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Trump's Fake Populism Gives the Real Thing a Bad Name
Tom Brenner/ReutersOf all the misguided clichés applied to President Donald Trump, maybe the most egregious is the term “populist.” Whether or not the president even has a coherent worldview beyond toggling between hedonism and resentment, it’s easy to see how consciously and consistently crass, petty, ignorant, and arrogant he is, which makes him seem more like your everyday barroom blowhard than a dignified statesman. Yet millions of voters consistently assume that his faults are actually what make him relatable, a man of the people.There’s a certain snobbery in calling a boob like Trump a populist, because it not so subtly implies that self-governance is wasted on people who vote for him. If this is the people’s champion, so the reasoning goes, then maybe we the people aren’t really meant to call the shots after all. Be honest—who among us hasn’t felt that way, at one time or another, in the last four years?There’s certainly no denying that the term populism has taken a beating lately, its definition so mauled and devalued that the word is now barely more than a synonym for bottom-feeding.Read more at The Daily Beast.
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The Kid Who Masterminded El Chapo’s Secret Phone Network
It came in off the street one day—a tip, a lead, a rumor—whatever you cared to call it, it was one of the strangest things they had heard in their careers. Chapo Guzmán, the world-famous drug lord, had hired a young IT guy and the kid had built him a sophisticated system of high-end cell phones and secret servers, all of it ingeniously encrypted.The unconfirmed report—perhaps that was the best way to describe it—had arrived that Friday in June 2009 when a tipster walked into the lobby of the FBI’s field division office in New York. After his story had been vetted downstairs, it made its way up seven flights of stairs and landed with a curious thud among the crowded cubicles of C-23, the Latin American drug squad. For more than thirty years, the elite team of agents and their bosses had hunted some of the drug trade’s biggest criminals, and while tall tales of their antics circulated constantly through its squad room near the courts in Lower Manhattan, no one in the unit knew what to make of this one. The tipster’s account seemed credible enough, but it was sorely lacking details: The only facts he had offered on the young technician were a first name—Christian—and that he was from Medellín, Colombia. All sorts of kooks spouting all sorts of nonsense showed up all the time at FBI facilities, claiming they had inside information on the Kennedy killing or knew someone who knew someone who knew where Jimmy Hoffa was. In what were still the early days of internet telephony, it seemed a bit far-fetched that a twentysomething hacker had reached a deal with the world’s most wanted fugitive and furnished him in hiding with a private form of Skype. As alluring as it sounded, it was just the sort of thing that would probably turn out to be a myth.Read more at The Daily Beast.
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Biden’s Job Tuesday Night: Just Don’t Screw It Up
Win McNamee/Getty ImagesAfter shadow boxing for months, taking jabs and lobbing insults, Donald Trump will meet his challenger in a socially distanced way Tuesday evening for the first of three debates. The bar is high for Trump in the age of COVID. Can he con the country into wanting the chaos he generates for four more years when there are 200,000 Americans dead from the virus on his watch?Will the rally-loving president be able to perform in an almost empty debate hall without an audience of admirers chanting “fill that seat”?For Joe Biden, this will be the first sustained look voters get at him. Will he measure up? Will he seem energetic? Will he forget an obvious phrase like “Social Security” or say something stupid that dates him?Read more at The Daily Beast.
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Trump’s ‘Peace Deal’ Fuels Orgy of Mideast Arms Sales Not Seen Since the Cold War
Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via GettyJERUSALEM—In the lead-up to the signing of the Abraham Accords in Washington last week, President Donald Trump said that he would be open to sales of the advanced F-35 warplane to the “very wealthy countries” of the Gulf. The F-35, which costs around $80 million a plane, is one of the most expensive U.S. arms programs in history. The Trump administration, which has viewed many of its foreign policy accomplishments as a form of transaction, is supportive of pushing more U.S. arms sales in the wake of the U.S.-Bahrain-UAE deal. It is part of a much larger arms binge now taking place in the Middle East.The new regional arms race is underpinned by increasing competition between Washington, Moscow, and Beijing and the expansion of the arsenals of strong regional states, such as Israel, Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. While the U.S. is pushing the F-35 and other hi-tech machines to the Gulf states and Israel, Russia is selling the S-400 air defense system to Turkey and China is pitching armed drones across the Middle East. The big buyers today are mostly on the borders of the Middle East, in contrast to previous arms binges in the region, such as during the Cold War, when the major arms importers were countries like Iraq, Syria and Egypt.Last year, of the top 15 arms importers in the world, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), almost half were in the Middle East and North Africa: Saudi Arabia, Algeria, the UAE, Iraq, Qatar, Israel, and Turkey. Turkey, Israel and the UAE are also among the top 20 exporters in the world. The amount of weapons pouring into the region is far beyond the area’s share of the world’s GDP or population, meaning that per capita spending on weapons is the highest in the Middle East. While the world’s spending on arms as a percent of GDP has declined in the last decades, in the Middle East it has increased with countries like Saudi Arabia, Libya, Oman, the UAE, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Syria and Bahrain all plowing more than 3.5 percent of GDP into weapons. It’s difficult to quantify if this is the most spending ever in the Middle East on arms because the Cold War arms race in which countries acquired huge arsenals of tanks and planes from the 1960s to 1980s was likely larger in terms of equipment, but the last five years have been unprecedented since the end of the Cold War.Read more at The Daily Beast.
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Donald Trump Is a Liar. We Can Prove It.
Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty ImagesWhen can you call a lie a lie? And, more to the point, when can you call a liar a liar? These are not abstract questions. From the day Donald Trump announced his candidacy in 2015 with a semi-extemporized, 46-minute speech that included numerous documentable falsehoods, journalists and news organizations throughout America and around the world have struggled to find the right language to describe his language. Are words like “falsehood” and “untruth” adequate terms for a responsible journalist to use? Or should the word “lie”—which suggests intention, rather than accident or ignorance—be used instead? It should. In new research that will be published in the International Journal of Communication later this month, we offer empirical proof that Trump’s intent is to deceive. He is, in other words, a verifiable liar.Read more at The Daily Beast.
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Escape the West Coast with this Utah Road Trip
Courtesy Winston RossWhen I loaded up a mustard-colored Kia Seltos in June with a cooler, a suitcase, a kayak, and a mountain bike and struck out of Portland for the rust-colored rockscapes of Utah, it felt a little reckless.Oregon had begun to get a weak grip on the coronavirus, but too many of the reddest Utahns were proudly rebuffing epidemiologists' urgent pleas to stay 6 feet away from one another and wear masks. Moab, a city of 5,000-ish people that draws 3 million visitors annually to its uncanny collection of rock arches and flowy trail systems, was actively discouraging anyone from coming to town. The region’s tiny health care offerings would be quickly overwhelmed by a tourist-driven spike in COVID-19 cases.But I was quarantine-cooped and desperate for a scene change and went anyway, hewing as close as possible to parts of the state where I could quickly retreat to Salt Lake’s robust hospital network if I caught the Bug. And now, after nearly two weeks of sweltering in the stagnant soup of PM 2.5 from the wildfires that have gobbled up what feels like half of the Cascade Range’s towering forests, I’m again eyeing the Beehive State as refuge.Read more at The Daily Beast.
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Forget Policy. Biden Just Needs to Let Trump Expose Himself.
Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast / Photos GettyJoe Biden, unless he has some huge brain fart, is going to win the debates. But it’s not likely to help him very much, for two reasons. So I would caution his campaign against thinking they can lock this thing down with solid debate performances.My advice would be: Rather than trying to win the debates, Biden should give Donald Trump the room to lose them. I’ll explain what I mean by that below, but first, let’s get to those reasons.Reason one why winning won’t matter much is that everyone expects him to win. This may sound kind of odd given how shaky he was in those early debates, but I think we can agree in retrospect that that was because he was on a stage with 15 other people who were all attacking him. By the time he got one-on-one with Bernie, he did very well. And in that recent town hall, he was terrific. There were a couple uh-oh moments, but he put on his boots and slogged his way through them.Read more at The Daily Beast.
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Marriage Equality Is ‘in Danger,’ Says Supreme Court Victor Jim Obergefell
Alex Wong/GettyJim Obergefell, in whose name marriage equality became the law of the land in 2015 after he successfully presented his case to the Supreme Court, believes it is now “in danger” with the likely appointment to the court of conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett.Obergefell, 54, told The Daily Beast he has been dealing “with the feeling of devastation” over the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Now Judge Barrett’s nomination has brought an “overwhelming fear about LGBTQ+ rights and women’s rights and so many things,” he said. “I feel what I, and the many other marriage equality plaintiffs fought for, is at more risk than ever before.”Obergefell didn’t feel the same level of concern over the safety of marriage equality under the law when Justice Antonin Scalia died in 2016, as he felt Chief Justice John Roberts “put so much weight on precedents, and so I thought would have been on the side of keeping marriage equality. But if Judge Barrett is appointed, it’s a potential 6-3 split in favor of conservatives. I’m concerned, I really am. I hate to say it, I really do, but I believe marriage equality is in danger. It makes me sick to my stomach.”Read more at The Daily Beast.
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Richard Nixon in 1968 Was Bad. Donald Trump in 2020 Is Much Worse.
GIF by Kristen Hazzard/The Daily Beast/Photos GettyIn September 1968, there were 1,053 United States combat deaths in a country called Vietnam. The dead were part of a 12-month total of 16,899 killed in a war that rattled the foundation of our country, dominated our politics, divided us day in and day out along lines of race and class during a long calamitous climb across a calendar year that seemed to scar the soul and change the culture of America along racial and class lines.History still weeps over 1968 but history never witnessed anything like America is experiencing today: a corrupt, lying president who is intent on setting our divided country on fire, who violates his oath of office on a daily basis, and who keeps telling us that he might not go along with a peaceful transfer of presidential power if he loses in November. In short, welcome to Venezuela.For a long time I thought nothing could be worse than 1968 and still the republic survived. Wow, was I wrong.Read more at The Daily Beast.
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Ex-Fox News Anchor Shepard Smith Vows to Fight Disinformation With New CNBC Show
Photo Illustration by Kristen Hazzard/The Daily Beast/Photos GettyUnlike President Donald Trump’s eagerly accommodating attorney general, Bill Barr, Shepard Smith doesn’t believe that New York is a dystopian jurisdiction of “anarchy, violence, and destruction.” That was the claim in last week’s Justice Department memo threatening the cutoff of federal tax dollars to the city.“You know, man, I walk out in Greenwich Village and we have outdoor restaurants everywhere,” CNBC’s newest star told The Daily Beast, in that familiar booming broadcast voice only slightly inflected by his small-town Mississippi roots, as he got ready for Wednesday night’s debut of The News with Shepard Smith, an hour-long show that replaces the 7 p.m. airing of Shark Tank.“And I walked by the Red Lion the other night”—the famed Greenwich Village live music venue—“and there was an amazing singer and guitar player in the doorway and they had socially distanced tables set up right on Bleecker Street, and it was fantastic,” Smith went on. “New York was alive, and people were out and about, and they were being right with each other.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here
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How Team Trump Keeps Twisting the Real Election Threat
Photo Illustration by Kristen Hazzard and Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast/Photos GettyOn Sept. 23, as the presidential election began its terminal season, Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) asked acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf if Russia had an active propaganda campaign against former Vice President Joe Biden. Wolf responded by talking about two other countries.“I think on everything that I’ve seen, that there are three nation states that we have to be very concerned about. One is Russia, one is China and one is Iran,” Wolf began. Yes, Russia indeed “looks to denigrate” Biden, he acknowledged, and yes, they all respond to the election differently. But “all three nation states” comprise 2020’s foreign election threat.It was an odd conflation. While China and Iran have certainly pushed their share of political disinformation, only Russia’s propaganda is known to be directly and deeply targeted to the U.S. election in November.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here
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Carla Bruni on Remaining Hopeful During COVID and the Time She Confronted a Lying Trump
Yann OrhanIn these pandemic-stricken times, Carla Bruni’s Gallic insouciance is a breath of fresh air. She refers to her husband, the former French President Nicolas Sarkozy as “my man;” and the novel coronavirus she calls “the coveed.”“It’s so strange. My God. So strange!” she remarks in her airy voice. “I’m just like everyone else, I guess. Happy to be alive!”She’s been cooped up in the South of France with her mother, aunt, sister and her children, as well as Sarkozy, during the deadly contagion, chortling as she recounts how her mother has been “getting on her nerves” and “treating me like I’m 12.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here
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Amy Coney Barrett Has Broken John Oliver: It Is ‘Hopeless’
HBOOn Sunday night, John Oliver returned from a brief Emmys-timed break to the Last Week Tonight desk.And the Emmy winner began by addressing the news of President Trump nominating Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late, great Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. Barrett, a Scalia disciple, is anti-LGBT, anti-reproductive rights, and anti-immigrant, and belongs to a fringe Charismatic Christian sect called People of Praise that believes women are second-class citizens to men, and the highest level they can attain within the group is that of women’s-issues advocate, which up until recently they called “handmaiden.”“Trump is about to replace a liberal icon with an extremely conservative justice who’s been called the female Antonin Scalia, and she can serve for a long time,” explained Oliver. “Amy Coney Barrett is only 48, and I know that I make 43 look like 76, but trust me, that is young for a Supreme Court Justice.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here
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Dems Can’t Block Barrett—So They’ll Use Her as 2020 Cudgel
Chip Somodevilla/GettyWhen the last U.S. Supreme Court seat opened up, Democrats held out hope that they could stop President Donald Trump’s nominee and force the GOP to compromise.“If we can successfully block this nomination,” said Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) upon Brett Kavanaugh’s selection in 2018, “it could lead to a more independent, moderate selection that both parties could support.”That, of course, did not happen. Two years later, any shred of hope that Democrats might have to block another Trump pick to the high court has been completely crushed.Read more at The Daily Beast.
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Ex-Trump Campaign Manager Brad Parscale Reportedly Hospitalized After Police Called to Florida Home
Bryan Woolston/GettyPresident Trump’s former 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, was taken to a Fort Lauderdale hospital Sunday night after his wife called police saying he had firearms and was threatening to harm himself, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. Responding to a 911 call about an armed male attempting suicide at a residence appearing to belong to Parscale, law enforcement reportedly took the man in under Florida’s Baker Act.Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Lauren Dietrich told the Sun-Sentinel that law enforcement had an encounter at Parscale’s home, which records show is owned by Bradley and Candice Parscale. Neighbors of the residence confirmed to Local 10 that it was the former campaign manager’s home.“We went out and it was very short. We went and got him help,” Dietrich told the Sentinel. She also added that Parscale, who was removed as campaign manager four months before the election, went willingly under the Baker Act, which allows police to detain people for potential self-harm or harm to others.Read more at The Daily Beast.
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Trump Paid Just $750 in Income Taxes the Year He Was Elected, Report Says
Brendan Smialowski/AFP via GettyDonald Trump paid just $750 in annual federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017, according to tax records obtained by The New York Times.But even that low sum is more than Trump paid the government in other recent years, according to the Times. In 10 out of the last 15 years, Trump paid no federal income tax, citing mammoth losses. The bombshell report offers new insight into Trump’s tax returns, which Trump has bucked presidential candidate tradition by refusing to release.The tax data also portrays Trump as financially pressed by loans and a tax dispute. Trump is personally liable for over $300 million in loans that have to be paid off over the next four years, according to the report, and embroiled in a tax refund fight with the IRS that could force the president to pay more than $100 million.Read more at The Daily Beast.
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GOP Senator Admits Hypocrisy on SCOTUS: Party in Power Does What It Wants
Fox NewsSen. John Kennedy (R-LA) conceded on Sunday that Republicans were being hypocritical on their push to confirm Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett before the election, insisting that whatever party is in power will “do what they think is right.”With Republicans rushing to get the Supreme Court seat left open by liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death filled just weeks ahead of the November election, the GOP has faced backlash and charges of hypocrisy for citing the 2016 election as the reason they held up Merrick Garland’s nomination.Interviewing Kennedy on Fox News Sunday, guest host Brit Hume brought up the Garland situation, noting that Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said at the time that the American people should have a say in the court pick since it was during an election year.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here
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Dick Durbin: Hillary’s ‘Flat-Out Wrong’ for Saying Biden Shouldn’t Concede
ABC NewsSenate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) pushed back against former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s recommendation to current Democratic hopeful Joe Biden that he not concede the election to President Donald Trump “under any circumstances,” saying Clinton was “flat out wrong.”In the wake of President Donald Trump’s repeated refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the upcoming election, Republicans have pointed to Clinton’s recent advice to Biden to justify the president’s remarks.In an interview last month with her former communications director Jennifer Palmieri, the ex-secretary of state—who lost the 2016 election to Trump despite winning the popular vote by nearly three million—said the uncertainty of the vote count early on means Biden shouldn’t immediately concede if he’s behind.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here
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Royal Family ‘Wringing their Hands’ at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Activism
Karwai TangIf you love The Daily Beast’s royal coverage, then we hope you’ll enjoy The Royalist, a members-only series for Beast Inside. Become a member to get it in your inbox on Sunday.Harry and Meghan’s advocacy “violates” royal divorce dealReaction, almost all of it hostile, to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s decision to appear in a video encouraging Americans to vote, dominates royal coverage in the U.K. press.Read more at The Daily Beast.
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The Kleptocrats’ Money-Laundering Middleman Who Did Deals With Trump
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesKleptopia: How Dirty Money is Conquering the World is the terrifying true story of how kleptocrats—those who rule through corruption—are uniting, clandestinely fusing their business interests, and forming alliances. From Budapest to Beijing, Harare to Riyadh, they have seized power and are busily guzzling their nations’ wealth. There is nothing they will not do to maintain control. Those who dare to cross them are massacred on the Kazakh steppe and brutalized during Zimbabwe’s sham elections; those who threaten to spill their secrets have their mouths permanently closed. Read more at The Daily Beast.
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‘Fargo’ Turns Chris Rock Into Fall TV’s Biggest Dramatic Actor
Elizabeth Morris/FXChris Rock’s greatest performances are as Chris Rock.There’s his stand-up comedy, and the many times he’s played himself, or versions of himself, Woody Allen-style, on TV and in movies: Louie, Top Five, I Think I Love My Wife... Don’t be fooled. Those are great performances, deftly allowing the indelible, too-large-to-stifle “Chris Rock-ness” to breathe through the characters. But they’re also a testament to how hard it is to forget that you’re watching Chris Rock, no matter how great an acting turn he’s giving.That adds another layer to the intrigue in the fact that he’s starring in the new season of Fargo, which launches on FX Sunday night.Read more at The Daily Beast.
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Steve Bannon’s Dodgy Nonprofit Teamed Up With Company Linked to Accused Gold Scammers
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Getty/ShutterstockWhen former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s nonprofit sought to restore an American golden age, it turned to a company with connections to a consortium that allegedly strip-mined the retirement accounts of elderly conservatives, The Daily Beast has discovered.Bannon’s “economic nationalist” group Citizens of the American Republic hired the Wyoming-based firm Platinum Advertising Corporation in 2018 to handle its “websites/social media,” Internal Revenue Service records show. A tangle of corporate and legal documents ties Platinum Advertising to TMTE Inc.—a precious metal dealer accused on Friday of fraudulently extracting $185 million from senior citizens by selling them overpriced bullion.The massive joint action the federal Commodity Futures Trading Commission and 30 states announced against TMTE alleged that the Los Angeles-based company had suckered 1,600 mostly silver-haired victims into sinking their life savings into precious metals sold at up to 300 percent of their market value. The charges are familiar to anybody who has followed the long trail of news reports and regulatory actions describing how TMTE—which has variously used the monikers Access Unlimited, TEM, Chase Metals, and Metals.com—cashed in on the right-wing paranoia of the Trump era.Read more at The Daily Beast.
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Is Trump or Biden More Likely to Keel Over on Debate Night?
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Getty“People are dying, tens of thousands of people are out of work—he’s embarrassing,” is not only the quote of the year from former Hillary Clinton senior adviser Philippe Reines, but also sums up how he, Rick Wilson, Molly Jong-Fast, and Lincoln Project co-founder Mike Madrid feel about Donald Trump’s dwindling support among his own base.To make matters worse for the president, he is set to debate Joe Biden for the first time Tuesday night, and he doesn’t have that same 2016 anger and energy he drummed up to defeat Hillary Clinton.In this new members-only bonus episode of The New Abnormal, Rick, Molly, Philippe and Mike discuss what Joe Biden should say, word for word, when he gets on that stage with Trump and the one thing that could sink the president without Joe’s help.Read more at The Daily Beast.
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The Spawn of NYC’s Most Elite Media Stars Started a Woke High-School Paper
Photo Illustratiom by The Daily Beast / Photo via GettyThe teenaged kids of some of the biggest names in New York’s media elite—Chris Cuomo, George Stephanopoulos, and others—have teamed up to start an online publication bridging the traditional style of their parents’ generation and the Gen-Z focus on fighting racism and inequality at all levels of society.In July, amid the coronavirus pandemic, Lily Wolfson and Ryan Pelosky, two New York City high-school students, decided they wanted to launch an online newspaper for teens. They emailed a network of friends they knew through school, extracurricular activities, and social occasions, and enlisted a few dozen peers from across the city to help launch The Iris, a New York-based digital newspaper.The resulting website is a student newspaper on steroids. The Iris has glossy sheen and a fairly sleek design, and is packed with opinion articles, reported local and national news pieces, interviews, features, and even a crossword puzzle.Read more at The Daily Beast.
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Well, at Least Katie Holmes Is Having a Good Time
LRNYC/MEGA/GettyWe’re teetering on the brink of an unthinkable future. Our democracy hangs by a thread. “How are you doing?” feels like a useless greeting; everything is bad now. Americans are simultaneously fed up and burned out. We feel a fiery rage and debilitating grief. But hey: at least Katie Holmes is having a good time.The 41-year-old actress is, as the New York Post put it this month, “The queen of public make outs.” Like your friend who can’t read the room and won’t shut up about her new boyfriend after you tell her your grandmother just died, Holmes has spent a historically shitty summer living out La Dolce Vita with her beau, a chef named Emilio Vitolo Jr.The two were first seen together the first of this month, dining al fresco in SoHo. Vitolo is the 33-year-old son of Emilio Vitolo Sr., a famous New York restaurateur. He’s something of a man about town, as made evident by the fact that he was a cover boy for Man About Town magazine back in 2014. (The spread was shot, unfortunately, by infamous creep and alleged serial abuser Terry Richardson.)Read more at The Daily Beast.
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What Drove the ‘Blade Runner’ Olympian to Kill His Model-Girlfriend?
Charlie Shoemaker/GettyIn making sense of former Olympic and Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius’ story, particularly the February 2013 night when he shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, it’s best to assume that you’ll never arrive at a satisfying set of answers. All of the evidence in the case in which he was convicted for culpable homicide—and later, murder—in 2014 was circumstantial. No one alive knows the why of what actually happened except Pistorius himself, but the new ESPN 30 for 30 four-part film, The Life and Trials of Oscar Pistorius, about the event as well as Pistorius’ career as a double-amputee runner, makes a long-winded attempt to decipher a narrative that diverges from the prosecution’s.The film, directed by Dan Gordon, makes a thorough effort to understand Pistorius within a wider context that is skeptical of both media sensationalism and South Africa’s justice system. Unfortunately, Gordon falters in his attempt to weave in South Africa’s history of apartheid and currently high frequency of gender-based violence. The director manages to trace a racist and violent history without fully reckoning with the present-day realities of white supremacy in the country. In the process, it seems to make the claim that Pistorius’ own tragedy simply got caught up in an ugly national story that had little to do with him as an individual—a perspective that plays into white exceptionalism rather than challenging state violence and systemic oppression. As a result, the message that seems to ring out is that Pistorius’ life matters more as a successful athlete, as a white man of wealth, as a grieving boyfriend who had already lost his mother as a boy.Of course, Pistorius’ life matters, as did Steenkamp’s, and as did all the women and child victims of terrible gender-based violence in South Africa, most of whom are Black. At one point, a spokesperson for the family says that South Africa’s history of apartheid and its current issues with gender-based violence became conflated with Pistorius’ trial; certain people were ready to believe that he was guilty because someone needed to be punished for the country’s sins. What this evaluation misses is that white South African authorities created the very system that ultimately took down Pistorius, even if it was women of color—including a Black woman judge—who ultimately oversaw the case. What Pistorius’ family seems to be objecting to is that their Oscar was subject to the same system that a Black South African would have been.Read more at The Daily Beast.
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Four Women Reveal Their Horror Stories of Teddi Mellencamp’s ‘All In by Teddi’ Diet
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Photos via InstagramAnyone who’s kept up with Bravo’s Real Housewives of Beverly Hills over the past three years knows cast member Teddi Mellencamp’s proclivity for holding others accountable. Not just in the “you didn’t come to my event!” or “are you friends with Brandi Glanville?” way but in regard to her actual occupation as an “accountability coach.”The mysterious title refers to Mellencamp’s accountability coaching program called All In by Teddi, a weight-loss system that’s faced scrutiny over the past week for its alleged harmful messaging, minimal diet, expensive fees, inexperienced staff, and hostile manner of holding clients “accountable” for their commitment to the program. While her days as a housewife are confirmed to be over, Real Housewives fans on social media are still demanding answers from Mellencamp as former clients claim they feel traumatized and swindled by her company.The whistleblowing began in June of last year, when an anonymous person shared their negative experience with All In in a Facebook post that was eventually shared on Reddit. Writer Chrissy Stockton reported on the post in an article for Thought Catalog, and comedians Casey Wilson and Danielle Schneider discussed it on their popular Real Housewives recap podcast Bitch Sesh (in the latest episode, they said Mellencamp’s camp sent them a cease and desist). Fast forward more than a year later on September 15 to fashion influencer Emily Gellis Lande, who called similar attention to Tanya Zuckerbrot’s popular F-Factor Diet, posting Stockton’s article on her Instagram and attracting a multitude of personal stories from previous clients in her inbox.Read more at The Daily Beast.
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Going Undercover Was the Only Way This Crime Reporter Could Get the Truth
Getty ImagesNo question, the doctor was looking at my shirt pocket. Did he see the tiny hole? If he did, that small opening presented a major problem. Did he recognize me?I was wearing thick glasses instead of my usual contacts. My on-air hair had never looked so disheveled. Even my friends wouldn’t recognize me without my usual television makeup. I was undercover and in disguise. At least I thought so. But the doctor’s wandering eyes were making me nervous.A source had told us this guy was lying to patients about his history as an obstetrician. He’d been hammered with malpractice suits, and lost, time after time after time. And the state had suspended his license. But state laws at the time didn’t require him to tell that to patients. Back then, to find a doctor’s legal history, a patient would have to search court files, which in some cases were sealed.Read more at The Daily Beast.
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Slipknot’s Corey Taylor Wants You to Wear a F*cking Mask
Courtesy Ashley OsbornFew voices in the metal community are more recognizable—or ferocious—than the one wielded by Corey Taylor, who as frontman for horror-metal juggernaut Slipknot has rightly earned the nickname The Great Big Mouth, and whose work with Stone Sour has allowed him to naturally expand into the hard-rock mainstream. Taylor’s output covers a vast stylistic and emotional range, from rage and misery to heartbreak and longing, and thus it’s fitting that he’d continue pushing his creative boundaries by going it alone—and by venturing into sonic realms he’s yet to fully explore with either of his bestselling bands.That’s not to say that Taylor’s maiden solo outing, CMFT (out Oct. 2), is a radical departure from the sorts of tunes that have made him a genre heavyweight. Rather, it’s that the 13-song collection leans more heavily on musical avenues he’s only sporadically hinted at in Slipknot and Stone Sour, all of them filtered through a variety of diverse influences, be it country, hip-hop or ‘90s alternative rock. Leaning toward the softer side of the Taylor spectrum—a relative description, given that just about everything is more gentle than Slipknot—CMFT finds the singer broadening his horizons and showing off his considerable versatility.In other words, it’s an album that doesn’t pander, which also marks it as a Taylor effort through and through, since the 46-year-old vocalist has never been one to shy away from speaking his mind, including when it comes to politics—and, in particular, Donald Trump. His disdain for the commander-in-chief certainly hasn’t diminished during the pandemic, which has stymied his touring plans with both Slipknot and as a solo performer. Yet Taylor’s frustration with 2020 America extends beyond the president.Read more at The Daily Beast.
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Online Art Sales See a Wild West Boom With Auction Houses Shut by COVID
Cindy Ord/Getty ImagesROME—In early 2021, the rare Sandro Botticelli masterpiece Young Man Holding a Roundel will be sold on an anonymous online auction through Sotheby’s in what will be a landmark blue-chip art sale in an industry that has suffered greatly during the pandemic with closed galleries, cancelled art fairs and shuttered auction houses.The painting, which billionaire Manhattan art collector Sheldon Solow bought in 1982 for $1.3 million, is expected to go for more than $80 million, marking the largest ever online art sale—pandemic or not. It is also what art dealers are calling a “test run” for the future of an industry that has long relied on physical sales to guarantee provenance on higher priced masterpieces and collectibles, according to Bloomberg.Sotheby's has so far declined to confirm if Solow is still the owner of the Renaissance painting, which was created in Italy in 1480 and which has spent the last seven years on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. But the sale will eclipse the previous online sales record set last year when Sotheby's sold the so-called “Contemporary Curated” collection that featured an Andy Warhol and a Damien Hirst for $6.4 million.Read more at The Daily Beast.
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