paper or two, a handful of radio stations, the three nightly newscasts, the newly launched CNN, and, if they were really hardcore, a couple of magazine subscriptions. Fast-forward a decade. Those same consumers could fire up Internet Explorer and read almost any newspaper in the country — and most of the major newspapers of the world — online. For political opinion, they had a dizzying array of magazines, any op-ed page they chose, and, all of a sudden, a countless number of blogs. On television, CNN had been joined by Fox News and MSNBC. On radio, satellite began crowding the airwaves with more political commentary. In pockets, the launch of the iPod kicked off the age of podcasting. And the quantity of available political information has only multiplied since then. Never in human history has it been remotely possible to be this politically informed. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images President Trump talks to journalists in November 2019. In most models of democratic politics, information is the constraint. Voters don’t have the time or energy to read thick tomes of political theory and keep themselves updated on every act of Congress, so they’re dependent on the political professionals — elected officials, campaign operatives, party staffers, lobbyists, pundits — who do. What follows from this model is tantalizing: If information ceases to be scarce, if it becomes freely and easily available to all, the fundamental problem afflicting democratic systems would be solved. Over the past decade, the dreams of democratic theorists everywhere actually came true. The internet made information abundant. The rise of online news gave Americans access to more information — vastly more information, orders of magnitude more information — than they had ever had before. And yet surveys showed we weren’t, on average, any more politically informed. Nor were we any more involved: Voter participation didn’t show a boost from the democratization of political information. Why? How choice changes media In the early aughts, Princeton political scientist Markus Prior set out to unravel this apparent paradox. The way he resolved the problem is, in retrospect, obvious. Yes, there were more cable news channels, but they were dwarfed in number by the channels that had no interest whatsoever in news — channels that served up round-the-clock cooking, home repair, travel, comedy, cartoons, tech, classic films. The key factor now, Prior argued, was not access to political information but interest. Yes, you could read the political coverage of any newspaper or magazine in the country online, but you could also read so much more nonpolitical coverage. The explosion in political media was more than matched by the explosion in media covering music, television, diets, health, video games, rock climbing, spirituality, celebrity breakups, sports, gardening, cat pictures, genealogical records — really, everything. The key factor now, Prior argued, was not access to political information but interest in political information. He made his point by comparing it to television. Like the internet, television multiplied the amount of information available to people, and it spread like wildfire. But unlike the internet, television, at least in its early years, offered little choice. You might own a television because you refused to miss I Love Lucy, but if you had the TV on in the evening, you ended up sitting through the news anyway. Similarly, you might subscribe to the newspaper for the sports page, but that meant seeing the political stories on A1. Politics was bundled alongside everything else, and even the uninterested were pushed to consume political news. Win McNamee/Getty Images Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) answers questions from reporters in September 2019. The digital revolution offered access to unimaginably vast vistas of information, but, just as important, it offered access to unimaginably more choice. And that explosion of choice widened that interested/uninterested divide. Greater choices let the devotees learn more and the uninterested know less. To test this, Prior surveyed more than 2,300 people about their content preferences and their political knowledge. And because he was conducting this survey in 2002 and 2003, the early years of the internet and still reasonably early for cable, he was able to survey people who had internet access, those who had cable access, those who had both, and those who had neither. Content preferences — which is to say, how much people wanted to consume political information versus how much they wanted to consume other forms of entertainment — had little effect on the knowledge of those without cable and internet access. Even if you wanted more political information, you didn’t have easy access to it, so the interest didn’t translate cleanly into information. What the digital information revolution offered wasn’t just more information but more choice of information But among those with cable and internet access, the difference in political knowledge between those with the highest and lowest interest in cable news was 27 percent. That dwarfed the difference in political knowledge between people with the highest and lowest levels of schooling. “In a high-choice environment, people’s content preferences become better predictors of political learning than even their level of education,” Prior wrote. Prior was conducting this research in the early 2000s, before Facebook and Twitter, before mobile internet and YouTube algorithms, before MSNBC’s leftward turn, before BuzzFeedand HuffPost, before Breitbart and the alt-right, before Vox. The internet has become much better at learning what we want and giving us more of it since then. The competition for audience, and the threat to journalistic business models, has become much more intense since then. And all of this has changed both how political news is produced and how it’s consumed. Political media is for the politically invested In an age of choice, political journalism is a business that serves people interested in political news and that tries to create more people interested in political news. And to be interested in politics is, for most people, to choose a side. How could it be otherwise? The differences between the parties and their coalitions are profound. They are ideological, geographic, demographic, temperamental. Whether your side wins or loses is a literal matter of life and death — perhaps not for you, but, given the stakes for health insurance and foreign policy, certainly for someone. In today’s media sphere, where the explosion of choices has made it possible to get the political media you really want, it’s expressed itself in polarized media that attaches to political identity, conflict, and celebrity. That is to say, it expresses itself in journalism and commentary that is more directly about the question of why your side should win and the other side should lose. I’ve produced a lot of this kind of journalism. I cover politics because I think policy is important, which is to say, because I think who wins and who loses policy fights is important. And, obviously, my views on those questions are rational, judicious, disinterested, and objectively correct. The problem is lots of other people are doing that kind of work, too, and some of them come to different conclusions than I do. But rather than argue over who’s right, I want to step back and look at how a political media system increasingly organized around that axis deepens political identity, hardens polarization, and raises the political stakes. Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images A Trump supporter at a campaign rally in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in November 2018. The simplest measure for assessing political journalism is whether it’s giving those who follow it a more accurate understanding of American politics. As one disturbing window into this question, consider a fascinating study published by Douglas Ahler and Gaurav Sood in 2018. In it, Ahler and Sood conducted a survey asking people “to estimate the percentage of Democrats who are black, atheist or agnostic, union members, and gay, lesbian, or bisexual, and the percentage of Republicans who are evangelical, 65 or older, Southern, and earn over $250,000 per year.” They were asking, in other words, how much people thought the composition of the parties fit the caricatures of the parties. Misperceptions were particularly high when people were asked to describe the other party. Democrats believed 44 percent of Republicans earned more than $250,000 a year; it’s actually 2 percent. Republicans believed that 38 percent of Democrats were gay, lesbian, or bisexual; the correct answer is about 6 percent. Democrats believed that more than four in 10 Republicans are seniors; in truth, seniors make up about 20 percent of the GOP. Republicans believed that 46 percent of Democrats are black and 44 percent belong to a union; in reality, about 24 percent of Democrats are black and less than 11 percent belong to a union. Here’s the kicker: As the charts below show, the more political media people consumed, the more mistaken they were, in general, about the other party. This is a damning result: The more political media you absorb, the more warped your perspective of the other side becomes. “The Parties in Our Heads,” Ahler and Sood, 2018 The more political information you consume, the more you misperceive the other party. The old line on local reporting was “If it bleeds, it leads.” For political reporting, the principle is “If it outrages, it leads.” And outrage is deeply connected to identity — we are outraged when members of other groups threaten our group and violate our values. As such, polarized media doesn’t emphasize commonalities, it weaponizes differences; it doesn’t focus on the best of the other side, it threatens you with the worst. As that last paragraph suggests, I’m about to step into some dangerous territory, so let me say this clearly: I’m not asserting moral equivalence, and in the book this article is adapted from, I have much more to say about the ways and reasons the left and the right — including their media spheres — have diverged. But virtually everyone in political media is competing for audience attention and loyalty amid a cacophony of choices. We all make different decisions about how to compete for that audience, but since we are all trying to attract other human beings, there are certain similarities in our approach. Why audience-driven media is identitarian media Historically, not only did the audience have less choice in what media to consume, the media didn’t have much information about the audience. The networks had ratings. The newspapers had subscription renewals. Everyone received letters. But that was it. I used to regularly guest-host on cable news. The emotional rhythm of that workday crested at 4 pm, when the Nielsen numbers came out and everyone stopped to compare how their show did against the competition. If you beat your competitors, you could rest easy. If you didn’t, you had to worry. And if you lost a few times in a row, you’d start getting calls from upstairs. Maybe your programming should stick closer to the news of the day. Maybe you needed shorter intros, or longer intros, or more guests, or more heat. Cable news is journalism, but it’s also a business. Chris Hayes, who anchors MSNBC’s 8 pm newscast and is among the most thoughtful, civic-minded journalists in the industry, referenced a Will Ferrell joke from Anchorman 2 on his podcast, saying, “What if instead of telling people the things they need to know, we tell them what they want to know?” That is, he says, “the creation story of cable news.” Rob Kim/NBCUniversal via Getty Images From left, MSNBC State of the Union hosts Brian Williams, Rachel Maddow, Nicolle Wallace, and Chris Hayes in February 2019. “At some level,” he continued, “we’re wedding DJs. And the wedding DJ’s job is to get you on the floor.” The point is not that this leaves no room for serious journalism. As Hayes says, there are good wedding DJs and bad wedding DJs, and the work of being a cable news host is making sure you’re one of the good ones. But this is the business context in which cable news decisions are made. Then came the rise of real-time digital analytics. Every digital newsroom in the country, including Vox, subscribes to some service or another that tracks traffic in a gamified, constantly updating interface. The most influential is Chartbeat, which shows you every article on your site, indicates the number of people on each article at any given second, and colors the dots representing those people to tell you how they found the article. Green dots mean they found you through a search engine. Purple dots mean they came from a social network, usually Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit. It’s pure pleasure to watch the display for an article you worked hard on fill with dots. But we don’t just want people to read our work. We want people to spread our work — to be so moved by what we wrote or said that they log on to Facebook and share it with their friends or head over to Reddit and try to tell the world. That’s how you get those dots to multiply. But people don’t share quiet voices. They share loud voices. They share work that moves them, that helps them express to their friends who they are and how they feel. Social platforms are about curating and expressing a public-facing identity. They’re about saying, “I’m a person who cares about this, likes that, and loathes this other thing.” They are about signaling the groups you belong to and, just as important, the groups you don’t belong to. BuzzFeed’s secret: Identity = virality The rise of BuzzFeedmade this subtext into text. Its co-founder and CEO, Jonah Peretti, originally built BuzzFeedon the side as a skunkworks for experimenting with how viral content spread online. The answer soon became clear: Identity is the slingshot. “A classic early BuzzFeedpost, and later video, was ‘13 Struggles All Left-Handers Know to Be True,’” Peretti tells me. “Another early classic was ‘Signs You Were Raised by Immigrant Parents.’ That one’s a racial identity but also an immigrant identity.” There are so many more. One of BuzzFeed’s most popular series was “X Things Only a Y Would Understand.” A Google search for those keywords brings up articles like “14 Things Only Anxious People Will Understand,” “19 Things Only People With Fibromyalgia Will Understand,” “53 Things Only ’80s Girls Can Understand,” “30 Things Everyone Who Went to College Will Understand,” “27 Struggles You’ll Only Understand If You Were Born Before 1995,” “38 Things Only Someone Who Was a Scout Would Know,” “19 Comics Only Night Owls Will Understand,” “19 Things You’ll Only Understand if You Had Strict Parents,” “18 Photos That Only People Who Had Braces Will Understand.” Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images From left, Ben Smith, Jonah Peretti, and Jon Steinberg in BuzzFeed’s Los Angeles offices in 2013. When it launched, BuzzFeed was described as a media company for the social age, with a mix of breaking news, entertainment, and shareable content. This is identity media in its purest form. Sharing the scouting article says you were a Scout, and you were a serious enough Scout to understand the signifiers and experiences that only Scouts had. To post that article on Facebook is to make a statement about who you are, who your group is, and, just as important, who is excluded. In political media, identity is affirmed and activated with slightly more oblique headlines. But the underlying dynamic is the same: This public figure that you and everyone in your group loathe said something awful. This poll came out saying you and your group are going to win or, better yet, that your out-group is going to lose. This slashing column explains why you’re right about everything and why your opponents are wrong. A lot of these pieces are accurate, and some of them are genuinely useful. I have written many of them myself, and edited countless more. But cumulatively, it’s a sharp change from the days in which most political content people saw was self-consciously trying to avoid offending anyone. The stories that thrive when your business model is a local monopoly that needs a news product that’s appealing to every kind of person who might shop at a department store are different from the stories that thrive when your business model is people who strongly agree with your stories sharing them with their friends. Identities are malleable things. They can be activated or kept dormant, strengthened or weakened, created or left in the void. The flood of identity-oriented content deepens the identities it repeatedly triggers, confirms, or threatens. Many of us who wrote about politics on the internet before the rise of social media lament the feeling that something has been lost, that a space that once felt fresh and generative now feels toxic and narrow. In her book Trick Mirror, Jia Tolentino offers a description of what changed that feels right to me, which is that social media shifted the “organizing principle” of online discourse: The early internet had been constructed around lines of affinity and openness. But when the internet moved to an organizing principle of opposition, much of what had formerly been surprising and rewarding and curious became tedious, noxious, and grim. This shift partly reflects basic social physics. Having a mutual enemy is a quick way to make a friend—we learn this as early as elementary school—and politically, it’s much easier to organize people against something than it is to unite them in an affirmative vision. And, within the economy of attention, conflict always gets more people to look. When I entered journalism, the term of art for pieces infused with perspective was “opinion journalism.” The point of the work was to convey an opinion. Nowadays, I think a lot of it is closer to “identity journalism” — the effect of the work, given the social channels through which it’s consumed, is to reinforce an identity. But an identity, once adopted, is harder to change than an opinion. An identity that binds you into a community you care about is costly and painful to abandon, and the mind will go to great lengths to avoid abandoning it. So the more media people see that encourages them to think of themselves as part of a group, and the more they publicly proclaim — through sharing and liking and following and subscribing — that they are part of a group, the deeper that identity roots and the more resistant the underlying views become to change. Reading the other side doesn’t change our minds Many people worry that modern media generates polarization by locking us into echo chambers. We’ve cocooned ourselves into hearing information that only tells us how right we are, and that’s making us more extreme. There is an optimistic theory embedded in this story: If only we crossed the informational aisle, our enmity and polarization would ebb. Beginning in October 2017, a group of political scientists and sociologists decided to test this theory. In the largest study of its kind conducted, they paid 1,220 regular Twitter users who identified as either Democrats or Republicans to follow a bot retweeting elected officials, media figures, and opinion leaders from the other side. The participants took regular surveys asking about their views on 10 issues ranging from immigration to government waste to corporate profits to LGBTQ acceptance. The result of the month-long exposure to popular, authoritative voices from the other side of the aisle was that respondents became more, not less, polarized. “We find that Republicans who followed a liberal Twitter bot became substantially more conservative posttreatment,” write the authors. “Democrats exhibited slight increases in liberal attitudes after following a conservative Twitter bot, although these effects are not statistically significant.” Karla Ann Cote/NurPhoto via Getty Images Activists in New York City coordinated a die-in in front of Fox News to call attention to misinformation spread by the network surrounding the climate crisis, in October 2019. The difference between the Democratic and Republican responses is interesting and merits more study. But the key finding is that neither group responded to exposure to the other side by moderating its own views. In both cases, hearing contrary opinions drove partisans not just to a deeper certainty in the rightness of their cause, but to more polarized policy positions — Republicans became more conservative rather than more liberal, and Democrats, if anything happened at all, became more liberal rather than more conservative. I spoke to Christopher Bail, one of the study’s authors and the head of Duke University’s Polarization Lab. “For a long time, people have been assuming that exposing people to opposing views creates the opportunity for moderation,” he told me. “If I could humbly claim to figure out one thing, it’s that that’s not a simple process. If Twitter tweaks its algorithms to put one Republican for every nine Democrats in your Twitter feed, that won’t increase moderation.” There is evidence that structuring positive, collaborative interactions can promote understanding. But very little in either political media or social media is designed for positive interactions with the other side. Most political media isn’t even designed for persuasion. For all the reasons we’ve discussed, the bulk of opinionated political media is written for the side that already agrees with the author, and most partisan elected officials are tweeting to their supporters, who follow them and fundraise for them, rather than to their critics, who don’t. When we talk about political media, we tend to cut a sharp line between the political elites who create the media and the audience that consumes it. But that’s a mistake. No one consumes more political, and politicized, media than political elites. This is part of the reason political media has an enormous effect on politics, even though only a small fraction of the country regularly consumes it. Politicians are increasingly addicted to Twitter, with the president being only the most prominent example. Fox News has whipped the Republican Party into a number of government shutdowns, and much of Trump’s most offensive rhetoric comes on a direct conveyor belt from conservative media feeding him conspiracies that he transforms into presidential proclamations. Carolyn Kaster/AP Sean Hannity of Fox News introduces Trump during a rally in Cape Girardeau, Montana, in November 2018. Indeed, the impeachment effort House Democrats launched against Trump stems from Trump believing a set of anti-Biden conspiracies pushed by Breitbart editor-at-large Peter Schweizer and heavily promoted on Fox News. Most Americans had never heard of Hunter Biden, much less followed vague insinuations about Ukrainian prosecutors. But the president was sufficiently persuaded that he threw the weight of his administration into an investigation, setting off a chain of events that changed American political history and further polarized the country. Politics is, first and foremost, driven by the people who pay the most attention and wield the most power — and those people opt in to extraordinarily politicized media. They then create the political system they perceive. Journalists are hardly immune to these forces. We become more polarized, and more polarizing, when we start spending our time in polarizing environments. I have seen it in myself, and I have watched it in others: When we’re going for retweets, or when our main form of audience feedback is coming from highly partisan social media users, it subtly but importantly warps our news judgment. It changes who we cover and what stories we chase. And when we cover politics in a more polarized way, anticipating or absorbing the tastes of a more polarized audience, we create a more polarized political reality. The media creates, it doesn’t just reflect The news is supposed to be a mirror held up to the world, but the world is far too vast to fit in our mirror. The fundamental thing the media does all day, every day, is decide what to cover — decide, that is, what is newsworthy. Here’s the dilemma: to decide what to cover is to become the shaper of the news rather than a mirror held up to the news. It makes journalists actors rather than observers. It annihilates our fundamental conception of ourselves. And yet it’s the most important decision we make. If we decide to give more coverage to Hillary Clinton’s emails than to her policy proposals — which is what we did — then we make her emails more important to the public’s understanding of her character and potential presidency than her policy proposals. In doing so, we shape not just the news but the election, and thus the country. While I’m critical of the specific decision my industry made in that case, this problem is inescapable. The news media isn’t just an actor in politics. It’s arguably the most powerful actor in politics. It’s the primary intermediary between what politicians do and what the public knows. The way we try to get around this is by conceptually outsourcing the decisions about what we cover to the idea of newsworthiness. If we simply cover what’s newsworthy, then we’re not the ones making those decisions — it’s the neutral, external judgment of news worthiness that bears responsibility. The problem is that no one, anywhere, has a rigorous definition of newsworthiness, much less a definition that they actually follow. Robert Alexander/Getty Images House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears in NBC coverage of the vote to impeach Trump on December 18, 2019. A simple example comes in the treatment of presidential and pre-presidential rhetoric. On some level, anything that the president says, or that a plausible candidate for president says, is newsworthy. Yet only a small minority of what is said by presidential candidates, or even presidents, gets covered as major news. When President Obama gave a speech on manufacturing policy at an Ohio steel mill and when Sen. Marco Rubio held a town hall discussing higher education costs in New Hampshire, they struggled to get the press to take notice. Trump, meanwhile, routinely gets cable networks to air his rallies live by lying flagrantly, lobbing racist and sexist insults, and generally behaving outrageously. Whether this is strategy or intuition, the result is the same: Trump hacked the media’s true definition of newsworthiness, and it lets him control the agenda. This was true well before he won the presidency — indeed, it might be why he won the presidency. In their book Identity Crisis, political scientists John Sides, Lynn Vavreck, and Michael Tesler find that “from May 1, 2015, to April 30, 2016, Trump’s median share of cable news mentions was 52 percent.” There were 17 Republican candidates running for president, so Trump was getting more than half of all the media coverage, with the other 16 candidates splitting the remainder. It gets worse. “Trump received 78 percent of all coverage on CNN between Aug. 24 and Sept. 4, 2015,” and by November 2015, “Trump had received more evening network news coverage—234 minutes—than the entire Democratic field. By contrast, Ted Cruz had received seven minutes.” This was a choice the media made, and not for the best reasons. In February 2016, for instance, the chair of CBS said of Donald Trump’s candidacy, and the ratings it drew, “it may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS. ... It’s a terrible thing to say, but bring it on, Donald. Keep going.” Sides, Vavreck, and Tesler argue that in a chaotic, crowded primary, the media coverage Trump received was crucial to legitimizing his campaign: “Republican voters had received no clear signal about who the front-runner was or should be. The resulting uncertainty meant that this signal needed to come from somewhere else. It was news media coverage that would fill this void.” The coverage of Trump also made it impossible for his challengers to get their messages heard. As president, his rambling monologues, which are unusually detached from both factual rigor and his administration’s policymaking decisions, are treated as worthier of airtime than the more careful, factual, and policy-predictive speeches of his predecessors. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images Trump makes his entrance during a campaign rally in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on January 14, 2020. “Journalism academics have always known that newsworthiness, as the American press defines it, isn’t a system with any coherence to it,” Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at New York University, told me. “It doesn’t make any sense. It’s just a list of factors that occasionally come together to produce news. There’s no real logic to it, other than it’s a list of things that can make something news. The advantage of it is that it leaves maximum leeway for editors to say, ‘This is news,’ and, ‘That’s not news,’ and so it’s news if a journalist decides it’s news.” In practice, judgments of newsworthiness are often contagious; nothing obscures the fact that a decision is being made quite like everyone else making it, too. In the modern era, a shortcut to newsworthiness is social media virality; if people are already talking about a story or a tweet, that makes it newsworthy almost by definition. This can lead the country into odd, angry cul-de-sacs. I remember returning from an offline vacation only to find the entire political media at war over a viral video in which students from Covington Catholic High School wearing MAGA hats appeared to harass Nathan Phillips, a Native American elder playing a drum. In the original video, which took place during a protest at the National Mall in Washington, DC, the teens were seemingly mocking, smirking, and making tomahawk chop motions at Phillips. A longer video muddied the waters, offering evidence that the teens were harassed by members of the fringe Black Israelites group beforehand. Soon enough, the media was filled with takes and counter-takes, and President Trump was weighing in. “Nick Sandmann and the students of Covington have become symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be,” he tweeted. Nick Sandmann and the students of Covington have become symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be. They have captivated the attention of the world, and I know they will use it for the good - maybe even to bring people together. It started off unpleasant, but can end in a dream!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 22, 2019 What was striking, walking into this debate without the (dis)advantage of being present for its initial escalation, was how angry everyone was over something that objectively didn’t matter. How was this newsworthy? The answer was that it had been dominating social media all weekend, and that had made it newsworthy. And why had it dominated social media? Because it was a perfect collision of political identities: MAGA-hatted teenagers against a peaceful, drumming Native American elder. Liberal news outlets turning the country against conservative, Christian children from a religious school. It was an object lesson in how social media’s preference for identitarian conflict focuses the media on identitarian conflicts, even when those collisions are almost comically obscure. These are dynamics that Trump exploits daily. He weaponizes outrageousness, offensiveness, and identity cues to capture a share of political coverage unknown in the modern era. He’s shown that in a competitive media environment — particularly one responsive to social platforms — you can dominate the media by lobbing grenades into our deepest social divides. The media is how most Americans get their information about politics and politicians, and if the media is tilting, or being tilted, toward certain kinds of political stories and figures, then the political system will tilt in that direction, too. Joe Raedle/Getty Images Leslie and Anna White cheer in anticipation of President Trump for his homecoming campaign rally in Sunrise, Florida, on November 26, 2019. Trump is a product of the tilting, but he is not the first, and he will not be the last. The political media is biased, but not toward the left or right so much as toward loud, outrageous, colorful, inspirational, confrontational. It is biased toward the political stories and figures who activate our identities, because it is biased toward and dependent on the fraction of the country with the most intense political identities. You can order Why We’re Polarized, or find a full schedule of tour events, here. You can also listen to an excerpt from the audiobook book by subscribing to “The Ezra Klein Show,” or by streaming it here.
vox.com
The New Black Body
(Thomas Barwick / Getty)For as long as I can remember, my stomach has been partitioned into the north belly and the south belly, divided by the belly-button border. North Belly, a.k.a. N. Beezy, is the more tyrannical of the two. Depending on her mood, she will ruin any clean-lined look I’m going for. On bad days, N. Beezy sticks her head over the balcony of my waistband, soaking in the good weather, chatting with passersby, waving to onlookers like, “What the hell you looking at? This is my balcony and I can come and go as I damn well please.”South Belly, a.k.a. S. Beezy, is shy. Depending on the tightness of what I’m wearing, she can fade away, but her imprint is always there. Most would refer to her as a FUPA. When I sit, she lays her head on the top of my lap. She peeks out the sides of hipster, bikini, thong, G-string, and high-cut brief underwear, like a kitten playing behind a curtain. These two are my oldest and dearest frenemies.I could, in theory, pay to make them disappear. Society has come a long way on its views toward cosmetic surgery. Once a tightly guarded secret among the rich and famous, elective plastic surgery has become so mainstream and affordable that it’s easier to count the number of people who haven’t gotten “a little work done.” On any given day, a picture of a woman angled with her perfectly augmented ass positioned toward the camera and a face that bashfully says, “Oh, this old thing?” appears on my social-media feed. The caption is always part Nietzsche, part NeNe Leakes, and the “likes” are in the thousands—or millions, if you’re a Kardashian.75,947 likes
Influencer101: Life is like a play. Give it 100% before your curtain call. Don’t you want to receive your standing ovation from the bitches who loved to hate on your success?! #mynewbikini #thongsong #selfcareNsunscreen #IDrinkWaterThis IG model has a stomach so flat you can bounce a bitcoin off it. My thumb hovers over her alluring smile but I dare not double tap—I’m judgmental and jealous. Would I be frolicking on a beach if my entire stomach fit under a string-bikini bottom? Yes. Would my quality of life be better if my boobs sat up at attention instead of swaying toward my solar plexus? Yes. Would I be happier, funnier, more fulfilled? Maybe. This post was excerpted from Hilliard’s recent book.I’m not saying all people with body fat below 25 percent are living their best lives. However, a majority of my life-long insecurities stem from having a body fat index over the 32 percent obesity mark. I can’t imagine what it feels like to have self-esteem issues that aren’t weight-related. I’ve always had boobs and an ass, but they were often hidden by loose and ill-fitting clothes, casualties of Operation: Hide Yo Gut.Girdles, Spanx, and now popular-yet-organ-shifting latex waist trainers are uncomfortable and cumbersome. A Colombian faja seems like a good idea until you need someone to help snap you into it. Sure, the results are amazing, but after a few hours of sitting in one, my vagina went numb. I have a drawer full of control-top, tummy-flattening cellulite casings in a range of sizes to fit whatever my current waistline is. I’d buy so many rolls of plastic wrap for tummy wrapping, you’d think I was a drug dealer packing up kilos. If a nonsurgical product promised results, it was worth a try. “I just want to lose my stomach.”Just. That word undermines the task at hand as if it’s an easy, small feat. If I were to achieve a flat stomach, I’d have to eat six times a day and workout with military discipline. Perfection is expensive: If you didn’t pay for it through blood, sweat, and tears, you’d better have the cold hard cash to actually pay for it.[Read: You can’t willpower your way to lasting weight loss]Women started undergoing breast augmentation in the late 1890s. The first recorded instance of breast reconstruction happened in Germany, where a doctor inserted fat from the patient’s hip into her breast, which had a benign tumor removed. Early cosmetic fillers would be banned by today’s medical boards. Doctors injected women with paraffin wax, beeswax, vegetable oil, ivory, and glass. Side effects included blindness, tissue-eroding ulcers, deformity, and in some cases a complete breast removal in order to save the woman’s life. The first doctor to bring breast augmentation to the United States stuffed his ladies with celluloid, silk floss, and silk, giving a new meaning to a “smooth chest.” The first silicone breast implant was used in 1962, and the rest is breast history.From 2005 to 2013, the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery found that black patients increased by 56 percent. In 2016, 8 percent of all plastic surgery procedures were for black patients. Looking for answers, I turned to Maxwell, a longtime friend and professional photographer. He’s seen the change in black women’s bodies up close. “I think black women don’t feel loved and appreciated, so they’ll go anywhere for acceptance,” he told me. I get what he’s saying. Black women are trained to be proud and, of course, strong. We have to be, for all the reasons Malcolm X once famously listed: “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.”Part of that pride had been body acceptance. So, what, you’re shaped like a refrigerator box? Keep your hair and nails done and be the cutest refrigerator box on the block. No butt; accentuate your breasts. No breasts; toot that booty out. Got neither; learn to rap and win guys over with your spunky attitude, until you have the money to pay for enhancements. One can argue that most current female artists, sadly, wouldn’t have a career if they didn’t have enhancements—boobs, hips, ass, lips, nose. And that’s just the female rappers. At least they are open about it. You can make more music when you don’t have to spend time ducking questions about your ass shots.[Read: America is too glib about breast implants]Of course, the rush for the new black body—breast implants, tummy tuck, Brazilian butt lift—has some downsides. Women who can’t afford professional treatments have resorted to deadly and illegal injections with substances found in home-improvement stores. Those who survive are left with debilitating scars and lingering health issues. The other, less severe, issue is uniformity. Too many women look the same, like they took a deep breath and forgot to exhale. Like a ball of Play-Doh that’s been squeezed in the middle by a toddler. Like an hourglass with too much sand.It’s funny the things that get embedded in our minds from childhood. My young aunts had a VHS copy of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. It was 1987, and I was starting to gain weight and feel ugly. On weekends, we’d sit on the floor in front of the one TV in their brownstone and watch it. My favorite part was the singer and temptress Shug Avery telling the homely, unattractive, and abused Celie (played by Whoopi Goldberg) that she was in fact beautiful. Standing before a mirror, the two black women barely surviving in the Jim Crow South share a raw moment uncovering Celie’s confidence. Briefly, we see Celie straighten her back, lift her head, uncover her big toothy grin, and soak in who God made her to be.Just as soon as her self-esteem rises to the surface, it retreats and doesn’t come out until years later, in a confrontation with Celie’s common-law husband and abuser, Mister. After decades of abuse, Celie stands up to Mister at a family dinner and declares, before leaving him for good, “I’m poor, black, I might even be ugly, but dear God, I’m here. I’m here.” Even at age 6, I was wowed by her resolve.Would Celie still feel the same in 2019, after seeing the thousands of manufactured beauties, their tagged surgeons, and pay websites and email for bookings? If Celie was a woman of today, she’d start a crowdfunding page highlighting her hard-knock life, with a goal of $20,000. She’d chronicle her total body makeover—from plastic-surgeon consultation to postsurgical recovery—on her IG story.Can you be a strong black woman if you can’t accept your flaws? Reality is, the social responsibility of being a strong black woman used to mean not changing what makes you, you. If you broke away to redefine yourself, we saw it as a personal attack on the rest of us, the sisterhood. You were a sellout, self-hating, less of a woman. Why would people trust you when you didn’t believe in yourself? But for far too long, black women’s bodies have been seen as public domain—first as property, then as a source of community and spiritual strength. It’s none of our business what you choose to do to your own body. If you like it, we should love it.This post was excerpted from Hilliard’s recent book, F*ck Your Diet.
theatlantic.com
Pictures show Kobe Bryant’s helicopter in ball of fire after deadly crash
The images show Bryant’s helicopter exploding in a ball of flames after slamming into a Los Angeles hillside, killing the NBA superstar, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others.
nypost.com
3M forecasts 2020 profit below estimates on weak China demand
U.S. industrial giant 3M Co forecast 2020 profit below expectations and narrowly missed quarterly revenue estimates on Tuesday, as it continues to face sluggish demand in China, sending its shares down 2.8% in early trading.
reuters.com
Why unlocking Apple iPhones for law enforcement isn't the answer
Despite pressure from President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr, Apple continues to stand its ground and refuses to re-engineer iPhones so law enforcement can unlock the devices. Apple has maintained that it has done everything required by law and that creating a "backdoor" would undermine cybersecurity and privacy for iPhone users everywhere.
edition.cnn.com
Avlon: Truth was in short supply at impeachment trial
CNN's John Avlon looks at President Trump's defense team strategy in his impeachment trial.
edition.cnn.com
US is evacuating Americans from Wuhan as death toll from new coronavirus exceeds 100 in China
The death toll from the new coronavirus in China rises to over 100. Meanwhile, Hong Kong has cut rail links to mainland China.        
usatoday.com
Outrage after Evan Rachel Wood calls Kobe Bryant ‘rapist’ just hours after his death
“He was a sports hero. He was also a rapist,” the 32-year-old “Westworld” actress tweeted Sunday.
nypost.com
Kobe Bryant looms over Super Bowl LIV Opening Night
Kobe Bryant loomed over Super Bowl Opening Night on Monday, looking down on the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers from a giant screen as the NFL paid tribute to the Los Angeles Lakers great killed Sunday morning in a helicopter crash.
foxnews.com
Questions surround conditions at time of Kobe Bryant's fatal helicopter crash
Before his fatal crash, Kobe Bryant had spoken about frequently choosing helicopter travel over cars due to Los Angeles traffic. Investigators are looking into why his last flight went wrong as many ask why the helicopter was allowed to fly in such dense fog. Kris Van Cleave reports on what investigators know so far and what they hope to learn.
cbsnews.com
Facebook warns staff to halt travel to China amid coronavirus
Facebook has told employees to stay out of China amid the coronavirus outbreak as the feds warned Americans to rethink their travel plans to that country. The social-media giant has told staffers to halt non-essential travel to the Chinese mainland to avert the spread of the disease, which has killed more than 100 people and...
nypost.com
Judge Napolitano: Mitch McConnell was blindsided, should have been told about Bolton 'bombshell'
The Trump administration should have told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., about the "bombshell" allegations contained in former National Security Adviser John Bolton's new book, Judge Andrew Napolitano said Tuesday.
foxnews.com
Trump Ally Franklin Graham Condemns British Venues For Barring Talks Over Anti-LGBT Views, Says He's Being 'Discriminated Against'
"Some people have said I am going to bring hateful speech to the UK, but this couldn't be further from the truth," preacher Franklin Graham said.
newsweek.com
Why I will only date men who go to therapy
wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock A healthy relationship begins with a commitment to self-work. In 2020, I am vowing to only date men committed to prioritizing their emotional and mental health. If he doesn’t go to therapy, I’m not interested. In my last serious relationship, I had both the benefit of exploring my toxic behavior patterns and the burden of being with a partner who refused to do the same. Our relationship started to shift when, during the height of an argument, I grew frustrated when my attempts at “helping” him solve a problem were being ignored. He followed up, like he often did, by screaming at the top of his lungs. Then he said something that snatched the movement from my body: “I’m not your project or something you can control.” This was my second relationship where what I called “the lack of appreciation for my help” my partner called “controlling.” I realized I was the common denominator here. What started as an exploration of trying to understand my own harmful behaviors ended in a commitment to therapy. There, I learned to call my attraction to “broken” men something more than a lack of gratitude or control; the illusion of “fixing” them allowed me to ignore all the areas whereI was fractured. It allowed me to overlook the ways childhood traumas shaped my current relationship choices. It was classic avoidance. For months, I remained both in the relationship and in therapy to do the deeper work on myself. I directed my gaze away from scrutinizing his behavior and toward addressing the root of my own. I practiced mindfulness to reduce anxiety, used journaling to record and disrupt unhealthy patterns, and rotated coping mechanisms until I found one that fit. I was slowly forming healthy new habits. The need to control others was replaced by a desire for self-improvement. Meanwhile, he refused to go to therapy or even examine his own harmful patterns. He saw therapy as a “useless waste of time” that had nothing to do with “real life.” Besides, “nobody” in his family believed in “that stuff” and they all turned out “fine.” My former partner was not an anomaly. According to the American Psychological Association, research shows “men of all ages and ethnicities are less likely than women to seek help for all sorts of problems — including depression and substance abuse.” Which is particularly alarming considering the data that suggests “men make up over 75 percent of suicide victims in the United States. O’Brien Wimbish, a clinically trained therapist who specializes in intimacy and infidelity recovery, told Vox, “A lot of men are still operating under an unhealthy belief that addressing their feelings isn’t masculine. They think talking about their emotions — or even identifying an emotion other than rage — can make them what they consider soft. So they shut down, or sometimes become more aggressive, in their interpersonal relationships.” Wimbish, who has never treated me or my former partner, offered a perspective that was consistent with my experience. During the course of our relationship, my former partner’s propensity for screaming escalated to name-calling, and conflicts reached an all-time high. Or perhaps my tolerance for toxic relationships hit at an all-time low. But eventually, his version of love was no longer enough. I wanted reciprocity. I ended that relationship aware that constant self-work is a prerequisite for an emotionally healthier life and, if both parties are committed to it, the possibility of a healthy relationship. To be clear, therapy is not a magic pill. “Committing to therapy does not mean your relationship will be immune to trials,” Wimbish said, “but it certainly helps if both parties are fully invested in doing the work for their individual growth.” Therapy is also not cheap. Mental health providers in many cities can charge $75-$150 for a 45-minute session. Rates in New York City can be upward of $200 per hour. Therapists like Wimbish mitigate this by offering a sliding scale for payments. Sometimes, when the cost is still too high for me, I scale back and reserve sessions for particularly stressful seasons. And if a sliding payment scale is still a financial burden, research suggests regular practices of things like mindful meditation and creating a positive social support system can be forms of self-work. Wimbish added, “establishing an accountability system centered around a self-improvement goal can increase success and sustainability.” There’s also the fact that therapy doesn’t work if you don’t apply it once the session is over. As Wimbish said, “You will not get the full benefits of therapy sessions without doing the homework assigned. It requires a personal commitment outside of my office.” If therapy has taught me anything, it’s taught me that the real work starts when you go home and use a new coping skill in response to stress or anxiety, instead of engaging in a familiar unhealthy habit. These days, I have refined my approach to dating. Now, during that early stage when a man mentions how long he’s been single, instead of inquiring about the details of the breakup, I ask how he managed the healing process. I recently met a guy who wasn’t alarmed by the question. Without pause, he identified a couple of healthy coping strategies provided by his therapist. This on its own does not mean he will be the best partner for me. Rather, it suggests that he recognizes self-work as an individual process, one that he isn’t socialized to be ashamed of. Which is a healthy start. Shanita Hubbard is a former therapist, current adjunct sociology professor, and the author of the upcoming book Miseducating: A Woman’s Guide to Hip-Hop.
vox.com
U.K. Will Allow Huawei To Be Part Of Its 5G Network
The U.K. says it considers Huawei a "high risk vendor" – but rather than banning the telecom giant, it's asking British companies "to use Huawei in a limited way."
npr.org
Bloomberg says he didn't bother to keep Trump's cell phone number
Bloomberg told CBS News about advice he gave Trump after he was elected but before he took office
cbsnews.com
Paulo Coelho deletes children’s book draft written with Kobe Bryant
Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho has decided to delete a draft of a children’s book he was writing with Kobe Bryant — saying that it didn’t make sense to continue the project after the NBA legend’s death. The 72-year-old author of “The Alchemist” told The Associated Press Monday that he and Bryant started discussing the project...
nypost.com
Kobe Bryant and wife Vanessa had pact to ‘never fly on a helicopter together’
The basketball legend preferred to ride in copters to maximize family time.
nypost.com
Amsterdam police arrest man suspected of stealing 30 phones at Sum 41 concert
This probably wasn’t the best disguise for a pickpocket to be wearing.
foxnews.com