Meet The Woman Who Learned That Her Mother Passed As White | Megyn Kelly TODAY Published on Feb 5, 2018

Megyn Kelly TODAY welcomes Gail Lukasik, whose book, “White Like Her,” recounts how she uncovered her mother’s secret: that she was keeping her mixed-race heritage hidden even from her own husband. She recounts her mother’s reaction: “Promise me you will never tell anyone until after I die.”

Hunt for Cause of Vaping Illness Suggests Multiple Mechanisms of Damage – Emily Willingham September 17, 2019

The leading hypothesis for the appearance of deadly lung problems does not fit with all presentations of the illness

Hunt for Cause of Vaping Illness Suggests Multiple Mechanisms of Damage
Vaping devices have been implicated in a strange lung illness that has killed six and sickened hundreds, but the cause of the damage remains elusive. Credit: Anton Vaganov Getty Images

Experts remain perplexed about what is causing the nationwide outbreak of mysterious vaping-related lung disease that has affected hundreds and killed at least six people. And even the nature of the disease itself is confounding clinicians and public health officials. The only certainty, they say, is that people should not be vaping anything until they figure it out.

The sigh of relief was almost audible after news emerged in early September of a named culprit: vitamin E acetate. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration soon dampened that enthusiasm, noting that not all tested samples even contain the oily substance. In fact, no candidate substances have consistently turned up across samples so far.

And then there is the question of what people are actually vaping: although most cases involve pods containing THC (the active ingredient in cannabis), not all of them do. Vaping-product manufacturers have sought to distinguish their goods from counterfeits acquired on the street and to blame the latter, but investigators have not yet confirmed the provenance of many of the products involved in the disease. In a good chunk of cases, patients say the one they vaped contained only nicotine. Although it is possible patients do not want to admit to THC use in states where it is not decriminalized, there is no evidence they are lying.

Mired in all of this mystery are the hundreds of occurrences of a puzzling and sometimes lethal respiratory illness whose only commonalities are that stricken patients recently vaped and they are all in the U.S. or its territories. Even the name of the condition remains a matter of debate. All of this confusion “is the strangest part,” says Sean J. Callahan, a pulmonologist at the University of Utah. Callahan, who has treated several patients with the mystery illness, says, “The heterogeneity just makes it really tough” to find a common cause.

When the initial patients in this outbreak turned up in U.S. emergency rooms in April, they did not trigger a blip in public-health radars. Wisconsin and Illinois and their shared border region look like hotspots for cases and could provide clues to what is causing them. As patient numbers grew, the geography of the outbreak expanded, first largely affecting states that are contiguous with Wisconsin and Illinois and then other states bordering those. As of September 12, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had reported at least 380 confirmed and probable cases in 36 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The agency announced on September 16 that it had activated an emergency operations center in reaction to the outbreak.

But oddly enough, the disease seems to have stopped cold at the Canadian border, despite its proximity to Wisconsin.* In response to a query about this apparent dividing line, a spokesperson for Health Canada, the country’s national health agency, pointed to its tough laws around vaping, which prohibit all sales of such products, with or without nicotine, to people under the age of 18 and strictly control their promotion at point of sale and even on social media. Canada is also stepping up enforcement and compliance programs.


White people have a blackface problem – BRYAN CRABLE SEPTEMBER 20, 2019 7:00PM (UTC)

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau’s newly-surfaced blackface photos point to a problem deeper than surface mockery

The most recent blackface incident links Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the practice on three occasions — with images showing Trudeau wearing blackface both as a high school student (performing as Harry Belafonte) and in a video from the 1990s, and later wearing brown face as a private school teacher (at an “Arabian Nights” party). Sadly, his is far from an isolated incident.

Earlier this year, Virginia’s government was roiled when both Gov. Ralph Northam, and Attorney General Mark Herring faced intense criticism and calls for their resignations tied to allegations and/or admissions of appearing in blackface. Even if we focus only on 2019, we find a host of similar incidents, involving such varied figures as Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and Florida’s Secretary of State Michael Ertel, as well as police officers in Baton Rouge, college students at Colorado State University, and Marines stationed in California — and this doesn’t even include the many examples of blackface that will surely reappear this Halloween.

Trudeau’s case also demonstrates that this is not an American phenomenon — as do the many European holiday traditions involving blackface performance (Spain’s Three Kings Day, the Netherlands’ St. Nicholas Parade, or Belgium’s Ducasse d’Ath).

When these incidents emerge, they are roundly discussed, typically criticized, and most often followed by apologies and statements of contrition. Those condemning the practice point to its intensely racist history: its genesis in the 1800s as pressures toward emancipation built, followed by its global popularity on stage and screen throughout the twentieth century. However, critics of the practice usually stop at condemning blackface as a hateful form of mockery, of ridicule. For example, Jagmeet Singh, the leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party, criticized Trudeau’s performances in this way: “Anytime we hear examples of blackface or brownface it’s really, it’s making a mockery of someone for what they live and what their lived experiences are.”

This is a common refrain heard when the conversation turns to blackface—it’s ridicule, mockery, a kind of costuming designed to laugh at the “Other.” Yet, I find this explanation ultimately dissatisfying.

Note that those who engage in blackface run the gamut of political viewpoints — Trudeau, for instance, is typically counted among progressives, and the scandal in Virginia solely involved Democrats. Some engaging in the practice explicitly espouse white nationalism; others (like Trudeau) deny racism, and plead bad judgment, ignorance, or thoughtlessness. Now, I am by no means defending the practice, or those who have been embroiled in blackface scandals. But I don’t think we can grasp the nature and appeal of this practice, or work to eradicate it, without a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between blackface and whiteness that moves beyond simple understandings of mockery.

Typically, blackface is treated as a classic ritual of “Othering,” of identifying the difference between “us” and “them”— and then dressing up as “them” in order to laugh at their absurd qualities, to display “our” superiority. My own research, based on the writings of Ralph Ellison and Jane Ellen Harrison, suggests that we should approach blackface a bit differently.

For white people, blackness has long been charged — it is a source of fascination, of a kind of electricity, of fear and awe, of power. Ellison (drawing on Harrison) suggests that whites are driven to create contact with this charged blackness, to create a channel through which this power can flow. Whites, in short, aren’t driven to ridicule the black “Other,” but instead to contact and consume blackness and absorb this power. Through imitation — blackening one’s skin, wearing a wig, speaking or singing or dancing as a black figure — making oneself over as the charged black figure, a white person in blackface creates a conduit for power to flow, thereby appropriating that power for oneself, and for whiteness. To call this simply “mockery,” or “cultural appropriation,” is to miss the vital function of such acts.

As I argue in my current book (in progress), Ellison describes blackface as part of an American sacramentalism, a ritual practice whereby contact with “blackness” secures white identity — its freedom, its difference from blackness, its permanence. This focus not only helps us understand the continued presence of blackface, but also helps us realize the kinds of cultural work needed to fix this problem.


Pete Buttigieg hires black outreach director – DANIEL STRAUSS 09/20/2019 05:07 AM EDT

Pete Buttigieg

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. | Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign has hired a black engagement director to improve the mayor’s standing among African American voters in the Democratic primary.

Angela M. Angel, a former state legislator in Maryland, will take charge of the Buttigieg campaign’s outreach to black voters. So far, Buttigieg has sought to do so by touting his Douglass Plan, a set of proposals aimed at fighting systemic racism and helping black Americans. But Buttigieg’s polling numbers among African Americans have remained low.

Angel said that is because most African Americans don’t know the South Bend, Ind., mayor yet.

“The only real struggle that’s been so far which is what I’m working on and what we’re changing is that a lot of black voters don’t know Pete,” Angel said. “So once we get them engaged and they begin to hear his story and begin to hear his plans for the country, we’ve always had great interactions with folks. So really that’s what we’re dealing with, getting him in the black community to get him well known and that’s what we’re doing.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the polling leader in the Democratic primary, has enjoyed consistently strong support among African American voters so far. But Angel said that Biden is the most “well-known” candidate in the primary field and that his poll numbers with African Americans have been “slowly decreasing” over time.

Meanwhile, Angel said, Buttigieg is becoming “more well-known in the black community.”

Angel pointed to a September Essence poll of black women that showed “other/prefer not to answer” as the top current choice when respondents were offered a Democratic primary ballot test. Biden was next with 25 percent, while Buttigieg registered less than 1 percent support.


Colt Suspends Manufacture Of Controversial AR-15 For Civilian Market – Scott Neuman September 20, 20195:35 AM ET

Three variations of the AR-15 rifle are displayed at the California Department of Justice in Sacramento, Calif., in a 2012 photo. On Thursday, Connecticut-based Colt’s Manufacturing Co. said it was suspending production of its version of the AR-15 for the civilian market.

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Firearms manufacturer Colt says it is suspending production of its popular AR-15 semi-automatic assault-style rifle for the civilian market, saying it will concentrate instead on fulfilling contracts from the military and law enforcement.

“The fact of the matter is that over the last few years, the market for modern sporting rifles has experienced significant excess manufacturing capacity,” Colt Defense LLC president and CEO Dennis Veilleux said in a statementThursday. “Given this level of manufacturing capacity, we believe there is adequate supply for modern sporting rifles for the foreseeable future.”

The AR-15, a semi-automatic version of the U.S. military’s M16 — which was standard issue for American ground forces for decades — has come under particular pressure in recent years from gun control advocates. They point out that the weapon, along with similar rifles made by Colt’s competitors, has been used frequently in mass shootings.

Robert Spitzer, a political science professor at SUNY Cortland who writes frequently about guns, tells Connecticut Public Radio that although AR-15s “represent a small percentage of guns in America,” they have come to occupy an outsize place in the gun control debate.

“Politically speaking, these weapons have come to be seen as sort of at the core of America’s gun problem,” he said.

In his statement, however, Veilleux insisted that the West Hartford, Conn., based gun-maker “is committed to the Second Amendment, highly values its customers and continues to manufacture the world’s finest quality firearms for the consumer market.”

Adam Winkler, a gun policy expert at the UCLA School of Law, was quoted by The Associated Press as saying the company needs to tread lightly to keep from antagonizing its customers.

“We’ve seen in the past that when gun manufacturers are viewed to have given in to gun-safety advocates, gun owners will boycott them and really hurt their business,” he said. “If they think a company like Colt is disrespecting their identity or giving in to the other side, Colt’s likely going to see serious damage to its other firearms brands too.”

Veilleux said the decision to halt manufacture of the AR-15 for the civilian market came because “high-volume contracts” from the military and law enforcement were “absorbing all of Colt’s manufacturing capacity for rifles.”

Hours after the statement was released, the Department of Defense announced that it had awarded Colt a $41.9 million contract to manufacture rifles for sales to militaries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, Oceania and the Caribbean.

The company’s origins date to an 1836 patent granted to Samuel Colt for his firearm design. Colt has long been a key supplier to the U.S. military, but in 2013 lost its contract with the government to supply the successor to the M16, the M4 carbine, because of reliability issues. Soldiers reportedly complained that the M4 was prone to malfunction in the dusty environments encountered in the field in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The contract was instead awarded to a Belgian firearms manufacturer and in 2015, Colt Defense filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Area 51 raid: people gather near US military base to ‘see them aliens’ – Associated Press Fri 20 Sep 2019 10.58 EDT

Photographer said it was unclear if arrests were made as crowd gathered at 3am Friday in response to hoax to ‘raid’ the base

A woman carries a sign outside a gate to Area 51 in Rachel, Nevada, on 20 September.
A woman carries a sign outside a gate to Area 51 in Rachel, Nevada, on Friday. Photograph: Jim Urquhart/Reuters

About 75 people arrived early on Friday at a gate at the once secret Area 51 military base in Nevada at the time appointed by an internet hoaxster to “storm” the facility to see space aliens and at least two were detained by sheriff’s deputies.

The Storm Area 51 invitation spawned festivals in the tiny Nevada towns of Rachel and Hiko nearest the military site, and a more than two-hour drive from Las Vegas.

The Lincoln county sheriff, Kerry Lee, estimated late Thursday that about 1,500 people had gathered at the festival sites and said more than 150 people also made the rugged trip several additional miles on bone-rattling dirt roads to get within selfie distance of the gates.

An Associated Press photographer said it wasn’t immediately clear if a woman who began ducking under a gate and a man who urinated nearby were arrested after the crowd gathered about 3am on Friday.

Millions of people had responded to a June internet post calling for people to run into the remote US air force test site that has long been the focus of UFO conspiracy theories. “They can’t stop all of us,” the post joked. “Lets see them aliens.”

The military responded with stern warnings that lethal force could be used if people entered the Nevada Test and Training Range, and local and state officials said arrests would be made if people tried.

“It’s public land,” the sheriff said. “They’re allowed to go to the gate, as long as they don’t cross the boundary.”

A music group called Wily Savage erected a stage on Thursday near the Little A’Le’Inn in Rachel and began playing after dark for several hundred campers who braved overnight temperatures about 45F (7C).

‘Alien hunters’ dance to live music in Rachel, Nevada, on 19 September.
‘Alien hunters’ dance to live music in Rachel, Nevada, on Thursday night. Photograph: Bridget Bennett/AFP/Getty Images

The music kicked off weekend events inspired by an internet hoax to “see them aliens” that the Lincoln county sheriff, Kerry Lee, said had drawn perhaps 1,500 people to two tiny desert towns.

Lee said late on Thursday that more than 150 people also made the rugged trip on washboard dirt roads to get within selfie distance of two gates to the Area 51 US air force installation that has long fueled speculation about government studies of space aliens and UFOs.

The air force has issued stern warnings for people not to try to enter the Nevada Test and Training Range, where Area 51 is located.

Lee said no arrests were made.

“It’s public land,” the sheriff said. “They’re allowed to go to the gate, as long as they don’t cross the boundary.”

Authorities reported no serious incidents so far in Rachel and Hiko, the two towns closest to Area 51, on a road dubbed the Extraterrestrial Highway two hours from Las Vegas.

Earlier in Rachel, Wily Savage guitarist Alon Burton said he saw a chance to perform for people who, like Martinez, were looking for a scene in which to be seen.

“It started as a joke, but it’s not a joke for us,” he said. “We know people will come out. We just don’t know how many.”


Two Years After the Hurricane, Puerto Rico’s “Generation Maria” Leads a Climate Strike – Alleen Brown September 20 2019, 10:49 a.m.

“Students were the ones whose social lives were mangled, whose academic lives were mangled, who had their goals upturned, because of those policies,” Queriot explained. “That’s where it started.” To him, the arrest of Keleher was the beginning of the movement to oust Gov. Ricardo Roselló.

Not long afterward, the Center for Investigative Journalism released hundreds of text messages from Roselló and his inner circle, including a joke from his former chief finance officer about the bodies that had piled up in morgues in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Hundreds of thousands of people poured into the streets for two weeks until Roselló stepped down.

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Two years to the day after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, Queriot will join the international climate strike on Friday, skipping school to rally in front of Puerto Rico’s capitol building in San Juan with students from numerous high schools, universities, and elementary schools, alongside adult allies. The global day of action centers around the experience of the first generation to come of age at a time when the impacts of the climate crisis are undeniable.

The climate strike movement may have been inspired by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, but the most powerful youth-led climate movement of the moment may actually be in Puerto Rico. In the island territory, the climate strike generation has a name: “la generación del ‘yo no me dejo,’” or “the generation of ‘I’m not going to let you do this to me.’” They’ve also been called the “Maria Generation.” They’re part of a subset of the climate strikers whose way of seeing the world will be forever shaped by their early experiences of a climate-driven disaster.

Pulso Estudiantil


| Manifestantes cantan “izquierda derecha, la Tierra ha dado fecha” frente al Capitolio.

🎥: @JasonLDomenech

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Pulso Estudiantil


| Los estudiantes activistas Tristán Rodríguez Vélez, Isabel Mccullough Valentín, Jayling Drowne Rodríguez y Fernando Ramírez Muñoz cuestionaron por qué declararon estado de emergencia por la erosión en Ocean Park, Condado, y no por Loíza.

📸: José López

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The storm, said Queriot’s 17-year-old classmate, Fernando Ramírez, “gave us not only a sense of what’s in us, but also a reality check telling us that climate change is real — to tell us that we need to fight.”

In New York, 13-year-old Marisol Rivera, who will also be striking Friday, has had her entire life shaped by the impacts of disasters. She was 5 years old when her home in Brooklyn was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy. “I don’t remember a lot of Sandy, but what I do remember is me waking up to my mom telling me that we can’t stay at the house anymore,” she said. She got out of bed and looked behind her. “The ceiling had collapsed on my bed that I was laying on seconds ago.”