The UK is at its most combustible. And now it’s led by a man who plays with matches | Aditya Chakrabortty

As our economy stutters and our politics turns sour, Boris Johnson will be trying to outflank Nigel Farage and the hardcore Brexiteers

Me, me, me. That’s always been the bottom line for Boris Johnson, hasn’t it? And it’s what we’re all going to get now. A whole summer season devoted to just one man. His debut speech outside his new home on Downing Street! His first set of ministers to play with! His very own poll bounce!

Morsel after marvellous morsel shall be served up in the papers and on TV by Conservative MPs and commentators. For his boosters, there will be the first 100 days of speeches and photo ops, and endless bloviating optimism. For his critics, there will be his vast yellowing back catalogue of falsehoods and flubs. For Johnson, all of them wind around to the same fabulous end: him, him, him.

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Adidas to end robotic shoe production in Germany and the US
Image: Adidas Adidas will halt production at its two robotic “Speedfactories” in the US and Germany, the company has announced. The Ansbach and Atlanta factories, which opened in 2016 and 2017 respectively, will end production by April 2020. Adidas says that the Speedfactory technologies developed will now be used by two of its suppliers in Asia. Adidas had originally intended to use the heavily automated factories in order to produce its footwear more quickly in locations closer to the company’s key markets. They were intended as an alternative to manufacturing hubs in Asia where labor and overhead are cheaper. However, in a statement to CNN, the company now admits that “it makes more sense to concentrate the production of the Speedfactories where the know how and the suppliers are located.” The Speedfactory technology will now be used by Adidas suppliers in Vietnam and China. “It makes more sense to concentrate the production of the Speedfactories where the know how and the suppliers are located” The robotic factories have had their difficulties. Quartz notes that they were only able to produce a limited number of models, that mainly consisted of running shoes with a knit upper. However they were unable to produce leather shoes with rubber soles, which include popular shoes like the Superstar and Stan Smith. TechCrunch also notes that it can be more challenging to change production lines in a robotic factory, as opposed to retraining a human workforce. Despite the challenges, Adidas says it will continue to develop the production processes tested in the Speedfactories, and notes that these could include products outside of running shoes in the future.
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The Verge
A Florida county declared itself a 'Second Amendment Sanctuary.' It's not the first to do so
The Lake County Board of Commissioners passed a measure declaring the county a "Second Amendment Sanctuary," vowing to protect residents from attempts at gun control.
9 m
Trevor Noah has a blunt message for White House staffers getting big book deals
Written a book about Trump, and the inner workings of the White House? Trevor Noah isn't impressed. In the Daily Show clip above, Noah breaks down some recent examples of Trump administration staffers who have announced book deals — including former national security adviser John Bolton, who apparently has a $2 million deal in the works for a book that will be published in 2020. "The truth is, whether it's Anonymous, Nikki Haley, or John Bolton, beneath it all these books are all trying to do the same thing," says Noah. "Profit off the chaos. Because these books don't help the country — they just trade on rumors and innuendo to make the authors money. If someone has valuable information about the president, they should just tell the American people instead of holding out for a big payday." Read more...More about The Daily Show, Trevor Noah, Entertainment, Politics, and Talk Show
A Virgin in His Mid-20s Starts to Worry
After searching for answers to his bad romantic luck online, one guy hears someone else: an actual woman.
Slate Articles
Rafael Nadal slammed a 'bull-s---' reporter who asked him if his marriage is making him play badly
Eurosport Rafael Nadal slammed a "bull-s---" reporter after he suggested the Spaniard's recent marriage caused him to lose to Alexander Zverev at the ATP World Tour Finals. Nadal married long-term girlfriend Xisca Perello in October, and is playing in just his second tournament since, after having retired from the Paris Masters earlier in the month. Italian journalist Ubaldo Scanagatta asked the 33-year-old if "tennis life" had "been different" since his wedding, adding that marriage can be a "distracting thing." "Honestly? Are you asking me this? Is it a serious question or is it a joke?" Nadal responded. "That's bull-s---." Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Rafael Nadal slammed a "bull-s---" reporter after he suggested the Spaniard's recent marriage caused him to lose to Alexander Zverev at the ATP World Tour Finals in London. Nadal had just lost to the German in straight sets in his opening group match on Monday when the Italian journalist Ubaldo Scanagatta made the strange accusation.See the rest of the story at Business InsiderNOW WATCH: 5 things about the NFL that football fans may not knowSee Also:A Japanese 26-year-old is set for superstardom after winning millions of dollars in a career-defining battle against Nonito DonaireCristiano Ronaldo was Juventus' worst player, had a goal stolen by a teammate, and left the pitch subbed off and frustrated in another underwhelming Champions League performanceA stalker who sent a pictures of underage girls and a photo of a coffin to an Italian footballer and his family has been jailed
Business Insider
Two people diagnosed with pneumonic plague in China
Authorities working to contain outbreak of disease that is worse than bubonic plagueTwo people in China have been diagnosed with plague, the latest cases of a disease more commonly associated with historical catastrophe.Plague is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis and can arise in three forms – a lung infection, known as pneumonic plague; a blood infection, known as septicemic plague; and a form that affects the lymph nodes, called bubonic plague. Continue reading...
US news | The Guardian
Satoshi Nakaboto: ‘Chicago-based exchange will launch Bitcoin options in January’
Our robot colleague Satoshi Nakaboto writes about Bitcoin every fucking day. Welcome to another edition of Bitcoin Today, where I, Satoshi Nakaboto, tell you what’s been going on with Bitcoin in the past 24 hours. As Satoshi Nakamoto used to say: Peel off the skin of this mystery and eat the tasty fruit inside! Bitcoin Price We closed the day, November 12 2019, at a price of $8,815. That’s a minor 0.63 percent increase in 24 hours, or $55. It was the highest closing price in one day. We’re still 56 percent below Bitcoin‘s all-time high of $20,089 (December 17… This story continues at The Next WebOr just read more coverage about: Bitcoin
The Next Web | International technology news, business & culture
Talking Horses: did BHA take Brock's whip case seriously enough?
Racing’s regulator did not seek to persuade a disciplinary panel that elastic bands on the whip flap caused a horse’s injuryWhen we finally reach our deathbeds and are reflecting on all that went before, few of us will be wishing we’d spent more time in the hearings dungeon at the British Horseracing Authority. But I do wish, with the benefit of hindsight, that I’d gone along to the Danny Brock “modified whip” hearing last month which has since become such a hot topic. It’s good of the BHA to open up their hearings to press but unfortunately on this occasion it appears that no one took them up on it.So we’re left to rely on the published reasons for an account of what happened. The detail that jumps out at me is the panel’s conclusion that “the modification of Mr Brock’s whip could not be said to have caused or contributed to the wealing of the horse”. In other words, they punished Brock on the basis that his act of leaving elastic bands on the end of his whip had not caused his mount’s injury. Continue reading...
US news | The Guardian
Video shows New Zealand man accused of murdering 21-year-old backpacker on a Tinder date moving a suitcase said to contain her body
Auckland High Court via MailOnline Warning: This story contains gruesome details. Grace Millane, a British backpacker, died after going on a Tinder date with a man in Auckland, New Zealand, hours before her 22nd birthday last December. Her body was found in woodland near the city around a week after her disappearance. The 27-year-old man, who cannot be named, has denied murdering her but said she died by accident during rough consensual sex, Sky News reported. He also previously told police that he had left Millane at 8:00 p.m. then went out drinking with his friends and blacking out until 10:00 a.m. the next day. But footage shown to an Auckland court this week showed the man buying a new suitcase at 8:00 a.m, and transporting two suitcases out of his hotel that night. Prosecutors say Millane's body was in one of the suitcases. Visit Insider's homepage for more stories. A court has been shown surveillance footage of a man, accused of murdering a 21-year-old backpacker in New Zealand, pushing a suitcase that prosecutors say contained her body. Grace Millane, from southeastern England, had been traveling in New Zealand and met up with the suspect in Auckland after meeting on Tinder on December 1, 2018. They met on the night before her 22nd birthday.See the rest of the story at Business InsiderNOW WATCH: A podiatrist explains heel spurs, the medical condition Trump said earned him a medical deferment from VietnamSee Also:A Hawaiian man trimming branches in his yard died after falling 22 feet into a lava tubeKristen Stewart said slut-shaming was the reason why she wasn't rehired for the 'Snow White and the Huntsman' sequel following her affair with the film's directorA 13-year-old survivor of the attack on Mormons in Mexico hid his siblings in a bush and walked for 14 miles back to his hometown for help
Business Insider
Judi Dench appeals for public help to bring rare Brontë book to UK as auction looms
A miniature book by the teenage Charlotte Brontë could fetch at least £650,000 in Paris next week, and Haworth’s Parsonage museum hopes to buy it with crowdfundingJudi Dench, Jacqueline Wilson and Tracy Chevalier are among several names throwing their weight behind the Brontë Parsonage Museum’s bid to keep one of Charlotte Brontë’s tiny manuscripts from being “shut away in a private collection”, with public donations topping £50,000 with just a week to go before the miniature book is auctioned.Written in 1830 when Brontë was 14, the manuscript measures just 35mm x 61mm and features three hand-written stories, one of which describes a murderer who is driven to madness when he is haunted by his victims. In private ownership since the death of Charlotte in 1855, the last of the famous literary sisters to die, it is one of six tiny booklets produced by the writer at the Parsonage in Haworth. Only five are known to have survived, and the museum owns the remaining four of the “little books”. Continue reading...
US news | The Guardian
Stylish and compact, Hyundai’s next concept is tailor-made for Los Angeles
The yet-unnamed concept car is the next step in Hyundai's design overhaul. It's powered by a plug-in hybrid powertrain, though technical details remain under wraps for the time being.
Digital Trends | Technology News and Product Reviews
Love Island star eyes fight with YouTuber KSI
After watching KSI and Logan Paul's debut professional boxing fight, Love Island star and professional boxer Tommy Fury wants in.
Mark Zuckerberg says TikTok is a threat to democracy, but didn't say he spent 6 months trying to buy its predecessor
Samuel Corum/Getty Images Facebook tried to buy, the company which was eventually bought by Chinese tech giant ByteDance and merged into rival social media platform TikTok, according to BuzzFeed and Bloomberg. Sources told BuzzFeed Facebook wasn't able to close the deal, while Bloomberg reports it walked away over's young usership and Chinese ownership. Mark Zuckerberg has been on the offensive against TikTok in recent months, criticizing the platform for reportedly censoring content. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Facebook once tried to buy, the Chinese lip-syncing app which was eventually acquired by Chinese social media giant ByteDance and merged with its app Douyin to form viral video app TikTok, according to reports from BuzzFeed and Bloomberg. Three sources familiar with the talks told BuzzFeed's Ryan Mac that Facebook spent the second half of 2016 trying to buy the Shanghai-headquartered in an attempt to break into the Chinese market. These sources said that while the talks were "serious" they never came to frutition with Facebook unable to close the deal.See the rest of the story at Business InsiderNOW WATCH: People are still debating the pink or grey sneaker, 2 years after it went viral. Here's the real color explained.See Also:Teens are finding sneaky and clever ways to outsmart their parents' location-tracking apps, and it's turning into a meme on TikTokClimate groups can't run ads about global warming on Twitter, but Exxon canEU Commissioner Vestager slammed Mark Zuckerberg for allowing lies in political ads: That's not democracy, it's 'manipulation'SEE ALSO: Mark Zuckerberg describes in leaked recording his plan of attack for taking on TikTok, Facebook's newest threat
Business Insider
Alex & Claire Danson: How the sisters are helping each other on road to recovery
Sporting sisters Alex and Claire Danson share their stories and say they are feeding off each other's determination as they plot their respective paths back to competitive sport.
BBC Sport - Sport
Djokovic loses to Thiem to set up showdown with Federer
Novak Djokovic succumbed to the impressive Dominic Thiem at the ATP Finals Tuesday as the Austrian became the first man to qualify for the semifinals in London.
Trump impeachment probe goes public as political drama mounts
The impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump will reach a critical juncture on Wednesday when lawmakers launch their first televised public hearings, marking a new, high-stakes phase of a tumultuous presidency.
Reuters: Top News - powered by FeedBurner
Elevate your sound with 30 days of Amazon Music HD for free
TL;DR: Amazon Music HD is available to new subscribers for free for 30 days.  With all the Black Friday fuss lately, the news that you can now get a free trial of Amazon Music HD may have slipped past you. We're here with a reminder. Amazon Music HD offers an extensive catalogue of premium quality lossless audio, and is currently available in the U.S., UK, Germany, Austria, and Japan. You get access to 50 million songs in HD, and millions of tracks in Ultra HD — simply made for the audiophiles out there. SEE ALSO: Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2019: The best Amazon deals in the UK Amazon is now offering 30 days of Amazon Music HD for free. This offer is only available to new subscribers, and subscription fees apply after the automatic renewal. You have the option to cancel at anytime, so there is no obligation to actually pay anything, though. Read more...More about Amazon, Mashable Shopping, Amazon Music, Shopping Uk, and Uk Deals
5 things to know for November 13: Impeachment inquiry, Syria, DACA, Venice
Here's what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door.
Exclusive: U.S. manufacturing group hacked by China as trade talks intensified - sources
As trade talks between Washington and Beijing intensified earlier this year, suspected Chinese hackers broke into an industry group for U.S. manufacturers that has helped shape President Donald Trump's trade policies, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Transcript: Carl Ghattas on "Intelligence Matters"
This week, on "Intelligence Matters," Michael Morell talks with the former head of the FBI's national security division on international and domestic terrorism
CBS News - Breaking News, U.S., World, Business, Entertainment & Video
Factbox: Public impeachment hearings shine light on secretive House Intelligence committee
The start of public impeachment hearings into President Donald Trump will shine a spotlight as never before on 22 members of the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, a panel that typically operates behind closed doors.
Reuters: Top News - powered by FeedBurner
US briefing: Televised impeachment hearings, Erdoğan visit and insect apocalypse
Wednesday’s top story: Democrats prepare to make public case against president. Plus, Disney’s Star Wars TV show, The Mandalorian - reviewedGood morning, I’m Tim Walker with today’s essential stories. Continue reading...
Your stories: Fix America's divide or we're doomed to fail
Hundreds of readers from across the country, espousing views from every point on the spectrum, wrote in to offer their experiences of division. The underlying message is clear: America has a problem, and it's time for a wake-up call.
Factbox: What Wednesday's impeachment witnesses have told House inquiry so far
The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine and a senior State Department official testify Wednesday at the first public hearing in the House of Representatives' impeachment probe into President Donald Trump.
Reuters: Top News - powered by FeedBurner
McLaren unveils $1.7 million supercar with no roof and a windshield made of air
The new McLaren Elva supercar costs $1.7 million, not including options like a sound system or exposed carbon fiber body panels. One option you won't be able to get: A roof. - RSS Channel
Helena Gleichen: pioneer radiographer, suffragist, and forgotten hero of WWI
“Women, your country needs you,” Millicent Fawcett, the campaigner for women’s suffrage, proclaimed when war was declared in August 1914. One enthusiastic respondent to the call was Helena Gleichen, a rich aristocrat and a cousin of George V who had dined with Queen Victoria, danced at debutante balls and spent much of her life riding or painting animals. But when the war started, she renounced her Germanic family titles and committed herself to war work. More than 100 years after the armistice was signed, Gleichen has become a forgotten hero of World War I – despite her brave contributions having… This story continues at The Next Web
The Next Web | International technology news, business & culture
Nike will no longer sell its shoes and apparel on Amazon
Nike will stop selling its sneakers and clothing on Amazon, ending a pilot program that started in 2017, the company said. The move comes as part of Nike's overhaul of its marketing and retail strategy and the hiring of former eBay executive John Don...
Engadget | Technology News, Advice and Features
Robot overlords? More like co-verlords. The future is human robot collaboration
Forget stealing our jobs; the next frontier of robotics is going to help humans by allowing them to carry out a whole host of tasks remotely -- whether it's maintenance or even surgery.
Digital Trends | Technology News and Product Reviews
Where do emojis come from? How the firecracker exploded onto emoji keyboards
You probably send dozens of emojis during any given day -- but have you ever stopped to wonder where emojis come from, or who designs them? Go behind the scenes of the process of building an emoji with the team that created the firecracker emoji, as well as the red gift envelope and moon cake.
Digital Trends | Technology News and Product Reviews
James Carafano: Don’t bet on a DACA deal
The prospects of the White House and Congress working out a DACA deal now are no better than they were when this all started.
Convoy raises $400 million at $2.75 billion valuation to make freight trucking more efficient
On-demand trucking and freight marketplace Convoy has raised $400 Million in a round of funding from big-name investors including Alphabet's CapitalG.
VentureBeat | Tech News That Matters
A Third Grader’s Guide to Impeachment
On the day public impeachment hearings begin, listen to a conversation with Leo, 8, who’s obsessed with the inquiry and not afraid to ask questions.
NYT > Home Page
Two Cases of Pneumonic Plague in China Sparks Fears of an Outbreak
The deadly pandemic, once known as the Black Death, killed tens of millions across Europe in the Middle Ages.
Slate Articles
Trump impeachment hearings: Schedule, who’s testifying, what to know
The House Intelligence Committee will begin public hearings on the impeachment probe into President Trump beginning at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the Capitol. How to watch The committee will stream video on YouTube, and PBS will carry the hearings live, as will C-SPAN3, and C-SPAN Radio. NBC, ABC and CBS plan to interrupt regular...
New York Post
Black Facebook staff describe workplace racism in anonymous letter
A group of Facebook workers say they are treated as if they ‘do not belong’ at the companyOne year after a former Facebook manager accused the company of having “a black people problem” – failing its black employees by allowing the proliferation of a hostile workplace culture — an anonymous group of tech workers at the social media giant have penned a letter in which they argue that the problem has only metastasized.“Racism, discrimination, bias, and aggression do not come from the big moments,” they write. “It’s in the small actions that mount up over time and build into a culture where we are only meant to be seen as quotas, but never heard, never acknowledged, never recognized, and never accepted.” Continue reading...
US news | The Guardian
The Tories’ campaign is a mess – their ‘attack’ on Labour spending is the proof | Theo Bertram
The centrepiece of the Conservative election campaign is a flimsy dossier hastily assembled by party staffers• Theo Bertram is a former adviser to Tony Blair and Gordon BrownSomething is wrong with the Tory campaign. It will not have helped that Jacob Rees-Mogg and Andrew Bridgen were supremely callous about Grenfell, or that a cabinet minister resigned after becoming embroiled in rape trial allegations – but it’s not these individual errors that suggest the Tory strategy is misfiring. Even the best strategists cannot stop these things from happening during election campaigns. All you can do is close them down fast and move on.But there are signs that all is not well at the very heart of the campaign. Last week, someone in the Tory team briefed journalists that they would publish their economic attack on Labour, based upon Treasury costings of Labour’s spending promises. What happened instead was that Mark Sedwill, the most senior Treasury mandarin, refused to provide those costings, and Tory staffers had to hurriedly scramble together a dossier that was late and flimsy. Continue reading...
US news | The Guardian
Here's what to watch for in the impeachment hearings | Michael H Fuchs
As the impeachment process heats up, Trump and his allies will do whatever it takes to try to muddy the waters. That’s why we need to focus on the facts President Donald Trump withheld US military assistance to Ukraine until it agreed to help Trump’s re-election campaign. That is an abuse of power of the highest order - a corruption of American democracy that undermines national security - and requires that Trump be removed from office.As Congress begins public hearings to determine whether Trump’s actions merit impeachment by the House and conviction by the Senate, it’s vital that the process focuses on these simple facts of Trump’s corruption. Over recent weeks the House has conducted depositions of current and former officials, all of which have corroborated Trump’s abuse of power. But since the deposition transcripts from those officials are thousands of pages long, the details can get lost in the endless spin by politicians and the media. Don’t expect much new information from the public hearings because the facts are already clear and conclusive. Rather, this is an opportunity for the public to hear directly from participants in this saga and for the American people to understand just how dangerous Trump’s actions are. Continue reading...
US news | The Guardian
Why Do I Eat Pigs, and Give My Dog Her Own Cowboy Hat?
The cruel vicissitudes of humanity’s relationship with animals.
NYT > Home Page
Why Diet Research Is So Spectacularly Thin
Most diet trials in the best journals fail even the most basic of quality control measures.
NYT > Home Page
Hundreds of journalists are sharing their salary information in a spreadsheet
I'm in a private Slack with some other media/journalist people, and someone brought up the idea of pay transparency. After all: if you don't know what your colleagues are being paid, it's hard to negotiate for a fair rate. We're all conditioned to believe that our financials should be private, but as far as salaries are concerned, that secrecy only ever tends to work in favor of your employer. So this particular someone made a Google Form and a corresponding spreadsheet where journalists and other media professionals could anonymously add their salary information. And in barely 24 hours, it's spread to CJR and Bloomberg and even inspired Mike Cernovich to go off on some completely unsubstantiated rant to set off his army of loyal trolls because apparently all journalists are scum and also trustfund babies even though there isn't any proof of that (and I can personally assure you that my personal information is on that list and that my public school teacher mom and print salesman dad are not rolling in the dough). As of this writing, more than 200 people have responded. On one hand, it is admittedly difficult to verify the claims contained within the data. On the other hand, there's still lots of eye-opening information to glean. Unsurprisingly, there are pay disparities across race and gender; but the same thing happens across geographic location, and work experience. Perhaps the most shocking revelation so far is just the absurd range of income of people working in news media. Read the rest
Boing Boing - A Directory of Mostly Wonderful Things
Touting membership cards, Trump steps up anti-impeachment Facebook ads
President Donald Trump's re-election campaign is ramping up a Facebook ad campaign against efforts to impeach him, buying more ads on the topic in recent weeks than all the Democratic White House candidates combined.
Reuters: Top News - powered by FeedBurner
RPT-Hackers demand $5 million from Mexico's Pemex in cyberattack
Hackers demanded about $5 million in bitcoin from Mexico's Pemex, they told Reuters on Tuesday, saying the state oil firm missed a special discount by not paying immediately after a cyberattack that fouled up the company's systems.
Reuters: Top News - powered by FeedBurner
The Modern Women of Rural America
Along the way of our reporting for American Futures and Our Towns, I ran into the stories of some remarkable women—living and dead. Eliza Tibbets, who planted the first navel oranges in California; Isabella Greenway, who helped shape the entire copper-mining town of Ajo, Arizona, went on to found an airline company and the iconic Arizona Inn, and became the first woman representing Arizona in Congress; Jerrie Mock, a housewife from Columbus, Ohio, who chased the dream of Amelia Earhart to become the first woman pilot to circumnavigate the globe on her own; the Women of the Commons in Eastport, Maine, who are a big part of rewriting the civic, cultural, and commercial story of Eastport, Maine; and Tracy Taft, an educator and organizer who followed Isabella Greenway to Ajo, Arizona, to drive its change from a failing former-mining town to a thriving community based on the arts.Recently, I hit the motherlode, where well over 200 women from rural America met in Greenville, South Carolina for a gathering of the Rural Assembly, a coalition of nationwide organizations that advocates for rural communities. This one was the first ever Rural Women’s Summit. (Okay, I counted on one hand the number of men who were there, too.) They met to talk about civic life, incarceration, health, water, education, poverty, faith, relationships, conservation, family, entrepreneurship, all in the context of women living in rural America. They framed their comments from their experiences as women in the military, as organizers of movements, as filmmakers, journalists, artists, nurses, lawyers, civic leaders, mothers, convicts, politicians, faith leaders, actors, and more.“The diversity of voices and experiences in the room was meaningful and telling,” Whitney Kimball Coe, of the Center for Rural Strategies, told me after the conference, via email. “It pushed back on stereotypes of a monolithic rural America.”My own rural roots dwindled about a century ago, after my family had immigrated from Bohemia and Moravia, in the part of the Austro-Hungarian empire that later became Czechoslovakia, to the Midwest. Most of my relatives had lived in rural areas in Europe. My cousins and I of the American-born generation chanted that our forebears were butchers, bakers, and candy makers. My great-grandfather, who lived and died in the dozen-house village of Mlyny (mills in Czech) was the chief gardener for trees in Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s country estate, Konopiste.I went to see his trees, maybe some had been saplings in his time, about 20 years ago, and then found my way to his village, where an older woman told me the story she heard growing up of the two young boys from Mlyny who went to America to seek a new life. One of those boys was my grandfather.The author’s father (left), aunt (in white), grandfather (the baker), and uncle circa 1928 (Courtesy of Susan Zerad Garau).Mostly from photographs, I remember standing in the fields of tall corn in my great grandmother’s family farm in rural Minnesota. And as clear as it was yesterday, I remember the backyard garden in the West Side neighborhood of Chicago, where my grandparents ultimately moved, and where my grandfather (the baker) grew sunflowers that were twice my height. My rural connections are twice-removed compared with those of my friends from the small Ohio town where I grew up, who actually lived on farms. But I will defend some deep blood-line sense I feel when I see and listen to the stories of rural life in America today. Those are the feelings I took with me to the meeting of rural women. I gleaned a few principles about the lives of rural women that I hadn’t appreciated before.The first is how aggravations from a single issue can quickly cascade into a series of complications that make problems worsen toward intractable.Let’s take water, for example. Martin County, Kentucky, in the coal country of Appalachia is, as one woman described it, a poster child for water crisis. We have all been enlightened by the stories of Flint, Michigan, which would not be public without the women on the front lines there, by the way. The broken infrastructure of water protection and handling in Martin County—cleanliness, safety, delivery, affordability, sewage—in Appalachian coal country is another piece of the troubled water story around the U.S.This story of water there is intimate to the lived experience of the women who tell it and those who report it. By and large, it is the women who open the taps for water they use to cook, to do the laundry, to bathe the children, to drink. If the faucets deliver, which is not a given, the water often runs brown, sulfury, and smelly.Reporting from those who live or spend time in Kentucky, be that in newsletters or rural press, adds a nuance of understanding that delivers insistent stories of a contaminated water supply, leaky and crumbling pipes, wastewater pipe shortages, industrial leaks and spills, declining tax base from mine closures, rising water costs, and all the humanly compelling drama that ensues. Then the cascade begins. The women bathe the babies, who then develop rashes. The women drive them long distances to see doctors, which is costly and time-consuming. Researching medical counsel or the alternatives of telemedicine often demand broadband connections, which are scarce, spotty, or thin in poor, rural America. Navigating coverage of telehealth from insurance companies is, as you’d imagine, complicated. And of course, all these steps require technology, transportation, and bill-paying, not to mention the wherewithal to accomplish them.The problem of rural water into and out of rural homes is a speck in the universe of the bigger forcefield of water, which includes big agriculture, mining extractions, chemical runoffs, big industry, lobbyists, federal regulators, courts, big insurance. Crises like Flint's notwithstanding, those of us who live in non-rural America usually take our water supplies for granted—or we at least trust that if something goes wrong, it will soon be fixed. But that is not necessarily the case in rural America.It seemed clear that the case of bad water was not a one-off but rather an example of a pattern. I heard about other issues where one event cascaded into a flurry of others; violence on Indian reservations and the incarceration of women, especially mothers, were two of the worst. The second thing I learned at this meeting of rural women is the particular way they address their problems and design solutions. It will not surprise you if I say that rural women approach solutions and take action with a driving practicality. Isn’t that how pioneer women and immigrant women and farming women survived?At the Rural Women’s Summit (Courtesy of Shawn Poynter / Poynter Photo Co.)It may surprise you (it did me) that the rural women wrapped this practicality with sentiments that you might link with being too soft, weak, or self-defeating (read: emotional, vulnerable, caring). And that they sought solutions in the places that you might consider unimportant or even a throwback to an earlier pre-feminist era (read: the kitchen, the living rooms). But on the contrary, I heard women suggest that these “women’s ways” (my words), when they emerge comfortably and naturally, are powerful tools to make actions effective and arguments accessible to more people. The message I heard: Do not shy from showing vulnerability, caring, or emotion. Do not apologize for it. Use it. Go into the places that are your comfort zones for work that is uncomfortable and requires you to be brave.At the Rural Women’s Summit (Courtesy of Shawn Poynter / Poynter Photo Co.)Here are a few specific examples for taking action:Run for office: VoteRunLead runs training programs and online tools to encourage women to run for office, and to help them win. A starting point is planting the idea, #runasyouare, for those who may think they’re not up to it and are reluctant to jump in. According to Erin Vilardi, VoteRunLead president, “There are over 1,000 women sitting in elected office through our program. We have rates over 50 percent for first-time candidates winning their races,” adding, “One in five of our alumni are from rural communities.”Practice radical hospitality: People’s Suppers and communal dinners are opportunities for public discourse about fraught issues, like LGBTQ issues, addictions, and arrival of refugees. Sometimes, faith leaders or places of worship step in to bridge gaps. Jennifer Bailey, an ordained itinerant elder at the African Methodist Episcopal Church and director of the Faith Matters Network, said, “Women can turn a box of spaghetti into a feast.”Create safe spaces: Basketball courts on church grounds, daycare centers, quilting clubs in living rooms, shelters, gardens, girls’ night out. Look for activities that build familiarity and trust, and are just nice as a vehicle for discussions, ideas, and actions.Take healthy steps at the source: get rid of deep fryers in hospital cafeterias; provide applications to SNAP and other food programs at food pantries; change the menus in school cafeterias. These are easy wins.South Carolinian Kyshona Armstrong performing at the Summit (Courtesy of Shawn Poynter / Poynter Photo Co.)Tell stories: Use different frames to tell the big stories, in local media or as free-lancers or in entrepreneurial journalistic start-ups. These give (new) voice to issues. There were a number of examples of reporting at the source, like the Daily Yonder, High Country News, Southerly, and 100 Days in Appalachia.More from this series
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