Need a delicious reason to crawl out of bed in the morning? Look no further. Here's a yummy quiche recipe to get you ready for the day.
Need a delicious reason to crawl out of bed in the morning? Look no further. Here's a yummy quiche recipe to get you ready for the day.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the first day of preschool looks a little different this year, leaving some kids and guardians feeling anxious.
Police in China's Inner Mongolia region have detained at least 23 people following protests last week against a new policy that replaces Mongolian-language textbooks with Chinese ones in classrooms. The push to use the new textbooks, which started in other ethnic minority regions such as Xinjiang and Tibet in 2017, has prompted demonstrations and school boycotts by ethnic Mongolians in at least five cities and counties in Inner Mongolia. Others were for “flagrantly insulting a deceased former leader of the country” and “sharing videos in a WeChat group to obstruct the implementation of the national textbooks policy.”
How the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting every state
IKOM, Nigeria—Stella Immanuel, the Houston doctor who praises hydroxychloroquine and says that face masks don't necessarily stop the transmission of the highly contagious coronavirus, recently earned the nickname 'Demon Sperm Doc' based on her claims that illnesses like cysts and endometriosis are in fact caused by people having sex in their dreams with demons and witches. But those convictions don’t come out of thin air. While Dr. Immanuel's assertions may have deep roots in early Jewish and Christian stories, her beliefs, according to people from her hometown in Cameroon, can be traced to an age-long assumption that infertility in women is caused by the fact that a woman has had a sexual relationship with an evil spirit.Decades ago in parts of Bali, the small southwestern Cameroonian town where Dr. Immanuel was born and raised, a woman who couldn't immediately conceive after marriage could be sent out of her matrimonial home, as it was believed that she had had sex with a demon and, as a result, could no longer bear a child for a mortal. “Having sex with a demon automatically makes the demon the husband of the woman and the custodian of her womb,” Clement Abuo, a local chief in Bali told The Daily Beast. “As a result, it becomes impossible for the woman to carry the child of any man.”According to a number of former residents of Bali, who spoke to The Daily Beast in the Nigerian border town of Ikom, where many Cameroonians live, up till the early ’80s, the period Dr. Immanuel finished up her secondary education in Bali, women in the Cameroonian town were sometimes publicly shamed and sent back to their parents for being unable to conceive. Some men further demanded that the bride price they paid to the parents of the woman they married be returned to them, as a sign that the marriage has been annulled.While the act of chasing a childless woman away from her matrimonial home is no longer common today, the belief that women who can't conceive children have had sex with demons is still strong in Bali.“Children are still being told by their parents and other relatives that a childless woman is spiritually married to a woman who has taken away her womb,” said Abuo, who currently lives in Ikom. “There are still men who chase their wives away from their matrimonial homes because they believe that their childlessness is as a result of having their having sex with demons.”Another thought held by Dr. Immanuel that may also be traced to a traditional belief in Bali is that of inheritance of curses. In the pediatrician's website, she offers a prayer to take away a generational curse originally incurred by an ancestor but transmitted through the placenta.According to people conversant with the customs in the doctor’s hometown, children are thought to inherit the curses placed on their parents through their mother’s placenta. It’s a common practice in parts of Bali that when a man or woman is cursed by anyone in the community—for committing an offense like adultery or conspiracy—that rituals involving the slaughtering of an animal have to be carried out to wipe away the curse, otherwise it will be passed onto future generations. That tradition, they said, still exists till date.“They are called cleansing rituals,” Vincent Ndiefi, a Bali-born commercial bus driver based in Ikom, told The Daily Beast. “People who think they are not succeeding in life also undergo this ritual make sure their problems aren't as a result of a generational curse.”Cameroon, in general, is a country deeply rooted in tradition. A widow can be forced to drink the water used to bathe her late husband’s dead body as a sign that she isn't behind the death of her spouse. Homosexuality, which attracts a five-year jail sentence, is seen as demonic and a man can be imprisoned for smiling at the wrong guy or humming the wrong song. The country's most painful tradition is a practice known as breast ironing, whereby adolescent girls’ breasts are pounded and massaged by their families using hard or heated objects in an attempt to flatten them and make so that the girls become less desirable to men. It’s a practice a quarter of women in Cameroon are believed to have undergone. About 1,000 mostly Cameroonian girls in the U.K alone have been subjected to the practice (the figure could be a lot higher as the tradition is hugely secretive), a sign that many Cameroonians take their customs with them wherever they go.“Cameroonians usually don't forget their cultures and traditions no matter the country they live in,” said Ndiefi who has lived and worked in Nigeria for a decade. “Over the years, parents have told their children how vital cultures and traditions are and why it is important to uphold them.”In Bali, a town of about 32,000 people, there is a widespread belief that everyone from the area is interrelated and is the reason why many often refer to Dr. Immanuel as their “sister.” But even those who have never met the Houston-based physician—yet claim to be “family” with her—are convinced that her preachings are influenced by the age-long customs and traditions of the Bali people.“The average Bali person values our tradition so much,” Cletus Agbo, a 63-year-old Cocoa farmer who said he might be a distant relation of Dr. Immanuel, told The Daily Beast. “She just hasn't forgotten where she comes from.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
In the history of love stories, few have been as strange and unlikely as the one depicted in My Octopus Teacher. Netflix’s first original South African feature documentary concerns the wholly unexpected, and ostensibly transformative, affair struck between Craig Foster, a South African filmmaker, and an amphibious mollusk that he discovered in the Atlantic Ocean near the small seaside bungalow he frequented as a kid. It’s a relationship that transcends all boundaries, and serves as a quietly profound (and crazy) portrait of the bonds we share with everything in our environment—even if its cinematic depiction is sometimes far from perfect.Debuting on the streaming service Sept. 7, My Octopus Teacher is an intimate non-fiction film that, directed by Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed, is told by and large from Foster’s first-person perspective. Foster himself shot a large portion of its underwater footage, and his interviews (intermittently on-camera, showing teary emotion) serve as the material’s narration and provide it with its narrative backbone. In short, Foster is telling his own tale, and his POV lends insight into his amazing journey, which takes place on the Western Cape of South Africa, where he spent large portions of his childhood playing in the nearby rock pools and diving in the shallow kelp forests that are home to countless varieties of aquatic life. Hypnotic and beautiful imagery of this ecosystem—where the sea folds in on itself thanks to tumultuous waves, and where fish, sharks, crabs and more wend their way through a landscape dotted with kelp, algae, and rock formations—only further draws us into this fascinating and fantastical milieu, which routinely seems like an alien land.The Casting News That Finally Broke MeAccording to Foster, octopuses are also often thought of as extraterrestrials. Yet, “as you get closer to them, you realize that we’re very similar in a lot of ways. You’re stepping into this completely different world. Such an incredible feeling. And you feel you’re on the brink of something extraordinary. But you realize that there’s a line that can’t be crossed.” No matter Foster’s belief in maintaining detached documentary objectivity, however, My Octopus Teacher is a tale about communion between man and mollusk. Foster’s saga began when, while diving one day, he noticed an unusual piled-up collection of shells. Without warning, an octopus burst forth from that makeshift structure. Curious about what he had just witnessed, Foster endeavored to return each day to the same area, hoping to track the creature (using techniques he’d learned from expert African trackers years earlier), and to better understand it.On the first day, Foster approached the octopus slowly and left his camera in her area, and from behind a shell “shield,” she examined the device by placing her tentacle on it. After a few weeks of mapping out (and getting a feel for) her surroundings, Foster realized that the octopus had gained a level of trust and comfort with him—a fact confirmed when, on day 26 of his endeavor, she reached out one tentacle and touched his finger before extending it further to grasp his entire hand. That jaw-dropping moment is depicted in My Octopus Teacher, as are the similarly astounding interactions that followed, culminating with the octopus not only following him around the ocean, but literally attaching itself to his chest in an embrace, allowing him to pet it as it nuzzles against his body.It’s the sort of thing one wouldn’t quite believe if they didn’t see it. In those moments, My Octopus Teacher captures a majestic sense of how inquisitiveness, empathy and compassion can give birth to connections between disparate beings. Moreover, via additional underwater footage of Foster shot by cinematographer Roger Horrocks (along with Ehrlich and Dave Aenme), the film conveys the depth and breadth of this stunning seascape and its many inhabitants as they come into contact with the octopus, be it the crabs and lobsters that it hunts (in the process exhibiting a shrewd and cunning strategic mind), or the pyjama sharks that hunt it, leading to a grisly encounter that leaves the octopus short a tentacle.Where the doc falters is in its refusal to convey anything meaningful about Foster’s life, which he (and the film) claim was forever altered by this quasi-romance. In early passages, Foster talks about how he underwent two years of “absolute hell” that left him worn out, sleepless and sick, and his family in pain. Yet no concrete details about these struggles are imparted. As with later, cursory interludes about his desire to foster closeness with his son (whom he eventually swims with, exploring this maritime wonderland), Foster’s reasons for feeling personally and professionally adrift remain hopelessly vague. Consequently, any impression of how the octopus really changed Foster’s emotional, psychological or familial circumstances proves sketchy and generic at best.Compounding that problem is that directors Ehrlich and Reed’s topside sequences are full of staged shots (occasionally in slow motion) of Foster walking along the beach and posing, in silhouette, at daybreak and sunset on the edge of the water. The preponderance of manicured, dramatically recreated action in My Octopus Teacher leaves it feeling artificial, if not downright corny and manipulative. Adding to the general clunky, hand-holding quality of the proceedings is Kevin Smuts’ score, which veers from scary to soaring to playful in time with the dark/light visual compositions, and in a manner that lets you know precisely how you’re supposed to feel at a given moment. There’s a difference between enhancing a mood and beating you over the head with it, and too often, it’s the latter that dominates.Nonetheless, when it’s not prodding you to tremble with anxiousness or weep with joy, My Octopus Teacher is an idiosyncratic account of adversity, perseverance, and finding liberation, contentment and self-awareness by exiting your comfort zone and interfacing with creatures that are wholly dissimilar from yourself. It’s a study of engagement as the greatest way to achieve fulfillment, whether on an individual or social scale. And most of all, it’s a love affair so weird and astonishing that no amount of intrusive filmmaking gestures can quite diminish its wacko power.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
I remember exactly where I was when I heard that the first big coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. was at a nursing home . I had pulled over in my car to return work texts and hit the news as an afterthought. My skin started to burn. I felt panic. It was going to be a death march. A little over a year before, after 16 years of scraping by as an artist, I had returned to work as a union organizer. It wasn’t meant to be permanent, but more of a side hustle to cover a gap. I did not expect I would enter the world of nursing homes just months before COVID-19.Inside facilities, I learned that workers, who were overwhelmingly women and people of color, could get mandated to work, or “locked in,” forced to stay well past their shifts, sometimes up to 30 hours straight. If they got sick, they worked sick because there wasn’t enough paid leave for them to stay home.Inadequate staffing meant caregivers had to make terrible choices between residents in need. Short on essential cleaning supplies, some hid what they had in the ceilings to insure there was enough and tore up bedding for washcloths. While administrators drove luxury sports cars and owners killed it on the stock market, certified nursing assistants (CNAs) walked around in garbage bags for PPE and bought their own Clorox wipes because paper towels were being rationed by the sheet. This was before COVID hit.After COVID hit, the staffing agencies that had been used to bridge the gaps pulled out. OSHA and state inspectors stopped their already infrequent site visits, and compliance standards were abandoned, where they had existed at all.A Nurse’s Texts Lay Bare the Coronavirus Horror at Nursing HomesBefore I started working to help nursing home CNAs unionize, my conception of nursing homes was colored by a combination of two things: a general sense that they were all nondescript buildings with wheelchair ramps and names evoking bucolic creeks or villages, and a childhood memory of my grandmother in a place where the hallway smelled of urine. I knew old people went there to die but didn’t see the deep bonds between a resident and a CNA that forms from that, or the trades that a CNA makes out of loyalty.The first time I spoke to a nursing home worker was last spring. We were in her home, a one-room studio without windows or furniture. She had lived there over a year but didn’t make enough to buy anything. She offered me coffee, asking if I wanted cream, opened an empty fridge, then shut it, apologizing. We stood by her stove and drank Folgers as she told me about her day. That same afternoon, I would visit two other apartments just like that.“I’d make more flipping burgers,” was a phrase I would hear over and over.Almost any touch a nursing home resident receives will come from a CNA’s hands. They bathe, toilet, feed, and comfort the residents. Usually starting at a little over minimum wage without adequate sick leave or health insurance, these workers are at the highest risk for injury, infection, and the cascading effects that come from poverty.I had no concept of what it meant for caregivers to work short-staffed. In restaurants, insufficient staffing means someone doesn’t get their drinks. In nursing homes, it means someone might sit for hours in their own feces or worse.One CNA told me she regularly has to choose between making sure a resident gets fed, another gets cleaned up, and getting to a serious “fall risk” who’s wandered into the hallway. So she goes to help the fall risk, who is trying to get to the bathroom by herself because she couldn’t wait. She mashes food together into one paste so she can speed-feed the resident who hasn’t eaten, and she puts a chuck pad under the resident who needs a bath so he doesn’t leak onto the furniture. Then she goes home crying, riddled with guilt. Another worker returned from a weekend off to find there had been two broken hips and a broken neck in their facility.If they were to complain to the state, it’s likely they would get little response. Agencies are underfunded and such complaints are common. On the other hand, if the employer finds out they complained, they might get fired and lose their license. A few dings and they’re out. Any of the choices CNAs are forced to make every day could result in a charge of neglect and strip their ability to work. But the emotional cost for caregivers is brutal. In addition to living in constant anxiety, they live in a state of constant loss. Many keep pictures of their residents on their phones. They use precious vacation time to attend funerals and grieve.Child care is another ever-present issue. With staffing short, CNAs who have to stay home with a sick child are penalized for calling out. In one nursing home, the rule was no more than three times in nine months or you’re terminated. One CNA told me she had no support from child care and had to start leaving her young children home alone. Another CNA received a note from her boss saying simply, “Find more family.”When asked, CNAs often counted scheduling as one of their primary concerns. Though it sounds bureaucratic or petty, it is one of the most powerful weapons that can be used against a female workforce. Caregivers depend on their schedules to keep intact the complex and fragile systems they’ve developed to survive. CNAs who don’t hustle enough when working short, or who complain, risk the schedule they rely on to pick up their kids or take a sick parent to dialysis or go to nursing school. A small keystroke can upend a life.Injuries and pregnancies put workers at risk of termination as well. With so few CNAs on the floor, there is no light duty, even when doctors’ notes require it. Pregnant workers are pushed out for early leave or let go for sham reasons. In a female workforce that’s majority people of color, race also plays a role. Black women’s pain is not treated like the pain of white women. Leave, or risk pregnancies compensating for broken Hoyer lifts, these were often their choices.Across different chains and in different parts of the country, these stories varied in severity but were basically the same. Short staffing, low pay, no respect. It’s true, they would all be financially better off flipping burgers. But why? It may be true that as a nation we value a well-cooked burger over safe elder care. Still, it’s far easier to find a fast food worker than a CNA. It costs a CNA about $1,500 to get certified and takes roughly three months of school. Turnover in the industry is high. Every staffing coordinator will tell you these workers are in demand, so why do they make so little?The standard answer is that it’s a poor industry. It’s Medicaid money. There’s no profit margin. Yet there are some seriously rich people running these facilities and private equity money is everywhere. Multimillionaires usually aren’t in the habit of investing in losing propositions, so something in the system is working for them. The dirty secret of the nursing home industry is real estate. It is not uncommon for the owner of a nursing home chain to also be the majority owner in the real estate investment trust (REIT) that is the leaseholder. This means that many nursing homeowners, through REITs or shell companies with direct family ties, are also their own landlords. They set the rents that eat the operating costs, which drive the margins that incentivize investment.To stay within operating costs, administrators have to squeeze the workers by rationing critical supplies and keeping salaries low enough that they don’t have to pay for health care since most staff will qualify for Medicaid. Meanwhile, a CNA making $15 an hour who can’t afford to miss work for the back surgery she needs because her sick time is eaten up by child care, spends all her time trying to save the residents from falls and slips, loneliness, and now, COVID-19.* * *At the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington, a nursing home previously cited for Medicare fraud and since cited with numerous violations that allowed the virus to spread, 101 out of 180 residents had COVID-19. The bodies started to pile up fast as workers got too sick to work or fled to protect their own families and none could be found to replace them. Someone told me that at the end, they had only two CNAs trying to care for 50 residents on night shift.It took a long time for officials to start counting the workers in their COVID numbers. You had to sift through reports, scan the fine print of feature stories, or read the obituaries. Nursing home workers and others in long-term care were not considered a priority for PPE.When the Family First Relief Act passed and gave 80 hours of extra paid time off to American workers, it exempted almost all health-care workers. With staffing already short, and conditions already bad in many facilities, they were afraid that if caregivers had any sick time, they wouldn’t come to work. They were denied the same rights as others because their labor was too essential.When applied to a workforce that is 90 percent female and majority people of color, this arrangement evokes cotton fields and free child care, sugar cane and convict-leasing partnerships. Furthermore, as caregivers, they are in a double bind, because above all else, they believe that the vulnerable should be safe and treated with dignity, and that no one should have to die alone. That’s why they are not flipping burgers.Traditionally, caregivers organize when the people they care for are at risk—and at almost no other time. Perhaps this moment is different. I want an America where caregivers demand and can receive the basic dignity they offer without feeling like they are stealing it from someone else. To strike, health-care workers have to send a 10-day notice of warning so that emergency staffing can be arranged with an agency. Yet every nursing home worker who even mumbles about organizing gets grilled on how they could just walk out on their residents. There is no innate sense that staffing safely is the employer’s job; most CNAs think it’s theirs.Yes, there are decent owners. Yes, the long-term care system is broken and Medicaid needs funding. Multimillionaires also need to stop getting rich off the poorest people in the most vulnerable moments of their lives. Safe staffing is not rocket science. Pay CNAs what you pay workers to stand by a street cone. Stop brokering operating costs on their backs to drive the private equity market and see what happens.As I write, investors are getting nervous about the future of nursing homes. This will potentially lead to a seismic turnover in ownership as real estate stocks are sold off. The average nursing home can be rough, a failing one is horrifying.Yet poor people will still get old and sick and need to go somewhere. Investors and owners will be just fine. The equity money will wander with them into the wider field of assisted living facilities (ALFs) where regulations are virtually non-existent, and Memory Care units where business is booming because of Alzheimer’s. In these facilities, COVID numbers are rarely counted, there are no staffing ratios, and workers get paid even less. Nursing homes will not go away, they will just get worse. As an essential over-flow valve for hospitals, they continue to provide post-acute care. But their residents will get sicker, the margins will get slimmer, and caregivers will suffer.This is an industry where an administrator can not only fire you but strip you of your livelihood by dinging your license with charges of neglect, and where you can work 20 years for the same company and still qualify for Medicaid. Held hostage by their best instincts, caregivers struggle to choose their own financial, physical, and mental health over the residents they love—and these employers know that. In fact, they bank on it.Recently, at a nursing home in Pennsylvania, facing infection numbers similar to those at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, workers organized in a matter of weeks. They only had to watch one worker die before they acted. Bypassing the usual election process, they sent a 10-day strike notice, demanded union recognition, and won it.For nursing home workers to organize and take collective action, though, they don’t just have to overcome fear, but a whole racist, sexist, disaggregated system that runs on their labor. They have to come to believe that it might be necessary to step away from one resident, to ensure the safety of all residents. This is why I tell my daughter, if you ever see a health-care worker on strike, show respect and have some humility. You have no idea what choices they’ve had to make that day.Vanessa Veselka is the author of the novels The Great Offshore Grounds and Zazen, which won the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize. Her short stories have appeared in Tin House and ZYZZYVA, and her nonfiction in GQ, The Atlantic, Smithsonian, and The Atavist, and was included in Best American Essays and the anthology Bitchfest: Ten Years of Cultural Criticism. She has been, at various times, a teenage runaway, a sex worker, a union organizer, an independent record label owner, a train hopper, a waitress, and a mother. She lives in Portland, Oregon.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
VENICE—There is a moment early on in Regina King’s One Night in Miami when it becomes painfully clear that this film is not going to sugarcoat the blatant reality of systemic racism. Aldis Hodge, who plays the former NFL football star turned actor Jim Brown, is sitting on the front porch of a white neighbor’s house in his hometown of St. Simons, Georgia, in 1964. The neighbor is Mr. Carlton, played by Beau Bridges, who offers him a lemonade and pours praise over Brown, telling him how proud he is to be from the same town as such an impressive football hero. Carlton’s granddaughter reminds her grandfather that he needs to move some furniture but when Brown offers to help, Carlton flat-out tells him—using the N-word—that they do not allow Black people inside the house.One Night in Miami recreates an evening in February of 1964 when real-life friends Jim Brown, a pre-Muhammad Ali Cassius Clay (Eli Goree), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom, Jr.) and Malcolm X (played by Kingsley Ben-Adir) gathered to celebrate Clay’s win over Sonny Liston, which made him the youngest heavyweight champion of the world. The real-life conversation of that night is not known, but writer Kemp Powers—adapting his play of the same name for the screen—creates a believable dialogue that brings out the vulnerable sides of four of the most influential Black men of their time. In a post-screening Zoom press conference, Powers said the whole script was created around a single paragraph in a book about Muhammad Ali that mentioned the four meeting in a hotel room that night in Miami.Muhammad Ali Knocked Trump’s Muslim Ban Before He Died The film flicks at each character’s daytime personality—Malcolm X’s speeches, Cassius Clay’s legendary ego, Sam Cooke’s crooning, and Jim Brown’s transition from the football field to acting, but it is Powers’ exploration of the softer side of these men that resonates the most.The men talk deeply and painfully about their own struggles with racism, but not in the context of police brutality or racial profiling. These are all successful Black men at the pinnacle of their careers who, it is revealed, have had to sacrifice a part of themselves to white America in order to attain their status. Malcolm X holds each man’s foot to the fire to lay bare what those compromises are, which so few white people—including myself—really ever get such a raw, inside look at.The conversations are candid and the men convincingly vulnerable. Powers pits Malcolm X against Cooke for “selling out” to white people, giving Cooke the opportunity to explain it from his perspective—in the end, both men see eye to eye. The night lingers on and wafts into a very deep conversation between Brown and Malcolm X about colorism, with Brown coaxing tears out of Malcolm X for his insecurity about “not being Black enough.” (Just a few days later, Malcolm X would be assassinated, and his mounting paranoia about his fate is palpable).One Night in Miami is King’s feature directorial debut, and she is the only Black female director to have a major film at the scaled-down 77th Venice Film Festival, which she said in the presser was a “make or break moment” for all female directors. The post-screening conversation—in which King, all four actors, and the writer were present—seemed to continue off-screen, with the four men bonding as if they were still on set. Hodge, who played Brown, said that he felt the film captured what is happening in today’s America even though it was set in the 1960s. “I think for me personally, part of coming to this particular project as a Black man is that these are the conversations I have in my daily life,” he said. “The beautiful thing about our art is that we do have an opportunity to influence real progress and affect real change… these are the moments we have to manage the conversations right now—for me myself, this film would help people understand how to talk to us, how to look at us, and for our own community [to] really come together. There are a lot of conversations being had right now, but there is also a lot of disconnect. A piece of art like this can be part of this connection.”Martin Scorsese’s Fetish for Sexy Italian ShoesBen-Adir, who played Malcolm X, described to the press some of what it has meant for him to be a light-skinned Black man, and the weight of that. He also said playing such a legend was an opportunity of a lifetime but also a burden, since he was playing a side of Malcolm X few ever saw. “We always see these men at work, all of the videos they are always in the limelight, they are always responding to something,” he said. “You never see Malcolm X when he wasn’t in a press situation or responding to the most incredibly atrocious experience of racism.”When King started filming One Night in Miami last November, no one could have imagined what was around the corner, first with the COVID-19 pandemic and then nationwide protests for racial justice following the police’s killing of George Floyd. King said that they could not have chosen a better moment for its release. “The story for Black Americans, those were the conversations that were happening 60 years ago, and these are the conversations happening now,” she said. “When we started filming it, little did we know we’d be in this powder-keg moment we are now. It’s one of those things that feels like it was meant to be… as if fate always had this planned out this way.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
Millennials are older than they’ve ever been. It’s upsetting for everyone. It’s upsetting for them as they find their floors suddenly carpeted with their own thinning hair, become armchair experts on heartburn medications, and grapple with an education that made them experts on mitosis and meiosis yet still unsure what the hell a 401(k) or an insurance deductible is. It’s upsetting for the younger people, forced to endure their “when I was your age” ramblings on dial-up internet connections and eye-rolls over TikTok. And it’s upsetting for the older people—the boomers who thought millennials were entitled and overdosing on avocado toast when the passing of time has actually revealed them to be a lost generation whose adolescence was defined by perhaps the most significant terrorist attack in the country’s history, who entered the workforce in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, and are now, as The Atlantic reported, “entering their peak earning years in the midst of an economic cataclysm more severe than the Great Recession.”It’s not new to talk about millennials. Lord knows it’s not. But, as they reach this stage, there does seem to be a significant turning point: Feeling for them. What it means to be a millennial has been explored academically, theoretically, and, often judgmentally. But it hasn’t been explored creatively, at a human level. Certainly not with the brilliance, empathy, and insight of PEN15, a love story to the crowd that came of age around Y2K that exposes their greatest tragedy: Being them. Well, being us. (Hi, the millennial is me.)The 50 Best Fall TV Shows to Distract From the End of the World, From ‘The Crown’ to ‘Selena’The Emmy-nominated comedy series returns to Hulu Sept. 18 in all its heart-shredding, hormone-confused, beautifully awkward and painfully traumatizing glory. If I had a gel pen, I would be doodling hearts all over this article. I’d set my AIM away message with a cryptically poignant lyric from a Brian McKnight song. I’d yell, “No I don't, shut up!” at my parents if I overheard them telling one of their friends how much I loved it. In PEN15, named after a cruel playground prank, Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle play 13-year-old semi-fictional versions of themselves, reenacting middle school as it happened in the year 2000. That is to say that the 33-year-old duo, who co-created the series along with Sam Zvibleman, act alongside actual pre-teens—a Saturday Night Live-esque gimmick that is so well executed that it almost instantaneously evaporates.Erskine is Maya Ishii-Peters, a half-Japanese cyclone of frayed nerves sparking mischievousness, confidence, devastation, regret, curiosity, horniness, and sadness, sometimes all in rapid, dizzying succession. Konkle plays Anna Kone, a sensitive empath whose identity crisis is complicated by the fact that her parents are going through a divorce and she feels a duty to be everyone’s support system, be it her heartbroken mother or her vulnerable best friend, who always requires a hand to hold before leaping to the next scary risk. (This is middle school, so think: Talking to a boy, tasting a beer, staying up all night at a sleepover, or wearing a new shirt to school.)To disguise their age, to the extent to which the sight gag both is and isn’t the point, Erskine tapes down her chest and sports a bowl cut, the result of Maya trying to give herself layers by looking at a photo of Sarah Michelle Gellar from Teen magazine as a guide. Konkle, who wears braces, hunches her tall, thin frame in a way recognizable to anyone who has folded or contorted their bodies because they are uncomfortable with taking up space—a familiar sight in a hallway of middle-school girls.They nail the insecure mannerisms: the timid shuffle up to a group of classmates whose conversation they want to join; the inability to make eye contact while asserting themselves; the whiplash between embarrassed silence and loud explosions of emotion. Konkle, in particular, has this way of craning her neck and hanging her mouth agape in a slight droop that bears her braces, her arched eyebrows mirroring that inverse parabola of sadness. It’s the perfect expression of pubescent despair.The subconscious knowledge that you’re watching grown women relive the experiences that shaped who they are as the people they have become is incredibly profound. Swirls of wishful thinking that you could have the same journey, the relief that you don’t have to, and, either way, the resonance of knowing what those girls and, now, these women are going through make for a layered and healing viewing experience.Season 1 begins with Maya and Anna spitting hope through orthodontia. They’re certain that seventh grade is going to be their year, a tweenage optimist’s swan dive off a cliff into the craggy waters of bullying, Richter-scale emotions, and incessant mortification. The show is a time capsule of Y2K references and artifacts. Season 2 begins with the BFFs talking on the phone after their middle-school dance, Anna on a see-through corded phone as she and Maya play MASH and download on boy drama. But it’s also a Pandora’s box of milestones, emotions, and repressed memories (or, for many of us, lingering scars), unearthed, opened, and felt again after all these years.It’s the adrenaline-filled thrills and the realized nightmare of a time in a person’s life when everything is new, exciting, and unknown: Body parts and body hair; kisses, hormones, and sexual exploration; friends and mistakes made under peer pressure; bras and thongs; and, especially in this Y2K setting, the world at your fingertips through an AIM chat or a query to Ask Jeeves.The first episode of Season 2 sees Maya and Anna go to a pool party, relenting to a full-body hair shave and ritualistic popping of ear acne as they primp, secretly excited for the soiree. They dance to wildly inappropriate hip-hop music as they get ready. (True millennials snicker at the faux outrage over Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP,” which plays like a church hymn compared to the raunchy lyrics we’d sing along to then.)It’s brilliant to cast the rest of the students on the show with actual kids. The pool party is a symphony of awkward phases performed by an orchestra of out-of-tune instruments. It’s set-dressing that encapsulates the show’s marriage of comedy and horror, bridging the genres with a simultaneously uncomfortable and cathartic reflection of the human spirit at its most brittle stage of development. Throughout the season, the girls deal with being slut-shamed, compare vagina smells, go full Exorcist demon on their mothers, cycle through crushes, deepen their friendship, embarrass themselves, lift each other up, realize the transformative power of glitter, and weather the identity-defining journey of either acting in the school play or being a techie backstage. An added bonus of Season 2 is the opportunity to more deeply explore another classmate, Gabe (Dylan Gage), who, while not explicitly stated, is navigating sexually confused feelings at a time when he’s being peer-pressured to start dating and kissing girls. It should come as no surprise that this arc is handled with astonishing nuance and subtlety—familiar to anyone who lived through a similar experience in ways they wouldn’t have even known to excavate on their own. (Hi, again. It’s me.)What makes PEN15 rise above other millennial “takes” is its status as an origin story. It’s not elucidating who we are now, but how we got here. It’s incredibly hard to capture the mindset of that age without coloring experiences with regret or fantasy fulfillment, or filtering them through adulthood’s learned lessons. It captures the feelings as they emerged raw.None of us would have been capable of writing about what any of that was like when we are at that age. To have it dramatized for us so viscerally—and now, at this turning point in our (millennial) lives—is pretty astonishing. We were flailing for connection then, just as we are now. We may not be married to Brant and living in a shack with 2,000 babies while driving a limo made of diamonds, as Maya’s MASH results predicted. In fact, even imagining home ownership is the sticking point of the millennial debate. (Did we somehow know then?) But where we ended up is pretty remarkable—and certainly nothing like what we would have expected then. It may be impossible to understand how we got here [gestures broadly to the brokeass and maligned millennial existence]. And it’s never been in our control. So much has been outside of our control, in fact, that it’s been frustratingly impossible to draw a line from then to now. But now we finally have a human throughline. It’s this show. And it just asked me if I wanted to join the club and wrote “PEN15” on my arm in a Sharpie when I said yes.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
In May, conspiracy theory and hate speech monitoring groups started flagging the spread of a disturbing anti-Semitic meme: a stylized picture of the novel coronavirus on a tie-dye-like background framed with text reading, “COVID-19. If you have the bug, give a hug. Spread the flu to every Jew. Holocough.” A report by the Community Security Trust, a British group that works to stop the spread of anti-Semitism, cast the meme as the apex of far-right chatter “about getting infected, either deliberately or accidentally, and then going to synagogues and other Jewish buildings to try to infect as many Jewish people as possible.” The meme soon largely fell out of the public eye. But the term holocough spread, and not just among twisted circles advocating the anti-Semitic weaponization of the virus. According to several digital hate speech monitoring groups canvassed by The Daily Beast, the term has been used as a tagline for a slew of conspiracy theories in recent months. Among them are deluded ideas that deny the existence or extent of the horrific COVID-19 pandemic, accept the pandemic but believe it’s a Jewish invention created for profit or population control, or suggest pandemic control measures are a prelude to Holocaust-like mass internments by the “deep state.” The meme has also cropped up in shitposts with no clear ideology or goal beyond provocation.The Bizarre Story of a Far-Right Activist Taking COVID Trutherism to MexicoThe story of how and why this trope caught fire and spread across many seemingly distinct and even opposed strains of conspiracy and hate is representative of how ideas flow through and across far-right factions in modern America, experts said. Understanding those dynamics is especially vital right now, as open hate and conspiracy theories are enjoying remarkable visibility in mainstream politics. Among recent examples, the Republican National Convention had to boot a speaker after The Daily Beast revealed she’d recently retweeted a particularly virulent anti-Semitic QAnon thread. Days earlier, President Trump himself effectively embraced QAnon at the White House.Grasping the way deranged totems like this one morph and spread is also important because America is still deep in the throes of the historic COVID-19 pandemic. As public health scholar Lawrence Gostin told The Daily Beast, conspiracies that sow doubt about the nature of and responses to the coronavirus are “probably the single greatest threats to public health” today. Because the social mediascape is vast, fractured, and at times opaque, Aryeh Tuchman of the Anti-Defamation League cautioned it’s difficult to track the precise origin of terms like holocough. But Rick Eaton, a digital hate researcher at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told The Daily Beast that the earliest usage he’s been able to document during the pandemic came from a Telegram post on March 11. (Telegram did not respond to a request for comment for this story.)It read, simply, “the holocough.” By that time, anti-Semitic pandemic conspiracy theories and hate had already been burbling up online for months. Conspiracy theories typically form and spread in times of confusion and upheaval, as people search for clear and easy answers, and for individuals to blame. They often pile on to established scapegoats—like Jewish populations, who have been wrongly blamed for pandemics since at least the 14th century Black Death, and falsely accused of manipulating literally every major global event to benefit themselves and hurt others. Someone apparently saw holocough, liked it, and forwarded it to other Telegram groups, until it seemingly caught the eye of notorious shitposter Milo Yiannopoulos, and he included it in a March 16 poll on his Telegram channel on what he and others should call the virus, pitting it against Chinese flu, kung flu, Wuhan wheezer, boomer doomer, and ching chong chinky-wong ping lo wang pao sweet & sour sickness. (Yiannopoulos did not respond to a request for comment.) That likely put it on the radar of people advocating many different strands of conspiracy theory who all cross over onto each other’s forums and lap up content from major (or once-major) figures like Yiannopoulos. But hate researchers believe the first person to really pick the term up and run with it was a 30-year-old amateur musician from central Massachusetts who has created several prominent memes used by the esoteric neo-Nazi group Feuerkrieg Division to honor racist killers and advocate for a race war. He allegedly created and posted the “give a hug” meme on March 31. This individual has since scrubbed most of his social media accounts; The Daily Beast attempted to contact him but was unable to reach him as of publication. We are not listing the creator’s pseudonym, nor the real name some researchers believe to be behind it, to avoid giving him and his wider portfolio of far-right propaganda undue attention.Once it was in the ether, the meme proceeded to take off in neo-Nazi groups already urging followers to cough on synagogues, and to lick items in Kosher aisles.As Eaton notes, neo-Nazis and other conspiracy and hate groups do not put a premium on consistency. They might deny the Holocaust ever happened, yet allow people in their groups who say it did, and that it just didn’t kill enough Jews, with no debate—and may even adopt that language when it’s convenient. Conspiracy theorists also tend to consume each other’s ideas, mixing and matching them, tossing out bits of them to fit their views. This tendency is especially common among QAnon types. So even though the Massachusetts meme-maker appears to have helped establish holocough as a call to weaponize a real pandemic against Jews, his meme’s sheer visibility invited inconsistent, and chaotic, appropriation. As suspicions of masking grew in the U.S. this spring, Eaton says virus denial theories, including many rooted in fears of plots to use pandemic control measures to erode freedoms and abet New World Order tyranny, gained traction online—and appropriated the popular holocough tag. As these ideas spread on larger platforms, people saw the phrase, likely found it simply amusing or provocative, and appropriated it for non-ideological posts meant to express amorphous frustration and sow indiscriminate outrage. RNC Speaker Cancelled After Boosting QAnon Conspiracy Theory About Jewish Plot to Enslave the World The wishy-washy nature of the appropriation of tropes among conspiracy theorists makes experts doubt that that the spread of the holocough tagline represents a marked increase in anti-Semitic beliefs or actions. But just because people use terms like this sporadically and indiscriminately doesn’t mean they don’t pose real threats. Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center points out that every time the term is shared, regardless of context, “it’s a huge victory from a marketing point of view” for all the nastiest hate and conspiracy groups that use it. It also normalizes the cheapening and erosion of the memory of the Holocaust. And, Gostin stressed, it—like all pandemic-related conspiracy theories—spreads mistrust and confusion that ultimately hinder pandemic control efforts. The groups The Daily Beast consulted for this article largely agree that the best way to prevent this kind of harm is for governments and social media companies to crack down on tags like holocough. But social media platforms have long struggled with hate speech and dangerous conspiracy theories, although Telegram has reportedly taken steps to remove neo-Nazi communities from its platform recently. And with an avid conspiracy theorist in the White House, and fear of potential erosions of the First Amendment palpable on both sides of the aisle, it’s unlikely they’ll get traction on a political solution in America anytime soon. That means holocough has space to continue spreading and mutating into bizarre new forms. Most of that evolution will likely play out in tiny conspiratorial and hateful communities on niche platforms, experts stressed. But iterations of the term always have the potential to spill out into the mainstream again—and even into the real world. Indeed, Holly Huffnagle of the American Jewish Committee told The Daily Beast her team has recently found holocough T-shirts, greeting cards, and other paraphernalia for sale online. Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
A leading opposition activist in Belarus was held on the border Tuesday after she resisted authorities' attempt to force her to leave the country. Maria Kolesnikova, a member of the Coordination Council created by the opposition to facilitate talks with longtime leader President Alexander Lukashenko on a transition of power, was detained Monday in the capital, Minsk, along with two other council members. Early Tuesday, they were driven to the Ukrainian border, where the authorities told them to cross into Ukraine.
For music aficionados of a certain age, the decision to have Jimmy Carter present Bob Dylan with the MusiCares Person of the Year honor at the 2015 Grammys seemed rather strange. Why was this anti-establishment folk crooner being feted by a former president? As the new documentary Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President reveals, the two became fast friends after meeting one night in 1975. “Bob Dylan’s band performed in Atlanta when I was governor, so I invited Bob Dylan and his band to the governor’s mansion,” Carter recalls in the film. “And my sons were very eager to be with the band, and I was honored because Bob Dylan asked me to go out in the garden, as a matter of fact, and have a conversation with him. The only questions he asked me were questions about my Christian faith, and what it meant to me. Basically the principles of it.” The famously irascible Dylan says he was disarmed by Carter’s generosity and genuineness of spirit.“He was a kindred spirit to me of a rare kind. The kind of man you don’t meet every day, and that you’re lucky to meet if you ever do,” offers Dylan. WATCH: BOB DYLAN ON HIS FRIENDSHIP WITH JIMMY CARTERThis rendezvous came a whole four years before Dylan announced his conversion to Christianity in 1979—and Carter’s words appeared to have a profound effect on him. As director Mary Wharton’s documentary explores in rollicking detail, Carter frequently invoked Dylan’s lyrics during his 1976 presidential run (“We have an America that, in Bob Dylan’s phrase, is busy being born, not busy dying,” he said during a speech at the ’76 Democratic National Convention), and was the first American president to openly embrace rock and roll, with various musicians shredding away at his rallies and events. “Young people in 1976 were very disillusioned by the Vietnam War and Watergate and were ready for a change in the leadership and direction that America was heading,” Wharton tells The Daily Beast. “By quoting Dylan lyrics in his campaign speeches and having rallies with performers like the Allman Brothers and Willie Nelson and Jimmy Buffett, Carter was telegraphing to those young voters that he was on their side, and the young people’s vote were a big part of what helped Carter win the election.” According to Wharton, Dylan proved to be an engaging and lively interview subject when he was interviewed for Rock & Roll President by the film’s writer, Bill Flanagan. “He was gracious and professional, and he showed up with some great ideas about what he wanted to say about Carter,” says Wharton. “He also seemed to be enjoying himself that day and gave us a lot more of his time that I ever would have expected.” Carter, of course, eventually won the election, and on Jan. 20, 1977, was sworn in as the 39th president of the United States. Aretha Franklin sang a stunning rendition of “God Bless America” at the ceremony—and 40 years later would refuse to perform at the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Carter did attend, however, making him the first-ever president to ring in the 40th anniversary of their inauguration. The Definitive Ranking of Bob Dylan Studio Albums, From Worst to BestAt the 2015 Grammy Awards, Carter delivered a speech so moving that Dylan appeared taken aback. “Bob Dylan knew how to put the essence of all the great religions into beautiful lyrics, which have been an inspiration to me and to the whole world,” said Carter. “There is no doubt that his words on peace and human rights are much more incisive, and much more powerful, and much more permanent than any president of the United States.” CNN Films will release Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President in virtual and select theaters on Wednesday, Sept. 9.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
The European Union’s executive commission is proposing its experienced Latvian vice president, Valdis Dombrovskis, to take over the post as trade chief of the bloc following the resignation of Ireland's Phil Hogan. Dombrovskis had already been holding the post temporarily since Hogan's resignation on Aug. 26. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen made the announcement as she named European Parliament heavyweight Mairead McGuinness as the new financial services commissioner.
Raino Bolz quickly diversified when his tourism business in South Africa’s winelands crashed to a halt in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Bolz hopes to see a return of some tourists in November, the start of South Africa’s tourism season. Africa will lose between $53 billion and $120 billion in contributions to its GDP in 2020 because of the crash in tourism, the World Travel and Tourism Council estimates.
Apple has some pretty stunning stores around the world, such as the one in NYC’s Grand Central Terminal and the one in Dubai with “Solar Wings” that respond to environmental conditions. Its newest location Singapore is its first ever “floating” store, though, and the tech giant has just announced that it’s set to open on September 10th. The floating Apple Store, its third retail location in Singapore, is located at the country’s posh Marina Bay Sands resort.
David Frost, the British government’s chief negotiator, said the two sides “can no longer afford to go over well-trodden ground” in the deadlocked talks and that the EU needs to show “more realism” about the U.K.'s status as an independent country. The EU side will be led by its long-time Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier. “Today, I will sit down with Michel Barnier and drive home our clear message that we must make progress this week if we are to reach an agreement in time," Frost said.
President Trump said Monday he's fine with an investigation of his new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, after five former employees told The Washington Post that DeJoy encouraged or pressured them into donating to Republican candidates then reimbursed them through bonuses. That would break at least two serious campaign finance laws, though because DeJoy sold the company, New Breed Logistics, in 2014, statues of limitation would probably prevent his criminal prosecution in federal court."Sure, sure, let the investigations go," Trump told reporters when asked about the DeJoy allegations. He called the postmaster general a "very honest guy" but agreed he should lose his job "if something can be proven that he did something wrong." DeJoy was already under fire for changes that slowed mail delivery.DeJoy spokesman Monty Hagler told the Post the postmaster general wasn't aware any of his former employees had felt pressured to make donations, though he did not specifically address the donation reimbursement allegations, saying only that DeJoy "believes that he has always followed campaign fundraising laws and regulations." According to a Post review of campaign finance documents, New Breed employees donated at least $1 million to GOP candidates when DeJoy headed the company from 2000 to 2014.The five-year statute of limitations means DeJoy won't face time in federal prison, and the lack of a Federal Election Commission quorum effectively shields him from federal civil charges. But what he is alleged to have done is also illegal in North Carolina, where New Breed is based, and there is no statute of limitations on the state charges.House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said late Monday her committee will investigate the DeJoy allegations and whether he lied under oath. She also urged the USPS Board of Governors to immediately suspend him. The chairman of the USPS board, Robert Duncan, is listed as a director on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) Senate Leadership Fund super PAC.More stories from theweek.com Why kids are obsessed with cars, trucks, and other vehicles 5 scathingly funny cartoons about Nancy Pelosi's salon visit Man transforms his driveway into a racetrack for 4-year-old neighbor
After a flurry of leaks, Microsoft has been forced to prematurely confirm the existence of a second next-generation console: the Xbox Series S. The company hasn’t gone into too much detail — it says that will come "soon" — but it’s already said that the slim, white console will deliver “next-gen performance in the smallest Xbox ever,” which is saying something when the Xbox Series X is already pretty tiny compared to Sony's rival console. Microsoft has also confirmed the price, which as the earlier leaks suggested will be $299 (or £249 in the UK). Tipsters believe that the Series S features many of the same internals as the Series X, but cuts the disc drive and has a less-powerful CPU and GPU.
Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi raised her party’s flag at its office in the capital Tuesday to start an election campaign that may be disrupted by a resurgence of the coronavirus. The main opponents will be the Union Solidarity and Development Party, formed by former generals. Myanmar was under military rule from 1962 until a nominally civilian government took over in 2011.
Asian shares rose Tuesday, after European stocks rallied and U.S. markets were closed for the Labor Day national holiday. Investors are focusing on uncertainties over the coronavirus pandemic and hopes for a vaccine. Attention is now on how Wall Street might pick up after the holiday break, given the decline that came last week after months of surging prices.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Tuesday praised China's role in battling the coronavirus pandemic and expressed support for the World Health Organization, in a repudiation of U.S. criticism and a bid to rally domestic support for Communist Party leadership. Xi told a televised assembly at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing that China’s battle against COVID-19 demonstrated the strengths of its socialist system and traditional Chinese culture in stirring motivation, building consensus and pooling resources. “We are willing to do whatever it takes to protect people’s lives!” Xi told participants, most of whom wore masks and exercised social distancing.