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Warning: This article contains erotic illustrations that might not be appropriate for your workplace.
Clara Tice was an illustrator with an eye for the erotic.
Her drawings and etchings conjure explicit fantasies from the vantage point of a woman ― complete with nude bodies, lavish settings and playful intimacy. Her bold artworks, loaded with an appreciation for female sexuality and unapologetic visualizations of all kinds of copulation, might seem like the work of a contemporary artist with a sizable Instagram following. Tice, however, made her mark on the art world in the early 20th century.
Born in 1888, Tice was encouraged by her parents to draw from a young age, a rarity for women at the time. As a young adult, the New York-based artist briefly attended Hunter College but dropped out to become the mentee of painter Robert Henri. Through independent work with Henri, she honed her visual style, which combined elements of art nouveau with a graphic minimalism way ahead of her time.
Tice got her big break in 1915 when her friends organized an exhibition of her work in a popular bohemian restaurant in Greenwich Village, which was soon interrupted by a visit from the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, an institution devoted to the upkeep of public morality. Luckily, an editor present at the show purchased Tice’s more explicit works, so none were confiscated during the Society’s raid.
The controversy actually ended up working in Tice’s favor. According to Francis M. Naumann Fine Art, when Vanity Fair editor Frank Crowninshield caught wind of the raid, he decided to publish photos of Tice’s nudes alongside an announcement of a satirical mock trial. “She will be tried,” the announcement proclaimed, “and therefore acquitted of the charges of having committed unspeakable, black atrocities on white paper, abusing slender bodies of girls, cats, peacocks and butterflies.”
The publicity brought a surge of attention to Tice’s work. From then on, she was known as “The Queen of Greenwich Village” among her circle of New York creatives. Despite the moderate celebrity she experienced during her lifetime, though, Tice’s work fell into relative obscurity following her death in 1973.
Thankfully, her work is now available for viewing on Honest Erotica, a new website compiling erotic illustrations past and present, from big names like Egon Schiele and Auguste Rodin to lesser-known gems like Tice. The site is run by two individuals who publicly identify as “John and Rosie,” who have both worked in the publishing industry for decades.
In an interview with The Huffington Post, John explained that he has long had an interest in historical books and the illustrations housed within them. Erotic work, in particular, illuminates truths about gender, sexuality, power and relationships that give fascinating insight into the time and place in which they were created.
“I think illustration and intimacy go very well together,” he added. While photography, at least traditionally, documents the world around it, illustration leaves space for the imagination and play. This, as John put it, allows “people to be really turned on by things they wouldn’t expect.”
Although Honest Erotica specifies many times on its site that it features erotica, as opposed to pornography, John noted that the distinction is not about judgment. “We’re not anti-porn in the slightest,” he said. “We’re just concentrating on illustration rather than photography, mostly because it’s an under-represented medium.”
The delightful site is best used for discovering the many women artists who translated their dirty desires onto the page centuries ago, yet for many unfortunate reasons remain lost in obscurity today. Stay tuned for more introductions to the naughty visionaries of yore, courtesy of Honest Erotica’s NSFW vintage vault.
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The Duchess of Cambridge knows firsthand that motherhood can be isolating.
While visiting the Global Academy in west London last week, the former Kate Middleton opened up about the challenges of being a mom while speaking to a group of mothers who shared their struggles.
“It is lonely at times and you do feel quite isolated, but actually so many other mothers are going through exactly what you are going through,” the duchess said to the women, who founded an app called Mush that helps moms connect and form friendships.
“It is being brave enough, like you obviously were, to reach out to those around you,” she added.
Kate has spoken about the “overwhelming experience” of becoming a parent in the past. “It is full of complex emotions of joy, exhaustion, love and worry all mixed together,” she said during a speech in March.
Though the duchess has acknowledged she’s fortunate to have resources and support that most mothers don’t, she believes it’s imperative for all parents to be open about their mental health struggles ― no matter their background.
“If any of us caught a fever during pregnancy, we would seek advice and support from a doctor,” she explained. “Getting help with our mental health is no different. Our children need us to look after ourselves and get the support we need.”
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When my journalism career was just reaching cruising altitude, I was invited to appear on a local TV talk show. I despised public speaking but told myself this wasn’t a speech, it was a cozy chat. Unfortunately, that’s not how it felt at the studio. By the time I was seated under the bright lights on a dais that looked suspiciously like a stage, my brain was fogged with fear. When I did manage to utter a sentence, my voice quivered uncontrollably. For weeks, I woke up replaying those ten minutes, certain they had revealed who I truly was: a fraud.
My choking problem dates back to high school, when I could smack the ball in softball practice but reliably whiffed when facing competition. It’s mildly comforting to know that even those used to the limelight can falter this way (see “Famous Flubs,” below), but still I have to wonder: Why do my brain and body, which function well in everyday situations, routinely fail me in the clutch? Turns out, choking has piqued scientists’ curiosity, too and a number of recent studies help explain not only why it happens, but also—take heart, fellow chokers!—how to prevent it.
There’s a simple explanation for my public epic fail, says Sian Beilock, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago and author of Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To. My prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that helps with focusing, was hijacked by anxiety. When we’re anxious, our sympathetic nervous system kicks into gear, causing our heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate to increase. These physiological responses compete for the prefrontal cortex’s attention, thereby diverting valuable brain capacity from answering interview questions or remembering song lyrics. Anxious thoughts (They hate me) co-opt the brain’s working memory, a limited-capacity scratchpad also in the prefrontal cortex that helps us process in-the-moment information. So you’re left with too few cognitive resources to think clearly, never mind creatively. The same brain freeze-up afflicts those who study like mad but forget the answers during a test, or repeatedly rehearse a speech and then stammer through it.
With physical challenges, there’s an added element at play. For peak performance, everyone from a soccer star to a gifted pianist relies on unconscious brain circuitry. But when they get anxious, they start thinking about what they’re doing. They micromanage their movements—and increase the likelihood of messing up. “Focusing too intently on performance can backfire,” Beilock says.
Perfectionists are especially prone to self-sabotage, says Gordon Flett, PhD, Canada Research Chair in personality and health at York University in Toronto. “They put lots of pressure on themselves and tend to worry about how they’re being judged, which sets them up for trouble,” he explains. They’re more apt to ruminate about their mistakes or flaws, compare themselves with others and succumb to all-or-nothing thinking (If I don’t have the best ideas in this brainstorming session, it means I’m bad at my job), actions that can impair performance. And their sympathetic nervous system tends to hum at a higher-than-average frequency, so they’re more frazzled in general, making them more susceptible to an anxiety-related brain ambush. “When we asked perfectionists to recount the biggest mistake they ever made, their heart rates went off the charts and it took them longer than most people to calm down,” says Flett.
Public embarrassment is just one consequence of choking: Think of those whose flameout has cost them a job, a financial windfall, or a career.
That said, if you do choke, Flett suggests viewing it as an opportunity for self-improvement. “It doesn’t mean you’re hopelessly flawed,” he says. “It means you’re like everyone else and have some room to grow.”
Ten years after my mortifying TV appearance, I was invited on the Today show to talk about a book I’d coauthored. For weeks, I felt sick to my stomach every time I thought about it. Then a wise actor friend suggested I reframe my anxiety as excitement. (Although I didn’t know it at the time, Beilock also recommends this technique.) So whenever the show crossed my mind, I thought, This is going to be incredible! Finally, sitting in the studio at Rockefeller Plaza, I actually believed it—and sounded as engaged and articulate as I am.
In 2015, Williams was widely expected to sweep all four Grand Slam tournaments—but lost before even making it to the U.S. Open finals. Her opponent was ranked 43 in the world—42 spots below Williams.
The Southern songstress faltered during a 2006 live taping of a tribute to Dolly Parton (one of Simpson’s idols), botching the words to “9 to 5,” then bolting from the stage while sputtering “So nervous!”
In a 2011 Republican primary debate, the then governor of Texas pledged to eliminate three government agencies, but blanked on the last one—Energy. As he said at the time: “Oops.”
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The iconic fast food chain debuted uniforms created by American fashion designer Waraire Boswell last week. The gray-and-blue looks are a jarring shift from the happy-go-lucky, red-and-yellow garb you may currently associate with the Big Mac-slinging restaurant.
It’s the first time the brand has teamed up with a designer to create outfits for its employees, and according to HypeBeast, they were designed for comfort and functionality based on feedback from customers and employees.
We’re all about providing employees with more comfortable clothing options, but social media users were quick to notice a few other things about the futuristic fashion.
Some saw the new look as a pretty fitting metaphor for the trying times in which we’re currently living.
This beautiful, sunny day almost made me forget that 2017 is a nightmarish dystopian hellscape. Then I saw the new McDonalds uniforms. pic.twitter.com/DBManIwbKu— Erik Linden (@ErikLinden) April 21, 2017
Thanks McDonalds. Your new uniforms confirm the dystopian future is upon us. pic.twitter.com/MI17zjnUPz— Benjamin YoungSavage (@benjancewicz) April 22, 2017
And...happy dystopia everyone! McDonalds' new uniforms really seal the deal. pic.twitter.com/F7f4nmJgkx— Dennis Detwiller (@drgonzo123) April 23, 2017
mcdonalds uniforms will soon require a certain haircut as well. pic.twitter.com/lVkQOSi6W6— Parmeson and Pinot (@ParmesonP) April 23, 2017
Many made the obvious connection to “Star Wars,” pronouncing the look perfect for a McDonald’s located on the Death Star.
April 21, 2017
What do you think of the new McDonalds uniforms, designed by the resident Death Star uniform person pic.twitter.com/fnyQzLquAy— Anthony (@Ant_DC) April 22, 2017
April 23, 2017
April 21, 2017
Others pointed to a few other pop culture references.
The new #McDonalds uniforms look like what Dexter wore when he killed and dismembered people— Jami (@digitaljami) April 23, 2017
April 21, 2017
I really love the new McDonalds uniforms. pic.twitter.com/tCHE0RVTuB— Quo Vadis Hero (@Palle_Hoffstein) April 23, 2017
April 21, 2017
And some lamented the outfits look like they could have come straight off the runway at a Kanye West show, which would be pretty fitting considering West’s deeply rooted connection to the brand through poetry.
New McDonalds uniforms look like Yeezy Season 6 pic.twitter.com/Y6Xc5zCl9h— Airon (@iTankid) April 23, 2017
April 21, 2017
April 21, 2017
No word on the look from social media burn champion and Mickey D’s competitor Wendy’s, but McDonald’s did share a look back at some of its previous, less contentious uniforms from over the years.
April 20, 2017
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“What a day!” I can still hear François Mitterrand pronouncing these words the night of May 10, 1981, attempting to redact his victory speech and incredulously putting down his pen in front of a television flashing his image.
We can draw parallels between what happened that year and the current presidential campaign, the first phase of which culminated Sunday. The outcome of the second phase ― in two weeks ― is now easy to predict. Until, of course, the legislative elections in June, which could either cement the narrative that’s been formed or turn it on its head.
In the past two years, we have seen two presidents and three prime ministers totally fall apart in the face of an angry and disappointed French populous. In two years, we’ve seen how every possible scenario and every possible outcome can become totally derailed, sometimes several times over. In two years, the country’s establishment parties have fallen apart, especially the Socialist Party, which hasn’t been this damaged since 1969. The primaries were a farce during which parties completely and totally failed to rally their supporters. Some ministers flat-out refused to vote for the candidate representing their own party.
The notion of the National Front holding a slot in the second round of presidential elections has now become commonplace, whereas 15 years ago it would have been the subject of outrage. Never could we have imagined Marine Le Pen polling at 24 percent, then at 30 percent, only to come in second place with just shy of 22 percent of the vote. François Fillon emerged as an indomitable candidate at the end of the primary, only to lose that edge in the last two months.
And finally, two phenomena shook up establishment politics in France. First, Jean-Luc Mélenchon used deceptive gentleness to seduce the indignant and marginalized populations of France. He fell short of the second round by just a hair. And then there’s Emmanuel Macron, who prior to this election season was a relatively unknown young man. He created a political party from scratch, without any reinforcement. His stupefying race to the top is now tilting in his favor.
Macron’s presidential destiny is improbable both historically and statistically. He launched his own political movement ― “Onward!” ― exactly one year ago. The basic tenet consisted of throwing the norms of France’s Fifth Republic out the window, even though he doesn’t have much political experience to go off. He had only been the country’s finance minister for two years at this point, and pundits joke that he only made a name for himself by liberalizing the auto market and keeping shops across France open on Sundays.
Politicians mocked him; journalists rejoiced. Who is this presumptuous dreamer with an almost messianic urgency, they would say.
But his discourse was convincing. Magazines were enamored of him, and campaign rallies were always full. And now here he is, head of the presidential first round, with the highest shot of being elected president of the republic in a mere 15 days.
As Macron took a victory lap, cameras in tow, through the streets of Paris on Sunday night, it was almost reminiscent of Jacques Chirac’s triumphant ride in 1995 ― he, too, knew that the odds were more or less in his favor.
But is he not somewhat fearful in the face of his own destiny? His audacity, stemming from his intuition that France was fed up with being divided between good and evil, was bolstered by failures of his opponents. Think about it ― Alain Juppé, Nicolas Sarkozy, François Hollande, Manuel Valls, Fillon ― all were defeated due to external circumstances or due to their own faux pas. Macron alone came out of this unprecedented political slaughter alive.
Yet he knows self-glorification wouldn’t be wise at this stage. France is fragile, and another terror attack could make everything fall apart. France is also divided. For the first time since 2002, no candidate surpassed 25 percent in the first round. French people are incensed in the face of glaring inegalitarianism. Establishment parties are crumbling. Politicians are bitter and have taken to tearing each other apart, carrying out sneak attacks to expose and crucify the losers.
We all expected blood to be shed among those in the Republican Party, which has not taken defeat lightly. People like Laurent Wauquiez, thick in a legislative battle, said he would refuse to vote for Macron.
Meanwhile, the left has some serious soul searching to do. It’s true that candidates like Benoît Hamon unambiguously called on their supporters to vote for Macron. But they need to examine the reasons behind such a messy campaign ― not to mention a disastrous presidential term with Hollande at the helm. And there are people like Mélenchon, who announced that throwing his support behind Macron would be “difficult.” His evident fury was a reminder of all of the uglier moments throughout his long political career. His deception is understandable, especially after his meteoric rise in the last few weeks, but the refusal to elegantly accept his defeat and take responsibility for it evoked the fiery rhetoric of Georges Marchais rather than the more eloquent and pacifist tendencies of Jean Jaurès.
Le Pen’s chances of winning the final round are slim, despite a base of almost 7 million people ― a historic record for the National Front. Her glass ceiling is more tangible than ever, and many of us certainly hope it doesn’t disappear, but France needs to restore its unity. One quarter of French people dream of a gentler and less precarious life. Another quarter prioritize taxes and debt reduction. A third quarter is seeking national security and a populist leader who doesn’t represent the elite. And finally, a fourth quarter, slightly more confident about the country’s future, is interested in profound modifications to governance and French politics.
Macron embodies this last category. He has two weeks to prove that he can also embody and represent the other three. If he can pull this off, his remarkable story effectively begins now.
The Honeymoon of the Generals
Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com
MOAB sounds more like an incestuous, war-torn biblical kingdom than the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, aka “the mother of all bombs.” Still, give Donald Trump credit. Only the really, really big bombs, whether North Korean nukes or those 21,600 pounds of MOAB, truly get his attention. He wasn’t even involved in the decision to drop the largest non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal for the first time in war, but his beloved generals ― “we have the best military people on Earth” ― already know the man they work for, and the bigger, flashier, more explosive, and winninger, the better.
It was undoubtedly the awesome look of that first MOAB going off in grainy black and white on Fox News, rather than in Afghanistan, that appealed to the president. Just as he was visibly thrilled by all those picturesque Tomahawk cruise missiles, the equivalent of nearly three MOABS, whooshing from the decks of U.S. destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean and heading, like so many fabulous fireworks, toward a Syrian airfield ― or was it actually an Iraqi one? “We’ve just fired 59 missiles,” he said, “all of which hit, by the way, unbelievable, from, you know, hundreds of miles away, all of which hit, amazing... It’s so incredible. It’s brilliant. It’s genius. Our technology, our equipment, is better than anybody by a factor of five.”
Call it thrilling. Call it a blast. Call it escalation. Or just call it the age of Trump. (“If you look at what’s happened over the last eight weeks and compare that really to what’s happened over the past eight years, you’ll see there’s a tremendous difference, tremendous difference,” he commented, adding about MOAB, “This was another very, very successful mission.”)
Anyway, here we are and, as so many of his critics have pointed out, the plaudits have been pouring in from all the usual media and political suspects for a president with big enough... well, hands, to make war impressively. In our world, this is what now passes for “presidential.” Consider that praise the media version of so many Tomahawk missiles pointing us toward what the escalation of America’s never-ending wars will mean to Trump’s presidency.
These days, from Syria to Afghanistan, the Koreas to Somalia, Yemen to Iraq, it’s easy enough to see Commander-in-Chief Donald Trump as something new under the sun. (It has a different ring to it when the commander in chief says, “You’re fired!”) That missile strike in Syria was a first (Obama didn’t dare); the MOAB in Afghanistan was a breakthrough; the drone strikes in Yemen soon after he took office were an absolute record! As for those regular Army troops heading for Somalia, that hasn’t happened in 24 years! Civilian casualties in the region: rising impressively!
Call it mission creep on steroids. At the very least, it seems like evidence that the man who, as a presidential candidate, swore he’d “bomb the shit” out of ISIS and let the U.S. military win again is doing just that. (As he also said on the campaign trail with appropriately placed air punches, “You gotta knock the hell out of them! Boom! Boom! Boom!”)
He’s appointed generals to crucial posts in his administration, lifted restraints on how his commanders in the field can act (hence those soaring civilian casualty figures), let them send more military personnel into Iraq, Syria, and the region generally, taken the constraints off the CIA’s drone assassination campaigns, and dispatched an aircraft carrier strike group somewhat indirectly to the waters off the Koreas (with a strike force of tweets and threats accompanying it).
And there’s obviously more to come: potentially many more troops, even an army of them, for Syria; a possible mini-surge of troops into Afghanistan (that MOAB strike may have been a canny signal from a U.S. commander “seeking to showcase Afghanistan’s myriad threats” to a president paying no attention); a heightened air campaign in Somalia; and that’s just to start what will surely be a far longer list in a presidency in which, whether or not infrastructure is ever successfully rebuilt in America, the infrastructure of the military-industrial complex will continue to expand.
Institutionalizing War and Its Generals
Above all, President Trump did one thing decisively. He empowered a set of generals or retired generals ― James “Mad Dog” Mattis as secretary of defense, H.R. McMaster as national security adviser, and John Kelly as secretary of homeland security ― men already deeply implicated in America’s failing wars across the Greater Middle East. Not being a details guy himself, he’s then left them to do their damnedest. “What I do is I authorize my military,” he told reporters recently. “We have given them total authorization and that’s what they’re doing and, frankly, that’s why they’ve been so successful lately.”
As the 100-day mark of his presidency approaches, there’s been no serious reassessment of America’s endless wars or how to fight them (no less end them). Instead, there’s been a recommitment to doing more of the familiar, more of what hasn’t worked over the last decade and a half. No one should be surprised by this, given the cast of characters ― men who held command posts in those unsuccessful wars and are clearly incapable of thinking about them in other terms than the ones that have been indelibly engrained in the brains of the U.S. military high command since soon after 9/11.
That new ruling reality of our American world should, in turn, offer a hint about the nature of Donald Trump’s presidency. It should be a reminder that as strange... okay, bizarre... as his statements, tweets, and acts may have been, as chaotic as his all-in-the-family administration is proving to be, as little as he may resemble anyone we’ve ever seen in the White House before, he’s anything but an anomaly of history. Quite the opposite. Like those generals, he’s a logical endpoint to a grim process, whether you’re talking about the growth of inequality in America and the rise of plutocracy ― without which a billionaire president and his billionaire cabinet would have been inconceivable ― or the form that American war-making is taking under him.
In other words, however original Donald Trump may look, he’s the curious culmination of old news and a changing country.
When it comes to war and the U.S. military, none of what’s happened would have been conceivable without the two previous presidencies. None of it would have been possible without Congress’s willingness to pump endless piles of money into the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex in the post-9/11 years; without the building up of the national security state and its 17 (yes, 17!) major intelligence outfits into an unofficial fourth branch of government; without the institutionalization of war as a permanent (yet strangely distant) feature of American life and of wars across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa that evidently can’t be won or lost but only carried on into eternity. None of this would have been possible without the growing militarization of this country, including of police forces increasingly equipped with weaponry off America’s distant battlefields and filled with veterans of those same wars; without a media rife with retired generals and other former commanders narrating and commenting on the acts of their successors and protégés; and without a political class of Washington pundits and politicians taught to revere that military.
In other words, however original Donald Trump may look, he’s the curious culmination of old news and a changing country. Given his bravado and braggadocio, it’s easy to forget the kinds of militarized extremity that preceded him.
After all, it wasn’t Donald Trump who had the hubris, in the wake of 9/11, to declare a “Global War on Terror” against 60 countries (the “swamp” of that moment). It wasn’t Donald Trump who manufactured false intelligence on the weapons of mass destruction Iraq’s Saddam Hussein supposedly possessed or produced bogus claims about that autocrat’s connections to al-Qaeda, and then used both to lead the United States into a war on and occupation of that country. It wasn’t Donald Trump who invaded Iraq (whether he was for or against tht invasion at the time). It wasn’t Donald Trump who donned a flight suit and landed on an aircraft carrier off the coast of San Diego to personally declare that hostilities were at an end in Iraq just as they were truly beginning, and to do so under an inane “Mission Accomplished” banner prepared by the White House.
It wasn’t Donald Trump who ordered the CIA to kidnap terror suspects (including totally innocent individuals) off the streets of global cities as well as from the backlands of the planet and transport them to foreign prisons or CIA “black sites” where they could be tortured. It wasn’t Donald Trump who caused one terror suspect to experience the sensation of drowning 83 times in a single month (even if he was inspired by such reports to claim that he would bring torture back as president).
It wasn’t Donald Trump who spent eight years in the Oval Office presiding over a global “kill list,” running “Terror Tuesday” meetings, and personally helping choose individuals around the world for the CIA to assassinate using what, in essence, was the president’s own private drone force, while being praised (or criticized) for his “caution.”
It wasn’t Donald Trump who presided over the creation of a secret military of 70,000 elite troops cossetted inside the larger military, special-ops personnel who, in recent years, have been dispatched on missions to a large majority of the countries on the planet without the knowledge, no less the consent, of the American people. Nor was it Donald Trump who managed to lift the Pentagon budget to $600 billion and the overall national security budget to something like a trillion dollars or more, even as America’s civilian infrastructure aged and buckled.
It wasn’t Donald Trump who lost an estimated $60 billion to fraud and waste in the American “reconstruction” of Iraq and Afghanistan, or who decided to build highways to nowhere and a gas station in the middle of nowhere in Afghanistan. It wasn’t Donald Trump who sent in the warrior corporations to squander more in that single country than was spent on the post-World War II Marshall Plan to put all of Western Europe back on its feet. Nor did he instruct the U.S. military to dump at least $25 billion into rebuilding, retraining, and rearming an Iraqi army that would collapse in 2014 in the face of a relatively small number of ISIS militants, or at least $65 billion into an Afghan army that would turn out to be filled with ghost soldiers.
In its history, the United States has engaged in quite a remarkable range of wars and conflicts. Nonetheless, in the last 15 years, forever war has been institutionalized as a feature of everyday life in Washington, which, in turn, has been transformed into a permanent war capital. When Donald Trump won the presidency and inherited those wars and that capital, there was, in a sense, no one left in the remarkably bankrupt political universe of Washington but those generals.
It wasn’t Donald Trump who lost an estimated $60 billion to fraud and waste in the American “reconstruction” of Iraq and Afghanistan...
As the chameleon he is, he promptly took on the coloration of the militarized world he had entered and appointed “his” three generals to key security posts. Anything but the norm historically, such a decision may have seemed anomalous and out of the American tradition. That, however, was only because, unlike Donald Trump, most of the rest of us hadn’t caught up with where that “tradition” had actually taken us.
The previous two presidents had played the warrior regularly, donning military outfits ― in his presidential years, George W. Bush often looked like a G.I. Joe doll ― and saluting the troops, while praising them to the skies, as the American people were also trained to do. In the Trump era, however, it’s the warriors (if you’ll excuse the pun) who are playing the president.
It’s hardly news that Donald Trump is a man in love with what works. Hence, Steve Bannon, his dream strategist while on the campaign trail, is now reportedly on the ropes as his White House counselor because nothing he’s done in the first nearly 100 days of the new presidency has worked (except promoting himself).
Think of Trump as a chameleon among presidents and much of this makes more sense. A Republican who had been a Democrat for significant periods of his life, he conceivably could have run for president as a more nativist version of Bernie Sanders on the Democratic ticket had the political cards been dealt just a little differently. He’s a man who has changed himself repeatedly to fit his circumstances and he’s doing so again in the Oval Office.
In the world of the media, it’s stylish to be shocked, shocked that the president who campaigned on one set of issues and came into office still championing them is now supporting quite a different set ― from China to taxes, NATO to the Export-Import Bank. But this isn’t faintly strange. Donald Trump isn’t either a politician or a trendsetter. If anything, he’s a trend-senser. (In a similar fashion, he didn’t create reality TV, nor was he at its origins. He simply perfected a form that was already in development.)
If you want to know just where we are in an America that has been on the march toward a different sort of society and governing system for a long time now, look at him. He’s the originator of nothing, but he tells you all you need to know. On war, too, think of him as a chameleon. Right now, war is working for him domestically, whatever it may be doing in the actual world, so he loves it. For the moment, those generals are indeed “his” and their wars his to embrace.
Honeymoon of the Generals
Normally, on entering the Oval Office, presidents receive what the media calls a “honeymoon” period. Things go well. Praise is forthcoming. Approval ratings are heart-warming.
Donald Trump got none of this. His approval ratings quickly headed for the honeymoon cellar or maybe the honeymoon fallout shelter; the media and he went to war; and one attempt after another to fulfill his promises ― from executive orders on deportation to repealing Obamacare and building his wall ― have come a cropper. His administration seems to be in eternal chaos, the cast of characters changing by the week or tweet, and few key secondary posts being filled.
In only one area has Donald Trump experienced that promised honeymoon. Think of it as the honeymoon of the generals. He gave them that “total authorization,” and the missiles left the ships, the drones flew, and the giant bomb dropped. Even when the results were disappointing, if not disastrous (as in a raid on Yemen in which a U.S. special operator was killed, children slaughtered, and nothing of value recovered), he still somehow stumbled into highly praised “presidential” moments.
So far, in other words, the generals are the only ones who have delivered for him, big-league. As a result, he’s given them yet more authority to do whatever they want, while hugging them tighter yet.
Here’s the problem, though: there’s a predictable element to all of this and it doesn’t work in Donald Trump’s favor. America’s forever wars have now been pursued by these generals and others like them for more than 15 years across a vast swath of the planet ― from Pakistan to Libya (and ever deeper into Africa) ― and the chaos of failing states, growing conflicts, and spreading terror movements has been the result. There’s no reason to believe that further military action will, a decade and a half later, produce more positive results.
What happens, then? What happens when the war honeymoon is over and the generals keep right on fighting their way? The last two presidents put up with permanent failing war, making the best they could of it. That’s unlikely for Donald Trump. When the praise begins to die down, the criticism starts to rise, and questions are asked, watch out.
What then? In a world of plutocrats and generals, what coloration will Donald Trump take on next? Who will be left, except Jared and Ivanka?
Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs TomDispatch.com. His latest book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, as well as John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.
The level of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere just keeps going up and up, in an ominous trend that suggests the ravages of climate change are only going to get worse.
Last Tuesday, the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii recorded its first carbon dioxide reading above 410 parts per million — specifically, 410.28 ppm. In 1958, when the observatory first measured atmospheric CO2, the level stood at a mere 280 ppm. The planet breached the scary 400 ppm limit in 2013, and now we’re already past 410. The atmosphere hasn’t had similar levels of carbon dioxide in it for about 3 million years.
President Donald Trump has dismissed climate change as a “hoax,” despite the nearly universal scientific consensus that it represents a looming threat to the planet. Meanwhile, the ever-growing load of CO2 in the atmosphere is pushing the goals of the Paris climate accords further and further out of reach — regardless of whether Trump chooses to stay in the fight.
April 21, 2017
As the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere keeps rising, scientists are already warning that we could soon surpass records set 50 million years ago.
Carbon dioxide spewed into the air by burning fossil fuels is the key greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. CO2 levels in our planet’s atmosphere are rising 100 times faster than at the end of the last ice age, according to NASA. “This is a real shock to the atmosphere,” Pieter Tans of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association said last month.
Nearly 200 nations around the world have agreed to cut carbon emissions in an effort to hold the average temperature increase to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degress Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.
The U.S., however, likely won’t be part of that battle. Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, isn’t convinced that CO2 is a “primary contributor” to increasing temperatures, and thinks we need more precise measurements before we can know exactly what role fossil fuels play in climate change.
Earlier this month, Pruitt said the U.S. should “exit” the Paris agreement because it’s a “bad deal” for the country.
Snowing in Texas and Louisiana, record setting freezing temperatures throughout the country and beyond. Global warming is an expensive hoax!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 29, 2014
Even with a strong global commitment to reducing CO2, the stuff that’s already in the air will take a very long time to dissipate, and only then after concerted effort.
The rate of CO2 increase will “go down when emissions decrease,” said Tans. “But carbon dioxide will still be going up, albeit more slowly. Only when emissions are cut in half will atmospheric carbon dioxide level off initially.”
And even then, scientists agree, the effects of climate change will linger long into the future.
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The Grammy-winning saxophonist gave a surprise performance to passengers on board a Delta flight out of Tampa, Florida, on Saturday, while reportedly raising $2,000 for Relay for Life.
The “Songbird” star was filmed walking up and down the aisle smiling at passengers as he played some smooth jazz as they flew to Los Angeles, WFLA reported.
April 23, 2017
Happy to help! https://t.co/uff6hOUpVR— Kenny G (@kennyg) April 23, 2017
Passenger Chuck Cave, speaking to Tampa Bay station WFTS News, said the impromptu set followed Kenny G talking to an off-duty flight attendant, who asked him to play after sharing that her daughter died of brain cancer.
Cave said a flight attendant then announced to the passengers that the legendary musician agreed to perform if they’d help raise $1,000 in donations for fundraiser Relay for Life, which raises money for the American Cancer Society.
April 23, 2017
According to WFLA, the enthusiastic passengers more than doubled that goal, pulling together $2,000 to hear Kenny G play.
“Everyone was happy the whole flight,” Cave told ABC News.
How’s that for a smooth ride!
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In a very characteristic manner, President Trump criticized Canada’s milk policy on Thursday, April 20 during an executive-order signing ceremony for something completely unrelated.
“In Canada, what they’ve done to our dairy farm workers is a disgrace. It’s a disgrace,” said Trump, vaguely.
At the time of these comments, Trump was surrounded by steel workers, CEOs of steel companies and union leaders because he was ordering an investigation into steel dumping, but his mind was on milk and our neighbor to the north.
Canada is America’s second-biggest trade partner and is a NAFTA co-member. In his comments, Trump was likely referring to the controversial import taxes Canada has imposed on certain types of American milk, which he called “very, very unfair” earlier in the week while in Wisconsin.
The steep import taxes on certain milk and cheese products basically protect Canadian dairy farmers from imports (because it prevents outside products from being financially competitive). The dairy agreement also subsidizes the export of Canadian dairy products to “unfairly” help Canada compete in third country markets.
Apparently, the issue was still on Trump’s mind a couple of days after he visited Wisconsin.
Obama was at work to improve these trade agreements for American dairy farmers, however he had not made much headway. Trump says, “We’re going to get the solution.” We suspect though, that it’s about to get complicated.
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Abigail Breslin just made a poignant statement about why many sexual assaults go unreported.
On Sunday, the 21-year-old actress posted an infographic to Instagram that illustrates the number of rapes that are reported to the police and how many of those reported are actually tried and found guilty.
According to the RAINN infographic, out of every 1,000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will walk free. Only 310 rapes are reported to police per every 1,000, and only six of those assailants will actually be incarcerated.
Breslin posted the photo with the comment “#knowthefacts.”
A post shared by Abigail Breslin (@abbienormal9) on Apr 22, 2017 at 5:00pm PDT
Later that day, Breslin posted another image on Instagram ― but this time in response to a commenter who wrote: “Reported rapes are the only rapes that count.”
The young actress did not mince words in her powerful response. Breslin explained that she took the comment personally because she was sexually assaulted and didn’t report her abuser.
“I did not report my rape. I didn’t report it because of many reasons,” Breslin’s Instagram post reads. “First off, I was in complete shock and total denial. I didn’t want to view myself as a ‘victim’ so I suppressed it and pretended it never happened.”
Breslin explained that she was in a relationship with her rapist and feared he would retaliate if he found out she was seeking justice. She continued:
I was diagnosed with PTSD a year and a half ago. I have made a lot of progress since the event occurred, but I won’t pretend it isn’t something I struggle with. I still have flashbacks, I still get nightmares, I still jump when somebody touches me unexpectedly, even if it’s my best friend tapping me on the shoulder.
To say that rapes-reported are the only rapes that count, contributes to the ideology that survivors of unreported rape don’t matter. It’s unfair, untrue and unhelpful. It’s like you got a black eye from getting punched in the face, but because you didn’t call the police, you didn’t really get a black eye.
Read Breslin’s full post below.
A post shared by Abigail Breslin (@abbienormal9) on Apr 22, 2017 at 6:02pm PDT
Breslin summed up her post on a powerful point, writing: “Unreported rapes count. Reported rapes count. End of the story.”
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In just a few weeks, we’ll see the new popular baby names list for the U.S.. The official list is always packed with surprises, as everything from pop music to sports stars influence what we name our children. Other names rise and fall without any obvious cultural connection, buoyed by style and sound alone. Usually it’s both ― a promising name plus a positive association ― that makes a baby name soar.
Here are our bets for some of the names to watch.
Fastest Rising Vintage Names: Oliver & Hazel
Once musty and fusty, Oliver and Hazel are now the freshest vintage names on the block. Celebrities have embraced them ― Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas have an Oliver, while Emily Blunt and John Krasinski went with Hazel. Part of their appeal? They’re vintage gems that boast high-value Scrabble letters in their names ― z and v.
Nature Names to Watch: River & Briar
River Phoenix was once the only person we could list with this nature name. Now it’s a mainstream pick for boys, and rising for girls, too. Likewise, Briar ― once mostly associated with Sleeping Beauty’s Briar Rose ― debuted on the U.S. Top 1000 for both genders in 2015. Parents have embraced –r ending names, and our affection for borrowing from nature continues.
Coolest New Names: Fox & Sylvie
We’re always looking for names outside the current top 1000 that seem likely to debut in future years. Sweet Sylvie could follow Sophie and Sadie into wider use, while Fox feels like a logical successor to Max and Knox. In 2015, both names ranked just beyond the official list ― but not by much. Two dozen more girls would put Sylvie over the top, along with 15ish boys for Fox.
Hottest Celebrity-Inspired Names: Remington & Luna
With John Legend and Chrissy Teigen’s adorable Luna Simone in the spotlight, this Harry Potter heroine should keep rising. Ditto for Remington, a surname name chosen by Kelly Clarkson for daughter River Rose’s little brother. Remington is poised to join tough-guy names like Hunter and Ryder near the top of the charts ― plus it comes with built-in nickname Remy.
Mini Names to Watch: Axl & Liv
They’re short, they’re Scandi, and they’re finding favor with American parents. Axel is a Danish spin on the Biblical Absalom. Drop the ‘e’ – as in rocker Axl Rose – and it takes on an edge. Liv comes from Old Norse, but matches up with a modern word meaning life in several Scandinavian languages. Both names pack a lot of sound and substance into just three letters.
Pop Culture Powerhouses: Bowie & Ophelia
Music ― and musicians ― have put dozens of names on the charts, from “Hey There, Delilah” to John Lennon. Bowie, as in the late David, and Ophelia, from The Lumineers’ song, could be next. The early 2016 passing of legendary singer Bowie is likely to inspire more namesakes. As for Ophelia, the Lumineers’ chart-topping song makes the tragic name seem light and new.
Comeback Classics: Harvey & Louisa
Henry and Sophia, meet Harvey and Louisa. Long-neglected, these names are perfectly poised to make a big comeback in 2017. Suits gave the name Harvey to a handsome character, played by Gabriel Macht, nicely updating it for the new century. And Louisa is every bit as literary as Emma, but with the same flowing, feminine, but still substantial, style of smart Sophia.
Meaningful Monikers: Bodhi & Sage
Looking for a meaning-rich name for your child? You’re not alone. Bodhi, from the Sanskrit word for enlightenment, is a new favorite for boys, along with spellings like Bode. Meanwhile, Sage means wisdom but also brings to mind the spice, as well as the familiar girl name Paige. Spelling Saige is trending, but only for girls, while the Sage spelling feels more unisex.
Biblical Names to Watch: Ezra & Ruth
For ages, Ezra seemed too out there, a name reserved for a few historical figures. Lately, the name’s edgy sound has taken it into the U.S. Top 100 – the most popular the name has ever been. Loyal Ruth, on the other hand, dominated the early 20th century popularity charts before fading. In recent years, parents are rediscovering the Old Testament name.
The New Emma & Noah: Asher & Nora
We don’t think the number one names will necessarily fall out of favor anytime soon. But which names are poised to take their place someday? Like Emma, Nora is brief but complete, and feels sweet on a child, serious on an adult. Biblical boy Noah might pass the baton to Asher, a fast-rising possibility with a great meaning: happy.
Names Berries Bank On: Milo & Isla
Not only do we keep the U.S. Top 1000 on our site, we track the most popular names specific to Nameberry. Two choices that readers love that could catch on everywhere? Milo and Isla. Milo combines the sounds of Miles and Leo, but has a quirky charm all its own. Isla seems like a successor to girl names like Ella, Lily, and Mila.
Which names are you watching? Are you hearing more of any of these names?
Lady Gaga returned to the Coachella Valley this weekend for her second set at the music and arts festival. Although thousands of concertgoers, including her parents, danced along in the audience to tracks from each era of Gaga, there was was one person who was missing.
When it came time to play “Edge of Glory,” the pop star dedicated the song to Sonja Durham, her friend and former assistant who is battling stage 4 cancer. Although the song was originally inspired by her late grandfather, Gaga made Durham the focal point of the ballad on Saturday night.
“My friend Sonja is very sick and I love her so much and if it’s OK with you, I’d like to sing this song for her,” Gaga told the crowd, before launching into a stripped rendition of the song.
“I’m sorry you don’t feel well,” she added in the middle of the performance. “We all wish you were here with us.”
April 23, 2017
Durham and Gaga have been friends for nearly a decade, sticking by each other’s side through life’s highs and lows. Just last month, Gaga helped plan Durham’s “dream wedding” to beau Andre Dubois. Durham dubbed Gaga her “angel” for pitching in for the event.
October 8, 2016
Durham is actually the inspiration for “Grigio Girls,” a bonus track off Gaga’s latest album, “Joanne.” Speaking with Radio.com about her friendship with Durham and how it has shaped her music, Gaga revealed why “Grigio Girls” is so close to her heart.
“One of my best friends, Sonja, who has been with me since I was 23 years old, she has metastasized cancer in her lungs and in her brain. It’s stage 4,” she explained. “And it’s really hard: it’s hard to watch, it’s hard to witness, it’s hard to know what to say. But I love her so much, and it’s so important that we continue to do research to find a cure.”
“I wrote a song about her on the album, it’s about how me and all of our girlfriends would get together and cry without her when she’s not around, because we love her so much,” she added. “We just want to be strong with her.”
Watch a clip from the interview below.
President Donald Trump’s tweets often have us scratching our heads. His Monday morning missives were no different — and people had a lot of questions.
Just after 8 a.m., Trump sent out the following:
The two fake news polls released yesterday, ABC & NBC, while containing some very positive info, were totally wrong in General E. Watch!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 24, 2017
His ranting and raving about “fake news” and polls isn’t new, but that last part ― a mention of one “General E. Watch” ― is.
Trump has his own sort of lingo, as we’ve seen with phrases “Easy D!” ― which was loosely translated to “easy decision.” But this one is less decipherable. General E. Watch is not a real person (who should not be confused with the very real General E. Lee) nor does it make sense if Trump had meant it as “generally watch.” The syntax is still a hot mess. Maybe “General E” refers to a general election, and the president is telling us to watch out?
We’re not alone in our confusion. Twitter was perplexed too.
@realDonaldTrump So, the very positive info is true, but ABC and NBC are fake, and General E. Watch is your new National Security Adviser?— Andrew Smith (@marburyjack) April 24, 2017
The President of the United States has an unspecified disagreement with General E. Watch.— Narrated President (@NarratedPOTUS) April 24, 2017
"How's your morning going?"
"Oh just trying to work out if General E. Watch is an imaginary person or an imaginary place." pic.twitter.com/MwkJF2AtUV
Who the hell is General E. Watch. https://t.co/lJgH6WdSrt— Imani Gandy (@AngryBlackLady) April 24, 2017
And, naturally, jokes were made.
General E. Watch, presumably a brave and punctual hero, is probably getting recognized more and more. https://t.co/gKmQTGU5TN— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) April 24, 2017
General E. Watch was one of our greatest Civil War leaders. How dare you sully his legacy. https://t.co/AlOPvUat7N— Dave Brown (@dave_brown24) April 24, 2017
Little known fact: General E. Watch's full first name is Easy D. pic.twitter.com/Ib5H2GCnkw— Slade Sohmer (@Slade) April 24, 2017
General E. Watch is Trump's other personality that wasn't a draft dodger, actually understands the government and military, & is imaginary. pic.twitter.com/VEkPAOGRRf— Alt Fed Employee (@Alt_FedEmployee) April 24, 2017
I'm guessing the secret plan to defeat ISIS is also coming from General E. Watch. https://t.co/17yQctH6fp— John Gilpatrick (@johnlgilpatrick) April 24, 2017
April 24, 2017
[checks my General E. Watch] Half past racism o'clock. Better get tweeting. https://t.co/fWOiiRObkr— OhNoSheTwitnt (@OhNoSheTwitnt) April 24, 2017
please send my husband, General E. Watch, home from war https://t.co/mEGM9ytIMG— Cooper Fleishman (@_Cooper) April 24, 2017
@realDonaldTrump So Frederick Douglass, Pavarotti, and General E. Watch walk into a bar, and the bartender says, "Well, well, this should be an East D!"— Ben Hooper (@BenHooperWrites) April 24, 2017
One man simply asked Trump what we were all already thinking:
@realDonaldTrump Are you high?— Dominic Mitchell (@DomMitchell) April 24, 2017
The tweet mentioning General E. Watch has been up for over an hour and has yet to be addressed. Though Trump did send out a second tweet right after that appears to be unfinished:
The Wall is a very important tool in stopping drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth (and many others)! If— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 24, 2017
He must be busy... being the president.
If you or anyone you know has any hot tips on who General E. Watch is, please let us know. The mysterious figure already has a Twitter account.
Ghana, Kenya and Malawi will pilot the world’s first malaria vaccine from 2018, offering it for babies and children in high-risk areas as part of real-life trials, the World Health Organization said on Monday.
The injectable vaccine, called RTS,S or Mosquirix, was developed by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline to protect children from the most deadly form of malaria in Africa.
In clinical trials it proved only partially effective, and it needs to be given in a four-dose schedule, but is the first regulator-approved vaccine against the mosquito-borne disease.
The WHO, which is in the process of assessing whether to add the shot to core package of WHO-recommended measures for malaria prevention, has said it first wants to see the results of on-the-ground testing in a pilot program.
“Information gathered in the pilot will help us make decisions on the wider use of this vaccine,” Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s African regional director, said in a statement as the three pilot countries were announced.
“Combined with existing malaria interventions, such a vaccine would have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives in Africa.”
Malaria kills around 430,000 people a year, the vast majority of them babies and young children in sub-Saharan Africa. Global efforts in the last 15 years cut the malaria death toll by 62 percent between 2000 and 2015.
The WHO pilot program will assess whether the Mosquirix’s protective effect in children aged 5 to 17 months can be replicated in real-life.
It will also assess the feasibility of delivering the four doses needed, and explore the vaccine’s potential role in reducing the number of children killed by the disease.
The WHO said Malawi, Kenya and Ghana were chosen for the pilot due to several factors, including having high rates of malaria as well as good malaria programs, wide use of bed-nets, and well-functioning immunization programs.
Each of the three countries will decide on the districts and regions to be included in the pilots, the WHO said, with high malaria areas getting priority since these are where experts expect to see most benefit from the use of the vaccine.
RTS,S was developed by GSK in partnership with the non-profit PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative and part-funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The WHO said in November it had secured full funding for the first phase of the RTS,S pilots, with $15 million from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and up to $27.5 million and $9.6 million respectively from the GAVI Vaccine Alliance and UNITAID for the first four years of the program.
(Editing by Jane Merriman)