Category Archives: Current Events

Why Are the Details of One Russian Diplomat’s Death So Hazy?

Nell Moralee, Flickr

But when BuzzFeed News went to Krivov’s address, listed in the NYPD’s files, at 11 E. 90th St., it wasn’t a residence. It’s a Smithsonian-owned office building for its neighboring Cooper Hewitt design museum. It’s located a block behind the Russian Consulate, which is at 9 E. 91st St. One of the consulate’s public entrances is 11 E. 91st St.

Asked about the discrepancy, the NYPD insisted that 11 E. 90th St. was the address they had been given for Krivov, apparently by Russian consular officials.

“No one is living here — this is where my desk is right now,” a Smithsonian employee at the address said when BuzzFeed News called.

At BuzzFeed, Ali Watkins investigates the way the Russian consulate called Sergei Krivov’s death a heart attack when he seems to have died of blunt force trauma on the floor of New York City’s Russian Consulate building. The details of his death, like his life, raise many questions, so why are so few officials talking about this?

Read the story

John Oliver on the Media’s Struggle to Confront Disinformation

oliver-rolling-stone-coer-2017-8a99a646-ed65-4892-b52c-82fe8daa79d7

Did you share the general shudder when Kellyanne Conway introduced the idea of “alternative facts”?

It’s just a framing device, an ear-catching phrase, but it’s nothing new. The content of what she’s wrapping a bow on is something that everyone has been bearing witness to. We’ve had 18 months of feelings over facts. The only thing that’s remotely new about it is the location that it’s coming from.

Is interviewing her essentially pointless?

In general, it’s very dangerous to keep the old campaign architecture around with this presidency, to have an eight-person panel on CNN debating whether or not he said something. “Did he or did he not do this thing we watched him do?” There’s actually serious harm in that discussion. And, yeah. I really don’t see the point of talking to Kellyanne Conway because her language jujitsu is so strong. You know she can look you in the eyes and tell you the opposite of what you just saw happen, and she will be more confident in her answer than you are in your question.

-John Oliver, in a wide-ranging Rolling Stone interview with Brian Hiatt, on how his weekly HBO show Last Week Tonight will need to adapt to the chaos of the Trump Administration. His season four premiere attempted to tackle the question of Trump and reality:  Read more…

The Changing Formation of the Modern American Family

A picture of the writer's sister-in-law, her wife, and their two children (Jack and Beatrix) during last year's Portsmouth (NH) Pride festival.

The dynamics of what constitutes the American family is rapidly changing. According to a 2014 PEW study, less than half—46 percent, to be exact—of children younger than 18 years old are living in a home with “married heterosexual parents in their first marriage.”

And it’s not just that adults are waiting longer and until they’re farther into their careers to conceive: PEW reported a year later that 16 percent of children live in ‘blended families’ (e.g. a household with a stepparent or a stepsibling); in the same study, it also announced that while seven percent of kids live with cohabiting parents, some estimates expect that rate could jump to nearly 40 percent by the time that child becomes a teenager. Read more…

Don’t Call My Daughter Princess. Call Her Madam President.

Illustration by Kjell Reigstad

Sarah Stankorb | Longreads | February, 2017 | 12 minutes (2,917 words)

 

My daughter Zoe was about 11 months old. Other strange men with silvered brows had referred to her as princess before. I’d read Cinderella Ate My Daughter during my third trimester, and while I deeply feared how the world would subtly limit her options, I usually bit my tongue over the princess thing. But we were on a trip to Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, and maybe it was thoughts of presidents, or the emotional toll of slipping between the fancy house and its slave quarters, or maybe I was just tired. But I looked at the man who’d just called my daughter princess and said, “Not a princess. She’s going to be president.”

He looked at me like I was talking gibberish—he’d just been trying to be nice to a baby—and walked away. I got used to that taken-aback look, because from that point forward, not-a-princess-but-president became my default. By the time we went to Disney World last spring when she was 4, my daughter had heard the message enough times that as park attendants and characters called her princess, my daughter corrected everyone (except Elsa, because evidently one does not mess with the ice queen).

Zoe would sling a hand to her hip and say, “I’m not a princess.” When they’d ask what she is then, she’d reply “President.” Or “Jedi” on a day spent scouring for and failing to find Rey.

Zoe identified with Hillary Clinton from the start. While I was weighing Sanders versus Clinton, my 4-year-old had determined “Hillary is a girl president, like me.” She made up songs about Hillary and developed a granddaughterly deep, unfaltering affection for her.

Meanwhile, I dug Bernie Sanders’ laser focus on economic issues, his willingness to put words to the crush of student debt that weighs on most people of my generation. Hillary Clinton, it seemed, had almost always been there floating in my vague awareness of the political realm. As a young teen, I respected that she used Rodham—and knew zero women in my own life who’d kept their given surnames, or hyphenated them. I certainly didn’t understand why there was so much hubbub over her lack of interest in baking cookies.

My own mother had set my life’s trajectory, firmly pointing me toward college and a career of my choosing. “You don’t need a man for anything,” she asserted, frequently. Marriage, if I wanted it, could wait. Children, if I wanted them, must certainly wait. Mom launched into informal sex education when I was in elementary school to ensure I would understand and have control over my reproductive choices. Who cared if the First Lady didn’t want to be reduced to lurking in kitchens? Neither did my mother and neither did I.

But years on, grown up and with kids of my own, Clinton’s presidential bid felt about two generational steps removed from me. Her nineties positions on feminism and health care, treated as so radical at the time, were an assumed part of my world. My life was evidence of progress. I didn’t need her anymore. Read more…

Trump Revives a Shameful Tradition: Targeting a Minority Group with Crime Reports

A Japanese family returns from a relocation center camp in Hunt, Idaho, to find their home and garage vandalized with anti-Japanese graffiti and broken windows in Seattle, Wa., May 10, 1945.  (AP Photo)

Andrea Pitzer | Longreads | February 2017 | 8 minutes (1,600 words)

 

The history of atrocity is littered with the corpses of scapegoats. When it comes to convincing people that their problems have a simple answer, few narratives have been as effective as assigning responsibility for society’s ills to a vulnerable minority group. Yet to succeed, vilification requires effort.

A year and a half ago, Donald Trump declared his candidacy in a speech accusing Mexicans crossing the border of “bringing drugs … bringing crime” and being “rapists.” During his first week in office, President Trump took additional steps to make the image of dangerous aliens stick, signing an executive order on public safety on January 25. Receiving less attention than the order barring immigrants and nonimmigrants from seven countries that arrived two days later, the earlier decree called on the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to publish a weekly crime report detailing “a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens.” Read more…