Leonardo DiCaprio loves having sex with his headphones on. A Real Housewife runs a NXIVM-style diet program. Jay Cutler is dating “White Power Barbie.” Vince Vaughn is quite rude to his fans. And Senator Lindsey Graham goes maskless in airports. I owe all of this juicy gossip to Deuxmoi, a highly addictive Instagram account that’s become the go-to source for celebrity tea-spilling during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, providing a light tonic of sorts to our daily doomscroll.“People are home and looking for another entertainment outlet,” Deuxmoi tells The Daily Beast. “If there was no quarantine, it wouldn’t have grown at all.”And grown it has. The account, run by an anonymous young woman in New York City, has swelled from 45,000 followers at the beginning of lockdown to around 234,000 and rising. Deuxmoi (“a made-up French word”) began in 2013 as a lifestyle account featuring interviews with local entrepreneurs but things took a sharp turn on March 18, when the poster, who works a full-time job, fired off a message to her IG audience.“It was the last day of work [in the office], and I said, ‘Hey guys—send me your celeb stories.’ And it took off from there,” she recalls.Deuxmoi acts as a celeb-gossip repository of sorts, curating tips sent in from onlookers via Instagram DM or its online submission portal—typically a sneaky picture of a celeb in the wild or a spicy anecdote—that are then posted to Instagram Stories. Dozens of these items are shared on the Story a day (from approximately 200 submissions), creating a narrative effect. Typical posts include shots of celebs dining at NYC or L.A. restaurants; celeb couples walking the streets; stories of celebs being either nice or mean to their fans or coworkers; celeb hook-up tales; and of course, famous people partying. The result is a fascinating window into the pandemic lives of the rich and famous, at a time when the actual paparazzi have been sidelined.Charlotte McKinney Would Like to Be Taken SeriouslyDeuxmoi says that she doesn’t post the location photos in real time, because she’s “not trying to create mass hysteria or trying to put anyone in danger whatsoever,” and though she insists that the account is “not trying to shame anyone,” there does appear to be a social-responsibility element to the IG tabloid proceedings. She typically notes whether a celeb was spotted going maskless—as in the case of Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who was caught without a mask at an airport (“The person said that he was asked to put a mask on—and refused,” notes Deuxmoi), or if they’ve been flouting any and all COVID-19 guidelines, like Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy, who was spotted multiple times partying maskless with groups of people in the Hamptons before (and after) he came down with the coronavirus.“He was in Florida, he was in Nantucket, then he was in the Hamptons, and he was in the city, so who knows how many people he spread it to,” says Deuxmoi. “And he was definitely out in public before his ‘quarantine’ was over. And the mask was hanging off his face.”According to Deuxmoi, Adam Sandler, Hugh Jackman, Drew Barrymore, and Julianne Moore are known as the nicest celebs to their fans and coworkers—although the most angelic is none other than Harry Styles, who has been the subject of tons of positive stories and not a single negative one—while Vince Vaughn and Anna Kendrick are the most prickly. Certain celeb regulars are given nicknames, e.g. Leonardo DiCaprio is known as “Headphones Dino Bones,” owing to two of his favorite pastimes: sex and collecting dinosaur fossils.“It’s about having sex with the headphones on—and I’ve gotten so many DMs about that,” she offers, adding, “I’m just posting what people are sending in. I don’t control what celebrities people see or interact with, and I don’t think some people get that.”The lion’s share of the celeb content on Deuxmoi is of the dining out and hand-holding variety. And yet, in addition to exposing celebs behaving badly during the pandemic, she’s also shed light on a pair of famous celeb diets—Tanya Zuckerbrot’s F-Factor and ex-Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Teddi Mellencamp’s “ALL IN by Teddi—that have been accused of endangering women.Toward the start of the pandemic, Deuxmoi conducted an open call, asking her followers for crappy work stories.“This community of women started reaching out to me,” she says, relaying horror stories about the F-Factor Diet. Then, another woman shared her terrible experience with ALL IN by Teddi, saying it restricted her to a 500-calorie-a-day regimen replete with an “accountability coach” who administered penalties for lapses. Deuxmoi published damning text messages between the woman and her “accountability coach” that went viral, aided by the signal boost of influencer Emily Gellis, who took up the mantle and crowdsourced many other people’s troubling episodes with F-Factor and ALL IN.“I got a lot of the same messages she did, and she’s just taken it to the next level. But that’s not my job,” says Deuxmoi. “I try to remind everyone that my account is ‘for entertainment purposes only,’ and if something good comes out of it, great, but I’m not trying to crusade against anything.” There is, of course, the question of legality. Deuxmoi’s account regularly posts ass-covering disclaimers, and its Instagram bio reads, “Statements made on this account have not been independently confirmed. This account does not claim any information published is based in fact.”Thus far, she hasn’t received any legal threats from celebs.“I had one publicist, one reality star, and two people who dated offspring of celebrities reach out. That’s it,” she maintains.It hasn’t been easy balancing a full-time job and her increasingly popular IG. Deuxmoi typically gets up around 8:30 a.m. to check her tips and feed; goes into the office from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; works the account from 6:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., with small breaks for dinner or Real Housewives; and goes to bed at 2:30 a.m.“I’m exhausted right now,” she tells me. “It’s hard when people are constantly sending you information—especially information that’s relevant to the news. You want to post that stuff right away.”And Deuxmoi is hoping all her posting will soon pay off.“I’d love to monetize it due to all the hours I’ve poured into it for free,” she explains. “I’m working on a premium platform that will have more information for my followers, and merch, which people ask for all the time. But who knows? This might all go away tomorrow.”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.
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A federal judge has stopped the 2020 census from finishing at the end of September and ordered the once-a-decade head count of every U.S. resident to continue for another month through the end of October, saying a shortened schedule likely would produce inaccurate results. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in California made her ruling late Thursday, two days after hearing arguments from attorneys for the Census Bureau, and attorneys for civil rights groups and local governments that had sued the Census Bureau in an effort to halt the 2020 census from stopping at the end of the month. Attorneys for the civil rights groups and local governments said the shortened schedule would undercount residents in minority and hard-to-count communities.
Emma Bengtsson wanted to be a fighter pilot when she was growing up in Falkenberg, a small Swedish fishing village.Fortuitously, for us, if not the Swedish air force, her grandmother steered her towards culinary school in Stockholm when she was 16 and Bengtsson was set on her life path. She is now the executive chef at Aquavit, the astoundingly good Swedish restaurant in New York, and one of the few chefs in America to have two Michelin stars.My Five Favorite Meals: Massimo BotturaMy Five Favorite Meals: Lidia BastianichIn 2010, she was recruited to be the pastry chef at Aquavit, which has, for decades, been regarded as a superior eatery. So, she moved to New York, which she feels “could be a country of its own.” Four years later, she became the executive chef and that same year, under her leadership, the restaurant was awarded the Michelin stars. (It’s currently offering outdoor dining as well as takeout and delivery service.)The restaurant was once, I think it’s fair to say, a bit stuffy, a little formal and somewhat atmospherically restrained. No more! Bengtsson oversaw a transformation in the kitchen and in the dining room, inventing new, more imaginative dishes and inspiring a brighter, more artistically decorated establishment and experience. It’s not a cheap restaurant but, as she likes to point out, for a Michelin honored one, it’s reasonable.Aquavit’s signature dishes are gravlax particularly and salmon generally, served in a traditional way in the bar setting and “sparked up and made fine dining for the restaurant,” as she explains. “Our herring, too, it’s one of those things you would almost consider it being a peasant food back in the day—a cheap fish, a lot of fat, you could preserve it well. Turning that into fine dining is really fun.”I asked her why Nordic food was so different from any other cuisine, something we are more profoundly aware of given the wide-reaching fame of restaurants like Noma in Denmark and KOKS in the Faroe Islands. “I think it comes down to our culture being so old, and cooking part of it for so long. We have techniques that have been developed for centuries in a very cold country. Our food today is obviously a reflection of how we cooked many years ago when we had ten, 11 months of hard winter.”So it’s about having to preserve your food then?“Preserving, pickling, yes, but for instance we eat very fatty foods, very salty, very little sugar, not things that metabolize too fast. We stick with what is heavier—oil, butter, all the parts of the animal, even things you might not normally use. I think it’s more of a survival thing.”I mentioned that the most imaginative Scandinavian food seems to be a lot about foraging in very strange places, and coming back with some very strange things, and asked her where she did that here. “I think the strangest place would be Central Park,” she says. “You have to adapt to where you are. We use a lot of foragers and farmers from upstate. It is partly a niche thing, but more it is going back to what we survived on hundreds of years ago, where we realized almost everything in nature in Scandinavia is edible, one way or another.”Here are her five favorite meals.* * *Norrtälje, Sweden* * *I love Sweden in the summertime, especially during August and crayfish season. I was planning on going back this summer for the first time since 2015, which is when this meal is from. It was early August and a wonderful day; warm but not too hot. I had been picking vegetables from my mother’s garden that we prepared as side dishes for the crayfish. We had baguettes, mayonnaise and some Nordic shrimp as well. I guess it is one of those dinners that are very nostalgic for me. It was perfect to have the whole family together and eating my favorite meal. We spent hours at the dinner table just nibbling away on crayfish and shrimp.* * *Noma, Denmark* * *When I got to visit Noma in Denmark in 2005 that was the first time I ever made a trip just to go and eat somewhere. Like the guide said, “exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey” and this was definitely that to me. It was impossible to get a reservation back then and it was thanks to my chef’s connection with [chocolate maker] Valrhona that I managed to get a table for two. I remember thinking as a cook not making that much money, that it had better be worth it. The trip, hotel, and dinner was a lot of money for me, but I never regretted it. The experience blew my mind and started my curiosity for who I wanted to become in the future. What I remember the most was the playfulness to food and service and thinking that fine dining does not have to be stiff and uptight. It was the meal that started shaping me into who I am today.* * *Vietnam & Thailand* * *In my teenage years and early 20s, I would save every dime I could so that I could travel for my vacation. In Sweden, you get four or five weeks vacation when most restaurants close during the summer. I would travel mostly to Asian countries, exploring the local culture and the local food. I would never stay in fancy hotels or eat at fancy restaurants. I would make it my mission to seek out the most local eating spots I could find. I remember eating food from street carts, sitting on corners on little plastic chairs and enjoying this amazing food that was cooked with love and sparse ingredients. The wonderful smell of different spices and meat being roasted filled the air and I could go from stall to stall for a whole night just eating.* * *Narisawa, Tokyo* * *I traveled to Tokyo around 2015 to visit the Aquavit location and to work with their team. During one of the nights off from the kitchen, we went out to dinner. I have followed Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa and his work during the years and I was excited to try his creations, but I did not know what to expect other than perfection. And, of course, they did not disappoint. Every bite was better than the last and I felt this pure joy while eating his food. The flavors reminded me of Nordic ones; everything was so light and bursting with flavors. The creativity and the playfulness spoke to me as well. I love how beautiful everything was arranged. It was a dinner experience that I will never forget. This is the first time I fell in love with an open kitchen concept and I have wanted to work in one ever since then. And now I finally do!* * *Svedala, Sweden* * *This is not so much one special dinner but many of them combined—these dinners were at my grandmother’s home. Her food is what made me want to become a chef. We lived a couple of hours away and never got to visit more than a couple of times a year, but the memories of the food and the smell that hit me as soon as I entered her home will never leave me. Every time I came to visit, I would find her in the kitchen wearing an apron, always covered in flowers. She was always cooking; good food takes time. She would normally prepare the roast for days before we arrived, and it was always so juicy and so tender—we didn’t even need a knife to cut it. The carrots would simmer on the stove in salted water covered in real butter. I remember the black currant gelée that she would make every summer when the berries were at their ripest. It was tart but still so sweet. I could eat that with anything. And she knew how much I loved her sweets, so she would prepare her rice pudding and her chocolate cakes for me every time I would visit. She even put some aside for me in a container, so I could take them home but they never lasted longer than the car ride back.Her love for ingredients and the respect she gave them is a rare thing today to find and I carry her lessons with me every day. The world would be a much better place if every kid could grow up with a grandmother like mine.My Five Favorite Meals features the most cherished dining experiences of bartenders, chefs, distillers and celebrities.Interview has been condensed and edited.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 Miranda July’s, Kajillionaire, her first film in nine years, the masses embody an ethic of tenderness.The film’s protagonist, Old Dolio Dyne, played with both care and spontaneity by Evan Rachel Wood—a strange, antisocial, and emotionally-neglected only child in a family of very broke petty scammers—has a hard time accepting even basic touch, but is offered affection and understanding, by strangers. “Old Dolio is an ode to a kind of deeply-butch woman that I have loved and been in love with,” July told me by phone. “I wanted her to be treated kindly; I wanted women to reach out and try to comfort her. And I knew just how she would react. I knew that she would not be able to take it. Even if she wanted it—it would be too painful.”At one point, Old Dolio makes some cash filling in for a young pregnant woman who is hoping to skip her state-mandated child-rearing workshop to go on a date. At the workshop, Old Dolio is stunned by what she sees and hears—skin-to-skin contact between mother and newborn has a crucial impact on child development. Old Dolio asks her mother, Theresa (a hardened yet almost soulful Debra Winger), if she did skin-to-skin or if she was placed right in a cot. The content of the exchange won’t surprise you, but its ability to resonate with perhaps any experience of abandonment or sense of generational trauma—while somehow being funny—might. The thrust of the film doesn’t come from an idea of immediate familial redemption, but a more expanded sphere of communion. Kajillionaire is a painful, hopeful, and mischievous exploration of what queerness, in its many meanings and interpretations, can win you and lose you.Not Just ICE: A California Prison Sterilized Her and Other Black WomenDuring a baggage insurance fraud scam Old Dolio dreams up, her parents, including her father Robert (the always funny-sad Richard Jenkins), take an interest in a vibrant young woman on the plane who’s Old Dolio’s age as well as her total opposite. From there, the Dynes—desperate to make rent for their absurdly not-to-code apartment (of sorts) that bleeds pink foam at least once a day—enmesh themselves in an elaborate yet amateur heist dreamed up by their new partner in crime, and about which Old Dolio is understandably resentful.Melanie, played by an electrifying Gina Rodriguez, has a very attached mother who calls her frequently on FaceTime and buys two of everything so she can send along the second to her daughter. The young woman, who holds a day job in sales at a glasses shop, seems appreciative of her mother, but also a bit smothered, annoyed. “I have a good friend whose mom is like that, who had a lot of expensive bath products and stuff like that, that I always really envied,” July divulged. “And that her mom would send them to her just seemed like the height of luxury to me. But also this friend was always dating a drug addict, just could not resist the pull of a total car crash, and was always wanting to save someone, too. And with that, I was like, I know that girl, and she would totally get pulled in.”Kajillionaire, out Sept. 25, quickly becomes a story not so much about Old Dolio’s troubled parents—who are largely unable to show genuine affection to their struggling daughter or to recognize Melanie’s underlying vulnerabilities—but about both the comedy and erotics of what it means for two disconnected women in their twenties to be reborn through each other and stumble out into downtown Los Angeles in all their closely-held knowledge, startling naivete, and economic precarity. And this process of rebirth, a string of big and small adventures between Melanie and Old Dolio, is full of genuine inspiration that comes both from the performances and from the film’s imaginative environment. “So often, it’s an idea that makes me curious or is funny to me,” July explained. “It doesn’t necessarily seem like it’s holding meaning—and that’s actually crucial. It has to be alive in this way.“And then, I kind of trust it, like, I know it’s gold, if it has that aliveness. With a lot of the dialogue on the airplane, I’m sort of quietly performing, and as I’m doing it, it’s making me laugh. Or imagining Evan doing the breast crawl—that’s just the first time I’ve thought of it. I fell down to the floor and started doing it across my studio. I’m like, Oh, this one looks great. You know? And then my job later [is to be] a detective, to figure out, What do these things mean? I just trust that they have this meaning, like dirt in their roots or something. And I have to kind of delicately preserve that as I weave it into the story.”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.
When a blue Jeep sped down an Aurora, Colorado, roadway in July, narrowly missing protesters, some witnesses swore the driver had put their lives at risk.“I saw him look straight at the crowd and hit the gas,” Rebecca Wolff, a protester who spoke to police about the incident, told the Denver Post. Another protester broke a leg jumping off the raised highway to avoid the driver.But in an hour-long press conference on Wednesday, District Attorney George Brauchler announced that he would not press charges against the driver unless presented with more evidence against him. Also Wednesday, in neighboring Denver, a different man drove a car into a crowd that was protesting Kentucky prosecutors declining to charge any officers for fatally shooting Black 26-year-old EMT Breonna Taylor in March.As of Thursday evening, no charges had been filed in the Denver incident, either.Since the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in May, Americans have spent months in the streets protesting racism and police brutality. Those same streets have also become the site of a disturbing pattern of vehicle attacks, with drivers speeding toward and sometimes striking protesters. Complicating matters are calls by lawmakers to impose harsh penalties on those who block traffic—and even to grant immunity to drivers who hit protesters under certain circumstances.As The Daily Beast recently reported, such calls have been percolating in legislative chambers for years, their language sometimes curiously similar, like a right-wing fever dream playing on repeat. But drivers don’t always need those immunity laws. A pattern of dropped or languishing cases across the country has already seen drivers duck charges for speeding at—and sometimes ramming into—protesters.Meanwhile, the attacks keep coming.Ari Weil, a PhD student studying terrorism at the University of Chicago, has been monitoring car attacks since racial justice protests swept the country in late May. Between those first days of protests and Sept. 5, he’d recorded 104 incidents of people driving into protesters: 96 of them civilians and eight of them law enforcement. Of those civilian drivers, 39 had been charged, Weil found.In other words, well under half of people who drove vehicles at protesters this year had been charged, he estimated.Not all of those cases are necessarily malicious, Weil stressed. Five of the 96 civilian cases appear to have stemmed from someone taking a wrong turn, or encountering a protest by accident. In 48 of those cases, Weil found, the driver’s intent was not immediately apparent.But he estimated 43 of them to be overtly malicious acts based on the driver either having known extremist associations, yelling slurs at protesters, or deliberately swerving or turning to run people down.Other monitors of car attacks have offered slightly different figures. A protest-tracker by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, a conflict-mapping non-profit, has logged 69 malicious ramming attacks from May 28 to Sept. 15. More recent incidents not captured in the Weil or ACLED dataset included collisions following Wednesday’s announcement of no charges over Breonna Taylor’s death. In addition to the Denver incident, a driver in Buffalo, New York, was filmed hitting protesters. Both cases were under investigation as of Thursday.The discrepancies in such tallies reflect the difficulty of determining whether a vehicle attack was attempted murder, an honest mistake, or something in-between. When Brauchler declined to press charges against the Aurora Jeep driver on Wednesday, he said the driver was trying to get away from protesters. He noted, correctly, that a protester has been charged with attempted murder for firing a gun at the Jeep, although, again, the details vary according to individual accounts. The protester fired the gun after the Jeep driver started moving through the crowd, accelerating toward a “wall of moms,” two of those women told CBS4, accusing the driver of nearly killing them.It’s the kind of murky situation that has plagued the George Floyd protests—by many accounts the largest American mass-mobilization in history.Car attacks “in prior years have been a lot more cut-and-dry,” Weil said, noting the past use of car attacks by jihadists and the far right—most notoriously the murder of Heather Heyer at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017. During the more recent protests, however, “there are many more opportunities for motorist-protester interactions, some of which are motivated by racism and some of which are not,” he added.The threat of vehicular homicide often has protesters looking over their shoulders, according to Maggie Ellinger-Locke, a lawyer with the National Lawyers Guild, which monitors protests.“This is a really dangerous trend that appears to be on the rise, where we’re seeing far-right actors using vehicles as weapons, driving into protesters,” she said, noting that, although anecdotal, car attacks do appear to be on the rise. “Protesters are aware of this. Legal support organizations like the National Lawyers Guild are aware of this, and they’re very alarmed by it.”Some car attacks have resulted in arrests. A driver who plowed through a Bloomington, Indiana, protest, striking at least two people, was arrested two days after the incident and charged with criminal recklessness and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in serious bodily injury. A self-proclaimed Ku Klux Klan member was convicted last month for an attack on Black Lives Matter protesters outside Richmond, Virginia. A Seattle man accused of driving onto a closed section of highway and striking two protesters (one fatally) has been arrested and pleaded not guilty to vehicular homicide and reckless driving. A Long Island man accused of hospitalizing two protesters with his car was arrested in July, as was an alleged Iowa City car attacker who, during his arrest, told police that protesters needed an “attitude adjustment.”But several high-profile cases have passed without charges. In Tampa, Florida, on June 21, the driver of a pickup truck was filmed cursing at protesters before driving over a median and onto the wrong side of the road to hit Jae Passmore, a prominent local activist. The driver has not been charged, although according to Passmore’s attorney Ben Crump, police know the driver’s identity.When Passmore held an event six days later, a second car ran into the group and drove away with an injured protester on the car’s hood, the Tampa Bay Times reported. Police stopped the driver, but did not arrest them. Instead, the protester was with four counts, including felony criminal mischief.A spokesperson for the State’s Attorney Office in the 13th Judicial Circuit on Thursday said the pickup incident was still under investigation. They added that the charges against the protester in the second incident were being dropped—but also that driver who struck them was off the hook.“There is no evidence that either person intended to cause harm, and therefore charges are not appropriate,” the spokesperson for prosecutors said in a statement. “Both people made decisions that escalated the situation, and basic courtesy by either person could have minimized or avoided this conflict.”A slew of these incidents remain in a bizarre state of investigative limbo. When a car full of pro-police demonstrators drove through a crowd of Black Lives Matter activists in Manhattan’s Times Square earlier this month, the news site Gothamist was quick to name the car’s likely driver, who has posted the vehicle on pro-police pages. (A passenger also spoke to the media under her own name.) Several witnesses have gone to police about the incident. Nearly a month later, the incident remains under investigation, a spokesperson for the Manhattan District Attorney told The Daily Beast.“Oftentimes there's been a big delay by prosecutors deciding whether to charge people,” Weil said.Prosecuting car attacks might become even more difficult under proposed legislation that would criminalize protesters blocking traffic or offer immunity to people who hit those protesters with cars. The most recent of those proposals, announced Monday by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, would remove liability for people who strike or kill protesters with cars if the driver is “fleeing for safety from a mob.” It’s a claim made by many such drivers, including the neo-Nazi who killed Heyer in Charlottesville.Those proposals haven’t passed yet, and have been rejected in states like Kentucky and North Carolina. But Ellinger-Locke said even the suggestion of such laws—and the legitimacy they offer attackers—can heighten the risk of further harm.“I think they suggest to people engaging in that kind of dangerous, harmful, potentially murderous conduct, that it’s something law enforcement supports,” she said. “I think people are seeing the introduction of these bills and feeling emboldened to take action because of them. Not only does that chill the speech of demonstrators seeking to advance their message, but I think sends a clear message that that sort of conduct is okay.”Would-be attackers are sometimes aware of such proposals, Weil said, pointing to a Discord messaging group that planned 2017’s deadly Charlottesville rally. Some users, including the killer, James Fields Jr., spoke gleefully of the possibility of hitting anti-racist protesters, with another user writing, “I know NC law is on the books that driving over protesters blocking roadways isn’t an offense.” (The law was not, in fact, on the books, although that didn’t prevent Fields’ deadly attack.)Weil warned that language about hitting protesters is an active part of the far-right’s meme vocabulary.It’s also spread to conservative talk radio hosts.When a Denver woman was filmed in May driving through a crowd of protesters and making a U-turn, allegedly with the intent to hit another, the host of a morning show on Denver’s 710 KNUS radio station reportedly said on air that the driver “ran your monkey rear-end down… You’ve got that coming.”The apparent target of his comments, the man whom the driver allegedly made a U-turn to hit, was Black. On July 20, the driver was charged—nearly two months after the incident.Brauchler, the district attorney who on Wednesday declined to charge the driver of the Jeep in Aurora, hosts a different show on the same station.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.
Teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg is back. “The main hope is, as always, to try to have an impact on the level of awareness and public opinion so that people will start becoming more aware,” the 17-year-old told reporters. The coronavirus outbreak has prevented the Fridays for Future movement that Thunberg inspired from holding its mass rallies in recent months, lowering its public profile.
On the eve of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote to advance then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Ana Maria Archila had something to say to Senator Jeff Flake.Archila, a sexual assault survivor, found Flake, an Arizona Republican, and cornered him in an elevator on Capitol Hill, emotionally urging him—“what are you doing, sir?”—to vote against Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Flake listened in silence; later, he urged the committee to delay its vote, which it did.That interaction, which was captured on video and quickly went viral, was one of the defining moments of a historically bruising and painful confirmation process. It attracted some of the most aggressive and determined protests seen on Capitol Hill in recent memory: activists occupied Republican senators’ offices and packed the balconies of the soaring Hart Senate office building, filling it daily with deafening chants and banners. At the height of the demonstrations, nearly 300 demonstrators were arrested in one day.Two years later, the Senate is set for another monumental confirmation fight, and liberals are hoping to summon every ounce of protest to fight a Donald Trump nominee who could shift the balance of the high court. But Archila doesn’t know if a moment like the one she had with Flake would be possible now—thanks to a country and capital changed by COVID-19.“I can’t get that thought to leave my head,” Archila told The Daily Beast on Thursday, “so I can start thinking about what’s possible.”Indeed, in the coming weeks, the marbled halls of the Senate are likely to be quiet, closed off to all but a small handful of lawmakers, staff, and reporters. The public gallery of the Judiciary Committee’s hearing room, where anyone who waits in line can come and observe the proceedings, will likely be empty when the nominee takes the witness stand. The office buildings usually thronged with staffers are now deserted, thanks to remote work policies.Some of the key factors behind the atmosphere of intense resistance to Kavanaugh will be absent this time around—and those involved with the previous fights know it. “We were creating an environment where the senators basically had to walk by people whose lives were directly at stakes,” said Archila, who is co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy, a liberal group organizing to fight Trump’s nominee. “I don’t know that we will be able to do that inside the halls of Congress.”That feeling is shared among those scrambling to organize the fight against the GOP’s accelerating effort to confirm a new justice. The sentiment is also shared by some in the Senate’s Democratic caucus, where there’s a sense that an intense public protest campaign will be crucial to their resistance efforts. “It just won’t be the same,” one Senate Democratic aide told The Daily Beast. “It clearly had an impact with Kavanaugh, cornering senators, applying pressure in person—all of it was compelling stuff, especially in the press. It clearly made some difference.”But there’s a reason why liberals are not totally despairing: that the fundamental ingredients of protests will not be in short supply.Liberals Pressure Dems to Skip SCOTUS Hearings Entirely“We lose when we don’t wage the fight. The tactics are not as clear this time around, but we know people are willing to take risks,” said Archila, who mentioned the massive uprisings to protest police killings of Black people this summer, despite the pandemic. “That same level of energy is available to this fight.”That the GOP is set to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a conservative who could usher in decisive rulings on health care, voting rights, and abortion is, alone, fuel for liberals. And then there’s the abject fury stemming from Republicans’ official reversal from their 2016 argument for blocking President Obama’s pick to the high court—that the voters should get to decide through the presidential election.Instead of playing by the same rules, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is steaming toward a possible confirmation vote that could be just days or weeks before Election Day 2020.Several activists with liberal groups involved in the brewing court fight told The Daily Beast that they have plenty of options for vigorous protest and resistance, even under the conditions of a pandemic.“You better believe the Senate is going to know where people stand on this, and no tactics are off the table to make that clear,” said Kelley Robinson, executive director of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the political arm of the prominent pro-choice group that was active in opposing Kavanaugh’s confirmation. “There’s no way senators can avoid having to address people directly.”In the coming weeks, Robinson predicted, the capital city will see large outdoor demonstrations and marches, but emphasized organizers’ desire to drive participation remotely. She mentioned in particular a campaign to flood Senate offices with an unprecedented volume of calls from constituents, even more than the deluge that came into Senate offices during the Kavanaugh fight.“There are lots of ways for folks to take action remotely that allow their voices to be heard,” she said. “We’re doing all we can to slow down this process, particularly having constituents speak directly to some of these folks, especially [GOP Sens.] Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, senators that need to step up right now.”In just the week after Ginsburg’s passing, there have been signals of the contentious battle to come—and the lengths to which liberal activists may go to make their case. Earlier in the week, small groups of protesters with signs and bullhorns gathered outside the homes of McConnell and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, though the crowds failed to confront either lawmaker directly.Thousands, meanwhile, showed up at the steps of the Supreme Court over the weekend to mourn Ginsburg and to rally for her dying wish that the “next president” select her successor. And many more opened up their wallets to support Democratic candidates: on Sunday, the fundraising platform ActBlue reported processing $91 million in donations to Democratic candidates since Friday night. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) told The Daily Beast on Monday it was a signal of “one of the biggest grassroots mobilizations, politically speaking, in history.”Republicans have responded by framing the dissent in the context of their key election-year message: law and order. A dramatic new video from the Senate GOP’s campaign arm cast the Senate as the final bulwark against anarchy, interspersing threats from Democrats about total resistance to the Supreme Court pick with footage of fires in looting in U.S. cities over the summer and past protests over Kavanaugh. “The mob was in the street,” intones the narrator, “now it’s at our door.”A GOP member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), told conservative pundit Hugh Hewitt on Thursday that he expects the committee room to be empty for the nominee’s hearing. “But I’m sure there’ll be protesters in the street just like they were on my street on Monday, Antifa uniforms on my street protesting me,” said Tillis, raising the popular notion among conservatives that many liberal protesters are linked to that faction of hardcore left-wing activists. “That’s going to be, that’s the new normal for the way the Democratic Party operates.”Currently, a constellation of liberal groups that mobilized for the Kavanaugh fight—as well as campaigns to oppose the GOP health care and tax bills in 2017—are collaborating in an attempt to plot an effort that adapts to this unusual moment. But they realize the clock is ticking: Trump is set to announce his nominee on Saturday; with the GOP eyeing a confirmation vote before Nov. 3, Graham could begin hearings as early as Oct. 6. Graham’s office did not return a request for comment on their plans for the hearing setup, but the senator told Capitol Hill reporters on Thursday that he would lay it out after a nominee is named.Once that happens, some progressives predict, their broader strategy will be to shatter the image of a fait accompli that McConnell has worked to project over the vote, said Chris Kang, chief counsel at the liberal judicial activist group Demand Justice. “It can’t be, because there’s no nominee yet, and the senators haven’t even begun to hear from their constituents,” said Kang, who compared the situation to GOP efforts to repeal Obamacare. “They’re going to feel an avalanche of pushback.”While talks are preliminary about strategy, among activists, that broad aim is clear. “We have to get creative to make it possible,” said Archila. “It’s not just Republicans who will need to hear the consequences of their actions, Democrats will need to hear it too… My sense, from the last few days, is people are ready to take it to their offices, the restaurants where they eat. No one’s going to be able to insulate themselves from the people and the urgency people are feeling about this.”—with reporting from Scott BixbyRead 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.
Sarah McBride is taking nothing for granted. Last week, Delaware Democrats nominated her for a safe state Senate seat in Wilmington, previously occupied by soon-to-retire incumbent Harris B. McDowell III. If, as is almost certain, she is formally elected in November, McBride—a close friend of Joe and Dr. Jill Biden—will become America’s first out trans state senator.But McBride—a longtime LGBTQ campaigner and national press officer with the Human Rights Campaign—is not resting on the laurels of inevitability. “I’m going to work my heart out in the next few weeks to make sure we win in November and elect Democrats in Delaware,” McBride told The Daily Beast. The 30-year-old politician hails the “fair-mindedness” of the voters in Delaware’s 1st State Senate district, and beyond that is “mindful of how life-changing and life-affirming it would have been for me as a kid to see the headlines and stories about transgender people winning elections in their communities. Trump’s Latest Dose of Anti-Trans Poison Is Cruel, and Utterly Predictable“I hope this campaign can send a small but important message to a young kid just trying to find their place in the world—that our democracy is big enough for them, that their voices matter, and that they can live authentically. I know how much of a difference that message would have made to someone like me growing up. I also hope that this campaign brings about the substantive change my neighbors still need—around health care and paid family leave, education, and criminal justice reform.”If Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are elected, McBride is confident that they will reverse all of the Trump administration’s anti-LGBTQ attacks, especially on transgender people—like the infamous military ban. This will be welcome, she said, but will not diminish the “immediate and substantial” damage done to so many by such actions. “People have lost their lives because of the inaction of this administration. Their loved ones will never see them again. We cannot ignore that fact,” said McBride. But she is optimistic Democrats can win, and “adopt policies that mean people are treated with dignity and respect not matter who they are.”A Biden presidency and Democrat-controlled Senate would, she hopes, oversee the passing of the Equality Act, which would finally enshrine anti-LGBTQ discrimination measures as the law of the land. McBride remains “optimistic that we will move forward from this moment of crisis and discrimination to a brighter, more inclusive future.”“I’m not running to be ‘the transgender state senator,’” McBride told The Daily Beast. “I’m running to be a state senator who was born and raised in this district, a state senator who is a caregiver, a state senator who is working every single day to ensure more Delawareans get the health care they need and are supported in the challenges and crises they face with meaningful policies.”McBride connects LGBTQ experiences to other communities. Some people who come out “lose their families, jobs, and health care,” she said. Many people during the pandemic have had to choose between their health and their jobs. “That’s an impossible choice. For me, the moral measure of a society is how we treat people in their moments of vulnerability and hardship. There’s so much more we should be doing for people when they are facing the challenge of illness or the loss of job or income.”Since Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, McBride has been considering the grief of the justice’s family and friends, alongside the fear and nervousness of those concerned about the impact of a hastily installed right wing justice to replace her. “For me, what it reinforced was that we’re in the home stretch. There’s a critical election a few weeks away. It’s important for all of us to fight like hell in the next few weeks and years to make sure we have the government to represent the diverse country we have—not a government that rules for the few and a vocal minority.”LGBTQ people have benefited from a few Supreme Court decisions, said McBride, “but others have been harmed—on issues ranging from gun violence to voting rights. LGBTQ people, people of color, religious minorities—our dignity is on the ballot this November, and our collective fate. Quite literally, our democracy is on the ballot.”The LGBTQ voting bloc is “roughly the size of Michigan, and larger than the margin of victory in the last several presidential elections. It is central to supporting Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and string, progressive leaders up and down the ballot,” said McBride. “This is a choice between a healthier democracy where all voices matter, or to go down the path of division, discrimination, and a wholesale attempt to undermine democratic values and principles.”What does McBride make of LGBTQ conservatives and Trump supporters? “Being LGBTQ doesn’t make you automatically immune from being wrong.”What if Trump wins? What does that mean for LGBTQ people?“When I say our lives, rights, and dignity are on the ballot, that’s what I mean. A second term of Trump and Pence would be catastrophic for Americans of all backgrounds.”* * *“I looked around and saw a world I feared would not accept me for the person I was”Politics wasn’t always McBride’s desired career. When she was young, growing up in Wilmington, she wanted to be an architect. She made movies in middle school and high school. But even as a young child, she was “passionate about making change.” Government and advocacy, to her young mind, meant being able to make “the most amount of change to the most number of people possible.”She accepts she was “lucky” to be born into the family she was: two “incredible” older brothers (Sean and Dan) and two “very socially engaged” parents. Her mother Sally was an education advocate who was part of a coalition of parents who helped start the public art school she attended; her father David talked about current events at the dinner table and Sunday morning after church.“More deeply, as I struggled with who I was and how I fit into this world, I looked around and saw a world I feared would not accept me for the person I was,” McBride said. “Politics and advocacy seemed like the best avenue to bring about change and build a world where everyone could live their lives to the fullest.” As a chapter in her book, Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality (with a foreword written by Joe Biden), is titled, the personal really is political for McBride. For her, the fight for equal rights and other issues are not “abstract moral principles,” but fights that affect people’s lives in acute, very real ways. She claims she did not enter politics for “position and platform” but rather to fight for the underdog. Again, it’s personal. Growing up trans was “tough and difficult,” McBride told The Daily Beast. “As much as I knew I was lucky to be born into an inclusive and loving family, I feared for my safety, I feared for my ability to find community, and I feared for my ability to find love. The idea I could run for office or serve in government or contribute to my community—those ideas were almost impossible and incomprehensible as a kid. It is a profound reflection of how far we’ve come that this campaign is even possible. I was also incredibly lucky, and especially lucky when I eventually came out. So many people in our communities are facing so much worse than I ever faced.”McBride grew up with “few examples of people like me who were accepted, embraced, and celebrated in their communities.” She recalled watching a sitcom, with the trans character known to the viewer but not the characters on the show. “Every time another character expressed any kind of romantic interest in this character, who was beautiful, the laugh track would cue. When you’re 10 or 11 years old, you don’t know a lot, but you know you don’t want be the joke. That’s what I saw of myself in pop culture.”But she also saw Amanda Simpson become the first out trans woman appointee of any presidential administration in 2010, and “finding hope in that progress.” She was also inspired by President Barack Obama’s election victory, and the “power to create change and improve communities” he embodied for her. She wants to do the same.McBride is grateful to have never suffered from depression, to have always been able to see the positive—this she sees as a “privilege” she hopes she is paying back in her own advocacy. Still, “It wasn’t easy not being myself growing up. I was working through it. And I was figuring out who I was and how to live authentically and how to be safe and be affirmed. I was lucky to be able to do that at a relatively young age. For me there was a level of denial up until there wasn’t—which was the point at which I came out.”McBride recalled “staring at the mirror, saying ‘I’m transgender,’ and almost immediately I would say, ‘No, I’m not,’ rationalizing this unyielding fact that I knew deep down inside.” The young McBride hoped she could compensate for the “incompleteness” she felt if she succeeded in life in other ways—“if I made a difference in the community, if I made family and friends proud; that those things would bring me the wholeness and completeness I lacked. It might be difficult for a person who is not transgender to understand what it feels like to be trans. The closest thing I could compare it to is a constant feeling of homesickness, an unwavering feeling in the pit of my stomach that would only go away when I could be seen and affirmed as myself.”A key turning point came when she was student body president at American University in Washington. Making a difference in that community and gaining confidence meant McBride was “finally able to come to terms with who I am and to see that the things I thought would bring me wholeness and completeness would not. The only way to address the constant pain and homesickness was to live authentically.”On Christmas Eve 2011, McBride sat in her church, the Westminster Presbyterian in Wilmington, listening to the choir and looking at the stained glass windows, thinking she “could not continue to miss the beauty in this world. I could no longer watch my life pass by as somebody I wasn’t. That moment that evening was the tipping point for me.”She wasn’t planning on coming out on Christmas Day, but her parents could see McBride seemed distracted. Her mother asked her what was wrong. McBride came out. “I always say it ruined Christmas, but every day has been better since. Once I got through the denial, I felt the need to come out. It wasn’t a long, thought-out process. It was life.”Her mother’s initial response was not positive, which McBride understands. “I think my mom responded as a person. She responded with love, but also fear. She responded with inclusion, but also a lack of knowledge around trans people. I never interpreted her tears or her fear as anything less than her unending love for me. I knew it would be difficult. It was 2011, before there was a lot of information out there and what Time magazine called ‘the transgender tipping point’ (in 2014). “It had taken me 21 years to come to terms with it, to overcome the fear and the shame, so I knew it would take some time for my parents to come to a healthier place, but I also knew from the very first moments after coming out that they loved me and would support me in this journey. And that’s what they’ve done. Now not only are they my biggest champions, they are also the fiercest advocates for the LGBTQ community.”McBride’s mother founded a support group for parents of trans people, and both her parents campaigned for the state’s SB 97 bill, passed in 2013, prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity. “That was just over a year after I came out. I was lucky to know from the start that while there would be tears and that there may be things we would say and regret, that with grace, goodness, and patience we would get to be where we needed to be as a family.”Sean, McBride’s older brother, is gay, and when she came out, her mother asked: “What are the chances I have a gay son and a transgender daughter?” McBride hoped she would “get to a place where she would ask that question not out of a place of pity but out of a sense of awe—and in the diversity and strength and love within our family, she has absolutely gotten there. “Both my parents have said if there was a button they could press resulting in me not being trans and our family not going on this journey they would not press that button because we have seen the goodness of community and love of our family. We have seen the potential for change. I don’t think any of us would trade that for anything.”* * *“Joe and Dr. Biden have both helped me re-find my hope after Andy passed, and helped me find grace in my grief.”The last decade has also been professionally and personally transformative for McBride. In 2012, she became the first out trans person to work at the White House as an intern in the Obama administration. In 2016 she became the first transgender person to speak at a party’s national convention, addressing Democrats in Philadelphia. Working at the White House was “one of the most affirming experiences of my life,” McBride said. “Working there day in day out was awe-inspiring, comforting, and a demonstration of the fact my voice could matter and that we could have a seat at the table and contribute to this democracy.” It also meant something to be able to welcome the public—especially minority groups—to the White House, she said, for officials to speak to them and them to speak to officials. “It really felt like the People’s House at that moment. It made you realize you were a small part in a historic moment in this country where our democracy became a little bit truer to our ideals and values. The tragedy of the last four years is that Donald Trump and Mike Pence have sought to undermine that progress and journey towards a more inclusive and more ‘perfect union,’ as Barack Obama called it, and we’re not going to let them succeed.”Before entering LGBTQ politics, McBride worked on former Delaware Governor Jack Markell’s 2008 campaign and Beau Biden’s 2010 campaign to become the state’s Attorney General. She calls the latter “as good and decent a person as he was a political figure,” and a mentor. It was through Beau that McBride got to know Joe and Jill Biden “beyond the headlines.” Joe has “picked up the mantle on LGBTQ equality” that Beau proudly carried, she said. While working at the White House, McBride met her future husband, the healthcare activist Andrew Cray, who was also trans.Very personal tragedy, and healing from tragedy, also links McBride and the Bidens. Both her late husband and Beau, McBride said, “lived the values at home they fought for. Both their policies and personal interactions were guided by kindness.”Cray died of cancer in 2014, Beau Biden the following year. “Every time I see Joe Biden we talk about Beau and Andy. We talk about our loss,” McBride told The Daily Beast. “Joe and Dr. Biden have both helped me re-find my hope after Andy passed, and helped me find grace in my grief, and helped me heal from that hardship. One of Joe Biden’s greatest gifts and strengths is that he will help this country heal and help us find purpose in our pain, and help us move forward in this crisis we face.”“The most formative experience in my life is not my identity, it was my relationship with Andy,” said McBride. “Loving Andy left me profoundly changed. He made me a better person, a kinder, more compassionate person. The experiences I had with him have left me a stronger person.“There are so many things I take away from my relationship with Andy. I take away the fact I am lucky to have had the time I had with him. I still feel like my cup runneth over with love from the time we had together. I’m lucky I have my health and his legacy to give me comfort. I’m lucky in loving Andy I gained an extended family. I’m lucky to have had health insurance—despite some surprise medical bills, it covered the care he needed.”Cray’s death also instilled in McBride “the fierce urgency of now,” she said, quoting Martin Luther King Jr.—the determination to spend whatever time she has alive to do good. “The final thing I’d say I took from my relationship with Andy was the recognition that hope as an emotion and hope as a phenomenon only make sense in the face of hardship.”In the final month of Cray’s life, McBride’s brother Sean, a radiation oncologist, said life would be incredibly difficult but that she should take strength from the “acts of amazing grace” that would fill her life, such as the family and friends who organized their wedding in five days, and Cray surviving long enough to take part in the wedding. These examples of “transforming the impossible into reality and hope” McBride sees in the America of today. She recalled the famous Mr. Rogers quote of being a kid and seeing something scary on the news and his mother’s advice to “Look for the helpers.” The same principle gives her “comfort and confidence” today that the American people will come through these times.McBride is presently single and not seeing anyone. “I feel my cup runneth over with love from Andy. Every day I wear my wedding ring as a tribute to him. I hope at some point I will find another partner in my life. But right now I very much feel Andy’s presence and love, and I still feel comforted and supported even though he is no longer with us physically. I still feel comforted and supported by his memory, legacy, and love.”Cray’s death also helped define the nature of McBride’s Christian faith. She had always worshipped as a Presbyterian at the church where she had that self-revelation on Christmas Eve nearly nine years ago. She was an ordained elder there as a teenager. “I think I struggled with my faith when I was growing up. It was actually Andy’s death to be faith-affirming and faith-confirming.”In the days leading up to Cray’s death in his hospital room, when he was losing his ability to breathe, there were a group of around ten people—mainly LGBTQ with the exception of Cray’s mother, stepfather, and McBride’s mother. Every person was holding on to one another—either holding hands, or with hands on shoulders. “The love in that room was tangible. You could feel it,” McBride said. “Bishop Gene Robinson, who had married us, also delivered the sermon at Andy’s funeral. He talked about God being love, and in that tangible feeling of love in that room, that was God for me. It made me understand my faith in a way I had never really understood it before. It made me believe at a level at which I had never believed before.”McBride is an active member of the church community and is one of the storytelling troupe that acts out scripture lessons at Christmas and on Palm Sunday. The church provides her with “support, comfort, and family.”To her, the use of “religious freedom” and “religious liberty” as an anti-LGBTQ battering ram by the Trump administration and their bedfellows in the religious right “feels like both a corrupting of the faith that I have been part of for my entire life, and also a corruption of the fundamental value of religious freedom. To me, god is love. I was taught that the tent of all major religions was the notion of compassion, and the golden rule of treating others as you would be wished to be treated yourself.”For McBride, “religious freedom” means shielding vulnerable religious minorities from government persecution. “What it should never be is a sword to inflict harm on already marginalized people.”McBride hopes more progressive faith voices will speak up against anti-LGBTQ religious bigotry. While she believes in the separation of church and state, she also says it is necessary to recognize how “for many people the language of religion and faith is language they live and speak. We can’t deny for many people their values are guided or influenced by their faith, so we have to recognize that faith plays a role in the public square. But we can never allow personal beliefs and faith to become the rationale for undermining the rights, dignity, and opportunity of other people.”* * *“To trans kids, I say, ‘You are loved. You are valued. You matter. You have a place in our community, and our country too’”McBride invokes again and again a stout, pragmatic optimism—an awareness of obstacles and challenges alongside a determination to confront and solve them. She returned from D.C. to Delaware to live, which “re-centered” her and reminded her of the “goodness in our communities.” Campaigning for her senate seat has shown her the “sacrifice and courage” of her likely future constituents. If national politics can feel toxic, local politics feels to McBride like a practicable arena for change.In LGBTQ politics, she has observed change, and an increase in a diversity of voices and concerns, particularly on trans issues, and around the lives and experiences of Black trans women. “We should always do more to include more voices so they have a seat at the table, and ensure that those with seats at the table are heard enough. The movement can and should always look to do more, and become more diverse.”McBride is hopeful that the feminist movement in the United States “will remain firm in its commitment to trans rights,” when compared to the influence of trans exclusionary radical feminists in the U.K. where Boris Johnson’s Conservative government just rejected proposals for people to self-identify their gender and for trans people to be able to change their birth certificates without a medical diagnosis.“Here, we recognize that trans women are women, that trans women deserve equal rights, and that the fight for gender equity is inextricably linked to the fight for trans rights,” McBride told The Daily Beast. “I hope we remain on the right side of history. It’s incredibly disheartening to see the Johnson government walk away from the trans community in the way they have. It’s also disappointing to see the progressive movement in the U.K. not clearly and definitively reject the attacks from the trans exclusionary movement. I firmly believe that the public in the United Kingdom will continue to overwhelmingly favor trans rights, and in the long course of history those who stand in the way will be proven wrong.”About J.K. Rowling’s apparent animus towards trans people, McBride said, “It’s disappointing to see literary figures whose work has comforted and inspired countless LGBTQ people, including trans people, so clearly and cruelly reject the messages at the heart of that work.” McBride is less interested in addressing Rowling, and more focused on “talking to the kids and young people crushed by the cruel and mean-spirited comments she has made. To them, I say, ‘You are loved. You are valued. You matter. You have a place in our community, and our country too.’”McBride maintains she has no long-scope political ambitions—including running for president herself one day—beyond “working my heart out” to win in November, and, if successful, representing her constituents and “bringing about change... I think the one thing I have learned in the last 10 years is that life has a way of intervening when you make plans.” McBride said that celebrating her 30th birthday this year felt significant in that she realized she was now older than Andy was when he passed away. “I think about that quite a bit. The biggest thing on my mind when I turned 30 was just how young Andy was when he passed away. I had been older than Andy was when he died for a couple of years (at 28), but when I turned 30 it really hit me. He never reached that point. That was the biggest thing on my mind: the tragedy of that, and reinforced the sense of urgency to do what I could in the time I have on this Earth.”She also looked back on her 20s, “and thought, ‘Thank god I am still alive,’ and remained in awe of the incredible beauty and love I have gotten to see—the incredible highs and the incredible lows.”McBride has been most inspired by meeting young trans people across America, “doing what once seemed impossible to me growing up, living the truth of their journey and dreams at the same time. When I think back to the young version of myself, who was so scared, so frightened, and so fearful that there wasn’t a place for me in this community and democracy, I wish I could tell myself that ‘You’re going to be OK. It’s going to take lot of work and you’ll shed a lot of tears. But you can be yourself, you can find love, and you can find community and everything you feared would be impossible will be possible.’”Thinking of those young trans people who may have seen news of her political victory reinforces the sense of responsibility McBride feels to do whatever work is necessary to help “build a world where no kid has to wonder whether they can make it too, or wonder whether they can be themselves and be loved; and no kid has to wonder if they have to give up their dreams in order to be themselves. Whether LGBTQ or not, we would all be better and freer in that kind of world.”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.
The state of Louisiana has already suffered through a pair of devastating surges during the coronavirus pandemic. But as Republicans prepare for a special legislative session next week, there is concern they are preparing to take a “kamikaze” approach, as one Democrat put it, that could send the state’s fortunes tumbling.Democrats in the conservative state of Louisiana are bracing for Republicans to attempt to drain Gov. John Bel Edwards’ emergency powers during a special legislative session set to start Monday night, as the executive authority of statewide leaders in a time of crisis continues to be a point of friction across party lines.To Senate Minority Leader Troy Carter “there’s a potential for a kamikaze flight,” where some lawmakers are “willing to explode and blow the whole state up for frivolous politics.”“I mean, anytime you’re willing to make a statement that is so grand that you’re willing to impact the state constitution, dilute the governor’s authority as it relates to declarations of emergencies and risk federal dollars, that’s tantamount to a pilot flying a kamikaze plane,” Carter, a Democrat, told The Daily Beast. “You’re going to crash and burn, and you’re going to kill a bunch of people that you were sworn to fight for.”The coronavirus pandemic has forced governors across the country to utilize their emergency powers as they try to protect their states, with efforts ranging from statewide shutdowns to the mask mandates that have become a key aspect of containing the virus in recent months.Those decisions have been met with varying degrees of opposition, from litigation to legislation, that look to undercut the often broad executive powers that governors have wielded to help control the virus. Republican state lawmakers in places like Louisiana have cried foul about the governor not working with the legislature as emergency orders get extended and more time passes.Rep. Blake Miguez, the Louisiana House Republican delegation chairman, dismissed Carter’s words as “fearmongering,” and emphasized that Republicans in both chambers are in agreement they want to reopen the state and “it’s just a matter of discussing exactly how we’re going to achieve that goal.”“We’re definitely challenging the governor’s emergency powers and we’re definitely looking to cut into them and take some of that power back into the legislature and have a voice and a seat at the table again,” Miguez said. “I mean, it’s been seven months. We can understand the first 30 days, but looking back seven months later, we just don’t feel that any one person should have that much power.”The heads of the GOP-controlled House and Senate made clear in news releases earlier this week that COVID-19 would be a major concern of the special session, along with dealing with the fallout from Hurricane Laura, and Louisiana’s unemployment trust fund.“A significant number of House members have also asked to address the continued proclamations issued by the Governor during the pandemic and what many see as an imbalance of power,” Republican House Speaker Clay Schexnayder said in a statement about the upcoming session. “This special session will not end without a solution to this problem.”The resistance Edwards is continuing to face is similar to the challenges thrown at other Democratic governors throughout the pandemic. President Donald Trump roared with approval on social media at news earlier this month over a federal judge throwing out several of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s coronavirus measures as unconstitutional, including gathering restrictions, and measures like the (currently suspended) stay at home order.Kentucky's Attorney General Sabotages Its Covid Response“There’s no sense debating a ruling that will be appealed,” Wolf said in a statement last week. “Two of three federal judges upheld what we did.”Other orders in the state remain in place, a spokesperson from the governor’s office said in an email, including the state’s mask mandate.In the fellow pivotal swing state of Wisconsin, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers was dealt a blow back in May when a Republican-led court challenge resulted in the state Supreme Court finding his administration’s safer-at-home order “unlawful, invalid, and unenforceable.” He was able to later put in place a statewide mask order.“This can have a political valence but it doesn’t exclusively have a political valence,” said Meryl Chertoff, executive director of the Georgetown Project on State and Local Government Policy and Law. “But it is troubling that in so many of these cases it is Republican legislators who are conflicting with Democratic governors and where it appears that part of this has to do with the presidential election, or with statewide elections going on, and not so much to do with the best interests of people in their state, because we’re seeing second waves.”In other cases efforts to undermine executive authority have been less successful, while issues in some states are still pending. Facing a steep challenge in unseating incumbent Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, North Carolina’s GOP lieutenant governor Dan Forest sued Cooper’s administration over his measures. But he later abandoned the effort after losing in court and he’s continued to struggle to gain traction against his better funded opponent.In Michigan, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s use of emergency authority in her state continues to face legal challenges according to The Detroit Free Press. And in Kentucky, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration is continuing to feud with state Attorney General Daniel Cameron as the GOP official challenges the governor’s executive orders in the commonwealth’s supreme court. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has also received vocal rebukes from some fellow Republicans for the public health actions he’s taken during the pandemic.But in Louisiana, some Republicans have been very clear about what they’d like to see happen. State Rep. Danny McCormick tweeted earlier this week, “I am in favor of a complete and unconditional reopening of our state and will continue pushing for it.”In an interview with The Daily Beast, the Republican legislator talked about potential legislation that could “go in and take away specific powers of some sort.” McCormick has also signed on to a petition effort that he said would need 53 signatures in the House to “do away with the governor’s state of emergency,” for a certain period of time with the latest being for 14 days before another one could be made. The Hail Mary effort which he dubbed “a bargaining tool” has gone through different variations and failed to attract the support it needs.“We’ve got one man in Baton Rouge making the decision for the whole state,” McCormick said. “I think we’re a constitutional Republic and I believe we should trust the people. I’m a liberty-minded person. I trust the people to make the decisions where they should go and if they should wear a mask or not when they go.”Interviews this week with GOP lawmakers showed little consensus on what exactly Republicans plan to try and push through during the special session, which could go until Oct. 27, when it came to the governor’s orders and authority. But the governor’s veto power and the Republican majority in either chamber suggest a difficult road ahead in Louisiana.In an interview Tuesday, Republican House Speaker Tempore Tanner Magee argued that legislators will be more directed at “specific executive orders,” rather than the governor’s authority as a whole. The majority view, the high ranking House Republican said, is to make moves “with the public’s health in mind,” that does not cause a third spike in the state.But he said there’s also concern from the GOP tied to messages from the business community in the state “that they’re struggling, they’re not going to make it any further and they feel like they’re being treated unfairly.”“I think there will definitely be legislators who are pushing against the governor’s executive authority, there’s no doubt in my mind about that,” Magee said. “Will we end up there completely by the end? I’m not certain about that outcome.”When a reporter asked Edwards earlier this week during a press conference if he was worried about the legislature moving to hamper his authority on public health measures and tie the hands of the state’s response, the governor downplayed the chances of that happening.“If they were to be successful in doing that, I would be concerned,” Edwards said. “I don’t stand here concerned because I don’t think that they're going to be successful in doing that and I’m not sure that that even represents a majority of either body’s wishes on that subject matter.”The governor also received a show of public support from Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, who championed the state’s response to the pandemic recently as its situation has improved from the dire issues it faced roughly two and a half months ago. During an appearance in Louisiana on Wednesday, she said the state “made changes that saved people’s lives,” and that its improving fortunes, which include a mask mandate, show that “masks work.”Even as one of Edwards GOP critics during the public health crisis, McCormick didn’t show much optimism this week about the legislature’s ability to override a veto from the governor on legislation dealing with emergency authority saying “we won’t override a veto, that won’t happen.”But Carter, the senate Democratic leader, pointed to questions of constitutionality and predicted “the governor’s not going to just roll over and let his authority be taken away.”Still, the potential harm of limiting the governor’s authority on emergency orders or using legislative action to lift some of the governor’s restrictions wasn’t lost on State Rep. Sam Jenkins, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.“It's a domino effect that has some very catastrophic consequences in my opinion,” Jenkins said. “And it’s not worth the risk of what some of my Republican friends are trying to do.”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.
During a White House briefing on Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the November presidential election. He elaborated: “Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very—we’ll have a very peaceful—there won’t be a transfer frankly, there’ll be a continuation.”During a meeting with Republican attorneys general earlier the same day, Trump predicted that the U.S. Supreme Court would decide the outcome of the forthcoming election. He explained that the rush to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was designed to break any potential tie between the Supreme Court justices.If Russian President Vladimir Putin had a heart, both of Trump’s statements would fill it with unadulterated joy. Russia’s perennial authoritarian is no fan of a “peaceful transfer of power” either, unless it means a smooth transition from him—to himself. As for America, the Kremlin’s state media mouthpieces openly expressed their hopes for deeper racial tensions and civil war. On both fronts, the contentious U.S. president is a gift that keeps on giving. Trump’s divisive public messaging is in perfect alignment with the Kremlin’s preferred course of action.Serendipitously, the Russian state media publicly concluded that the Supreme Court of the United States—including Trump’s nominee—would decide the outcome of the upcoming presidential election, days before the U.S. president made his ominous pronouncements. The Russian state media show Vesti Nedeli, hosted by Dmitry Kiselyov, the CEO of the state news agency Rossiya Sevodnya (Russia Today), may have been the first to issue such a prediction, on Sept. 20.Vesti Nedeli aired a report by the program’s U.S.-based reporter, Valentin Bogdanov, who concluded in part: “The Supreme Court will play a key part [in the U.S. presidential election], if none of the parties are willing to concede defeat (and everything seems to be pointing in that direction). Currently, the conservatives have a majority there—five justices versus four—but Chief Justice Roberts often votes the same way the liberals do, meaning it’s a tie.”On Sept. 21, reporting from the United States for the Russian state TV channel Rossiya-1, news correspondent Denis Davydov also surmised that the Supreme Court would end up determining the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. As for Trump’s potential nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the Russian state media outlet RT has already published an op-ed in support of her candidacy.The timeline for an unusually speedy confirmation process would be nearly unprecedented in modern history. The average number of days from nomination to final Senate vote for nominees since 1975 is 69.6 days (or approximately 2.3 months). Letting it all hang out, Trump admitted that the outcome of the upcoming presidential election was his main reason for his big rush.Kiselyov, who has repeatedly described Trump’s tendency to blurt out his deeply unflattering thoughts as “simple-minded,” undoubtedly had a chuckle three days later when the words of the U.S. president closely mimicked the conclusions of Kremlin propagandists. In an eerie congruence with Russian state media, Trump ranted: “I think this scam that the Democrats are pulling, it’s a scam, this scam will be before the United States Supreme Court and I think having a 4-4 situation is not a good situation. Just in case it would be more political than it should be, I think it’s very important to have a ninth judge.” As the expert in discrediting democratic institutions and setting up rigged court systems, Putin would surely agree. Perhaps this scenario was even discussed during one of many conversations between the two world leaders, which have become unusually frequent in 2020.On Monday, Trump bragged to his rallygoers: “I like Putin. He likes me.” What’s not to like? Trump refused to condemn the Kremlin for its ongoing interference in the U.S. elections, decided not to confront Putin about Russian bounties reportedly placed on the heads of American soldiers, and uttered nary a peep about the poisoning of prominent dissident Alexei Navalny.But there is a fly in the ointment, it is the Kremlin’s increasing irritation with the U.S. line on Nord Stream 2, a new export gas pipeline from Russia to Europe that is nearing completion. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview with German Bild-TV: “We hope that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline won’t be completed. We’re working to make sure we build out a coalition that prevents that from happening.” Putin, who is notoriously thin-skinned about comedic mockery, apparently decided to send in the clowns.The hosts and guests on the Russian state TV show 60 Minutes equated Pompeo’s statement with a declaration of war. Notorious Russian lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky ranted and raved about the U.S. threat to Nord Stream 2, vocally regretting his champagne-soaked celebration of Trump’s 2016 election victory. When Alexei Naumov of the Russian International Affairs Council pointed out that Russia’s continued course of action with respect to Navalny’s poisoning might lead to the shutdown of Nord Stream 2, Zhirinovsky became enraged and threatened to pummel his fellow panelist “to silence him for the rest of his life.”Russian State Media Posts Deepfake Showing Trump as Putin’s StoogeThe same day, RT released a deepfake video featuring the U.S. president in a new job on Russian state television after losing his bid for re-election. The video featured an image that identified Trump as “Putin’s apprentice” and “Putin’s candidate.” There’s a grain of truth in every joke, but since Putin has no perceptible sense of humor, RT’s mockery and Russian state media’s outrage can be read as a coded threat. Trump’s lack of a reaction—as opposed to his constant badgering of political figures and U.S. media outlets—is a reaction in itself. Trump’s inability to stand up to Putin is a cherished commodity for the Kremlin, giving Russia no incentive to take its fingers out of the American pie.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.
With just over a month to go until election day, Joe Biden’s presidential campaign has quietly ramped up its digital advertising, bringing it roughly on par with a behemoth Trump digital ad operation that was central to the president’s 2016 victory.Data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics shows that in total the Biden campaign and its joint fundraising committee, the Biden Victory Fund, spent more on Facebook and Google ads than the Trump campaign and its Trump Make America Great Again Committee in both of the two weeks ending Sept. 20, the latest period for which CRP has complete data. In that final week, the more than $12.3 million that the Biden camp spent on ads on the two platforms nearly doubled the Trump team’s total spend, the largest lead in weekly advertising spending on those platforms that Biden has posted to date, according to CRP data.All told, the numbers suggest that one of the main ingredients of Trump’s 2016 campaign’s success may not be so effective for him four years later. And, if anything, money is to blame.The Biden campaign’s massive recent fundraising hauls are starting to show up in its digital spending operation. The campaign is already dwarfing Trump’s in television ad spending. But digital advertising is an area where Trump has traditionally been dominant, and where pundits were just recently writing off the Biden campaign entirely—chastising it as a relic of past politics with little appetite for, or understanding of, the digital world.The data suggests that Biden’s team is now making the type of investments that Democratic operatives had hoped for. And though there are different metrics for measuring a campaign’s full digital footprint, CRP’s formula is fairly comprehensive. The site’s numbers encompass both official Facebook pages for Joe Biden and Donald Trump, their running-mates (and, in Trump’s case, a handful of senior campaign aides), as well as the array of pages the campaigns have set up to court various voter demographics, key states, and issue-centric constituencies.Putin’s Troll Farm Busted Running Sprawling Network of Facebook PagesThroughout most of the 2020 cycle, Biden had lagged Trump in digital ad spending, particularly on Facebook, which has been a key platform for Trump campaign efforts in both 2016 and 2020 to fundraise and reach voters outside of traditional media channels. Biden has occasionally overtaken Trump in weekly ad spending on Google and Facebook, CRP data shows, but most of its spikes have coincided with major campaign events on which the Biden team has sought to capitalize, such as his sweeping Super Tuesday victories in March, or his clinching of the Democratic presidential nomination in June.But the Biden campaign has stepped up its spending of late. On Google, in particular, the Biden campaign’s spending topped the Trump campaign’s by more than $4.1 million during the first three weeks of September, according to CRP data. On Facebook, a huge spike in Trump campaign spending that coincided with the Republican convention late last month has mostly petered out, and in the week ending Sept. 20, Biden’s campaign dropped $1.4 million more on ads on the platform than Trump’s did.Even that total understates the trend, as it includes one day, Sept. 11, when the Biden campaign largely paused its advertising operation. Facebook ad buy data shows that the Biden campaign spent just $13,500 on the platform that day, down from $1 million a day earlier. On Sept. 12, the total was back up to $441,000.It’s hard to overstate Facebook’s importance to Trump’s political operation, historically. In 2016, the platform was central to the campaign’s strategy, and ate up a huge portion of its advertising budget. “Facebook was the 500-pound gorilla, 80 percent of the budget kind of thing,” Brad Parscale, who ran the campaign’s digital operation in 2016 and is a senior aide on the re-elect, told 60 Minutes in 2017.While Biden has managed to close the Facebook gap, he’s also devoted more funds to less prominent platforms that also provide significant reach. Since January, the Biden campaign has dropped more than $800,000 on ads on the platform Snapchat, nearly 10 times the $85,000 spent by the Trump campaign, according to Snapchat political ad data. The sums are far smaller, but that Snapchat data shows that those Biden ads were viewed a staggering 146 million times.The leveling out of the two campaigns’ online ad spending likely reflects the substantial changes in their relative financial positions. As Biden has raked in record funds of late, the Trump campaign has found itself in an unexpected cash crunch and lagging Biden in banked funds that it can put to work during the final weeks of the campaign.One Democratic digital operative who reviewed Trump’s campaign ads on Facebook said the campaign’s strategy appears to be geared towards closing that gap. “When I look at their ad strategy it is pretty haphazard and not coordinated and it is primarily being used to raising money because they don’t have any,” the strategist said. “To me, it’s still clear that they are still in a transition mode from [Brad] Parscale to [Bill] Stepien. Because by this point you would be clearly in a persuasion mode, you’d even be in mobilization with the early vote going on. And I think they’re still just trying to raise money.”Facebook Pledges to Rejects Ads Claiming Election Victory Prior to Final TallyBut if digital ad spending is a fundraising tactic, it is also itself a telling indicator of each campaign’s current fundraising capacity. Facebook ads are not just purchased to persuade voters. They’re also, most often, purchased to raise cash. A candidate will likely spend more and more on them if they bring back equal—or more—money in donations. Trump was believed to have a much more sophisticated and impressive grassroots fundraising apparatus than Biden. But the amount of money that Biden is now spending on digital ads—combined with the fundraising reports he and Trump have filed—suggests that the script has been flipped.Biden’s digital fundraising has also likely benefited from the structural makeup of his campaign. Unlike Trump, his campaign has not prioritized in-person voter contacts such as traditional canvassing and door-knocking. While Biden’s campaign committee itself paid more than three times as much as the Trump campaign in staff payroll in August, the Biden campaign’s focus on using digital tools to reach voters means its advertising spending on top digital platforms will likely continue to rise as election day approaches.\-- with reporting by Sam SteinRead 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.
The hashtag RepublicofThailand trended on Twitter in Thailand on Friday after parliament voted to push back the question of changing the constitution as protesters have demanded. During more than two months of anti-government protests, some protest leaders have said they seek constitutional reforms to reduce the powers of King Maha Vajiralongkorn's monarchy but that they were not seeking to abolish it. The republican hashtag, in English rather than Thai, had been used in more than 730,000 Tweets and was the top trending hashtag in Thailand on Friday morning, according to Twitter. The Royal Palace did not comment and has made no response to requests for comment on the protests or the demands for royal reform. Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said he had not seen the hashtag and declined to comment on it but said Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha was listening to all sides on the issue of the constitution. "There are those who want to amend the constitution and others who don't," he said. Parliament, dominated by supporters of the government, voted on Thursday to delay making a decision on whether it will amend the constitution.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un issued a rare apology Friday over what he described as the "unexpected and disgraceful" killing of a South Korean at sea, Seoul's presidential office said. Apologies from the North - let alone attributed to Kim personally - are extremely unusual, and the message comes with inter-Korean ties in deep freeze as well as a stand-off in nuclear negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington. Analysts said the North was looking to placate its neighbour after the shooting - the first time its forces killed a Southern citizen for a decade - provoked outrage in the South. The fisheries official was shot dead on Tuesday by North Korean soldiers, and Seoul says his body was set on fire while still in the water, apparently as a precaution against coronavirus infection. Kim was "very sorry" for the "unexpected and disgraceful event" that had "disappointed President Moon and South Koreans", rather than helping them in the face of the "malicious coronavirus", said Suh Hoon, the South's National Security Adviser. Mr Suh was reading out a letter from the department of the North's ruling party responsible for relations with the South. In it, Pyongyang acknowledged firing around 10 shots at the man, who had "illegally entered our waters" and refused to properly identify himself. Border guards fired at him in accordance with standing instructions, it said.
Japanese pop sensation Arashi has a big surprise for fans as they near their planned hiatus at year's end: a collaboration with Bruno Mars on their first all-English single. “He took into consideration that we are going on hiatus,” said Jun Matsumoto, adding he feels their song, “Whenever You Call,” will appeal to both their hardcore fans and “those who do not know about us.” “We have been releasing music only in Japanese,” Sho Sakurai explained.
The Swiss will vote this weekend on a renewed proposal to limit the number of European Union nationals allowed to live and work in their country, a measure championed by a populist party that wants preferential access for Swiss citizens to jobs, social protection and benefits. A “yes” vote could upend the rich Alpine’s country’s deep and lucrative ties to the powerful 27-nation bloc, in what has been likened to a Swiss-style Brexit — even though Switzerland isn’t an EU member. In the referendum ending Sunday that includes questions on some other issues, voters must respond on whether they support a “limitation initiative” that would require Swiss and EU authorities to negotiate within 12 months an end to their freedom of movement accord.
Apple is now letting Watch buyers send back the Loop Solo bands without returning the entire Watch.
"President Trump capped his fruitless four-year journey to abolish and replace the Affordable Care Act by signing an executive order Thursday that aims to enshrine the law's most popular feature," protections for people with pre-existing conditions, while "avoiding the thorny details of how to ensure such protections without either leaving the ACA, or ObamaCare, in place or crafting new comprehensive legislation," The Washington Post reports.Stat News describes Trump's affirmation of pre-existing conditions protections as "likely empty rhetoric" and one several "simple, superficial, and non-binding executive orders" that will neither "improve the quality of Americans' health care or lower its cost."Trump was more bullish in what was billed as a health care policy speech in North Carolina. "The historic action I'm taking today includes the first-ever executive order to affirm it is the official policy of the United States government to protect patients with pre-existing conditions," he said. His administration is backing a lawsuit before the Supreme Court that could strike down those protections, already enshrined in the sweeping law Democrats passed a decade ago, but Trump said he's "putting it down in a stamp, because our opponents, the Democrats, like to constantly talk about it."Thursday's actions were "a tacit admission that Trump had failed to keep his 2016 promise to replace his predecessor's signature achievement with a conservative alternative," the Post reports. But that failure "has not stopped Trump from repeatedly promising a soon-to-come health-care plan in a repetitive cycle of boastful pledges and missed deadlines that intensified in recent weeks ahead of the November election."Trump also "promised millions of older Americans would receive $200 toward the cost of prescription drugs and signed executive orders he said would somehow prevent unexpected medical bills," the Post reports. The $200 coupons, which Trump said will arrive for 33 million Medicare beneficiaries "in the coming weeks," are pretty clearly "a political ploy to curry favor with seniors who view drug prices as a priority," Stat News says. And it's not clear how or if the White House can legally pay the $6.6 billion price tag, though the administration pointed to savings from a regulation that hasn't yet been implemented.You can read more about the $200 gift cards, Trump's other largely symbolic moves on health care, and the conference call in which Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Medicare administrator Seema Verma struggled to portray them as "historic" at Stat News.More stories from theweek.com America needs to hear the bad news first A mild defense of Republican hypocrisy on the Supreme Court Trump is the only one being honest about the Supreme Court fight
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Angry restaurant and bar owners are demonstrating in Marseille to challenge a French government order to close all public venues as of Saturday to battle resurgent virus infections. The protesters, and local officials in France’s second-biggest city, are also threatening legal action, to try to block the order via the courts. The government argues that hospitals in this Mediterranean city are under strain and the closures are the only way to stem the spread while avoiding new lockdowns.