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- 05/31/16--09:50: _Much Like the Cinci...
- 05/31/16--10:30: _Using Russian Faceb...
- 05/31/16--11:17: _New York City's Ice...
- 05/31/16--11:58: _What a Series of Co...
- 05/31/16--12:25: _Two Problems With U...
- 05/31/16--12:45: _Whatever You Think ...
- 05/31/16--13:05: _Salt Lake City Land...
- 05/31/16--13:21: _Colorado Republican...
- 05/31/16--14:02: _“The same brain cir...
- 05/31/16--06:50: _Today's Best Deals:...
- 05/31/16--15:00: _Conservative Icon B...
- 05/31/16--14:50: _How Will Obama's Ne...
- 05/31/16--16:35: _Tulsa Reserve Deput...
- 05/31/16--17:36: _Georgian Neo-Nazis ...
- 05/31/16--14:25: _After Being Called ...
- 05/31/16--17:57: _Texas Road Sign Sug...
- 05/31/16--21:20: _$5 Million Diamond-...
- 06/01/16--04:15: _160 Days and a Wake Up
- 06/01/16--08:35: _The Fight Against t...
- 06/01/16--09:40: _Paul Ryan Made a Ce...
- 05/31/16--12:25: Two Problems With Universal Basic Income
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- 05/31/16--17:57: Texas Road Sign Suggests Donald Trump Is A Shape Shifting Lizard
- 06/01/16--04:15: 160 Days and a Wake Up
- 06/01/16--08:35: The Fight Against the Growing Dehumanization of Women in Brazil
Taking a break from calling reporters sleazy and dishonest—prompted by last week’s Washington Post investigation into funds he claimed to have raised for veterans’ groups—Donald Trump was asked Tuesday to address the weekend’s biggest story: The summary execution of Harambe, a gorilla, in Cincinnati.
“It was a very tough call,” Trump said. “I don’t think they had a choice.” However: “There were moments, it was almost like a mother holding a baby—beautiful and calm.” Trump also said that he had “no choice” but to hold a press conference at which he enumerated his contributions to veterans’ groups.
“I wasn’t looking for credit,” the presumptive Republican nominee claimed, somewhat improbably. “I had no choice.”
In January, at a fundraiser in Des Moines, Iowa, Trump claimed to have raised $6 million, including $1 million of his own money. “We just cracked $6 million, right? Six million,” he said. “Donald Trump gave $1 million.”
Last week, however, Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, said that Trump had only raised about $4.5 million. It also took him four months to write the $1 million check. “The money is fully spent,” Lewandowski told the Post. “Mr. Trump’s money is fully spent.”
Trump would later contradict his campaign manager. “I don’t know that Corey would even know when I gave it out,” he said. From the Post:
In the same interview, Trump said the fundraiser had raised about $5.5 million for veterans overall. He said he was not sure how much of it remained to be given away.
That also contrasted with the account last week from Lewandowski, who said that about $4.5 million had been raised and that Trump’s effort had fallen short of the promised $6 million because some unnamed big donors had backed out.
On Tuesday, Trump said no major contributors had reneged. “For the most part, I think they all came through,” he said. “Some of them came through very late.”
Trump also said he had never actually promised that the fundraiser had raised $6 million. “I didn’t say six,” he said.
In fact, as video of the event shows, he did. In any case, the Trump campaign released the list of organizations that had received donations stemming from the January fundraiser on Tuesday. The total amount raised was $5.6 million, including the $1.1 million check from Trump himself.
Roughly half of the 233 people convicted of “hate speech” last year in Russia were using the popular Facebook clone VKontakte. But “hate speech” isn’t always hate speech. Sometimes you could go to jail for two years for sharing a meme about toothpaste and Crimea to your twelve online friends, the AP reports.
Russia’s 2002 extremely vague anti-extremism law has really been keeping up with the times. The law forbids glorifying or promoting terrorism, racism (which is why this fucker is in jail) and also this enigmatic doozy—“any activities that undermine the nation’s security or constitutional order.” (That last bit also lets Kremlin block across all Russian ISPs Facebook—all of Facebook—for some synthetic weed ads, or LiveJournal—all of LiveJournal—because of someone’s post planning a protest.)
In February 2014, Putin tightened “hate speech” laws. And then he got real specific. Via the AP:
In July of that year, three months after Russia had annexed the Crimean Peninsula, he signed a bill making calls “to destroy” Russia’s territorial integrity a criminal offense punishable by up to five years in prison. The new amendment makes the denial of Russia’s claims on Crimea an even greater offense if the statement is made in the press or online, even on a private social media account.
And that’s how 40-year-old small-town electrician Andrei Bubeyev was sentenced to more than two years in prison after a SWAT team raided his house and terrorized his four-year-old kid, all for sharing things on VKontakte—specifically a picture of some toothpaste with the caption “Squeeze Russia out of yourself!” and articles about Russian soldiers who died aiding the separatists in Ukraine.
So how did the government get word of Andrei Bubeyev’s “extremist” friends-only posts to his twelve friends? What a mystery. VKontakte founder Pavel Durov sold the site in 2014 and exiled himself. The site is now owned by the Kremlin-friendly billionaire Alisher Usmanov. Maybe it has something to do with that.
Most of the 52 people sent to prison for “hate speech” last year were convicted for sharing things online. Moscow-based Sova group which studies xenophobia, nationalism and misuses of the anti-extremism laws told the AP that’s five times as much as five years ago:
“These cases are very arbitrary because they are lots more people out there who have done the same thing. Such enforcement of the law does not address or combat radical activities. No one knows where the red line is: It’s like roulette.”
Whose side are you on? Are you a stone-cold originator, or some sugary carpetbagging poseur? Would you like sprinkles with that, or might a tasty chocolate dip be more to your liking? Are you in or are you out? Sugar cone or waffle? Most importantly: Mister Softee or New York Ice Cream?
Friends, there is a war on for your ice cream truck patronage. The New York Times has the wonderful story of the Mister Softee’s war against an upstart led by former Softee drivers that is allegedly encroaching on the ubiquitous peddler’s territory in Midtown.
Ice cream sellers must obtain permits to legally sell within the city, but those permits don’t restrict them to any particular area. In other words, the only law in these streets is the law of the chocolate and vanilla men, and these men are icy cold indeed. A New York Ice Cream seller talked to the Times about his tactics, which include intimidating Softee men and boxing in their trucks so they can’t move:
“From 34th to 60th Street, river to river, that’s ours,” he said on a recent afternoon, moments after handing a chocolate cone to a delighted-looking little boy. The vendor would not allow his name to be published for fear of losing his job.
“You will never see a Mister Softee truck in Midtown,” he continued. “If you do, there will be problems, and you won’t see him there very long.”
Nothing sweet on the Softee side, either:
“Let me tell you about this business,” Adam Vega, a thickly muscled, heavily tattooed Mister Softee man who works the upper reaches of the Upper East Side and East Harlem, said on Wednesday. “Every truck has a bat inside.”
Mr. Vega, 41, said that if he comes across a rival on his route, “I jump out and say, ‘Listen young man, this is my route, you gotta get out of there.’”
NYC cone heads may remember New York Ice Cream as the former Master Softee, a Softee clone that caused a big shakeup on the cream scene back in 2014. After a court action brought by the original Mister Softee, they’ve changed their name, but the bad blood evidently still runs like strawberry syrup.
Unforgiving times here in fun city. Don’t get caught on the wrong side of the moose tracks.
The sixteen-novel Left Behind series of evangelical thrillers is at least as influential a text in the annals of latter-day prophecy belief as the Book of Revelation. Which, of course, happens to furnish source material for the series’ intensively literalist accounting of the rapture, the tribulation, and the final judgment. The series, by Baptist preacher-turned-culture-warrior Tim LaHaye and evangelical sports and comics writer Jerry Jenkins, debuted in 1995 and concluded in 2007, and not counting the raft of prequels, children’s adaptations, study guides, and audiobooks that have come in its wake, it has sold more than 65 million copies.
The Left Behind novels bear abundant testimony to a curious fusion of premillennial certainty and America-centric convenience. In fashioning their optimal account of the Last Days, LaHaye and Jenkins have taken copious care to leave all the trappings of the American culture of abundance intact. The Left Behind series lays out, in carefully wrought detail, a fully wired, upwardly mobile, and incorrigibly flush account of post-Rapture life on earth. The divine reckoning chronicled in Left Behind restores the book’s protagonists—a ragtag band of pre-rapture skeptics, now hastily conducted into the second birth and primed to do battle with the Antichrist and his bumbling crew of bureaucratic evildoers—to still greater material largesse. Even as the plagues multiply and the cosmic forces of good and evil mass for the final confrontation, the members of the Tribulation Force, as they come to be known, absurdly continue to prosper and pile up high-end possessions.
The de facto leader of the Force, a steely, rational airline pilot named, appropriately enough, Rayford Steele, is promoted from his civil aviation job to captain the private flight team of the rising Antichrist, Nicolae Carpathia—a shifty Eastern European enthusiast of one-world government who murders his way to the head of the UN general assembly, and from there, inevitably, a dictatorial new perch as a potentate of a global cult of satanic power. Buck Williams, the hot-headed but brilliant features writer for a major newsweekly, likewise gets recruited to work in Carpathia’s communications empire.
Early on, the members of the Tribulation Force are clued into the many ways in which they are living out the laboriously literal fulfillment of the prophecies of Revelation—yet even when Steele and Cameron are bivouacked in the very heart of the Carpathia’s empire in the Middle Eastern desert kingdom of New Babylon, they compulsively continue to coordinate the Tribulation Force’s activities by commuting back to the United States—a habit that, among other things, exposes them to all sorts of needless personal and tactical risk.
The America-centric course of events in Left Behind is both bizarre plotting and poor Tribulation Force strategy. Tremendous amounts of time—and hundreds upon hundreds of pages–are eaten up by the minutiae of air travel, and the simple logistics of ferrying this or that Tribulation warrior from New World Point A to Promised Land Point B and then back again.
All the major characters in Left Behind speak fluent English, even when they’re outfitted with names and ethnic backgrounds that Jenkins and LaHaye clearly regard as suspiciously alien and exotic—and all quickly adapt the dictums of free-market success to the unprecedented challenges of ushering humanity through the final stage of divinely scripted human history.
Nearly all the leaders of the Tribulation Force are affluent, highly regarded professionals. The original band of Christian apostles may have been despised, marginal figures in the Judean social order, including fishermen and tax collectors, but that sort of dispensation doesn’t cut it in the eschatology of the digital age. Here is Chang Wong, the hotshot teenaged evangelical double agent who’s promoted to manage all the computer systems in the Global Community, the revived Roman Empire run by the Carpathia, closely monitoring the pending martyrdom of a key founding member of the Tribulation Force, Buck Williams’ wife (and Rayford Steele’s daughter) Chloe, when God showers manna on the faithful, just as prophecy foretold:
Chang glanced over to where the elders sat before a big screen, and beyond them, hundreds of computer keyboarders awaited instructions. The fading late-afternoon sun cast slanted rays through the door a hundred feet from Chang, and he was moved nearly to tears by the gently falling manna. Providing food for his chosen, protecting and thrilling Chang, comforting Chloe, and sending messengers with the everlasting gospel . . . . God was the ultimate multitasker.
It is, of course, jarring to see an omnipotent Creator characterized in language usually reserved for employee-of-the-month honors, but even more curious is the setting: Exiled in an ancient biblical holy city, the final faithful remnant have instinctively recreated a giant data-processing facility, replete with a wall-sized video screen and a bank of computers.
The many volumes of Left Behind abound with this sort of inapposite conflation of prophetic faith with the rewards, work rituals, and rhetoric of the capitalist marketplace.
In the series’ eighth volume, Buck and Chloe’s hard-driven Range Rover finally gives out, and the couple then adjourns to the basement garage of the luxury Chicago high-rise in which the Force has taken refuge. They find two Humvees on offer, along with an armada of vehicles abandoned in the wake of Chicago’s nuclear devastation. “This is the most fun I’ve had in ages,” Chloe says. “It’s like we’re in a free car dealership and it’s our turn to pick . . . .[A]ll we have to do is decide what model and color car we want.”
It’s exceedingly hard to work out just how the material windfall from nuclear annihilation can be summed up with the confident pronouncement that “When God blesses, he blesses,” let alone that the ghoulish pastime of combing over the discarded belongings of the dead can be “the most fun I’ve had in ages.”
The protagonists of Left Behind recognize no fundamental distinction between the hand of God guiding the endgame of history and the invisible hand of the capitalist market. If cities are annihilated for the sake of expediting the timely delivery of a new all-terrain luxury vehicle, well, God works in mysterious ways.
This is all to say nothing, of course, of the Tribulation Force’s extended romance with military hardware, which makes for an extremely awkward tour as ambassadors for the Prince of Peace. As they decamp for their Armageddon HQ in Petra, most high-level members of the Tribulation Force tote an exceedingly powerful “directed energy weapon,” which heats up the skin of any human target to an intolerable level. It’s technically a non-lethal gun, which permits its Christian users to sustain the fig-leaf conceit that they are not actually taking human lives.
Meanwhile, Rayford Steele, guided by his trademark technophilia and macho can-do spirit, procures a decidedly lethal, massive force weapon known as “Saber” to be brandished in the assassination of the Antichrist. Though the mission is ultimately aborted, Steele gives it a trial run over a rapt, 11-page passage that revels in the particulars of the enormous weapon’s capacity for just-in-time gore delivery. Lest there be any doubt whether God would, all in all, prefer that such artillery be forged into ploughshares, a divine messenger lays it definitively to rest.
There is, of course, a set of background economic assumptions that undergirds the frenetic worship of testosterone-driven technology in Left Behind, and not surprisingly, it comes straight from the hard-money metal-hoarder’s playbook. Even in the early phases of the tribulation drama, the always-enterprising Buck Williams realizes that “he needed to start investing in gold. Cash would soon be meaningless.”
Like the occasional callouts that crop up in the Left Behind series hailing the paramilitary contributions that the former American militia movement have lent to the Tribulation Force’s cause, this paranoid paean to the saving properties of gold in a civilization-wide crisis is an admiring nod to the thought leaders of hard-right conservatism.
What LaHaye and Jenkins are preaching, at the end of history, is evangelical market utopianism. After all, much of the point of end-of-the-world fiction, regardless of its particular spiritual rooting interests, is utopian—to deliver a fully realized portrait of how the cosmic drama of history can and should be redeemed. No less than the Book of Mormon’s account of the New World setting for the Garden of Eden and Christ’s eventual return, Left Behind betrays a reflexive identification of the cosmic order of divine justice and the way that America’s market culture orders life outcomes. (It bears reminding in this connection that the Book of Mormon also endorses a racialized hierarchy of divine favor—albeit a much more explicitly racist one, in which God punishes sinners for their trespasses by denying them a white pigmentation.)
But in this distinctly hierarchical vision of the freshly restored cosmic spiritual order, the meritocratic protocols of the old market regime quietly endure. The global information elite known as the Tribulation Force is settling into its privileged birthright—its members will quietly (and perhaps a bit ruefully) retire their Directed Energy Weapons and fighter planes while apparently still enjoying premium cell-phone reception. They anticipate they will neither age nor suffer pain during Jesus’ thousand-year reign on Earth. (Conversely, as they see the final cohort of millions of their fellow humans banished to eternal torment in the pits of Hell, one in their number offers a deeply complacent one-word summation of the scene: “Sad”—conjuring much the same blasé social fatalism that a distracted CEO might volunteer if an unkempt squeegee man were to set about furiously wiping down the windshield of his Porsche in the expectation of a tip.) The fortunate veterans of the Tribulation Force can even count upon the diligent handiwork of a concierge Christ who cleans out their abodes so that “not a speck of dust” remains—and then graciously professes his pleasure in their domestic service.
In the besetting glow of a redeemed planet—New Heaven, New Earth—the smooth, shiny surfaces of the comfortable market order hum onward, with no rough beast slouching in its way. In the wake of great cosmic tumult and unspeakably bloody distress among the ever-sinning human race, the millennium has dawned, and it betokens the final enclosure of faith by the Money Cult. Jesus is restored to his true worshipers, and all, at last, is right in God’s universe.
This is adapted from the new book The Money Cult: Capitalism, Christianity, and the Unmaking of the American Dream by Chris Lehmann, which is out today. Copyright © 2016 by the author and reprinted with permission of Melville House Publishing.
The idea of a universal basic income—money given to everyone each month to cover minimal living expenses—is having something of a utopian intellectual moment across the political spectrum. But the idea does have two obvious potential pitfalls.
If you, like me, are someone with socialist tendencies who believes in policies that redistribute wealth down the economic ladder, and are good-looking and likeable, the primary appeal of a basic income is that—yes—it will redistribute wealth down the economic ladder (somewhat imperfectly). It is an incredibly broad form of social welfare. And the fact that basic income is a policy idea that is attracting interest from people other than just lefties gives it a level of plausibility that a lot of utopian social safety net schemes don’t have.
In the New York Times today, Eduardo Porter has a counterpoint to the basic income movement. He offers several reasons why a universal basic income is a poor tool for fighting poverty. I’d like to focus on the two that are the most important
It’s not means-tested: Obviously. A feature of the universal basic income is that it’s universal—it’s money for everyone. This is also, transparently, kind of a dumb idea if your goal is to fight poverty. Why cut the same check to a rich person that you cut to a poor person? Basic income advocates
Ideally, the program would be reduced to benefit only the poor as part of the inevitable political compromise process that would accompany any actual implementation.
It might be used to replace all other social welfare programs: This would be bad! Basic income does enjoy support from some Libertarians and conservatives, but it is easy to see them deciding to simply cut everyone a check and, in turn, do away with Medicare, Social Security, Food Stamps, and every other social program, arguing that that is what the money is for. Since these and other broad social programs have been proven to be effective in fighting poverty, this would be a bad outcome for the poor. In order for basic income to accomplish what we would like it to accomplish, it needs to be adopted on its own merits rather than as a stealth free market replacement for every social welfare program in the country.
What becomes clear is that a basic income is not really anyone’s first choice! Lefties and socialists would rather have anti-poverty social programs that transfer money from the rich to the poor. Right wingers and Libertarians would, for the most part, rather have nothing at all. So we settle on “something for everyone” rather than “nothing for anyone.”
We will continue to refine this debate for the next decade or two until basic income becomes politically plausible in the U.S., assuming the revolution has not happened yet.
Last summer, the inspector general reported that undercover agents were able to sneak fake guns and bombs past the TSA about 95 percent of the time. But, as evidenced by the TSA’s Instagram account, TSA agents have definitely confiscated some knives.
So there’s that.
According to a report from KSL-TV, tenants at City Park Apartments, in Salt Lake City, Utah, discovered a “Facebook addendum” taped to their doors on Thursday night demanding that they “Like” the apartment complex on Facebook within five days or be found in breach of the rental agreement.
“I don’t want to be forced to be someone’s friend and be threatened to break my lease because of that,” one tenant, Jason Ring, said. “It’s outrageous as far as I’m concerned.”
The tenants who have already signed lease agreements likely won’t be required to now agree to an addendum. KSL reports:
Zachary Myers, an attorney who specializes in tenant rights for Hepworth, Murray & Associates in Bountiful, said the contract addendum may not be fair to those who don’t have or are unable to create Facebook accounts.
“The biggest issue that I have with it is that it seems to be discriminatory against elderly individuals and disabled individuals who are unable to utilize an online presence such as Facebook,” he said.
He added that if something like an add-on appears and a tenant is not comfortable with it, the tenant should not sign it because once signed, the tenant is bound to the contract unless a court says otherwise.
The addendum also requires tenants “to not post on any public forum or page negative comments relating to the community.”
The complex’s Facebook page has since been deactivated, but a cached version of the page reveals that, following 973 public ratings, City Park Apartments averaged 1.1 stars. “Well was going to move here,” wrote one reviewer. “But hearing all this negative reviews and forcing people to Facebook is really stupid. I bet you also have crazy fees for everything.”
“Zero stars. I saw this story on internet,” wrote another. “Sperm,” replied a third.
It’s happened to us all: You’re minding your own business on the WWW and the next thing you know, a liberal hacker has cyber-hijacked your Facebook account for the purpose of posting racist memes about the president. The most recent victim is Linda Sorenson, who promises she was definitely hacked and did not post it herself.
Sorsenson is chairwoman of Colorado’s Delta County Republican Central Committee, and last week posted the following image to her personal Facebook wall:
Now that’s racist. But maybe not extremely surprising, coming from a GOP figure in a mountain backwater. But according to Vic Ullrey, Sorenson’s second in command who spoke to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, this isn’t what it looks like (a racist expressing her racism). Rather, it’s a left-wing hacker media conspiracy:
“This whole thing is a hoax. Someone got into the Facebook somehow,” said Vic Ullrey, vice chairman of the committee. “It was hacked and somebody got into it, definitely.”
When asked why Sorenson was the specific target of the alleged hacking — possibly a federal crime, if true — Ullrey said, “I have no idea,” later adding, “Just to damage the Republican Party, no doubt. … Just to make us look bad,”
Another Delta County GOP officer told the Sentinel that Media Matters, the left-wing watchdog group, was behind the hack that absolutely happened and is not the threadbare, oldest and worst excuse in the book for doing something dumb on social media.
However, it’s difficult to reconcile the “Media Matters hacker conspiracy” theory with this purported phone call recorded by blogger Jason Salzman (who broke the Sorenson story), in which Sorenson says the chimpanzee image was just meant to be a joke, and “I really don’t care if people are offended by it.” I attempted to figure out this apparent contradiction by placing a call to the Delta County Republican Central Committee’s listed contact number, but found that it went to the voicemail for High Wire Ranch, a Colorado elk and bison meat production operation.
“The same brain circuits that are activated by eating chocolate and winning money are activated when teenagers see large numbers of ‘Likes’ on their own photos.” Why can’t these narcissistic teens just eat Snickers bars at slot machines, as we did in simpler times?
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It’s never easy to go back to work after a holiday weekend, but Amazon’s here to ease the pain with a grab bag of great tech deals.
Inside this Gold Box collection, you’ll find a 200GB microSD card for $60, a 480GB SSD for under $100, a portable 1TB SSD, ethernet switches, a popular router, and a lot more. Just note that like all Gold Box deals, these prices are only available today, and the best stuff could sell out early.
That’s more than a lot of air mattresses, but this one includes a built-in pump with silently trickles more air into the mattress overnight, meaning it’ll still be fully inflated when they wake up in the morning. If that’s not a miracle, I don’t know what is.
Amazon went out and made their own felt laptop sleeves, and all three sizes are down to all-time low prices today. Each sleeve includes a pocket for your laptop, a velcro clasp, and several smaller pockets for cables, mice, and pens, and other trinkets.
Many of you won’t bat an eye in spending $50+ on a good gaming mouse, but don’t neglect the mouse pad! This extra long model from Corsair is available for $20 today, or $10 less than elsewhere.
The humble and inexpensive cast iron skillet is one of most important pieces of cooking gear you can own
Cooking for one? The 8" model is down to $10 as well.
This seemingly basic remote might not look like much at first blush, but it can actually control eight of your favorite home theater devices, and even turn your smartphone into a universal remote as well.
You’re probably used to seeing Logitech Harmony remotes with screens built-in, but it turns out that you already carry a much better screen in your pocket. So in addition to controlling your TV, cable box, game console, stereo, and more from the remote itself, the Logitech Harmony Smart Control can now do the same from your iPhone or Android from anywhere in the house. That’s especially handy when your favorite show is about to start and you can’t find the remote anywhere.
Why stop with just a griddle, grill, and panini press? Add the optional waffle iron plates to your cart, and get even more use out of your new toy.
We see a lot of deals these days on the DJI Phantom 3 Standard, but if you really want a 4K camera, the Phantom 3 4K is down to its lowest price today.
Not to be confused with the Phantom 3 Professional, the Phantom 3 4K is basically the Standard, but with a 4K camera and an indoor positioning system added on. That means it doesn’t include DJI’s LightBridge range extension technology, but you should still be able to control this thing from over 1,000 feet away in most conditions.
Update: You can also get a brand new Phantom 4 with a $150 eBay credit and three batteries for $1559.
If you have kids, Amazon ingeniously created a kid-centric version of its popular 7" Fire tablet, and you can save $20 when you buy one today, or $50 if you buy two (using code SUMMER2PACK).
The Kids Edition includes a rugged rubber case, parental controls, a year’s subscription to FreeTime Unlimited (a subscription service with tons of kid-friendly media), and a two year warranty that covers accidental damage. Kids will love using it, and you’ll love the peace and quiet.
If you want to stop paying your cable company $100/month for channels you don’t watch, it might be time to cut the cord. Between services like Netflix, Hulu+, Sling TV, and HBO Now, it’s easier than ever to declare cable independence, but a good antenna is still a critical piece of equipment
Today on Amazon, the Mohu Leaf 30 is down to $30, or about $10 less than usual. Lifehacker readers voted the Leaf as their favorite antenna
If upgrading your home theater audio system is on the to-do list for 2016, you won’t find a better deal than this bundle.
There are only a few of these $1200 bundles left in stock, but if you compare all of the included items to the price of buying them separately, it’s an insane bargain.
Most mechanical keyboards are marketed towards gamers, but Das Keyboards are a typist’s dream. Their newest, the Das Keyboard 4, is only $126 right now, a significant savings off of its usual $169 price tag. You even get to choose from either the Professional or blank key-sporting Ultimate, as well as Cherry MX Blue or Brown switches.
In addition, you can also score the tenkeyless Das Keyboard 4C for $99 shipped, which is the first significant deal we’ve seen on the newest member of the Das family. That’s $40 less than its usual price, and a great option for anyone who wants to trade a dedicated number pad for extra desk space.
Jackery, despite the silly name, makes many popular and well-reviewed USB battery packs, and one of its newest models is down to its lowest price.
The Jackery Bolt (pictured above) is a little expensive at $20 for 6,000mAh, but it includes a built-in Lightning and microUSB cable, so you won’t have to worry about carrying a spare. If you’re the forgetful type, that’s well worth the price premium.
If you have any old hard drives laying around, or if you just want to build a super-fast external SSD to store your files
Want to build an external SSD from scratch? Here’s a 480GB SanDisk for just $94, one of the best prices we’ve ever seen for any SSD of that capacity.
If you’re ready to take the plunge into LED lighting, this 6-pack of higly-rated LOHAS daylight bulbs is down to just $18 on Amazon right now, one of the best per-bulb prices we’ve ever seen. They aren’t dimmable, so you won’t want to put them in certain fixtures, but it’s a great bulk pack for filling out ceiling lights and lamps throughout your house.
Once you’ve got them, check to see if your local utility company offers rebates for purchasing LEDs. If so, it’s possible these could pay for themselves even quicker than they would otherwise.
Well here’s something different. Amazon’s running a Father’s Day sale on dozens of collectibles from the worlds of sports, pop culture, and collectible coins, today only. Options range from Coach K-signed photos to Shatner-signed Star Trek prints, with plenty of other options in between.
Just note that these prices are only available today, or until sold out.
Today on Amazon, $26 gets you nine popular Mel Brooks films on Blu-ray, including Blazing Saddles, Robin Hood: Men In Tights, and Spaceballs, plus a ton of special features. That’s almost $15 less than usual, and within a few bucks of an all-time low price.
The Xbox One deals just keep coming, and this is one of the best we’ve seen. $319 gets you the 1TB spring bundle, complete with Halo 5: Guardians, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Rare Replay, and Ori and the Blind Forest. That’d be a great deal on its own, but for a limited time, Microsoft is also throwing in an extra controller and an extra game of your choice.
So if you lost track here, you’re getting a console with double the standard built-in storage, five games, and two controllers. Needless to say, they really want you to buy one of these things.
Logitech’s new G610 Orion mechanical gaming keyboard is already racking up great user reviews, and Amazon’s taking $30 off both the brown and red switch model today, the best discount they’ve ever posted.
While most mechanical gaming keyboards look like props from a Transformers movie, this would look right at home in an office, if you want to use it to get work done as well
Can’t remember what brown and red switches are? Lifehacker has a great explainer.
Brother laser printers dominated the voting in our Kinja Co-Op for best printer, and it’s easy to see why: They basically never jam, toner is much cheaper than ink (and it never dries out if you don’t use it), and they print much faster than any other consumer-level printer; on the order of 25-30 pages per minute, even when printing duplex. The glaring trade-off is that they don’t print in color, but it’s easier to live without that than you might think.
Update: The 2380DW has sold out on Amazon, but you can get it from eBay for the same price.
The two models on sale today both include all of the advantages seen above, but the $65 HL-2300D is a USB-connected, barebones affair, while the $100 HL-2380DW adds a scanner, a touchscreen, and wireless networking, including AirPrint and Google Cloud Print. Both prices are the best we’ve seen in months, so do yourself a favor and lock in your order before they sell out.
If you’ve ever spent more than 5 seconds sorting through your mismatched food containers to find the right lid, it’s time to throw them all out and upgrade to this 42-piece Rubbermaid system.
The set comes with 21 containers in six different sizes, and yet you only have to deal with three different sizes of lids, making it much easier to find the right one. Personally, I prefer glass storage sets like this one from Pyrex, but if you want to maximize the number of containers you get for your money, this is your best bet.
$20 is a very good price for any 20,000mAh USB battery pack. But when you consider that this one includes Quick Charge 2.0 for your newer Android devices, it’s a no-brainer. Conservatively, you should get 4-5 phone charges out of this thing, making it perfect for sharing during a long flight or camping trip.
We see deals on car-starting battery packs just about every week, but even by our standards, $27 is a really fantastic starting price (with code XHXFO8KL) for a 300A model. And for owners of larger cars, 400A and 600A versions are also on sale. No matter which one you choose, they all include a DC charger to juice it back up inside your car, and they’re all small enough to fit in your glove box.
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Bill Kristol, your local pizza man’s
David French, man! You know, the guy who wrote the book A Season for Justice: Defending the Rights of the Christian Church, Home, and School? And the thought-provoking essay “Jesus Was Transgender? I Thought He Was Gay” for his day job at NRO? Big celebrity, lots of name recognition? Lots of experience in electoral politics? (OK, no experience in electoral politics.)
The Bloomberg report cites “Two Republicans intimately familiar with Bill Kristol’s efforts” to push a third-party candidate into the race. Neither Kristol nor French himself offered comment.
French has vocally supported the idea of some third-party candidate stepping in to stop Trump. Last week, he wrote that “Mitt Romney is the only man who combines the integrity, financial resources, name recognition, and broad public support to make a realistic independent run at the presidency.” Presumably, he meant an independent candidate other than, you know, himself.
Sadly, for all of French’s obvious qualifications and support and popularity among ordinary Americans, he faces in one major roadblock in being backed by Kristol, whose every prediction about the 2016 race has turned out to be wrong
For some time, the working world has relied on the idea that an employee must “pay their dues” in order to move up in the company hierarchy. Nowadays, with the current threshold for overtime eligibility hovering at $23,660, this concept has escalated comfortably into “live in poverty for a while.”
In a directive announced on May 17, the latest in a string of executive actions aimed at alleviating some of the economic pressures on the middle class, President Obama moved to provide most salaried workers earning under $47,476 annually with time-and-a-half overtime benefits; moving forward, the salary threshold will be updated every three years to account for inflation. The Labor Department has estimated that the shift will mean over 4.2 million additional workers will become eligible for overtime.
From the Huffington Post:
Passed during the Great Depression, America’s overtime law was meant to protect workers from being worked too long and paid too little.
But under the current regulations, many working-class employees who earn above the low salary threshold are classified as “managers” and therefore don’t have overtime rights. Employers have an incentive to pile work onto these employees, since their extra time essentially comes for free. As a result, in retail some store managers will clock 60, 70 or even 80 hours, but only take home a modest salary in the $30,000 range.
The percentage of workers who are overtime-eligible has fallen dramatically in recent decades. In 1975, 62 percent of salaried workers had overtime rights; now, that share is a mere 7 percent, according to White House estimates.
Reporting on this looming shift in the “Devil Wears Prada economy,” the New York Times examines the effect this change might have on certain “prestige professions” such as publishing and the film industry, whose desirable-seeming (seeming!) jobs attract an endless legion of overqualified 20-somethings ready and willing to be underpaid and worked to the bone in the name of career development.
The Times spoke to several managers and company heads, many of whom appeared “disoriented” by the serious readjustments required by the prospect of paying employees a living wage:
In a letter to the Labor Department after it proposed the overtime rule last summer, Workman’s general manager, Jill Salayi, suggested that because the company could not afford to pay overtime to all newly eligible staff members or raise their salaries over the new threshold, it would have to cut back their hours in many cases.
“Less will be asked of them,” she argued, “which means they will not receive sufficient career development or see timely advancement and/or promotions.”
(Mr. Reynolds stressed that Workman was confident it would be able to adjust financially.)
The Times also reported, from a source at the company, that the 8-10 assistant literary agents at the Wylie Agency make in the $30,000-40,000 range and work 50-60 hours per week without overtime.
Andrew Wylie, who runs the agency, said he would consider paying time and a half if he asked junior staff members to work overtime, but not if they worked long hours of their own volition. “What am I supposed to do, sit at the door with a stopwatch?” he said. “I’m not going to do that.”
In this particular case, we have a few things going on—an employer who apparently won’t take responsibility for creating a work atmosphere in which employees might be peer-pressured into working overtime for no particular reason, and additionally, who doesn’t appear to trust his employees to log their own hours.
The National Retail Federation, in a statement critical of the move, suggested that salaried professionals in that industry could be “reclassified as hourly workers” deprived of benefits; as of yet, it’s unclear exactly how companies will account for these added costs. But as Judy Conti, federal advocacy coordinator for the National Employment Law Project, noted to the Washington Post, “The current level isn’t even enough to keep a family of four out of poverty”—and in creative industries, as the Times points out, low salaries and excessive workloads make for an economically homogenous workforce made up of those privileged enough to work for pennies.
The Times mostly spoke to the managers and CEOs of these companies (as well as The Devil Wears Prada author Lauren Weisberger, who hasn’t worked at Condé Nast in about 15 years). But we’d like to hear from you.
If you work in a creative industry—publishing, film, radio, etc.—and your job could be affected by these changes, how much do you make? Do you currently receive overtime pay? Benefits? What are your hours like? Do you like your job? How do you think this rule will affect it? Let us know, either at firstname.lastname@example.org, or my email below.
Image via MTV/The Hills.
A former Tulsa reserve deputy who fatally shot an unarmed, restrained suspect after mistaking his gun for his Taser was sentenced to 4 years in prison on Tuesday, the Associated Press reports.
Last month, 74-year-old Robert Bates was convicted of second-degree manslaughter
After the shooting, the Tulsa World discovered that Bates, a wealthy insurance executive, had donated thousands of dollars in equipment to the sheriff’s office. Bates later characterized accusations that he was allowed to “play cop” because of his contributions as “unbelievably unfair.”
“You must believe me. This can happen to anyone,” Bates told TODAY. “The laser light is the same on each weapon. I saw the light and I squeezed the trigger and then realized I dropped the gun.”
According to the AP, Bates’ lawyers called the killing an “excusable homicide” during the trial and argued that Harris died, in part, due to poor cardiac health and methamphetamine found in his blood. After convicting Harris, jurors recommended that Bates serve the maximum possible sentence for his crime.
“I’m confident we’ll get a new audience through the appellate courts,” defense attorney Clark Brewster told reporters after Tuesday’s sentencing, “and you’ll be interviewing me about the reversal.”
According to Buzzfeed, a screening of the Adult Swim series Rick and Morty at a vegan cafe in the country of Georgia was interrupted on Sunday when a group of neo-fascist skinheads entered and began throwing grilled meat, sausages and fish inside.
“It all started when they came into the cafe speaking and laughing loudly and didn’t care when we asked them to be quiet and not to disturb the people who came to watch the film,” wrote Tbilisi’s Kiwi-Cafe on Facebook. “Continuing to act loudly and disturbingly, they pulled out some grilled meat, sausages, fish and started eating them and throwing them at us, and finally they started to smoke.”
When the cafe asked the skinheads to leave, the alleged members of the far-right “Bergmann movement” refused and soon a scuffle broke out. From Deutsche Welle:
Kiwi cafe said that the neo-Nazis had been asking neighbors about them for weeks, and whether it was a haven for the LGBT community, punks and foreigners. According to their statement, the vegan restaurant had already been the target of neighborhood ire because of “the way we look, music that we listen to, ideas we support, and the fact that we don’t eat meat.”
The cafe claimed this attitude led locals to join the neo-Nazis when a brawl broke out. The police were called, but the crowd had dispersed by the time they arrived. The officers themselves were also aggressive, the statement said, and they even took in some cafe staff for questioning.
“[When the] police finally showed up, one of policemen was very aggressive, pushed us, yelled with anger, said that we are guilty of what had happened,” wrote the Kiwi-Cafe. “Some of café workers were brought to police office for interrogation.”
According to EurasiaNet, Georgian Power, a youth nationalist group, denied being involved on Facebook.
“Forcing meat upon vegetarians is not our priority,” wrote Georgian Power.
In January, neo-fascist real estate golem Donald Trump skipped a Fox News debate to hold a fundraiser for veterans’ causes, which he later said had raised $6 million. Since then, the completely unreasonable media has asked Trump—a man with an extremely loose conception of charitable giving—to account for where those many millions went.
The exact number raised in January has been fluctuating for awhile now. Corey Lewandowski told the Washington Post that Trump had actually raised $4.5 million; Trump said that he’d donated $1 million of his own money, and no one seemed to know whether that $1 million factored into the $4.5 million or the $6 million or what.
Then, it was confirmed as of last month that $3.1 million had indeed been delivered to charity, but in a consistently peculiar manner. Via the Post: “In early February, the Wall Street Journal reported that many groups began to get their checks only after the Journal asked the Trump campaign why they had not.” And the money was given out in peculiarly titrated amounts:
“Where’s the rest of the money going?” said Keith David at the Task Force Dagger Foundation, which offers support to Special Operations personnel and their families.
David’s group typifies the confusion over Trump’s money. It was listed by Trump as a group that would benefit from his fundraising. And soon after the Iowa fundraising event, the group got a check for $50,000. It came from Rahr’s foundation, with a note that mentioned Trump.
But was that it? The group’s board — noting the huge amount of money that Trump raised and the lesser amount of money Trump seemed to have given out — decided it could not be.
“There’s a large chunk missing. I’m just kind of curious as to where that money went,” David said. “I’d like to see some of it come to us, because we are on the list.”
As for the rest of that $4.5/$5.5/$6 million, reporters kept asking. And finally, on Monday, Trump promised to deliver his own $1 million donation to a charity that he said he’d been vetting—despite, as the Washington Post reports, having previously donated enough to that charity to have received their “Commandant’s Leadership Award” last year.
On Tuesday, Trump laid out the full accounting for the money he’d raised about five months ago, in a press conference held deep within his own butthole. Via the Associated Press:
He repeatedly criticized the press for making the money an issue, saying reporters “should be ashamed of themselves” for asking where the money had gone.
Throughout the event, Trump slammed the media as “unbelievably dishonest” for its treatment of the issue and dismissed an ABC reporter as “a sleaze.” He said many times that he didn’t want credit for the fundraising but seemed peeved that he wasn’t thanked for it.
“Instead of being like, ‘Thank you very much, Mr. Trump,’ or ‘Trump did a good job,’ everyone’s saying, ‘Who got it? Who got it? Who got it?’ And you make me look very bad,” Trump complained, taking on reporters in the room. “I have never received such bad publicity for doing such a good job.”
He listed 41 organizations, which the AP followed up on, finding that Trump—stunningly—had donated to half of them over the last week.
Phone calls to all 41 of the groups by The Associated Press brought more than two-dozen responses Tuesday. About half reported checks from Trump within the past week, typically dated May 24, the day The Washington Post published a story questioning whether he had distributed all of the money.
So maybe, this whole time that he was stalling and refusing to answer media requests and saying shame on everyone for asking questions of such a very nice and very rich man, Trump was just carefully vetting all the charities—rather than demanding to receive credit for donating millions of dollars that he did not actually donate, which he would only actually donate after being relentlessly investigated by a press that he hates. Reuters noted:
Trump said the coverage of his veterans group donations had been close to libelous. Asked whether he would keep his adversarial stance with reporters if elected president, Trump said: “Yeah, it’s going to be like this.”
But do you really believe anyone in the Trump camp vetted any of these charities? One of them, the Foundation for American Veterans, which received $75,000, has an F from the Better Business Bureau. It spends the majority of its money on professional fundraising companies.
I’m nearly dead with surprise.
Image via AP
The all-knowing Texan highway programmable road sign has spoken people, and it claims that Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump is a “shape shifting lizard.” Heed the warning.
Of course the problem with omnipotent all-knowing programmable road signs is that we can never be sure how they get their information. Though the self-obsessed elitist candidate with the funny hair and fake tan does appear other-worldly at times.
The all-knowing programmable road sign, captured in the wild by NBC5's Tim Ciesco on Twitter, also backed Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders, suggesting a questionable bias.
Are you ready to make America great again? I hope you’re also ready for the new world order.
Via Raw Story
On Sunday, an 18-pound, solid-gold eagle statue studded with diamonds and an emerald salvaged from a Spanish treasure ship was allegedly stolen from owner Ron Shore on the street in British Columbia, CBC reports.
“Without the eagle, I don’t have anything,” Shore told CNN.
The statue, called The Golden Eagle, was created by the telecommunications company president to serve as the centerpiece of The World’s Greatest Treasure Hunt, a planned book series and marketing event intended to raise money for breast cancer research after his sister-in-law’s death from the disease. From CNN:
“I mortgaged my house and used my savings to buy the gold and diamonds,” said Shore. “And then to have an old world treasure I approached the Fisher family from Key West, with the Atocha shipwreck, and I asked them if they had an emerald from the shipwreck that I could use.” He bought one of the Atocha emeralds on a bid.
But despite the flashy diamond-covered Golden Eagle theme, book sales flopped. Since 2010, Hunt for the Cause has netted around $15,000 from book sales, according to Shore. That’s a fraction of the $100 million he set out to raise.
“Sales of the book have not been as good as we would have liked,” Shore acknowledged.
Hoping to raise funds to bankroll an annual charity concert, Shore put the statue up for sale at a price of $5 million in 2012, a substantial discount from its estimated $6.8 million value. It has failed to find buyer.
As he was transferring The Golden Eagle from a recent exhibition back to its undisclosed vault, Shore says he was robbed of the statue, becoming “badly injured” in the process. Shore declined to provide further details of the incident, citing the ongoing police investigation.
According to one witness, Shore “wasn’t shy” about the fact he was carrying something valuable before the robbery.
“He says he came from a Vancouver art gallery, and has a piece of art in his backpack,” Jim Murphy told CTV. “He was wearing a backpack when he was talking to me.”
Shore would not say if the eagle was insured.
“Unfortunately what will probably happen is that all of the jewels will be pulled out of the head because it had basically a cape of diamonds,” sculptor Kevin Peters, who spent nearly four years creating the statue, told a Canadian radio station. “And it has three types of gold and will be probably melted down.”
The largest of those jewels is the Atocha Star, a 12-carat emerald that was recovered in 1985 from the Nuestra Señora de Atocha, a Spanish treasure galleon that sank in 1622. The Atocha Star is itself estimated to be worth at least $3 million.
Shore says he was inspired to start the charity treasure hunt after his sister-in-law died from breast cancer while pregnant and he was nearly killed by a drunk driver.
“She was given the choice of getting chemo and saving her own life or saving the life of her child,” Shore told CNN. “As I was lying in the hospital bed I was thinking, what had my life really stood for? I though the bulk of my life had been selfish and I had not given back to the community enough.”
Authorities say they are currently reviewing surveillance footage related to the incident. According to his website, Shore has auditioned for The Apprentice 11 times.
Brazil’s 2016 Olympic host city, Rio de Janeiro, is currently reeling from news of a sickening incident: on Saturday, May 21, a 16-year-old girl was allegedly gang-raped by 33 men, and many of the rapists posted a video of the incident on their social media accounts.
Last week, the victim was identified by someone on the street who had seen the video. Many residents are outraged at the brazen braggadocio of the rapists, who have been called “regular guys”: one worked as a camera operator for a major TV station, and another is a football player and the son of an evangelical pastor.
Less outraged were the police, who, despite a wave of over 800 citizen calls demanding investigation, were slow to respond. (This in spite of the fact that the Facebook profile of one of the attackers who posted the video includes a phone number.) Last Thursday, the police announced they had only identified four of the 33 suspects, and that the decision to jail them or not was “being evaluated.” Then, on Monday this week, the police finally arrested two suspects and filed warrants for four others. The victim, who said in an interview she felt the police blamed her for the rapes, has left Rio in protective custody.
Outrage, however, does not mean shock. Silvia Chakian, the coordinator of the Special Group For Confronting Violence Against Women within the Public Ministry of the State of São Paulo, pointed out to BBC Brasil that one of the rapists didn’t bother concealing his face in the video, adding, “What is the message that he is sending? It’s ‘I don’t believe in the law, in the police, in the courts, I don’t even care.’” Chakian is convinced that the criminals’ total disregard for discretion—along with the police’s slow response—“reveals a society that is criminal and violent against women.
“These aren’t 30 monsters together. There is no pathology in this,” she adds. “This is a cultural question.” Currently, Brazilian social media is dominated by the question of whether or not the country suffers from a “rape culture.”
The publicized rape is not the only indicator of trouble brewing for those who care about how Brazil treats women. It’s the latest in a flood of bad news for women’s rights in the country. And the negative indicators are not confined to the streets of Rio. This retrograde culture stretches all the way to the top, where cabinet appointments and new laws are hacking away at the progress women have made over the past decades.
In late April, the lower house of Congress in Brazil voted to impeach former President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president, in a true spectacle: Each of the 513 Congressmembers approached the microphone and declared that for the love of their wife, or for the love of God, or even for the love of the “nuclear family”—in their words, repeatedly—Rousseff must be booted from office.
Her impeachment vote was initiated on the relatively arcane ground of “fiscal irresponsibility,” in regards to some creative accounting that may have disguised a growing budgetary deficit. The popular perception, though, was that the push for her impeachment was a reaction to the dovetailing of a historic economic crisis with a massive scandal within the state-owned oil company Petrobras that has roped in top political officials (though Rousseff herself has not been implicated, her predecessor Luiz Inacio da Silva has). Smelling blood, Rousseff’s political allies abandoned her in the run-up to the April vote, and as the momentum built, it soon became simply a question of tallying up their discontent in Congress.
Not many women approached the microphone to vote that night, because just 53 of those 513 Congressmembers in Brazil are women. In fact, Brazil ranks 115th in a global ranking of female representation in government. Brazilian women make up 44 percent of the Brazilian workforce, according to the World Bank’s 2013 numbers, and are higher-educated on average than Brazilian men. Nevertheless, according to a World Bank report, a woman’s hour of work is still worth a fourth less than that of a man in Latin America’s biggest country.
And as the Brazilian Senate also voted in favor of impeachment, and a new cast stepped up to fill interim president Michel Temer’s government—the first Cabinet since the 1970s (during Brazil’s dictatorship) that’s made up of only white men—hope for advances for Brazilian women have dimmed.
Temer’s Cabinet staff is particularly jarring when you consider that out of approximately 200 million people in the country, Brazil is composed of 107 million women and 106 million black or mixed-race people. And yet, after Rousseff was removed from office on May 12 and Temer took over, not one Brazilian woman made the cut for a cabinet position in the new administration.
The backlash came quickly. On May 15, protesters—led by a coalition of feminist and LGBT groups—shut down Avenida Paulista, the main thoroughfare in São Paulo. Scrambling in response to nationwide criticism, Temer did his best to rustle up some womenfolk for the secretary of culture position; his team reportedly called up a number of high-profile actresses and women journalists around Brazil that weekend. The plan backfired. Some of the women refused, citing institutionalized sexism: “I hope no woman accepts this invitation,” said anthropologist Claudia Leitão.
Others turned down the offer because the ministries they care about had been eradicated. The Ministry of Culture had been demoted to a secretariat after Rousseff’s impeachment, folded into the Ministry of Education as a cost-saving measure. “The extinction of the Ministry of Culture sets us back light years,” said the singer Daniela Mercury. (Temer has since promised to reinstate the department.)
Finally, there’s the concern that the circumstances of Rousseff’s impeachment make Temer an illegitimate president, and some of the women tapped don’t want any part of his government. And so back to the woman well Temer went, trudging forward with the invites, and even speaking publicly about how he was seeking input from that strange universe known as the “feminine world.” He eventually gave up in trying to find a female culture secretary, and chose a man on his sixth attempt. “We tried to look for women,” said Temer’s new chief of staff Eliseu Padilha, “but it wasn’t possible.”
As for the Ministry of Women, Racial Equality and Human Rights? The department was eliminated. It will now be merged within the Ministry of Justice.
Brazil will continue to suffer from this all-male Cabinet. Just days after Temer took office, the new Minister of Health, Ricardo Barros, told the Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo that abortion is a “problem that must be taken care of. Like crack.” He added, “the way we approach this will depend on discussions. We’ll have to talk to the Church.”
All of this has those in favor of gender parity in Brazil furious and disheartened, and the anger crosses racial and economic lines. One of Brazil’s top comedians recently “joked” that during the impeachment vote he mistook a black female Senator for a “coffee auntie” (in local parlance, a woman who serves coffee in offices). The Congresswoman announced she’ll be suing the comedian. Brazilian PhD student Kelly Tatiane Quirino, who specializes in black social issues, is concerned that, despite the fact that Brazilian black women bear the worst socioeconomic indicators in the country, “the fight of black women is not even being contemplated by this government.”
Many feminists see what’s happening in Brazil as a backslide—a retrocesso, as they call it in Portuguese. But if we look back, this cultural and political step backwards has been brewing for a while.
Thirteen years ago, Rousseff’s Worker’s Party took control of the Brazilian government, promising to attack Brazil’s disturbing poverty rates: at that time, one in every 10 Brazilians lived in “extreme poverty.” Thanks in no small part to Worker’s Party programs like minimum-income assistance and public housing construction, which coincided with high employment levels of the boom years, Brazil transformed. Thousands of families living at the brink were able to earn enough to survive, and slum residents were handed keys to shiny new constructions.
The outsiders’ view of Rio de Janeiro—sexy beaches and city slums—make an incomplete sketch of the country. 193 million Brazilians live outside of Rio, many of them digging into the ground for water, using a community phone to receive calls, and walking long distances to catch buses to banks, where they stand in line for hours while awaiting the government assistance promised by the Worker’s Party.
Many Brazilians would point to that line as proof that the Worker’s Party’s policies have created an economy of dependence. But no one disputes that the effort worked: around 30 million Brazilians have been lifted out of poverty since the party took office in 2002, cutting that statistic more than in half, and bringing down the rate of “extreme poverty” from 10 percent of the population to less than 5 percent. A commodities boom during the same time period helped significantly as well.
Notably, coinciding with the movement to fight poverty in rural Brazil came the evangelical movement, which has experienced stunning growth over the past 15 years. The number of evangelicals in Brazil grew 61 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to the Brazilian Statistics Institute IBGE, and today, at least a quarter of Brazilians now identify as evangelical. Many used to identify as Catholic but have lost interest in the stiff rituals of Catholicism, which pale in comparison to the fiery meetings at local evangelical centers and the full-throated conversion efforts of their leaders. Right after sunset, in many small towns in Brazil these days, you’ll begin to hear vibrato shouts echoing around the town as local pastors thrill their followers with God’s message.
This rise in evangelism, though, has coincided with—or caused, depending on who you ask—a doubling back to a more conservative vision of Brazilian society, one in which women are chaste and gays don’t exist (for they’ve been cured). That vision, once largely confined to the church, has thrived with its spread. And as the evangelical church has gotten richer and bishops have become billionaires, that vision has increasingly become a political one, as pastor becomes a stepping stone to financial power, and then, political office. Some Congressmembers’ names hint obliquely at their religious persuasions, such as “Pastro Eurico” and “Missionário José Olimpio.” The recently-ousted head of the lower house of Congress, Eduardo Cunha, is evangelical, and the former head of the Congressional Commission for Human Rights and Minorities, Marco Feliciano, is an evangelical pastor, who wrote in his 2012 book, “when you stimulate a woman to have the same rights as a man...you destroy the family, you create a society where you only have homosexuals.”
Which brings us to today, the current high-water mark for evangelism in Brazil. It’s this context that helps Temer’s Cabinet appointments make a little more sense.
Temer’s initial appointment for Science Minister, for example, was a man who does not believe in evolution (after a backlash, Temer backpedaled on his choice for the position, and ended up demoting the Ministry as a whole by folding it into the Ministry of Communications, which makes as much sense in Portuguese as it does in English). His new Minister of Foreign Affairs used his first days in office to offer a shiny new diplomatic passport to an evangelical pastor. And the Ministry of Culture, the financial crutch for Brazil’s cultural preservation organizations and film industry (that bastion of Satan-loving actors and directors), was initially eliminated entirely. Temer has since backpedaled on that as well, ordering it recreated. He has not, however, recreated the Ministry of Women, Racial Equality, and Human Rights, choosing instead to leave it in a demoted position.
As powerful political positions slide into the hands of evangelical leaders, increasingly, a new vision of Brazil’s future takes over.
Many Brazilians, of course, refuse to accept this shift, and social media is the best indicator of their revulsion with the recent changes. It was the rallying on social media that turned the rape video into an informal city-wide manhunt in Rio de Janeiro. And Brazilians are lashing out on Facebook and Twitter not just against crimes against women, but also against an image of a “woman’s place.”
A few weeks ago, the mainstream right-wing magazine Veja published a profile piece on the soon-to-be first lady, Marcela Temer. The headline read: “Beautiful, demure, and a ‘housewife’: the quasi-first lady, 43 years younger than her husband, rarely appears, likes knee-length dresses, and dreams of having a child.”
Many Brazilians found the article so appalling in its promotion of a conservative vision of a woman’s place that they revolted in the best possible way: a meme. Angry Brazilians took the headline and slapped it on images that challenged that vision: images of women leading corporate meetings, drinking beer from the bottle, and traveling alone.
“My timeline was filled with these memes,” said Helena Vitali Bello, a 27-year-old designer from Florianopolis. “Women can choose what they want to do—there’s nothing wrong with staying home. But I think this spontaneous reaction was an important moment for us. For as much as feminism is still taboo in Brazil, women unified on this issue to say, no, being told I need to be like my grandmother doesn’t work for me.”
The viral response to the article galvanized the feminist movement in Brazil, while at the same time it confirmed their fears that political conservatism—previously largely confined to a neoliberal economic vision—had blended with religious conservatism. Temer’s ministry appointments underlined that this blend has now pervaded the highest echelons of power in Brazil.
The good news is that, thanks to the Veja article, feminists were tipped off to this swing, and ready to fight against it when the bad news of the Ministry appointments hit. Which helps explain why Brazilian women are promptly refusing appointments within the government and rallying quickly in response to anything that pushes women’s progress aside. The Veja article marks two important moments for Brazil: one, the moment it became clear how a funny little social media meme can create real social power; and two, the moment the Brazilian feminist movement regained its voice. The awful rape has only amplified their shouts.
All of this comes at a crucial moment for women’s rights recognition. Brazil, set to host the Olympic games in a couple months, is currently battling the spread of the Zika virus, which is believed to be linked to microcephaly. That virus and its consequences burden women to exponential and devastating effect. Women have been instructed by international bodies to practice safe sex and postpone pregnancy, despite the fact that many women in Zika-impacted regions do not have access to affordable contraception. The Western Hemisphere director of International Planned Parenthood Foundation reports that 23 million women in Latin America and the Caribbean “want–but lack access to–modern contraceptive methods.”
On top of that obstacle, reports indicate that in Brazil, many fathers are abandoning the side of mothers who have given birth to babies with microcephaly, leaving women to deal with the emotional and financial burden of Zika alone. There is no vaccine for Zika, and Folha de São Paulo reports that diagnostic tests can cost up to $500, which insurance plans don’t cover. For those women already unlucky enough to have contracted Zika, it appears that they will suffer the price of gender disparity perhaps more than anyone. A quick resurgence of a women’s rights consciousness in Brazil might serve them well.
And then there are the troubling ministry appointments. “To put a religious person in the health ministry, this is a huge hit for those who care about women’s health,” says Bello. “To allow a person from the church to decide if women can take birth control or have an abortion is a problem, because we know the church has a conservative opinion on these issues. And it’s in these areas that we already need help.”
But, with an all-male cabinet, the resurgence of women’s rights faces an uphill battle. Women make up just a tenth of Congressmembers. Abortion is still a crime in most cases in Brazil, as has been noted in the concern about Zika. Meanwhile, pending before Brazil’s Congress is a proposal to increase the punishment for “collective rapes” and also proposal that will forbid doctors from advising women of their abortion rights in the case of rape. That is, in the midst of widespread protests
It’s hard to say how Brazil’s woman problem could be made any clearer. It’s also hard to imagine how it might be ameliorated without the problem being stated plainly, again and again. Last week, following the news of the gang rape, the commission for the defense of human rights within Rio’s government released the following warning: “We are witnessing a growing dehumanization and disrespect for one another. And most of the victims have been women.”
Since the rape, Temer has announced he will create a department within the Federal Police to combat violence against women and stated, “It’s absurd that, in the 21st century, we have to deal with barbaric crimes like this.” Simultaneously he appointed Fátime Pelaes, an evangelical who is openly against legal abortion, even in the case of rape, to a key role in his government. Her position? Secretary of Women’s Issues.
Shannon Sims is a law grad and former fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs. She has written from Brazil for the past 5 years, and her work has appeared digitally on Al Jazeera, Forbes, NPR, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter @shannongsims.
Illustration by Bobby Finger.
This week Paul Ryan granted an interview to PEOPLE Magazine’s Celebrity Babies vertical on one condition—they not ask him about Donald Trump.
The interview is boring as hell and covers Ryan’s love of smoked meats, his hatred of sugar, and his attendance at his kids’ sports games, not that anyone cares. Still, it’s interesting that the otherwise-fluff story directly references Ryan’s refusal to comment on the election:
And while his job does require some weekend phone calls to take care of business, Ryan says he doesn’t want to talk politics with his kids. (Or with PEOPLE. One condition of the Speaker getting on the phone for the magazine’s special Fathers’ Day gallery was that he not be asked about his party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, whom Ryan has famously declined so far to endorse.)
At a closing joking reference to Trump, Ryan says with a chuckle, “I’m hanging up now!” And then does.
Celebrity babies, indeed.