Gay performers shine with several wins at the Emmy Awards

Gay performers shined at the Emmy Awards on Sunday with wins in several categories including best actor in a drama series, which went to "Pose" star Billy Porter as the first openly gay black man to take home the honor.
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NY Democrats want to ban sale of single-use cigarette filters known as ‘butts’
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Mike Bloomberg’s ad spend strategy is kind of working
Michael Bloomberg and Stephen Colbert sip on giant sodas on the Tonight Show in January 2020, in a reference to Bloomberg’s attempt to ban extra-large sugary beverages while mayor of New York City. | Photo by Scott Kowalchyk/CBS via Getty Images Bloomberg momentum-ish, explained. Michael Bloomberg momentum isn’t exactly happening — but it’s not not happening, either. The billionaire philanthropist and former New York City mayor has been gradually ticking upward in state and national polls since launching his presidential bid in November. A RealClearPolitics average of polls shows him in fifth place with about 6.6 percent support nationally, just behind former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, at 7.2 percent. Recent polls out of Wisconsin, Florida, and North Carolina show Bloomberg in mid-to-high single digits. One poll out this week shows Bloomberg with a 7-point edge in a head-to-head match-up with President Donald Trump in Michigan, better than former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and Buttigieg. And a national Reuters/Ipsos poll released Thursday evening showed Bloomberg ahead of Buttigieg. While Bloomberg isn’t a top-tier candidate, he’s also outperforming a lot of the candidates have been for the race for much longer than him, or who have already dropped out. And he’s doing it with an unconventional approach: He’s skipping campaigning in the first four primary states, focusing instead on Super Tuesday (when multiple states vote) and beyond, and inundating television airwaves with ads, for which he’s paying millions upon millions of dollars of his own money. “I think we have to acknowledge that we’re in kind of uncharted territory here,” said Kyle Kondik, a veteran pollster and managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball. “While I’m not going to sit here and tell you that there is some big groundswell of support for Michael Bloomberg out there, he is ticking up a little bit.” “The gobs of money he’s spending on advertising is certainly having some effect,” said Quinnipiac University polling analyst Mary Snow. “He is trailing the frontrunner in our national poll, which is Joe Biden, but if you put it in context, he’s not far behind Pete Buttigieg in our national poll, and he is doing better than some of the other candidates who have been campaigning for a good part of 2019.” Bloomberg isn’t really a contender for the nomination at this point, and it’s not clear if he’ll ever get there. Moreover, many candidates aren’t yet spending a lot of time or money on later states, and it’s not clear whether Bloomberg’s support will hold once that changes, or once voting begins. But he does appear to be registering with voters. The question is, where does he go from here? You (probably) can’t buy the presidency, but you can buy yourself your way to some good polls Bloomberg’s campaign strategy hinges on one thing: money. He’s got a lot of it — by Forbes’s estimation, nearly $60 billion) — and he’s willing to spend it on his entirely self-funded campaign. “For Democratic operatives, it’s like the New Deal,” said Kondik. Bloomberg’s campaign now totals about 1,000 staffers across nearly three dozen states. He has signaled he’ll keep the operation up and running through November, whoever the Democratic nominee is. The former mayor isn’t going to be on the debate stage because he’s not accepting donations and the Democratic National Committee has an individual donor threshold (on the night of the January debate, he appeared on Late Night with Stephen Colbert). But he is hitting the campaign trail, often in states that generally don’t get a lot of attention until later in the primary season, if at all. He’s not leading the field in endorsements, but he has the backing of multiple mayors across the country and just picked up his first congressional endorser. He’s also got Judge Judy in his corner, and on the campaign trail with him. View this post on Instagram I love our country too much to sit on the sidelines when there is so much at stake. Thanks for your support, and for joining me and Judge Judy Sheindlin on the campaign trail in Texas yesterday. A post shared by Mike Bloomberg (@mikebloomberg) on Jan 12, 2020 at 9:01am PST But perhaps the most notable thing that Bloomberg is doing with his money is spending it on ads. According to Politico, he has spent more than $200 million on television advertising already, and data from Democratic consultancy Bully Pulpit Interactive indicates he has spent more than $26 million on Facebook and Google ads since launching his campaign. Bloomberg and Trump both plan to air multi-million-dollar ads during the Super Bowl. In other words, if you feel like you’ve seen a lot of Bloomberg ads lately, it’s because you probably have. All that spending hasn’t catapulted him to the top of the field, but it’s helped. Michigan State political scientist Matt Grossmann noted that beyond Bloomberg’s bump in the polls, his favorability and unfavorability numbers have improved, and he’s doing better in head-to-head matchups with Trump. “That’s quite a bit of movement,” he said. Tom Steyer, another billionaire and former financier in the race, is testing out the same ad carpet bomb strategy as Bloomberg, and showing that it can be at least moderately effective. Two polls out of early states Nevada and South Carolina, where Steyer has been bombarding the airwaves, got him onto the debate stage in January. “You can really show that, despite what people say, they are affected by political advertising,” Grossman said. It’s still going to be a while before we see how this works Because Bloomberg isn’t even trying to play in the early states, we won’t know whether his unconventional strategy works until March, or even April. The last major candidate to try skipping early states was another former New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani, in 2008. And that wasn’t successful. Hanna Trudo at the Daily Beast recently reported that despite his enormous ad spend, Bloomberg may not be on track to get a single delegate on Super Tuesday. Under the DNC’s primary rules, candidates have to get 15 percent of the vote statewide or 15 percent by any congressional district in order to pick up delegates, and Bloomberg isn’t there yet. “Depending on how February goes, maybe he would stand to capitalize if the race is really muddy, but I think it would be wrong to say that there’s been some big surge for Bloomberg, particularly because he has essentially unchallenged control of the political airwaves in much of the country, but the results aren’t particularly dramatic,” Kondik said. Would it have been different if Bloomberg jumped into the race earlier? It’s impossible to know, though Steyer’s performance shows that there may be some limitations to this ad wave strategy, no matter how long you’re on the air. Also, Bloomberg isn’t generating the free media many other competitors in the race are getting, so his own ad dollars only get him so far. (Though his team’s odd Twitter tactics during the January debate turned some heads.) Test your political knowledge:SPOT THE MEATBALL THAT LOOKS LIKE MIKE.— Team Bloomberg (@Mike2020) January 15, 2020 We also don’t know what will happen if Bloomberg starts to go negative on other candidates — besides, of course, Trump. He has been able to make at least a moderate difference in his own polling numbers with positive advertising. Could he make a dent in another Democrat’s support if he starts to run ads against them? “ “The [Bloomberg] campaign so far has been overwhelmingly positive in comparison to other campaigns,” Grossmann said. “If you start spending that much money on nationwide anti-Sanders advertising, for example, that could have a big impact, even if it does not help Michael Bloomberg. But they’ve shown no sign that they’re doing that.” One person who’s taking note of Bloomberg — and his ad spend — is apparently President Trump, who fired off a tweet about it on Friday morning. Mini Mike Bloomberg ads are purposely wrong - A vanity project for him to get into the game. Nobody in many years has done for the USA what I have done for the USA, including the greatest economy in history, rebuilding our military, biggest ever tax & regulation cuts, & 2nd A!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 17, 2020
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What would life in Canada look like for Harry and Meghan?
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U.S.'s representative on Iran: Tehran's threats will isolate it more
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How past impeachments compare to Trump's upcoming trial
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Netflix’s The Goop Lab pushes flimsy wellness trends. But it’s strong on vulvas.
Gwyneth Paltrow on her Netflix show, The Goop Lab. | Adam Rose/Netflix Watching The Goop Lab helped us understand why Goop survives despite its critics. When we first saw the trailer for the new Netflix series The Goop Lab, we couldn’t help thinking Gwyneth Paltrow was trolling her critics. For years, Goop — her lifestyle and wellness media brand — has been accused of misusing science and misleading the public. In the show’s trailer, Goop promised to lean in to “dangerous” and “unregulated” treatments, like energy healing and cold therapy. When we watched the actual show, we found it was generally less edgy than the trailer suggested — some episodes were downright boring (like the “health-span plan” about dieting for longevity), while others contained useful health messages (such as caring for and loving your body). Yes, there were detoxes, energy healers, and smatterings of woo-woo — but what could have been more dangerous claims were watered down, and presented with numerous warnings to consult with your doctor. The episode topics range from the benefits of psychedelic therapy, to psychic intuition, and women’s sexual health. Each one featured Paltrow and Goop’s chief content officer Elise Loehnen interviewing a couple of experts on a health-related topic and intervention, mixed with scenes of Goop’s (attractive, young, diverse) staffers — and sometimes Paltrow and Loehnen — experimenting for themselves. Watching the series helped us understand why Goop’s lifestyle brand is so compelling to its audience. Here are three things to know about the show. 1) Goop isn’t afraid to show us lots of female genitalia. It feels revolutionary. In the episode about female sexuality, we thought Paltrow and her Goop cronies might tell women they need to buy stuff to make their vaginas sexier, better-smelling, even cleaner. Goop, after all, once sold the infamous jade eggs for vaginas, which it said could do everything from fix your hormone levels to help with bladder control — “unsubstantiated” marketing claims that got the company fined by the state of California. The site also boosted vaginal steam-cleaning — another activity gynecologists, such as Paltrow’s arch-nemesis Jen Gunter, railed against as unnecessary. But The Goop Lab takes an entirely different tact: empowering women with knowledge about their vaginas. In the episode, called “The Pleasure Is Ours,” we meet feminist sex educators Betty Dodson and Carlin Ross, who have coached thousands of women on orgasms. One Goop staff member participates in their workshop, while others take a crash course in body positivity, learning to celebrate their sexuality in ways that are meaningful to them, not just their partners. Along the way, Dodson and Ross extol messages about the need for women to understand their own bodies, and explain the crucial difference between the vulva and vagina. (The vulva is external — the part you can easily see; the vagina is the internal part, where a tampon might go.) In a scene showing a series of vulvas in many different shapes and sizes, we get a genuinely educational look at women’s anatomy. And these are the vulvas of real women, not just the touched up, pink ones showcased in pornography. The point is that there’s lots of variation, and no single ideal form. The, er, climax, though, comes later — when Dodson coaches Ross through achieving an on-camera orgasm. It’s provocative, and potentially groundbreaking, television. And for a brand that has promoted $15,000 dildos, the episode is framed in a surprisingly sensitive manner. Instead of telling women to steam clean and insert foreign objects into their lady bits to make them better, it emphasizes the message that vulvas and vaginas are great, just the way they are. 2) Goop is remarkably uncritical of energy healing But, to be sure, this is still Goop. Two episodes focus a lot of attention on “energy,” and how working with it and letting it flow can heal our bodies, help us resolve trauma, and even give us psychic powers. “Energy” is uncritically presented as an amorphous catch-all cause, and treatment for, so many our ailments. Have a bum foot? Energy is being trapped in the ligaments and fascia, we’re told. Feeling psychological distress? Stuck energy is storing that distress in particular parts of your body. Wish you had the power of clairvoyance? You can, if only you let the energy flow. Adam Rose/Netflix Goop staffers practice feeling energy in hopes of enhancing their psychic abilities. The psychic element is fun, and probably pretty harmless. The energy healing show, however, doesn’t really discuss the research on the efficacy of this treatment, or point out when it might be better to see a mental health counselor for psychological distress before going to see an energy healer. We’re told to take it for granted that a vague form of energy (a physicist might ask the simple question: which kind?) lies at the root of ailments and stubborn mental trauma. Evidence for energy healing is presented purely through testimonials, anecdotes, and showy demonstrations. “If you just change the frequency of vibration of the body itself, it changes the way the cells regrow, it changes the way the sensory system processes,” an energy healer says on screen, though admitting it’s just a “hypothesis.” The energy healing sessions seem to induce real catharsis on the show. But a more curious show would ask the question: What are other explanations for what’s going on? The scientific evidence on reiki (a commonly practiced form of energy healing) is inconclusive about whether it can help people cope with anxiety or depression. And a randomized control trial comparing found that reiki is as effective as a sham form of it (i.e. reiki conducted by an unskilled practitioner) in helping cancer patients deal with chemotherapy. Which is to say, it’s a placebo effect. (That said: Placebo effects are hardly useless.) Paltrow herself seems to wink at the notion this is all very woo-woo. “Could you get any Goopier?” she asks a Goop staffer after they described an exorcism-like experience while working with an energy healer. No, you could not. 3) The show effectively exposes the pain and frustration of being unwell in America There’s crying on The Goop Lab. A lot. People cry about their experiences with panic attacks. They cry about their histories of trauma and their relationships with their parents. And they cry when attempting to send “energy” from their body into a coworker. This pain and frustration are relatable: Many of us have had conditions that aren’t always adequately treated by mainstream medicine — depression, anxiety, or postpartum mood changes. On the one hand, Paltrow is wonderfully empathetic, getting cozy on a couch with wellness gurus, and exploring potential solutions. But instead of highlighting evidence-based approaches, the show features fringe therapies with limited evidence as treatments for serious mental health issues. In the “Cold Therapy” episode, a self-described “ice man” named Wim Hof appears, suggesting people can overcome emotional struggles and even sickness by taking regular plunges in the cold. One Goopster with panic attacks proudly declares she stopped having them after his cold therapy. In the midst of hawking an unproven treatment, an important truth goes unexplored: The causes for many people’s pain simply aren’t understood, even by the best researchers in the world. This doesn’t mean, however, that we should lean on pseudoscience and gurus. Paltrow doesn’t seem to want to acknowledge that uncertainty; instead she wants us to believe there are fixes out there for everyone. And surely, many of them can be purchased on the Goop website. This type of television is entertaining at times. It’s compelling to watch people say they overcame terribly wrenching emotional hurdles in the course of a psychedelic trip, or with a jump in a cold lake. We’d all like to believe how we age has nothing to do with our genes or life circumstances, but that we can instead take “biological years” off our lives by just changing our diets. The Goop Lab points out that big lifestyle changes related to your health should be done in consultation with a doctor, or clinician. But the overall implication is that your doctor probably won’t help you as much as an alternative healer who knows the truth about health, like the ice man. Mainstream doctors write off the benefits of cold therapy and energy healing, the show insists. And too much mental health care is delivered in the form of pharmaceuticals, it declares (though Goop’s alternative, psychedelics, are also drugs, and the show glosses over the potential side effects). The pain is real, and should not discounted. But the alternative treatments Goop celebrates ought to be looked at with a more skeptical eye.
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Yes, the UK media’s coverage of Meghan Markle really is racist
Meghan Markle visits Cardiff Castle in January 2018 in Cardiff, Wales. Markle has faced racist attacks from the press since joining the royal family. | Ben Birchall-WPA Pool/Getty Images The UK press’s continued denial of racism just shows how entrenched these attitudes are. Not agreeing with the concept of a hereditary monarchy in a country where it’s celebrated is an odd place to be. Stranger still is spending your time defending particular members of the royal family after coverage of them turns hostile. But this is where I’ve found myself this past week. Part of my job as an academic is to examine how racism functions in the UK. Ever since Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, and Prince Harry announced they were stepping back from their “roles” as senior royals, there’s been a debate in British media about whether the coverage of Markle has been racist. A debate that has — in a sad but predictable turn of irony — reproduced racism while denying it is prevalent. The royal family is historically a white institution. And so when Markle, a biracial woman, became a member, some heralded it as “progress.” But in late 2016, the same year it was announced she and Prince Harry were dating, the prince put out a statement condemning the “wave of abuse and harassment” Markle had already been subjected to. That included “the racial undertones of comment pieces” and “the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments.” Three years later, Markle talked about the difficulty of dealing with tabloid coverage more broadly, saying it had been “hard,” and that adopting “this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip” was difficult. For example, the press has talked about her “exotic DNA”; described her as “(almost) straight outta Compton”; attacked her for the very things that Kate Middleton, Prince William’s white wife, has been praised for; and compared the couple’s son to a chimpanzee. But in TV studios around the country, commentators seem to have peculiarly missed all of this. The coverage of Markle has been welcoming and warm, they say. And when confronted with the evidence that shows that certainly hasn’t always been the tone of reporting, they ask: Is it really racism, though? Not all racism is overt. Much of it is subtle, quietly shaping the way people are seen, talked about, and treated. Some, like Piers Morgan, have argued it’s not racist to talk about Markle’s DNA as “exotic,” but this term has colonial roots, long working as a form of othering. Acknowledging this would mean really grappling with the insidious ways racism operates in the UK, undermining the notion that it is fundamentally a “tolerant” and “progressive” country. In the days following the Sussexes’ announcement that they would be “leaving” the royal family, the racist — not to mention, sexist — attacks continued. One poll suggested a significant proportion of people thought it was Markle’s decision, not one made jointly or by Prince Harry. We don’t know, and might never discover, all the ins and outs of what prompted their departure from their frontline “duties.” But in this telling, Prince Harry’s previous admission that he didn’t want to be a “traditional royal” disappears, and all the power, responsibility, and blame seems to lie with Markle. Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty ImagesAFP via Getty Images Front-page headlines on the news that the Sussexes plan to step back as “senior” members of the royal family, on January 9, 2020. This was best encapsulated when one radio host launched into a tirade against her post-announcement. Although he’d never met Markle, he admitted, he thought her “awful, woke, weak, manipulative, spoilt and irritating…I look at her and I think, ‘I don’t think I would like you in real life.’” Black British rapper Stormzy pinpointed in a characteristically salient way why someone would have this kind of unencumbered hatred for a person they’ve never met and who, for the most part, has done little that can really be considered offensive: “she’s just black.” So much of the reaction to Markle and the couple’s decision reads as a belief that she should be grateful for what she gets. That women of color — in particular black women — should know their place. Because really, so much of the comment around the Harry and Meghan saga isn’t about them at all. It’s about how poorly racism is understood, and how even beginning to grapple with it is deprioritized and ignored. This lack of interest in combating, or even challenging, racism has obvious political implications. The UK’s current prime minister, Boris Johnson, has compared Muslim women wearing burqas to letterboxes and described black people as “picanninies” with “watermelon smiles.” Diane Abbott, the UK’s first black woman MP, receives more abuse than any other politician in the UK. And in the wake of the referendum vote on the UK leaving the European Union, there was a spike in hate crimes. These forms of aggression don’t even get us to the insidious structural racism that produces material inequality, which risks being overlooked in all this talk of the royals. Studies have shown that to get a job interview, people with African- or Asian-sounding surnames have to send in twice as many CVs as those with white British-sounding surnames — even where they have the same qualifications. While homelessness has risen across the UK over the past 10 years, ethnic minorities have been disproportionately impacted. And since the 1980s, unemployment rates among women of color have been consistently higher than for white women. Still, we debate: Is racism a problem in the UK? The coverage of Meghan Markle and the recent fallout is just another reminder that it certainly is. Maya Goodfellow is an academic and writer. She holds a PhD from SOAS, University of London, and she is the author of Hostile Environment: How Immigrants Became Scapegoats.
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President Trump’s impeachment defense team will include former independent counsel Ken Starr and attorney Alan Dershowitz, Fox News confirmed Friday.
'You have not seen anything yet,' climate activist Greta says ahead of Davos
Swedish activist Greta Thunberg and a crowd of some 10,000 protesters marched in the Swiss city of Lausanne on Friday before many of them head to Davos next week to challenge political and business leaders to combat the climate crisis.