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    AP: Internal Review at Rikers Island Finds Systemic Failures in Handling Sexual Assault Complaints
    Photo: Getty

    An internal review of sexual abuse at New York City’s Rikers Island jail obtained by the Associated Press, reveals systemic problems in handling complaints, including investigations that blatantly ignored video evidence, failed to keep complainants confidential, and neglected to interview accused attackers.

    The federally-funded report, conducted by the Washington, D.C.-based Moss Group, reviewed all 46 sexual abuse or harassment cases closed by jail investigators in 2014. “In one case an investigation included five paragraphs describing the reasons why the victim was lying, despite video and testimonial evidence that suggested something clearly had taken place,” the report found.

    Many of the issues identified in the report arise long before even a faulty investigation begins. From the AP:

    Phone numbers to sexual assault hotlines posted throughout the jails regularly didn’t work, were picked up by answering machines that left no helpful information and, in at least one case, rang to “a private citizens’ phone number,” according to the report.

    Inmates who did disclose harassment or abuse allegations via a formal grievance system had trouble doing so confidentially, because the slips of paper they wrote their claims on were sometimes typed up by other inmates who could read their contents, according to the report.

    It wasn’t immediately clear if the defunct hotline numbers have been removed from the jails. Last August, jail officials partnered with a national nonprofit, Safe Horizons, to report allegations and provide counseling. A spokesman for the group wouldn’t provide any figures on how many calls its hotline had received in the past year from city jails.

    A spokeswoman for the City Correction Department, Eve Kessler, told the AP the report was a “wake-up call, and we heard it loud and clear.”

    Last week, the New York City Board of Correction approved a zero-tolerance sexual assault policy informed by the 2003 federal Prison Rape Elimination Act. (The Moss Group’s report found that few staff or inmates at Rikers had ever heard of the federal law.)

    The oversight board voted unanimously in favor of the new city rules, but not before one member, psychologist Gerard Bryant, expressed his cynical dismay: “You can tell staff until you’re blue in the face, ‘Don’t have sex with inmates,’ and it’s still going to happen. OK?”

    “As long as we are going to have prisons we are going to have sexual abuse in prisons,” Bryant said. “That’s the reality. That’s what happens.”

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    Where Did All the Working Men Go? 
    Image via

    A new White House report shows a staggering drop in the portion of working-age men who are actually working. It also reveals deeper problems with American society.

    The report, which was widely covered by economic commentators yesterday, showed that American men aged 25-54 have been dropping out of the labor force steadily for the past 60 years. In 1954, 98% of such men were either working or looking for work; today, that figure is only 88%. This decline has been sharper among black men and men with less education—for men with only a high school degree or less, the labor force participation rate is now only 83%. It doesn’t take much imagination to understand the cascade of negative effects that come from having huge numbers of prime working-age men who have completely dropped out of the quest for employment.

    There are quite a few factors that partially explain this trend, including our huge incarceration rates for men and the general decline in good blue collar manufacturing jobs in America over the past half century. Globalization, racism, vindictiveness, inequality—this trend has it all! But as Neil Irwin points out, one of the most interesting aspects of this decline is that it raises questions about an article of faith in the pro-business American mainstream: our country’s relatively lax labor laws, which make it easy to hire and fire workers. Though economists typically think that easier hiring and firing makes business more likely to hire and should therefore increase the labor force participation rate, our nation is not bearing that out:

    In the United States, 12 percent of 25- to 54-year-old men were neither working nor looking for work in 2014. That number was 7 percent in Spain and France, and 4 percent in Japan. And that’s despite a more generous social safety net in those countries that would, you might think, make it easier to drop out of the work force.

    I am not smart enough to parse all of the factors that could be driving this trend but it sure is something to think about.

    [The full report]

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    How the Gawker Media Bankruptcy Will Work
    Image: Jim Cooke

    Gawker Media has filed for bankruptcy. The specific circumstances leading to that bankruptcy are unique and bizarre. The fact of a media company declaring itself bankrupt, however, is pretty much a commonplace. Under other conditions—even facing down a different, more conventionally motivated lawsuit—Gawker’s bankruptcy process might seem somewhat straightforward.

    Obviously the lawsuits facing Gawker are not conventionally motivated ones, as became clear once it was revealed that billionaire investor Peter Thiel, apparently motivated by a decade-long vendetta, is the secret funder of Hulk Hogan’s litigation against the company. The lawyers funded by Thiel look like they will harry Gawker throughout the process—and they have tools with which to do so. But there are constants to this process, things that Gawker can expect as a baseline. We should talk about them.

    To be clear: This isn’t as simple as an ordinary sale of a company. When Gawker Media CEO Nick Denton chose a bank to handle this, he chose the right one for the job. Houlihan Lokey isn’t best known for run-of-the-mill assignments. They’re most noted for being specialists in complicated situations, often involving financially distressed companies. To prove just how good they are at it, here is a picture they made of a banker hugging a puppy on a sinking boat surrounded by sharks.

    How the Gawker Media Bankruptcy Will Work

    The situation Thiel spent a vengeful decade pushing Gawker into is... somewhat like that picture? The boat (Gawker) had limited time owing to the rising water (the extraordinary cost of Hulk Hogan’s jury award), which was also infested by sharks (creditors who could look to seize the company). So now we have the banker (Mark Patricof) hugging the puppy (also Gawker?), who will, let’s say, find another boat (a buyer).

    If this sale were to take place in an auction outside of the bankruptcy process, then it would ideally look something like this: Gawker would hire a banker and put together documentation on the company; it would make contact with potentially interested parties; some of those parties would bid to buy the company; there would be in-depth meetings with the bidders and more data made available to them; there would be more bids; and the company would select a winner.

    I’m a mergers and acquisitions reporter in the equities division, which means I cover this normal kind of auction a lot. Thing is, reporters like me don’t actually know anything except how to operate a telephone. So, since this is a bankruptcy “explainer,” I spoke to an “expert.” Alan Friedman is a partner at Lobel Weiland Golden Friedman and was on the team that handled the recent chapter 11 bankruptcy and auction of Freedom Communications, owner of the Orange County Register.

    Friedman explained that a bankruptcy auction starts out somewhat like a normal one. The company runs a process to look for a buyer. We know that Gawker did this because someone agreed to buy it. Or, more precisely, someone agreed to buy its assets, which will be sold clear of the company’s liabilities.

    Per the chapter 11 filings, Ziff Davis, the owner of IGN and, made an offer of $90m plus the assumption of some liabilities for those assets. It was one of two offers to emerge from a group of six potential bidders approached by Houlihan.

    But because Gawker is going into bankruptcy, that’s not the end. The company still has to go through a court-supervised auction. As such, the Ziff Davis bid is what’s known as a “stalking horse” bid.

    “It’s usually advantageous to enter chapter 11 with a stalking horse bidder, because it sets a floor” for the process, Friedman said. That is, the stalking horse bidder sets the price everyone else will work off in the final auction, which will be supervised and then approved by the bankruptcy court. In the case of Freedom, a stalking horse bid was expected to emerge before the chapter 11 filing, as happened with Gawker, though it turned out that the expected bid, from Digital First Media, only came through after the bankruptcy process got underway.

    Bid in hand, Gawker now needs to make it through to the court-supervised auction of its assets, held under section 363 of the bankruptcy code. There are a couple of points to go through on how that auction works, so let’s do this in the question-and-answer format of solvent media operations:

    What happens between now and the auction?

    Gawker has submitted proposed bidding procedures that will govern the auction. The bankruptcy court will need to approve those. Then, all going well, interested bidders will submit documentation to qualify for the auction on July 25. On July 27, they’ll submit their bids. On July 29, everyone meets at the offices of Ropes & Gray for the auction.

    They have to spend all day in midtown hashing this thing out?

    I spoke to a reporter who covers these things and honestly it really does sound pretty tedious.

    What actually happens?

    Bids are made; they’re evaluated, which can take a few hours at a time; eventually someone wins. I asked Friedman about how it went for Freedom Communications. “That one started at 8 or 9 in the morning, and went through until 11 at night,” he said. I asked him if he got bored. He said the process was okay, because they had a lot of sandwiches catered.

    So whoever puts down the most money wins?

    The rubric bids are judged by is highest and best offer. It’s not just the raw dollar amount. For example, the assumption of liabilities like pension funds can make a lower dollar bid more valuable. In this case, Gawker Media executives have indicated that the board will also take issues like company fit and job preservation into account when determining best and highest.

    Who will win?

    I don’t know.

    One more question:

    Is Hogan out of the picture now?

    No. Reporters covering the bankruptcy court case have chronicled the initial skirmishes between the Hogan team and the Gawker team. From here on out, there will be more opportunities for the former to try to make life difficult for the latter.

    One of the big ones will be the hearing about whether Denton will continue to be protected from his personal liability in the Florida court judgment in favor of Hogan. The other, as Maria Chutchian points out, could be the formation of a committee of unsecured creditors.

    Gawker owes millions to its unsecured creditors—that is, creditors who don’t have any collateral on the debt. In a bankruptcy, unsecured creditors are last in line to get paid, so it makes sense for them to band together to represent their interests versus other stakeholders who just want to get their money and get out. To do that, they can form a creditors’ committee.

    Hogan isn’t just Gawker’s largest unsecured creditor, he’s the largest one by a huge margin. If he wants to be on the committee he can probably do it. And when it comes to how that committee will act in advising on the process, the largest creditor will, as Friedman put it, “carry a big stick.” Furthermore, this committee picks its own legal advisors, and those advisors are paid for by the debtor’s estate. So there’s that.

    Notwithstanding what Hogan’s lawyers might do, come August 3 Gawker is looking to present its auction outcome to the court. The judge will have to approve the decision, and this offers a last opportunity for other, disgruntled bidders to object. For Freedom Communications, this stage was fraught: Digital First Media, the stalking horse bidder, lost the auction and disagreed with the chosen winner, claiming that there was too much risk the government would block the deal on antitrust grounds.

    Such disputes come up in the final stretch a lot, Friedman said, though the actual number of them that sway the judge are few. As it happened, Digital First was right on the merits: The Department of Justice made a move to block the deal. The nixed buyer was Tribune Publishing, the spun-out newspaper arm of the old Tribune Company, which went bankrupt and filed for chapter 11 itself back in 2008. With $13 billion of debt, it was the largest media bankruptcy ever seen. Now, Tribune Publishing has been commandeered by Michael Ferro and is morphing into… tronc… as it battles an attempted takeover by Gannett. The other half of the old Tribune Company, now known as Tribune Media, has hired bankers to figure out how to hive off its assets and slim down the company.

    That’s uninspiring, sure. But Companies enter chapter 11 all the time; even among the companies interested in Gawker, you find flirtations with bankruptcy. The same year that Tribune filed for bankruptcy, one of Gawker’s potential new owners stumbled. On March 5, 2008, Ziff Davis filed for chapter 11. It emerged from bankruptcy July of 2009, and ultimately announced its sale to current owner j2 Global for $167 million in November of 2012.

    Jonathan Guilford is a reporter covering telecom and media for Dealreporter in New York.

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    How Is Donald Trump Going to Quit?
    Image: Jim Cooke, Photo: Getty

    Donald Trump is not going to be the president.

    Trump isn’t going to let himself lose in any official capacity, of course—that would go against everything the Trump brand stands for. So when his numbers start dropping, as they inevitably will and already have, Donald Trump is going to save face the best way he knows how: Quitting before it’s too late.

    Remember, Trump had a blast during the primaries. Back then, he was free to spew any sort of nonsense he wanted. And not only did no one question him too seriously, but as his discourse became increasingly unhinged and racist, his poll numbers rose in kind. The more his poll numbers shot up, the more media attention he got. And for Trump, there is no purer joy. If Donald Trump is able to buy his way into heaven, it’s just going to be him reliving the 2016 primaries every day for the rest of eternity.

    Now, though, the Democrats are just about done squabbling, Republicans are out of distractions, and the cold, sobering reality of what our nation has wrought is finally settling in. Now that the fun is winding down, the small-handed prince of our country’s most base anxieties is going to start looking for a way out. He’s already laying the groundwork, saying on Fox & Friends that “it would be nice to have full support from people that are in office, full verbal support. With all of that being said, I may go a different route if things don’t happen.”

    But what exactly is that different route going to look like? As I see it, Trump still has about four opportunities left to get out before it’s too late.

    Before the convention

    This is, perhaps, the easiest way out for Trump, especially since he’s already had some practice. Granted, during his most serious bid thus far in 2012, Trump was only ever half-running at best—and even then just for a few months. Still, it bore all the hallmarks of a classic (if unofficial) Trump campaign, complete with poll bravado and boasts of being a shoo-in.

    Regarding his decision to pull out, Trump said (bolding ours):

    ...I have spent the past several months unofficially campaigning and recognize that running for public office cannot be done half-heartedly. Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector.

    Of course, back then Trump just didn’t want to abandon Celebrity Apprentice, as The New York Times wrote just after Trump dropped out, “[NBC] needed him to make a decision by Monday, when it was announcing its fall television schedule to major advertisers in its annual presentation in New York. Celebrity Apprentice is one of its most important programs, and the network would not be able to line up sponsorship commitments as easily with Mr. Trump as a ‘maybe.’”

    Now, though, NBC is out of the picture. NBC cut ties with Trump about a year ago over his then-still-shocking racist tirades. Meaning that, this time, Trump would have to lean on his various hotels and business ventures if he wanted to pull another businessman-at-heart stunt. It’s a considerably less glamorous move than a reality show, sure, but still a solid enough out for Trump to at least claim he’s saving face.

    What’s more, if Trump gets out before the actual convention, he never actually runs the risk of party Republicans pulling the candidacy out from under him come Cleveland. So he gets to rail on about the fact that not only would he have done it better, he could have done it better, too—if he’d decided to accept the nomination, that is.

    He just didn’t want to.

    At the convention

    This is when it starts to get fun.

    Trump can’t make it all the way to the convention just to fizzle out with some lame announcement about wanting to focus on the business side of things. What’s more, if he gets all the way to the convention only to quietly bow out, he is going to be instantly upstaged by whoever the Republican party decides to put in his place. This is Donald Trump’s nightmare.

    Remember, absolutely everything Donald Trump does is about A) creating an appearance of having won and B) getting as much positive attention as humanly possible. To succeed in this scenario, Trump needs something huge to take everybody’s mind off the fact that he’s backing out of the presidency. Trump needs to announce Trump TV.

    Or the Trump News Network or Trump Broadcasting or Der Stürmer or whatever he decides to call it. This way, Trump gets to turn the Republican National Convention, where virtually every media outlet in the nation has gathered, into a press conference for the launch of his very own television network.

    As Vanity Fair pointed out, his whole campaign has basically been building to this point. His constant bashing of the media certainly must mean he thinks he can do it better. And to his credit, Trump does have a knack for commanding a national audience. Why bother being President, a job he neither wants nor is qualified for, when he can do the only part he actually enjoys (screaming things on television) for the rest of his life? And if he announces at the convention, he gets to allude to the fact that maybe this was really his plan the whole time. Everybody wins.

    After the convention

    Things get dicey once the convention is over. Trump’s accepted the nomination. He’s having a good old time. Except his poll numbers keep dropping. The game’s getting less fun. And then to make matters worse, people keep trying to talk to him about policies, transition plans, and why his campaign is bleeding money. You know, things that have absolutely nothing to do with Trump, as far as Trump is concerned. Still, it’s really starting to kill his buzz. And what if he actually lost?

    That’s when it hits him—he’ll quit! At this point, he’s already humiliated the Republicans, so he doesn’t need to worry about one-upping them with his exit. Hillary Clinton, however, is still very much an issue. There’s no way his brand can survive Trump giving in to a woman. Which means that for this to work, he’s going to need to hit her where (he assumes) it hurts: He’s going to need to paint himself as the victim of Crooked Hillary’s cold, heartless power-hungry campaigning.

    Pinning his decision on his family would be the most viable option here. People generally get that. It allows him to say, “Crooked Hillary’s dirty campaign keeps attacking my children.” Or, “Melania can’t handle this.” Or “my 10-year-old son, Barron, who I may or may not keep locked up in a basement because no one ever sees him, can’t handle this.” Just as long he ends with, “Donald Trump will always put family first.” It’s a sympathetic line and something people might actually relate to.

    Plus we all know how much Donald Trump loves his kids—or at least, how much he loves his daughter Ivanka (too much, some might say). Because in the end, who could blame Donald Trump, the Nice and Good Family Man, for making the noble choice in a crooked world? Certainly not Donald Trump.

    After Donald Trump wins the election

    This is both the least likely scenario, (because Donald Trump will not win the election) and the ultimate power move. He doesn’t even really need to have an excuse for bowing out at this point—he already won!

    Donald Trump could even go so far as to say he just plain doesn’t want it at this point. Because no matter what happens, he will always be able to brag about the fact that not only could he have done it better, but the American people knew it, too. And now, he’ll never actually have a chance to fuck up and prove his naysayers right.

    After all, what does he care if he doesn’t actually fulfill all of his terrible promises? Because remember—Donald Trump doesn’t actually want to be the President. Donald Trump just wants to know that everyone loves Donald Trump.

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    NYPD Launches All-Night Manhunt for Teen Who Ran Away After Jumping Turnstile
    Image: Getty

    NYPD officers were hard at work last night searching for Rhamar Perkins, a 16-year-old who bolted from a police stationhouse after being caught allegedly jumping a subway turnstile in Brownsville. Perkins turned himself in about four and a half hours later, the New York Daily News reports.

    According to multiple reports on Twitter, there were helicopters flying over the adjacent neighborhood of Crown Heights last night, which may have been used as a part of what officials told the News was an all-night manhunt for the very bad teen.

    Running away was a pretty bad move for Perkins, who is now charged with escape in addition to theft of services, and will almost certainly face a way stiffer penalty than he would have had he stayed put at the precinct after his original arrest. And marshaling so many resources to chase after Perkins was an even worse move for the cops, who almost certainly spent way more money finding Perkins than the $2.75 in fare money allegedly stole.

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    Here Are All the Concerts You Can Go See Using Your Ticketmaster Vouchers
    Photo: AP

    Looks like Ticketmaster got around to updating the list of concerts to which users may apply their Ticketmaster class action settlement vouchers, and not only are the Bare Naked Ladies still touring—you can see them for free.

    Here’s the full list for your perusing pleasure. See you idiots at Steely Dan.

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    My Magical Night in Vegas With Celine Dion 

    The afternoon before the Celine Dion concert at Caesar’s Palace, I got a French mani-pedi at the Cosmopolitan Hotel salon. I then went to Walgreens and purchased concealer, eyeliner, and eyebrow powder. As I blew my hair dry—something I never do—I found myself growing suspicious of this mini-makeover. Did I think Celine and I were going on a date?

    Then I repeat-listened to my four favorite Celine songs—”Where Does My Heart Beat Now,” “Think Twice,” “That’s The Way It Is,” and “If You Asked Me To”—got pumped, and stopped wondering what had possessed me to suburbanize myself.

    Like everything in Vegas, Caesar’s Palace looks like a “team of experts” was hired to design and build the place with a theme (in this case “Rome”) and then finally the people who hired them were like, “Yeah, this isn’t working, fuck it, it’s a casino, just leave the statues and we’ll send you a check.” It doesn’t matter. You walk away from all casinos remembering the same things: the dealers, the cocktail waitresses, the people playing slots, and the exact same way they inhabit dull resignation.

    My Magical Night in Vegas With Celine Dion 
    Image courtesy Celine’s website

    At Caesar’s Colosseum will call, a group of women in their 70s waiting in line behind me groused about the very short skirts of the college-age women standing with their parents in front of me. “Ridiculous,” they said. If I’d taught them the word “THOT” they would have been like “Great, we will use that all the time, won’t we, Debbie?”

    The college-age women marveled at the photographs of Celine. “She’s 48 and she still looks, like, good,” one expressed, astonished. Her friend said, “I know, wow, it’s amazing, she’s been around forever!” I wanted to ask them what they expected an extremely rich, attractive 48-year-old woman to look like. A broiled steak? The inside of Keith Richard’s asshole? But I said nothing. I looked at Celine’s serene face and I felt love for all these people.

    The Colosseum itself is a nice venue. Everything is red and velvety and festively lit. It rises up at a steep angle so that even the second balcony seats are good. Not that I was fucking around with any balcony shit: I was right up front, where I would be able to see Celine’s Gallic nose, and the butterscotch glints in her hair. “I don’t think I have ever been so excited for anything in my entire life,” I said, unprompted, to the woman next to me. My voice caught, and I was embarrassed.

    I needn’t have been. The woman smiled, and a tear sparkled in the corner of her eye. She was sixtyish, with short dyed brown hair, wearing one of those rayon printed dresses you can buy at an airport or large supermarket. “I’ve seen her eight times,” she said, and then added, as if seeing this show eight times would be excessive, “I saw her last show four times and this show four times.”

    The lights went out but Celine did not appear. Instead we were shown a video of Celine fans all over the world lip-synching her 2003 hit, the Cyndi Lauper cover “I Drove All Night.” There were little girls and teenaged boys, there were old and young people, gay and straight people, black, brown, and Asian people. You could see the notes from the marketing meeting: “CD = global brand = love.”

    But it was a brilliant way to start the show. I watched my brethren sing and felt a sob rise in my throat. Let the joyless minority who does not celebrate her enjoy their Radiohead, their Kendrick, their First fucking Aid Kit and Joanna Newsom or WHOEVER, I thought, because The Worldwide Celine Dion Family, we are the ones who truly understand, we are the ones who know what it is to feel.

    After the video, the red velvet curtain rose to reveal the majestic form of Celine Marie Claudette Dion, the fourteenth and youngest child of a large French Canadian family, widow of recently passed René Angélil, mother of three, possessor of a $630 million fortune, motherfucking Aries queen. Her long ash-blonde hair was bountiful yet beachy. Her sparkling silver gown featured an intense but ultimately tasteful front slit. We rose to our feet and applauded, many of us crying. She smiled warmly, bowed modestly, and murmured with appreciation.

    Standing in a private column of light, Celine sang “Surrender,” from her 2003 album A New Day Has Come. I knew the lyrics, but I had never really given them a lot of thought. Now I did, and decided that “I know I can’t survive/Another night away from you/You’re the reason I go on” was—like “I drove all night to get to you”—a creepy, manipulative thing to say to a romantic partner. Then I thought about how people say things like that to each other all the time, and the extent to which Celine Dion bears responsibility for this.

    The white curtain behind Celine went up, and the lone chanteuse moment gave way to the expansive theatrics of a large band: three backup singers—one man and two women—eight violins, an electric guitar player, and percussionists. The black female backup singer wore a white cocktail dress, the white one wore black, and they both looked like they spent all their free time at SoulCycle (except I happen to know there isn’t a SoulCycle in Las Vegas; I had recently befriended a bevy of female publicists who were ripshit about this fact).

    My Magical Night in Vegas With Celine Dion 
    Image via AP

    Celine floated to the front of the stage and regarded her kingdom. She emanated calm and—I know it’s hard to emanate this but she did it—a deep respect for Romance At All Costs. You got the sense that if you told her you were leaving your partner of ten years because you just had a feeling about that guy at the dog park she would clasp her hands together and tell you that she was so happy for you and that René had come to her in a dream to say he was happy for you too. She seemed genuinely moved by how much we all loved her. She said she was doing well even though René, who was 400 years older than her and met her when she was 12, had just died. She said that her family was doing well. Everyone cheered. People shouted, “I love you Celine.” One of those people was me. “Tonight is going to be a very personal night,” Celine said, and I wondered, “Does Celine continue to work despite her enormous fortune simply because she loves us?”

    When I heard the opening chords to the greatest song ever written, the 1989 ballad “Where Does My Heart Beat Now?” I knew that the answer was yes.

    This is a song I have sung countless times in the car, in the shower, in front of a mirror. It received an ASCAP award for the most-performed song of 1991. This song is as powerful and passionate and feminine as a Dreamsicle jello shot on an empty stomach after Candlelight Inferno Hot Pilates. It opens with a somber melodic reflection that expediently explodes into shards of betrayal. Then the chorus (“where does my heart beat now”) kicks in, then there’s a verse, another chorus, and then the song drops down to where Celine really lives: the bridge. Here, a heartbroken Celine rises from the ashes, avowing that indeed she will manage to draw breath despite the absence of her beloved. She returns to the chorus with renewed vigor, and ends the song pleading to someone—perhaps God—“I need someone to give my heart to, and hearts are made to last until the end of time.” She holds the word “time” for about as long as it takes to make an egg salad sandwich.

    I need someone to give my heart to.

    I felt very grateful that someone had the courage to write those words down and that Celine had the courage to sing them. It’s not a terribly interesting or smart idea, but who among us hasn’t thought it? That said, just because something is common doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Most of Celine’s big hits are about converting the pain from your last heartbreak into fuel to get you to the next one. What I’m trying to say is if you want to create a stampede, go to a Celine Dion concert and shout “Free co-dependence workshop in the lobby!”

    I myself developed a, shall we say, rather overwrought view of romantic relationships very early on. In 1980, my family soundtrack was the Barry Gibb-produced Barbra Streisand album Guilty, basically a 41-minute musical justification of obsessive behavior in the face of romantic obsession. In the chorus from its hit single, “Woman in Love,” Barbra proclaims, “I am a woman in love, and I’ll do anything to get you into my world.” This is probably not a good favorite song to have when you are 11, and this retrospective knowledge in no way diminished my profound relief at being surrounded by 4,000 other people who own Celine Dion’s 1997 hit album Let’s Talk About Love and don’t care that its rightful title is Let’s Talk About Stalking.

    I was not prepared for the muscularity of Celine’s performance, an effective if odd hybrid of classroom-taught ballroom dancing and Sammy Sosa. She would pound her chest for emphasis, then widen her arms to showcase the impressive results of what must be very challenging upper body workouts. Then, going suddenly delicate, she would raise the silken train of her gown and gently guide it back to her side, all the while watching her hand with thoughtful pride, as if a falcon were perched upon it. She had four facial expressions: a sexual rock and roll grimace; a sort of soulful half-closed-eyes thing reserved for her signature minor-chorded tinged melismas; a less intense grimace where she also pushed outward with one hand, as if the emotion were a too-rich dessert she could taste but not consume; and finally, a sweet smile of relief when love manages to win.

    I was hoping she wouldn’t sing “Because You Loved Me” but of course she did. I wrote myself a note: “Does BYLM come from a f-ing cartoon?” (I hate cartoons. Yes. All of them.) Later, I discovered it comes from something even worse than a cartoon: 1995’s Up Close and Personal, which stars Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert Redford, and tells the story of ’80s newscaster Jessica Savitch, who died in a car accident. This film is awful and includes, I kid you not, a 20-second shot of a grilled fish. It’s true. There’s a romantic evening cookout scene at the beach with Redford and Pfeiffer, and at one point the director pulls away from their news-anchor cookout canoodling and lets his camera linger on a grilled fish. For 20 seconds. I saw this movie in the theater, at a press screening, because I used to review movies, and I laughed out loud and two women turned around and glared at me. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were in the Colosseum tonight. I then realized why I had put on all this makeup, straightened my hair, and had my nails done. It was because Celine Dion had lots of fans who embraced a certain brand of femininity, such that they thought any love scene—even one with a 20-second shot of a grilled fish—deserved reverence. And these were the kind of ladies who wore makeup, like real makeup. And since I was going to be on their turf, and they were scary, I wanted to blend in.

    In addition to that particularly awful song Celine sang two others in the same genre: “Beauty and the Beast” and “Touch Me Like This.” I call these her plink-plink songs because they all have these milquetoast piano parts and they don’t go anywhere emotionally. They’re just like “I love you, you love me, you make me feel good, thanks for standing by me.” It’s all very 1999 high school graduation, yet Celine sang all of them with her eyes closed and a faraway expression as if she were daydreaming about the hand jobs I hope she and René can one day give each other in heaven. I signed on for the plink-plink songs the moment I decided to come, but I did not sign on for the video montage of her kids and René that accompanied them. But I can’t say I hated that montage, because I really believed (and still do) that Celine a) loved me and b) really truly wanted me, her good friend, to see photos of kids and her dead husband on trampolines, on the world’s largest sectional couch, going down slides. (Bonus information: Everyone in the Dion-Angélil family has a red “Fly Emirates” t-shirt.)

    Instead of an intermission, there was a video duet with Elvis. I should mention there was this very Scottsdale-y queen in front of me with an Android the size of a chicken fried steak who probably took 4,000 pictures during the concert. Every time Celine advanced towards us, up would go his giant phone. So I saw about a third of the concert through said phone, including Celine’s soliloquy about all the duets she had ever done, which was forgettable except for the 112 syllables she packed into “Pavarotti.” When she got around to talking about the Elvis duet, she said, “You know, this is maybe my craziest duet!” in a mischievous, devil-may-care tone, like a French chef about to toss brine shrimp into a chocolate soufflé. Then she left to change and probably have four bites of a chicken caesar.

    At the end of my row was an L.A. queen who had clearly listened to “I’m Alive” on repeat every day of his first year out of Serenity Malibu, because when Celine said “Do you remember this one?” he shouted “I remember it, Celine, I love you!” and started crying. How do I know where all the queens live, just by looking at them? Honey, I just do.

    The medley was followed up by another video duet, this time with the Bee Gees, of the song “Incredible.” Because she hadn’t had the foresight to film them singing this before two out of three Gibb brothers died, she projected large photographs of them, which would appear and disappear depending on who was singing. Staring at the eldest and only surviving Gibb brother Barry’s somewhat ursine face, I had an opportunity to reflect on my complicated relationship with Celine Dion. I like her light inspirational rock, and the pain-filled ballads; I deeply hate her plink-plink songs, and she has a lot of plink-plink songs. But I forgive her everything.

    I forgive her everything because although I know Celine Dion is an enabler who allows people to care more about love than they should, she is still a fucking boss bitch. It’s not just that she knows that everyone is heartsick, and desperate to be adored, and desperate to feel that they will somehow transcend desperation. It’s that she managed to put all this into a sound. Sure, she put this sound up for sale and made $600 million dollars off of it, but when you see her in person, you feel like she might have done it for free. Maybe some day she’ll be reincarnated as a writer, and we can find out for sure.

    The song ended. The Gibb brothers faded away. Celine moved to the front of the stage, swished her skirt aside and showed a long lean leg. The audience gasped and clapped, and she said, in a mock-chastising tone, “That was for René!” Then she sang the shit out of the 1975 Eric Carmen song “All By Myself,” which she covers on the 1996 Album Falling Into You. A few weeks after René’s death in January, Celine performed this song and broke down crying. If you have never heard Celine Dion sing this song, I beg you listen. The chorus is simple: “All by myself/Don’t want to be/All by myself/ Anymore.” At the end of the last “anymore,” Celine—well, I don’t know shit about music, but I can tell you that she wails pitifully, but on key, and then she hits this minor note, and crawls up it as if it were the last ladder out of the world’s deepest chasm of misery onto the world’s tallest, most flower-covered mountain. She went from broken mortal to formidable goddess in 12 exhilarating seconds, and the audience rose as one and applauded her. Seeing all of this through a phone screen made it no less thrilling.

    After the expected “My Heart Will Go On,” Celine sang “Over The Rainbow.” I thought about Celine’s recent heartbreak. I have no doubt she is devastated by the loss of René, but I am also glad she can perform the shit out of getting over it. I want Celine’s heart to go on by any means necessary. I know she wants nothing less for the rest of us. As she trilled out the final “Why—Can’t—I?” eight to 10 people in my section let out the farts they’d been holding in through the performance. We filed out of the Coliseum encased in a hot cloud of farts. That’s also the way it is.

    Sarah Miller writes for,,, and others. Find her @sarahlovescali.

    Image via Getty

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    Your Professors Are in the Struggle and They're Not Winning Yet
    Illustration by Jim Cooke

    This will be the eighth and final installment of our series highlighting true stories from adjunct professors, the best-educated low-wage workers in America.

    The collected thoughts of dozens of adjuncts have made clear some common themes: our colleges and universities are supported by a large class of teachers who lack job security, livable wages, or respect from their employers; students who pay huge prices to attend prestigious schools will likely spend much of their time being educated by these very low-paid professors; and, above all, the higher education industry—which resembles a Ponzi scheme in which the last generation of Ph.D.’s must feverishly educate the next even though there are not enough good jobs for any of them—is not all that it’s cracked up to be.

    Buyers of advanced degrees beware. Students and professors lucky enough not to be adjuncts, please remember: a little solidarity goes a long way.

    Stop lying

    I live with a few family members and we pool our money to make ends meet. While I have the highest degree in my family, I earn the least amount of money at my job and I am the only person without benefits. I genuinely love and enjoy teaching. My students are some of the brightest parts of my days and weeks. I love English, and I am very passionate about my profession’s importance to educating the next generation of leaders and thinkers. But working as an adjunct does not provide me with the income needed to live well. I earn roughly $17000 a year at my job, so I have had to take on minimum wage retail jobs on the side in order to make enough to help support my family, which brings my average work week to between 60 and 70 hours per week.

    I hope universities soon realize the crippling effects of their treatment to adjuncts. So much university money is spent on administrative and bureaucratic salaries—an entry level enrollment specialist job at my institution pays about 10k more per year with benefits than I earn with my advanced degree.

    I also think we should stop lying to students in high school and undergraduate programs. I was consistently encouraged by my mentors and peers to earn an advanced degree because it would increase my competitive edge in the job market. They promised the jobs would be endless and that my MA degree would ensure steady, satisfying employment. But that was not the case—everything has been a struggle.

    In New Jersey

    I’m an adjunct professor at a small liberal arts college in New Jersey. Despite the ridiculous cost of living in this state, I make $2,250 for a two credit class. Despite the many hours spent prepping, grading, and designing courses (at least fifteen hours per class per week, so if I teach five classes, 75 hours a week, especially with grading. I’m also probably low-estimating; I’ve spent twenty hours in a week on a single class.), I make less than some of my students do in their work study positions. The biggest kick in the pants is that each student pays $3-4k per class. I don’t even make what one of my students pays to be taught by me.

    I’m lucky though; my friends who adjunct at community colleges in NJ often only make $1,800 per class, a ridiculous sum.

    In Florida

    I’m very active in my local area (Tampa Bay) in organizing around adjunct issues and teach at 2 different colleges.

    Last year I made 18k. At one school I make a little over $1700 per section and at the other I make $1900 per section. I’m currently teaching 5 sections. I am slated to be teaching 4 in the summer and 6 in the fall, as long as they don’t get cancelled for low enrollment. I had a semester in the past where I taught 7 sections (4 different subjects) at 3 schools and 5 different campuses. I was driving 200 miles 2 days a week. I have been working towards unionizing adjuncts at one of the schools I work at and I hear similar stories from all the other adjuncts I have spoken with.

    Neither school I work at treats adjuncts fairly. Administration pay lip service towards wanting to pay us more (of course they never do) but don’t seem to realize that job instability, lack of benefits, lack of professional development, and private office space are all just as detrimental.

    I am lucky that I don’t live in poverty because my husband has decent job and makes the majority of our family income. But if we were to split up I would certainly be living in poverty conditions. Even with my financial position being better than a lot of adjuncts I know, my life has still been very negatively impacted by my work as an adjunct.

    I don’t get paid for the days that I have to miss class and have had to teach a day of classes in the midst of having a miscarriage. I have to miss pay when my kids are sick because I’m the primary care taker. My husband and I have a hard time planning things financially because we are never sure how much I will be making from semester to semester.

    How things have changed

    I was in college in California in the late 60s (yes, I am an old lefty activist). I attended public colleges/universities. In all my years as a student in higher education, I don’t think I had more than one adjunct professor. I took lots of classes. All my professors had offices, private offices. They were not crammed together sharing an office that looked like a typing pool. (Fortunately, the cadre of adjuncts where I teach are almost like family; we truly appreciate one another, share experiences, and learn from one another in an environment of rich discourse. I believe we are the exception.)

    Some 60 percent of the classes taught at [my college in New Mexico] are taught by adjuncts. How is it possible that in my own lifetime college education has gone from stable professorial teaching assignments to a mish-mosh of adjunct-taught courses strung tenuously together into barely cohesive programs that are cheaply funded?

    This saddens me terribly.

    From a single father adjunct working two jobs

    What is your quality of life?

    When I am in the classroom or talking to my colleagues, it’s sublime. When I am grading papers at one in the morning after a pick-up gig because I have to gig as much as I can to fill the gaps, it feels awful. When my kid wants something, a better dinner, a new app, I have to run through the entire of our monthly budget to figure out if we can, for instance, order a pizza. I often can’t even afford to order a pizza.

    And when I stare at my budget ledger and plan my month’s spending, I feel hopeless. I feel like a failure. I feel like I have no future. I feel like I’ve wasted my life trying to be earnest and idealistic. And some days I actually review my life insurance policy’s suicide clause - that money would eradicate “all of my daughter’s problems and she’d be better off with my sister and her husband.” That’s my inner monologue. But I know she’d rather eat sweet potatoes and quinoa yet again than lose me too - I could never hurt her that way, she’s already lost too much. And she is the only reason life was worth continuing after my partner died. So I keep fighting for our tiny family, even as my hope wanes.

    “I am amazed”

    I have been adjunct at different schools for 5 years. I have taught at [several universities in the Southwest]. All of them treat adjuncts terrible. Right now I am teaching for [university] online. If I do everything they ask of me I make about $6.50 per hour. Teaching two classes can easily take 36- 40 hours per week. Last year I almost starved to death. I sold so much stuff to live. Everything I had of value besides my house gone. I hate more than anything the way universities use professors. But I need the work, it’s better than nothing. They don’t always give me classes and there is unspoken rule not to say anything about these conditions. To me the answer is a union on the national level: adjuncts organize and strike. I am working towards a business so that I can quit being an adjunct but I will probably be teaching at least another year. If my school found out I said this they would throw me away like piece of trash. So please don’t tell them I am amazed at the University system. They are the worst discriminators and they shout out against it the loudest.


    The English department at the university where I currently teach 4 classes (100 students) pays a flat rate of $2,500 per course before taxes. It is typical to get 4 classes in the fall semester, but only 2 or 3 in the Spring. Because of this I commonly work another (or two other) jobs simultaneously. This is difficult to find part-time employment from companies/businesses that are willing to work around my ever changing teaching schedule.

    I have no employment during the summer months, I resort to temp work to keep my lights on; these jobs typically pay $10-11 an hour.

    Full time/ Assistant professors at my university teach 3 classes and this is considered full time. I teach 4 classes and am considered part-time. I have no health insurance.

    Last Fall I had to have emergency surgery, with no health insurance (I cannot even afford the cheapest Obamacare program) the hospital bill was in excess of $30,000, my earnings at 2 jobs for the 2015 fiscal year was $24,000...

    I live in a studio apartment, I have given up meat altogether because I cannot afford it and live off of lentils and greek yogurt. I go no where other than work because, literally, I cannot afford gas to drive anywhere for leisure, let alone go to a bar for a (single) drink or see a movie, I am isolated from my friends and family because of my financial situation. I don’t have cable TV, I only buy my clothes at second hand stores.

    I am only allowed to teach courses that the university requires of all students. These are MANDATORY classes for everyone, yet the university does not invest in FT faculty for these courses. If these courses are so important to the curriculum of the students then the university should invest in FULL TIME professors.

    I am currently searching for work outside of academia because I cannot afford to keep living like this. Again, I am scheduled for bankruptcy but this will not cover the $175,000 in student loans I accrued during my graduate studies. My bankruptcy lawyer has informed me that if I can prove I cannot find a job related to my degree my loans can be forgiven. I am currently in the process of researching what kind of documentation is necessary for this to happen.

    The difference a full time job offers

    I am extremely grateful that I am one of the fortunate ones who landed a full time tenure-track position this fall, but I am having to leave North Carolina for it. At this new university, I will teach three classes each semester instead of four, and my salary will be over five times higher. But with estimates at about 50% - 70% of higher education instructors being adjuncts, this isn’t an issue that will simply disappear for me because I am no longer an adjunct. Adjuncts are financially unable to give everything they can to their students because of having to work multiple jobs, which effects the quality of education ALL of our colleges/universities are able to provide across the country. I myself have worked up to five jobs at once to get by and am incredibly thankful I will only have one position this fall. But while adjunct instructors are the majority in our higher education system, our country as a whole will suffer in terms of creating educated critical thinkers.

    From an adjunct who joined a union

    As a former high school English teacher, I believed in education unions deeply — I just didn’t think I could hope to be in one as an adjunct. Learning I was wrong felt like the sun pushing through the clouds.

    That’s why, a couple years down the line, when a guy came to my classroom at another university closer to home where I’d picked up a class, and he asked me if I would support an upcoming vote to decide whether adjuncts at our school should be added to the faculty union, I said yes. I said yes when he asked me to come to a happy hour to meet some more of my contingent higher ed colleagues. I said yes to phone banking to get out the vote, and I said yes when my ballot arrived in the mail. Yes, we matter. Yes, we have rights. Yes, our expertise is valuable. And yes, together, we are powerful.

    I don’t ever want to go back to that choked panicky feeling of running from class to class, barely holding it together, feeling guilty for being a bad teacher but feeling even more scared of admitting that I wasn’t doing okay. Never knowing how much I’d make next semester. Hoping my partner wouldn’t get sick because I couldn’t get her benefits. Wondering if anybody at the university would even notice if my family fell right off of the edge of the Earth. No one deserves to feel that way. We adjuncts provide the day to day labor that keeps universities running. We are on the front lines with America’s young people, and I believe that when one of us rises, we all rise. Collective bargaining is the answer to rectifying the gross injustices of the two-tier higher education system. That’s why I volunteer my time organizing adjuncts for my school’s union and for the new metro union just founded for adjuncts in my city. We’re getting stronger. Give us a chance and we’ll organize you, too!

    Our sincere thanks go to the hundreds of adjunct professors who wrote in to share their stories. Everyone be nicer to them.


    The full archives of our series on adjunct professors can be found here.

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    Brooklyn Voter Purge Disproportionately Affected Hispanics
    Photo: AP

    Earlier this year, an investigative report from WNYC revealed two illegal voter purges that removed more than 120,000 people from voting rolls in Brooklyn, which some pundits described as “annoying” and “not voter suppression.” In fact, according to WNYC, voters in majority-Hispanic election districts were purged at a rate nearly 60 percent greater than in all other districts.

    At a City Council hearing last month, Michael Ryan, the executive director of the Board of Elections, apologized for the purges, saying that they had been a mistake. Two top clerks in the Brooklyn office were suspended without pay. Ryan also said that “a broad cross-section of voters [was] removed from the voter rolls.”

    In November 2014, 1,308,871 people were registered to vote in Brooklyn; the following July, 122,454 voters were removed from the rolls—13.9 percent of those were in majority-Hispanic election districts, compared to 8.7 percent in all other election districts. What is more, WNYC found, 15.2 percent of people with historically Hispanic surnames were purged, compared to 9.5 percent of people with all other names.

    The purge most heavily impacts the neighborhoods of Sunset Park, parts of Williamsburg and Bushwhack, and East New York—all within the boundaries of the 7th Congressional District. Longtime representative Nydia Velázquez has in the past clashed with the Brooklyn Democratic party, and faces two primary challengers in the upcoming election.

    “I do not want to think that it was deliberate, you know, because that would be voter suppression, and at a time when the Voting Rights Act is under attack in Washington, to have this type of action in a city and state like New York, a Democratic city, it’s just beyond any comprehension,” Velázquez told WNYC. “How could they purge 120,000 and no one knew that this was happening?”

    “It’s just, by looking at that map I could say, ‘Hey, I’ve been targeted or my district has been targeted,’ just by looking at it. By looking at the numbers. We’ll see. But it’s not going to end here.”

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    Scientists say the number of annual “extreme heat” days in Los Angeles could increase by 800% over the course of this century. Good thing future L.A. residents will have futuristic air-conditioning in their self-driving cars as they sit in future sweltering traffic jams, wondering where their dreams went wrong.

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  • 06/21/16--11:45: She Got Stuck in the Barney
  • She Got Stuck in the Barney

    Where’s Darby? Did she go downstairs? Yeah, that’s what I thought. I’m gonna run down and see if she’s there. Darby! Are you in the basement? Dar-ahhhhahahaha, oh my god DARBY. Where did you get that?! Hahahaha, oh my gosh don’t move I wanna snap this. Hahaha I’m shaking. Oh my god. What? I can’t understand you! Hahahahahaha DARBY YOU LOOK INSANE I love it so much. I freaking love you so freaking much! I love you!You love me! Dar-by looks just like Bar-ney! Hahaha, wait, don’t take it off yet I want everyone else to see. Hahaha stop it! No! Hahaha no keep it on you have to let them see. HEY GET DOWN HERE DARBY HAS SOMETHING SHE WANTS TO SHOW YOU. HURRY!

    Get ready, here they come. Hahahahahahahahahahahaha YES. Yeah I already snapped it. Wait I’m going to do it again. Get me in yours. Oh my god Darby I’m literally dying this is the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. OK, did y’all snap it? Hurry! I think Darby’s getting uncomfortable. What? It’s what? Heavy? OK fine let’s lift it off. Help me out with this. OK, one, two, three, PULLLLLL. Gahhhh. Ugh. What’s happening. Try again. One, two, THREE, PULLLLLLL. Oh god Darby, I’m sorry. Did that hurt? I’m sorry! What? No, let’s pull you push. One, two, three, PUSHHHHH AND PULLLLLLLL. Oh shoot. Uhh, Darby? What? It’s getting hot? OK, uhhhh, oh no. Keep trying I’ll figure this out. Darby, are you crying?!

    She Got Stuck in the Barney
    She got stuck in the Barney.

    Hey, one of you run upstairs and see if there’s any soap anywhere. Or butter. Something to loosen this up. Oh my god, Darby, you OK? Hold on. We’re gonna get you out of this. Remember when I got my hand stuck in that cage at the PetSmart when I was trying to pet that rude puppy who wasn’t having any of it and then we got kicked out but I was like, “I literally can’t leave because I’m stuck in this cage”? This is like that.

    No! I’m not taking any more pictures! I promise! No, that noise was just me screenshotting this text. I promise. OK, what did you find. VASELINE? Who has Vaseline. What even is Vaseline? Whatever. OK, Darbs? We’re gonna slather this this Vaseline on you so you get all lubed up enough to slide this purple dino off your head. It’s gonna be cold, OK? You OK? Hahaha, I bet it feels kind of good, there we go, nice and slathered on. Wait I kind of love this stuff. Hahaha oh my GOD Darby you look gross. You literally look like a newborn but with a gross giant head. A big freaking newborn. Becca weren’t you like enormous when you were born? Like your mom got all, like, never mind. OK, Darby? Let’s try again. Ready? You push, we’ll pull. One, two, three, PULLLLLLLLLLLL. What the crap! Ugh! Darby! No! Stop crying, Darby, we’ll figure this out! Oh my god, Darby! Hey, Becca, can you call 911 and tell them what’s going on? Just call them! DARBY COULD BE DYING. No Darby I didn’t mean it. No! It’s fine! JUST ASK THEM, BECCA. DARBY IS FREAKING THE FLIP OUT OK SO JUST FREAKING CALL THEM AND TELL THEM SHE GOT STUCK IN THE BARNEY OH MY GOD QUIT STALLING.

    Darby, it’s gonna be fine. I promise. We’re gonna get you out of here and then we’re gonna go home and finish Orange Is the New Black or something. Fine! We can watch something else! That’s what I’m SAYING Darby. YOU pick this time. What even is Chef’s Table. Since when are you into cooking shows? Who are you, my dad? Fine we’ll watch it. But I also saw they just added all the Jurassic Parks to Netfli-hahahahaha SORRY I didn’t mean it.

    Oh my god, I think that’s the firemen. BECCA QUIT IT. JUST GO GET THEM. NO I’M STAYING WITH DARBY SHE NEEDS THE FREAKING SUPPORT. Darbs, it’s gonna be fine!

    She Got Stuck in the Barney

    Heyyyyyyyyyyy, hi everyone! Oh hi, Mr. Bruno. Hahaha, I know. How are you. I’m fine. Darby’s worse, obviously. Sorry we called you guys, but we didn’t know what else to do and this was technically an emergency, so. Ummm, this is Darby. She’s the one who’s stuck in the Barney, as you can tell. No no it’s fine, it’s funny. We’ve all been laughing so don’t worry. Right, I know, at least we’re not drinking. My parents are good, Mr. Bruno. I’ll tell them you say hi. Darby I know you’re in a little pain right now but trust me you will look back at this and laugh. And like all of us have the freaking funniest snap stories right now you’re gonna be freaking famous I promise. Oh, that? It’s Vaseline, sir. We tried to grease her out. Should we not have?

    OK, Darbs? They’re gonna make a few cuts. But don’t be nervous. They’re firefighters and they do this all the time. Right? No? This is your first time? OK, well they do this, to like, when people are trapped in houses and cars. They’re gonna jaws of life you right out, Darby.

    One, two, three, PULLLLLLLLLLLL.

    She Got Stuck in the Barney

    Oh my god, Darby! It’s working! Darby!!!!

    She Got Stuck in the Barney

    Darby!!!!!!!! Oh my god, THANK YOU guys so much! Darby you’re free! Hahahahahahaha wait wait, get over here. One, two, three:

    She Got Stuck in the Barney

    Images via Becca Mayberry’s snapchat/screengrab.

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    "We Don't Know Anything About Hillary in Terms of Religion," Says Donald Trump
    Image: Getty

    Hillary Clinton is a Methodist Christian. She grew up in a Methodist household, and taught adult Sunday school classes at her parish long before becoming first lady. This information is extremely easy to find, such as by typing “Hillary Clinton religion” into the search engine of your choice and pressing Enter on your keyboard. Despite this, Donald Trump seems to think his competitor’s religious affiliation are still up for debate.

    “We don’t know anything about Hillary in terms of religion,” Trump said at a meeting with evangelical leaders this morning. “She’s been in the public eye for years and years, and yet there’s nothing out there. There’s like nothing out there.”

    The conservative pastor E.W. Jackson, who attended the meeting, tweeted a video of Trump’s remarks that was later picked up by The Hill.

    Trump continued with an impressive bit of dog-whistling about President Obama: “It’s going to be an extension of Obama, but it’s going to be worse, because with Obama you had your guard up. With Hillary, you don’t.”

    It’s a bizarre bit of rhetoric, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise coming from the man who brought Obama birtherism mainstream. Hillary isn’t exactly an undeserving target, either: In 2008, When Fox News ran a series of segments questioning Obama’s connections to a Chicago pastor named James Meeks, the network seemed to have been tipped off about Meeks’ less savory aspects by Sidney Blumenthal, Clinton’s longtime advisor.

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    You’re looking at the face of resurgent mainstream white hatred in the United States—it listens to Slipknot, daydreams about appearing on an MMA-based reality competition show, smells like cocktail made of Mountain Dew, cough syrup, and creatine, and thinks anyone who appears to be Mexican should “BUILD THAT FUCKIN’ WALL... FOR ME!”

    It was not that long ago that walking down the street with your shirt off screaming “GO FUCKIN’ COOK MY BURRITO BITCH” at suspected Mexican-Americans was frowned upon, but today it’s just part of the electoral discourse, thanks in large part to the ascendance of Donald Trump and his popularity among the “X-Games Klan Sympathizer” cohort. The above video was recorded last week and sent to us by photographer Eric Rosenwald, who attended a Trump rally in Phoenix, AZ.

    You can read all summaries in the world of Trump’s various policy stances, such as they are—building a wall, trade isolationism, immigration bans—but none of it will be as illuminating as a shirtless white guy turning red with fury, arteries bulging, screaming the word “TRUMP” over and over again into the faces of American Latinos in a state of apoplexy.

    Update: Former Gawker editorial assistant Max Read pointed out that the gentleman in the video above has a tattoo of the number 43, commonly received by members of the white supremacist hate group Supreme White Alliance.

    This Shirtless Mountain Dew Motherfucker Is the Living Embodiment of Trump-Inspired White Supremacy

    Correction: Max Read was a former Gawker night editor, not editorial assistant. I regret the error.

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    Everything We Know About the Shady "Draper Sterling" Getting Paid by the Trump Campaign
    Photo composite: Jim Cooke. Photos: AMC, Getty

    Donald Trump’s most recent expenditure report is a disaster perfectly befitting the campaign from whence it came. And of all the campaign’s various questionable spending decisions ($208,000 on hats), one recipient in particular stands out—mostly because it’s named after a fake advertising company from Mad Men.

    According to the newly filed finance report, Donald Trump paid $35,000 to a company called Draper Sterling LLC—a company that was founded almost exactly a month before Trump made the actual payments. All four payments were made on the same day.

    Everything We Know About the Shady "Draper Sterling" Getting Paid by the Trump Campaign

    And here’s the business’s corporate history, according to the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office:

    Everything We Know About the Shady "Draper Sterling" Getting Paid by the Trump Campaign

    As it just so happens, the same Jon Adkins who registered Draper Sterling LLC also appears in Trump’s expenditure report under his own name as a “field consultant.”

    Everything We Know About the Shady "Draper Sterling" Getting Paid by the Trump Campaign

    The address at which both Jon Adkins and his business list isn’t some office building, though—it’s a home.

    Everything We Know About the Shady "Draper Sterling" Getting Paid by the Trump Campaign

    And a lovely looking home at that.

    While Jon Adkins has made campaign contributions in the past, it wasn’t to Donald Trump. In October of 2015, Adkins donated $1,000 to Republican Massachusetts Governor Charles Baker and, in June of 2013, he donated $250 to Massachusetts State Senator Ryan Fattman. For the former, Adkins listed his employer as “Dynamics Solutions” while in the latter he listed it as “Dynamic Solutions LLC.”

    And according to Missouri Scout, conservative SuperPAC Patriots for America actually owed a different state’s Draper Sterling over $56,000 for “business consulting” just a few months ago. This Draper Sterling, however, was incorporated in December 2, 2015 in Delaware, which was also about a month before it showed up on the SuperPAC’s filings.

    If you feel like things are starting to get confusing, just wait—it gets worse.

    This past May, the Missouri Ethics Commission filed a complaint against Patriots for America for not complying with state guidelines, including a failure “to comply with the reporting requirements,” register expenditures with the Missouri Ethics Commission, appoint an in-state treasurer, and open a depository in the state.

    Everything We Know About the Shady "Draper Sterling" Getting Paid by the Trump Campaign

    According to Patriots for America’s filing, its sole donor was a nonprofit corporation called Franklin & Lee, from which it got $84,000 over the course of January and February. As California Is Not For Sale explained:

    And where did Franklin & Lee get that money? No one knows. As a nonprofit, it isn’t required to divulge its donors in the way that a super PAC is.

    Little information is available about Franklin & Lee. But its mailing address in the tiny town of Paquoson, Va., is the same as one of the listed addresses for McLain, the former Brunner staffer who set up the Patriots for America super PAC, according to campaign records.

    McLain also shares an address with the super PAC itself — in the same town as the nonprofit, about four blocks away, according to a Paquoson map.

    Now, lets’ get back to Jon Adkins. His LinkedIn page points out that, in addition to being a co-founder of Dynamic Solutions LLC (Draper Sterling is not listed), he is also a Vice President and Co-Founder at XenoTherapeutics Inc, “an early stage medical device and research company, started in 2016, principally focused on bringing the promising technology of xenotransplantation (transplants involving different species) to a regulatory and commercial reality while addressing the questions involving the intersection of clinical, engineering, and financial considerations.” Or what’s otherwise known as the process of transplanting the cells from one species to another. All of which is certainly a stretch from the “web advertising services” he rendered for the Trump campaign.

    Dynamic Solutions, however, does at least make slightly more sense in terms of potentially being able to offer campaign services:

    Dynamic Solutions is a scientific and technical consulting firm, which specializes in data analysis, process optimization, and organizational efficiency in industries including health care, politics, philanthropy, and medical device development.

    At some point between last night, when Trump’s filings were released, and the time of publication, the website for XenoTherapeutics has been made private, but thankfully, Google still has a cached version for our viewing pleasure. Here’s the homepage:

    Everything We Know About the Shady "Draper Sterling" Getting Paid by the Trump Campaign

    And the “Meet Our Team” page:

    Everything We Know About the Shady "Draper Sterling" Getting Paid by the Trump Campaign

    The Dynamic Solutions Facebook page has apparently been deleted entirely.

    So who is this Paul Holzer listed next to Jon Adkins on XenoTherapeutics’ website? According to a document that secured the merger of Adkins’ Florida-based Dynamic Solution Systems with his Massachusetts-based Dynamic Solution Systems, Paul Holzer is his partner in the Dynamic Solutions game, as well.

    Everything We Know About the Shady "Draper Sterling" Getting Paid by the Trump Campaign

    Remember how Draper Sterling was owed all that money by the Patriots for America SuperPac? Apparently, Paul Holzer was actually the Chief of Staff for gubernatorial candidate John Brunner in that very same Missouri race. As The Missouri Times wrote back in July:

    Paul Holzer is Chief of Staff to John Brunner. He served as a United States Navy SEAL Officer from 2003-2013, deploying to combat four times including Iraq and Afghanistan; he ultimately attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander and was awarded two Bronze Stars. Mr. Holzer also holds a Master’s Degree in engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and later applied both skill sets as Executive Director of Massachusetts Victory and as a chief architect for the voter contact strategy in the 2014 Massachusetts election cycle on behalf of Republican Charlie Baker. Governor Baker was elected by a margin of 40,000 votes.

    During this time, Holzer was also apparently a “Senior Operations Specialist” at Steward Health Care, making him quite the Renaissance man. Oh, and he also appears to be currently attending Dartmouth medical school.

    Judd Legum from ThinkProgress called the number listed for Patriots For America, which forwarded them to “Grace’s Grantham Cafe, a New Hampshire coffee shop that, according to its website, was supposed to open on Memorial Day.” This coffee shop is registered to none other than Jon Adkins. Holzer’s’ brother answered the phone, but he wasn’t much help:

    Asked about his connection to Draper Sterling and what services it provided to his super PAC, McLain said he had “no comment.” Asked whether Grace’s Grantham Cafe was a real cafe that has opened, McLain said he had “no comment.” Asked whether Paul Holzer was his brother, McLain also said he had “no comment.” McLain said he didn’t find the questions “relevant.”

    Slate’s Ruth Graham drove to the address listed as Draper Sterling’s place of business and were greeted by Jon Adkins’ mother-in-law, who told them, “I don’t know what he does. All I do is I watch his kids” before eventually conceding that “he’s in the medical field” and “does a lot of business out of Boston. Whatever he does, I don’t know.”

    Thus far, no one’s been able to pin down what exactly it is Draper Sterling—or Dynamic Solutions in any one of its forms—has done for the various campaigns it’s associated with.

    We reached out to both Jon Adkins and the Trump campaign but have yet to receive a response. We will update this post if and when we hear back.

    Additional reporting by Tim Burke

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    Heavily-Armed Possible Vigilantes Arrested On Their Way To NYC To "Save A Friend Who Is On Heroin"
    Photo: NJPD via NBC

    Earlier today, three people were arrested with multiple loaded long-range guns and handguns, knives, ballistic vests, a camouflage helmet and night goggles at the entrance to the Holland Tunnel by the New Jersey police. The “self-styled vigilantes” were on a mission. NBC:

    One of the suspects allegedly told authorities the trio was en route to Queens to try to save a friend who is on heroin and being held against her will. Police are looking for the possible woman in Queens.

    Two men in their 50s and a woman in her 20s from Pennsylvania were taken into custody after their very noticeable Dodge was pulled over for a cracked windshield and the police noticed the first of many weapons.

    The vehicle had decals for Tonka, Monster energy drinks and several logos for Higher Ground Tactical, a gun range in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, about two hours away. Along with the cache of weapons, police confiscated a red bag with the words “Firearms Instructor” and a container with “Shoot Your Local Heroin Dealer” in neon green.

    A look at the Higher Ground Tactical Facebook page suggests several connections to the incident. John Cramsey, who is listed as Senior Operator of the range, has posted several times on the business’s Facebook page. In photos set to public, Cramsey appears to pose next to a similar truck.

    Cramsey also posts repeatedly about his daughter Alexandria “Lexii” Cramsey who passed away in February at the age of 20, sometimes including her “It Gets Better” video. An under-construction foundation website set up in Lexii Cramsey’s name provides resources for people with “loved ones lost due to heroin abuse.” In between pro-gun memes and “good guy with a gun” inspirational quotes, Cramsey has posted Good Samaritan PSAs and made sad and somewhat ominous posts that allude to his growing frustration.

    Heavily-Armed Possible Vigilantes Arrested On Their Way To NYC To "Save A Friend Who Is On Heroin"
    Screenshot: Facebook

    Other public images included captions such as, on June 12, “Who else out there is ready to show these Dealers of Death that we are Madder than HELL and we’re NOT GUNNA TAKE IT NO MORE ! Enjoy your Day Fuckers..... Cause I’m about to Fuck UP Your Night ! Me and who’s Army ? Y’all just Stay Tuned and I’ll Introduce you to them later on.” A post made 14 hours ago reads, “Today is the day that marks the 4 Month Anniversary of the loss of my sweet baby girl. For as much as its worth .... I have been fighting the Demon that stole you from me with everything I got ....Please give me the Strength to continue taking this fight to the Evil.”

    A Port Authority police spokesperson told the Daily News, “The agency does not believe the incident is terrorism-related.”

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    Donald Trump Keeps Giving Diamond Gifts Made Out of Cubic Zirconia 
    Photo: AP

    Have you or a loved one been gifted a pair of diamond cufflinks by Donald Trump only to find out they’re not worth the super glue they were made with? You’re not alone.

    Charlie Sheen last week told Graham Norton he met Trump about five years ago at a dinner, which would put him at around the height of his tiger blood infamy. For whatever reason, Sheen said, Trump took off his own cufflinks and presented them as a gift, saying “These are platinum diamond Harry Winston.” Unfortunately, they were not.

    “I’m really not a fan,” Sheen said of Trump, who spoke to him at a dinner around five years ago. “He says ‘these are platinum diamond Harry Winston’ and he pulls off his cufflinks and he gives them to me.” Six months later, Sheen asked a jeweler appraising jewelry at his home to take a look at the ’links. “She took the loupe, spent about four seconds, and kind of recoiled from it — much like people do from Trump — and says ‘in their finest moment, this is cheap pewter and bad zirconias,’” said Sheen, who dismissed the real estate mogul as a “charlatan.” “And they’re stamped ‘Trump.’ And I just thought, ‘what does this really say about the man, that he said, ‘here’s a great wedding gift,’ and it’s just a bag of dog shit?”

    And Sheen isn’t the only one. Trump, the New York Times reports, once paid his lawyer, Roy Cohn, with “a pair of diamond-encrusted cufflinks and buttons in a Bulgari box.” They were later found to be knockoffs.

    Has Donald Trump has ever given you diamonds? Get in touch—we’ll even pay for the assessment.

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    Wow, Mark Zuckerberg Is Paranoid As Fuck
    Mark Zuckerberg

    Mark Zuckerberg, a man who runs a service that collects the personal information of more than a billion people daily, seems to be worried about being spied on. There’s something very interesting in the photo Zuckerberg posted today to celebrate Instagram’s 500 million monthly active users, can you see it?

    Look closer. As Chris Olson pointed out on Twitter, Zuckerberg’s camera and the audio jack (or possibly the dual microphones) on his Macbook are both covered with pieces of tape. Sophisticated hackers are able to secretly take control of a laptop camera, so Zuckerberg is beating any would-be hackers to the punch by rendering the webcam useless with a piece of tape.

    Wow, Mark Zuckerberg Is Paranoid As Fuck

    Of course, it’s not insane that one of the most powerful people in the world is paranoid about being watched—but Zuckerberg better hope the legions of users his company is depending on for live video content don’t take a lesson from his book.

    And yes, we’re pretty much sure that’s his desk. In a Facebook live video posted 9 months ago, Zuckerberg gave a tour of the exact desk he’s sitting at in the picture above, complete with the same books, wooden Facebook sign, and sunscreen.

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    Former Trump Aide Says Fight Between Staffers Was Like Going to Work "With Flamethrowers"
    Photo: AP

    On Tuesday, former Trump advisor Michael Caputo offered new insight into life inside the chaotic presidential campaign, describing a “miserable,” war-like atmosphere in the wake of last month’s public screaming match between spokeswoman Hope Hicks and former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

    Caputo resigned from the Trump campaign on Monday after tweeting, “Ding dong the witch is dead!” in response to Lewandowski’s firing. But by his telling, Caputo had reason to pissed: Speaking to to talk radio host Tom Bauerle on Monday, Caputo said Lewandowski owed him months of backpay, “sitting” on his invoices since he joined Team Trump in March.

    In addition to being unpaid, Caputo says he says found himself unwilling recruited into ugly power struggles between Trump’s old and new guard. From Buzzfeed:

    Caputo, who described himself as a “Manafort guy,” said he found himself in the middle of the ongoing fight between Lewandowski and Paul Manafort. He added that life on the campaign became especially miserable after he witnessed a fight between Lewandowski and communications director Hope Hicks.

    “In mid-May, I ran into and witnessed a scene between Corey Lewandowski and other members of the campaign that I shouldn’t have,” Caputo said. “And that was out in the media fairly soon, I was with reporters when that happened. And when that happened I became a part of the fight. I didn’t go there to be a part of the fight even though I’m a Manafort guy and a Trump guy from way back. But suddenly, I was assigned a team in this flag football game. And after that, uh, after that happened, it, ever since then it’s been miserable for me in that campaign. Miserable. Because I saw something I wasn’t supposed to see.”

    “The situation between Corey and was like going to work every day with flamethrowers,” said Caputo. “And waiting around the corner until one or the other of them comes in and just lighting ‘em up. That’s what it was like every single day for me after that day I saw him and Hope on the street.”

    Still, Caputo said he was hopefully for the future of the Trump campaign.

    “I’m more excited about this race and Donald Trump’s chances today,” said Caputo. “It’s not about me or an individual. It’s not about Corey Lewandowski. It’s about the United States America.”

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    Please Be Patient, Donald Trump's Damning Anti-Clinton Page Is Under Construction
    Photos: Shutterstock/AP

    Today, Donald Trump announced the creation of, a new website documenting how, “at every stage of her career,” his opponent “has deceived the public to enrich herself and family at the expense of Americans.” That may or may not be true, but for now, you’ll just have to take his word for it: As of Tuesday evening, the site is just a landing page.

    Please Be Patient, Donald Trump's Damning Anti-Clinton Page Is Under Construction

    With less than $1.3 million on hand compared to Hillary Clinton’s $42.4 million war chest, the Trump campaign found themselves in an unenviable position going into June. According to The Washington Post, it’s about to get worse. Last week, Clinton aides told the paper they planned to spend at least $10 million on TV ads over the next six weeks.

    In comparison, Trump spent a paltry $150,000 on ad buys in May, proudly relying on the free airtime he attracts instead. Even in the low-cost realm of online promotion, however, the Trump camp lags behind. Tuesday morning, Clinton launched “The Art of the Steal,” her second anti-Trump website. That afternoon, the Trump campaign fired back by revealing they, uh, bought a domain name.

    Unfortunately, Trump wasn’t able to get—his preferred moniker for the presumptive Democratic nominee—another enterprising individual having registered the domain back in April. Fortunately, it’s currently for sale. Maybe negotiate a deal?

    Please Be Patient, Donald Trump's Damning Anti-Clinton Page Is Under Construction

    0 0

    Man Says He Was Orlando Shooter's Lover, Claims Gunman "Hated" Puerto Ricans
    Screencap: Univision

    On Tuesday, a man claiming to be Omar Mateen’s former lover told Univision that he did not believe the Orlando shooter’s motive was terrorism, but revenge against gay Puerto Ricans for perceived slights against him.

    The man, disguised by prosthetics and only identified as “Miguel,” said in an exclusive interview that Mateen’s marriage was a facade to hide his sexual orientation and the two were “friends with benefits” for two months after meeting on gay dating app Grindr. According to Miguel, Mateen harbored a hatred for Puerto Ricans for “all the bad things they did to him,” including an HIV scare last year. From Mediaite:

    “‘I’m going to make them pay for what they did to me,’” Miguel recalled Mateen telling him.

    “He adored Latinos, gay Latinos, with brown skin – but he felt rejected. He felt used by them – there were moments in the Pulse nightclub that made him feel really bad. Guys used him. That really affected him,” Miguel said. “I believe this crazy horrible thing he did – that was revenge.”

    Univision reports that they could not verify Miguel’s story, but were able to confirm that the FBI had interviewed him and that Mateen was a regular at the hotel where Miguel says the two often stayed.

    Last week, Orlando survivor Patience Carter told CBS News that Mateen offered to spare black club patrons during his rampage, saying, “I don’t have a problem with black people. This is about my country. You guys suffered enough.”

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