A tiny radioactive capsule was lost on a 700-mile stretch of highway in Australia
The round, silver capsule ? measuring roughly a quarter of an inch wide by a third of an inch tall ? is believed to have been lost somewhere along the road in Western Australia.
Pope Francis performs a high-wire act as he courts followers in Africa
The progressive Pontifex is visiting parts of Africa this week, and must fulfill a balancing act that looks towards the expansion of his church and the ideological clashes that are coming up.
What can the world learn from China’s “zero-Covid” lockdown?
Short-term lockdowns could be key to ending pandemics early. For the first time in three years, millions traveled within China earlier this month to reunite with loved ones for the country?s most important holiday, the Lunar New Year. Unfortunately, these celebrations coincided with ? and are sure to exacerbate ? a Covid-19 outbreak currently spreading throughout the country. This spike comes on the heels of China?s National Health Commission ending many of its ?zero-Covid? policies in December. These public health regulations had heavily restricted travel within and to the country, quarantined infected individuals in government-run facilities, and enforced city-wide lockdowns that required millions to stay indoors for months at a time. While the US threw the term ?lockdown? around in the early stages of the pandemic, China was one of the few countries that actually did lock down its population. These initiatives did prevent repeated surges in Covid-19 cases. But it also led to inadequate responses to other health crises and emergencies ? including a November 2022 building fire in the Xinjiang region where virus-related blockades prevented an effective emergency response. Protests over the last few months of 2022 bubbled across major cities like Shanghai, Beijing, and Urumqi, calling for an end to lockdowns, censorship, and in some cases, even Chinese leader Xi Jinping?s presidency. Beijing?s decision to end zero-Covid policies may have saved the nation from further social chaos. But how it eased up resulted in a public health crisis, with an estimated 2.02 million government-confirmed Covid-19 cases (though that?s likely an undercount) as of January 29, compared to 119,836 cumulative cases a year ago.Although a variety of zero-Covid strategies have been tried in different countries since the start of the pandemic, they have varied in intensity, length, goals, and outcomes. In some nations, lockdowns were used intermittently to control outbreaks and to give public health leaders time to develop and distribute vaccinations. China?s lockdowns were used as a primary prevention measure. Partially, China?s current outbreak stems from the country?s all-or-nothing mentality, experts told Vox. The country eased lockdowns, travel restrictions, and mass testing, all at once ? and the virus came rushing in.Lockdowns aren?t a popular public health strategy when strung out for long periods of time. But that doesn?t mean they can?t be a useful option in the pandemic playbook. Lockdowns cannot contain a disease like Covid-19 indefinitely ? especially more contagious variants ? but they can mitigate the spread and give public health leaders time to prepare for other aspects of their pandemic response, such as vaccinations. The public health lessons learned from the end of China?s zero-Covid era might be some of the most important in preparing for future pandemics and learning how to live with diseases. ?At the beginning [of a pandemic], if there?s no treatment, no vaccine, and we have very limited knowledge about this new phenomena, a lockdown is more acceptable,? said Jennifer Bouey, chair of the global health department at Georgetown University. ?Once there are vaccines, once there?s treatment, once we understand the nature of the pathogen, then they should be switched to a combination of different things.?Lockdowns worked during SARS. China hoped they would work again.In January 2020, only two days before the Lunar New Year, China banned travel to and from the 11 million-person city of Wuhan because of the newly discovered SARS-CoV-2 virus, soon known as Covid-19. In March, as the threat of the virus grew, other countries closed their borders, with the World Health Organization declaring Covid-19 a pandemic. Many countries, including China, adopted true lockdowns as a means to stamp out the Covid-19 virus. These measures quarantined infected and exposed individuals, and locked down entire buildings, cities, and regions. China had reason to believe this strategy would work again, given that during the outbreak of SARS ? now called the SARS-CoV-1 virus ? in the early 2000s, the nation used a citywide lockdown of Beijing in 2003 to contain the disease. ?People didn?t go out for six weeks, school was canceled, the streets were empty, and the epidemic ended,? said Elanah Uretsky, chair of international and global studies at Brandeis University, of China?s SARS response. ?It ended because of those lockdowns and massive quarantine policies. And we learned to believe in them.? In the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, little was known about how the virus spread, so public health guidance changed constantly. The application and length of lockdowns varied by country. In France, there were clear guidelines that allowed residents to travel outdoors for activities such as walking a pet. In contrast, in Wuhan, only one member of a household was permitted outside every two days to buy necessary resources. New Zealand, an island country with a zero-Covid approach, prevented Covid cases and deaths early in the pandemic by closing its borders.However, Covid-19 proved to be more ?elusive? than SARS, said Uretsky. Covid can present asymptomatically ? unlike SARS ? and therefore it can evade some contact tracing protocols. While it isn?t as deadly as SARS, Covid is more transmissible, meaning that one person infects multiple people at a higher rate.Meanwhile, it was difficult for countries with large populations and land masses, such as the US and China, to have the type of nationally coordinated response seen in smaller island nations like Singapore and New Zealand. Given its size and politics, the US was unable to nationally coordinate the country?s Covid response and instead relied on individual regions or states to dictate public health measures. Instead of zero-Covid, the US opted for a strategy of ?flattening the curve,? which entailed decelerating the rate of Covid-19 infection to ease the burden on hospitals. ?I think China?s massive error, considering that their population is enormous, was not doing what many countries did, or strived to do, which was ?flatten the curve,?? said Maureen Miller, an epidemiologist with the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. In mid-2021, even nations that had maintained low case numbers and death rates through lockdowns adjusted their policies, and instead focused on vaccination campaigns and ramping up contact tracing efforts. Wealthy nations with access to vaccines began immunizing their populations in December 2020, and by the end of August 2021, over 2 billion people were fully vaccinated. Over the last year and a half, many former zero-Covid countries prioritized administering booster vaccines and slowly phased out contact tracing protocols. Li Zhihua/China News Service via Getty Images
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Commentary: Samsung must improve some of the basics on its flagship phone.
Prosecutors file charges against Alec Baldwin in fatal shooting on movie set
The actor and a weapons specialist have been formally charged with involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on a New Mexico movie set in 2021.
4 suspects in the assassination of Haiti's president were transferred to U.S. custody
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Alec Baldwin’s criminal charges and Rust’s chaotic production, explained
The 2021 shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was an accident everyone saw coming. By all accounts, it was an accident everyone saw coming ? but the questions and chaos surrounding the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins have only grown more numerous in the 18 months since the fatal incident.Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies announced on January 19, 2023, that the county would bring charges against Alec Baldwin for the cinematographer?s death. Hutchins was killed in October 2021 on a ranch near Santa Fe, after a prop gun Baldwin was holding accidentally discharged while filming the movie Rust. The chief weapons handler for the film was also charged, and the film?s director Joel Souza was also non-fatally injured in the shooting.Carmack-Altwies announced in a brief public statement that Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed would each be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter for their roles in Hutchins?s death. The charges carry separate penalties of up to five years or 18 months in prison. On January 31, Baldwin was formally charged.?On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice,? Carmack-Altwies stated in her initial press conference.?We?re trying to definitely make it clear that everybody?s equal under the law, including A-list actors like Alec Baldwin,? special prosecutor Andrea Reeb added to the New York Times. Baldwin is known for being a firebrand on and off set, with his role as Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live raising the ire of many right-wing viewers who view him as emblematic of Hollywood?s liberal elite. This development follows a lengthy investigation into the incident by the Santa Fe sheriff?s office that concluded in October 2022. The report, which was crucial in Carmack-Altwies and Reeb?s decision to file charges, focused on lapses in safety procedures on the film?s highly criticized set, though it failed to determine the most crucial factor ? exactly how loaded guns with live ammunition made it onto the set. This issue remains unsettled despite numerous investigations and lawsuits surrounding the production environment on the Rust set, alongside conflicting views of the accident itself.And despite these new charges, the assignment of blame has proved elusive on a set plagued by claims of labor exploitation, rushed work, unsafe conditions, and ?very fast and loose? handling of weaponry.At the center of the case are two unsolvable mysteries There are two questions this investigation does not seem poised to answer: Did Baldwin pull the trigger? And how did live rounds get on set to begin with?No one disputes the broad facts of what happened on October 21, 2021. Prior to the filming of the scene, Gutierrez-Reed, a props assistant who doubled as the on-set armorer, examined the gun, which was a replica of a .45 Long Colt. She looked inside the barrel, spun the barrel, visually confirmed what she believed were dummy bullets ? fake bullets containing no live ammunition ? and handed the gun over to assistant director and production safety coordinator David Halls to take to the filming location. (Halls avoided facing trial by pleading guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon.)Safety protocol calls for Gutierrez-Reed to have checked all the bullets in front of Baldwin herself ? and she claims to have intended to do so, asking Halls to let her know if Baldwin required her to come down to the filming location and directly examine the gun. But according to a lawsuit later filed by Gutierrez-Reed, the gun wasn?t actually intended to be used in that afternoon?s filming, and Hall was just ?sitting in? with it, keeping it in case it became necessary for later use ? which it did when Baldwin decided to rehearse an unscheduled scene that required the gun.At that point, Halls should have summoned Gutierrez-Reed to come back and further examine the bullets inside the gun. Instead, he yelled, ?Cold gun!? ? ?cold? meaning a gun that was not loaded with live ammunition ? to warn the crew that a gun was about to be discharged. Then he handed it over to Baldwin. While Baldwin was following Hutchins?s instructions to aim the gun toward the camera, the gun discharged, striking both her and Souza.Baldwin has always been adamant that he never pulled the trigger. He has explained that he would never pull the trigger on a prop gun while it was pointed at another human (though safety protocols forbid pointing any prop gun at any human for any reason), and that the gun discharged independently.He instead claims he cocked the gun ? that is, he pulled the hammer back ? and that when he released it, the gun suddenly discharged on its own. Later, FBI forensics reports on the same gun apparently contradicted Baldwin; suggesting that this particular prop gun could only be discharged by pulling the trigger after the gun was cocked or partially cocked.Yet those reports, according to Baldwin?s attorney, downplayed the fact that FBI investigators tried repeatedly to discharge it and were unable to do so, either by pulling the trigger or through any other means. ?The gun fired in testing only one time ? without having to pull the trigger ? when the hammer was pulled back and the gun broke in two different places,? attorney Luke Nikas stated. ?The FBI was unable to fire the gun in any prior test, even when pulling the trigger, because it was in such poor condition.? If both of these claims are accurate, then the question of how the gun discharged is a complete toss-up, since it seems both improbable that the gun could have discharged without being fired and yet equally improbable that the gun could have been fired to begin with.The assumption that Baldwin must have unsafely handled the weapon partially led Hutchins?s family to file a lawsuit against him in February 2022. That suit, which has since been settled, named Baldwin, Gutierrez-Reed, the ammo supplier, and a litany of Rust producers but took as its primary claim the allegation that Baldwin ?recklessly shot and killed Halyna Hutchins,? and that he along with the staff had ?failed to perform industry standard safety checks and follow basic gun safety rules while using real guns to produce the movie Rust, with fatal consequences.? Baldwin filed his own lawsuit in November 2022 against Gutierrez-Reed and the Rust producers, alleging that they were culpable for handing him a loaded gun to begin with.And he has a point: If the gun had contained blanks when discharged ? if it had actually been a ?cold? gun when Halls handed it over to Baldwin ? Hutchins would still be alive.So how did a gun filled with live ammunition make it onto the set? This is where things get a lot more complicated ? and we see a lot more finger-pointing.No one can explain how the live ammo wound up on setWhile someone obviously physically brought live ammo to the set, no one seems to know who it was. A search warrant filed in October 2021 speculated that Gutierrez-Reed might have accidentally purchased live ammunition along with dummy bullets from the gun supplier, PDQ Arm and Prop LLC, and its owner Seth Kenney. And Gutierrez-Reed speculated to investigators that live ammo had been ?mixed in? with dummy bullets. In January 2022, she filed a lawsuit against the company responsible for supplying guns and ammunition to the film production, The suit paints a picture of a chaotic production full of underpaid and overworked staff ? Gutierrez-Reed was to be paid just $7,500 for doing her two jobs on the micro-budget set ? and contains ominously passive language about the source of the ammo, indicating that a mysterious box of dummy rounds for the prop gun ?appeared on set? the day of the shooting.Gutierrez-Reed all but directly implies in the suit ? which appears to be stalled ? that the production?s primary prop manager conspired with Kenney to bring live ammo onto the set in order to, essentially, set Gutierrez-Reed up. This, she argues, was because Kenney and the prop manager both resented her because she had criticized the prop manager for her role in one of the two previous accidental gun discharges on set. However, as part of the discovery in that lawsuit, texts from months earlier between Kenney and Gutierrez-Reed were made public ? texts from a different movie set ? in which Gutierrez-Reed expressed her interest in using prop guns to fire ?hot rounds,? or live ammunition, after hours and not while on set.Not only that, but a report by The Wrap alleged that earlier on the morning of the incident, crew members on the set took prop guns ? which aren?t supposed to be used to fire anything but blanks ? to use in a game of ?plinking,? which involved discharging live ammo in rounds of target practice.So was Gutierrez-Reed the person responsible for ?mixing? ammo? Was it assorted crew members who took the guns, filled them with live ammo, and then replaced them without anyone being the wiser?This is all as murky as everything else. The only thing reports make clear: All this confusion took place on a set with disastrous working conditions.Hutchins?s death was part of a disastrous working environmentMost of the public information about the conditions on the Rust set comes from a report completed in April 2022 by the New Mexico Occupational Health & Safety Bureau (OHSB). As a result of the OHSB?s investigation, the agency fined Rust about $137,000 for workplace safety violations, the maximum amount allowed under state law.The OHSB report found multiple problems with Rust?s on-set production environment, concluding that the production ?demonstrated plain indifference to the safety of employees ... failed to follow company safety procedures, which likely would have prevented the accident from occurring ... [and] ?did not ensure their own safety procedures [were] followed at the worksite.? The OHSB also castigated specific producers for ignoring their employees? repeatedly voiced concerns about on-set safety, and rushing the employees who were tasked with ensuring that safety. One employee who voiced concerns and was overridden was Gutierrez-Reed.?Hannah was tasked with doing two jobs including props assistant and the very important job as armorer but not given adequate time and training days to do so,? Gutierrez-Reed?s attorney told ABC News, ?despite repeated requests or the respect required of the armorer?s position and responsibilities.?Indeed, a week before the shooting, Rust?s line producer, Gabrielle Pickle, emailed Gutierrez-Reed to reprimand her for spending too much time on her armory duties ? which included inspecting all weapons to ensure their safety ? and not enough on her other duties as prop assistant. Gutierrez-Reed replied that ?since we?ve started I?ve had a lot of days where my job should only be to focus on the guns and everyone?s safety,? and that ?there are working guns on set every day and those are ultimately going to be a priority because when they are not that?s when dangerous mistakes can happen.?According to the OHSB report, there were two other accidental discharges on set, both on October 16, five days before the incident that killed Hutchins. A third dangerous incident involved a special effects explosive device accidentally exploding. It was partly in response to these incidents that one of Hutchins?s camera assistants, Lane Luper, quit the job the day before Hutchins?s death ? citing rampant safety violations in his resignation email, among many other exploitative work conditions.Another crew member, Jonas Huerta, also resigned the same day, again citing exploitative, unsafe, and rushed working conditions. ?I also feel anxious on set,? he wrote in his resignation email. ?I?ve seen first hand our AD [the assistant director, Halls] rush to get shots and he skips over important protocols.?The charges related to Baldwin seem to involve his specific act in handling the weapon, rather than his broader role as one of the film?s producers. But the lack of charges filed against any of the other producers on set, several of whom more directly oversaw the frazzled, unsafe filming conditions that led to the multiple accidental weapons discharges, is puzzling. The OHSB report criticized specific producers, including head producer Ryan Smith, for failing to take workplace safety concerns seriously despite repeated complaints by staff. Pickle also faced scrutiny for actively scolding Gutierrez-Reed, including ordering her off armorer duty and limiting her time spent training the cast and crew on how to safely handle weapons.It seems baffling, given this type of evidence, that Santa Fe prosecutors opted not to bring charges of negligence against the producers ? charges that seem clearly provable according to the available evidence. The charges of involuntary manslaughter against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed seem much harder to prove given how confused their roles were ? though the uncertainty hasn?t quashed right-wing pundits like Tucker Carlson from arguing that Baldwin embodies Hollywood?s hypocrisy in decrying gun violence only to defend their own right to use guns in entertainment.As for who supplied the live ammo, the new charges don?t seem to take up that mystery at all. An attorney for Gutierrez-Reed told CNN in August that they had repeatedly asked investigators to do forensics testing on the bullets to try to determine who actually handled them, but authorities had declined, and conducting such an investigation at this late date would likely be fruitless.It?s possible that new, clarifying information will be revealed during a trial ? though the likelihood of such a trial happening anytime soon seems faint. Baldwin?s lawyer, Nikas, has vowed to ?fight these charges,? as he told the New York Times. ?Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun ? or anywhere on the movie set,? he said. ?He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds.?But the professionals with whom Baldwin worked were, at least on this set and likely on many others, underpaid, overworked, harangued by equally frazzled supervisors, and cutting corners at every turn to save money and time. Five days before Hutchins?s death, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) narrowly avoided an employee strike in response to pervasive exploitative conditions throughout Hollywood, including the prevalence of minimum wage gigs, stretched workers, strenuous labor conditions, and wide gender gaps in pay rates and opportunities.Hutchins?s death, as tragic as it is, seems to be the latest culmination of terrible working conditions found not just on set but throughout the industry. The advent of streaming media, the strain of supplying content in a post-pandemic world, and a widespread culture of demanding tireless work for little pay all contribute to the kind of callous disregard for safety and for employees that resulted in the Rust working environment. And while unionization efforts are bringing some meaningful change to the industry, Hutchins?s death arguably stands as a far greater indictment of the industry as a whole than individual indictments against Rust?s on-set players could ever be.Update, January 31, 4:55 pm ET: This story was originally published on January 23 and has been updated to include the formal charges against Baldwin.
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What we know about the killing of Tyre Nichols
Tyre Nichols was killed after he was brutally beaten by Memphis police officers on the evening of January 7. Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, was pulled over for what police said was reckless driving. Three days later, he died from his injuries.It?s not the first time that police have turned a traffic stop into a deadly altercation. Five police officers, all of whom are Black, have been fired for their actions toward Nichols. They have each been charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, two charges of aggravated kidnapping, two charges of official misconduct, and one charge of official oppression. (At least two other police officers have been suspended in connection to the case.) If found guilty, the five former officers each face up to 60 years in prison for the murder charge alone.The city of Memphis released footage from police body cameras and street cameras that showed the officers repeatedly punching, kicking, and hitting Nichols with a baton ? sometimes while he was restrained on the ground. The fatal beating has sparked nationwide protests and revived calls for police reform in Congress. Follow here for all of Vox?s coverage on the latest news, political analysis, reactions, and more.
Two YouTubers from popular Schaffrillas Productions have died in a car crash
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The return of the Stormy Daniels “hush money” case against Trump, explained
New York prosecutors are pursuing charges. But how strong is their case? Amid the many investigations of former President Donald Trump that are going on right now, a new ? or rather, an old ? one has gained some unexpected momentum.This week, the New York district attorney?s office began presenting evidence to a grand jury about whether Trump violated the law in connection with a $130,000 hush money payment to Stormy Daniels, the New York Times reports.You may be thinking: ?Stormy Daniels... That?s a name I?ve not heard in a long time.? Indeed. The world first learned of Daniels in 2018, when the Wall Street Journal broke news that Trump Organization lawyer Michael Cohen had arranged the payment, made shortly before the 2016 election so the adult film actress wouldn?t go public with her claim to have had an affair with Trump. Cohen, already under investigators? scrutiny, eventually pleaded guilty in August 2018 to violating federal campaign finance laws with that payment and others, in charging documents that famously identified Trump as ?Individual-1.? Cohen claimed he?d made the illegal payment at Trump?s direction, so there was much speculation about whether Trump was on the hook for violating campaign finance law too. But instead, the case fizzled out. A federal investigation was closed in 2019, and the New York district attorney?s office looked into it but seemed to lose interest in favor of pursuing a sprawling probe of Trump?s business dealings. So why is it back now, in 2023? Only Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg truly knows the answer to that. But some context is that when Bragg first took office early last year, he put the brakes on the Trump business probe ? a decision that spurred two prosecutors to resign and was intensely criticized. Amid this backlash, and intensifying legal jeopardy for Trump federally and in the state of Georgia, Bragg appears to have rethought his earlier hesitancy. And he?s now embraced what the Times reports had become known in his office as the ?zombie theory? ? of pursuing charges based on the hush money. But whether these possible charges, if filed, will prove strong enough to survive court scrutiny is far from clear.It?s been a while. What was the hush money scandal about, again? Phillip Faraone/Getty Images
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Vintage Contemporaries is a warm-hearted novel that walks in the footsteps of Laurie Colwin
In his debut novel, Dan Kois vividly conjures the lost New York of 1991. Early on in Vintage Contemporaries, an exceptionally warm-hearted new novel by Slate columnist Dan Kois, two women who are both named Emily start to become friends.?If we were characters in a story,? says one of the Emilys, ?it would be pretty confusing that we were both named Emily.? The other Emily, our point-of-view character, immediately volunteers to be Emmy. The first Emily renames her Em instead.In this tiny, quirky moment, Kois packs enormous amounts of information. There?s Em?s self-effacement, her eagerness to please, her willingness to reshape her identity around whatever seems stronger than she is. There?s Emily?s cool assertiveness, her sense of self, her willingness to take it as a matter of course that whichever Emily has to pick up a nickname, it?s certainly not going to be her. The breezy metafictional wink of if we were characters in a story establishes that this is a world of people who read, and who are going to think about how their lives resemble the lives they read about. Most importantly, the fact that the Emilys share a name points to the emotional core of this novel. Theirs is one of those friendships so deep and so intense that the lines between identities become porous, and one self bleeds into another. There are moments in Vintage Contemporaries where, despite their opposed personalities, you?re not exactly sure which Emily you?re reading about at any given moment.The two Emilys meet in the much-mythologized East Village of the early 1990s: the era of scrappy community squats in abandoned buildings, of the Act Up campaign, of starving artists who could still afford Manhattan rent. They?re both just out of college. Em has come to New York to become a writer and finds herself working at a literary agency, struggling to get her head around the realities of publishing. Em is developing a site-specific production of Medea on the Brooklyn Bridge, which she refers to, fait accompli, as her breakout piece.In a breezy 316 pages, Kois follows the Emilys back and forth across time, from their early ?90s meet-cute through the slow dissolution of their friendship to their reunion as fully-fledged grownups in 2005. Lurking in the 14 years between the two sections is a gentle melancholy: for the relationships that fell apart with time, for the dreams that were never achieved, for the New York that was lost as those East Village rents skyrocketed. Vintage Contemporaries does not linger in its sadness. Part of the argument of this novel is that books about happiness are as worth celebrating as books about tragically beautiful people having tragically unhappy sex and all the other trendy topics du jour, and so while it mourns its lost city, it never wallows in grief. Instead, with uncool Em as our protagonist, it mounts a convincing case for such uncool causes as good taste over fashionable taste, editing as creative craft work, and smart novels where everything matters only as much as it ever matters in life. In many ways, Vintage Contemporaries is a love letter to the ethos of Laurie Colwin, a writer of what she used to call ?domestic sensualism:? books about basically decent people trying their best at life, often failing, and eating beautifully described food in the process. Colwin died in 1992, but she and her smart and elegant domestic novels (plus cultishly beloved food memoirs) are enjoying a belated renaissance, having been reissued in trendy new editions in 2021. Vintage Contemporaries makes it clear that the Colwinessaince is long overdue, and that it aspires to follow in her very human-scaled footsteps. In this, it mostly succeeds.That?s not to say there aren?t clumsy moments. A plotline about the office sexual politics of 2005 comes off as slightly clunky, an attempt to play with the gap between Em?s 2005 perspective and the reader?s presumed 2023 mores that works better in theory than in execution. Much stronger is the story of Em?s great creative project, which turns out to be not writing her own book but helping someone else make hers better. As an agent?s assistant in 1991, Em stumbles across a Colwin-like writer of small, lovely, cheerful novels who has been consigned to the euphemistic marketing category of women?s fiction and there ignored. She?s at first bewildered by the books, considering them middlebrow and domestic and easy to ignore, but she finds herself compelled by them almost in spite of herself. In 2005, Em finds her writer friend experiencing an unexpected renaissance, having become the pet project of a highly fashionable literary young man. Everyone, it seems, now sees what Em had to work to see in 1991: that cheerful books about women?s domestic lives are worthy of sustained aesthetic attention. But it takes Em?s editorial eye to make those books as good as they can possibly be.Vintage Contemporaries is, of course, biased when it comes to this argument. This is a lovely and mostly cheerful novel about women and their domestic and professional struggles: it is the kind of book its characters champion. In its sweetness and the delicacy of its approach, its shining array of well-chosen telling details, it more than makes its case.
The driver of a car that plunged off a California cliff charged with attempted murder
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Lawmakers won’t compromise on police reform. Will Tyre Nichols’s killing change that?
New calls for police reform face old Democratic and Republican divisions in Congress. The release of footage on Friday of Memphis police violently beating Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who died from his injuries three days later, has renewed calls to pass federal police reform. But with the House of Representatives now in Republican hands and a closely divided Senate, the prospect for any such reform remains unlikely.Chief among the existing proposals is Democrats? George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which passed the then-Democratic controlled House in 2021 without a single Republican vote, but failed in the Senate.Ben Crump, a lawyer for the Nichols family, has publicly urged Congress to pass the bill, saying in an interview with CNN Sunday that he hoped Nichols?s death would prove to be a turning point. Democrats have echoed that sentiment, either rallying behind that bill specifically or calling for further bipartisan negotiations in the hopes of reaching a compromise that has a chance of passing.Both Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC), who led unsuccessful negotiations on a police reform package in 2021, seemed receptive to giving bipartisan talks another chance in statements Friday. Booker said that he would ?never stop working to build a broad coalition? necessary to pass policing reform, and Scott said that Nichols?s death should be a ?call to action for every lawmaker in our nation at every level.? The Congressional Black Caucus has called, too, for both a meeting with President Joe Biden and a robust push for national criminal justice reforms. Still, many Republicans have expressed opposition to key reforms proposed by Democrats, including limitations on qualified immunity, which protects officers from certain lawsuits. Others dismissed the need for reform at the federal level at all. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), for instance, said in an interview with NBC that, ?Democrats always think that it?s a new law that?s going to fix something that terrible. We kind of think that ? no new law is going to do that.?While a divided Congress, particularly one with a slim Democratic Senate majority, makes a bipartisan policing bill unlikely, new legislation isn?t impossible: Tragedy has galvanized bipartisan action on divisive topics in the recent past. In December, two years after George Floyd was killed by police, Congress passed a law that supports deescalation training for law enforcement officers dealing with individuals who have mental health issues. And after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, last year, Congress passed its first federal gun safety law in nearly three decades, making strides in preventing guns from falling into the hands of dangerous individuals. Both of those bills fell far short of a panacea to the epidemics of violence they aimed to address, but they represented incremental progress. So far, however, further compromise on police reform has proved elusive. Why police reform has been at an impassePolice reform has long been stalled in Congress for a simple reason: disagreements between Republicans and Democrats over how comprehensive such legislation should be. In 2020, in the wake of George Floyd?s murder and massive protests of law enforcement and racism, both parties introduced their own versions of legislation. The Democratic version, the aforementioned George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, would lower the legal standard by which law enforcement officers can face criminal prosecution for misconduct and limit their protection from civil liability under qualified immunity, as well as curb federal officers? ability to use force, no-knock warrants, chokeholds, and carotid holds. It would also establish new reporting requirements, a new national database on police misconduct, and national accreditation standards for law enforcement agencies under which officers would be trained on racial profiling, implicit bias, and their duty to intervene when another officer uses excessive force, among other provisions. Republicans? bill ? the JUSTICE Act ? focused heavily on data collection about police use of force and more documentation of police misconduct, and was much narrower than Democrats? proposal. Qualified immunity, in particular, has consistently been a major sticking point between the two parties, with Democrats determined to end such protections, and Republicans arguing that doing so would leave police officers too vulnerable to liability. Under existing law, qualified immunity makes it challenging to file civil suits against police officers for harms they?ve caused unless there was a prior case deeming those exact same harms illegal or unconstitutional. As a result, police officers have not been held accountable in multiple cases when they have killed people, caused serious injuries, and damaged property. One compromise floated by Scott, though it never materialized in legislation, was the idea that instead of holding individual officers liable for harms, police departments would be held liable, in a way to take the pressure off individuals while still increasing accountability. Sen. Lindsey Graham, in a tweet this week, once again referenced this idea, noting that ?holding police departments accountable makes sense.?I oppose civil lawsuits against individual officers. However, holding police departments accountable makes sense and they should face liability for the misconduct of their officers.
"Energized and excited": Chris Hipkins becomes 41st Prime Minister of New Zealand
Tuesday, January 31, 2023 New ZealandRelated articles31 January 2023: "Energized and excited": Chris Hipkins becomes 41st Prime Minister of New Zealand 12 February 2022: US warns its citizens to leave Ukraine as Russia could invade 'anytime' 25 November 2021: New Zealand raises interest rates in second straight month to 0.75% 5 September 2021: At least six injured after stabbing in New Zealand supermarket 30 June 2021: 'Each makes the other more difficult to recover from': University of Sussex professor L. Alan Winters speaks to Wikinews on trade, COVID-19, BrexitLocation of New ZealandCollaborate!Pillars of Wikinews writingWriting an articleOn January 25, Chris Hipkins succeeded Jacinda Ardern as prime minister of New Zealand after the latter's 'shock' resignation on January 19.At the swearing-in ceremony in Wellington, Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro, King Charles III's representative, appointed Hipkins prime minister and Carmel Sepuloni the first Pasifika New Zealander deputy prime minister. Kiro swearing in Sepuloni (front, left) and Hipkins (front, center) on January 25, 2023. Image: Office of the Governor-General of New Zealand.Hipkins, 44, was elected to replace Ardern as leader of the Labour Party unopposed on January 22. He is expected to lead the party into the October elections amidst economic challenges and two years of declining Labour popularity against a stronger conservative opposition.In his first speech as prime minister, Hipkins, who under Ardern led New Zealand's response to COVID-19, said: "This is the biggest privilege and responsibility of my life [...] I?m energized and excited by the challenges that lie ahead."Hipkins said the cost of living was an "absolute priority" for the new ministry but ruled out announcing specifics "only a couple of hours into the job". Quarterly consumer spending figures published that morning showed New Zealand's inflation rate remained high at 7.2%, led by increases in housing and food costs."New Zealanders will absolutely see in the coming weeks and months the cost of living is right at the heart of our work program [...] It is the number one priority that we are facing as a government and they will see tangible evidence of this", he told reporters, but said "I?m not going to be so hasty as to make things up on the fly".Sepuloni expressed her gratitude for the position and saluted Hipkins' victory. On Sunday, Sepuloni, of Samoan, Tongan, and New Zealand European descent, said she "want[s] to acknowledge the significance of this for our Pacific community".On Sunday, Hipkins pledged to fight what he described as a "pandemic of inflation": "COVID-19 and the global pandemic created a health crisis. Now it?s created an economic one and that?s where my government?s focus will be". But he said focusing on the economy won't detract from other priorities, including climate change, which remains "one of the biggest intergenerational challenges that we face."Christopher Luxon, the Leader of the Opposition, said he texted Hipkins and Sepuloni his congratulations, but declared the Ardern government "failed spectacularly", and Hipkins promised only 'more of the same'.Despite previous cabinet positions as Minister of Education and Minister of Police, Hipkins became known as the 'architect' behind New Zealand's COVID-19 policy. Nevertheless, according to the Associated Press, he and other party members were obscure compared to Ardern, a "global icon for the left".Ardern said she resigned after serving almost fifteen years as a member of parliament because she didn't "have it in the tank [to continue]." She is expected to remain an MP before resigning in April, to prevent a by-election before the October vote.Ardern was elected prime minister in a coalition government in 2017 and won a landslide re-election three years later. She has governed during the nation's deadliest terrorist attack, natural disasters, and the COVID-19 pandemic.In her last event as prime minister on Tuesday, Ardern said people were "the joy of the job". On Wednesday morning, staffers and supporters gathered to say goodbye and hug her as she walked out of the Parliament building.William and Catherine, the Prince and Princess of Wales, tweeted Ardern and her family their gratitude "for your friendship, leadership and support over the years, not least at the time of my grandmother?s death."Have an opinion on this story? Share it!Related news"New Zealand raises interest rates in second straight month to 0.75%" ? Wikinews, November 25, 2021"New Zealand mosque murder suspect appears in court at Christchurch" ? Wikinews, March 17, 2019Sister links New Zealand government response to the COVID-19 pandemic Resignation of Jacinda ArdernSourcesNick Perry. "Hipkins sworn in as New Zealand PM, pledges focus on economy" — Associated Press, January 25, 2023Agence France-Presse. "Chris Hipkins says cost of living is ?absolute priority? as he becomes New Zealand prime minister" — The Guardian, January 25, 2023Nick Perry. "Chris Hipkins confirmed as New Zealand leader, picks deputy" — Associated Press, January 21, 2023 "Jacinda Ardern: New Zealand's prime minister" — BBC News, January 19, 2023Share this:
Rep. George Santos voluntarily steps down from House committee assignments
Multiple GOP lawmakers tell NPR that embattled New York Republican Rep. George Santos has voluntarily recused himself from serving on committees temporarily.
We can’t grieve what we can’t remember
The Eternal Memory. | Sundance Institute Two blistering, beautiful new docs show the brutality of repressing our collective memories. There?s a liminal space just adjacent to grief. It?s where you live when anticipating loss that hasn?t yet arrived ? the loved one with a terminal diagnosis, the crisis looming on the horizon. It?s the space you occupy when standing beside someone who grieves, trying to absorb a bit of their pain. Chronicling the intimate emotion of that space through a camera requires extraordinary sensitivity, the ability to observe without intruding and participate without invading. That?s what makes two new nonfiction films so remarkable: The Eternal Memory, directed by Maite Alberdi (The Mole Agent), and A Still Small Voice, from Luke Lorentzen (Midnight Family). And still more remarkable is an insight they both arrive at: that memory is crucial for navigating this kind of grief, and that this has implications that go far beyond our individual lives. A Still Small Voice ? one of the best documentaries I expect to see this year ? follows a cohort of residents in Mount Sinai Hospital?s spiritual care department, all of whom are training to offer nonsectarian support to patients and families going through the worst experiences of their lives. The film mostly follows Mati, a resident passionately committed to her work. She?s grappling with the ways her work, and her doubts about spiritual matters, are woven into her mental and physical health. Sundance Institute A Still Small Voice.
Bob Born, the 'Father of Peeps' and Hot Tamale candies, has died
Born, a candy company executive known as the "Father of Peeps" for mechanizing the process to make marshmallow chicks, has died. He was 98.