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Personality trait called ‘planfulness’ could predict how often you exercise, says study

New research has found that having a personality trait called "planfulness," which is related to how well you plan and focus on long-term goals, could mean you are more likely to exercise. Carried out by researchers at the University of Oregon in the United States, the study looked at 282 participants, many of whom were students, and tracked their gym attendance over two semesters, which was a total of 20 weeks. The participants were asked to complete measures of self-control and grit, the Big Five Inventory of personality and the researchers' own 30-item planfulness scale to measure this personality trait, which describes a person's ability to make short-term sacrifices to pur...

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The Troubling Ideals at the Heart of Abortion Rights
Many Americans think of Roe v. Wade as the defining Supreme Court decision on the issue of abortion. But a 1992 high-court decision actually governs abortion law. That ruling rested on fateful assumptions about the relationship between abortion and women’s equality. But in so doing, it has served to enshrine social and professional inequalities, which mothers must fight against every day.In that case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a mere plurality of justices on the Court affirmed Roe, not because they thought it was good law but because of its “precedential force.” Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy, and David Souter wrote that the “certain cost” of overruling Roe was just too extensive 19 years later—“even on the assumption that the central holding of Roe was in error.”What were the costs that persuaded these justices to affirm a prior—potentially erroneous—constitutional decision? Judicial conservatives point to the joint opinion’s concern with the threat to the high court’s integrity and legitimacy in overturning long-established precedent. But another concern was just as operative: The plurality writes that the country so “relied” upon the right bestowed in Roe for women’s economic and social progress that the Court could not now stand in the way.Behind this logic is a kind of nontraditional, sociological rationale undergirding stare decisis—the legal principle of deferring to precedent. But the Casey plurality is also paying tribute to a long-popular argument among pro-abortion-rights legal thinkers: Abortion rights are necessary for women’s equality. Indeed, for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the cadre of other like-minded legal thinkers, the right to abortion, currently based in substantive due process, would be better secured by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment—or, better still, the long-proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Justice Ginsburg, who defended abortion rights as equality rights in scholarship in the 1980s, more recently argued in her dissent in Gonsales v. Carhart that a constitutionally protected right to abortion is even necessary for women’s “equal citizenship stature.”Equality arguments for abortion rights have become so pervasive in law and politics that it’s easy to overlook just what is being claimed, and how very different this idea of equality is from that of those who first advocated for women’s full legal, political, and social equality in this country.[Caitlin Flanagan: The dishonesty of the abortion debate]Consider, as one striking example, Victoria Woodhull, a leading suffragist and radical, and the first woman to run for president of the United States, nominated by the Equal Rights Party in 1872. With her peers in the 19th-century women’s movement, she asserted, among a host of other rights, the right to be free of the common-law sexual prerogative that husbands then enjoyed over their wives. Understanding the asymmetrical consequences of sexual intercourse for women, Woodhull anticipated a time “when woman rises from sexual slavery to sexual freedom into the ownership and control of her sexual organs, and man is obliged to respect this freedom.”But owning and controlling one’s body did not extend, for Woodhull and other advocates of “voluntary motherhood,” to doing what one willed with the body of another. Rather, these women sought sovereignty over their own bodies in part because they could claim no legitimate authority to engage, in Woodhull’s words, in “antenatal murder of undesired children.” An outspoken advocate of constitutional equality for women, Woodhull also championed the rights of children—rights that “begin while yet they remain the fetus.” In 1870, she wrote: Many women who would be shocked at the very thought of killing their children after birth, deliberately destroy them previously. If there is any difference in the actual crime we should be glad to have those who practice the latter, point it out. The truth of the matter is that it is just as much a murder to destroy life in its embryonic condition, as it is to destroy it after the fully developed form is attained, for it is the self-same life that is taken. Nearly 100 years later the arguments shifted, and women’s-equality advocates began making arguments in favor of abortion rights. In 1969, in a first-of-its-kind legal brief, attorneys for 300 women challenged New York State’s then–relatively restrictive abortion law. The attorneys in Abramowicz v. Lefkowitz rightly brought attention to the same stubborn reproductive asymmetries to which advocates of voluntary motherhood had sought to respond. But rather than call men to join women at a high standard of mutual responsibility and care, as prior generations of women’s-rights advocates had done, the attorneys argued for a different kind of sexual equality. Because “the man who shares responsibility for her pregnancy can and often does just walk away,” the plaintiff's brief maintained that the woman ought to enjoy that same freedom—through abortion. As the Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe would articulate the concept two decades later, “While men retain the right to sexual and reproductive autonomy, restrictions on abortion deny that autonomy to women.”But abortion restrictions do not deny sexual and reproductive autonomy to women; reality does. While pregnant, a woman is carrying a new and vulnerable human being within her. Unlike a biological father, a pregnant woman cannot just walk away; to approach the desired autonomy of the child-abandoning man, a pregnant woman must engage in a life-destroying act.[Chavi Eve Karkowsky: I found the outer limits of my pro-choice beliefs]So in a twisted imitation of the common-law dominion husbands once wielded over their wives, women would now seek sexual equality through the ultimate dominion over their unborn children. To make matters worse, this dominion is now thought necessary for women to achieve, in Justice Ginsburg’s view, “equal citizenship stature.”Yet this view of “equal citizenship” seems to be in some tension with Ginsburg’s definition of “full citizenship” in the opinion for the Court in United States v. Virginia, the much-heralded 1996 sex-discrimination case. Ginsburg defined a person’s full citizenship as the “equal opportunity to aspire, achieve, participate in and contribute to society based on their individual talents and capacities.”But those capacities are not the same for men and women, at least when it comes to sex and reproduction. If citizenship is understood along the traditional, male model—the capacity to remain physically autonomous from the reproductive consequences of sexual intercourse and unencumbered by the demands of caregiving—the affirmative attachment and nurturing required of young children and those who care for them become symbols of dependence, and anathema. To celebrate autonomy as the defining feature of citizenship undervalues both men and women who have caregiving responsibilities, especially when those responsibilities impede one’s capacity to live and work unencumbered.The market economy, ever seeking efficiency and profits, already carries a bias against time-consuming and often-unpredictable parental duties. Given feminism’s tendency today to associate equality with autonomy, it is no wonder that work-family balance remains a foremost issue, and that women’s status as mothers still results in the most acute social and professional inequalities, even as women have made tremendous gains overall.Perhaps the strongest illustration of the brokenness of these ideas comes in the form of a counterfactual: Imagine a world without Roe and Casey, but with Ginsburg’s rightfully celebrated anti-discrimination successes in the 1970s. In this world, workplaces and other institutions better acknowledge encumbered women, duly encumbered men, and the child-rearing family’s demands generally. Rather than being “free to assume Roe’s concept of liberty in defining the capacity of women to act in society,” as the Casey plurality contemplated, employers are burdened instead by the reality—now too easily cast aside—that most working persons are, and wish to be, deeply encumbered by their obligations to their families and the important work they do in their homes. In such a world, authentically transformed by women’s legal, political, and social equality, today’s overburdened mothers and fathers just might receive the respect they deserve.
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theatlantic.com
Chinese New Year Events Canceled in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai Over Coronavirus Outbreak Fears
All major Chinese New Year celebrations and large-scale activities in Beijing as well as two Chinese New Year events in Hong Kong have been canceled.
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newsweek.com
Big Houston Building Explosion Damages Homes, Resident Says it's 'a Warzone over Here'
Police in Houston, Texas, blocked off streets on the 4500 block of Gessner Road after a large explosion that reportedly caused a fire and shook buildings.
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newsweek.com
What's Going on with Julian Assange? Extradition Hearing of WikiLeaks Founder Due to Start in February
"The case will now go on for much longer than we thought," WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said outside a London court this week, surrounded by banners and supporters of the organization.
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newsweek.com
Kamala Harris Is Reportedly Mulling a Biden Endorsement. So What?
The candidate with the most at stake in the Kamala Harris endorsement is Kamala Harris.
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slate.com
Matthew McConaughey likes playing a villain in 'The Gentlemen'
Matthew McConaughey was excited when he first read Guy Ritchie's script for his new crime-action drama "The Gentlemen."
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foxnews.com
Pete Buttigieg is missing support from another key Democratic group: Unions
Why haven't any labor unions endorsed Pete Buttigieg's campaign for president?
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latimes.com
Charlie Kirk: The 2020 presidential primary tells us a lot about the Democratic Party
Pass the kale and enjoy the show.
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foxnews.com
Sundance 2020: What does an independent producer actually do? Two of the best tell us
Ron Yerxa and Albert Berger talk rejection, persistence and their new film at Sundance: 'The Last Shift,' with Richard Jenkins, directed by Andrew Cohn.
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latimes.com
Help! I Miss Being Hugged and Touched By Friends.
Even just someone touching my arm.
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slate.com
The Growing Threat to Free Speech Online
There are times when vitally important stories lurk behind the headlines. Yes, impeachment is historic and worth significant coverage, but it’s not the only important story. The recent threat of war with Iran merited every second of intense world interest. But what if I told you that as we lurch from crisis to crisis there…
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time.com
Trump Impeachment Trial Day Five: What to Watch For As Democrats Wrap Up Opening Arguments
Friday will be the last day for House impeachment managers to make their opening arguments in Trump's impeachment trial.
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newsweek.com
Here's What Trump's Defense Team Is Likely to Argue, and What Problems Could Arise During His Impeachment Trial
Trump's lawyers have argued that his impeachment is "an affront to the Constitution and to our democratic institutions."
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newsweek.com
Odd Job: He lost his leg in Afghanistan. Now he reenacts that horrible day to train others for battle.
Soldiers study tactical positions on March 26, 2018, during a simulated military exercise of the British Army Training Unit and Kenya Defence Forces. | AFP via Getty Images Casualty actors help train medical and military services about how to behave in a crisis. In 2006, Stu Pearson, a Scottish soldier in the British Army, stepped on a mine in Afghanistan. In the ensuing chaos, Pearson’s left leg was destroyed. He was on the battlefield for six hours before he was extracted to a military base, where doctors managed to clean the wound and save his life. The ordeal became a major part of the mythology surrounding the UK’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan, so much so that it was adapted into a feature film called Kajaki. Pearson, now 44, remembers that day as both the worst of his life and as fundamental proof that even in the bleakest of disasters, it’s still possible to get out alive. That’s one of the many reasons he works as a casualty model today, leveraging his amputee status to train soldiers and medical workers about what to expect when things go horrifically wrong during a military operation. Casualty Resources, the company Pearson works for, hires amputee actors like Pearson, who simulate traumatic injuries in the field of battle for training purposes. After Ollie Hancock, who founded the company in 2015, takes on a client — be it the UK’s Special Air Service or Germany’s Kommando Spezialkräfte — Pearson is flown out to the division’s training center, where he is drenched in grisly makeup to resemble what he looked like on that fateful day in Afghanistan. There, the medical trainees will get hands-on experience treating someone who’s lost a limb in a combat zone. Pearson’s job is to behave exactly how he did when he stepped on that mine. Though he knows he’ll never be able to fully prepare a battalion for the chaotic trauma of a military calamity, he gives them a far more realistic view than a one-legged mannequin could. Pearson is unique in that he’s one of very few Casualty Resources employees who underwent amputation as a soldier. Most of the other actors, he says, found their way to the company after experiencing accidents or illnesses as civilians. He tells me he makes a few hundred dollars per gig, which is a nice bonus, but the bulk of his income is taken care of by his British government pension. Casualty modeling remains a niche industry (especially in the US), but Pearson hopes it catches on more — he believes that training with real-life amputees is invaluable in an era where terrorist attacks are becoming harder to predict in both their scope and location. We talked about that, as well as how he gets in character during a trauma simulation and what it’s like to make extra cash by reliving a truly awful afternoon, over and over again. The following transcript of our conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity. First things first: Would you mind telling me what happened to you in Afghanistan that resulted in you losing your leg? Basically, we were at Kajaki Dam, watching over the dam itself. [It’s] a hydroelectric dam that’s in charge of about, I think, 75 or 80 percent of the electricity within Helmand Province. So clearly that’s a strategic dam that they couldn’t let fall into the hands of the Taliban. We were based on the hilltops here, taking the high ground as such. The night before the incident, a UK sniper was on my hilltop. He’d noticed Taliban setting up an illegal roadblock south of our location. [We went to investigate.] Stu Pearson after running a marathon. We thought about the chances of mines, because it’s the most heavily mined country in the world. So that’s always at the back of your mind. And we were thinking, “But there’s a goat herder that goes up and down there every day, and our guys have actually been down there setting up flares and stuff.” So I thought it must be okay, [it] must be safe, and then clearly it wasn’t. So I stood on a mine, trying to rescue a friend that had also stood on a mine. It just escalated from there. A helicopter came in, and that set off a third mine beside me, which injured me further. And then one of the guys beside me got up and stood on another mine. He lost his left leg as well, and injured me and my friend, Mark Wright, further. Eventually Black Hawk helicopters were brought in for us from Kandahar, about an hour, hour-and-a-half away for us. And then once they came down, they extracted us out of there, and then they handed us over to the Chinook [helicopter] that had caused the incident earlier. We got extracted back to Bastion [a British Army airbase in Afghanistan]. On the way there, my friend Mark Wright, he sadly passed away. For me, it was just straight into the operating theater for major surgery, where they then took my leg off above the knee and continued to do work on my right leg to save that, which thankfully they did. Going back a bit, what made you want to join the military in the first place? To be honest, I’m really not sure why I wanted to join. It was when I was 17 years old, [in] 1992. I mean, I had a rubbish job, I’d just got out of school the year previous, and I joined a Scottish regiment. I thought I’d wanted to transfer to the parachute regiment. I’d done the selection course, passed that, done the jumps course, had my parachute wings. I was taken into the parachute regiment in 1995 and stayed on there since. I got medically discharged because of injuries in 2012, so I’d done just under 20 years. How did you get linked up with work as a combat model after the amputation? Well, basically, a company had started up called Amputees in Action, they started up [in] 2006 or 2007 or something like that, and that’s obviously when I became an amputee. Somebody gave me one of their business cards, so I got in touch with them and did some work with them. Mostly the same as what I do with Ollie [Hancock, director of Casualty Resources], playing an amputee in military exercises and stuff, and I just kind of [did] that for a couple of years, then somebody put me in touch with Ollie — he’d just set his company up — and it’s been really good. I’ve traveled all over the place with them. Mostly to the likes of Europe, Norway, and Germany. I’ve had a few jobs out in the States. Combat simulation is a very niche job. How quickly did you discover the industry after you lost your leg? When did you find out that you could leverage your status as an amputee into an occupation? I’m not too sure. I mean, my thoughts behind being an amputee straight away was, “Right, fucking get on with it.” You could say your “what-ifs” ‘til the cows come home, but it’s never coming back. Courtesy of Stu Pearson Stu Pearson, fully dressed and made up for training as a casualty actor. Then, once the job became available just a few years ago, I thought I might actually like it because it’s such great training for the troops and paramedics. The makeup girls, they make it look so real. It’s brilliant training. I mean, I never had this when I was serving, obviously, because that was before any of this was set up. Soldiers will have to deal with an amputee, whether it be [in] Afghanistan, Iraq, or Syria or wherever. They think back to the training they have done with us and say, “Right, what did I do here? With Stu?” I can use my experience to act like my incident just happened in front of them. Run me through what this job is actually like. When you book an appointment with a military regiment or emergency services training program, what does that day look like for you? Normally we’re treated really good. There’ll be a hired car waiting for us, to take us to the hotel or to the Army camp or whatever, and they’ll put us up there. The client will directly get involved and talk to the makeup girls. They’ll say, “Right, these are the injuries we want, how much time do you need?” For example, let’s say the exercise starts at 9 am and we are 10 minutes from the base, the makeup girls go, “Right, I need two hours.” Everything just falls into place. The makeup girls, they know what they are doing. We’ll put on the clothes they brought for us, so that everything’s ready for when the makeup girls want to start putting the makeup on us for the injuries, and then we can then just crack on from there. What do you think a combat medic or an emergency services professional is going to learn from working with a real amputee, rather than with a dummy? It’s because it’s so realistic, and it’s an actual person you’re talking to. I mean, there’s no way anyone can actually say that dealing with an actual person is the same as dealing with a bloomin’ dummy. It’s totally different. They probably won’t see anything as realistic as that until an incident [happens] to them or their colleagues on tour. I’ve got pictures of when I was brought straight into Bastion hospital, straight into the operating theater. The surgeon took pictures of me. And I got ahold of them a few years ago, and the makeup girls, they fucking love them. Because that’s their job, to make us look like that. So they love those fucking pictures. So when you’re doing a training simulation, you’re laying there with all of your makeup on. Are you acting? Do you try to behave the way you did when you were at Kajaki? There’s no way anyone can actually say that dealing with an actual person is the same as dealing with a bloomin’ dummy. I’ll ask my director of staff, and I’ll say, “Right, how do you want me to play this? When do you want me to struggle breathing?” If they kick my foot twice, whatever, that’s the signal that I need to act unconscious, totally unresponsive, stuff like that. So it’s acting in that way, and [also] because when I actually got blown up, it genuinely did not hurt. I heard the bang, and I started screaming anyway because I just thought I was done for, but it didn’t hurt. But I got morphine out straight away and stabbed myself [with it] because I knew it would hurt. That’s something that a lot of the soldiers, when they’re actually treating us, will actually forget about: painkillers. So if I know I’ve got lots of soldiers above me that are really nervous and they don’t really know what they’re doing, I’ll maybe give them a little bit of a hand by going, “Oh, fucking hell, give me some morphine, give me some.” So I’ll play it that way a lot of the time. Is it ever weird in between simulations, when you have all of your makeup on and are just kinda hanging out with the guys? I don’t notice, but they’ll look at me differently because it’s weird to see us walking about the place as if nothing has happened to us. Out in Germany, where we were with the KSK [a German special forces division], they’ll normally do a barbecue for us at the end of the training week, so they’re up for a good beer. We’ll have a good chat with them about how things are going. From the outside looking in, it feels like you’re reliving the worst day of your life when you go on these exercises. Is that difficult for you, from a PTSD perspective? I mean, it is weird, and a lot of people say to me, “Do you get flashbacks?” But I don’t. I mean, it was clearly the worst day ever, but I’m lucky that I can deal with it because I know there’s plenty [of] other guys that can’t deal with it. There was a movie made about the incident, but a lot of the guys that were in the same platoon as Mark, who died, they can’t watch it. They cannot watch the film at all. My best mate, he lives now in New Zealand, I sent him the Blu-ray disc. He cannot watch it. I’m just lucky that I’ve not been affected badly. I feel that I can actually go and. like you say, relive it again. There actually isn’t a lot of military guys that work with us. There’s only, I would say, within [the] Casualty Resources pool of amputees, I’d say there’s probably about three of us that have been injured in Afghanistan. The rest [are] from mostly civilian incidents. Lost limbs on motorbikes and stuff. So yeah, I’m just lucky, I suppose, that it’s not affected me. Is this your full-time job? No, I mean, my main income I get is a pension from the military. And I’ve got a few houses that I rent out around here as well. But I mean, I do pick up, I’d say, maybe about eight or nine days a month doing it for Ollie, something like that. It’s only a few days a month every couple of weeks. Probably a couple hundred dollars a day. What’s one piece of advice you’d give to anyone who’s in a situation where someone has just lost a limb? I think one of the [things] that a lot of people don’t think about is the elevation of the limb. It’s a leg that’s been blown off, get that tourniquet on — obviously that’s the No. 1 priority — but then try to get the limb elevated, and keep it elevated to reduce the bleeding. And then, again, it’s the pain management of it as well. It’s okay to give them painkillers or morphine or whatever, fentanyl. Give them it because as soon as you [do], that patient’s going to stop screaming, because they are in so much pain. You can calm down a bit because you’ve given them painkillers, they’re not screaming now. Then you can think about what you need to do next for the casualty. 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.
2 h
vox.com
The Trump administration’s new “birth tourism” policy, explained
Honduran migrant Raquel Padilla, 27, shows her pregnant belly at the “FM4 Paso Libre” shelter, an organization that offers housing, food, and legal advice to migrants during their stay in Guadalajara, Mexico, on August 10, 2018. | Ulisis Ruiz/AFP via Getty Images The new rule could hurt women around the world, advocates say. Midori Nishida says she was forced to take a pregnancy test before boarding a plane in November to Saipan, the US territory where she lived for 18 years. The reason, she wrote in an op-ed, was Saipan’s reputation for so-called “birth tourism,” in which parents travel to US soil to have a baby who’s a citizen. The airline, Hong Kong Express Airways Limited, apologized earlier this month and suspended its pregnancy-testing practice, according to the New York Times. But now the Trump administration has issued a new rule aimed at stopping birth tourism, and some fear that the kind of targeting Nishida experienced could become more common. The rule officially takes effect on Friday, but a draft was first reported by BuzzFeed News on Tuesday. And on Wednesday, Vox obtained diplomatic cables indicating that the State Department was already directing embassies to deny visas to people they suspect are coming to the US to give birth. Under the new policy, consular officers are being directed to assume that if someone is seeking a tourist visa and is likely to give birth in the US, they are “seeking a visa for the primary purpose of obtaining US citizenship for the child.” Pregnant people applying for visas may have to submit extra documentation showing this isn’t the case. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement Thursday that the policy is “necessary to enhance public safety, national security, and the integrity of our immigration system,” asserting that the birth tourism industry strains hospital resources and invites criminal activity. “Closing this glaring immigration loophole will combat these endemic abuses and ultimately protect the United States from the national security risks created by this practice,” she said. “It will also defend American taxpayers from having their hard-earned dollars siphoned away to finance the direct and downstream costs associated with birth tourism.” But reproductive health and human rights advocates say the new policy toward pregnant visitors will amount to discrimination against women. “Young women already have a difficult time securing visas for travel,” Shannon Kowalski, director of advocacy and policy at the International Women’s Health Coalition, told Vox. “These guidelines will make it harder for women, particularly young women, to travel to the United States for any purpose.” The policy is supposed to have an exception for pregnant people who travel to the US to give birth because of concerns about infant and maternal mortality in their home countries. But in practice, some fear that exception won’t be honored, and that pregnant people in serious need of medical care will be turned away, possibly to die. Overall, reproductive health advocates say the new policy is part of a larger pattern by the Trump administration of compromising the reproductive rights and health of immigrants and people seeking to come to the US, many of them people of color. With this proposal, the Trump administration is “extending an agenda of white supremacy to US-bound travelers,” Kowalski said. A woman was given a pregnancy test before boarding a plane to Saipan In a November op-ed for the Saipan Tribune, Nishida said she returns to Saipan frequently for visits, but “none of my previous experience would have prepared me for what happened during my most recent flight.” At the check-in counter for her November 9 flight, she wrote, she was told she had been randomly selected for a “fit to fly” assessment. But she was then handed a form reading, “In our routine initial safety assessment by our ground handling staff, we have reasonable suspicion on the health condition of the passenger above. The passenger has been observed to have a body size/shape resembling to a pregnant lady.” A woman saying she was a medical professional then escorted her to a bathroom and directed her to take a pregnancy test, Nishida wrote. When it was negative, she was allowed to board. The practice of testing passengers “is discriminatory in that it targets passengers based on their outward appearance by pinpointing those that ‘appear’ pregnant,” she wrote. “After this incident, I can only think of how I will be suspected, investigated, and humiliated before I can return to a place I consider home.” Nishida’s story got more attention in US media in January, and Hong Kong Express ultimately issued an apology for pregnancy-testing travelers. “Under our new management, we recognize the significant concerns this practice has caused,” the airline said in a statement to the Times last week. “We have immediately suspended the practice while we review it. We’d like to apologize for the distress caused.” It wasn’t immediately clear if authorities in the US had asked airlines to give pregnancy tests to passengers, or otherwise pressured travel carriers to keep pregnant people out of the US. The Homeland Security Department did not answer Vox’s question about the issue. But it’s clear that stopping non-US-born pregnant people from giving birth on American soil is a priority for the Trump administration. How the policy takes aim at pregnant people The president and other administration officials have been open in the past about their desire to end birthright citizenship, under which anyone born in the US becomes a citizen, as Hamed Aleaziz notes at BuzzFeed. And now, the new rule will create additional barriers for pregnant people applying for B visas, offered to short-term visitors, including tourists, business travelers, and people seeking urgent medical care. The new rule will not apply equally around the globe. Citizens of 39 mostly Western countries — most of Europe, as well as Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Brunei, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea — generally don’t need a B visa to travel to the US for 90 days or less, and won’t be affected. B visas are the biggest visa category that the State Department processes annually, numberingabout 6 million. The government does not track how many pregnant travelers come to the US on B visas, but the new rule says that US embassies and consulates have reported trends showing higher levels of birth tourism. Separate 2017 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests the rule would likely affect roughly 10,000 people annually. Consular officers can already deny B visas to people they believe are birth tourists under existing law. It all depends on the “primary purpose” of an applicant’s visit to the US. If the primary purpose of their visit is business, tourism, or to receive urgent medical treatment, that’s legitimate; giving birth so that their child can obtain US citizenship is not. In other words, under the current system, a consular officer can’t just deny a visa to anyone who looks close to their due date, nor are they allowed to ask a visa applicant whether they are pregnant or to require pregnancy tests or other evidence that they are not pregnant. An applicant would have to affirmatively state that they’re coming to the US for the primary purpose of birth tourism, but it’s unlikely that they would be so transparent. Pregnant people can come to the US on a B visa to seek medical treatment related to their pregnancy — and that remains true under the new rule. But the burden is on them to prove that the treatment is necessary, that they can pay for the treatment, and that it’s the primary purpose of their visit. A former consular officer told Vox that they had to deny visas to women who wanted to give birth in the US because of high mortality rates for mothers and children in their home countries but couldn’t prove that they could pay the full cost of their treatment. “They would break down in tears,” the former officer said. “Of course, the consular officer has no reasoning in how much this costs or how to determine what is reasonable. A lot of officers think because they or their sister or some friend’s insurance paid $19,000, that is the real cost.” The State Department’s new rule and guidance would subject pregnant people to even more scrutiny when applying for a B visa. If a consular officer has “reason to believe the applicant will give birth during their stay in the United States, [they] are required to presume that giving birth for the purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship is the applicant’s primary purpose of travel,” the new guidance reads. But the administration hasn’t clarified how a consular officer would have any “reason to believe” that an applicant will imminently give birth. Since they can’t ask outright, they might infer based on looks alone, which has no basis in immigration law, said Ur Jaddou, former chief counsel at US Citizenship and Immigration Services and the director of the watchdog group DHS Watch. “I don’t even understand how they’re going to apply this in a way that is fair, that isn’t regulating women’s bodies,” she said. More broadly, the policy could impose new hurdles on anyone of childbearing age. Since some B visas are valid for up to 10 years, a consular officer could theoretically weigh whether someone is likely to give birth over the course of the next decade. A 30-year-old, married applicant could therefore suddenly face more scrutiny, without any means of recourse or appeal, Jaddou said. There are some exceptions to the rule — for example, travelers could show that they are not able to access adequate prenatal care in their home country. But it seems they would still have to prove that they could pay for it in the US, said Philip Wolgin, the managing director of immigration at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. The Trump administration rationalizes the new rule by claiming that foreign governments or groups could “recruit or groom” individuals who were granted American citizenship at birth as a result of birth tourism to act against the US. It’s unclear whether there is any evidence that foreign entities are engaging in such long-game schemes. The administration also asserts that birth tourism often draws criminal actors seeking to profit from the industry. But the policy comes at great cost to people who are or could become pregnant. Doug Rand, a former Obama administration official who worked on immigration issues, said it’s a policy “designed to cast basically all women of childbearing age as presumptive lawbreakers, which is typical of this administration.” Imposing these kinds of disproportionate burdens runs afoul of the US Constitution, which protects against sex discrimination. But since these consular interviews involve noncitizens and are taking place on foreign soil, the US Constitution doesn’t protect them. There could be legal challenges to the policy, however, based on US immigration law. “There is no statutory basis to deny entry to a woman because of the state of her reproductive cycle,” Jaddou said. Trump’s pattern of targeting immigrants and reproductive rights Advocates are also concerned that the new policy will lead to racial profiling of Asian women attempting to visit the US. Much media coverage of “birth tourism” has focused on people from China who travel to US soil to give birth, with the Wall Street Journal calling Saipan the “latest hot spot” for the practice in 2017. According to Nishida, Saipan’s reputation led airline workers to presume she was a birth tourist simply because she appeared pregnant to them. Under the new policy, such presumption could become more widespread. “The Trump administration will go to any lengths to demean immigrant women,” Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, told Vox. “Millions of Asian people come to the US to visit their families, and targeting them because of their race or country of origin is discriminatory and wrong.” “As an immigrant woman who has experienced harassment at an airport when I was pregnant,” Choimorrow added, Nishida’s experience and the Trump administration’s rule “are disturbing, invasive, and reveal the coercive and invasive methods that our government will use to enforce the new rule.” The Trump administration has already been criticized for denying women visas to visit the US. More than 40 women were denied visas to attend the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women conference in New York last year, according to the International Service for Human Rights. Women from African and Middle Eastern countries affected by the Trump administration’s travel ban appeared to be disproportionately affected, and a petition protesting the denials said the women had been asked for documents like marriage certificates and even proof that they have children, BuzzFeed News reported at the time. It’s not clear whether these women faced concerns over “birth tourism” or questions about whether they were pregnant. However, according to Kowalski, the new State Department rule would only exacerbate the difficulties women face coming to the US. “The guidelines are discriminatory on their face,” she said. Advocates say the new policy fits into a larger pattern by the Trump administration of infringing on the reproductive rights of people who come to the United States. Under previous Office of Refugee Resettlement Director E. Scott Lloyd, the administration pursued a policy of attempting to block unaccompanied immigrant minors in the government’s care from getting abortions, leading to multiple minors suing for the right to terminate their pregnancies. The Trump administration has also been accused of failing to provide adequate prenatal care to pregnant people in immigration detention. One asylum seeker, Rubia Morales, says in a lawsuit filed earlier this year that her treatment in ICE custody led her to have a miscarriage, KPBS reports. She says a doctor at the facility told her that her bleeding was “normal,” and that she could deal with it by buying sanitary pads for $1 each. The administration has also tried to make it harder for survivors of domestic abuse to get asylum in the United States, and has changed rules around visas for victims of crimes in ways that advocates say could harm survivors. “This administration has a track record of detaining pregnant people and has made it impossible for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to seek asylum,” Choimorrow said. “There is no justification for the harm they have done to immigrant women or for their xenophobic agenda.”
2 h
vox.com
Abuse of Power Is a Dangerous Standard for Democrats to Play With
Almost the minute after the White House released its 110-page brief for the Senate impeachment trial, careful observers noticed a contradiction between the White House counsel’s view and Attorney General William Barr’s. The White House brief argues that there can be no impeachable “abuse of power” without a violation of established law. Meanwhile, in a memorandum to senior Justice Department lawyers written while he was still a private citizen in 2018, Barr argued that abuse of power can indeed be impeachable even if there is no crime.As a purely legal matter, the position of the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, is incorrect. But that doesn’t help the Democrats in this case, and should perhaps worry them in the long run.First, let’s take a look at Cipollone’s unforced error. (I worked at the White House from 2017 to 2019 as the Council on Environmental Quality’s associate director for regulatory reform.) The memorandum claims that “by limiting impeachment to cases of ‘Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors,’ the Framers restricted impeachment to specific offenses against ‘already known and established law.’” The memo goes on to note that at the Constitutional Convention, James Madison opposed “maladministration” as grounds for impeachment because that would be equivalent to tenure at the pleasure of the Senate, subjecting the president to something akin to a parliamentary vote of no-confidence. That, the memo insists, “would cripple the independent Executive the Framers had crafted and recreate the Parliamentary system they had expressly rejected.”In fact, the Senate trial is not meaningfully different from a parliamentary vote of no-confidence. That inheres in the very procedure the Constitution lays down for impeachment. Ultimately, “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” means whatever the Senate thinks it means in a particular case, and its judgment is final and cannot be appealed to any court of law. Because it is not justiciable, the standard for impeachment is simply not a legal standard. Impeachment is by nature political. [Paul Savoy: An impeachment trial without witnesses would be unconstitutional]And yet this has not crippled the presidency in the least. That is because the requirement of a two-thirds majority in the Senate means that the president can be removed only if opinion has turned overwhelmingly against him, which in most situations would mean that his own party has largely abandoned him. Indeed, it was through the requirement of a supermajority, rather than a refined legal standard, that Madison’s concern about impeachment turning on policy disagreements was effectively addressed.Barr has the better view. In his 2018 memo, he wrote: Thus, under the Framers’ plan, the determination whether the President is making decisions based on “improper” motives or whether he is “faithfully” discharging his responsibilities is left to the People, through the election process, and the Congress, through the Impeachment process … The fact that [the] President is answerable for any abuses of discretion and is ultimately subject to the judgment of Congress through the impeachment process means that the President is not the judge in his own cause. The purpose of Barr’s memo was to warn the senior leadership of the Justice Department that Special Counsel Robert Mueller might be pursuing an “obstruction of justice” theory that would criminalize facially lawful acts of the president just because of Mueller’s suspicion that the president may have had improper motives. (Mueller ultimately backed away from that theory). The place to deal with abuses of power that depend on public judgment, Barr wrote, is the impeachment process—not internal Justice Department investigations.This is eminently sensible. It could be that a president commits no crime, but his abuse of constitutional obligations proves so appalling that his own party as well as the opposition turns against him. Impeachment is the right resort in such a case.Democrats seized on Barr’s 2018 memo to dispute the White House’s contention that abuse of power doesn’t require a legal violation. But even if they are correct on the legal point, it doesn’t help them. That’s because from the start, the Democrats based their entire case for impeachment on the claim that the president had engaged in corrupt acts and they could prove it. Impeachment may not require a crime, but they decided to focus on one anyway: bribery in Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.But then the Democrats apparently gave up on bribery, and fell back on a vague abuse-of-power charge based on the same facts that they were implicitly admitting were not sufficient to prove the crime originally alleged. That’s why it doesn’t help the impeachers to establish that abuse of power doesn’t a priori require evidence of an actual crime. They have arrived in the Senate with an abuse-of-power theory that in this particular case does require evidence of a crime to be at all convincing, simply because that’s how they set it up from the start.[David Graham: No, Democrats aren’t trying to overturn the 2016 election]There are those who will say, “Well, Republicans are just as corrupt as the president and wouldn’t convict him for any reason.” Perhaps. But Richard Nixon commanded more loyalty among Republican senators than Trump does, and they abandoned him in the end. Are today’s Republicans simply weaker than those of Nixon’s time—or is it the case against Trump that is weaker? The answer should be obvious: Nixon would have traded his impeachment for Trump’s in a heartbeat.The impeachers must know by now that their chances of removing Trump are exactly zero, but some good may yet come out of these proceedings. The elevation of abuse of power to an impeachable offense puts this and future presidents on notice that if they fail to live up to standards that Americans broadly expect of their leaders, they may be impeached even if they commit no crime—indeed, even if they believe they did nothing wrong.Suppose a president suspends some statutory tax obligation, such as the capital-gains tax, by ordering executive-branch employees to stop collecting it. Or suppose a president rewrites some law by refusing to enforce large parts of it, and then brags, “I changed the law.” Suppose a president discovers that by the prospective use of prosecutorial discretion, laws already in effect can be summarily suspended or altered at will.Many Republicans may wish they had known years ago that such conduct could be an impeachable “abuse of power.” At least they know it now.
2 h
theatlantic.com
Tulsi Gabbard Says Hillary Clinton Is Taking Her Life Away With 'Russian Asset' Claim at Center of Defamation Lawsuit
The Hawaii representative told Tucker Carlson that she was bringing a lawsuit against Clinton because the latter was "seeking to smear" her reputation.
2 h
newsweek.com
Drumming duck will have you ‘quacking’ up
This duck is giving Ringo a run for his money. Watch as Ben Afquack adorably beats on a snare drum in his St. Paul, Minnesota, home. His owner, Derek Johnson, can’t help but laugh every time the lil’ guy kicks his feet when he’s lifted off the ground. When Johnson noticed his drum was nearby,...
2 h
nypost.com
Large explosion at Houston building shakes city, scatters debris
The explosion shook other buildings about 4:30 a.m., with reports on Twitter of a boom felt across the city.
2 h
cbsnews.com
Thousands protest in Baghdad to demand U.S. troop withdrawal
The massive rally is the latest manifestation of rage against Trump's decision to blow up an Iranian general in Baghdad.
2 h
cbsnews.com
The Plight of the Woman Trumpist
When CNN’s Manu Raju asked Senator Martha McSally of Arizona whether she’d vote to “consider new evidence as part of the impeachment trial,” the Republican, flanked by two staffers, barely looked up as she called Raju a “liberal hack.” She then repeated the insult theatrically. About an hour later, McSally registered the domain name LiberalHack.com and began the sale of “liberal hack” T-shirts. A short time after that, she was rewarded with an appearance on Laura Ingraham’s show, where she said: “You know, these CNN reporters, many of them around the capital, they are so biased. They are so in cahoots with the Democrats, they so can’t stand the president, and they run around trying to chase Republicans and ask trapping questions. I’m a fighter pilot. I called it like it is.”McSally was trying her best to show that she’s a stalwart defender of President Donald Trump and, more than that, a true Trumpist. In so doing, she was making the implicit case that Trumpism is a big tent, after all.On the face of it, women fit oddly into Trumpism—a movement headed by a man who has responded to accusations of sexual assault with the deeply misogynistic statement, “She’s not my type.” More substantively, The Atlantic noted in 2018, “by some measures the White House has assembled the most preponderantly male team since the Reagan administration.” More ethereally, the “Make America great again” slogan suggests nostalgia for a time when men were men and women stayed at home.[Neil J. Young: Here’s why white women are abandoning the GOP]Some women in the GOP have dealt with this problem by keeping their distance from the president. They avoid commenting on Trump’s gaffes, foibles, and crimes. They act almost as though he did not exist. Here I’m thinking of Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski.But McSally is one of several woman Republicans wagering that she can go Full Trump, and that the movement will adapt.Trumpism isn’t really ideological, or is at best ideologically incoherent. Just for example: The administration purports to hate socialism and love free markets, but bails out farmers and restricts free trade. The policy is beside the point, which is to “own the libs” and stand by President Trump, no matter what.So maybe all a woman has to do to prove her Trumpist bona fides is swagger. Nor was McSally the first woman to try her hand at this trick. Representative Elise Stefanik was among the louder, brasher Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee during the impeachment hearing. At one press conference, she said, “So this was day two of an abject failure of Adam Schiff and his regime of secrecy.” The performance earned Stefanik a coveted Trump tweet: “A new Republican Star is born. Great going @EliseStefanik.” The following night she was a guest on one of the president’s favorite television shows: Hannity.Stefanik isn’t Trumpy on paper. She is the co-chair of the moderate GOP policy caucus. She co-sponsored a bill with Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell and supported a bill that would push the Environmental Protection Agency to better regulate certain industrial contaminants. Stefanik seems to have made the calculation that the GOP base won’t notice or perhaps won’t care about her record so long as she does a convincing impersonation of the man in the White House.Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nation and another policy moderate in the Republican Party, has also embraced Trumpism rhetorically. After the U.S. killed Iran’s Qassem Soleimani, she declared on Hannity, “The only ones that are mourning the loss of Soleimani are our Democrat leadership and our Democrat presidential candidates.”[David Graham: The Republican Party is losing its future]Whether Republican voters want Trumpy women is another matter. Upstate New York’s Claudia Tenney, who went MAGA with the claim that the “deep state” was responsible for Ben Carson’s dining-set controversy, lost her seat to a Democrat in a district Trump carried by 15 points. In Southern California, Diane Harkey lost Darrell Issa’s seat after defending Trump’s “substance.” McSally lost her Arizona Senate race before she was appointed to the seat vacated by Senator Jon Kyl, despite (or perhaps in part due to) Trump traveling to Arizona to stump for her and tweeting, “Martha McSally is a great warrior, her opponent a Nancy Pelosi Wacko!” And Katie Arrington, a Trump favorite who defeated Representative Mark Sanford in South Carolina’s Republican primary, lost to a Democrat in the general.All Republicans must choose between embracing Trumpism and holding on to the party of old. But women Republicans are in a particularly difficult position, in part because they are such a small minority—House Republicans are 89 percent male and white—and in part because women are often the targets of Trump’s anger. Stefanik and McSally may be right that MAGA voters will carry them to reelection, but whether they’ll ever be full and equal citizens of the party Trump remade is another matter.
2 h
theatlantic.com
China restricts travel of 30 million people as coronavirus death toll rises
At least 10 cities in China's central Hubei province are facing travel restrictions, including Wuhan itself. Authorities in Beijing and other cities have canceled some or all large-scale Lunar New Year celebrations, a rare, drastic step to reign in spread of coronavirus.
2 h
edition.cnn.com
Fire in New York City's Chinatown threatens museum archive in historic building -- just before Lunar New Year
At least one person and two firefighters were reportedly hurt Thursday evening in a fire that damaged a historic building in New York City’s Chinatown just before the Lunar New Year, potentially taking archival material from the Museum of Chinese in America with it.
2 h
foxnews.com
MEAN's machines: Futuristic designs inspired by nature
Architect collective makes use of biomimicry, 3D printing, virtual reality, and the use of recycled materials.
3 h
edition.cnn.com
MEAN's machines: Futuristic designs inspired by nature
The Namib Desert Beetle has a neat trick for slaking its thirst in desert conditions.
3 h
edition.cnn.com
Wolf Pack Spotted in Colorado After 80-Year Absence as State Prepares to Vote on Reintroduction of Species
"I am honored to welcome our canine friends back to Colorado after their long absence," Colorado Governor Jared Polis said.
3 h
newsweek.com
How many stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame belong on the walk of shame?
As the Harvey Weinstein sex assault trial resumes, the Hollywood Walk of Fame offers a window into how #MeToo upended an entrenched culture. The reckoning has changed the calculus for how the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce decides which nominees for a star on the Walk become recipients, a spokesperson said.
3 h
edition.cnn.com
Dan Crenshaw says he saw Afghan policy reveal firsthand
"The days of roaming around grape fields where I was getting blown up, those are over," the Texas Republican said about Afghanistan.
3 h
cbsnews.com
Did Washington state DOT's webcam capture Bigfoot image? 'We will leave that up to you!'
Is it? Could it be? Maybe ... or maybe not. An image of the legendary creature Bigfoot may have been captured on a Washington State Department of Transportation webcam, the agency says.
3 h
foxnews.com
Democrats to argue Trump obstructed probe in third day of impeachment trial
Democrats serving as prosecutors in U.S. President Donald Trump's impeachment trial will make their case that he improperly interfered in Congress' probe of his dealings with Ukraine in their final day of arguments on Friday.
3 h
reuters.com
Impeachment Trial, Coronavirus, Australian Open: Your Friday Briefing
Here's what you need to know.
3 h
nytimes.com
Gruesome photo shows needlefish impaled in teen's neck: report
A teenager was impaled in the neck by a fish while he was fishing with family in Southern Indonesia, according to multiple reports.
3 h
foxnews.com
Only 53% of Bernie Sanders Voters Will Definitely Support 2020 Democratic Nominee if He Doesn't Win: Poll
The Emerson College poll found that a large chunk of the Vermont senator's supporters in the 2020 race is not committed to the Democratic nomination regardless of who wins.
3 h
newsweek.com
The Starting 5: March for Life, Chinese New Year, Grammys, Australia Day, Impeachment
Celebrations take a hold in the western hemisphere
3 h
newsweek.com
'Power' Season 6 Spoilers: All the Evidence that Tariq Killed Ghost
"Power" Season 6 may end with the ultimate betrayal, with Ghost being killed by his son Tariq as revenge for the way he treated Tasha on the Starz show.
3 h
newsweek.com
5 things to know for January 24: Impeachment, coronavirus, immigration, Iraq, Myanmar
Here's what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door.
3 h
edition.cnn.com
The Swing Issue That Could Win a Swing State
Will fracking determine who wins Pennsylvania in the presidential election?
3 h
nytimes.com
Trump impeachment prosecutor, Adam Schiff, is becoming Exhibit A in president's defense
The lawmaker walking U.S. senators methodically through the case for removing President Donald Trump from office is also becoming Exhibit A in efforts by the president's allies to defend him.
3 h
reuters.com
Emma Tucker becomes first female Sunday Times editor since 1901
Times deputy editor replaces Martin Ivens, who joins Times Newspapers boardThe Sunday Times has appointed Emma Tucker as its first female editor in more than a century.Tucker, currently deputy editor of the Times, replaces Martin Ivens, who is stepping down after seven years. Ivens, who will join the board of Times Newspapers, will continue to contribute coverage as a commentator and broadcaster. Continue reading...
3 h
Economie
WHO expects coronavirus cases to rise to rise in China
Cases of the new coronavirus are likely to continue to rise in China and it is too soon to evaluate its severity, a spokesman for the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.
3 h
reuters.com
Trump to become first president to speak at annual anti-abortion March for Life event
President Donald Trump on Friday will become the first president to attend the March for Life when he speaks at the annual march and rally that gathers anti-abortion supporters from across the country in the nation's capital.
3 h
edition.cnn.com
Op-Ed: California calls itself a 'reproductive freedom' state. Here's how it can make good on that
Five ways California can increase access to safe, early abortion for women everywhere.
3 h
latimes.com
Letters to the Editor: There's no need to question Jewish support for the 1960s civil rights movement
The idea that "most Jews" probably harbored racially insensitive views toward African Americans because they were white is dubious, says a historian.
3 h
latimes.com
Letters to the Editor: Why a $32-million tax break for electric car drivers is worth it
All drivers should pay for road maintenance, but making EV drivers pay their fair share should be balanced with having more zero-emission vehicles.
3 h
latimes.com
What do Billie Eilish and 'Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood' have in common? A Montrose dance studio
At Revolution Dance in Montrose, 'Ocean Eyes' launched Billie Eilish and 'Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood' breakout Julia Butters learned to love the stage.
3 h
latimes.com
Letters to the Editor: How states make the electoral college even more undemocratic
A Supreme Court case on "faithless" electors doesn't address a more important issue: Why do all but two states have winner-take-all systems?
3 h
latimes.com
Letters to the Editor: The Harvey Weinstein trial is Exhibit A for why women don't come forward
Harvey Weinstein's lawyers will aggressively question his accusers. And we wonder why more victims don't take formal action against their abusers.
3 h
latimes.com
Op-Ed: Evangelicals have a role in political life. It isn't fawning over Trump
I questioned Trump's moral fitness for office in Christianity Today. The response taught me a lot.
3 h
latimes.com