• Immigration Services Director: No data to support connection between chain migration and terrorismImmigration Services Director: No data to support connection between chain migration and terrorism

    The director of the the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said Tuesday that he does not have data to support the claim that chain migrants are more likely to become self-radicalized.

    The Hill News / 20 min. ago
  • Footage shows Trump with some accusers after he claimed he ‘never met’ womenFootage shows Trump with some accusers after he claimed he ‘never met’ women

    The White House said Trump's tweet was referring specifically to three women who held a press conference Monday about their accusations against Trump.

    The Hill News / 24 min. ago
  • Tech firms drive office-space crunch in downtown TorontoTech firms drive office-space crunch in downtown Toronto

    Demand has been strong for about a decade, but has now outstripped supply, as the tech industry joins financial services firms and other businesses in expanding their operations downtown

    The Globe and Mail / 28 min. ago
  • B.C. announces Indigenous cancer strategy built on culturally safe careB.C. announces Indigenous cancer strategy built on culturally safe care

    The president of the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres says systemic racism prevents Indigenous cancer patients from seeking care

    The Globe and Mail / 31 min. ago
  • The ‘marrying up’ trend signals a sea change in education gapsThe ‘marrying up’ trend signals a sea change in education gaps

    The educational gap between young men and young women is becoming increasingly common among couples in many countries including Canada

    The Globe and Mail / 33 min. ago
  • Scientists spot the first interstellar space rock and wonder if aliens made itScientists spot the first interstellar space rock and wonder if aliens made it

    A bizarre, fast-moving rock with the "proportions of a giant cucumber" has entered our galaxy, becoming the first stony object of its sort ever observed zipping through the Milky Way, The Washington Post writes. As if the interstellar passerby wasn't exciting enough, extraterrestrial researchers are gearing up for what could be the observation of a lifetime — proof that intelligent life exists beyond our own little corner of the universe. "The possibility that this object is, in fact, an artificial object — that it is a spaceship, essentially — is a remote possibility," explained the director of the Berkeley Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Research Center, Andrew Siemion. Researchers have named the rock 'Oumuamua, the Hawaiian word for "messenger." 'Oumuamua's strange "behavior" is what has some researches thinking it could be more than just an ordinary quarter-mile-long cosmic pebble: Planets and asteroids circle the sun on the same plane, like water swirling around a basin. 'Oumuamua dipped into the solar system from outside the plane, as if leaked from a cosmic faucet. It is shaped strangely, too. Most asteroids of this size are spherical. This object has the proportions of a giant cucumber. In fact, Harvard University astronomer Avi Loeb recently told [Russian billionaire Yuri Milner] that 'Oumuamua has the optimal design of a vessel meant to travel through space, The Atlantic reported. [The Washington Post] To get ready for the event, scientists announced that they will be pointing highly sophisticated radio telescopes at the space rock to pick up if it is using technology to reach its speeds of up to 196,000 miles per hour. The devices are so sophisticated, in fact, that "if an electronic device no more powerful than a WiFi router or telephone handset is transmitting on 'Oumuamua, the telescope will be able to sense it," the Post writes. Read more about the 'Oumuamua visitation here.

    The Week / 34 min. ago more
  • Meghan Markle’s Toronto home is up for sale: For $1.4 million, you could live like a princessMeghan Markle’s Toronto home is up for sale: For $1.4 million, you could live like a princess

    Meghan Markle’s former Toronto home is up for sale as the soon-to-be princess prepares for her royal wedding. The house she rented in Seaton Village hit the market last week and is listed at $1.395 million. Markle had rented the house since roughly 2011, when she started filming the TV series Suits. It is owned by Kevin O’Neill and Elizabeth Cabral, a fashion editor and stylist, who reportedly purchased it in 2007 for $508,000.  While some might speculate that the actress is to blame for the jump in sale price, the average price of a house in this area is $1.22 million, and more than half are worth $1 million to $1.5 million.  And right now Markle’s house isn’t even the most expensive one in the Seaton Village market. One home on the market has a price tag of $1.795 million, and another is going for a hefty $2.2 million.  Soon-to-be princess Meghan Markle’s Toronto home is up for sale at $1.395 million. The modest two-storey home has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a detached garage. Overall, it’s a pretty standard home for the Village, where nearly half of the houses fit this profile of two stories and three bedrooms. It’s being sold by Freeman Real Estate, and realtor.ca described it as a “stylish designer inspired home… perfect for entertaining.”  The actress lived with her two rescue pups, Guy and Bogart, who she often posted photos of on Instagram lounging around the house and backyard.  ( function() { var func = function() { var iframe_form = document.getElementById('wpcom-iframe-form-c80b1cf2a02306796645ccf75b347391-5a30439d1ca49'); var iframe = document.getElementById('wpcom-iframe-c80b1cf2a02306796645ccf75b347391-5a30439d1ca49'); if ( iframe_form && iframe ) { iframe_form.submit(); iframe.onload = function() { iframe.contentWindow.postMessage( { 'msg_type': 'poll_size', 'frame_id': 'wpcom-iframe-c80b1cf2a02306796645ccf75b347391-5a30439d1ca49' }, window.location.protocol + '//wpcomwidgets.com' ); } } // Autosize iframe var funcSizeResponse = function( e ) { var origin = document.createElement( 'a' ); origin.href = e.origin; // Verify message origin if ( 'wpcomwidgets.com' !== origin.host ) return; 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} else if ( 'function' === typeof window.attachEvent ) { window.attachEvent( 'onmessage', funcSizeResponse ); } } if (document.readyState === 'complete') { func.apply(); /* compat for infinite scroll */ } else if ( document.addEventListener ) { document.addEventListener( 'DOMContentLoaded', func, false ); } else if ( document.attachEvent ) { document.attachEvent( 'onreadystatechange', func ); } } )(); ( function() { var func = function() { var iframe_form = document.getElementById('wpcom-iframe-form-cbb0b67ad3314869ef0f7d0c0fd68792-5a30439d1d0b9'); var iframe = document.getElementById('wpcom-iframe-cbb0b67ad3314869ef0f7d0c0fd68792-5a30439d1d0b9'); if ( iframe_form && iframe ) { iframe_form.submit(); iframe.onload = function() { iframe.contentWindow.postMessage( { 'msg_type': 'poll_size', 'frame_id': 'wpcom-iframe-cbb0b67ad3314869ef0f7d0c0fd68792-5a30439d1d0b9' }, window.location.protocol + '//wpcomwidgets.com' ); } } // Autosize iframe var funcSizeResponse = function( e ) { var origin = document.createElement( 'a' ); origin.href = e.origin; // Verify message origin if ( 'wpcomwidgets.com' !== origin.host ) return; // Verify message is in a format we expect if ( 'object' !== typeof e.data || undefined === e.data.msg_type ) return; switch ( e.data.msg_type ) { case 'poll_size:response': var iframe = document.getElementById( e.data._request.frame_id ); if ( iframe && '' === iframe.width ) iframe.width = '100%'; if ( iframe && '' === iframe.height ) iframe.height = parseInt( e.data.height ); return; default: return; } } if ( 'function' === typeof window.addEventListener ) { window.addEventListener( 'message', funcSizeResponse, false ); } else if ( 'function' === typeof window.attachEvent ) { window.attachEvent( 'onmessage', funcSizeResponse ); } } if (document.readyState === 'complete') { func.apply(); /* compat for infinite scroll */ } else if ( document.addEventListener ) { document.addEventListener( 'DOMContentLoaded', func, false ); } else if ( document.attachEvent ) { document.attachEvent( 'onreadystatechange', func ); } } )(); ( function() { var func = function() { var iframe_form = document.getElementById('wpcom-iframe-form-56cbb41b062d97ee8b0ed8f090097f7b-5a30439d1d43e'); var iframe = document.getElementById('wpcom-iframe-56cbb41b062d97ee8b0ed8f090097f7b-5a30439d1d43e'); if ( iframe_form && iframe ) { iframe_form.submit(); iframe.onload = function() { iframe.contentWindow.postMessage( { 'msg_type': 'poll_size', 'frame_id': 'wpcom-iframe-56cbb41b062d97ee8b0ed8f090097f7b-5a30439d1d43e' }, window.location.protocol + '//wpcomwidgets.com' ); } } // Autosize iframe var funcSizeResponse = function( e ) { var origin = document.createElement( 'a' ); origin.href = e.origin; // Verify message origin if ( 'wpcomwidgets.com' !== origin.host ) return; // Verify message is in a format we expect if ( 'object' !== typeof e.data || undefined === e.data.msg_type ) return; switch ( e.data.msg_type ) { case 'poll_size:response': var iframe = document.getElementById( e.data._request.frame_id ); if ( iframe && '' === iframe.width ) iframe.width = '100%'; if ( iframe && '' === iframe.height ) iframe.height = parseInt( e.data.height ); return; default: return; } } if ( 'function' === typeof window.addEventListener ) { window.addEventListener( 'message', funcSizeResponse, false ); } else if ( 'function' === typeof window.attachEvent ) { window.attachEvent( 'onmessage', funcSizeResponse ); } } if (document.readyState === 'complete') { func.apply(); /* compat for infinite scroll */ } else if ( document.addEventListener ) { document.addEventListener( 'DOMContentLoaded', func, false ); } else if ( document.attachEvent ) { document.attachEvent( 'onreadystatechange', func ); } } )(); But her Instagram activity has whittled down to essentially zero, with her last post in April. She also shut down her website The Tig, leaving behind only a farewell note to her followers.  Markle and Prince Harry announced their engagement in November after months of speculation, and the actress has officially made her move to the U.K. The prince reportedly visited Markle at the Toronto home several times throughout their long-distance relationship, before the couple made their first public appearance together at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto. In an interview with BBC the prince said they never went more than two weeks without seeing each other, suggesting he visited Toronto periodically.  The actress decorated the house with a California bungalow style in mind, which was featured in Hello! magazine’s June issue. The house also has a special bonus: a detached garage which reportedly allowed Marke and her husband-to-be the ability to avoid photographers and neighbours often gathered out front. A member of the Seaton Village Residents Association told the Globe and Mail that neighbours on the street were getting “super irritated with paparazzi” because they wanted their privacy, and that tales of the couple were splattered on the ASsociation’s Facebook page.  Prince Harry is fifth in line to the British throne. He popped the question with a three-stone engagement ring, and the jeweller behind the design won’t be making any replicates, telling the Associated Press, “If you want a ring, then we’ll design you a different one.”

    National Post / 34 min. ago more
  • GOP eyes raising corporate rate to 21 percent, lowering top individual tax rateGOP eyes raising corporate rate to 21 percent, lowering top individual tax rate

    Republican negotiators have a tentative agreement to raise the corporate tax rate in their joint House-Senate tax bill from 20 to 21 percent, two GOP sources tell The Hill.The higher corporate rate would cap a furi...

    The Hill News / 36 min. ago
  • WH denies Trump made sexist attack on GillibrandWH denies Trump made sexist attack on Gillibrand

    The White House on Tuesday denied that President Trump launched a sexist attack on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) when he said she "would do anything" for a campaign contribution."There is no way that is sexist a...

    The Hill News / 38 min. ago
  • December is the nastiest month for personal financeDecember is the nastiest month for personal finance

    Plus, advice on buying toys for young kids

    The Globe and Mail / 38 min. ago
  • The Globe's crossword guru on this year's holiday puzzleThe Globe's crossword guru on this year's holiday puzzle

    Fraser Simpson is The Globe's longtime crossword author. Here he answers questions on this year's big holiday puzzle that features hundreds of questions.

    The Globe and Mail / 39 min. ago
  • In shot at Boeing, $19B competition to build new fighter jets will penalize companies that harm Canada’s economyIn shot at Boeing, $19B competition to build new fighter jets will penalize companies that harm Canada’s economy

    The Canadian government officially launched its program to buy up to $19 billion of new fighter jets on Tuesday, but included a pointed warning to the U.S. firm Boeing that it will face an uphill battle if it continues to work against the country’s aerospace industry. The competition to provide Canada with 88 new fighter jets will include an unprecedented new provision that will penalize companies who would do “economic harm” to Canada, senior government officials said. That new provision is aimed directly at Boeing, which complained to the Trump administration that its Quebec-based competitor Bombardier was receiving unfair government subsidies. The U.S. ruled in favour of Boeing and, resulting in Bombardier facing duties of almost 300 per cent on sales of its C-Series civilian passenger aircraft in America. This file photo taken on March 7, 2017 shows the Boeing logo on the Boeing 737 MAX 9 airplane at the Boeing factory in Renton, Washington. The Liberal government retaliated against Boeing’s complaint by cancelling plans to buy 18 of the company’s Super Hornet fighter jets at a cost of around $6 billion. As part of the competition for the new fighter jets, Canada will assess a company’s “economic behavior” in previous years — a provision that effectively serves notice to Boeing that it will be at a disadvantage in competing for the new program as long as the U.S. duties against Bombardier stand. Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, said Tuesday that while any company is welcome in the competition, the new policy is intended to protect the Canadian economy and key sectors such as aerospace. Companies that cause what the government perceives to be economic harm “will be at a distinct disadvantage,” Bains said. Bains and defence minister Harjit Sajjan said Tuesday Canada was looking for a “trusted partner” to provide it with new fighter jets — a description Sajjan had previously suggested no longer applies to Boeing. But procurement minister Carla Qualtrough left the door open for Boeing to change its stance. The bids will be evaluated several years from now, she said, and the provision will be enforced based on a company’s situation at that time. That would allow Boeing a chance to drop its complaint against Bombardier, government officials said privately. Boeing did not immediately respond to the government’s announcement Tuesday, but the U.S. firm, which also has aerospace facilities in Canada, has previously indicated it will not back down from its complaint against Bombardier. “We won’t do business with a company that is busy trying to sue us and put our aerospace workers out of business,” Trudeau said earlier this year. The Prime Minister has accused Boeing of trying to eliminate “tens of thousands of jobs through their attack against Bombardier, as a government they should not expect us to buy planes off them if they are attacking our industry.”  Marc Allen, Boeing’s president of international business, has said the company took its action to ensure a level playing field in the aerospace sector. He said Boeing believes that global trade only works if everyone plays by the same rules —which wasn’t the case for Bombardier, he added. Allen and other Boeing officials have argued that the now-cancelled Super Hornet deal should not have been connected to a commercial trade dispute, which began over Bombardier’s plans to sell its C-Series passenger jets to U.S.-based Delta Airlines. Work on the new fighter jet competition will begin immediately, with the provider of the new fleet expected to be selected by 2022, with a projected cost of between $16 billion and $19 billion. Qualtrough said the government examined the new “economic harm” policy from a legal perspective. “We are confident this policy is appropriate,” she said, although she also said there are no guarantees it would not lead to Canada being sued. She also said the policy would be applied to all future procurements. Government officials also announced Tuesday that Canada will proceed with the purchase of used F-18 jets from Australia. While the exact cost of that deal won’t be made public until the contract is signed, the government has set aside $500 million for the project. The sale, which includes 18 planes and spare parts, needs approval from the U.S. government. Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jon Vance said the Royal Canadian Air Force has worked closely over the years with Australia’s military and are experts at operating F-18s. “We know these aircraft extremely well,” he said. • Email: dpugliese@postmedia.com | Twitter: davidpugliese

    National Post / 40 min. ago more
  • Spanish court orders seizure of ex-Catalan leader's homeSpanish court orders seizure of ex-Catalan leader's home

    Spain's Court of Auditors ordered on Tuesday the seizure of former Catalan president Artur Mas's home to cover costs generated by the nonbinding independence referendum his government organised in 2014.In September the court had ordered Mas and eight other top Catalan officials to pay 4.8 million euros ($5.6 million) with interest of 400,000 euros to cover the expenses of the ballot, which was declared illegal by the Constitutional Court.But they have managed to pay just 2.9 million euros so far, prompting the court to order the seizure of assets they had put up as a guarantee, a spokeswoman for the court said.Besides Mas's Barcelona home, the court seized half of a home belonging to former Catalan government spokesman Francesc Homs in Taradell, near the Catalan capital, the spokeswoman said.It also seized properties belonging to three former regional ministers in Mas's government.Mas, Catalonia's president from 2010 to 2016, has said the order to repay the costs of the 2014 referendum lacks "any kind of legal basis" and is aimed at trying to "intimidate" separatists.His successor, Carles Puigdemont, pushed ahead with a banned independence referendum in Catalonia on October 1, which was marred by a violent police crackdown against voting, and which led the Catalan parliament to declare independence on October 27.Spain's central government subsequently dismissed Puigdemont's government, suspended Catalonia's autonomy and called an early election in the region for December 21.Puigdemont fled to Belgium at he end of October, fleeing charges sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds over his government's independence drive.

    France 24 / 42 min. ago more
  • Twitter makes 'tweetstorms' easier with 'threads'Twitter makes 'tweetstorms' easier with 'threads'

    Twitter said Tuesday said it would make it easier for users to build "tweetstorms" by linking together posts in "threads" to expound at length at the famously short-form messaging service.The move comes just a month after Twitter rattled the twitterverse by doubling the limit for tweets in most languages to 280 characters, in a bid to draw in more users and boost engagement. It was the first time the character cap was raised since Twitter was founded. "A few years ago we noticed people creatively stitching Tweets together to share more information or tell a longer story," product manager Sasank Reddy said in a blog post."We saw this approach (which we call 'threading') as an innovative way to present a train of thought, made up of connected but individual elements."An "add another tweet" button is being added to the Twitter application, along with a "show this thread" label that can be clicked to see posts woven together by authors.Threaded tweets will be published at the same time, but more posts can be added, according to Reddy."Launching tweetstorms/thread today," Twitter co-founder and chief executive Jack Dorsey tweeted from the firm's San Francisco headquarters.Twitter posts about a topic, typically fired off in rapid succession by someone intent on writing more than allowed by the character limit, have been referred to as "tweetstorms."Many replies to Dorsey's post called on Twitter to focus on dealing with extremists, trolls, and "bots" abusing the service instead of packaging tweets together."This will make some of the thoughtful longform posts on Twitter more accessible to a broader range of people. Good," read a reply to Dorsey from a verified account of venture capitalist Chris Sacca, whose investments included Twitter."But not sure why it launched before you make more moves to reduce hate speech, ban Nazis, eliminate Russian trolls, and stop the spread of fake news."Threads will be rolled out in an update to Twitter in the coming weeks, according to Reddy.

    France 24 / 43 min. ago more
  • How to learn from failure, why lithium stocks are hot, and all about the bitcoin buzzHow to learn from failure, why lithium stocks are hot, and all about the bitcoin buzz

    A roundup of investment ideas for active investors

    The Globe and Mail / 47 min. ago
  • Desjardins, provincial credit unions, Cumis partnering to create Aviso WealthDesjardins, provincial credit unions, Cumis partnering to create Aviso Wealth

    The new wealth management company will bring together the businesses of their subsidiaries, Credential Financial Inc., Qtrade Canada Inc. and NEI Investments

    The Globe and Mail / 50 min. ago
  • Pivotal US political race plays out in AlabamaPivotal US political race plays out in Alabama

    Pivotal US political race plays out in Alabama

    France 24 / 51 min. ago
  • Ariane 5 rocket takes off with European GPS satellitesAriane 5 rocket takes off with European GPS satellites

    An Ariane 5 rocket took off from the Kourou Space Centre in French Guiana on Tuesday, taking with it four satellites for Europe's Galileo navigation project, Arianespace said.The European space workhorse took off at 1836 GMT and was scheduled to deploy its cargo four hours after launch.The Galileo programme, when complete, will have 30 satellites in three orbital planes by 2020. If all goes according to plan the system will be able to pinpoint a location on Earth to within a metre -- compared to several metres for the United States' GPS and the Russian GLONASS systems.The civilian-controlled Galileo system, seen as strategically important to Europe, went live in December last year, providing initial services with a weak signal, having taken 17 years at more than triple the original budget to get there.The satellites launched Tuesday, each one weighing 715 kilogrammes (1,590 pounds), will be placed into an orbit 23,000 kilometres (14,000 miles) from Earth.The Galileo programme is funded and owned by the EU.The European Commission has overall responsibility for the programme, managing and overseeing the implementation of all activities, but the deployment, design and development of the infrastructure is entrusted to the European Space Agency (ESA).The European Commission announced in July that investigators had uncovered the problems behind the failure of atomic clocks onboard satellites already launched as part of the Galileo satnav system.For months, the European Space Agency had been investigating the reasons behind failing clocks onboard some of the 18 navigation satellites it had already launched for Galileo.The ESA found after an investigation that its rubidium clocks had a faulty component that could cause a short circuit, according to European sources.

    France 24 / 53 min. ago more
  • Dem rep: Moore supporter called my office pretending to be a reporter, shouted racial slursDem rep: Moore supporter called my office pretending to be a reporter, shouted racial slurs

    A Democratic lawmaker says that a supporter of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore (R) called her office pretending to be a reporter before becoming enraged and shouting racial slurs at the congresswoman and her staff....

    The Hill News / 53 min. ago
  • Rising auto sales have made this ETF the top-performing commodity fundRising auto sales have made this ETF the top-performing commodity fund

    South Africa-listed AfricaRhodium beat 786 other non-leveraged commodity ETFs tracked by Bloomberg in the past 12 months.

    The Globe and Mail / 57 min. ago
  • A President Who Feels No ShameA President Who Feels No Shame

    Just after 8:00 on Tuesday morning, President Trump whipped out his phone and fired off this incendiary, insinuating tweet: Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign donations not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED! It’s hardly surprising that Trump is miffed at Gillibrand. On Monday, the gentlewoman from New York publicly called on the president to step down in light of the multiple accusations of harassment and assault swirling around him. Having long pressed for the military to address its sexual assault problem, Gillibrand has emerged more recently as a crusader against all manner of sexual misbehavior by political leaders: She was the first Senate Democrat to call on her Minnesota colleague Al Franken to step down, and she contends that elected officials absolutely should be held to higher standards than regular folks.Understandably, Trump does not appreciate the senator’s focusing a spotlight on his own … vulnerabilities in this area. What powerful man would?But unlike most men, Trump is not content simply to push back against the substance of the accusations against him. Nor is it enough for him to follow the usual partisan playbook and dismiss Gillibrand as politically motivated—though his “flunky” crack did make that point.No, Trump being Trump, he felt moved to take it that one step further by asserting that, back when Democratic politicians viewed him as a handy source of campaign donations, Gillibrand was all too willing to debase herself for nice sweaty wads of his cash. She would, he stressed, “do anything for them.”What precisely is Trump implying? As is often the case, it’s hard to say with certainty. Considering his habit of misusing quotation marks, one can be generous and assume that he does mean that Gillibrand literally came begging for donations (a necessary if distasteful adjunct of the job)—as opposed to “begging,” which suggests something far ickier. But the “do anything for them” parenthetical is about as subtle as Anthony Scaramucci after several drinks. Whatever specific sleaze Trump is looking to evoke in people’s minds, his aim is to demean and shame Gillibrand, to trash her character with sexist innuendo as a way to deflect the questions being quite credibly asked about his own.It is one of his signature moves: to take inconvenient facts, replace them with ones more to his liking, then redirect the shame back on anyone who questions him. In Gillibrand’s case, he’s turning the question of predation on its head: Accused of sexual malfeasance, he counters by implying that, in their past interactions, his accuser behaved like an actual prostitute.This is classic Trump. When confronted with an ugly reality, he creates an alternative version, based on whatever story suits his heroic yet eternally beleaguered image of himself. In Trump’s mind, he is the victim of sneering haters laboring to bring him down. The specific charges they level to try to do so are of no interest to him. All he registers is that someone is out to get him and, as such, that person’s reality must be dismantled. Typically, this requires that the individual’s credibility, and by extension her character, be wrecked as well.Trump’s reaction to the reemergence of allegations of sexual misconduct makes perfect sense. The women in question aren’t merely lying about what he did, they are lying about having ever met him. Likewise, he has shifted from dismissing the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape as empty “locker room talk” to suggesting that it is a fake. Maybe it’s not his voice on that tape after all. Maybe it’s just another plot by the haters.This approach may seem wholly cynical and more than a little risky, especially with his more blatant denials of what people can see with their own eyes. (For instance, those inauguration photos that so obsess Trump.) But, at this point, it may be that the president has begun to get lost in his own spin. For him, nothing has any substance beyond how it meshes with his self-image. (These women’s experiences don’t just not matter to him; they do not exist beyond their potential impact on him.) And after spending enough time in an alternative universe where truth is relative and facts don’t exist, the line between reality and fantasy could very well have started to blur.If the president can create a reality where these women’s experiences did not happen—where he, in fact, never met his accusers and he never made those boasts to Billy Bush—then he doesn’t have to acknowledge, much less engage with, the sort of public reckoning that is bringing down the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes, Al Franken and Trent Franks.Trump as an alleged sexual predator provides a vivid illustration of what happens when a fierce wave of cultural shaming crashes into the smug malice of a man incapable of shame. This is what makes this current moment both fascinating and terrifying. Just how much of a reality distortion field can Trump maintain? How much are members of his party willing to ignore? What can his opponents do, if anything, to force him to acknowledge any reality not of his own making?Within an hour of Trump’s attack, Gillibrand had fired back with her own tweet: “You cannot silence me or the millions of women who have gotten off the sidelines to speak out about the unfitness and shame you have brought to the Oval Office.”There’s that word: shame. It is a potent cultural force in this moment. Unless you’re dealing with a man for whom the term is meaningless.

    The Atlantic / 1 h. 1 min. ago more
  • Gillibrand Fires Back at Trump for 'Sexist Smear'Gillibrand Fires Back at Trump for 'Sexist Smear'

    In defending himself against renewed allegations of sexual misconduct by female accusers, President Trump on Tuesday also called out Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand after she said he should resign. Since then, the backlash has been fast and furious from Democrats, including Gillibrand herself, who say Trump's tweet was sexist itself, reports...

    Newser / 1 h. 8 min. ago
  • Grassley tells Trump 'not to proceed' on two controversial judicial nominationsGrassley tells Trump 'not to proceed' on two controversial judicial nominations

    Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says he's told President Trump to "reconsider" two controversial judicial nominees.Grassley told ...

    The Hill News / 1 h. 12 min. ago
  • Dennis Rodman: Trump and Kim Jong Un ‘pretty much the same’Dennis Rodman: Trump and Kim Jong Un ‘pretty much the same’

    Former NBA star Dennis Rodman said he thinks President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are "pretty much the same people.""They love control," Rodman ...

    The Hill News / 1 h. 14 min. ago
  • Headley, Mitchell dealt by Yankees to Padres for prospectHeadley, Mitchell dealt by Yankees to Padres for prospect

    New York received 28-year-old outfielder Jabari Blash, who made his big league debut in 2016

    The Globe and Mail / 1 h. 22 min. ago
  • Leipzig stumble again with Wolfsburg drawLeipzig stumble again with Wolfsburg draw

    RB Leipzig dropped more crucial points in the Bundesliga title race as they were held to a 1-1 draw away to Wolfsburg on Tuesday.Wolfsburg took the lead against the run of play on 15 minutes, Paul Verhaegh coolly slotting home a penalty after Ibrahima Konate?s foul on Mario Gomez. Despite continuing to dominate, Leipzig could not break through before half-time.The visitors burst out of the blocks after the break, and were rewarded on 52 minutes as Marcel Halstenberg squeezed the ball past Koen Casteels for the equaliser.As Wolfsburg rallied late in the game, Divock Origi should have restored the lead for Wolfsburg in the 78th minute. The ball fell to the Liverpool loanee just metres in front of goal, but he somehow sent it soaring over the crossbar.Leipzig?s night went from bad to worse in injury time as Dayot Upamecano saw a second yellow card for a foul on Victor Osimhen.Second-place Leipzig trail leaders Bayern Munich by seven points and have won just one of their last five league matches. Later on Tuesday, Peter Stoeger starts his colossal task of arresting Borussia Dortmund's freefall down the Bundesliga table while former employers Cologne face a daunting trip to Bayern on Wednesday.Stoeger has had little time to assess Dortmund's problems ahead of his first match in charge, away to strugglers Mainz.Dortmund are winless in their last eight league games and Stoeger's predecessor Peter Bosz was sacked on Saturday after only 167 days in charge, and following a shock 2-1 home defeat to second-from-bottom Werder Bremen.

    France 24 / 1 h. 22 min. ago more
  • Liberia presidential runoff set for Dec 26Liberia presidential runoff set for Dec 26

    The runoff in Liberia's presidential elections will be held on December 26, the country's electoral overseer announced on Tuesday, clearing a last hurdle in a protracted saga.It means the final round of voting between the two leading candidates -- ex-footballer George Weah and Vice President Joseph Boakai -- can go ahead."I am pleased to announce that the 2017 presidential runoff elections will be conducted on Tuesday, December 26, 2017," the president of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Jerome Korkoya, said."We realise that this day is immediately after Christmas Day," he said, adding: "We call on all registered voters to make that one sacrifice, for the love of our democracy."The vote is seen as a crucial test of Liberia's stability after back-to-back civil wars between 1989 and 2003 and an Ebola crisis that killed thousands from 2014 to 2016.Whoever wins will replace Liberia's Nobel Peace prize-winning president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is also Africa's first female elected head of state. She is stepping down after a maximum two six-year terms.During her tenure, she steered the country away from the trauma of war, although poverty remains entrenched and has been one of the main election issues.- 'Fraud' allegations -The runoff date was announced after the Supreme Court last Thursday ordered the commission to proceed with the vote after it was delayed for a month by fraud complaints.The Liberty Party candidate Charles Brumskine, who came third in the first round, claimed that ballot stuffing and false voter registration cards had marred the election -- allegations backed up by second place Boakai.But the claims were rejected by the National Elections Commission (NEC), which found that the parties of the two candidates had failed to provide "indubitable evidence" that the vote was tainted.Weah won 38.4 percent to Boakai's 28.8 percent in the first round of the election on October 10.The runoff vote was triggered because no single candidate obtained more than 50 percent in the first round, which was described as free and fair by international and domestic observers, despite some reported delays.Campaigning for the second round has been immediately opened and will end on December 24, the electoral commission said.Both candidates have both promised to improve education and create jobs, but also have sharp differences.Weah, 51, the first African player to win both FIFA's World Player of the Year trophy and the Ballon d'Or, has leveraged his status as a revered figure among young people to boost his support.After running unsuccessfully for the presidency in 2005 and in 2011, Weah became a senator in 2014 and says he has "gained experience".After more than a decade in government, Boakai, 72, campaigned as a natural transition candidate and presented himself as an everyman who transcended his humble beginnings. He has tried to promote his record in government while distancing himself from Sirleaf, and also attempted to craft a more energetic image after earning the unfortunate title of "Sleepy Joe", for sometimes falling asleep at public events.- 'Nobody wants to buy' -The delay in the vote has meanwhile led to many businesses feeling the pinch as customers have stayed home and the exchange rate has climbed in the absence of a resolution."Nobody wants to buy, people are keeping their money," said Ruth Wollie last week, one of many female market traders who make up an important voting bloc for Liberian politicians."For us to sell 1000 LD ($8) per day is very difficult," she added at her stall in Monrovia.Liberia has two legal currencies: the Liberian dollar and the US dollar.The country imports the vast majority of its food, and wholesale imports and taxes are payable in US dollars only, so fluctuations in the exchange rate can quickly make trading conditions difficult.Christopher Pewee, a shoe seller in Paynesville, said the situation had "stagnated"."Investors are holding back investments, and the demand for US dollars is high. That's why the rate has climbed," he said, surrounded by brightly coloured flip-flops.

    France 24 / 1 h. 24 min. ago more
  • McConnell: Strange to stay in Senate until end of current sessionMcConnell: Strange to stay in Senate until end of current session

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) signaled on Tuesday that the winner of the Alabama Senate special election will not be sworn in before the Senate wraps up its work for the year."Sen. Strange is going...

    The Hill News / 1 h. 25 min. ago
  • After Manchester tunnel skirmish, United and City managers on defensiveAfter Manchester tunnel skirmish, United and City managers on defensive

    Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola defended conduct of their teams at simultaneous news conferences

    The Globe and Mail / 1 h. 26 min. ago
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    Given an open-ended choice to name the first word that comes to mind when they think of President Trump, more respondents say "idiot" than any other descriptors, according a survey released Tuesday.The ...

    The Hill News / 1 h. 27 min. ago
  • Gillibrand calls Trump's tweet a 'sexist smear'Gillibrand calls Trump's tweet a 'sexist smear'

    U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand fired back at President Donald Trump on Tuesday and said she would not be silenced after he attacked her on Twitter for calling for an investigation into accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct against him.

    The Globe and Mail / 1 h. 32 min. ago
  • Mayor's Unexpected Death Rattles San FranciscoMayor's Unexpected Death Rattles San Francisco

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    Newser / 1 h. 33 min. ago
  • Poll: Half of Republicans say Russia tried to influence electionPoll: Half of Republicans say Russia tried to influence election

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    The Hill News / 1 h. 33 min. ago
  • Hydropothecary shares soar on plans to expand in QuebecHydropothecary shares soar on plans to expand in Quebec

    Plans to put it among top cannabis producers in Canada

    The Globe and Mail / 1 h. 33 min. ago
  • Two gutsy women take charge in WashingtonTwo gutsy women take charge in Washington

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    The Globe and Mail / 1 h. 36 min. ago
  • Fingerlings propel Montreal’s WowWee to Christmas retail successFingerlings propel Montreal’s WowWee to Christmas retail success

    The company’s line of animatronic baby monkeys quickly sold out in stores after being released earlier this year

    The Globe and Mail / 1 h. 38 min. ago
  • Judith Butler Overestimates the Power of Hateful SpeechJudith Butler Overestimates the Power of Hateful Speech

    Judith Butler worries that UC Berkeley risks dire consequences if it fails to put more limits on the sorts of speech and free expression that it allows on campus.In remarks to a campus forum, “Perspectives on Freedom of Expression on Campus,” she argued against “free speech absolutists.” For instance, she believes incitements to violence should not be protected by the First Amendment. Of course, that view reflects longstanding law and is shared by the Federalist Society, the ACLU, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and the vast majority of Americans, including most staunch free-speech advocates. Support for repealing all laws against incitement is almost nil, as is the constituency for literal free-speech “absolutism.”More controversial were her suggestions that the Constitutions’s equal-protection clause is sometimes at odds with protected speech, and that Title IX and UC Berkeley’s Principles of Community should sometimes trump the First Amendment. As she put it: If the commitment to free speech provisions under the First Amendment takes precedence over Title IX, the Equal Protection Clause, and the Berkeley Principles of Community, then I suppose we are being asked to understand that we will, in the name of freedom of speech, willingly allow our environment to be suffused with hatred, threats, and violence, that we will see the values we teach and to which we adhere destroyed by our commitment to free speech or, rather, to a very specific – possibly overbroad – interpretation of what constitutes expressive activity protected by that constitutional principle. That passage is striking for its non-sequitur. For decades, the First Amendment has taken precedence over federal statutes like Title IX and campus codes of conduct. Yet public universities have not been suffused with hatred, threats, and violence as a result; and there is no reason to expect UC Berkeley to meet that fate.Equally baseless is the notion that the values UC Berkeley teaches and adheres to will be destroyed unless certain kinds of speech are suppressed from its campus. No force-field prevents outside ideas from crossing Bancroft Way. Berkeley students will inevitably encounter many viewpoints contrary to those taught to them on campus. There is no reason to suspect that the worst of those viewpoints are more persuasive or more damaging when uttered in official events sponsored by campus Republicans than when heard on a podcast or seen on Reddit. And it seems to me that young people are least likely to fall for hucksters they encounter among peers and professors ready with a full range of critical retorts, as compared to stumbling on them alone or in an online echo chamber.Butler’s instincts are different than mine in part because she believes that wrongheaded speakers wield extraordinary power over college students, and implies one cannot really oppose bad values without suppressing the expression of them.She stated: If free speech does take precedence over every other constitutional principle and every other community principle, then perhaps we should no longer claim to be weighing or balancing competing principles or values. We should perhaps frankly admit that we have agreed in advance to have our community sundered, racial and sexual minorities demeaned, the dignity of trans people denied, that we are, in effect, willing to be wrecked by this principle of free speech, considered more important than any other value. If so, we should be honest about the bargain we have made: we are willing to be broken by that principle, and that, yes, our commitments to dignity, equality, and non-violence will be, for better or worse, secondary. Is that how we want it to be? But all people are created equal and endowed with dignity by virtue of being human. A trans student’s dignity—their quality of being worthy of honor or respect—is not something an anti-trans speaker can take away; Butler is wrong to write as if their dignity is so contingent that an anti-trans speaker can somehow abscond with it (but not if he’s denied a campus platform and says the same words elsewhere?). Trans students will spend decades in a world with folks who attack their dignity. They are done a horrific disservice if the message they get at university is that their dignity is thereby diminished every time.(Straight white males are meanwhile tremendously advantaged by the cultural message that they receive on college campuses: that they should brush off any attack directed their way because no one has the power to alter their trajectory. A message contrived with their empowerment in mind could hardly be more effective.)Butler is wrongheaded in implying that if one always permits speech that attacks a dearly held value one may as well give up on defending it as a primary  value—as if one cannot hate something a person says, defend their right to say it, and employ other tools, like logic, or satire, or protest, or organizing, to ensure that their view doesn’t prevail. It is especially strange that Butler suggests excessive protections for speech might threaten Berkeley’s commitment to nonviolence; suppressing speech with the coercive power of the state is the position that not only threatens but is antithetical to principled nonviolence.Finally, Butler ignores the likelihood, born out in history, that any speech restrictions that Berkeley employs will be disproportionately enforced against marginalized students, thereby exacerbate inequality rather than advancing equality.Henry Louis Gates’s counsel is still right: “Let them talk.”

    The Atlantic / 1 h. 41 min. ago more
  • US files terror charges against New York 'subway bomber'US files terror charges against New York 'subway bomber'

    The United States on Tuesday unveiled federal terrorism charges against the Bangladeshi driver who detonated a bomb in a New York subway passageway, after allegedly being inspired by the Islamic State group and self-radicalizing as early as 2014.Akayed Ullah, 27, who migrated to the United States in 2011 and lived in Brooklyn, was hit with a five-count indictment, which includes providing material support to IS and use of weapons of mass destruction, according to the complaint.He is expected to appear before a judge, most likely by video link from his hospital bed, either Tuesday or Wednesday. Ullah wounded himself and three other people in the blast, which took place in the subway tunnels below the Port Authority bus terminal, not far from iconic Times Square, on Monday.The explosion, which sowed panic and disrupted the morning commute during the busy Christmas tourism season, came six weeks after another immigrant, also reportedly inspired by the IS group, killed eight people on a bike path.President Donald Trump has leapt on both attacks to reiterate calls for tighter US immigration, demanding an end to the visa programs that admitted Ullah and the Uzbek bike path attacker, although both appear to have only radicalized after emigrating."We will end them fast. Congress must get involved immediately," Trump said Tuesday. "These attacks underscore the dangers we face from around the globe."- Chilling notes -Ullah allegedly built the pipe bomb in his Brooklyn apartment a week before the attack, packing the device with metal screws and Christmas tree lights, and allegedly admitted planning the would-be suicide bombing for several weeks.He strapped the pipe bomb to his chest, selected the time and location to "maximize human casualties," admitted to being inspired by IS and wanted to avenge US policies in the Middle East, Manhattan's acting US Attorney Joon Kim told reporters.En route to carrying out the attempted attack, he allegedly posted on Facebook, "Trump you failed to protect your nation," according to court documents.The chilling handwritten note: "O America die in your rage," was found in a passport in Ullah's name, along with metal pipes, wires and screws in his Brooklyn home, Kim told reporters.- Under radar -But his bomb failed to detonate as planned, leaving him with burns to his torso and hands, officials said. The three victims suffered minor complaints such as ringing in their ears and headaches.Ullah began to radicalize in 2014, three years after moving to the United States, by watching IS propaganda online before starting to research how to make bombs a year ago, officials said.But he operated under the radar, his name never appearing on any watch lists, and he was not previously known to law enforcement in either the United States or his Muslim-majority homeland, officials said.In Bangladesh, counter-terrorism officers questioned his 25-year-old wife, whom he married in 2016 and visited in September after the birth of their son, officials said.Police raided the family home in Dhaka, but neither Ullah's wife, Jannatul Ferdous Piya, nor her father are under any suspicion, officer Saiful Islam told AFP.Mofazzal Hossain, caretaker of the family apartment in Dhaka, described him as "pious and a gentleman.""He used to pray in the local mosque five times a day. He would urge us to pray and do good work," Hossain told AFP.Dhaka police were investigating whether he could have been radicalized in Bangladesh, which is waging its own war against extremism and where IS claimed an assault in July 2016 that killed 22 hostages, 18 of them foreigners.The FBI on Tuesday urged New Yorkers to remain vigilant during the busy holiday season in a city that has considered itself a perennial target since the Al-Qaeda hijackings brought down the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001.The New York Times reported that Ullah appears to have prayed regularly at the Masjid Nur Al Islam mosque, and from 2012 to 2015, held a license to drive for-hire vehicles.His family issued a statement through the Council on American-Islamic Relations saying they were "heartbroken" by the attack and the allegations against Ullah.

    France 24 / 1 h. 42 min. ago more
  • She Likened Her Dogs to Art, Is Found Guilty of Animal CrueltyShe Likened Her Dogs to Art, Is Found Guilty of Animal Cruelty

    Animal cruelty cases are always dismal. This one out of New Hampshire is also somewhat bizarre. Christina Fay of Wolfeboro was found guilty Tuesday on 10 animal cruelty charges related to the 84 Great Danes that were seized from her mansion in June. WMUR reports she ran a kennel called...

    Newser / 1 h. 55 min. ago
  • Wales hit by Faletau injury blow ahead of Six NationsWales hit by Faletau injury blow ahead of Six Nations

    Wales forward Taulupe Faletau could miss the whole of the Six Nations after English Premiership side Bath said on Tuesday he had suffered medial knee ligament damage.The British and Irish Lions player was hurt during his side's 24-20 European Champions Cup defeat in Toulon on Saturday and is likely to be sidelined for between 12 and 16 weeks.Faletau's fellow 2017 British and Irish Lions Jonathan Davies and Sam Warburton are already sidelined from Wales coach Warren Gatland's plans as long-term injury absentees, while lock Jake Ball is currently battling to overcome a dislocated shoulderWales kick off their Six Nations campaign against in-form Scotland on February 3, followed by a Twickenham trip to face title-holders England seven days later, then Ireland in Dublin on February 24.A 12-week absence would rule Faletau out of Wales's first three Six Nations games, but the whole tournament could prove off-limits for him, with Wales also facing Italy on March 11 and France six days later."We're really disappointed for Taulupe," said Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder."He's been in great form this season so it's really unfortunate news. However, he's in great hands with the medical team and we look forward to having him back on the pitch soon."Faletau will also miss Bath's final three European Champions Cup pool matches, starting with Toulon's visit on Saturday, followed by two more encounters with Scarlets and Treviso in January.The 27-year-old has won 70 caps for Wales and featured on the past two Lions Tours.

    France 24 / 2 h. 2 min. ago more
  • Climate commitments at the 'One Planet Summit' in ParisClimate commitments at the 'One Planet Summit' in Paris

    Moving away from using fossil fuels and leaning heavily on businesses to green up their act, the "One Planet Summit" in Paris on Tuesday set out a raft of wide-ranging commitments to turn the tables on climate change.Here are five of the major areas covered during the summit:- Oil and gas - The World Bank said it would stop financing oil and gas exploration and extraction -- representing about two percent of its current portfolio -- from 2019, becoming the first multilateral bank to take such a step.From next year the bank will publish a yearly index of greenhouse gas-related projects it provides funding for and will price in carbon costs when it comes to assessing future investments.- Coal -Insurance giant Axa announced it will cease investing in any company involved in the construction of coal plants and will withdraw about 2.5 billion euros ($2.9 billion) from the sector.The French firm also said it will pull 700 million euros from projects linked to tar sands pipeline projects, and put nine billion euros into "green" infrastructural investment through 2020.- Investors -More than 200 large-scale investors, including HSBC and the major US pension fund CalPERS, have agreed to put pressure on the world's 100 most polluting companies to persuade them to reduce emissions.The "Climate Action 100+" initiative will target oil giants such as BP and Chevron as well as transport behemoths Airbus and Ford and mining groups ArcelorMittal, BHP Billiton and Glencore.- Aid -The French Development Agency (AFD) signed agreements with a clutch of African states including Niger and Tunisia to help them in their fight against climate change, including countering the effects of erosion.Under the agreements, 30 million euros will be set aside for 15 developing counties over four years.- Farming -The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the European Commission promised to earmark more than $600 million for agricultural research to combat the effects of climate change.The Gates Foundation itself pledged $315 million to help the poorest players in the sector, notably in Africa, adapt to global warming, while the European Commission pledged $318 million.

    France 24 / 2 h. 6 min. ago more
  • ‘Best equipment on the planet’ to scan interstellar asteroid for any sign of extraterrestrial tech‘Best equipment on the planet’ to scan interstellar asteroid for any sign of extraterrestrial tech

    Astronomers are preparing to use the largest steerable telescope on the planet to listen for radio signals from a curious interstellar interloper — the first confirmed object in our solar system from another star unlike any seen before. The reddish rock, possibly 10 times as long as it is wide, was serendipitously discovered in October by the University of Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS1 telescope, funded by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observations Program. Astronomers dubbed it ‘Oumuamua (pronounced oh MOO-uh MOO-uh), Hawaiian for “a messenger from afar arriving first.”   M. KORNMESSER / AFP / AFP/Getty Images According to NASA, the interstellar asteroid sling-shot past the Sun on Sept. 9 at a “blistering speed” of 196,000 miles per hour or 87.3 kilometres per second. Astronomers say the odds are exceedingly slim the asteroid is an abandoned spacecraft or carries an alien, interstellar probe.  However, starting at 3 pm Eastern on Wednesday, the University of California, Berkeley’s Breakthrough Listen project — a global astronomical program searching for life beyond Earth — will use the Green Bank telescope in West Virginia to check for signals of extraterrestrial technology from ‘Oumuamua across four radio bands. The first phase of observations will last 10 hours. Cosmic fire drill: NASA is using an asteroid's close flyby to test Earth's warning networkTrump wants to send man back to moon, and onward to Mars “With our equipment at Green Bank, we can detect a signal the strength of a mobile phone coming out of this object,” Yuri Milner, the Russian billionaire (along with Stephen Hawking) behind Breakthrough Listen, told Scientific American. “We don’t want to be sensational in any way and we are very realistic about the chances this is artificial, but because this is a unique situation, we think mankind can afford 10 hours of observing time using the best equipment on the planet to check a low-probability hypothesis,” Milner said. ‘Oumuamua doesn’t look like a typical asteroid (it’s cigar-shaped) and it doesn’t behave like the average one — zooming fast and passing through our solar system instead of going around and around. It’s shaped, in fact, more like an old spacecraft, and researchers say that even though it’s highly likely natural in origin (whatever that origin might be), they are also “well positioned to explore the possibility” it is one. “A cigar or needle shape is the most likely architecture for an interstellar spacecraft, since this would minimize friction and damage from interstellar gas and dust,” according to a press release from Breakthrough Listen. On Friday, it was 50 to 70 times closer to the Earth than NASA’s Voyager-1 spacecraft. “These guys who are planning to do this (tune in to ‘Oumuamua) are likely big Arthur C. Clarke fans,” said astronomer Paul Delaney, referring to the great science fiction writer whose 1973 book, Rendezvous with Rama, involves a 50 km cylindrical alien starship that enters Earth’s solar system in the 2130s. “It had nominally similar dimensions to ‘Oumuamua,” Delaney noted. According to NASA, the asteroid is up to 400 metres long and remarkably elongated, and “completely inert, without the faintest hint of dust around it.” The rock (and it’s believed to be made of rock, possibly metals, but not water or ice) “is definitely from beyond our solar system,” said Delaney, a professor of physics and astronomy at Toronto’s York University. “We’re not implying anything here with respect to artificial intelligence or extra-terrestrial life,” he said. However, “It’s on a trajectory that is well defined, moving at a speed that says it had to have entered from interstellar space. So it came from elsewhere, if you will.” There’s some speculation out there — was it targeted at our solar system? Delaney doesn’t think so. “There’s a lot of stuff flying between the stars. We eject material from planetary systems all the time, especially during formation processes,” he said. The fact that we’re now seeing an interstellar interloper for the first time is special, Delaney said, but not particularly unusual. “These things are relatively small, they’re relatively faint and unless they get really close to us, it’s easy to miss them,” he said. That said, “maybe some interstellar civilization put a radio beacon on it to signal ‘Hi, hello.’ You can think of all sorts of speculative ideas as to how this object might be used by some sort of spacefaring interstellar civilization.” He thinks that’s highly unlikely, but still worth listening for some artificial signal from the rock. The asteroid’s unusual 10-to-one dimensions are based on its huge variation in intensity in brightness as it rotates, Delaney said. “If it was created during some sort of planetary formation and flung out by its parent star, it could have been travelling for literally billions of years.” It’s not clear where ‘Oumuamua is next headed. But, at the speed that it’s moving as it exits our solar system, the travel time to another star would be on the order of tens of thousands of years, Delaney said — which is why the Green Bank telescope is unlikely to pick up signals from any sort of transmitter on the rock. “Most civilizations are probably going to perish in that time before they get a signal back.” National Post skirke@postmedia.com

    National Post / 2 h. 13 min. ago more
  • This Is the Best College Town in AmericaThis Is the Best College Town in America

    High school seniors already thinking about what college they want to attend next September might get some help from WalletHub . Evaluating wallet friendliness (e.g., student debt, cost of living), social environment (students per capita, nightlife, crime), and academic and economic opportunities (quality of education, unemployment), the site has come...

    Newser / 2 h. 14 min. ago more
  • Tinder thinks you need a timeline for your matchesTinder thinks you need a timeline for your matches

    One of the world's most popular dating apps just got a little bit creepier. Tinder announced Tuesday that it's testing out a new feature letting users see more social media content from people they match with. The "Feed" — which is being tested in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada — is an updating timeline where users can see new Instagram posts, Spotify top artists, and new profile pictures from their Tinder matches. Engadget notes that the dating app already allows users to connect their Instagram and Spotify accounts to their Tinder profiles, but this new feed takes it a step further by creating something that resembles a Facebook News Feed filled with content posted by potential romantic interests (who, let's remember, you don't actually know yet). If you don't want your matches to know about your life before you meet them, Tinder lets you manage which social media accounts and posts get linked to its feed. But once you allow it, Tinder users can interact with your social media content. As Tinder proclaims: "[G]ive Leilani a shout-out on her solid Boomerang skills, or let Zoe know the 'Best. Burger. Ever.' pic she just posted is your favorite too." Tinder missed its most recent quarterly profit estimate, but the dating app is still profitable and was recently valued at $3 billion. The "Feed" is one of several new features Tinder has rolled out this year. In June, Tinder announced the creation of a subscription service that allows paying users to see who has "liked" their profile. And two weeks ago, the company introduced a machine learning tool that uses algorithms to show users new people that it thinks they will swipe right on. Tinder has over 50 million users, and the company recently promised to "blur lines between the physical and digital world for dating." Totally not creepy!

    The Week / 2 h. 15 min. ago more
  • Neymar to miss PSG Cup tie after returning to BrazilNeymar to miss PSG Cup tie after returning to Brazil

    Paris Saint-Germain will again be without Neymar for their League Cup tie at Strasbourg on Wednesday, the club confirmed.Coach Unai Emery confirmed on Monday that the world's most expensive player had been allowed to return to his native Brazil to deal with a family matter.Neymar had already missed the 3-1 weekend win against Lille due to suspension, and Emery said on Monday that he hoped the former Barcelona star would be back in "three or four days".But PSG's confirmed squad for the last-16 tie in Strasbourg -- where they lost 2-1 in the league 10 days ago -- was missing Neymar as well as Thiago Silva, Thiago Motta, Adrien Rabiot and Layvin Kurzawa. They have won the League Cup in each of the last four seasons.Amid speculation as to the reasons behind Neymar's trip home, Brazilian website Globoesporte published social media messages accompanied by photographs which suggest he could have been at the birthday party of his friend's father and had also visited a dental clinic.On Monday, Neymar published a photo of himself on Twitter with the message: "Focus, strength and faith for the celebration of another day!!"

    France 24 / 2 h. 22 min. ago more
  • Senate passes bill to remove mention of ‘barbaric cultural practices’ from law passed by Harper ConservativesSenate passes bill to remove mention of ‘barbaric cultural practices’ from law passed by Harper Conservatives

    OTTAWA — The Senate has approved a bill that would remove mention of “barbaric cultural practices” from a law that outlaws forced marriage. Liberal Sen. Mobina Jaffer introduced the bill in December 2015, shortly after the Liberals won the federal election and less than six months after the previous Conservative government passed the so-called “Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act” into law.  In a speech introducing her bill — which does nothing more than remove the title of that law — Jaffer said the use of the term “barbaric” is “insulting to cultures in Canada.”  “Can we reasonably call terrorists barbaric? Yes. Are certain acts against humanity barbaric? Yes. Would any reasonable person agree with these points? Yes. Do I agree with these points? Yes,” she said at the time. “The issue here, frankly, is the pairing of the words ‘barbaric’ and ‘cultural.’ By pairing these two words, we are instead removing the agency from the individual committing an action that is clearly wrong and associating it instead with a cultural group at large. We are implying that these practices are part of cultures and that these cultures are barbaric.” The Conservative law, called Bill S-7 when it went through parliament, sought to address the issue of forced marriage in a few ways, including by adding polygamy as a reason to deny someone’s admission to Canada, by setting 16 as the minimum age for marriage and by creating new offences related to forced and underage marriage.  It also removed provocation by “wrongful act or insult” as a partial defence in murder cases. The legislative summary for the bill cites a 2006 case at the Ontario Court of Appeal in which a man accused of killing an allegedly unfaithful wife cited “family honour” in arguing the defence of provocation was relevant. The court disagreed and said the premise that violence against women is sometimes accepted is “antithetical” to fundamental Canadian values.  The law itself remains subject to criticism from some quarters. Just this week, during a debate on archaic elements of the Criminal Code, Green Party leader Elizabeth May noted in the Commons that Bill S-7 had made illegal, or recategorized, some things that were already illegal. “I believe that the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act belongs in the same category as banning witchcraft,” she said. (A bill going through parliament now removes pretending to practise witchcraft as a criminal offence.)  However, there is some cross-partisan consensus on the law’s title. Conservative Sen. Salma Ataullahjan agrees with Jaffer that “barbaric” is a problematic word. The short title, “in my view, is incendiary and deeply harmful, as it targets a cultural group as a whole rather than individuals who commit the specific acts,” Ataullahjan said Monday evening in the Senate.  “Through conversations with my community, I heard from most that they felt the short title was directed solely at them and that from their perspective it served only to further stigmatize and alienate them from the community at large.” Conservative MP Michelle Rempel asks a question during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa, Wednesday, March 8, 2017. This isn’t the first time a politician has taken issue with such language. When he was a backbench MP in 2011, now-prime minister Justin Trudeau made headlines for challenging the Conservative government’s use of the term in Canada’s citizenship guide, arguing the use of the term “barbaric” to describe “cultural practices” was not neutral enough. “My problem with the use of the word barbaric is that it was chosen to reassure Canadians rather than actually change unacceptable behaviours,” he said on Twitter at the time, later clarifying that, yes, he did think that “all violence against women is barbaric.”  Trudeau repeated the word again last week as he responded to a question from Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel, taking issue with the government’s decision to remove a line about the illegality of female genital mutilation from the citizenship guide. “We will continue to lead the way, pushing for an end to these barbaric practices of female genital mutilation, everywhere around the world and here in Canada,” he said.  Jaffer’s bill awaits first reading in the House of Commons. • Email: mdsmith@postmedia.com | Twitter: mariedanielles

    National Post / 2 h. 28 min. ago more
  • 61 percent of Americans want Roy Moore kicked out of the Senate if he wins61 percent of Americans want Roy Moore kicked out of the Senate if he wins

    Sixty-one percent of Americans think Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore should be kicked out of the Senate if he wins the special election on Tuesday night, a new Politico/Morning Consult poll has found. A plurality of Republicans also agree that Moore should be removed, at 45 percent, while 29 percent think he should be allowed to serve in the Senate if he beats his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones. Moore is accused of pursuing — and in one case, assaulting — teenage girls as young as 14. He has denied the claims, and been endorsed by President Trump and the Republican National Committee. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he believes Moore's accusers and that the former judge "should step aside" in the race, and other Republican senators, including Sen. Cory Gardner (Colo.) and outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), have suggested Moore should be expelled if he gets elected. The divide across the American public is noticeably tied to gender, with half of Republican women thinking the Senate should expel Moore, whereas only 39 percent of Republican men say the same. Overall, 65 percent of American women and 56 percent of American men agreed Moore should be expelled if he wins Tuesday evening. The poll surveyed 1,955 registered voters between Dec. 8-11 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 points. Read the full results at Politico.

    The Week / 2 h. 35 min. ago more
  • Foster System Was Shrinking. Then the Opioid Crisis BeganFoster System Was Shrinking. Then the Opioid Crisis Began

    Across the US, soaring use of opioids has forced tens of thousands of children from their homes, creating a generation of kids abandoned by addicted parents, orphaned because of fatal overdoses, or torn from fractured families by authorities fearful of leaving them in drug-addled chaos. "This isn't a trickle. This...

    Newser / 2 h. 35 min. ago
  • Poland's new PM says no change in govt goalsPoland's new PM says no change in govt goals

    Poland's incoming Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Tuesday delivered a policy speech that promised to maintain and expand the previous administration's focus on social welfare, while barely touching upon the issues that have put Warsaw at odds with the European Union.The Western-educated ex-banker was tapped by the governing right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party to take over as prime minister, notably to mend ties with Brussels. "The government of which I am in charge is the same, its course of action is the same and the roadmaps and values are the same. It is thus a government of continuation, which will pursue a policy of helping Polish families," Marowiecki told parliament. "Development and social issues are one and the same. A thriving economy is a requirement for pursuing a generous social policy -- as is the case now. That's why we will continue our social programmes. What's more, we will reinforce and expand them."Morawiecki will also continue as finance and development minister, his role under outgoing premier Beata Szydlo whose government introduced social reforms including child allowance, a lower retirement age and increased wages. Morawiecki, 49, outlined in broad strokes a wide spectrum of government goals, ranging from fighting smog and building roads to spending more on healthcare and improving energy security.The former bank chairman, who made a name for himself by taking on tax evasion and bolstering the welfare state, also reiterated the PiS government's opposition to "a two-speed Europe". "We don't want new divisions where some are left behind. We disagree with dividing Europe into those who are better and those who are worse," Morawiecki said in his policy speech."Dear Europe, the Polish piece fits perfectly in the European puzzle but it should not be placed the wrong way or shoved in by force. That would destroy both the whole picture and our piece too."Morawiecki only briefly mentioned the issues that have put Warsaw in conflict with the EU, including its refusal to welcome migrants and its logging in the Bialowieza Forest, Europe's last primeval woodland. He also barely touched upon the string of judicial reforms that the PiS government began introducing after coming to power in late 2015 and which the EU argues pose a "systemic threat" to the rule of law.Brussels has warned Poland that it may trigger Article Seven of the EU's treaties -- the so-called "nuclear option" that freezes voting rights -- over the judicial reforms that also sparked massive street protests and concern from the US State Department.

    France 24 / 2 h. 36 min. ago more
  • Winners of the 2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year ContestWinners of the 2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

    National Geographic has announced the winners of its annual photo competition, with the Grand Prize Winner Jayaprakash Joghee Bojan receiving a prize of $7,500 for his image of an orangutan in Borneo. National Geographic was once again kind enough to let us display the winning images and honorable mentions here from the four categories: Wildlife, Landscapes, Aerials, and Underwater.

    The Atlantic / 2 h. 42 min. ago more
  • Venezuela's ex-oil boss under investigation for graftVenezuela's ex-oil boss under investigation for graft

    Venezuela's chief prosecutor said Tuesday that he had placed former state oil company boss Rafael Ramirez under investigation for corruption. "We have decided to open a criminal investigation into citizen Rafael Ramirez," prosecutor Tarek William Saab said on state television.Ramirez led PDVSA for a decade before becoming Venezuela's ambassador to the UN, a post from which he resigned last week -- saying it was at the request of President Nicolas Maduro.Ramirez had long been seen as a target of Maduro's aggressive push to consolidate power in the run-up to next year's presidential elections in the South American country, wracked by a worsening economic crisis which has seen deadly protests and hyperinflation as well as chronic food and medicine shortages.Saab said Ramirez's cousin, Diego Salazar -- arrested on December 1 for allegedly diverting and laundering public funds -- "incriminates him as his direct partner" in operations to purchase and sell oil.Ramirez's whereabouts are unknown since standing down from his post at the UN. In interviews granted to some media outlets, from an undisclosed location, he claimed to be a victim of political persecution for his criticism of Maduro's mismanagement of the economy and denied being involved in corruption.The 54-year-old engineer headed PDVSA between 2004 and 2014, a hugely influential position that stemmed from a close relationship with late president Hugo Chavez.Ramirez loyalists have recently been arrested and removed from key posts -- including former oil minister Eulogio Del Pino and ex-PDVSA chief Nelson Martinez -- in what analysts see as an ongoing purge.They are the highest-ranking officials to be arrested in the anti-corruption moves at PDVSA, which accounts for almost all the country's income.Without specifically mentioning Ramirez, Maduro said last week that "anyone who becomes corrupt is a traitor."Oil minister Manuel Quevedo, a former general installed to replace both Del Pino and Martinez, told reporters at an OPEC meeting last week that Venezuela's oil production was being sabotaged as a prelude to a coup.Venezuela, teetering on the brink of a full-blown default on its massive debt, has the world's biggest reserves of oil.But because of endemic corruption and a chronic lack of investment, the OPEC member's oil production is falling sharply.Annual output is around 1.9 million barrels per day, having slumped more than 23 percent between January 2016 and October this year.

    France 24 / 2 h. 42 min. ago more
  • 20 Bosnian hands on one piano set new world record20 Bosnian hands on one piano set new world record

    Some were on their knees, others lay flat on their fronts, but somehow 18 Bosnia children and their two music teachers managed to play a tune on just one piano on Tuesday to create a new world record.The participants trained for three months for their joint performance of French composer Albert Lavignac's late-19th-century oddity "Galop-Marche" which he wrote originally for eight hands.The event took place in the Sarajevo City Hall, which has been restored after going up in flames during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War.Each player used one hand to play the piece. Their feat must be still be officially recognised by the Guinness World Records team but beats the record set by 18 young Italians in 2014.Tuesday's performance was by children aged 9 to 15 from Sarajevo's Croat-Muslim and Serbia communities.In a still divided country, the concert was "a message of peace, love and friendship," said music teacher Iva Pasic, who led the preparations for the performance.Today Srebrenica is a microcosm of Bosnia, with Muslims and Serbs living side by side but by no means together -- still distrustful more than two decades after the war that claimed 100,000 lives and displaced two million people.Tuesday's act of very close togetherness "was very difficult at first because everyone had to find a place around the piano," said 14-year-old Ivana Sagolj, one of the young pianists."But today, after three months of practice, I am very proud of everyone," she added.

    France 24 / 2 h. 43 min. ago more
  • Qatar to run third consecutive budget deficit in 2018Qatar to run third consecutive budget deficit in 2018

    Qatar will run a deficit of $7.7 billion in 2018, a third consecutive year in the red due to low energy prices, the finance ministry said Tuesday.The gas-rich emirate projected spending at $55.4 billion and revenues at $47.7 billion, both slightly higher than previously estimated, the ministry said in a statement.A shortfall of $7.8 billion has been predicted for this year.The ministry said it calculated oil income for next year at a conservative price of $45 a barrel, unchanged from 2017, despite a sharp rise in crude prices.In 2016, Qatar posted its first budget deficit of $12 billion after 15 years of surpluses.The deficit would be financed through the issuance of debt, said the ministry.Expenditure on major projects was projected at $25 billion next year, almost the same level as in 2017, $3 billion of which would be on World Cup 2022 projects, said the ministry.Forecasts for 2018 come at a time of crisis for Qatar, which has been diplomatically and economically boycotted by a bloc of Saudi-led countries since June.Qatar stands accused of supporting Islamist extremists and of being too close to Shiite Iran, Riyadh's arch-rival.Doha denies the allegations and has accused the Saudi-led bloc of aiming to incite regime change."Qatar continues to make great progress in cutting its budget deficit, which can be attributed to lower energy prices and high development expenditure," said Finance Minister Ali Shareef al-Emadi."The blockade has, if anything, added impetus to our economic diversification strategy."Qatar, the world's largest exporter of liquified natural gas and an oil producer, has been forced to tighten its belt following the 2014 collapse in the price of crude.In recent years Qatar has sought to reduce its reliance on hydrocarbons and its 2030 "National Vision" is to turn Qatar into a "knowledge-based economy".

    France 24 / 2 h. 44 min. ago more
  • MLB in court to block Ontario rights tribunal from hearing complaint about Chief WahooMLB in court to block Ontario rights tribunal from hearing complaint about Chief Wahoo

    Major League Baseball will be in Ontario Superior Court Wednesday, trying to prevent the province’s Human Rights Tribunal from even hearing a discrimination complaint about the Cleveland Indians’ name and logo. In documents filed with the court, the league claims that by considering the complaint, brought by Ottawa-based architect Douglas Cardinal, the tribunal is overstepping its authority, and this “fatal defect” will unfairly prejudice the case against the league. MLB says the dispute — which could have wide-ranging consequences for other sports teams that play games in Ontario, such as the Atlanta Braves and the Edmonton Eskimos — should be about trademark law, not human rights law.

    National Post / 2 h. 45 min. ago more
  • Man who promised millions to B.C. junior hockey team charged with fraud, forgeryMan who promised millions to B.C. junior hockey team charged with fraud, forgery

    A Calgary man whose highly publicized promise to donate millions of dollars to a B.C. junior hockey team has so far gone unfulfilled has been charged with fraud and forgery stemming from a celebratory banquet he held at a restaurant. In mid-October, Mike Gould, 38, announced at a pre-game ceremony his intention of donating $7.5 million to the Dynamiters hockey team in his hometown of Kimberley, B.C. The following night, he threw a banquet for the team at the Northwest Grill in nearby Cranbrook, incurring a tab of $8,000. As the National Post outlined in a story this past weekend, Gould initially presented two cheques to cover the bill. According to restaurant owner, Jolene Salanski, Gould signed one of the cheques in the restaurant and the other cheque was already signed. But Gould called the next day asking her not to cash the cheques. When she examined the cheques more closely, she discovered the cheques were under someone else’s name. She said she later learned they belonged to Gould’s stepfather and that he had not authorized the use of the cheques.  Jolene Salanski, owner of the Northwest Grill. Weeks went by before Gould finally came in and paid the $8,000 tab using cash, she said. Cranbrook RCMP Const. Katie Forgeron said Tuesday Crown counsel approved charges of fraud and forgery against Gould on Friday stemming from the restaurant incident. She said she couldn’t elaborate now that the matter is before the court. Gould said he had no comment on the charges Tuesday. Gould previously confirmed to the Post he used his stepfather’s cheques. He said the reason he asked Salanski not to cash them was because he didn’t have access to funds to give to his stepfather to cover the payment. He is scheduled to appear in provincial court on Dec. 18. The charges remain unproven. Several individuals have come forward to the Post accusing Gould of offering lavish financial gifts to friends and family and then not following through on them. Gould maintains that he has accumulated vast wealth through a lottery win, smart investments and gambling wins and that the delays are the result of banking “screw ups” and other matters out of his control. The mystery of the man who promised millions to family, friends and a B.C. minor hockey team More to come

    National Post / 2 h. 48 min. ago more
  • IIHF set to discuss Olympic bans of six Russian female ice hockey playersIIHF set to discuss Olympic bans of six Russian female ice hockey players

    The IOC Disciplinary Commission has decided to ban for life six players from the Russian national women’s ice hockey team citing violations of anti-doping regulations

    TASS / 2 h. 52 min. ago
  • Marshall Faulk Among 3 Suspended by NFL NetworkMarshall Faulk Among 3 Suspended by NFL Network

    A wrongful dismissal lawsuit has hit the sports world with some of its first high-profile sexual misconduct claims since the #MeToo movement was sparked. Jami Cantor, a wardrobe stylist fired by NFL Network in 2016, claims she was harassed by players-turned-analysts Marshall Faulk, Heath Evans, Ike Taylor, Eric Davis, Donovan...

    Newser / 2 h. 52 min. ago
  • Donald Trump seeks to dismiss sexual harassment allegations as ‘fake news’Donald Trump seeks to dismiss sexual harassment allegations as ‘fake news’

    U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday sought to discredit both the news media and some of the women who have accused him of sexual harassment, calling the allegations against him “fabricated stories” and “fake news.” “Despite thousands of hours wasted and many millions of dollars spent, the Democrats have been unable to show any collusion with Russia — so now they are moving on to the false accusations and fabricated stories of women who I don’t know and/or have never met,” Trump wrote in a tweet. “FAKE NEWS!” Despite thousands of hours wasted and many millions of dollars spent, the Democrats have been unable to show any collusion with Russia – so now they are moving on to the false accusations and fabricated stories of women who I don’t know and/or have never met. FAKE NEWS! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2017 On Monday, three women who during the 2016 presidential campaign accused Trump of previous sexual misbehaviour renewed their public push to gain attention for their stories, appearing in a joint television interview that was followed by a news conference in New York. The president’s tweet seemed to be responding to the flare-up of interest in the claims against him, which come amid the #MeToo movement that is roiling the nation and has taken down alleged sexual harassers and abusers in a wide range of industries, from entertainment to politics to media.

    National Post / 3 h. ago more
  • UK inflation hits near six-year highUK inflation hits near six-year high

    BoE will have to write to Chancellor after breaking through 2% target ceiling to reach 3.1% in November.

    Euronews / 3 h. 6 min. ago
  • How the Kim Kardashians of Yesteryear Helped Women Get the VoteHow the Kim Kardashians of Yesteryear Helped Women Get the Vote

    When there’s a charitable or political cause, there’s often a celebrity who has taken it up. Elizabeth Taylor was a tireless campaigner to fight AIDS. More recently, Mark Ruffalo has used his fame to try to stop fracking, and Angelina Jolie has advocated on behalf of refugees. Appearance matters: When well-known people attempt use their prominence for good, it can elevate a cause in a way that money or grassroots activism can’t always muster.How did it come to be natural for celebrities to lend such support? And when was it proven that a famous face could help make a movement successful? According to Johanna Neuman, a former reporter for the Los Angeles Times, it goes back to the women’s suffrage movement. In researching her recent book, Gilded Suffragists: The New York Socialites Who Fought for Women’s Right to Vote, Neuman dug through archives and discovered that the decades-long battle to pass the 19th Amendment wasn’t all Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Carrie Chapman Catt: There was also a vital assist from a generation of New York socialites who both funded the movement and lent their celebrity to the cause at a time when it needed the attention.These women were celebrities—the Kim Kardashians of their day—but are now remembered by few. I spoke with Neuman recently, and asked her how the story of these all-but-forgotten women can illuminate the relationship between traditional activists and the donors they need to accomplish their work. The conversation that follows has been edited for length and clarity.Helaine Olen: When did you realize these women were worthy of a book?Johanna Neuman: I knew immediately. They were the media celebrities of their day. They’re the wives and daughters of the Gilded Age, and what was so striking to me is that these uber-wealthy women didn’t have to do anything: Their social standing was firm, they were all listed in the Social Register. They chose to get involved in politics. They chose to leverage their social standing for political gains. And to me this made them so compelling.Olen: So if they were originally socialites, how did they get their start in the suffragist movement?Neuman: The first generation of the gilded suffragists comes around 1894, when the state of New York is considering a constitutional amendment to include women’s rights. And Susan B. Anthony comes to five women of substance and money and she asks them for a donation, so that she can fund the canvassing that’s required to produce a huge petition. And they say no. It’s not that they don’t want to give their money to the cause—it’s that they also want to give their time. It’s the moment when they come into their own. They have something to say.Olen: Why did they think they should take over the cause of longtime activists?Neuman: These women were executives. They ran staffs. They were in charge of huge mansions. They directed architects and builders and decorators. They were accustomed to running things, and when they got into suffrage, they really for the most part were not interested in joining the other organizations. They had the money and they had the experience to run their own organizations. And also they were accustomed to seeing their names in the paper and they wanted that too.The understanding that suffrage could be sold to the public had been missing from the movement. The understanding that it had to be branded and packaged like a consumer good is something they brought. It’s an understanding that appearance matters.These women were expanding the circle of people who paid attention—they were reaching out to people who were indifferent to the topic, who hadn’t considered it before. If you think about Angelina Jolie becoming a special envoy for the United Nations, for refugees, it gives that cause a spring in its step. People notice it, people take notice of it, and people get involved in it. So the book is also a meditation on celebrity endorsement.Olen: When these women, with their money and celebrity, established their presence, how much tension did this lead to in the existing movement to get women the right to vote?Neuman: “Considerable” is the only real answer, right? The movement had been peopled by middle-class, civically minded women for a long, long time. And they resented all the attention these women were getting in the press.Alva Ertskin Belmont, a wealthy socialite and a funder of the women’s suffrage movement (Corbis / Getty)Olen: This brings us to Alva Vanderbilt Belmont. If she’s remembered today at all, it’s for forcing her daughter Consuelo to marry into the British aristocracy, something few of us today would view as acceptable gender politics. But your book reveals that she was very deliberately recruited into the suffragist movement.Neuman: The head of the National Woman Suffrage Association, Anna Howard Shaw, thinks Alva could be a source of money. And so she recruits her to be a delegate to an international conference on women’s suffrage. It electrifies Alva. She has some ideas, and she uses her money, her standing, and her position.The first thing Alva does is open the gates of her summer home, Marble House, in Newport, to the public for the first time, with all proceeds benefiting the organization, and it just commands enormous attention. She gives speeches and she launches herself as a figure in the movement. She comes in at the top. And I suppose this should not surprise us. Right? Because that’s where these women were accustomed to being.But some people were very angry when Alva Belmont forced the National American Woman Suffrage Association to move its headquarters to New York from Ohio. She had the money to say, “I will pay your rent for a year. I will pay the salary of a press agent for a year.” For an organization that’s strong in numbers but often poor, this is a no-brainer. But a lot of people resented it.Olen: But she ultimately leaves the organization, right?Neuman: Yes, after a couple of years, she is frustrated by it. She is willing to give buckets of money, but she wants action and she’s tired of the plodding and the cautiousness and the infighting that's hobbling this organization. So Alva is recruited by Alice Paul, the head of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage. Alice Paul is young and more radical than the more traditional suffragists. Alva is interested in funding her, provided she gets a leadership role.Olen: You mentioned Angelina Jolie earlier. How are women like Belmont similar to today’s celebrities?Neuman: Well, I mentioned her because I thought it would help people understand that celebrity endorsement is not just a stamp, or a name, but these women, I suppose I would say, were the first to stand with the cause as political actors.What was fascinating about these women is that they were the first to not just put their money behind a political cause. Traditional philanthropy for wealthy women was to help a hospital or school. The gilded suffragists, they used their money for politics but they also stood with politics. They wanted to organize. They wanted to rally. They wanted to march in the streets.Before these women entered the political landscape, the campaign to win women the right to vote was in the doldrums. Events were not well attended. Tired conventions that attracted the same crowd every year featured familiar refrains to a chorus of the already converted.Then imagine the impact these fashionable, feminine, prominent socialites had on the debate. With their social standing, they gave cover to activists—both male and female—who wanted to join but had been reluctant to face ridicule from colleagues or neighbors. With the enormous publicity they received, they brought excitement to a campaign that had been withering.How often have celebrities today given cover to the reluctant to join a cause, or forced the press to at least give a modicum of respect to an issue? In giving their blessings to a cause that was controversial, these women ensured that suffrage would be treated seriously.Olen: So, after all this work, the 19th Amendment passes, and these women are soon forgotten, despite the fact that their money and efforts helped make it possible. Why?Neuman: I think there are two possible explanations. One is that there is a lot of score-settling by suffrage leaders who resented them and left them out of their memoirs. Carrie Chapman Catt did not mention Alva anywhere in her memoirs and Alva supported her organization for a number of years.Second, when it comes to philanthropy and philanthropists, I think it’s easy to dismiss the wealthy. Many commentators certainly did dismiss these women. They said of them that they were just indulging in suffrage as they would the latest fashion—that they didn’t take seriously. I think that is the risk of money, the risk of philanthropy. You can contribute financially to a cause and nobody really wants you to get involved. These women sort of insisted on it.

    The Atlantic / 3 h. 7 min. ago more
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  • The 10 Best Albums of 2017The 10 Best Albums of 2017

    In a year when world events seemed to push pop culture aside—or else become pop culture itself—the albums that hit most deeply for me were about individuals, not issues. Many of the picks below are autobiographies of sorts, and even the more “political” records blend their songs of social crackups with ones of personal breakups. The other albums here offer much-needed escape, whether with guitar solos, rave immersion, or, in one case, a new word game: “raindrop / drop top.”1. Kendrick Lamar, DamnTDEThe title of Damn refers in part to a divine curse, which in turn ties in with the Black Hebrew Israelite theology the Compton rapper flirts with throughout his latest masterpiece. But Lamar raps about damnation as not only a spiritual state, but also an inheritance of history, of society, and of one’s own past. The dizzying “DNA” establishes the controlling metaphor: Each person is a double helix of information and attributes, containing War and Peace and war and peace. The album then makes clear he’s not interested in drawing cute contradictions, but in drawing out truth—or rather, truths next to truths next to truths.Lamar’s message, thus, is partly about complexity itself, and his genius is in rendering that message as music. His powers as a rapper provide the ammo for his fans to persuasively claim him as king of hip-hop, and you could spend a lot of time unwinding all the double and triple entendres across the album, starting with its title. But don’t discount the music itself, which swerves from psychedelic haze to punk noise to pop glory, which features a party-presiding DJ babbling forsaken Christian catchphrases, which put Geraldo Rivera and Rihanna and Bono in conversation. Lamar’s irreducibility even extends to the meta-narrative about his career, as seen in Damn reasserting the true meaning of “no compromise” on the way to double-platinum sales. Art and commerce? Sin and grace? Nature and nurture? He’s going to reconcile it all, just as we all must do.2. The War on Drugs, A Deeper UnderstandingAtlantic RecordsGreat nostalgic entertainment presents a riddle. If you enjoy Stranger Things, is it for the memory of ’80s-era Spielberg, or is it for the way that it uses the same techniques as ’80s Spielberg to create an authentic sense of wonder? If you love The War on Drugs, is it because you remember hearing “Sultans of Swing” in a time of innocence, or because bandleader Adam Granduciel has reopened the same portal to gently rockin’ bliss last accessed in 1978?In the case of The War on Drugs, there’s no question that genuine inspiration plays a huge role. If Granduciel begins with rock history, he transforms it deeply: cleansing it of machismo and swagger, performing detail work worthy of a cathedral ceiling, expanding the runtimes to encompass meditation sessions. The results are shockingly beautiful. “In Chains” is the most reliable mood enhancer of the year, though it’s tough to name the resulting mood—does “bittersweetly embracing life’s finitude” count? And when the majestic hook breaks in halfway through “Holding On,” the marvel isn’t that it sounds like something that’s come before, but rather that it sounds like something that should have always existed.3. The Magnetic Fields, 50 Song MemoirNonesuchThe concept of Stephin Merritt’s latest album—one song for each year of his first five decades of life—would seem a perfect nightmare in the age of oversharing by Karl Ove Knausgaard and friends who Facebook Live from the supermarket. But the glum-voice ironist Merritt doesn’t “spew.” As on his other preposterous triumph, 69 Love Songs, each of these chapters are like finely crafted music boxes, distinct from the last, decorated in jewels and razors. Recognizing that a life story is more than a series of sequential events, his tale includes a devastatingly funny account of coming to atheism in childhood (“’74 No”), a magnificent tribute to drinking while thinking (“’02 Be True to Your Bar”), and a celebration of the Stonewall riots (“’69 Judy Garland”) that had no direct relation to his own biography except for making his entire romantic life allowable. Depression deeply shapes his story, but so does the joy provided by encounters with great music, which he’s paid forward in double-digit quantities.4. Migos, CultureCapitolMusicologists should be studying every bird call, machine-gun sound, and “skrrt” voiced by the Atlanta rap trio Migos, who’ve made the most purely fun album of the year. Surely there’s a mathematical brilliance at work whenever one of their goofy onomatopoeias ricochets satisfyingly off a high-hat. Or when the rapid-fire triplets from Offset get (ahem) offset by his comrade Quavo’s computerized warble. Or in the many times that they surprise the ear with fussy vocabulary (“pockets strong / wrist anemic”). Traditionalists hate Migos for leading a rap fad defined by dada brags over woozy backdrops, but in the end, Culture’s full-body trip is grounded in the classic hip-hop story. As the hook of their No. 1 hit “Bad and Boujee” says, they “came from nothing to something.” Or as Quavo puts it elsewhere with typical attention to fun vowel sounds: “Came from a Cup O’ Noodles / I fucked the game, Kama Sutra.”5. Margo Price, All American MadeThird Man RecordsAnxiety, rather than argumentation, has understandably fueled many of the protest records to emerge in year one of Donald Trump: Lana Del Rey’s twirling in the face of nukes, Vince Staples’s middle finger to the White House, and Mavis Staples’s succor to the discouraged among them. But on All American Made, the Nashville subversive Margo Price uses her sweet voice and clever-classicist sensibility for persuasive storytelling—sometimes about (don’t run) policy itself. The wage gap between men and women, big-business exploitation of small-town U.S.A., and the general American tendency to judge people by their wallets all receive takedowns defined by moral clarity and writerly compassion. She’s no lecturer, either: The one-two of “Weakness” and “A Little Pain” shows she can craft country bummers as outstanding as anyone’s, forged by a sharp understanding that heartache is always, on some level, a shared experience.6. Mount Eerie, A Crow Looked at MeP.W. Elverum & SunIt’s still not clear what, exactly, is the right time or place to listen to an album this gutting. Definitely alone, definitely somewhere quiet, which would mirror how Phil Elverum recorded it: in the room where his wife had months earlier died of cancer, with his young daughter elsewhere in the home. Speak-singing in mesmerizing rhythms and picking gingerly at his instruments, the indie musician formerly of The Microphones unloads his loss and grief in ways that both embrace and defy the opening epiphany: “Death is real. Someone’s there and then they’re not, and it’s not for singing about. It’s not for making into art.” Elverum’s serious about not getting sentimental, yet you still hear him wrestle with the impulse to find meaning in pain as nature and household junk seem to present omens from the beyond. The strange comfort of this otherwise discomforting listen is, in fact, the proof that artmaking survives everything.7. SZA, CtrlRCAI still gasp at the opening passage of Ctrl, in which Solána Imani Rowe kisses off an ex by revealing she cheated on him with his friend on Valentine’s Day. Icy, icy, icy. Amid a generation of singers drawing on hip-hop’s cadences and storytelling, SZA stands out for her inimitable rasp, her willingness to allow narrative—rather than pop conventions—to structure her songs, and, more than anything, her fearsome emotional poise. Spoken-word interludes communicate how she faces big self-doubts, but that just gives her indignation more power. “I’m sorry I’m not more ladylike, I’m sorry I don’t shave my legs at night,” she offers on the great single “Drew Barrymore,” before executing a typically assured turnaround: “I’m sorry you got karma comin’ to you.”8. Priests, Nothing Feels NaturalSister Polygon RecordsThe line “There’s no future … for you,” from the Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen,” summed up punk rock’s everlastingly negative ideology as well as anything. But so does the title of Washington D.C.’s Priests’ first full-length, an addictive and moving exercise in standing athwart everything and yelling “Stop!” As her bandmates jitter and skywrite with a vandal’s glee, Katie Alice Greer free-associates about all the ways that commerce—and even enclaves supposedly against it, such as DIY music scenes—consigns its participants to inauthenticity and compromise. Her cleverest maneuver is to read big political dynamics into small personal situations, as when her mockery of a pretentious ex culminates in a radical thought: “Who ever deserves anything anyway? What a stupid concept.”9. Kelly Lee Owens, Kelly Lee OwensSmalltown SupersoundLong ago it became clear that techno could be transcendent outside of the warehouse, its steadiness allowing for spiritual inspiration, internal focus, and really good home cleanings. Recognizing those attributes as shared between dance music and songwriter pop, the electronica newcomer Kelly Lee Owens splices luscious Cocteau Twins–influenced hymns with passages of four-on-the-floor hypnosis. The analogue sounds of bells and tabla give standouts like “Bird” or “Arthur” a homespun feel, and there’s plenty of structural and lyrical intrigue nestled within the album’s all-enveloping, pastel pulse.10. Jay-Z, 4:44Roc NationBow down to Jay-Z and Beyoncé for realizing that to save their image as pop’s royal couple they needed to both, individually, scuff it up. The rapper’s 2013 album Magna Carta Holy Grail showed late-career bloat, but 4:44 is lithe and focused, the sound of a legend drawing on his core talents to level with the listener rather than shore up his spot in the marketplace. Personal mea culpas twine with political messages here, and if not all listeners agreed that his investment portfolio (or newfound vulnerability) contained the key to black progress, he was successful, at least, in sustaining an album-length argument. He hasn’t forgotten fun, either, and some of the most excellent moments come from him play-scrapping with critics across generations. At one point he lovingly parodies the kids today for groupthink and then mocks his own peers for the same: “Y’all stop actin’ brand new / Like Tupac ain’t have a nose ring too?”

    The Atlantic / 3 h. 22 min. ago more
  • NYC Bomb Suspect Told Trump He 'Failed' on FacebookNYC Bomb Suspect Told Trump He 'Failed' on Facebook

    Before detonating a pipe bomb near Times Square Monday morning, Akayed Ullah reportedly took the time to update his Facebook status—and his message was about President Trump. The detail comes via the five-count federal complaint filed against him Tuesday (NPR posts the complaint in full here ), and USA...

    Newser / 3 h. 33 min. ago
  • Turkish, Palestinian leaders meet ahead of OIC summit to discuss Jerusalem issueTurkish, Palestinian leaders meet ahead of OIC summit to discuss Jerusalem issue

    The status of Jerusalem is one of the key problems in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict

    TASS / 3 h. 38 min. ago
  • Honest Politicians Won't Fix CorruptionHonest Politicians Won't Fix Corruption

    The good news is that much of the world is fed up with corruption. The bad news is that the way many are fighting corruption is ineffective. Too often, the remedy centers on finding and empowering an honest leader who promises to stamp out the problem. Worldwide, candidates for elected offices are running on highly personalized anti-corruption platforms, offering themselves as the solution. What countries really need, though, are smart laws that reduce the incentives and opportunities for corruption. They also need strong institutions that enforce those laws and deprive corrupt officials, and their private-sector accomplices, of impunity in their efforts to get rich at the public’s expense.But growing global impatience with corruption is visible in the proliferation of anti-corruption fighters as political candidates. Protests against corruption are massive and frequent all over the world—India, Mexico, Bulgaria, Russia, and Thailand are just some of the many countries where they’ve erupted. Citizens there and elsewhere no longer believe that corruption is inevitable or that it is futile to try to fight it.The impact of some of these popular protests has been surprising. The presidents of Guatemala and South Korea, for example, have been deposed and imprisoned. In Brazil, huge marches created the conditions for President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment.It’s gratifying to see corrupt leaders removed. But it does not follow that an honest political leader is the best antidote to corruption.Societies that bet on an honest leader to solve their problems almost always lose out. Such leaders may turn out to have integrity, or they may not. Silvio Berlusconi, Vladimir Putin, and Hugo Chávez all came to power promising to stamp out corruption. And we know how that turned out.Too often, the fight against corruption serves as a mechanism of political repression. The world’s autocrats exploit popular intolerance of venal politicians to eliminate their rivals. Vladimir Putin often accuses those who grow too influential of being corrupt and throws them in jail. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man, spent 10 years in a Siberian jail for tax evasion and theft. He was also actively funding anti-Putin politicians and their parties.Since Xi Jinping assumed the Chinese presidency in 2012, more than one million officials have been “punished,” in the government’s words, for corruption. Some have been sentenced to death. In an anti-corruption purge, Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman recently arrested hundreds of prominent Saudis, including one of the richest men in the world, Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal. (In an ironic twist, one of the princes reportedly bought his release for $1 billion.) The governments of Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela regularly use accusations of corruption to imprison their opponents. No doubt there are genuinely corrupt individuals among those imprisoned by dictators. But the real reasons for these arrests surely have more to do with politics than with alleged dishonesty.The fight against corruption does not have to be corrupt, however. In Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Uruguay, for example, the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) is supporting “public innovation laboratories” that experiment with new methods of monitoring and controlling government conduct. In Brazil, a group of data-analysis experts has used artificial intelligence techniques to monitor public officials. They focused narrowly on limiting fraud among members of congress seeking reimbursements for their travel and food expenses; after getting crowdfunding for the startup costs, they created Rosie, an Artificial Intelligence robot that analyzes the reimbursement requests of lawmakers and calculates the probability that they are justified. To no one's surprise, Rosie found that the deputies often cheated. The team gave Rosie her own Twitter account, and her followers are instantly notified if a member of congress tries to charge the government for expenses that have nothing to do with his or her work.Rosie is just one small example showing the positive trends and new possibilities in the fight against corruption—it reveals the power of a well-organized civil society combined with technological innovation and information transparency in the public sector.Indeed, it may seem too small an example in a country rife with corruption. It is easy to dismiss Rosie as a marginal effort that doesn’t really make a dent in large-scale graft. Case in point: While some deputies charged their personal expenses to the state, over the course of 15 years the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht paid $800 million dollars in bribes throughout the hemisphere and received benefits of $3.3 billion dollars from this scheme. Yet even here, there has been progress. Marcelo Odebrecht, the head of the company, has been sentenced to 19 years in prison. And members of Brazil’s congress might at least have to think harder before abusing their expense reimbursements. Rosie is watching.

    The Atlantic / 3 h. 39 min. ago more
  • Russian Ice Hockey Federation to assist players if they appeal IOC’s ban with CASRussian Ice Hockey Federation to assist players if they appeal IOC’s ban with CAS

    The Denis Oswald-led commission had carried out retests of Russian athletes’ doping samples collected at the 2014 Olympics and, as a result, already cancelled the results of 25 Russian athletes

    TASS / 3 h. 41 min. ago
  • IOC, WADA, IIHF express no doping claims regarding Russia’s men ice hockey teamIOC, WADA, IIHF express no doping claims regarding Russia’s men ice hockey team

    Earlier, the IOC announced that six more Russian athletes, namely from the Russian National Women Ice Hockey Team, had been banned for life

    TASS / 3 h. 49 min. ago
  • One Planet summit seeks funds to fight global warmingOne Planet summit seeks funds to fight global warming

    Two years after the COP 21 climate change summit, French President Emmanuel Macron hopes the One Planet summit in Paris will generate investment by wealthy countries and international companies into the fighting global warming.

    Euronews / 3 h. 52 min. ago
  • Panel Reveals Chilling Details From Camps in N. KoreaPanel Reveals Chilling Details From Camps in N. Korea

    Three international judges have been digging into conditions at North Korea's infamous labor camps , and one of them gives a damning assessment to the Washington Post : "I believe that the conditions in the [North] Korean prison camps are as terrible, or even worse, than those I saw and experienced in...

    Newser / 3 h. 52 min. ago
  • A Stunning Cinematic Trip to the Front Lines of California's WildfiresA Stunning Cinematic Trip to the Front Lines of California's Wildfires

    “I’ve been doing this for 12 years and I have never seen anything like this,” says a CAL FIRE crew member as he fights the Blue Cut fire in Los Angeles. “This is crazy fire behavior. Unbelievable.” Netflix’s docu-series Fire Chasers embeds with firefighters at the front lines of the wildfires that continue to decimate California. In the video above, the crew fights a fast-moving fire that burned 60,000 acres in less than a day. While their cameras bore witness, cinematographer Steve Holleran and his film crew were trapped as this particular fire “basically just blew up and split around us, and cut us off from being able to leave,” Holleran told The Atlantic. “We'd been told this was a safe zone. It all happened really fast. We went from shooting what appeared to be a normal fire event to a really dangerous one in a matter of a minute.” According to Holleran, the crew was trapped for half an hour, encircled by scorching plumes of smoke and 100-foot flames. “That was our most dangerous moment on the show, for sure,” he said. Watch the full episode streaming on Netflix.

    The Atlantic / 3 h. 56 min. ago more
  • Ex-US Army deserter to North Korea diesEx-US Army deserter to North Korea dies

    He called his desertion a mistake that led him to spend most of his life captive in the isolated Communist state.

    Euronews / 4 h. 1 min. ago
  • Catalonia braced for violence as Spanish judge orders seizure of medieval treasuresCatalonia braced for violence as Spanish judge orders seizure of medieval treasures

    For more than two decades, the medieval treasures of Spain’s Sijena convent have been at the centre of an ownership battle between the autonomous communities of Catalonia and Aragon. Now, the 44 artefacts kept in Catalonia’s Museum of Lleida have become a flashpoint in the independence crisis, as Aragon takes advantage of direct rule to retrieve the pieces it says were illegally sold by Sijena’s nuns. On Monday the town of Lleida was braced for a stand-off between police ordered to remove the artefacts and pro-independence Catalans who have vowed to come to their defence. With the Catalan government dissolved, Spain’s culture minister stepped into the dispute, signing a judicial order for the return of the treasures, with a midnight on Sunday deadline. Last-minute challenges have been launched by local authorities and the museum, arguing that the case is still under appeal and the fragile treasures would suffer if they were then ordered back to Catalonia.

    National Post / 4 h. 1 min. ago more
  • Roy Moore rode his horse Sassy to go vote todayRoy Moore rode his horse Sassy to go vote today

    Sassy and Roy Moore arrived in Gallant, Alabama, on Tuesday to vote in the state's special election. Moore was voting, anyway; Sassy is a horse: Here is Roy Moore arriving to vote on horseback. pic.twitter.com/nwtWPFGfsI — Steve Kopack (@SteveKopack) December 12, 2017 It is not the first time the former judge has opted for a zero emission ride to the polls — he also cast his vote via horseback in September during the GOP runoff election, although that time he was on his other horse, Sundance. Moore has ridden Sassy to vote before too, though, so you might say this wasn't exactly her first rodeo. If elected, Moore — who stands accused of pursuing teenage girls as young as 14 — will presumably join the Capitol Hill riding club, which includes Vice President Mike Pence, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt (R), Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Then again, Moore might not exactly be the type to ride in polite single-file: The Moores just voted and left the polls on horseback. “She is a polite rider,” Roy Moore says of his wife. “I am not. If you get in the way you will get run over.” I moved. pic.twitter.com/vQtd45hDUm — Josh Jamerson (@joshjame) December 12, 2017 Enjoy another look at Sassy, from afar. Roy Moore arrives to vote in today’s Alabama Senate special election, riding his horse to a polling place in Gallant, Alabama https://t.co/eK8Vu9k5R2 pic.twitter.com/wxl0A0stXp — CNN (@CNN) December 12, 2017

    The Week / 4 h. 2 min. ago more
  • The Company Working to Make Dance More InclusiveThe Company Working to Make Dance More Inclusive

    A few minutes into Alex Tetley’s 2008 dance “To Color Me Different,” two performers move quickly across the stage—the man gliding in reverse, the wheels of his chair in profile, and the woman sliding into a backward roll. She turns like a wheel, he rotates his chair’s wheel alongside her, and, just like that, a simile merges with reality. The moment is a brief respite in this fraught duet, in which the dancers wrestle through an explosive intimacy, alternately yielding to their attraction and pushing apart in frustration. At one point, the man in the wheelchair pulls his partner into his lap. At another, she slowly flips his chair on its side so that he comes to rest on the floor, braced on one arm, under which she slides. The chair’s wheel spins in air.“To Color Me Different” is just one work that illustrates the creative possibilities of physically integrated dance—an approach where performers with and without disabilities perform side by side. The dancers who brought the piece to life, Rodney Bell and Shonsherée Giles, belonged to a group that wants to both fulfill and upend expectations about what the art form can be. AXIS Dance Company, which opened its 30th season this fall, is one of the oldest and most prominent physically integrated dance company in the United States. Based in Oakland, California, AXIS tours nationally and internationally, commissions work from well-known contemporary choreographers, and has appeared several times on the Fox reality-competition show So You Think You Can Dance. But over the last two years in particular, AXIS has leapt forward into even more rigorous artistry, and into broader advocacy that makes inclusivity in dance more readily visible.It’s worth first establishing that AXIS operates within a society that, at least on a mainstream level, isn’t particularly comfortable with the subject of disability. Despite the 1990 passage of the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act, which in part improves access for and prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, challenges remain. Many older buildings still haven’t been updated to comply with current accessibility standards, leaving people who use wheelchairs unable to enter or forced to rely on help from strangers. Culturally speaking, disability is often ignored, ridiculed, or fetishized as motivation for able-bodied people, who can unthinkingly contribute to the problem in smaller ways (for example, “helping” by pushing someone’s wheelchair without asking, or feeling a right to know how someone became disabled). And yet disability cuts across all other identities, including race, gender, sexuality, and class. Though few want to acknowledge it, disability affects most people at some point in their lives, whether through injury, genetics, illness, or age.AXIS’s co-founder Judith Smith was forced to confront this fact when she suffered a car accident in 1977, at age 17; she has been using a wheelchair ever since. As a former champion equestrienne, Smith mourned the loss of her physically active lifestyle until she was introduced to improvisation (spontaneously creating movement) by one of her personal-care assistants, an experience she called life-changing. “It helped me reinhabit my body, and to use my wheelchair in ways that weren’t just about getting from point A to point B,” Smith said, recalling that at first, “I just didn’t know how to relate to the body I was in.” Smith eventually discovered martial arts, and during a class she met the dancer Thais Mazur, who was leading a writing and movement workshop for women with disabilities. The two founded AXIS soon after in 1987, creating a dance that the company performed a year later at a festival. After that, offers to perform and create kept coming.But making the case for a serious art form for dancers who use wheelchairs meant a lot of advocacy. (While its performing roster typically includes those with physical conditions such as spinal-cord injuries or amputations, AXIS advocates inclusion for people with all kinds of disabilities.) “The first 10 years we spent just trying to convince people in the bigger dance world, the funding world, that what we were doing wasn’t ‘just therapy,’” Smith told me. “We really wanted to be taken seriously as a dance company.” Getting influential people to see performances was key. An early supporter was Jeremy Alliger, the founder of the Dance Umbrella, a Boston-based presenting organization that was active from 1981 to 2001. After seeing AXIS perform, Alliger was so drawn to integrated dance that he presented and co-curated with AXIS the first ever International Festival of Wheelchair Dance in Boston in 1997. Alliger later helped the company commission its first outside choreographer, marking the start of an impressive repertory.Today, AXIS’s work is fairly well known within the field of contemporary dance. It is less visible, however, to the general public for many reasons. One is that touring a physically integrated dance company presents a constellation of challenges. There’s the difficulty of travel itself, as well as accommodation issues in theaters; accessibility is often limited to audience areas because the stages weren’t designed with disabled performers in mind. Smith has spoken about one engagement where dancers had to be lifted onto an outdoor stage by cattle truck.David DeSilva / AXIS Dance CompanyBecause of its stature and resources, AXIS is better equipped than smaller mixed-ability companies or individual aspiring artists are to reduce barriers for performers with disabilities. The company has offered training for dancers with disabilities since soon after it started—a rare opportunity for those seeking to perform and create at a professional level. Because there are so few training opportunities around the country, the average ballet-studio owner is unlikely to know what to do for a dancer who wheels across the threshold.Veteran dancers with disabilities today tell stories of joining mainstream classes and figuring out for themselves how best to participate. A dancer in a wheelchair may choose to participate in a ballet class by focusing on port de bras (movement of the arms) and the carriage of the upper body, for example, or by performing exercises with their arms and hands that able-bodied dancers typically perform with their legs and feet. A dancer with cerebral palsy may also uncover unexpected strengths in a dance class, such as enhanced flexibility. While some dance teachers may be open to experimentation to accommodate disabled students, I’ve learned through interviews with several experts in the field that many are not. With this in mind, AXIS trains instructors on the basics of working with students with disabilities so they “don’t run screaming out the back door when somebody wheels into class,” Smith said.AXIS also considers performance and artistry to be priorities. As Jennifer Kareliusson, the acting director for the National Endowment for the Arts, told me in an email, “They provide important services to the field and have a strong education mandate, but they also make good work.” By the mid ’90s, Smith and others in the company were getting restless with making their own dances and wanted to recruit some professional choreographers. “I started realizing that we were just recycling the same piece, putting it to different music and calling it something else,” she said. (Mazur was not interested in commissioning and left the company in 1997.) The pivotal moment came when Smith convinced several well-known contemporary choreographers, among them Bill T. Jones, Joe Goode, and Sonya Delwaide, to set work on AXIS dancers during the 1999–2000 season.In 1994, Jones had come under fire from The New Yorker’s dance critic, Arlene Croce, for his piece Still/Here; the work explored what it is like to live with a life-threatening illness, informed by Jones’s own HIV diagnosis. Writing for the magazine, Croce dismissed the work as “victim art” and refused to see it. When Jones agreed to choreograph for AXIS, Smith recalled, he said to the dancers, “I’m really intimidated, and because of who I am, and because of who you are, we cannot fail. We have to make a good work.” She laughed, adding, “Our first thought was, You’re intimidated?!” But she said the process proved meaningful for everyone involved, and the resulting piece, Fantasy in C Major (2000), was as artistically rigorous AXIS had hoped. In a 2004 talk given at Princeton University, Jones described Fantasy in C Major as a formal work, set to the music of Schubert, for seven dancers: four in wheelchairs and three not. He discussed what he had learned from working with AXIS: I learned that we shared the determination of not making works built around our otherness. I learned that I had to rethink my notions of synchronicity, gesture, and athleticism as I attempted to find a shared movement vocabulary. I learned that there were times when it was right that people were separated around their abilities and I learned to look for those unexpected opportunities when they could be joined. As Jones notes, working with mixed-ability dancers forces choreographers out of their creative comfort zones in productive ways. “We give them a whole different palette to work with, movement they’ve never been able to experience,” Smith told me. On being asked for a commission for AXIS in 1999, the San Francisco–based choreographer Goode had mixed feelings. “My initial response was one of consternation and fear,” he told me. “I thought, ‘Oh boy, I work with able-bodied dancers who leap and fall and are fearless and are paragons of athleticism. What is it going to be like, and do I have the skills required to work with people in wheelchairs?’” It turned out he did: Since his first piece with the company, Jane Eyre, Goode has made several more works for AXIS, most recently 2015’s To Go Again, which draws on the experiences of U.S. veterans.In the spring, AXIS hired the Australian choreographer Marc Brew as its artistic director so that Smith could devote more time to advocacy. Well known in the U.K. for his work in physically integrated dance, Brew said he hopes to create more training opportunities for performers and to boost the production values of AXIS’s work. “One of the reasons I was hired was to raise the bar for the company,” he told me. “I really want AXIS to be on an international platform, on the main stages.”Another moment from Radical Impact (AXIS Dance Company)But there are other factors that can complicate how AXIS dancers are perceived by audiences. Any mixed-ability company must consider the problem of “inspiration porn”—the pernicious practice of using those with disabilities purely as foils for the able-bodied. For years AXIS tried to leave the word inspiration out of its vocabulary. “And then I finally just said, ‘Oh to hell with it. Let’s just reown it.’ I mean, we all need inspiration. I need inspiration,” Smith told me. At the same time, she acknowledges the trickiness of the subject: “You want people to be inspired because you’re doing good work, not because you got out of bed in the morning.” The company’s approach to public engagement ultimately involves combatting misconceptions about disability. Familiarity is key. At first people might think, “That woman with a half an arm is scary! Oh my god, I’m not supposed to look at that guy in a wheelchair,” Smith said. “But when they have time to stare, we begin to become ‘normal’ in a way that we weren’t ‘normal’ before.”For the last several years, Smith has broadened the scope of advocacy efforts for physically integrated dance across the U.S. Amy Fitterer, the executive director of the advocacy group Dance/USA, told me, “The physically integrated dance community hasn’t been as well networked as it could be,” but she applauded Smith for activating those connections. For example, AXIS won major funding to bring leaders in the field together for the 2016 National Convening on the Future of Physically Integrated Dance in the U.S.A. (other regional events around the country followed). In a statement at the national meeting, the choreographer and UCLA professor Victoria Marks summed up the field’s growth and trajectory: “In the past, physically integrated dance served as a community-building project, but it now presents the possibility of changing the very way we think about bodies.”Western concert dance has long celebrated and policed the body, often ruthlessly, narrowing the range of what kinds of bodies ought to be elevated. But physically integrated dance embodies inclusion in action. Watching a piece performed by mixed-ability dancers can, as Marks noted, compel an audience to reevaluate their understanding of the art form and of who dancers are. For Smith, the work of AXIS and groups like it illustrates the power of collaboration: “Because we are a company of such diverse bodies, the movement possibilities are radically expanded; they’re not reduced.”

    The Atlantic / 4 h. 7 min. ago more
  • Elizabeth Warren blasts Trump's attack on Kirsten Gillibrand, misuses the phrase 'slut-shame'Elizabeth Warren blasts Trump's attack on Kirsten Gillibrand, misuses the phrase 'slut-shame'

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) came to the defense of her colleague Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday after President Trump tweeted that Gillibrand "begged" and "would do anything for" campaign donations. Are you really trying to bully, intimidate and slut-shame @SenGillibrand? Do you know who you're picking a fight with? Good luck with that, @realDonaldTrump. Nevertheless, #shepersisted. https://t.co/mYJtBZfxiu — Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) December 12, 2017 Trump's online attack on Gillibrand came one day after the New York senator called for the president to resign over the numerous allegations of sexual assault made against him. Gillibrand and Warren (whom Trump delights in calling "Pocahontas") have both been vocal critics of the president. Political commentators consider both women to be potential frontrunners for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. There is however, one potential problem with Warren's defense of Gillibrand. The president's original tweet was criticized for its sexist implications, but Slate's Christina Cauterucci points out that Warren may have misinterpreted the meaning of "slut-shaming" in her tweet. unless Warren is insinuating that Gillibrand really does do what Trump suggested she does (and that she shouldn't be ashamed of it), "slut-shame" is really not the right term here https://t.co/DI4JoOCUMz — Christina Cauterucci (@c_cauterucci) December 12, 2017

    The Week / 4 h. 9 min. ago more
  • Scientists want to develop drugs to reverse fetal alcohol syndrome — but will it reduce prevention efforts?Scientists want to develop drugs to reverse fetal alcohol syndrome — but will it reduce prevention efforts?

    Researchers are developing new drugs that aim to lessen or even reverse the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome, but some scientists are skeptical about the claims, and worry that more medication could detract from prevention efforts. It’s estimated that at least one per cent of the population suffers from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) — permanent brain damage from prenatal alcohol exposure — although many experts consider this a low estimate. (Canada’s first population-based prevalence study is set to be published early next year.) Children with FASD often have a range of disabilities, including learning and behavioural problems. While there are different ways of managing symptoms — no single treatment exists for the debilitating disorder. But researchers are working on it. A study published in November found lithium could treat sleep disruption and memory loss in mice, both common symptoms associated with FASD. And earlier this year, researchers found that giving baby rats exposed to alcohol in utero a combination of two drugs reversed their memory and learning deficits. Researchers hope to eventually develop medications that women could take during their pregnancy, or give to their newborn child, to lessen or even reverse the impacts alcohol had on the developing fetus.  Not everyone thinks this is a good thing. Dr. James Reynolds, a professor of biomedical and molecular sciences at Queen’s University who researches FASD, said that while drug research is important, there’s concern that it could downplay prevention efforts. “(Drug development) shouldn’t distract in any way from efforts in prevention,” he said. “There is no substitute for prevention because we know that drugs are rarely curative.” But Dr. Eva Redei thinks science is coming close to a breakthrough. The FASD researcher at Northwestern University in Illinois said the need to advance drugs to treat and ideally reverse the disorder is absolutely essential. “This isn’t a replacement for prevention but unfortunately prevention doesn’t work because despite all of the efforts people will continue to drink during pregnancy,” she said. “I am confident that in a few years there will definitely be a treatment.” Her team is waiting on funding to start a clinical trial to test two drugs they believe could reverse the effects of FASD after birth. Redei said the idea isn’t to encourage people to drink during pregnancy and think they can reverse it with a simple pill. Instead, the real intention is to help women who suffer from addiction or who drink in their first trimester before knowing they’re pregnant. While Reynolds agreed that prevention will probably never be 100 per cent effective, he hesitated at the idea of a drug that will reverse FASD. He cautioned that scientists still don’t understand exactly what alcohol does to a developing child. “I am personally quite skeptical that we’ll find one mechanism that alcohol targets to affect the developing brain, so the idea of a drug that targets one key process doesn’t seem realistic,” he said. “It might be beneficial to individuals with FASD if there was a drug to allow them to have better cognitive function, but it’s unlikely it would ever restore them to quote unquote normal function.” Another issue is that most children with FASD are already on several medications. Reynolds said people with FASD are one of the most “highly over-medicated groups,” and said other forms of treatment with proven benefits (such as exercise and physical therapy) are just as important. He believes many families would welcome non-pharmacological treatments. Tracy Moisan has two adopted sons with FASD. Both of her sons take several medications for their symptoms, but it’s a decision she still struggles with. Tracy Moisan is the mother of two adopted sons, both with FASD. Her eldest son is 12 and takes four medications every day — each one targets a different symptom. Her younger son is six, and takes two medications daily. “Even with the best guidance you don’t know how your child is going to respond to medication so you’re really playing trial and error which, as a parent, is extremely difficult,” she said. “Our kids are on medication because we feel they need to be, but (my husband and I) struggle with this decision all the time and constantly question ourselves.” Moisan said the topic of medication is passionately debated within the FASD community. “Medication is part of the picture but I don’t see something being developed that will actually reverse FASD,” she said. “I don’t know any parent where drugs is the only strategy they’re employing.” Whether medication would be accessible to those in need is also an issue. There’s a culture of “blame and shame” when it comes to FASD, which could prevent women from asking their physician for medication. Women suffering from addiction might not even have access to a doctor. For Moisan, prevention is still a huge piece of the puzzle, but she believes the tone around it needs to change. Her sons’ biological mother grew up in foster care and has a history of addiction and trauma. Moisan thinks it’s wrong to say she made a choice to drink. “I think our prevention efforts really focus on telling women they shouldn’t have a drink if they’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant, but that’s only half the piece,” she said. “Talking about FASD as entirely preventable drastically oversimplifies it and doesn’t get to the deeper issues. We can’t frame this as just a choice.” Reynolds cautions that parents shouldn’t have false hope about a pill that could reverse the effects of FASD. But he says drug studies are still important because they give us more insight into a complex disorder. “(These drug studies) give us more clues about why and how alcohol damages the developing brain, and any information that helps us better understand this is valuable in and of itself.”

    National Post / 4 h. 16 min. ago more
  • Senior Russian diplomat, EU envoy discuss Iran nuclear dealSenior Russian diplomat, EU envoy discuss Iran nuclear deal

    On July 14, 2015, Iran and the P5+1 reached an agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program

    TASS / 4 h. 20 min. ago
  • The United States Is Already a Low-Tax CountryThe United States Is Already a Low-Tax Country

    The United States is a low-tax country.This is not a widely accepted point, granted. The share of Americans who say that their taxes are too high is at roughly 50 percent, a 15-year peak. Moreover, Republicans have sold their tax bill as an essential tax cut for America’s income-starved, tax-strangled families and businesses, promising to deliver $4,000 a year to the average family and huge boosts to corporate investment. “Today, America has one of the least competitive tax rates on planet Earth, 60 percent. Think of that, 60 percent higher than the average in the developed world. So our taxes are 60 percent higher,” President Trump said this month. “These massive tax cuts will be rocket fuel.”But much of this rhetoric is incorrect. The United States is a low-tax country and is about to become a lower-tax country, assuming the Republicans manage to pass their $1.5 trillion in cuts. It is also a low-benefit country and is about to become a lower-benefit country, if Republicans can move forward with their long-planned cuts to safety-net and social-insurance programs. And it is becoming a lower-tax, lower-benefit country at a time when the economy needs more support for poor and middle-class families—not less.Data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development clearly shows that the United States is not a particularly heavily taxed country at all. Indeed, out of 35 developed economies, the United States’ tax burden as a share of GDP—26 percent—is the lowest save for four others: Turkey, Ireland, Chile, and Mexico. (Turkey, Mexico, and Chile are considerably poorer than the United States, and have considerably younger populations.) The social democracies of northern Europe, like Denmark and France, take in nearly 50 percent of their GDPs and spend the money on ample welfare states, including child-care benefits and old-age pensions. “From a global perspective, [our tax rate is lower] than average,” said Scott Hodge, the president of the Tax Foundation, a Washington-based think tank. “The difference is that other countries tend to have a value-added tax, in addition to the same system we have with income taxes, payroll, and all that stuff.”Moreover, Trump has insisted that the United States has an extremely high corporate-tax burden, one that forces businesses to keep money overseas and hurts jobs and income growth here at home. He is correct that the United States has very high statutory tax rates on corporate incomes, with a top rate of 39 percent on business’ profits. But the American corporate tax code is also full of exceptions, special provisions, and loopholes that companies use to reduce their tax bills. Factoring in deductions, credits, and so on, the effective corporate tax rate is about 19 percent—lower than the top marginal rate that Republicans would put in place. The OECD has found that the United States is about average when it comes to hitting companies with income taxes.Nor is the United States’ tax burden especially heavy now when compared with the country’s recent history. The measure of federal income as a share of GDP has waxed and waned around the same narrow band—15 to 20 percent, give or take—since the end of World War II, while nearly all other developed economies have chosen to increase tax revenue as a share of GDP to build bigger, stronger welfare states. Nor are taxes on America’s wealthy heavier than they have been historically. As noted by the economist Gabriel Zucman, the United States’ marginal tax rates on its top earners are similar to those in the 1920s, though the government is three times bigger now than it was then. Indeed, the top federal income tax rate has generally been far higher than it is right now: 92 percent in the 1950s, 70 percent in the 1970s and 1980s. Under the Senate proposal, the top rate would be set at 38.5 percent, higher than it was after the George W. Bush tax cuts but lower than at most other times since World War II.All in all, the Republican plan cuts taxes, driving the bulk of benefits to businesses and wealthy families, with negligible effects for most lower-income and middle-class families a few years out. As a result, taxes as a share of GDP would fall. Current law and government forecasts suggest that government revenues would be 18 percent of GDP in 2020. Under the Senate bill, they would be just 16.7 percent after accounting for the slightly bolstered growth the legislation would generate—with the government taking in $245 billion less in tax revenue than current law would have it in that one year alone.Those big tax cuts are paving the way for big spending cuts. Because it would increase the deficit so much, the Senate tax bill would trigger automatic budget reductions that would pull $25 billion from Medicare, $14 billion in farm aid, and $2 billion in block-grant money for community-development initiatives in 2018 alone, along with a number of other smaller cuts, were Congress not to act. Budget experts predict that some number of programs might get zeroed out entirely. Then, there are the sweeping changes that Republicans are planning to make to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the remainder of the safety net, including the welfare program and food stamps. “You cannot get the national debt under control, you cannot get that deficit under control, if you don’t do both—grow the economy, cut spending,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said this month at a town hall in Virginia.The overall effect would be to make government far less redistributive, meaning post-tax, post-transfer inequality would become even more severe. Indeed, a new analysis by the Tax Policy Center found that most working families would end up with less money in pocket as a result of the Republican plans. “If you consider plausible ways of financing either the House or the Senate bill, most low- and middle-income households would eventually end up worse off than if the bill did not become law,” writes William Gale, the co-director of the TPC. “In other words, they would lose more from inevitable future spending cuts or tax hikes necessary to eventually offset the costs of the tax bill than they would gain from the tax cuts themselves.”This would happen at a time when the country’s population is aging, requiring bigger outlays for government health and income-security programs. “We’re on the hook for a lot more spending in the years to come,” said Len Burman, an economist at the TPC and a professor at Syracuse. “It makes some sense to fund that rising spending obligation with a [value-added tax on goods]. But Republicans won’t even consider it.” It would also happen at a time when economic growth has failed to raise wages and earnings for millions and millions of working families, due to the forces of globalization, technological change, and the decline of unions, among other trends. Indeed, government programs—especially initiatives like the Earned Income Tax Credit—have become more and more important at reducing poverty and supporting families hit by shuttered factories, closing mills, and stagnant wages. The Republican plan would do little to cut taxes on those families, but would cut programs that aid them.The result would be not just a lower-tax and lower-benefit country, but a more unequal one, and one more vulnerable to the forces suppressing incomes and reducing mobility for working families. The result would be not a vastly bigger, stronger economy, but one more tilted towards the rich. Trump describes his tax-cut plan as “rocket fuel,” but not everyone will be on his rocket.

    The Atlantic / 4 h. 20 min. ago more
  • The Wasp That Paints Its Nursery In BacteriaThe Wasp That Paints Its Nursery In Bacteria

    The moment of birth is the moment we transform from an individual into an entire world. We leave the sterility of the womb, pass through a mother’s vagina, and become lathered in her microbes, taking them into our skin, our mouths, our guts. We begin our life as we will always live it: as a community of trillions, enclosed within a single body.Microbes help their hosts to build their bodies, digest food, and defend against disease, so animals have evolved a multitude of ways for bestowing these tiny partners onto their offspring. Many insects do so at the earliest possible opportunity, adding bacteria directly to egg cells, so that their young are accompanied by microbes from conception. There is literally no part of their life cycle where they are sterile. Others do so in the womb. The tsetse fly, which spreads sleeping sickness, nourishes its grub inside a bizarrely mammalian uterus and feeds it with a milklike fluid—one that’s laden with microbes.Yet other species have ways of provisioning their young as they greet the world. Humans do so automatically. The Japanese stinkbug coats her jelly-bean-like eggs in a bacteria-rich icing so the hatchlings become colonized when they emerge. Koala moms package the bacteria that allow them to digest tough and toxic eucalyptus leaves into a special kind of poop called pap for their joeys to ingest.And perhaps the strangest technique is used by the beewolf—a powerful, bee-killing wasp that daubs the walls of her infant’s nursery with a living plaster that she squeezes out of her own head. You can learn more about its bizarre life, and the scientist who studies it, in the video below—the third in a series of online films produced by HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, which adapt the stories in my book, I Contain Multitudes.

    The Atlantic / 4 h. 26 min. ago more
  • Russian de-miners return from SyriaRussian de-miners return from Syria

    Vladimir Putin on December 11 issued order to pull out the Russian military group from Syria

    TASS / 4 h. 44 min. ago
  • Fatal motorcycle accidents ‘more likely on nights with a full moon,’ study stuggestsFatal motorcycle accidents ‘more likely on nights with a full moon,’ study stuggests

    People are more likely to die in fatal road accidents on nights with a full moon, a study reveals. Researchers believe the glowing allure of the once-monthly spectacle distracts motorists for crucial seconds and may also prompt them to drive faster. The study analyzed fatal motorcycle collisions which took place over a 30-year period in the U.K, United States, Canada and Australia, comparing the number occurring on the night of a full moon to nights one week before and one week after. The study, published in the British Medical Journal, found the risk of death from driving was around 5 per cent higher during a full moon. The added danger was significantly higher – 27 per cent – during a supermoon, which occurs when the distance between the satellite and the Earth is about 13 per cent less than normal, making the object appear larger and brighter. Supermoon photo taken Sunday December 3, 2017. Supermoons take place roughly five times a year. “A full moon is infrequent and spectacular, thereby creating a natural distraction,” the authors wrote. “It can appear abruptly to a motorcyclist, such as when riding around buildings, through turns, past trees, and over hills. A full moon also creates optical illusions that engender wonderment and tends to rise above the horizon in the night hours exactly at the time motorcycle crashes generally predominate.” The scientists at the University of Toronto and Princeton University noted previous research indicating that the three factors most likely to distract attention are an object of large size, brightness and an abrupt onset, all characteristics of a full moon. “Beyond these, a full moon might contribute to increased outdoor activity of all types, including more frequent travel, faster speeds, longer distances, unfamiliar routes, added cross traffic, and mixtures of less experienced travellers,” they said. In folklore, full moons have been associated with insanity, but despite a plethora of studies no reliably consistent parallels have been drawn. However, a study in the BMJ 17 years ago did indicate that dog bites in the U.K. are more common during a full moon.

    National Post / 4 h. 51 min. ago more
  • Ready, Steady, Grow: Siberian scientists design ‘controlled-release’ fertilizersReady, Steady, Grow: Siberian scientists design ‘controlled-release’ fertilizers

    Researchers have developed fertilizers, which decompose in the soil far slower than traditional ones

    TASS / 4 h. 51 min. ago
  • Moscow’s renowned Pushkin Museum teams up with US galleries, says directorMoscow’s renowned Pushkin Museum teams up with US galleries, says director

    Moscow’s famous Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts signs agreements with major US museums, such as the Getty Center and LACMA

    TASS / 4 h. 55 min. ago
  • COP 21 two years onCOP 21 two years on

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    Euronews / 5 h. 18 min. ago
  • What galloping cockroaches can teach the robots of the futureWhat galloping cockroaches can teach the robots of the future

    As if giant cockroaches weren't freaky enough already, new research shows the insects have learned how to gallop. A study published in Frontiers in Zoology found that giant cockroaches can increase their velocity and lateral mobility when they run in a rolling gait, similar to a horse's gallop, rather than keeping three legs on the ground at all times in alternating steps, which is commonly referred to as the "tripod gait." While this new revelation is perhaps slightly horrifying for anyone suffering from insectophobia, Tom Weihmann, a professor at the University of Cologne in Germany and a coauthor on the study, says it may actually help robots learn to run more effectively. Scientists concluded long ago that everyone's least favorite insect has a limited capacity for elastic energy storage in their legs. In layman's terms, their legs aren't very flexible, and most cockroaches don't have the bounce capacity of LeBron James (phew). But somehow, cockroaches figured out that if they gallop sequentially with six legs and keep their legs from coming too far off of the ground, they get a lot faster and lot more agile. The study notes that the high-speed gallop "has not been described before for terrestrial arthropods." But why are cockroaches galloping in the first place? Researchers say they're sometimes making "escape runs," and other times they gallop slowly on slippery surfaces to maintain stability. Weihmann believes our robots could learn a thing or two from the bug's unique running style. "Adapting the coordination patterns of robot legs to those of fast-running cockroaches can help the robot use energy more efficiently and hence increase its endurance in an inhospitable environment," he says. Read the entire study at Frontiers in Zoology.

    The Week / 5 h. 20 min. ago more
  • The White House claims these 2 dubious 'eyewitnesses' prove Trump didn't harass womenThe White House claims these 2 dubious 'eyewitnesses' prove Trump didn't harass women

    President Trump and the White House have vehemently denied renewed accusations of Trump's sexual misconduct, with Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders telling reporters Monday that "the president has denied [all] of these allegations, as have eyewitnesses." How, exactly, eyewitnesses can confirm that something didn't happen has been a bit of a head-scratcher, though: #SarahSanders: I didn't know a witness could testify to seeing what didn't happen. — Nora Sheffield (@LNoraSheffield) December 12, 2017 Nevertheless, Sanders promised reporters Monday: "In terms of the specific eyewitness accounts … there have been multiple reports, and I'd be happy to provide them to you after the briefing has completed." While Sanders hasn't delivered a list just yet, the White House is known to have eyewitnesses — two, for at least 13 separate allegations. Jessica Leeds claimed Trump groped her on an airplane, but a man named Anthony Gilberthorpe said he was also on the plane and that "Leeds was the aggressor," The Washington Post writes. There are questions surrounding Gilberthorpe's claim, though, as he "has a history of making unproven claims, including that he had once regularly provided underage boys to members of Britain's Parliament for sex parties." In another case, Natasha Stoynoff claims Trump forcibly kissed her at Mar-a-Lago, and The Washington Post reports that five people heard her story around the time of the alleged event. While the White House did not technically present an eyewitness rebuttal, "a longtime family butler who came into the room after the incident said that nothing seemed unusual." Review The Washington Post's entire tally of allegations and eyewitness rebuttals here.

    The Week / 5 h. 27 min. ago more
  • Europe's gas prices soar as Austria blast adds to supply fearsEurope's gas prices soar as Austria blast adds to supply fears

    Italy declares a state of emergency for energy amid concern in Europe that winter gas supplies may be disrupted.

    Euronews / 5 h. 32 min. ago
  • Amnesty International report on Libya sounds alarm in BrusselsAmnesty International report on Libya sounds alarm in Brussels

    EU officials and elected representatives scramble to damage control after accusations of governmental "collusion" with criminals and people traffickers.

    Euronews / 5 h. 33 min. ago
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    Prisoner exchanges in the all-for-all format is one of the key provisions of the Minsk peace deal

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  • The Christmas-Tree Shortage Could Last for YearsThe Christmas-Tree Shortage Could Last for Years

    True for all of those in his line of work, the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving were Casey Grogan’s busiest time of year. Earlier in November, he harvested 70,000 Noble and Nordmann firs at Silver Bells Tree Farm, his Christmas-tree farm in the foothills of Oregon’s Cascade Mountain Range. As the holiday neared, he watched his crop cruise off in the backs of around 100 semi-trucks, following the path of most of the Pacific Northwest’s holiday crop, 92 percent of which is shipped to outside the region. Nearly half of that lands in California, and most of the rest ends up elsewhere in the West, in Gulf states, or in Mexico.This was a smaller season than Silver Bells has known in the past: The farm, which once shipped about 100,000 trees annually, downsized from 700 to 400 acres of Christmas trees in recent years. The reduction is part of a trend that has played out across the Pacific Northwest—the country’s leading Christmas tree–growing region, with Oregon the highest-producing state and Washington the fifth—and is the long-realized product of overzealous planting 20 years ago.That was a period, Grogan explains, when prices were favorable, land and labor were affordable, and trendy new crops like hazelnuts, wine grapes, and blueberries hadn’t yet lured some farmers away from more traditional choices such as Christmas trees and grass seed. “I don’t think [farmers] realized how many trees were being planted compared to what demand was,” says Grogan, who sits on the board of the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association (PNWCTA), a regional trade group.The Northwest’s most popular variety, the noble fir, can take eight to 12 years to reach holiday height, which means that that spurt of over-planting two decades ago led to oversupply about 10 years ago. It was especially poor timing because this flooding of the market coincided with the Great Recession, when many people were scaling back their Christmas spending. “Prices fell off the roof and growers were losing money, so they didn’t have the incentive—and in some cases they didn’t have the equity—to invest in planting seedlings,” says Tim O’Connor, the executive director of the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA), a Colorado-based industry organization.Another 10 years on, the effects of that under-planting are now being felt around the country, in the form of shortages and higher prices. Grogan says that shoppers in the regions supplied by the Northwest can expect to pay 10 percent more for a tree this year and that those who wait to pick out a tree may not have many to choose from.Silver Bells could be considered one of the lucky Northwestern farms: Over the last decade, some moved on to more lucrative crops, but many went out of business entirely, since prices dropped before the recession due to excess supply and took a while to tick up again. Grogan says that the number of growers in the PNWCTA, his trade group, was cut in half. “You would drive around and see the fields of trees coming out and not going back in,” he remembers. “We warned a lot of our customers that [the shortage] was coming, but I think they are still pretty shocked at what they are seeing now.”Supply is also diminishing, although not to the same degree, in North Carolina and Michigan, which have the nation’s second and third largest Christmas-tree outputs. “It is something the whole industry is feeling, but it is more expressed in the Northwest,” O’Connor says.The NCTA estimates that 27.4 million trees were purchased in the U.S. last year. This year’s shortage represents a not insignificant chunk of that: Exports from the Pacific Northwest will be down about 1.5 million trees this year, according to Ken Cook, whose McKenzie Farms has 8 million trees planted across nearly 10,000 acres in Oregon. “There’s a huge shortage of Christmas trees, and it’ll continue to be that way for at least 10 years,” says the 80-year-old farmer.Cook’s enormous wholesale farm was able to ship between 800,000 and 850,000 trees this year—on par with its annual average—because Cook had the means to ride out the dip. “When there was an excess of inventory available, a lot of growers either stopped planting or reduced plantings,” he says. “I continued to put a million trees in the ground each year. I knew what would happen.” But even Cook hasn’t emerged from the cycle unscathed: He says that the autumns of 2016 and 2017 are the first seasons in more than 10 years that his business has turned a profit. “It’s been very tough on growers for the last 10 to 12 years in Oregon,” he says. “We’ve been selling trees at less than what it costs us to grow them and ship them.”Eighty-five percent of Cook’s trees are claimed by big-box accounts, including Lowe’s, Home Depot, Walmart, Costco, and Orchard Supply Hardware. These large retailers work contracts out several years in advance, and so won’t be as impacted by this year’s squeeze as local garden centers, nurseries, nonprofit lots, and other small businesses. “With the shortage of trees, the small independent retailer is the one who is not finding trees in the market this year,” says Cook.This has been the case for The Farm at El Mirlo, a two-acre family farm in northern San Diego County that grows seasonal vegetables, gourds, and loofahs, and transforms into a Christmas-tree lot during the holiday season. Patricia Vittoria, who runs the business, says it relies on year-end tree sales to fund the following year of farming. The shortage first became an issue for her farm last year, when it had trouble sourcing enough of its bestseller, the noble fir. “That’s because the majority were already committed to the big-box stores,” says Vittoria. Between having a smaller stock on offer and a decision to not raise prices, the farm saw its Christmas-tree income drop 50 percent in 2016. This year, unable to obtain trees from their usual Oregon supplier, Vittoria’s husband visited more than a dozen farms and wound up purchasing from four boutique-sized Oregon growers. Vittoria says she was left with no choice but to raise prices this year; they’re 15 percent higher than they were in 2016.Times of short supply stoke existing fears in the farmed Christmas tree industry of its primary competition: faux trees, which more households now put up than real trees. O’Connor attributes fake trees’ popularity to empty nesters who like them for their ease and convenience, as well as younger, environmentally-minded consumers who believe that fake trees are the more responsible choice. (In fact, while both farmed and fake trees have environmental footprints, the debate over which is more sustainable mostly favors real trees. Real trees’ advantage stems from the facts that they capture carbon dioxide while they’re growing, that they are usually shipped regionally as opposed to overseas, and that they’re biodegradable.)The market for Christmas trees has followed a certain rhythm: A shortage today drives prices up, which induces growers to plant more, the effects of which will be felt in the time it takes for a noble fir to mature. Last time that happened, the market became oversaturated. “I’m sure all growers would agree that that experience is not something we would like to repeat,” Grogan says. He thinks farmers will be more restrained this time around.

    The Atlantic / 5 h. 45 min. ago more
  • Italy declares state of emergency due to explosion at Austrian gas hubItaly declares state of emergency due to explosion at Austrian gas hub

    The blast that rocked the gas hub at Baumgarten in Austria has reportedly left one dead and several injured, forcing the operator OMV to shut the facility

    TASS / 5 h. 45 min. ago
  • Moscow to put up more than 1,000 Christmas trees for winter festivalMoscow to put up more than 1,000 Christmas trees for winter festival

    More than 500 natural and 620 artificial trees will decorate the Russian capital

    TASS / 5 h. 47 min. ago
  • Defending the EU in the digital ageDefending the EU in the digital age

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    Euronews / 5 h. 49 min. ago
  • Man gets 3 years in jail for killing 12 birds at Moscow’s mini zooMan gets 3 years in jail for killing 12 birds at Moscow’s mini zoo

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  • Ex-Soviet leader advises US envoy not to repeat past mistakes in bilateral relationsEx-Soviet leader advises US envoy not to repeat past mistakes in bilateral relations

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    TASS / 5 h. 51 min. ago
  • Auschwitz survivor deems North Korean camps worse than Nazi concentration campsAuschwitz survivor deems North Korean camps worse than Nazi concentration camps

    The brutality of prison camps in North Korea is on par with that of Nazi concentration camps, says Thomas Buergenthal, a former judge on the International Court of Justice who is now serving on a panel of human rights investigators probing whether North Korean leader Kim Jong Un should be tried for crimes against humanity. Buergenthal is also a survivor of the Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen concentration camps as well as a Polish ghetto. "I believe that the conditions in the [North] Korean prison camps are as terrible, or even worse, than those I saw and experienced in my youth in these Nazi camps and in my long professional career in the human rights field," Buergenthal said after the panel completed its review. "There is not a comparable situation anywhere in the world, past or present," said another panelist, Navi Pillay, a South African judge who served as the United Nations' high commissioner for human rights. "This is really an atrocity at the maximum level," Pillay added, "where the whole population is subject to intimidation." The panel's investigation was initiated by the International Bar Association and examined testimony from experts as well as North Korean defectors, including camp prisoners and guards. A full report of the probe's findings will be published Tuesday.

    The Week / 6 h. 3 min. ago more
  • Russia views Trump tweets as official policy statementsRussia views Trump tweets as official policy statements

    When President Trump posts a tweet, it is shared with and analyzed for Russian President Vladimir Putin as any official statement by the president of the United States would be, Moscow indicated Tuesday. "In any case, everything which is published from [Trump's authorized] Twitter account is perceived by Moscow as his official statement," said Putin representative Dmitry Peskov, Reuters reported. "Naturally, it is reported to Putin along with other information about official statements by politicians." Trump averages about seven tweets per day. Since becoming president, he has used his Twitter account for everything from major policy announcements to petty feuds and name-calling. The implications of Russia's assumption may be most troubling in regards to North Korea, as it transforms into official American policy Trump's tweets declaring it is a waste of time for the U.S. to negotiate with "short and fat" Little Rocket Man.

    The Week / 6 h. 19 min. ago more
  • Trump suggests Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand 'begged' him and 'would do anything' for campaign cashTrump suggests Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand 'begged' him and 'would do anything' for campaign cash

    President Trump took to Twitter Tuesday to attack Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), suggesting she had a history of trading favors for campaign donations. Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office “begging" for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2017 A number of Twitter users were quick to point out that the president's tweet was loaded with unsavory implications. What does "and would do anything for them" mean? https://t.co/edvdtzDUIz — Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) December 12, 2017 In a single tweet, he frames a female senator as subservient to three different men. https://t.co/peddp3ysgN — Beck(the halls)with (@ryanbeckwith) December 12, 2017 Gillibrand, who on Monday called for Trump to resign over the numerous allegations of sexual assault and harassment made against him, did indeed take some money from Trump before he ran for office. In 2010, Gillibrand's campaign raised more than $13 million, and Politico's Kyle Cheney points out that Trump donated $4,800. In 2014, his daughter Ivanka Trump donated $2,000. Gillibrand was apparently in the middle of a "bipartisan bible study group" when she heard about Trump's tweet. Fifty minutes later, she fired back. You cannot silence me or the millions of women who have gotten off the sidelines to speak out about the unfitness and shame you have brought to the Oval Office. https://t.co/UbQZqubXZv — Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) December 12, 2017

    The Week / 6 h. 29 min. ago more
  • For the first time in his career, GOP pollster Frank Luntz says he's stumped by an electionFor the first time in his career, GOP pollster Frank Luntz says he's stumped by an election

    Republican pollster Frank Luntz admitted Monday night that for the first time in his career, he can't call an election. Looking at Tuesday's Alabama Senate race between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones, Luntz said he's told people to ignore all the polls "because you really don't know what's going to happen." Luntz explained to Fox News that he hasn't seen much enthusiasm among African American voters, who are expected to heavily favor Jones at the ballot box, but that he has seen many conservatives eager to vote for Moore as a message to Washington. "That said, I can't call it," Luntz confessed, "and I've never been afraid to call an election up until this point. Because I don't know the makeup of that actual electorate tomorrow." Luntz additionally noted that whatever happens Tuesday night, there is "anger against both sides." He added: "I gotta wonder how long it is going to take the state to heal itself after this election, because it really has torn itself apart." Watch Luntz break down why it is so difficult to call the race below, and read more about why the polls are showing "a massive spread" at FiveThirtyEight.

    The Week / 6 h. 37 min. ago more
  • Mother of Keaton Jones says Confederate flag photos were supposed to be 'ironic and funny'Mother of Keaton Jones says Confederate flag photos were supposed to be 'ironic and funny'

    The mother of Keaton Jones is addressing backlash on social media after controversial photos emerged of her and her son posing with Confederate flags.

    Yahoo News / 6 h. 46 min. ago
  • Evacuations ordered as severe flooding sweeps northern ItalyEvacuations ordered as severe flooding sweeps northern Italy

    Emergency services respond to residents stranded by the extreme weather

    Euronews / 7 h. 1 min. ago
  • Trump's legal team wants a special counsel to investigate the investigatorsTrump's legal team wants a special counsel to investigate the investigators

    Who investigates the investigators? President Trump's legal team, frustrated by the ongoing probe into their client's potential ties with Russia, is now proposing naming a second special counsel to investigate the FBI and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Axios reports. The idea of naming an additional special counsel beyond Robert Mueller stems from a Fox News article that found a "senior Justice Department official" had been demoted after "concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump 'dossier' had even closer ties to Fusion GPS, the firm responsible for the incendiary document, than have been disclosed." The wife of the demoted official reportedly worked at Fusion GPS during the presidential campaign. The article spurred Trump attorney Jay Sekulow to tell Axios that "the Department of Justice and FBI cannot ignore the multiple problems that have been created by these obvious conflicts of interests. These new revelations require the appointment of a special counsel to investigate." If everyone got their way, there could be four different special counsels running about Washington. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) has demanded support for "a special counsel to investigate ALL THINGS 2016" and Sessions himself "is entertaining the idea of appointing a second special counsel to investigate a host of Republican concerns," The Washington Post reports. Read more at Axios.

    The Week / 7 h. 16 min. ago more
  • GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold's office is apparently fueled by beer, sexual innuendo, and lewd texts from lobbyistsGOP Rep. Blake Farenthold's office is apparently fueled by beer, sexual innuendo, and lewd texts from lobbyists

    Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) is not stepping down despite an $84,000 sexual harassment settlement he reached with his former press secretary, Lauren Greene, a new House Ethics Committee investigation of that settlement, and five Republican challengers in his safe GOP district. "It's lonelier than it's been in past times, but he's not alone," Farenthold's chief of staff, Bob Haueter, told The Texas Tribune on Monday evening. Also on Monday evening, The New York Times took "a peek into the inner workings" of Farenthold's Capitol Hill office, revealing a "hostile work environment, rife with sexual innuendo" and fueled by alcohol, where "sexually explicit conversations are routine, pickup lines are part of daily life, hiring can be based on looks, tolerance is expected, and intolerance of such behavior is career-ending." The Times based its report on House aides, former Farenthold staffers, and legal documents. Some of the details make Farenthold's office sound like the fraternity in Animal House, the Times reports: The refrigerator in the "bullpen" — the open area where aides worked — was filled with beer, and sometimes happy hour would begin at 4:30 p.m., which his aides called "beer-thirty." [Former Press Secretary Elizabeth] Peace said women would discuss which male lobbyists had texted them pictures of their genitals, and both men and women would talk about strip clubs and whether certain Fox News anchors had breast implants. [The New York Times] Greene's complaint alleged that Farenthold liked redheads especially, "regularly drank to excess, and because of his tendency to flirt, the staffers who accompanied him to Capitol Hill functions would joke that they had to be on 'redhead patrol' to keep him out of trouble." Farenthold's lawyers denied that there client's attraction to redheads "was a source for, or cause of, concern for any staffer." You can read more at The New York Times.

    The Week / 7 h. 16 min. ago more
  • Merriam-Webster picks 'feminism' as the 2017 word of the yearMerriam-Webster picks 'feminism' as the 2017 word of the year

    In a year bookended by worldwide Women's Marches and the #MeToo movement, it is perhaps no surprise to hear that "feminism" is the 2017 Merriam-Webster dictionary word of the year. "No one word can ever encapsulate all the news, events, or stories of a given year," said the editor-at-large for Merriam-Webster, Peter Sokolowski, in a statement. "But when we look back at the past 12 months and combine an analysis of words that have been looked up much more frequently than during the previous year along with instances of intense spikes of interest because of news events, we see that one word stands out in both categories." Last year, the Merriam-Webster word of the year was "surreal," with searches of the word spiking on Nov. 9, the day after Donald Trump won the presidential election. The Trump administration similarly shaped the linguistic landscape in 2017, with searches of "feminism" spiking after Kellyanne Conway said she did not consider herself to be "classic" feminist. Merriam-Webster defines feminism as "the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes" and "organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests." Dictionary.com picked "complicit" as its 2017 word of the year.

    The Week / 7 h. 54 min. ago more
  • Austria gas plant explosion leads to price hikesAustria gas plant explosion leads to price hikes

    Parts of Europe see energy prices soar to unprecedented levels in the wake of a blast at the Baumgarten hub that killed one person.

    Euronews / 7 h. 57 min. ago
  • A Clash Between Two Visions of the Republican Party in AlabamaA Clash Between Two Visions of the Republican Party in Alabama

    For all the national attention that’s been paid to the grisly particulars of Alabama’s special election over the past few weeks—the lurid details of the sexual-abuse accusations against Roy Moore; the performative shrieks of “Fake News!” from the candidate and his defenders—the true political consequences of the race will likely reach well beyond a single Senate race in 2017.In fact, many Republicans in Washington believe the voters who are heading to the polls on Tuesday could end up playing a pivotal role in the fight for the soul of the GOP.Republican leaders have been keeping an especially wary eye on Alabama ever since former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon announced his intention to recruit primary challengers for (virtually) every Republican senator up for reelection in 2018.“There’s a time and season for everything,” Bannon said in a speech at the Values Voters Summit in October, “and right now it’s a season of war against the GOP establishment.”Under normal circumstances, Republicans might have dismissed this bit of posturing as little more than made-for-cable bravado. But Bannon’s success in aiding Moore, a right-wing ex-judge with a long history of incendiary stunts and retrograde views, to the Republican nomination had unnerved party leaders. The alarm only grew when Moore—facing credible allegations of sexual abuse and assault—defiantly refused to exit the race, and pledged to fight on without the support of the institutional GOP. Eventually, Moore won back the endorsements of President Trump and the Republican National Committee, even as the rest of the party establishment—most notably the National Republican Senate Committee—continued to maintain its distance.Now, Republicans in Washington say the outcome of the Alabama race will set the stage for the coming clash between the Republican Party and the Bannonite insurrectionists.“The stakes are high for both sides,” said Ryan Williams, a Republican consultant who worked on Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. “It will be a significant moral victory for the Bannon wing of the party if Moore wins, and it’ll be used to recruit candidates in other races.”Like other establishment-friendly Republicans I talked to, Williams was conflicted about what he hopes will happen in Alabama. On the one hand, he said, “that is a very critical vote, given the makeup of the Senate right now. We’re coming down to basically one vote on every major piece of legislation.” On the other hand, he said a Moore victory would “likely be a disaster” for his party. Republican lawmakers would be constantly hounded by reporters to respond to their new colleague’s latest provocations, and many of them would likely pay an electoral price for their proximity to Moore during next year’s midterms.“There’s no good options,” he said, sighing. “I’ve tried to focus on happier things, like the holiday season.”“Roy Moore will be weaponized by Democrats across the country if he wins this cycle,” said Nick Everhart, a GOP strategist who has advised dozens of congressional campaigns. “And long-term, we’re creating a serious generationally defining party-image problem standing by … a guy like Roy Moore.”Sam Nunberg, a former Trump adviser and an avowed Bannon ally, said the populist torch-bearers working to Trumpify the GOP have already been “emboldened” by Moore’s stunning primary victory, and by his political resilience in the face of multiple sexual-misconduct allegations. “It proves wrong the establishment mindset that outsized outsiders with personal demons and such—alleged personal demons, I should say—can’t win these races,” he told me.According to Nunberg, U.S. voters demonstrated definitively in 2016 that they don’t trust the scandal-obsessed news media, and that they don’t care about the improprieties that preoccupy the political class. “Americans want populism,” he said. “They want things to change.”If Moore wins, as Nunberg expects he will, the Alabama race will be one more data point in support of this theory of the electorate. And of course, if he loses, Nunberg and his fellow Bannonites will know where to point their fingers.It’s appalling, Nunberg said, that the organs of the GOP establishment—such as the Senate Leadership Fund and the NRSC—“spent millions of dollars trying to destroy Moore during the primary, and now won’t spend a cent to support him in the general.”If Moore goes down, Nunberg said, it may be necessary for the Bannon-backed candidates who lose primaries next year to indulge in some retribution. “Perhaps the Bannon candidates should endorse the Democrat in the race,” he said, “so Mitch McConnell can see how that works out for him.”

    The Atlantic / 8 h. 26 min. ago more
  • Joe Wright on Creating a More Realistic Winston ChurchillJoe Wright on Creating a More Realistic Winston Churchill

    Given that Oscar season is upon us, it’s hardly surprising that Darkest Hour is being pushed, first and foremost, as an awards showcase for Gary Oldman, who excels in the thunderous role of Winston Churchill. But the film works so well because of the care its director Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, Anna Karenina) takes in balancing the British prime minister’s big, theatrical public presence with his more tormented inner life.Darkest Hour follows Churchill in May 1940, his first month in office, as he seeks to balance the desires of his political party, which wants to avoid mass bloodshed on the scale of World War I, against his own resolute belief in resisting Nazi Germany at all costs. Churchill was seen by the party (and by Britain’s King George VI) as a warmonger responsible for the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign in the last war. But he doubted himself, too: Wright depicts the leader wondering if his demands of “victory at all costs” from his country were too much.The Atlantic talked to Wright about crafting a fresh portrayal of Churchill’s character, the typical pitfalls that come with making a biopic of a well-known public figure, and whether audiences might see any present-day parallels in Darkest Hour. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.David Sims: Recently, there’s been such a glut of Winston Churchills on screen. Were you worried about that at all going into Darkest Hour?Joe Wright: I wasn’t, because they hadn’t happened [yet]. When I started working on the movie, it was like January 2016, and so The Crown hadn’t aired, Dunkirk hadn’t happened, a Churchill movie hadn’t happened, and so I felt like I was being quite original, really. It seemed like one of those ideas, like Pride & Prejudice, that was so obvious it was surprising. Because there hadn’t been a Pride & Prejudice movie, there’d just been the TV series, and there hadn’t been a Churchill movie. But really, I just responded to the screenplay and the story, about a man who is placed in this impossible position where no one wants him, and who suffers a massive crisis of confidence and doubt. And through doubt, he discovers wisdom. I responded to that on a personal level, and then, it’s Churchill.Sims: But it is interesting to think about his interiority—that’s not something Churchill stories usually touch on as much.Wright: Especially in England, Churchill is this giant bronze statue sitting on a plinth 15 feet high. [This was] the opportunity to bring him down from that plinth, and instead of facing the icon, facing the man who has been reappropriated by so many different parties. He’s become a kind of icon of British nationalism, and I don’t think that’s who he was at all. So I wanted to reclaim him as an individual, and say this man was deeply flawed, profoundly complicated, and at this point in history he kind of saved the world. Those flaws are integral to the man and to his achievements, and that’s what I find really interesting—the idea that our flaws and our virtues are kind of the same thing.Sims: By his flaws, do you mean his stubbornness, and his bellicose nature?Wright: Yes, and his extraordinary will, really. Will is a dangerous thing, and can be detrimental as well as a virtue.Sims: The image you’re talking about, him as this iconic symbol of Britishness … I didn’t really know that [when he took office] he was greeted with such suspicion in Parliament.Wright: He was one of the first great [public-relations] prime ministers: The whole look, the hat, the cigar, the “V” for victory, was all carefully considered. We have this idea that he was always the embodiment of the bulldog spirit, but actually that’s not the case. That’s one of the things I think people might find interesting and new about this movie: how suspicious his own party was of him, and that it was this moment that turned and defined him, and defined our history.Sims: Because he’s an unproven person coming into office, in a lot of ways.Wright: He’s not trusted. He’s made a lot of mistakes. He’s had a long parliamentary career; he’s been in Parliament since his 20s. His policies on women’s suffrage, his policy on Indian independence, and what happened in the Gallipoli Campaign [of the First World War] was a complete disaster. The invasion of the Dardanelles was a great idea militarily, but time slipped away from [British forces] and they didn’t act quickly enough. And when it became apparent that things weren’t going to go as planned, he should have withdrawn, but his will forced it forward and caused many deaths. That’s what I mean by will being a detriment as well as a benefit.Sims: So when the script comes to you, what’s the process like for casting Churchill? Because so many thesps have bitten into the role.Wright: Which is the danger—I don’t want another thesp biting into it. A lot of those guys of a certain age kind of look right. But when casting, you can either choose someone who looks right or someone who has the essence of the character. And I always think it’s wiser to choose the latter. I always had this idea that Churchill should be a dynamo of energy. He walked fast; he was a little man.Sims: You always think of Churchill as hulking.Wright: Right, and from all the footage I was watching, physically and mentally he was incredibly energized to the point that you think he might short-circuit and collapse, and that’s probably when the depressions came. So I wanted someone with a kind of intensity, and Gary has always had, and still has, that intensity as an actor. So then the question became about the physical transformation, which is less of an issue to me than the character transformation. Gary and I talked, we discussed options, and we thought this guy Kazuhiro [Tsuji] would be the man to see. He was retired, living in a warehouse in downtown Los Angeles, making sculptures, and we went to see him. And over a period of five months, we developed the exact balance between looking like Churchill and getting Gary ’s performance.Sims: Was it hard to win Gary over, or was Churchill something he was ready to sink his teeth into?Wright: I think Churchill was like a dog in the corner that was always there, and that Gary was always kind of turning away from. And yet, finally, he had to address it. I felt that maybe he’d be the kind of actor who’d do his thing and I’d arrange everything around him. And that didn’t sound great, but I was interested to have a front-row seat to Gary’s performance. And then what I discovered is that he’s an actor who wants direction, and so it became a very close collaboration. We made the film together, we walked through it together, and it was one of the most gratifying creative partnerships I’ve ever experienced.Sims: With Ben Mendelsohn as George VI, that’s another character who’s been recently done in The King’s Speech and The Crown.Wright: The obvious choices were British, and the fear was that we’d get a lesser version of Colin Firth. So I knew it had to be a kind of off-center choice. I was looking at Ben, and they look kind of similar, in profile. And George had a temper, and Ben has that kind of vital energy. And the fact that he’s not British was actually kind of important to that.Sims: Just because there’s less reverence for it?Wright: Yeah, just because he didn’t come with the British baggage. I’m not necessarily a royalist. I’m not necessarily a republican in the British sense, but when dealing with the royal family you’re always dealing with the institution of monarchy. And actually, what Ben brilliantly brought to it was a sense of dealing just with the individual … this very specific individual in this very specific time in this very specific dilemma.Sims: The dynamic between Churchill and the king in the film is interesting, because the accepted history is that they were so close.Wright: To begin with, George certainly thought that Lord Halifax (played by Stephen Dillane) was a better option [as prime minister].Sims: Because Halifax was him in politician form.Wright: And also, Halifax’s arguments [to make peace with Germany]—and this was very important to me and Stephen Dillane—are really valid. In other wars, at other times, I’ve probably sided with Halifax: How do we avoid civilian and military loss of life? Surely that is our main responsibility and priority.Sims: While Churchill is getting up and saying, “We’re going to throw our bodies into this, every ounce of energy will be spent.”Wright: And that’s crazy! And Churchill could very well have been proven wrong, if Hitler had turned right instead of left, and gone straight to wipe out the British expeditionary force and gotten right in the boats to invade, he would have succeeded. It would have been very, very different.Sims: When you’re making this film, are you thinking about the present day? Do you see these parallels to current events, consciously or unconsciously?Wright: One sees the parallels, and it was very interesting, because as we were making the film, Brexit happened and [the U.S.] got a new president. So the parallels were there, but my job is to tell the story very specifically in the context of what was happening at that time. And to offer up scenarios and questions.Sims: You’re not making an allegory.Wright: I’m not making an allegory, and I’m trying very hard not to be didactic. And it’s up to the audience to discover their own answers. My job as a storyteller is to present questions, and the audience’s job is to find answers.

    The Atlantic / 9 h. 22 min. ago more
  • 'Dear Alabama' Goes Viral As Folks Make Heartfelt Pleas To Reject Roy Moore'Dear Alabama' Goes Viral As Folks Make Heartfelt Pleas To Reject Roy Moore

    People online are issuing heartfelt pleas for Alabamians to reject GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore in Tuesday’s special election. The “Dear Alabama” term began trending on Twitter late Monday as celebrities and activists joined thousands of others in making the case for why the President Donald Trump-endorsed former state judge, who faces multiple allegations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls, should not be elected to office. Instead, they urged voters to side with Democratic candidate Doug Jones.

    Yahoo News / 10 h. 2 min. ago more
  • Amnesty International accuses EU of complicity in Libyan slave tradeAmnesty International accuses EU of complicity in Libyan slave trade

    Major report alleges European governments prefer to work with criminals rather than allow uncontrolled migrant flows into the Mediterranean.

    Euronews / 10 h. 18 min. ago
  • Russia begins to withdraw troops from SyriaRussia begins to withdraw troops from Syria

    After Russia announced the defeat of ISIL in Syria, President Putin told soldiers "the motherland is waiting" for them.

    Euronews / 10 h. 19 min. ago
  • 'It's the Grandparents Stealing From the Grandchildren''It's the Grandparents Stealing From the Grandchildren'

    One day in 1984, Kurt Vonnegut called.I was ditching my law school classes to work on the presidential campaign of Walter Mondale, the Democratic candidate against Ronald Reagan, when one of those formerly-ubiquitous pink telephone messages was delivered to me saying that Vonnegut had called, asking to speak to one of Mondale’s speechwriters.All sorts of people called to talk to the speechwriters with all sorts of whacky suggestions; this certainly had to be the most interesting. I stared at the 212 phone number on the pink slip, picked up a phone, and dialed.A voice, so gravelly and deep that it seemed to lie at the outer edge of the human auditory range, rasped, “Hello.” I introduced myself. There was a short pause, as if Vonnegut were fixing his gaze on me from the other end of the line, then he spoke.“It’s the grandparents stealing from the grandchildren.”I waited for elaboration. After a long pause, however, he simply repeated, “It’s the grandparents stealing from the grandchildren. Got it?”I assured him I did, and he hung up.Of course, I knew immediately what he meant. America had become a great nation because it had always kept its eyes on the future. That changed with the election of Ronald Reagan—when the Baby Boom generation, enthusiastic Reagan backers, became the largest cohort in the electorate and began to rise in the political and economic worlds. The Boomers’ sense of entitlement was beginning to manifest itself in the long battle over what are known as “entitlements”—especially the original and largest, Social Security and Medicare—and what they say about our attitudes toward future generations.That question is now playing out in the tension between perhaps the longest-held desire of traditional conservatives—if not to end completely at least to eviscerate entitlements—and the completely contrary views of Donald Trump and his core supporters, who propelled the complete Republican seizure of government. Trump, whose support lies largely amongst older Americans, has repeatedly promised that he won’t cut the entitlements on which his voters rely, but that clearly conflicts with his party’s agenda in Congress, and, so far, when the former have collided with the latter, the latter have won.Even before the newly-minted GOP tax plan passed the Senate, adding a whopping $1.5 trillion to the national debt in order to give away the store to corporations and the wealthiest Americans, these lawmakers were already “discovering” that their own profligacy requires bringing down the deficit by (you guessed it) cutting entitlements. Speaker Paul Ryan announced that “we’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” even as he began negotiations with his Senate counterparts over exactly how much they’re gleefully going to increase the very same debt and deficit.Democrats, and most Americans, will rightly resist such a cynical gambit.  But that leaves the very real challenges of the deficit, entitlements, and the future they largely will frame still unresolved.The fundamental problem is that Social Security and Medicare were sold to the public on a fiction—and until Americans grapple with that, they’re unlikely to achieve a consensus on fixing the programs.* * *When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt pushed through Social Security—a guaranteed retirement income—in the wake of the Great Depression, it was a different America. For one thing, growing old in America prior to 1935 basically meant growing poorer and poorer: Half of all seniors lived below the poverty line, more than any other age group. By 1960, that had fallen to 35 percent—but still double the rate amongst all other Americans. Today, thanks largely to entitlement programs, and belying the conservative mantra that government doesn’t know how to fight poverty, the elderly poverty rate stands below 9 percent, the least amongst any age cohort.But if FDR’s America was a place where it was dangerous to grow old, it was also a country unaccustomed, and resistant, to large-scale income transfer programs. Social Security therefore was designed to look like, and sold as, simply a government-administered pension program, not “welfare” in any way, shape, or form. The program was supported not by the progressive income tax but by payroll deductions—impliedly pension contributions. Americans were given Social Security numbers, looking like a bank account, and are still sent regular “statements” of their “contributions” and what the projected payouts on those supposed-savings look like. (Medicare was crafted to create the same impression.)This is all a fiction.Because of the carefully cultivated impression that beneficiaries are simply receiving back their “own” money, plus investment gains, Social Security and Medicare are regarded as politically distinct from welfare or other benefits the recipient didn’t “earn.” The crafty Roosevelt understood this, famously declaring that “no damn politician can ever scrap my social-security program.” The remark proved prescient when those protesting Obamacare’s expansion of health care to non-seniors demanded that the government keep its hands off “their” Medicare.But it is hardly “theirs.” The average Medicare recipient receives treatment totaling the full amount of his or her lifetime contributions, plus a market rate-of-return, within the first two years after retirement; after that, it’s all income transfer from other Americans. Over the remaining years of life, the average retiree can expect to receive Social Security benefits amounting to a roughly 30 percent bonus over what she paid into the system (plus interest)—all from Americans currently working. Even overtly welfare-ish Medicaid payments—originally intended to provide care for poor children—now go largely to long-term care for mainly middle-class elderly.Essentially, then, our major entitlement programs don’t just pay back “contributors” what they themselves put up for their own pensions and old-age care: They represent the grandparents if not “stealing” from the grandchildren, as Vonnegut put it, then at least living off them while pretending not to. And with “grandparents” living longer and Boomers retiring at the rate of one per hour, spending on entitlements is growing and consuming an ever-larger share of both government expenditures and the nation’s economy as a whole.Since roughly the time the first Boomers started retiring, the entitlement system has been paying out more in benefits than it takes in from dedicated payroll taxes. The total shortfall—made up from general revenue—currently comes to $311 billion. But after 2034, the trust fund reserves—the assets built up over the years for the Boomers’ retirement from their own contributions—will be fully depleted. From then on, the system will run solely on payments from those in the workforce—and, at current rates, these will be only enough to pay about three-quarters of scheduled benefits. Either taxes must go up, or benefits must come down.* * *Liberals traditionally argue for the many seniors who could not afford to sustain cuts: The bottom half of all seniors depend on Social Security for 80 percent of their incomes; for 61 percent, it constitutes at least half. With the average benefit at roughly $1,500 per month, cutting benefits for the majority of recipients could be devastating. But if the entitlement benefits of retirees are not reduced by roughly one-quarter, in gross, over the next two decades, then the payroll tax rate on workers will need to be raised by that amount.Republicans in Congress, led by Speaker Paul Ryan, long have argued for benefit cuts, of course, not additional taxes. “Frankly,” Ryan added in his statement on the budget last week, “it’s the health-care entitlements”—meaning Medicare and Medicaid—“that are the big drivers of our debt.”  In case that’s not clear enough as to what they plan, Florida Senator Marco Rubio declared that “The driver of our debt is the structure of Social Security and Medicare for future beneficiaries.” Rubio’s “tell” about cutting “future beneficiaries” is in fact the cornerstone of the cynical GOP strategy.These anti-government crusaders point to the projected explosion in deficits and the ratio of public debt to national income over the term of the Boomers’ retirement to argue for dramatically squeezing entitlements out of existence—but, except for cuts designed to hit the poorest hardest—not during the burgeoning Boomer blow-up: only afterward. Ryan’s much-ballyhooed budget plan, A Path to Prosperity, didn’t start cutting the deficit, or even transforming Medicare, for the next 10 years; it didn’t achieve its stated goal of downsized government and balanced budgets for 30 years in the rosiest scenario (more like 40, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office).Our entitlement system was designed to fund current generations out of the taxes of younger and future generations (while pretending not to). This intergenerational compact not only made sense, but also worked, when working Americans were largely in far better financial shape than senior citizens, and population growth and economic progress went more or less hand-in-hand in steady progression. But not only is the elderly poverty rate no longer 50 percent but, rather, now 10 percent: The wealthiest, highest-income age cohort also is now those Boomers nearing retirement. The second wealthiest? Those already in retirement.Who’s not doing well in the current economy? Younger Americans. (This is even more true for children: The poverty rate amongst children in America has now risen above 20 percent.) And they’re being asked to cover a heavier and heavier burden for the old: When Social Security was launched, there were 42 workers paying Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes for each individual retiree. Today, that ratio has fallen to just under three-to-one, and will fall again as the Boomers retire. Every young couple today can expect to foot the bill for a Boomer’s retirement—not counting, of course, their own parents.But those younger Americans will be working off a lower stock of capital than the generation they’re being asked to pay for. As the Pew Research Center’s Paul Taylor succinctly summarizes it in The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown, “Fifty years ago, the government spent $3 on public investments that spur economic activity for every $1 it spent on entitlements. Today, that ratio has flipped, and within a decade the government will be putting $5 into entitlements for every $1 that goes into roads, education, scientific research, and the like.” By the time all the Boomers retire, programs to pay for them—plus interest on the national debt they’ve run up in the meantime—will consume more than 90 cents of every federal dollar. 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