A new social media incubator working on the future of storytelling.
Picture this: A gender-bending take on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, fed to consumers in non-linear bits and pieces across multiple media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and Vine.
Actually, such a thing already exists. It’s the brainchild of former MTV Networks CEO Judy McGrath and Sony Music Entertainment. In 2013, the two parties joined forces to create a “next generation content studio” called Astronauts Wanted. What exactly do they do? One of their recent productions was A Trip to Unicorn Island, a documentary about YouTube personality Lilly Singh. (Never heard of Singh? She’s got more than 9 million subscribers on YouTube—that’s waaay more viewers than the official channels of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Donald Trump combined.) Earlier this month, Astronauts Wanted unveiled another innovative project: A “social residency program” for digital storytellers.
Pro-choice and pro-life activists demonstrate on the steps of the United States Supreme Court on June 27, 2016, in Washington, DC. — Pete Marovich/Getty Images
This year’s Supreme Court term was unsettling. Following the sudden death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia earlier this year — and Senate Republicans’ refusal to fill the seat — it initially seemed the Court might take a more reserved approach.
And the justices did punt in a few areas, including birth control access, and made more convoluted decisions in other cases, but they didn’t back away from all major decisions, particularly in high-profile cases. A few clear winners and losers emerged: The Court decided on the first major abortion rights case in a generation, and essentially put an end to the Obama administration’s sweeping deferred deportation plans for undocumented immigrants.
Here’s who came out ahead this term and who may be traumatized by the sound of a gavel in the future.
During World War II, Londoners often sought shelter from German bombs in the city’s subway tunnels. There, they encountered another type of enemy: hordes of voracious mosquitoes. These weren’t your typical aboveground mosquitoes. They were natives of the metro, born in pools of standing water that pockmarked the underground passageways. And unlike their open-air cousins, London’s subterranean skeeters seemed to love biting humans.
Fifty years after the war ended, scientists at the University of London decided to investigate the subway population. They collected eggs and larvae from subway tunnels and garden ponds and reared both populations in the lab. The tunnel bugs, they confirmed, preferred feeding on mammals over birds. And when the scientists put males and females from different populations in close quarters designed to encourage mating, not a single pairing produced offspring. That sealed the deal: The underground mosquitoes were a whole new species, adapted to life in the subway tunnels people had built.
It’s stories like that one that got Joseph Bull thinking. As a conservation scientist at the University of Copenhagen, he hears a lot about how humans are driving other species extinct. If the current rate stays steady, the planet is on its way to its sixth mass extinction, a severe event on par with the meteorite impact that killed the dinosaurs. But he wondered if there might be a flip side. “I hadn’t really seen any kind of analysis of whether all these kinds of activities that humans get up to around the planet, whether and how they cause new species to emerge,” he says. The Anthropocene—while not quite yet an official geological epoch, still a supremely useful concept—is defined by the myriad ways in which humans affect the Earth. Civilization is destructive, but it’s generative too, sometimes in disturbing ways. A new world will emerge out of the Anthropocene, and it will be shaped by the species humans create and foster as well as the ones they kill off.
The most obvious way that people create new species is through domestication. By picking out the traits in a wild population that are most beneficial to humans and breeding for them, people can “force evolution in different species,” Bull says. Wolves become dogs, nubby grass becomes maize, wild boars become pigs.
But humans can drive speciation in other, less purposeful ways. “It’s important to think about the creation of new species as a process,” Bull says. One of the most dramatic ways people put that process in motion is by moving members of an existing species from one place to another. Sometimes those individuals die in the new environment. Sometimes they hang on and interbreed with native species. And sometimes, they take over, like kudzu in the American South or snakes on Guam. Over time, the new environment exerts different pressures on the invasive population, causing it to diverge from its ancestors. The invasive species might also change the game for native species, pushing them in new genetic directions (if, of course, it doesn’t just drive them extinct).
Although hunting is one good way to drive a species extinct (just ask the passenger pigeon), it can also spur evolution by removing certain types of individuals from a species gene pool—birds of an easy-to-see color, say, or fish large enough to be caught in a net. No new species is known to have been created through hunting alone, Bull says, but given enough time it’s far from impossible.
Finally, we have the process that created the underground mosquito: People’s propensity to create whole new ecosystems, including and especially cities. Populations of animals colonize these new environments and adapt to their demands, from mosquitoes developing a taste for mammals blood underground to city birds becoming better problem-solvers than their rural relatives.
Where a hospital is located and who owns it make a big difference in how many of its doctors take meals, consulting and promotional payments from pharmaceutical and medical device companies, a ProPublica analysis shows.
A higher percentage of doctors affiliated with hospitals in the South have received such payments than doctors in other regions of the country, our analysis found. And a greater share of doctors at for-profit hospitals have taken them than at nonprofit and government facilities.
Doctors in New Jersey, home to many of the largest drug companies, led the country in industry interactions: Nearly 8 in 10 doctors working at New Jersey hospitals took payments in 2014, the most recent year for which data is available. Nationally, the rate was 66 percent. (Look up your hospital using ProPublica’s new tool.)
For the past six years, ProPublica has tracked industry payments to doctors, finding that some earn hundreds of thousands of dollars or more each year working with drug and device companies. We’ve reported how the drugs most aggressively promoted to doctors typically aren’t cures or even big medical breakthroughs.
Republicans have come up empty after spending almost 4 years probing Benghazi to incriminate Hillary or Obama
After two years of investigations, hearings, and allegedly spending time on the all-important task of buying monogrammed handguns, the House Select Committee on Benghazi released its final report on Tuesday. Here are some interesting numbers associated with the end of this exercise:
Number of pages of the final report: 800
Number of pages of the final report issued by Congress after investigating the attacks of September 11, 2001: 585
Number of hours the Select Committee grilled former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton live, on national television, about her role in the attacks: 11
Number of times Clinton broke into a sweat as she batted away the Republicans’ inane questions during said grilling: ~0, but thanks for the free campaign ads, folks.
Number of congressional inquiries, including this one, conducted by Republicans into the Bengh#azi attack in the last four years: 8
Number of congressional inquiries conducted into half a dozen terrorist attacksagainst Americans over the last 20 years, including 9/11: 7
Hate groups are planning a visible presence among the thousands of protesters at the Republican National Convention. Police departments are raising flags about Cleveland’s preparedness to host the event. The committee organizing the convention recently warned that any last-minute changes to the city’s protest restrictions could make it impossible to guarantee conventiongoers’ safety. Then a judge threw out the plan.
It’s all forming a backdrop of uncertainty and anxiety less than three weeks before delegates congregate to nominate Donald Trump for president.
“It’s more dangerous. It’s going to be far more dangerous for every one of us,” said Regina Thomson, a delegate from Colorado.
The Committee on Arrangements — the Republican Party’s convention-planning body — has yet to issue safety and logistical guidance to delegates, guests and media, who will be arriving in Cleveland en masse in two weeks. But they’ll be walking into the marquee event of a political cycle marked by intense polarization, racial tension and anger. Activists — both pro- and anti-Trump — will flood the streets of downtown Cleveland, sometimes simultaneously, and could create a volatile atmosphere for conventiongoers.
Cleveland has insisted for months that it’s prepared to handle the influx. The city just hosted 1.3 million people for a parade to celebrate the NBA champion Cavaliers. The convention is expected to draw about 50,000. The police department has issued a 50-page security blueprint that spells out its law enforcement plans, along with emergency response, first aid and tactical resources. And it’s pledging a seamless convention that showcases the city’s assets.
“We’re absolutely certain that people are going to have a good time,” said Dan Williams, a spokesman for Mayor Frank Jackson, a Democrat.
Williams said the city is likely to issue revised boundaries for its protest zone on Wednesday, and details have begun to emerge in local media. The original plan was tossed by U.S. District Court Judge James Gwin last week after the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit, claiming the zone was too restrictive. Gwin said the so-called event zone — where protesters can stage marches and hold rallies — was “unduly large” and imposed overbearing restrictions on the hours in which protesters could demonstrate.
The city had argued that its security limitations were in keeping with — and even less restrictive than — other recent conventions. The Committee on Arrangements filed a brief warning that changing the event zone parameters could compromise safety for convention attendees.
“Any alteration to the Event Zone Regulations at this late date could significantly impact these other arrangements at a time when it may be impossible to fully account for the changed circumstances and protect the safety and security of those who seek to peacefully assemble and nominate the next Republican presidential candidate,” the committee’s lawyers wrote.
“Like a complicated puzzle, changing one piece of the plan — such as the location of a parade route — will have a ripple effect that requires the COA to reconsider and adjust other plans, which could prove to be practically impossible.”
Many GOP officials and delegates say they’re confident in the safety measures that are in place. An official with the Committee on Arrangements noted that most delegates and their guests will be traveling to and from the arena on “GOP Express,” a coordinated bus system. COA declined to comment on its attorney’s assertion that any changes in the security plan could create risks for attendees. And Michael Toner, a lawyer for COA who helped file the brief, referred questions to COA’s communications team.
The convention itself, held inside Quicken Loans Arena, will be protected by the Secret Service, which will form a “hard” perimeter in the immediate vicinity of the event. The Cleveland Police Department, with the aid of other departments from around Ohio and the country, will patrol the broader “event zone” throughout the downtown area.
Delegates will be shuttled to and from the arena from hotels that will be staffed with 24-hour security. Craig Dunn, a delegate from Indiana, said he anticipates similar levels of security to the 2012 GOP convention in Tampa, where he recalled passing through multiple security cordons — including one that searched his bus for explosives — and shuttling past boats mounted with machine guns.
“I’m not too worried about it,” Dunn said.
It’s the streets themselves where tension will run highest. Cleveland’s protest zone, even in its revised form, will permit demonstrators to roam freely, so long as they don’t block pedestrian or vehicle traffic. That raises the prospect of pro- and anti-Trump groups meeting in the same vicinity. Groups like the anti-LGBT Westboro Baptist Church intend to rally, and a white supremacist group at the center of a violent outburst in California last week has pledged to show up in Cleveland too.
Local pro- and anti-Trump organizers say they have confidence that even their political opponents are planning peaceful rallies, but they’re less certain that outside agitators won’t show up to stir the pot.
Larry Bresler, a leader of the progressive Organize! Ohio, said he speaks regularly with pro-Trump organizer Tim Selaty and is confident they’re both committed to holding peaceful rallies. But the agitation by anti-Trump activists from outside Cleveland who are pledging to stop Trump’s nomination at the convention has heightened tension.
“This is a whole different animal from other political conventions,” he said, noting that typically, most RNC protesters come from the left. “The serious problems that you had in terms of any kind of disruption by and large came from the anarchists. Here you’ve got a big number that are coming from the right this time … it presents a different dynamic.”
Bresler noted that firearms will be allowed in the “event zone” because of Ohio’s status as an open carry state, even though other more mundane items will be banned — from water guns to tape to sleeping bags.
Ralph King, one of the organizers of the pro-Trump demonstration, also said he thought any unrest would be caused by outside agitators. He said conventiongoers should have confidence in police, who just oversaw the Cavaliers’ parade without incident.
“I think the city of Cleveland has shown collectively that we are fully capable of doing big things without violence, without threats of violence and without incidents,” King said.
“I think that for the people that don’t like Trump, they’ll be able to be in their area and scream against Donald Trump to their heart’s content. We’ll be able to be in our area away from them and do backflips and somersaults in favor of him until our hearts are content.”
Hadas Gold contributed to this report.
Communities are pushing back against recreational marijuana.
Voters who cast their ballots to leave the European Union in the United Kingdom’s recent referendum on membership in the bloc said they would be willing to pay the economic price of severing access to the EU’s single market if that’s what it takes to stop more immigrants from coming to work in the UK.
This is after some prominent leaders of the Leave campaign have backtracked since winning the referendum to say that they may not, after all, be able to put immigration controls in place if they want to keep doing business with the EU.
VICE News sent Simon Ostrovsky to Clacton-on-Sea, a bastion for the pro-Leave United Kingdom Independence Party to find out why its residents were so ready to give up on the European project.
Watch “Millennials blame older generations for Brexit, but whose fault is it really?” – http://bit.ly/28ZgmEQ