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China reports sharp rise in SARS-like virus cases as holiday travel begins
China on Monday reported a sharp spike in the number of people infected with a new SARS-like virus – as millions begin traveling for the Lunar New Year, fueling fears of a global outbreak. Health officials in Wuhan, where the viral pneumonia apparently originated, said an additional 136 cases have been confirmed in the central...
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Oklahoma School Drops Debate Class Assignment Discussing How Trump Has 'Openly Lied' to American People
Mustang Public Schools admits that high school question on President Donald Trump's 15,413 purportedly misleading or false claims was one-sided.
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Global stocks stay near record highs; focus turns to central banks, earnings
World stocks traded just below record highs on Monday, pausing ahead of this week's central bank meetings, economic data and earnings, while oil prices rose to their highest in over a week after blockades began shutting down two Libyan oilfields.
Prince Harry’s 2-year feud with Prince William is over
"Given Harry is now permanently moving away, there was a realization if they didn’t sort things out now, they never would."
Porn site suffers massive data breach, including credit cards, social security numbers
The data of “models” on an adult website has been exposed, says a cybersecurity firm.
The media must expose bad-faith arguments on impeachment
This is false equivalence on steroids.
Sabina Mazo wants MMA world to know her name after UFC 246 win over J.J. Aldrich
Take a look inside Sabina Mazo's win over J.J. Aldrich at UFC 246 in Las Vegas.        Related StoriesDana White criticizes UFC 246 officials Jason Herzog, Mark Smith – but admits refs have tough jobVideo: Watch Conor McGregor's full UFC 246 octagon interviewConor McGregor praises Grandma Cerrone: 'She's a phenomenal woman, that lady'
National forecast for Monday, January 20: Arctic blast retreats
Cold air is the big story across the country with temperatures 10 to 35 degrees below average for two-thirds of the U.S.
Senators make final campaign push in Iowa before impeachment trial
A pair of Democrats running for President are getting a boost from the New York Times editorial board. For the first time, the paper endorsed two candidates in the primaries, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar. The Times says Warren is the best leftist candidate, while Klobuchar is the centrist choice. Ed O’Keefe reports on how they and their senate colleagues are squeezing in campaign appearances before the impeachment trial.
Tennis player Elliot Benchetrit told off by umpire for asking ball girl to peel his banana
San Antonio shooting: Two dead after gunman opens fire inside bar
A manhunt is underway after a deadly shooting inside a bar in San Antonio, Texas, Sunday night. Police say an argument broke out between a group of people. Someone then pulled out a gun, and started shooting. One of the victims, a 21-year-old male, was found dead inside the bar. Another died at the hospital. Five others were wounded. No arrests have been made.
Super Bowl tickets for Chiefs vs. 49ers are selling for record amount
With the matchup set for Super Bowl LIV between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs, ticket prices for the big game are off the charts.
Virginia state officials fear Richmond gun rights rally could be violent
Richmond, Virginia is on high alert this morning before a gun rights rally that local authorities fear could turn violent. The FBI and local law enforcement say they’ve received credible threats of violence. Organizers say tens of thousands of people, including white supremacist groups and militias, may gather in the former confederate capital today, where Democrats are proposing new gun laws. David Begnaud reports.
The fraught business of removing and selling street art murals
Banksy's well-known murals are everywhere but selling them can involve some heavy lifting. Street art fans and artists often protest against the sale of murals and storing heavy pieces of concrete isn't for everyone.
Two dead, 15 wounded in shooting outside Kansas City bar hours after Chiefs win spot in Super Bowl
Two people were found dead, including a woman in the parking lot. Earlier, the Chiefs claimed a Super Bowl spot by defeating the Tennessee Titans.
How Lunar New Year became a shopping holiday for Western brands
Brands like Gucci and Adidas Originals have partnered with Disney to release limited-edition capsule collections for Lunar New Year. | Wang Gang/VCG/Getty Images Gucci, Nike, and Sephora have released new merchandise for the Year of the Rat. The stretch of time between end-of-year celebrations and Valentine’s Day is usually bleak. People are physically and financially drained from the holidays, and there’s not much to celebrate — a dry spell that has led brands to create a deluge of fake holidays like National Shortbread Day (January 6) and National Shop for Travel Day (January 14). Within the past decade, a spate of brands both luxury and affordable have adopted a new holiday into their calendars, one that’s already celebrated by more than a billion people annually: Lunar New Year. In the US, the holiday is generally referred to as Chinese New Year, but Lunar New Year seems like a more accurate description, given that the event is also observed by non-Chinese people. What is Lunar New Year? While Lunar New Year 2020 officially falls on January 25, the holiday is celebrated across multiple days and even weeks in places like China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Under the Gregorian calendar used by most countries worldwide, the new year starts on January 1. Lunar New Year is the celebration under the lunisolar calendar — which is based on cycles of the moon — and typically falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. The specific celebrations and formal dates encompassing the holiday vary by country and culture, but it’s an important day reserved for festivities to ring in the new year. Celebrants host elaborate meals with extended families, exchange money or gifts for good fortune, party in the streets, and set off fireworks. Lunar New Year in China, which is called the Spring Festival, has 15 days of festivities, South Korea’s Seollal celebration lasts 12 days, and Vietnam’s Tết Nguyên Đán is a week long. Costfoto/Barcroft Media/Getty Images China has 15 days of festivities prepared for its Lunar New Year celebration, which is called the Spring Festival. There are numerous other lunar calendar-based celebrations that fall later than January 25, usually during or after the spring equinox. For example, Losar, the Tibetan new year, begins on February 24, while Cambodia starts its new year celebration on April 14. It’s likely that the growth of Asian immigrant populations in the US, especially those of Chinese, Korean, or Vietnamese descent, has contributed to the overall popularity and cultural awareness of Lunar New Year. The largest celebrations from these communities typically occur in urban centers like Los Angeles, New York City, or San Francisco. Lunar New Year is a holiday steeped in tradition. It’s also an occasion to spend. As with most holidays, Lunar New Year has become an opportunity for retailers to sell shoes, jackets, or handbags on the premise of being culturally observant. While there are various other lunar-based celebrations in the months that follow, Western companies have notably latched onto Lunar New Year, given the scale of its celebration. Well-known Western brands like Apple, Gucci, Nike, and Sephora have launched new advertising campaigns and capsule collections overseas, primarily aimed at Chinese customers, but these activities have also bled into the American market. Malls, shopping centers, and entertainment venues in major US cities are hosting attractions tied to Lunar New Year. Despite the financial gains made from it, however, Lunar New Year is not yet a federal holiday. The commodification of major holidays and events is nothing new. Brands have long had a corporate incentive to pander to customers by aligning themselves with certain political and social goals. Yet there’s a stark disconnect that emerges when brands try to commercialize a holiday, especially one tied to cultures that celebrate it abroad like Lunar New Year. Despite the financial gains made from it, however, Lunar New Year is not yet a federal holiday “There’s this flattening of the world taking place in regards to marketing trends and themes,” Deb Gabor, a brands expert and CEO of Sol Marketing, told Vox. “It mostly started with the luxury brands, but we’re seeing more and more mainstream brands doing this,” like Sephora and online beauty companies. Lunar New Year appears to be yet another branded holiday where products are marketed with culturally specific colors, themes, and motifs — with the intention of courting an Asian market that holds significant spending power. Brands, especially luxury retailers, are actively chasing China, which will be the world’s largest apparel market by 2030. The “Lunar New Year effect,” as Gabor called it, is reflected in how American retailers are participating in Chinese shopping events, like Singles Day. According to China’s Ministry of Commerce, Chinese consumers in 2019 spent $149 billion across the week-long Chinese New Year holiday. China is also a hot spot for luxury retailers, spending about $7 billion each year on brand-name goods, according to McKinsey. Every year, retailers have the opportunity to create new merchandise that correlates with the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, which symbolizes a given year. A person’s zodiac sign depends on their birth year, and even American consumers have a semblance of knowledge of the zodiac, if not their affiliated animal. Given our collective enthusiasm at identifying ourselves through unscientific, ambiguous ways, brands are relying on zodiac imagery to sell their products. sees what you’re up to Apple. Alot of the emoji engraving options also match the Chinese Zodiac animals so you can engrave the year of your birth.— Brian Suda (@briansuda) January 3, 2020 2020 is the Year of the Rat, which might not be the cutest animal on earth, but that hasn’t stopped fashion retailers and makeup brands from releasing rat-related merchandise: Gucci and Adidas Originals have both partnered with Disney on capsule collections that feature Mickey Mouse, arguably the most famous rodent in the world. Rag & Bone has a pizza rat sweater, and Moschino released products with its Mickey Rat logo (which looks like Mickey Mouse but with a long jagged snout). Other retailers have opted to use more traditional motifs, like Nike, which has a series of subtly intricate shoe designs inspired by traditional Chinese paper cutting. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Gucci (@gucci) on Jan 3, 2020 at 3:14am PST Despite their best efforts, Western companies haven’t escaped the inevitable criticism (mostly by Western consumers) that they’re commodifying a cultural holiday for their bottom line. In addition to Lunar New Year, brands have also capitalized on China’s Mid-Autumn Festival and the Muslim holiday Ramadan. In a 2015 piece for Racked, Fareeha Molvi wrote about the slow commercialization of Ramadan, and about grappling with how her culture “could be the next lucrative frontier,” like other holidays before it. “At its core, Ramadan is about doing more with less. Literally, you’re asked to do more good deeds while physically consuming less,” she wrote. When companies try to co-opt a cultural holiday for material gain, they risk subverting or even trivializing the tradition behind the event. Despite Lunar New Year’s deep-seated traditions, it has devolved into somewhat of a consumerist holiday: It’s tradition for people to buy loved ones gifts or exchange money (which encourages spending), and it’s even considered good fortune to ring in the new year with new stuff. For the most part, Asian consumers abroad don’t appear to take issue with the cultural marketing. Nike and Apple have received praise for releasing poignant ads that focus on family and tradition. However, foreign customers are quick to notice failed marketing ploys and point out where brands have erred. For example, Burberry’s Chinese New Year campaign in 2019 featured stoic, heavily stylized family portraits, which Chinese netizens found creepy and tone-deaf. Amid tensions between China and the US over trade and geopolitics, however, Chinese shoppers might not be as receptive to Western brands’ Lunar New Year efforts. They’ve become especially wary of American companies and critical of international retailers overall, according to a Wall Street Journal piece on how America is losing the Chinese customer. “This past Christmas is a good indication that [retailers] don’t have much up their sleeves besides promotions and discounts,” Gabor said. In a way, Lunar New Year has been a saving grace for some retailers, another opportunity to get more customers to buy. That might change in the future, as surveys show how Chinese shoppers prefer to buy from domestic brands, partly for patriotism’s sake. On Singles Day, the country’s largest shopping holiday, up to 78 percent of respondents surveyed said the trade war would affect their purchase of American brands. It doesn’t help that a string of missteps in 2019, which left companies scrambling to scrap together corporate apologies, has soured China’s perception towards Western brands. It was just in 2018 that a Chinese fast-fashion company had to set up shop in London to gain appeal in Beijing. The opposite effect might be taking place now. Analysts predict that Chinese shoppers alone are expected to spend as much as $156 billion on new year festivities. Still, it’s uncertain whether it’ll benefit the bottom line of Western companies. Sign up for The Goods newsletter. Twice a week, we’ll send you the best Goods stories exploring what we buy, why we buy it, and why it matters.
Political Hobbyists Are Ruining Politics
Many college-educated people think they are deeply engaged in politics. They follow the news—reading articles like this one—and debate the latest developments on social media. They might sign an online petition or throw a $5 online donation at a presidential candidate. Mostly, they consume political information as a way of satisfying their own emotional and intellectual needs. These people are political hobbyists. What they are doing is no closer to engaging in politics than watching SportsCenter is to playing football.For Querys Matias, politics isn’t just a hobby. Matias is a 63-year-old immigrant from the Dominican Republic. She lives in Haverhill, Massachusetts, a small city on the New Hampshire border. In her day job, Querys is a bus monitor for a special-needs school. In her evenings, she amasses power. Querys is a leader of a group called the Latino Coalition in Haverhill, bringing together the Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, and Central Americans who together make up about 20 percent of the residents of the city. The coalition gets out the vote during elections, but they do much more than that.They have met with their member of Congress and asked for regular, Spanish-speaking office hours for their community. They advocate for policies like immigration reform for Dreamers and federal assistance in affordable housing. On local issues, the demands are more concrete. Dozens of the group’s members have met with the mayor, the school superintendent, and the police department. They want more Latinos in city jobs and serving on city boards. They want the schools to have staff available who can speak with parents in Spanish. They want to know exactly how the city interacts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.Querys is engaging in politics—the methodical pursuit of power to influence how the government operates. If she and the community she represents are quiet and not organized, they get ignored. Other interests, sometimes competing interests, prevail. Organizing gives them the ability to get what they want. Much as the civil-rights movement did, Querys is operating with clear goals and with discipline, combining electoral strategies with policy advocacy.[Read: Democrats should be worried about the Latino vote]Unlike organizers such as Querys, the political hobbyists are disproportionately college-educated white men. They learn about and talk about big important things. Their style of politics is a parlor game in which they debate the issues on their abstract merits. Media commentators and good-government reform groups have generally regarded this as a cleaner, more evolved, less self-interested version of politics compared to the kind of politics that Querys practices.In reality, political hobbyists have harmed American democracy and would do better by redirecting their political energy toward serving the material and emotional needs of their neighbors. People who have a personal stake in the outcome of politics often have a better understanding of how power can and should be exercised—not just at the polls once every four years, but person to person, day in and day out.In the United States, political habits vary significantly by race and education. In a 2018 survey, I found that whites reported spending more time reading, talking, and thinking about politics than blacks and Latinos, but blacks and Latinos were twice as likely as white respondents to say that at least some of the time they dedicate to politics is spent volunteering in organizations. Likewise, those who are college-educated report they spend more time on politics than other Americans—but less than 2 percent of that time involves volunteering in political organizations. The rest is spent mostly in news consumption (41 percent of the time), discussion and debate (26 percent), and contemplating politics alone (21 percent). Ten percent of the time is unclassifiable. Furthermore, the news that college-educated people consume is unlikely to help them actively participate in politics because, as the Pew Research Center has found, they are more likely than non-college educated Americans to rely on national rather than local sources of news. Daily news consumers are very interested in politics, so they say, but they aren’t doing much: In 2016 most reported belonging to zero organizations, having attended zero political meetings in the last year, having worked zero times with others to solve a community problem.What explains the rise of political hobbyism? One important historical explanation is the culture of comfort that engulfs college-educated white people, a demographic group that is now predominately Democratic. They have decent jobs and benefits. There has been no military conscription for some fifty years. Harvard’s Theda Skocpol argues that as the percent of Americans with a college degree has increased over time, they have come to feel less special, less like stewards of their community, less like their communities depend on them. As the college-educated population has grown over time, community participation has, surprisingly, plummeted.[Read: America is divided by education]In other words, college educated people, especially whites, do politics as hobbyists because they can. On the political left, they may say they fear President Trump. They may lament polarization. But they are pretty comfortable with the status quo. They don’t have the same concrete needs as Querys’s community in Haverhill has. Nor do they feel a sense of obligation, of “linked fate”, to people who have concrete needs such that they are willing to be their allies. They might front as “allies” on social media, but very few white liberals are actively engaging in face-to-face political organizations, committing their time to fighting for racial equality or any other issue they say they care about.This article has been adapted from Politics Is for Power: How to Move Beyond Political Hobbyism, Take Action, and Make Real Change, by Eitan Hersh.Instead they are scrolling through their news feeds, keeping up on all the dramatic turns in Washington that satiate their need for an emotional connection to politics but that help them not at all learn how to be good citizens. They can recite the ins and outs of the Mueller investigation or fondly recall old 24-hour scandals like Sharpiegate, but they haven’t the faintest idea how to push for what they care about in their own communities.If you think the status quo in politics isn’t great, then the time wasted on political hobbyism is pretty tragic. But political hobbyism is worse than just a waste of time. As I argue in my new book, Politics is for Power, our collective treatment of politics like a sport incentivizes politicians to behave badly. We reward them with attention and money for any red meat they throw at us. Hobbyism also cultivates skills and attitudes that are counter-productive to building power. Rather than practicing patience and empathy like Querys needs to do to win over supporters in Haverhill, hobbyists cultivate outrage and seek instant gratification.In the Democratic Party coalition, racial minorities have long operated in tension with the well-educated, cosmopolitan wing of the party. It’s a tension between those who have concrete demands from politics and seek empowerment, versus those who have enough power that politics is more about self-gratification than fighting for anything. Only if you don’t need more power than you already have could you possibly consider politics as a form of consumption from the couch rather than as a domain of goals and strategies. In the 1950s and 1960s, there was a brief movement of activism by “amateur” or “club” Democrats, as they were called. These were middle-class white professionals who met regularly in well-to-do neighborhoods to talk about politics and push a liberal agenda, including civil rights. A criticism levied against these groups was that they were all talk. In 1967, for instance, in their book, Black Power, Kwame Ture (formerly Stokely Carmichael) and political scientist Charles Hamilton wrote that African-Americans have tried for too long to work with groups like the club Democrats. The authors argued that liberal white professionals didn’t really value black empowerment, often actually impeded black empowerment, and failed to understand the life-and-death consequences for political power. “Let black people organize themselves first,” they wrote, “define their interests and goals, and then see what kinds of allies are available.”Liberal white hobbyists living in well-to-do white enclaves, especially in blue states, might look at politics today and think the important stuff is happening elsewhere—in poorer areas of their own state, in swing states, in Republican states, in Washington—anywhere but where they live. Ture and Hamilton saw this pattern back in the 1960s. “One of the most disturbing things about almost all white supporters,” they wrote, “has been that they are reluctant to go into their own communities—which is where the racism exists—and work to get rid of it.” Fast forward to the present day—to a world of increasing inequality in resources, where rich neighborhoods will feature yard signs claiming everyone is welcome but where zoning rules claim otherwise: If you don’t think there is any work to do in your own town in advancing the cause of racial equality, you are not looking very hard.In immigrant communities, minority communities, in poor communities, politics is about empowerment. When politics is about empowerment, like it is for Querys, community service and political engagement are closely connected. Helping parents navigate school systems, helping neighbors fill out government forms, making sure families have healthcare and food and security—this is both community service and a fight for basic human needs. Those needs can also be served through attaining political power. And how does one gain power for their values, in the way that Querys does? By working in local organizations that demonstrate to a community of people you care about their needs. Then, when an election comes or an important meeting happens, the community shows up. That’s is the basic formula. That’s real politics. It’s precisely the kind of work that political hobbyists expect someone else to perform while they nod along to MSNBC.College-educated hobbyists can engage in real politics too. They’ll need to figure out what needs are unmet and how they can serve them. They’ll need to find local organizations in which they can serve. More fundamentally, they’ll have to figure out which communities they’re willing to fight for. As things stand, their apathy suggests that they already have figured that part out.This article was adapted from Hersh’s upcoming book, Politics Is for Power: How to Move Beyond Political Hobbyism, Take Action, and Make Real Change.
'Power' Spin-Off: Starz Series Teases New Tommy Egan West Coast Sequel
"Power" has multiple spin-offs coming to Starz and a prequel that follows Tommy starting his life over in California may be among them if Season 6, Episode 13 is anything to go by.
The next mega disasters that could happen at any moment (and kill us all)
As wildfires so hot that images can be seen from space ravage Australia — creating toxic smoke that clogs the country’s major cities, killing over 25 people, burning 18 million acres and slaughtering up to a billion animals — many around the globe are wondering what catastrophe is next?
Two police officers killed in Hawaii by suspect with history of false 911 calls
Two police officers were shot and killed in Hawaii Sunday by a man who had a history of making false 911 calls. The suspect Jerry Hanel also set a fire that destroyed seven homes. Jamie Yuccas reports.
“King-Lee Day” and other ways states bend MLK’s legacy
Zac Freeland/Vox How can some places use the federal holiday to honor “human rights” and Confederate generals — and not the civil rights leader? Welcome to Laboratories of Democracy, a series for Vox’s The Highlight, where we examine local policies and their impacts. The policy: States have stretched the meaning of the federal Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday to honor everything from “human rights” to Confederate generals. Where: Alabama, Mississippi, Utah, Idaho, Virginia, New Hampshire Since: 1986 The problem: In March 1990, the NFL delivered Arizona an ultimatum. The league approved Phoenix as the host of the 1993 Super Bowl — a sure economic boon — on one condition: The state needed to finally recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday. In a scramble, state legislators placed MLK Day on the ballot in 1990, confident it would be approved. But when the vote tally came in that November, officials were shocked to discover the proposal had failed. “We honestly don’t believe our kids and grandkids should revere him as a national hero,” one anti-MLK Day activist told the New York Times. True to its word, the NFL pulled the 1993 Super Bowl from Arizona. The Arizona vote revealed something sinister about American race relations: Although MLK Day is generally viewed as a way to mark the country’s supposed racial progress and the life of King, who fought for that progress, many white Americans still refuse to honor the civil rights leader. States are not required to observe any of the 10 federal holidays, including Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In many cases, they don’t: Columbus Day, for example, is only recognized in 21 states. But state authority over how to designate holidays has given rise to an ominous downplaying of MLK’s legacy. Congress first considered making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a holiday in 1968, the year of the civil rights leader’s assassination. Annual bills were introduced for more than a decade, but none of them made it out of committee because of lingering hostility toward King, particularly among several Republican representatives. But activists and labor unions continued to push for the holiday, delivering a petition that garnered more than 6 million signatures to Congress in the early 1980s. President Ronald Reagan had initially opposed MLK Day, citing the cost of another paid holiday for federal workers, but after the Reagan administration’s campaign against affirmative action and welfare, the president decided he needed to shore up his black support somehow. In 1983, he signed a law proclaiming that the third Monday of January would become Martin Luther King Jr. Day. But contempt for King’s legacy remained. Much of it stemmed from an insistence that King’s work in desegregating the South and advocating wealth redistribution across the country was fundamentally “un-American.” Misinformation about King as a communist sympathizer spread widely. Although many states followed the example of Congress and quickly recognized a holiday in his honor, some of the holdouts decided to get creative. How it works: In April 1984, a pair of white supremacists crawled under a synagogue in Boise, Idaho, and placed three sticks of dynamite beneath the kitchen. The duo, members of the violent white nationalist organization Aryan Nations, later said they intended it as an “act of war.” When the bomb went off, no one died. But it became one in a string of Aryan Nations attacks, which included the murder of a Jewish radio host, that shook the nation in the mid-’80s. The festering racism in Idaho, one of the whitest states in the country and the main base of the Aryan Nations, became fodder for national news stories. The state needed an image change, so Idaho Gov. John Evans devised a simple solution: Idaho would, at long last, push for a holiday to honor Martin Luther King Jr. after years of refusing to recognize it. But the legislation to make MLK Day official didn’t pass. The legislature tried in 1986, then again in 1987, and in 1989. Opposing legislators claimed they were concerned about cost, but as Boise State University history professor Jill K. Gill noted in The Pacific Northwest Quarterly, many Idahoans distrusted King, if not civil rights in general. In King, they saw a man who had committed marital infidelities and supposedly harbored communist sympathies. But other legislators did not bother to hide that their opposition was rooted in racism. State Rep. Emerson Smock complained to the Post Register, “A black holiday is what they’re wanting.” The legislature eventually forged a compromise: Rather than create a state holiday that honored King alone, the state would broaden it to include, in theory, anyone. In April 1990, the state announced it would celebrate King’s birthday as “Martin Luther King Jr.-Idaho Human Rights Day.” Although King remained the primary honoree, the extended name was explicitly about mollifying King’s detractors. Idaho isn’t alone. Alabama and Mississippi still celebrate a “King-Lee” day that lumps King together with Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, whose birthday is January 19. Until 2000, Virginia took this idea even further, creating a “Lee-Jackson-King Day” that also honored Confederate leader Stonewall Jackson. “Bundling the holidays remains a form of resistance to racial justice in America,” Gill told Vox. By putting King alongside Lee, she added, “it also remains a vehicle for obscuring white supremacist aims, past and present.” Other states tried an array of strategies to quite literally take Martin Luther King Jr. out of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Until 2000, Utah’s holiday did not mention King by name: MLK Day was known simply as Human Rights Day. South Carolina took a different tack, passing a standalone holiday honoring the civil rights leader but making its observance optional. There, state workers could choose between MLK Day and three separate Confederate holidays as their paid day off. Arizona voters, by contrast, refused to approve a ballot proposal for MLK Day until 1992, two years after the NFL boycotted the state. And in 2000, New Hampshire became the last state in the country to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day under any name, closing out an effort that included multiple failed bills since 1979. The winning compromise: New Hampshire would call its holiday “Martin Luther King Jr. Civil Rights Day” instead of just “Martin Luther King Jr. Day.” Attempts to lump King together with other historical figures have not disappeared. In 2010, the Utah legislature considered a bill that would add gun manufacturer John Browning to the state’s celebration of King. When Desert News asked Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins whether he saw any conflict in honoring a gun manufacturer alongside a proponent of nonviolence, Jenkins replied, “Guns keep peace.” Many of the same states that have renamed MLK Day also routinely downplay anti-black violence in their discussions of America’s past. According to the Washington Post, Massachusetts, which observes the holiday, mentions slavery 104 times in its K-12 public school history guidelines. Compare that to Alabama, which only mentions it 15 times, or Idaho, which only mentions it twice. Meanwhile, in New Hampshire, key events in the civil rights movement like the murder of Emmett Till have at times been ignored entirely. According to Gill, maintaining a joint King-Lee holiday “continues that tradition of prioritizing white people’s reconciliation and image of patriotic nobility over acknowledging the historical truths of racial injustice and culpability.” Black activists have long pointed out the ways political leaders have diluted King’s legacy on his birthday. Instead of focusing on his commitment to radical policies like wealth redistribution, politicians are quick to generalize King as a unifier, proof of America’s supposedly harmonious racial present. Three years ago, the FBI even tweeted its support for King’s “incredible career fighting for civil rights” — even though the agency cast King as a domestic threat during his lifetime. That some states still refuse to celebrate King, even in this diluted form, is perhaps an indictment of how far America remains from any semblance of racial equality. Michael Waters is a writer covering the oddities of politics and economics. His work has appeared in the Atlantic, Gizmodo, BuzzFeed, and the Outline.
U.S. takes precautions as China's deadly virus outbreak spreads
Passengers arriving in the U.S. from the city at the center of the coronavirus outbreak are now being screened, as China's leader calls for containment ahead of huge travel period.
ShowBiz Minute: SAG Awards, Prince Harry, US Box Office
"Parasite" wins at SAG Awards, so do Pitt and Aniston; Prince Harry: "Powerful media" is why he's stepping away from royal family; "Bad Boys for Life" debuts so good with box office top spot in the U.S.. (Jan. 20)
Kansas City club shooting: two dead, more than a dozen injured
Two people were killed in a mass shooting outside a nightclub in Kansas City, Missouri. More than a dozen others were injured. Savannah Rudicel reports that the Nine Ultra Lounge was hosting a celebration party for the Kansas City Chiefs' win Sunday night.
Iran says it will quit global nuclear treaty if case goes to U.N.
Iran said on Monday it could quit the global nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if European countries refer it to the U.N. Security Council over a nuclear agreement, a move that would overturn diplomacy in its confrontation with the West.
How President Trump's legal team will defend him at impeachment trial
This week, President Trump will face charges in the Senate of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. House members, led by Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, are working on the opening presentation at the Senate impeachment trial. Weijia Jiang reports that the president’s legal team will argue that the entire process to impeach him has been tainted.
Supreme Court religious rights case has big implications for U.S. schools
Despite wondering every autumn whether she can afford it, Kendra Espinoza has worked hard to keep her two daughters in a small private Christian school in Kalispell, Montana, costing about $15,000 annually for them to attend.
Read Prince Harry's full speech after royal split
Prince Harry delivered a speech on Sunday at a dinner for AIDS and HIV charity Sentebal, in his first public remarks since Buckingham Palace announced a deal on his and Meghan's split from official royal duties. Read the transcript here.
Eye Opener: The president remains defiant ahead of trial
House impeachment managers get ready to present their arguments, while President Trump's lawyers say Democrats do not have a case to remove the president. Also, two people are dead and more than a dozen are injured after a shooting at a bar in Kansas City, Missouri. All that and all that matters in today's Eye Opener. Your world in 90 seconds.
Live export: animals at risk as giant global industry goes unchecked
More demand for meat sets nearly 2 billion farm animals on the move a year despite concerns about poor transport conditions and inhumane slaughterThe global trade in live farm animals has more than quadrupled in size over the past 50 years, but patchy regulation means animals may be put at risk on some journeys, or exposed to cruelty when they reach their destination.Every year nearly 2 billion farm animals are loaded on to trucks or ships and sent to new countries in journeys that can take days and sometimes weeks. Every day, at least 5 million animals are in transit. Continue reading...
Coco Gauff, 15, beats Venus Williams again, at Australian Open
Youngest woman in field bests oldest, just as she did at Wimbledon six months ago; seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus is 39.
2020 Caravan Arrives in Mexico With More Than 1,000 Migrants, Government Vows to Deport Most
Thousands more asylum seekers are trying to make their way to Mexico from Honduras.
Beales goes into administration with 22 stores and 1,300 jobs at risk
Department store chain collapses - see the full list of stores belowThe department store chain Beales has gone into administration, threatening 1,300 jobs in the latest blow to the UK high street.Accountancy firm KPMG has been appointed as administrator to the 22-shop chain and will field any last-ditch offers for the company or any of its assets. Continue reading...
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Employees and former employees of brands like Sephora and Chipotle are going viral on TikTok. | Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for Sephora Employees and former employees are the best brand ambassadors money can’t buy, but companies aren’t partnering with them. Kyra Gallego never intended to be an influencer. It all started this summer, on her last day working at Sephora, when she created a TikTok video that would instantly go viral: “A Sephora Girl Takes Off Her Makeup.” Building on the immediate success, she posted a follow-up video titled “Sephora Worker Pet Peeves,” followed by “Sephora Hacks.” The views and “Likes” started racking up; 10,000, 30,000, 100,000. “If you want to learn how to cheat the system at Sephora, then keep on watching,” Gallego says while filming from her iPhone in the bathroom mirror. “You can get your birthday gift any time, even if it’s not your birthday month, just ask.” She continues, “You can get a sample of as much as you want, don’t listen to them, there is no limit.” While Kyra was sleeping, the video hit the “For You” page, the app’s equivalent to a website homepage, and went viral. The video currently has 9.6 million views, more than all of the verified Sephora TikTok videos combined. “I saw the opportunity to speak about a popular brand and help people. I saw the ease and quickness that comes with TikTok. ... It was more accessible for people who would want to watch and learn from me. Then I posted that video and it went off,” said Gallego. “I’m basically doing anything I would have done at work, but on my own platform now.” Kyra is not the only inspired employee creator on the app, which boasts 1.5 billion users around the world. In the pursuit of sharing real-life content to gain and entertain followers, cashiers, baristas, and floor employees are introducing the TikTok community to their day-to-day lives working for the world’s most popular brands. The formal influencer programs brands like Sephora dream up in the boardroom can be easily surpassed by those they hired to work the counter — and their worker’s videos can be seen by millions around the world. TikTok has been fueled by Generation Z, digital natives that value transparency, authenticity, and online influence. According to a survey conducted by Morning Consult, 86 percent of Americans aged 13 to 38 would like to become a social media influencer, and TikTok, the newest platform in the game, is a channel primed for the taking. It is less saturated than Instagram and YouTube for those who aim to become influencers and more welcoming to quick, replicable content that is easy to produce and make viral. For a TikTok to go viral, sophisticated agency work or corporate savvy is not required or rewarded, even from global brands. One dance video from the “Queen of TikTok,” Charli D’Amelio, a 15-year-old from Connecticut, may easily garner 24 million views, while a TikTok on the NBA’s official account, a celebrated brand with one of the largest followings on TikTok, may obtain hundreds of thousands. Charli’s bedroom is her set, sweatpants are her wardrobe, and production is courtesy of her iPhone. This evens the playing field for regular teens and big advertisers alike (for now), creating an open space for new, uninhibited voices to rise to the top of the influence chain — and many of them are just starting their careers behind the counters of our favorite retailers and restaurants. In June, Starbucks baristas were dumbfounded when young customers began to order the “TikTok” drink, an off-menu item that was never promoted or officially recognized by the brand. Seemingly overnight, there were two camps: baristas who knew what was going on and those who didn’t. Employees active on TikTok knew what to do: start with a Strawberry Açaí Refresher, three scoops of strawberries, three scoops of blackberries, blended with ice or lemonade. After all, #TikTokDrink has 52.6 million views and counting around the world. Starbucks is a lifestyle on TikTok, but with no officially endorsed account, passionate employees have stepped in to promote their favorite drinks and provide barista commentary on their personal accounts, unsponsored and uninfluenced by their managers. Videos of brightly colored, creative drink recipes are described from behind the counter to the tune of 4.5 million views, as in this TikTok about the “IT” frappuccino by user @StarbucksRecipesWithM. This is the kind of exposure marketers dream of. By searching the hashtag #starbucksbarista, you’ll find videos of employees providing insight into not only their favorite drinks, but also why they love to work at Starbucks, and yes, making fun of customer interactions or exposing the mundanity of their jobs. You can’t help but smile when you’re introduced to the local baristas in Port Richey, Florida, or see customers sing their orders to the baristas, just to make them smile (and for the “Likes,” of course). (Starbucks did not respond to multiple requests for comment.) Of their own volition and without any special compensation, employees representing all sectors are lifting the corporate curtain that once hid the backstage workings of major brands. The viewers of their viral videos receive raw exposure to brand values right from their device, from people they can relate to (and order from). And it works. The potential for employees to influence brand perception on TikTok is limitless; this opportunity can be a risk when less-favorable videos are distributed straight to the masses, unfiltered by corporate finesse. Take the power of the unofficial employee influencer @Brinaraelanee, who made national news when her video went viral for “exposing” the preparation of Panera Bread’s mac & cheese (spoiler: It’s frozen, a standard industry process to ensure quality control) and was subsequently fired. It’s safe to assume most customers had never demanded, or had access to, information about how their favorite dish was made. But thanks to Bri, we know. All 7.3 million of us that viewed it. “Employees can be your best advocates because they know and love the brand, they know all the ‘hacks’ and insider info,” said Mae Karwowski, CEO of influencer marketing agency Obviously. “The first step is to give guidelines to employees,” she continues. “Show that corporate actually knows that this is an app that exists, then monitor and reward positive behavior.” And brands have done just that, which is why it’s no coincidence that Kyra Gallego started posting TikToks on her last day working for Sephora. Corporate social media guidelines are standard practice and may indirectly or explicitly discourage employees from posting content related to their work or the brands they represent. For creators who depend on social media to promote their personal brand or portfolio, these agreements may restrict professional growth, especially as an influencer. Sources report that Sephora has a policy discouraging the discussion of makeup brands on personal social media channels unless you are within the approved “Sephora Squad,” a group of influencers that apply and are selected by Sephora to collaborate on content and campaigns. Sephora denies this practice but confirms there is a social media policy in place. Former employees no longer restricted by company policy are free to publish videos (like @MakeupbyMaritza’s “Sephora Worker Tea”), which makes possible the skyrocketing fame of free agents like Kyra Gallego. Karwowski points out that these employees are “essentially providing authentic, free advertising” but admits that you also run the risk of someone having a bad day and going on a rant. “I would argue that the person is already on TikTok and is going to rant anyway,” Karwowski says. “Why don’t you capture the good and create parameters for the rest?” Some brands have been early movers to capitalize on positive employee content and harness it to create a successful TikTok strategy.Chipotle utilized the passion of employees to dream up sponsored challenges like the “#FlipYourLid” challenge, born directly from an employee on the line that did the fun trick when creating bowls. With the success of the challenge, Chipotle went on to formally partner with TikTok to promote the “#GuacDance” around National Avocado Day and “#BooritoChallenge” for Halloween. In addition to promoting user-generated content, Chipotle tapped already popular TikTok creators to promote the hashtag. For the #GuacDance campaign, popular creator Loren Gray, who boasts 37.2 million followers, feeds a friend guacamole while she bops along to the “guacamole song,” a sound inspired by a viral internet video. At its core, it is a zero-budget, eight-second video promotion for free guacamole if you visit a Chipotle on the holiday; but what it lacks in production value it makes up for in relatability and nearly 700,000 “Likes.” The TikTok community embraces the brief, authentic, and often ordinary in contrast to the aestheticized expectations of other platforms, and some brands have taken note. “Young people have grown up with branded content, so they are its biggest fans and harshest critics. They can sense when something is inauthentic or forced,” said Karwowski. “Brands have to understand this content is not going to be like a TV commercial,” she advises. So Chipotle kept it true to the platform. They tapped current employees and customers to shoot videos in-store; used trending “sounds,” dances, and memes to increase the chances of going viral; and uploaded content that looks like it was shot from a cellphone. Because it was. “We want to be where our customers are,” said Tressie Lieberman, VP of digital marketing and off-premise at Chipotle, when asked about joining TikTok. “We are creating content at the restaurants and we bring in team members to create content with us. A lot of our employees are following TikTok, so it’s a special moment for them, too.” In her video titled “I <3 Chipotle,” popular creator and former Chipotle employee Zahra, username @Muslimthicc, gushes about how to make the perfect burrito bowl. “Anyone that knows me relatively well knows that I love Chipotle, like I could absolutely live off of it, it is my favorite thing to eat when I go out. And I also used to work at Chipotle for two-and-a-half years,” she tells her 1.7 million followers. “You gotta ask for honey, I swear its life-changing … it’s so worth the mild embarrassment and social anxiety.” (Honey is available; it’s an ingredient used in their homemade vinaigrette.) The video has nearly 775,000 views and is not sponsored or tagged for Chipotle to see and potentially sponsor. You can’t help but believe that Zahra genuinely wants you to have a good experience at her favorite restaurant — that’s it, plain and simple. Her channel is not loaded with paid posts and we often see her studying or driving around with her little brother. She is the exact brand of influence that users on TikTok can trust. Lieberman, speaking to me from corporate headquarters in Newport Beach, California, knew exactly what video I was referring to made by Zahra, a college student in Albany, NY. “There are all these creators that love the brand and are creating really cool content that people enjoy watching, because we are a place where people have so much passion,” Lieberman said. Thanks to her inside knowledge of Sephora and internet savvy, Kyra Gallego has hit a sweet spot of influence serving the burgeoning Gen Z beauty community on TikTok (Kyra is not currently sponsored by Sephora and she has not heard from corporate regarding her videos). She wants to stay focused on helping others learn beauty tricks and guide her now-320,000 followers through the often overwhelming world of skin care and beauty. “I want people to know that Sephora is not a scary, mean place; they value customer service and experience. I just want people to know Sephora wants to make you more beautiful than you already are,” said Gallego. As for the future, Kyra is about to begin her last semester of college, then she’s off to pursue her master’s degree in education. “If I can have this much success within one month of being on TikTok, who knows what will happen by the time I’m ready to teach,” said Gallego. Sign up for The Goods newsletter. Twice a week, we’ll send you the best Goods stories exploring what we buy, why we buy it, and why it matters.
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