Posts tagged with "The New York Times"

Trump defends Confederate flag in latest appeal to white voters

July 7, 2020

President Donald Trump—who posted a video of one of his supporters whooping the phrase, “White Power,” just last week on Twitter—spent Monday morning, July 6, bashing NASCAR’s decision to prohibit Confederate flags at its races; while also falsely asserting that a top Black driver, Darrell (Bubba) Wallace, had engaged in a hoax involving a noose found in his garage stall.

Trump’s reference to the Confederate flag—and its role in a sport followed by the mostly white fans among whom the president remains popular—was “the latest remark by the president as he tries to rally his culturally conservative base behind his struggling re-election effort,” The New York Times reported.

While NASCAR and other organizations have moved to retire symbols of the Confederacy, and lawmakers in Mississippi voted to bring down the state flag featuring the Confederate emblem, Trump has increasingly used racist language and references to portray himself as a protector of the history of the American South. He has called the phrase “Black Lives Matter” a “symbol of hate,” and he has repeatedly tried to depict pockets of violence during protests against entrenched racism as representative of the protest movement as a whole.

The president also delivered official speeches over the weekend that also emphasized defending American heritage, although he avoided explicit references to totems of the Confederacy.

“Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX? That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!” Mr. Trump posted on Twitter on Monday.

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican from South Carolina and a friend of the president, departed from his usual praise on Monday, saying that he disagreed with Trump’s tweet.

“They’re trying to grow the sport,” Graham said, according to the CNN reporter Manu Raju, referring to NASCAR’s ban on confederate flags, which it announced last month. “And I’ve lived in South Carolina all my life and if you’re in business, the Confederate flag is not a good way to grow your business.”

Graham, who is facing a strong challenge from Jaime Harrison, a Black Democrat, in his re-election bid, according to the Times, said that “one way you grow the sport is you take images that divide us and ask that they not be brought into the venue. That makes sense to me.” He said that Mr. Wallace does not have “anything to apologize for,” and that his fellow drivers should be applauded for supporting him.

“I would be looking to celebrate that kind of attitude more than being worried about it being a hoax,” Graham said, according to Mr. Raju.

The noose incident last month at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama came to an end after  F.B.I. officials, who were called in by NASCAR, found that the knot had been tied into the rope as early as October 2019, well before anyone would have known that Mr. Wallace would be assigned that stall for the race.

Another NASCAR driver, Tyler Reddick, replied to Trump on Twitter Monday, saying, “We don’t need an apology. We did what was right and we will do just fine without your support.”

According to the Times, Trump’s tweet came just days after he delivered a divisive speech at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota as part of the July 4 holiday, in which he denounced Democrats as radical anarchists and said that children are taught in schools to “hate” the United States.

“Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities,” the presient said in what was clearly a campaign speech.

Research contact: @nytimes

Twitch muzzles Trump: Platform suspends president’s channel for ‘hateful conduct’

July 1, 2020

Twitch— the live-streaming platform that millions of people use to chat, interact, and make their own entertainment together—announced on Monday, June 29, that it was suspending Donald Trump’s personal channel for “hateful conduct,” in what appeared to be the first deliberate suspension of one of the president’s social media accounts, The New York Times reported.

The site, which is owned by Amazon, said two recent streams on. Trump’s channel violated its rules:

  • One stream was of a rebroadcasted 2015 campaign event in which Donald Trump said, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” adding, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
  • The other stream documented the president’s May 20 rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he described a scenario involving an immigrant in the following way: “It’s one o’clock in the morning,” Trump said, and “a very tough hombre is breaking into the window of a young woman, whose husband is away, as a traveling salesman or whatever he may do. And you call 911, and they say, ‘I’m sorry this number is no longer working.’”

“Hateful conduct is not allowed on Twitch,” a Twitch spokesperson said in a statement. “In line with our policies, President Trump’s channel has been issued a temporary suspension from Twitch for comments made on stream, and the offending content has been removed.”

It was unclear how long the suspension would last.

With its move, Twitch went further than other social media platforms, the Times noted. In recent months, some tech companies have become more proactive in handling speech issues by Trump and his supporters. Twitter began adding labels to some of the president’s tweets; Snap has said it will stop promoting Mr. Trump’s Snapchat account; and Reddit on Monday said it would ban “The_Donald” community, which had been a highly influential digital gathering place for Trump’s acolytes.

But unlike those efforts, Twitch directly clamped down on the president himself, temporarily shutting down his ability to post videos on a channel. The only other time when the president had one of his social media accounts suspended was by accident in 2017, when his Twitter account was unexpectedly disabled by a rogue contractor who was leaving Twitter that day.

One company that has maintained it does not want to police free speech is Facebook. Last week, the social network announced it would expand its hate speech policies and label posts from political figures who violate rules as “newsworthy.” But the labels, which do not explain what is inaccurate or hateful about a post, fall short of what Twitter and other companies have done.

Twitch’s suspension of Mr. Trump comes as the platform, which is popular with gamers, is under fire for other instances of hateful rhetoric. Streamers have accused it of allowing racist and sexist comments to thrive unchecked, and the company said last week it would permanently suspend a handful of users after a torrent of sexual harassment and assault allegations rocked the video game industry.

Cindy Otis, a disinformation expert and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, told the Times that Twitch’s suspension of the president might pressure other companies to ratchet up their actions.

“You have to sort of wonder, if smaller platforms start taking more aggressive or harder action on what they consider harmful content or on the disinformation side — will that end up pressuring the larger platforms to do more as well?”. Otis asked.

But, she added, “If stuff gets removed from one platform, it simply migrates to another.”

The Trump campaign did not directly address the actions by Twitch and Reddit on Monday. Tim Murtaugh, director of communications for Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, said in a statement that people should download the Trump campaign app or text the campaign’s automated number to “hear directly from the president.”

Twitch is not one of Mr. Trump’s top social media channels, according to the Times report. His channel began streaming on the service last October, amassing more than 125,000 followers and 113 streams, compared with his more than 83 million followers on Twitter.

Research contact: @nytimes

Mutiny on the bounties: Trump balks at briefing House members on Russian perfidy

June 30, 2020

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is calling for the Trump Administration to brief all House members immediately about allegations that surfaced on June 27–detailing that Russians have been paying Afghan militants to assassinate U.S. soldiers, Politico reports.

Most recently, President Donald Trump has claimed that he knows nothing about the disclosures—and that he and Vice President Mike Pence never have been briefed on the matter by U.S. intelligence agencies. He has not said that he intends to follow up on the accusations against Russia and, by extension, against President Vladimir Putin—which he does not believe to be credible.

However, The New York Times has countered that story, saying that senior White House and intelligence officials knew about the bounty allegations since at least March but took no action.

Indeed, the Times has reported that Trump was briefed on the matter and that it was included in his Presidential Daily Brief, but Trump denied ever learning of the intelligence and late Sunday said his leaders in the intelligence community told him it wasn’t credible.

“The questions that arise are: Was the President briefed, and if not, why not, and why was Congress not briefed? Congress and the country need answers now,” Pelosi wrote in her letter to Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and CIA Director Gina Haspel. “I therefore request an interagency brief for all House Members immediately. Congress needs to know what the intelligence community knows about this significant threat to American troops and our allies and what options are available to hold Russia accountable.”

Since the news reports emerged, Politico reports, Democrats and some Republicans have been demanding details from the Administration. Early Monday, congressional aides indicated no briefing had been set up for the House intelligence, armed services or foreign affairs committee. It’s unclear if the Gang of Eight—the leaders of the House and Senate, as well as the intelligence committee—will be briefed, but as of Monday morning there was no meeting scheduled, per a congressional source.

The new allegations —which The New York Times and The Washington Post reported may have led to the deaths of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan—have once again brought Trump’s relationship with Russia under scrutiny.

Senior House Democrats were furious with the reports, which first surfaced Saturday. Pelosi told ABC ‘s ‘This Week” on Sunday: “This is as bad as it gets.”

“If reports are true that Russia offered a bounty on U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Trump wasn’t briefed, that’s a problem,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-California) tweeted Sunday. “What will it take to get Trump to abandon the fiction that Putin is our friend?”

“Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP,” Trump said. “Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax, maybe by the Fake News @nytimesbooks, wanting to make Republicans look bad!!!”

Democrats, however, hammered the president over the bounties.

“It’s sickening that American soldiers have been killed as a result of Russian bounties on their heads, and the Commander in Chief didn’t do a thing to stop it,” Representatuve Max Rose (D-N.Y.), a combat veteran who served in Afghanistan, told Politico.

Research contact: @politico

As COVID-19 rages, Trump asks Supreme Court to strike down Obamacare

June 29,2020

The number of confirmed new coronavirus cases per day in the United States hit an all-time high of 40,000 on Friday, June 26—eclipsing the mark set during one of the deadliest stretches in late April, CBS News reports; noting that there is “ample evidence” that the pandemic is making a comeback.

Yet, even so, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court late on June 25 to terminate the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare—the only health insurance to which many Americans have access. If the justices agree, they will wipe out coverage for as many as 23 million Americans, The New York Times reports.

In an 82-page brief submitted an hour before a midnight deadline, the Administration joined Republican officials in 18 states in arguing that, in 2017, the largely Republican Congress had rendered the law unconstitutional when it zeroed out the tax penalty for not buying insurance—the so-called individual mandate.

In his brief, Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco maintained that the health law’s two remaining central provisions are now invalid because Congress intended that all three work together, the Times said.

The court has not said when it will hear oral arguments, but they are most likely to take place in the fall, just as Americans are preparing to go to the polls in November.

Republicans have long said their goal is to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act but have yet to agree on an alternative. They are bracing for the possibility that the effort to overturn the health law will cost them, according to the Times report.

Joel White, a Republican strategist, said in a recent interview with the news outlet that he considered it “pretty dumb to be talking about how we need to repeal Obamacare in the middle of a pandemic.”

Democrats, who view health care a winning issue—and who reclaimed the House majority in 2018 on their promise to expand access and bring down costs—are trying to use the Supreme Court case to press their advantage. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has scheduled a vote for Monday, June 29, on a measure to expand the healthcare law, in an effort to draw a sharp contrast between Democrats and Republicans.

“President Trump and the Republicans’ campaign to rip away the protections and benefits of the Affordable Care Act in the middle of the coronavirus crisis is an act of unfathomable cruelty,” Pelosi said in a statement late Thursday night, after the administration’s brief was filed.

“If President Trump gets his way,” she added, “130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions will lose the A.C.A.’s lifesaving protections and 23 million Americans will lose their health coverage entirely.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Archeological find near Stonehenge yields what could be largest prehistoric structure in Europe

June 24, 2020

A major discovery by archaeologists at an ancient village in southern England near Stonehenge is likely to be confirmed as the largest prehistoric structure in Britain—and, possibly, in Europe—according to a member of the team, Professor Vincent Gaffney of the Department of Archaeological Sciences at the University of Bradford.

The archaeologists unearthed a circle of trenches about two miles away from Stonehenge—each of which is about 30 feet wide and 15 feet deep. Together, they are believed to have been part of a ritual boundary area between the two sites.

Uncovered through remote sensing technology and ground sampling, the discovery could amount to one of the most significant finds ever made at the site, archaeologists and experts said.

The find promises to offer significant clues about life more than 4,500 years ago in the Neolithic period—the last stage of the Stone Age—and could even “write a whole new chapter in the story” of the Stonehenge landscape, the experts say.

 “It has completely transformed how we understand this landscape — there is no doubt about it,” Bradford told The New York Times in an interview.

Stonehenge, a UNESCO World Heritage site in the English countryside, has long drawn visitors to admire its 100 looming, vertical stone slabs, even as its origins and purpose are still being explored.

The study, published online on June 21, outlines the discovery of a large circle of shafts surrounding the ancient village—known as the Durrington Walls henge monument, the Times reports.

“As the place where the builders of Stonehenge lived and feasted, Durrington Walls is key to unlocking the story of the wider Stonehenge landscape,” Nick Snashall, the National Trust archaeologist for the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site, said in a statement.

Calling the finding an “astonishing discovery,” she said it would “write a whole new chapter in the story of the Stonehenge landscape.”

Over the past decade, the ancient site at Stonehenge slowly has been revealing its secrets—as well as details about the lives of those who built it; thanks largely to the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project, a partnership among several universities and research institutions that was behind the latest discovery.

Stonehenge is positioned to align with the sunrise and sunset on the winter and summer solstices. And while the biggest questions about the structure —why was it built, and what purpose did it serve?— have yet to be definitively answered, many experts say it was probably a sacred site that people visited for significant ceremonies, including burials.

Whereas much archaeology in decades past relied on excavation to understand a site, the sensors used on this project allow a greater understanding of features that are unseen on the surface of the landscape, Gaffney told The New York Times.

The result has been a growing insight into daily life experienced by people several millenniums ago.

“Stonehenge was for the dead, Durrington was for the living,” Gaffney said. “But now, what we are probably looking at was this great big boundary around them probably warning people of what they are approaching.”

He said that the pits had been set at a deliberate distance and that their locations would have had to be paced out from a central point. That is a significant clue about people living in the area at the time, he said, because it “means they could count” — making it among the earliest evidence for counting in what is now Britain.

Dr. Gaffney said that exploration would continue, but that there would be no rush to excavate. “Remote sensing has taken us a long way,” he said, “and I think its going to take us further still.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Aunt Jemima brand to change name and image over ‘racial stereotype’

June 18, 2020

In the spirit of Black Lives Matter, Quaker Oats—the manufacturer of the syrup and pancake brand, Aunt Jemima, has acknowledged that the brand’s origins were “based on a racial stereotype.” The company now intends to change the name and image on its packaging, The New York Times reports.

The brand, founded in 1889, is built on images of a black female character that often been have been seen as a symbol of slavery. Aunt Jemima has gone through several redesigns; pearl earrings and a lace collar were added in 1989.

On Wednesday, Quaker Oats, which is owned by PepsiCo, said that it was taking “a hard look at our portfolio of brands” as it works “to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives.”

The packaging changes, which were first reported by NBC, will begin to appear toward the end of this year, with the name change coming soon after.

“Whle work has been done over the years to update the brand in a manner intended to be appropriate and respectful, we realize those changes are not enough,” said Kristin Kroepfl, Quaker’s chief marketing officer, in a statement.

The Aunt Jemima brand was inspired by a minstrel song called “Old Aunt Jemima” and was once described by Riché Richardson, an associate professor of African-American literature at Cornell University, as “an outgrowth of Old South plantation nostalgia and romance grounded in an idea about the ‘mammy,’ a devoted and submissive servant who eagerly nurtured the children of her white master and mistress while neglecting her own.”

Last week, the glorified depiction of slavery in “Gone With the Wind,” which included a portrayal of an affable black character named Mammy, led HBO Max to temporarily remove the film from its catalog–before bringing it back with an explanatory forward, the Times notes.

Quaker Oats said in its statement that Aunt Jemima’s marketing had “evolved over time with the goal of representing loving moms from diverse backgrounds who want the best for their families,” but that it would gather more perspectives internally and from the black community to further shape the brand.

Research contact: @nytimes

What a workout: Just nine minutes of hard exercise alters 9,815 molecules in our blood

June 11, 2020

When we exercise, the levels of thousands of substances in our bloodstream rise and drop, according to an eye-opening new study of the immediate, interior impacts of working out conducted by the Stanford University School of Medicine.

According to the study findings, acute physical activity—such as running—leads to metabolic, cardiovascular, and immune system changes, The New York Times reports

Time series analysis of 36 volunteers “revealed thousands of molecular changes and an orchestrated choreography of biological processes involving energy metabolism, oxidative stress, inflammation, tissue repair, and growth factor response.”

The volunteers were men and women between the ages of 40 and 75, and represented a full spectrum of fitness and metabolic health. Some were in good aerobic condition; others out of shape; and some displayed fine blood-sugar control, while others were insulin resistant.

Already, of course, there is evidence that exercise alters our metabolisms, muscles, genes, immune responses, hearts, stamina and almost every other organ and biological system within us. But only in recent years, with the development of sophisticated new techniques for counting and typing the thousands upon thousands of different molecules within us, have scientists been able to quantify more of the substances and steps involved in those processes, the Times notes.

With these techniques, they have zeroed in on various sets of molecules in our bloodstreams associated with different aspects of our biology. This research generally is known as “omics” science. Metabolomics, for instance, enumerates and analyzes molecules in our blood that influence metabolism—everything from appetite hormones to enzymes excreted by gut microbes. Genomics maps the molecules involved in gene expression; proteomics ditto for proteins; lipidomics

For the new study, which was published in May in Cell, the researchers decided to try to complete a full census of almost every molecule that changes when we work out.

The researchers drew blood from each volunteer and then asked him or her to complete a standard treadmill endurance test, running at an increasing intensity until exhaustion, usually after about nine or 10 minutes of exercise. The researchers drew more blood immediately after this exertion and again 15, 30 and 60 minutes later. Later, they also drew blood from some of the volunteers before and after they had quietly rested, as a control measure.

Then they started counting and characterizing a boggling quantity of molecules in each person’s blood. They looked for molecules that were known to change when people exercise, but also for any that might not have been examined in previous exercise studies but were showing up in people’s blood now.

They wound up measuring the levels of 17,662 different molecules. Of these, 9,815—or more than half—changed after exercise, compared to their levels before the workout. Some increased. Others declined. Some gushed immediately after the exercise, then fell away, while others lingered in heightened or lowered amounts for an hour after the workout.

The types of molecules also ranged widely, with some involved in fueling and metabolism, others in immune response, tissue repair or appetite. And within those categories, molecular levels coursed and changed during the hour. Molecules likely to increase inflammation surged early, then dropped, for instance, replaced by others likely to help reduce inflammation.

“It was like a symphony,” Michael Snyder, the chair of the Genetics Department at Stanford and senior author of the study, told The New York Times. “First you have the brass section coming in, then the strings, then all the sections joining in.”

Interestingly, though, different people’s blood followed different orchestrations. Those who showed signs of insulin resistance, a driver of diabetes, for instance, tended to show smaller increases in some of the molecules related to healthy blood sugar control and higher increases in molecules involved in inflammation, suggesting that they were somewhat resistant to the general, beneficial effects of exercise. The levels of other molecules ranged considerably in people, depending on their current aerobic fitness.

Overall, the researchers were taken aback by the magnitude of the changes in people’s molecular profiles after exercise, Dr. Snyder told the Times. “I had thought, it’s only about nine minutes of exercise, how much is going to change? A lot, as it turns out.”

This study was small, though, and looked at a single session of aerobic exercise, so cannot tell us anything about the longer-term molecular effects of continued training or of how, precisely, changes in molecular levels subsequently alter health. It also did not include young volunteers under 40.

Dr. Snyder and his colleagues are planning follow-up experiments with more volunteers and sustained exercise programs. They hope to establish whether certain molecular responses to exercise might distinguish people who would benefit from emphasizing resistance exercise over endurance training and whether specific molecular profiles indicate who has higher or lower aerobic endurance. This information could allow physicians and researchers to check fitness with a simple blood draw instead of a treadmill stress test.

Research contact: @nytimes

Romney is first Republican in Senate to break ranks, march with DC protesters

June 9, 2020

Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah marched with demonstrators toward the White House on Sunday, June 7—the first Republican senator to join the thousands across the country protesting the death of George Floyd while in police custody, The New York Times reported.

Romney, who marched with a group of Christians, told a Washington Post reporter that he had joined the protest to show that “… we need to end violence and brutality, and to make sure that people understand that black lives matter.”

In joining the protest, Mr. Romney again found himself at odds with President Donald Trump, who has pushed for a military response to the unrest. He also has  distanced himself from most of his party, as when he became the sole Republican senator to vote to remove Trump from office, the Times notes.

But not the only U.S. legislator: Last week, Representative Will Hurd of Texas, the lone black Republican in the House, joined a peaceful protest, marching alongside Floyd’s family.

Democrats, by contrast, have made a point of supporting and participating in the rallies. Representative Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) was hit by pepper spray during a demonstration in her state late last month, while Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) made a trip last week to briefly speak to protesters gathered outside the Capitol.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) was seen on Saturday handing out water bottles to protesters marching through Washington, while Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) attended a protest and handed out masks to people walking by.

The visibility of politicians at the protests “does matter to a degree,” Vania Brown, a protester from Maryland who had come to join the marches in Washington on Sunday, told the Times. “But right now, I’m skeptical of any political party.”

The civil unrest around the country, coupled with renewed calls to address police brutality against people of color, has amplified pressure on lawmakers—particularly Republicans—to address not only police officers’ use of force; but also racial discrimination, and the economic and social disparities that the coronavirus pandemic has further exposed.

According to the Times report, Democrats were expected on Monday to unveil sweeping legislation that would make it easier to prosecute police misconduct and recover damages from officers found to have violated civil rights.

In the coming weeks, the Senate and the House both plan to hold hearings on proposals to improve policing and counter racial discrimination.

Compared with previous instances in which black men have died after police officers have used excessive force, Republicans have been almost uniformly outraged at the case of Floyd, who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

The administration’s move to crack down on demonstrators prompted a rare break with President Trump, the Times said, as some Republicans moved to distance themselves from the president’s threats to send the military to confront protesters. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) went so far as to endorse scathing criticism from Jim Mattis, the former defense secretary, of Trump’s handling of the protests.

Among Republicans, Romney in particular has been vocal in condemning the circumstances surrounding Floyd’s death, saying last month that “the George Floyd murder is abhorrent.”

He has also reflected on how his father, George Romney, participated in a civil rights march in the 1960s as governor of Michigan, quoting him on Twitter and sharing a photo of him at the protest in the 1960s in Detroit.

“Force alone will not eliminate riots,” Senator Romney quoted his father saying. “We must eliminate the problems from which they stem.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Fashionistas mock SpaceX’s ‘half-finished Power Ranger’ space suit

June 2, 2020

On Saturday afternoon, May 30, in a first for U.S. private industry, SpaceX, launched a pair of NASA astronauts into the thermosphere—about 200 to 240 miles above the Earth’s surface.

The Elon Musk-led space company put on a big show. Clad in futuristic space suits courtesy of SpaceX, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley got the red carpet treatment as they made their way to a NASA logo-adorned Tesla Model X that drove them to the historic launch complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

However, Futurism reports, while the technology was flawless—and the flight docked without a hitch with the International Space Station on Sunday— the astronauts weren’t properly dressed for the occasion, according to fashion mavens.

“A boxy white top with minor detailing, paired with boxy white pants with minor detailing?” GQ Contributing Writer Tyler Watamanuk wrote in a recent article for the men’s lifestyle magazine—condemning SpaceX’s design choices.

This is the International Space Station, not Everlane!” Watamanuk added, pointing out that “in some ways, the design feels deliberately trend-adverse, paying no mind to contemporary style or even the larger world of design.”

“It looks like car upholstery,” Gizmodo staff reporter Whitney Kimball wrote in a post that Futurism picked up. “It looks like Tron. It looks like a half-finished Power Ranger. It looks like a Tesla-sponsored NASCAR tracksuit.”

Other fashionistas were kinder to the design.

“Actually, what the SpaceX suits evoke most of all is James Bond’s tuxedo if it were redesigned by Tony Stark as an upgrade for [‘Star Trek’ captain] James T. Kirk’s next big adventure,” Vanessa Friedman, chief fashion critic for The New York Times, wrote in a Thursday commentary piece.

“They do not have the dangling hoses, knobs, and wires of the traditional suits,” she added.

According to Futurism, the suit’s designer is Jose Fernandez, a Hollywood costume veteran who worked on movies including “The Avengers” and “Batman v Superman.” The flashy design was reverse-engineered to meet space travel requirements—not the other way around.

But speaking of dangling hoses and knobs, NASA’s own take for its upcoming Artemis missions to the Moon looks strikingly different. The agency’s Orion Crew Survival System suit features a traffic pylon-orange design with NASA-blue trim.

The boots look like a pair of futuristic Adidas. The helmet evokes the Apollo missions. And the gloves could basically be worn snowboarding, from a purely aesthetic point of view, Futurism notes. It’s liquid cooled, custom-fitted to each astronaut, and features a survival kit including a life preserver, rescue knife, flashlight, whistle, and light sticks.

In short, the Orion design is  a freakin’ space suit that’s ready for anything. Function takes precedence over form; it was designed to look like a space suit—not a tuxedo.

Research contact: @futurism

Trump ousts State Department watchdog at urging of Pompeo; Dems open inquiry

May 19, 2020

The truth will out—unless and until you fire the truth-teller. That’s the position that the Trump Administration takes, and it played out again on Friday night, May 15.

This time, it was Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who convinced President Donald Trump to fire State Department Inspector General Steve Linick—the senior official responsible for identifying operational risks within the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for Global Media; a White House official said Saturday, according to a report by The New York Times.

Pompeo had learned that he was under investigation by Linick—both for using a political appointee to run personal errands for himself and his wife; such as walking the dog and picking up the dry cleaning; as well as for investigating the Secretary’s involvement in selling arms to Saudi Arabia.

ccording to Yahoo News, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, (D-New York) confirmed Monday that Linick was looking into the Saudi arms deal.

“His office was investigating — at my request — Trump’s phony declaration of an emergency so he could send weapons to Saudi Arabia,” Engel said in a statement. “We don’t have the full picture yet, but it’s troubling that Secretary Pompeo wanted … Linick pushed out before this work could be completed.”

Engel immediately called the decision to remove Linick an “outrageous act” meant to protect Pompeo from accountability. And by Saturday, May 16, Engel and Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had opened an investigation into Linick’s removal, citing a pattern of “politically motivated firing of inspectors general,” the Times said.

In letters to the White House, the State Department and Linick, the two Democrats wrote that they believed Linick had opened an investigation into wrongdoing by Pompeo and that Pompeo had responded by recommending that  be fired.

“Such an action, transparently designed to protect Secretary Pompeo from personal accountability, would undermine the foundation of our democratic institutions and may be an illegal act of retaliation,” the lawmakers wrote.

In their letters, Engel and Menendez requested that the Trump Administration turn over records and information related to the firing of Linick as well as “records of all I.G. investigations involving the Office of the Secretary that were open, pending, or incomplete at the time of Linick’s firing,” the Times said.

In addition, during a busy weekend, the news outlet said, the president also took steps toward the termination of another government employee whom he saw as a problem. The president moved to remove Glenn A. Fine, who has been the acting inspector general for the Defense Department since before President Trump took office, so that he could not be installed as the leader of an oversight panel intended to keep tabs on how the Trump administration spends trillions of dollars in pandemic relief approved by Congress.

Research contact: @nytimes