At a Feminist-Finance Pop-Up, Cash is Queen – The New Yorker

The purpose of the artist Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirror Rooms,” which continue to be a sensation, having infiltrated museum spaces and Instagram last year, is self-abnegation—a dissolution of the individual into an endless field of dots or lights. The Kusama-inspired room that serves as the epiphanic culmination of Stacks House, a pop-up focussed on women’s financial empowerment, which recently opened in downtown Los Angeles, has the opposite intent. The space, a mirror-lined box, the floor and ceiling of which is papered with candy-colored hundred-dollar bills, exalts the cash-caching individual. Like the Museum of Ice Cream, which occupied the same space a year ago, the installation’s rooms serve as sharable selfie backdrops or as online memes made physical. The picture you take of yourself in the mirror room echoes the actual-heaps-of-money trope of a thousand minor hip-hop stars and the Rich Kids of the Internet. “Infinite wealth!” Kindra Meyer, an experiential marketer who is a co-creator of the pop-up, says. “You just have to manifest it.”

Stacks House is the first product offered by She Stacks, a startup that Meyer founded alongside Patience Ramsey, a fellow marketer, and Farnoosh Torabi, a personal-finance writer, after the 2016 election. They had thought that Hillary Clinton (whom Meyer fund-raised for) would win—not the guy who refurbished his jet with a twenty-four-karat-gold sink, helpfully providing a visual for the drain the country now seems to be going down. Behind Stacks House is the idea that if women felt more comfortable talking about money they would have more of it, and the country’s cultural and political life would shift accordingly. “After the election, like many women, we broke down and broke through,” Meyer said. “We came to this conclusion that until women are financially literate and empowered around money we’ll never truly have equality.”

From a boxing gym where you can punch bags printed with the names of nemeses like “deadbeat friends” and “car payments” to shower stalls that appear to rain money and a ridable bucking piggy bank in the “retirement rodeo” (sponsored by Charles Schwab), the pop-up offers bite-sized financial advice modelled on calories-in, calories-out weight-loss plans. Creating financial stability, in this virtual world made semi-real, means finding a side hustle—work, work, work—and forgoing extras like avocado toast, green juice, cable, and salon manicures. “The cost of wellness is terrifying me right now,” Meyer said. “If you aren’t having your twelve-dollar mushroom tea and your hundred-dollar yoga pants and then going to your twenty-four-dollar class, you’re not well; you’re not taking care of yourself. Just the CBD-oil thing happening right now! But those things add up to so much financial anxiety. Y’all, anxiety and stress are real. They will kill you. ” Tell me what a woman gives up and I’ll tell you who she is.

If only financial health were simply a matter of eat less, exercise more. In Los Angeles County, which, according to Bloomberg, has the highest gross-domestic product of any county in the country—an economy about the size of Saudi Arabia’s—approximately a quarter of the population lives in poverty. That’s the highest rate of poverty in the state and a statistic that applies disproportionately to women and to people of color. Nationally, black women are paid sixty-one cents for every dollar earned by white males. Latinas make just fifty-three. A study, from the fall of 2018, shows that, when looking at earnings over a fifteen-year period, women earn a mere forty-nine per cent of what their male counterparts earn. For women with discretionary income, the notion of creating a kind of spending Lent can make good sense. Meyer, who lives in New York City, told me that, for five months, she resisted Uber, didn’t buy any new clothes, and limited herself to one meal out per week. She put the five thousand dollars she saved into the stock market. But you can’t avoid buying diapers for five months, or quit commuting to work, or even pick up additional work without facing impossible childcare choices. Abstaining and hustling is a contemporary version of backwards and in heels. The burden to keep up gracefully falls to the individual woman; no one says, The choreographer must have been out of his mind.

Well-paid but not-equally-paid Hollywood women, especially those active in the post-MeToo movement known as Time’s Up, have been talking for some time about the discrepancies between their salaries and those of their male collaborators and co-stars. Meyer’s awakening began when she learned that her male colleagues at a marketing agency were making significantly more than she was. She asked for double her salary in order to compensate for the years of being underpaid. Her future bosses, to her surprise, said yes. This is also the message of Cardi B, the unofficial patron saint of Stacks House, who figured out that she was victim to a discounted rate when she made paid appearances at clubs with male artists. She confronted the promoters and got her fee adjusted. “Women are so timid,” she said recently, onstage at Beautycon. “A lot of girls ask me, ‘How do I get what I want?’ By asking.” Both Kindra Meyer and Cardi B had leverage, and they benefited from the candor of their male colleagues. As Lauren Collins, referring to the pay gap at the BBC, wrote in The New Yorker last year, “One of the best ways to be a male ally in the equal-pay effort is to tell your female peers what you make.”

The Trump Presidency and the Harvey Weinstein investigation have created opportunities to talk about the old truth that without economic freedom women can in no meaningful way be free. This is the moment that She Stacks has seized upon. But it is also a moment when—because of, let’s say, the widening divide between the rich and the poor, the lack of faith in financial institutions, the instability of governments around the world—cash (in piles, in bathtubs, at the Treasury, fluttering in the air) is being fetishized as never before. The less the average person has, the more golden the jets and the more fervent and literal the prayer: I ask and so I get.

A ticket to Stacks House costs thirty-eight dollars—exorbitant for D.I.Y. entertainment but the standard for an “experience” that offers so many photo ops. By last year, Meyer told me, she was making “healthy six-figures.” To build She Stacks—her side hustle—she has suffered a two-thirds pay cut and gone into debt. Her dream is that Cardi will collaborate with her team. Until then, she’ll be happy if Cardi stops by and takes a turn inside the gigantic nest-shaped couch filled with egg-like pillows. Rose McGowan, a central figure in the Time’s Up movement, has already visited, posing for a photo in the money shower. Meanwhile, Meyer is selling twenty-eight-dollar votives in the gift store, plastered with images of Cardi B and the saying “I make money moves.” The products are supplied by Bulletin, the women-run wholesaler of women-led fashion brands, a source for “Women Rule Everything Around Me” and “Not Your Mamacita” T-shirts. Meyer’s only fear is that she’ll overspend at the store.

Source: newyorker.com

How to pitch to a (tech) journalist – TechCrunch

Startup growth comes from many places, but one option is through “earned media” — stories and mentions in the press. Earned media is great, because the channel is nominally free, and it often can get many more of the right eyeballs than advertising. Minus some sleazy behavior in the journalism world, you should never have to pay a dime to get a story into print other than the work it takes to manage PR (and yes, of course, that can be very expensive, although it doesn’t have to be).

For these reasons, startups pitch writers a lot on stories about everything from their latest fundraise to new features in their apps. Yet despite that frequency, some founders (and PR folks) are extraordinarily good at pitching and find great success, while others seem to never get the attention of even the most workaholic writers.

The job of writers is to write stories, but writing your story is not their job.

Therefore, learning how to pitch a journalist, how to build a relationship with writers covering your startup and how not to mess up a story already in production is a critical skill for anyone looking to grow their business.

This guide is designed to help bridge the gap by covering relationship building, how to determine newsworthiness and the logistics of exclusives and embargoes. In addition, we’ve published a companion piece that lists and analyzes 16 DON’Ts that can suddenly find your committed story in the trash can.

Building relationships should always take precedent

The single greatest secret of building any venture, actually, the greatest secret of life, is that relationships are everything. We live in a free world, and no one is obligated to do anything for anyone. Venture capitalists aren’t obligated to write a check, partners aren’t obligated to sign a deal and customers never have to buy your product.

Source: techcrunch.com

A visit from Donald Trump is the last thing the UK needs right now – CNN

So you’d think that the state visit this summer of US President Donald Trump — and all the pomp and ceremony that comes with it — should give the UK something to look forward to.
Nearly three years since the shock result of the Brexit referendum, the UK is still bitterly divided over its future. Everyone is sick and tired of the argument about what comes next, but no single preference has sufficient support to win that argument. The Brits might know a thing or two about a war of attrition, but this is getting ridiculous.
The country is divided beyond Brexit, too.
Trump to make first state visit to UK in JuneTrump to make first state visit to UK in June
Years of Conservative austerity have led to the once-dead socialism of the past dominating the policy of the UK’s main opposition party. The union between the four nations is looking shaky, as the differing priorities of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are dragged into the spotlight. And protests are becoming common: be they climate activists taking over large parts of central London or far-right groups protesting the arrest of their hero Tommy Robinson.
So, given how unsettled everything is, a state visit from our closest ally, the President of the United States of America, should be something everyone can get behind, right?
Wrong. Donald Trump is not a popular man over here. His UK visit in 2018 drew over 250,000 protestors to the streets of London and other cities. The stand-out moment from that visit was the Trump Baby Blimp, which really is exactly what it sounds like.
That wasn’t a state visit, meaning it came without all the trimmings of a formal occasion. Usually, heads of state can expect to be greeted publicly by the Queen, flanked by soldiers mounted on horses, brass bands and all other manners of British lunacy.
For Trump-hating Brits, the sight of their Queen rolling out the red carpet for a man they would rather the UK had nothing to do with will leave a nasty taste in the mouth.
The protests will be angrier and bigger. It’s not just a handful of political activists that dislike Trump. Prominent, high-profile politicians and celebrities find the President a deeply distasteful individual.
John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, was applauded far and wide when he said that in his personal opinion, the President has not earned the right to address the UK’s lawmakers in the Houses of Parliament, owing to his travel ban.
Sadiq Khan, London’s popular Mayor, was also not keen on Trump’s travel ban, call it “shameful and cruel.”
Trump has apparently held onto this grudge and has attacked Khan on Twitter more than once. Indeed, the President felt it appropriate in 2017, as London was reeling from a terror attack that ultimately left eight people dead, to have a cheap shot at the Mayor by quoting him out of context on Twitter.
The mocking of Trump even goes as far as the Twitter account of Harry Potter creator, J.K. Rowling, who has a catalogue of biting insults to pick from, though probably none better than saying he was worse than Lord Voldemort back in 2015.
And while the argument that the UK has welcomed heads of state with far more problematic legacies than Trump is a valid one — Chinese President Xi Jinping, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and the recently-deposed former Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe, spring to mind — there is something about Trump that seems to get the UK’s back up like few other leaders.
So, when Trump appears in London on June 3, expect huge crowds. And while the Brit’s love of complaining might make you think that this could be cathartic, it really couldn’t come at a worse time.
Days before Trump’s visit, the UK will have been forced to take part in European elections. This was never supposed to happen, but because the UK’s lawmakers have to date found it impossible to reach a compromise on a way to Brexit, the UK is still a member state and must participate.
The European elections, while not a huge political event, will be nasty and bitterly-fought over a single issue: the Brexit impasse.
Activists glue themselves to London train on third day of climate protestsActivists glue themselves to London train on third day of climate protests
On the same day that Trump’s state visit was announced, the newly-formed Brexit Party and its leader Nigel Farage held a press conference, at which candidates talked of the betrayal of democracy. People across the divide are angry about the Brexit mess and the political atmosphere in this country is volatile. If you thought the 2016 referendum was nasty, get ready for round two.
Into all of this walks Donald Trump, a man not known for his sensitivity. His track record includes: retweeting Islamophobic videos from members of a British far-right group; incorrectly saying that UK hospitals were “as bad as a military war zone hospital”; and on the eve of his previous visit to the UK, undermining the British government’s Brexit position at a crucial time.
There is speculation in the UK that the timing of the visit is deliberate, to provide distraction from the European election results, at which both main parties are expecting a pummeling. But it’s hard to see how parading a man so widely-loathed will temper any British public anger.
So, Mr. President: prepare yourself for big crowds, bigger protests and, probably the biggest Baby Blimp you’ve ever seen.

Source: edition.cnn.com


The economy is softening, profit growth is slowing, and a trade war between the United States and China is grinding on.

Stock investors don’t mind.

The S&P 500 rose to a record on Tuesday, surpassing a high last set in September. The day’s gains topped off a rally that has pushed the stock benchmark up 17 percent this year.

That’s the index’s best start to a year since 1987, and one that has confounded those who anticipated that 2019 would be a difficult time for stocks. After all, fear of slowing growth and deteriorating corporate fundamentals — the very same factors that investors are brushing off today — helped trigger a stock market meltdown in December.

Federal Reserve all but promised investors that it wouldn’t raise interest rates further and risk tipping the economy into a recession. Such “easy” monetary policy, to use the jargon of the markets, provides a helping hand to the economy and caps returns on bonds, the main investment alternative to stocks.

Fed, Dimming Its Economic Outlook, Predicts No Rate Increases This YearMarch 20, 2019

The Fed’s Rate-Raising Days Are Over. Wall Street Couldn’t Be Happier.March 20, 2019

That support has touched almost every corner of the market. Speculative small caps, economically sensitive cyclical stocks, time-tested industrials, towering tech giants have all gained. The technology-focused Nasdaq index also rose to a record on Tuesday.

Some of this gain is a rebound from December’s 9 percent slide in the S&P 500. It has also helped that the earnings slowdown isn’t coming as a surprise.

global economy slowing, companies might have a harder time clearing the lower earnings hurdles they now face. Economists expect the pace of growth in the United States to slow to 2.4 percent this year, down from nearly 3 percent in 2018.

America’s peppy growth rate last year also was fueled by the tax cuts, as well as a boost in federal spending. While the economy remains healthy, the benefits of both are fading.

At the same time, the global economy is also losing steam, thanks in part to the continuing trade fight between the United States and China. On April 9, the International Monetary Fund cut its growth forecast for the third time since October, citing the tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

But investors have become more sanguine about the trade fight, with many seeing the lack of fresh tit-for-tat tariffs as an indication that the two countries will eventually come to some sort of an agreement.

“It does feel that both the U.S. and China want to post a win here,” said Kate Moore, chief equity strategist for BlackRock.

nytimes.com

Pastor: Mother of boy thrown from balcony at MOA had a premonition of ‘dread’ that day – Star Tribune

The mother of the boy thrown from a 40-foot balcony at the Mall of America earlier this month had a premonition of “dread” that day, the family’s pastor said in a Facebook video.

Mac Hammond, pastor of the Living Word Christian Center in Brooklyn Park, added that 5-year-old Landen showed “zero evidence” of brain damage after a five-hour MRI session last week.

An attending physician said the child’s injuries were “like he fell off a bicycle instead of off the third floor of the mall,” Hammond told the Living Word congregation in the four-minute video filmed on Easter Sunday.

Children’s Minnesota, where the boy was taken after the April 12 incident, said it had no information Tuesday on Landen.

“We have no information to share on this patient,” a hospital spokeswoman said.

Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda, 24, of Minneapolis has been charged with attempted premeditated first-degree homicide in the attack. He is being held at the Hennepin County jail in lieu of $2 million bond.

Many members of Landen’s extended family are members of Living Word, where his grandparents were founding members, Hammond told the congregation.

When his mother brought the boy to meet friends at the mall that day, Hammond said, she had “a premonition. The Holy Ghost warned her. A dread came over her.”

But she didn’t think she should leave, he continued.

“And so she prayed,” he said. “And she called on the ministering angels to hedge them about.”

Some days after the attack, Hammond told the congregation, Landen’s grandfather called him after the boy had undergone a five-hour MRI session.

“Well, the MRI is a testimony itself,” the grandfather said, according to Hammond. “There was zero evidence of brain damage. Not just brain damage, there wasn’t even any swelling in the brain.

“No spinal cord injury, no nerve damage, no internal injuries that were life-threatening.”

According to Hammond’s account, one of the attending physicians said, “This is truly a miracle. It’s like he fell off a bicycle instead of off the third floor of the mall.”

 

 

Source: startribune.com

Why We Need a New Civil War Documentary – Smithsonian.com

Airing over a span of five nights during late September in 1990, Ken Burns’ “The Civil War” remains, to this day, the only documentary that claims to explain the entirety of the war that engulfed the United States in the mid-19th century. “The Civil War”’s premiere became the most-watched PBS program at the time, with the nine-episode series carrying a total running time of 11 hours, and to this day it remains one of the most popular shows ever to air on public broadcasting. Garnering scores of awards, “The Civil War” has now influenced generations of Americans and shaped their beliefs about slavery, the war itself, and its aftermath. The documentary had an outsized effect on how many Americans think about the war, but it’s one that unfortunately lead to a fundamental misunderstanding about slavery and its legacies—a failing that both undergirds and fuels the flames of racism today.

With the recent debut of Henry Louis Gates’s new multi-part documentary “Reconstruction” on PBS amidst great fanfare, I found myself reflecting upon why Americans desperately need an updated Civil War documentary as well. (You can, and should, stream the documentary for free on PBS.)

Watching “The Civil War” as a teenager several years after its initial release, I became enamored with the series—so much so that I spent my hard-earned money on the expensive companion book and the soundtrack for the haunting “Ashokan Farewell”—a song from the 1980s (not the Civil War era!) that played throughout the series. In many ways, the documentary helped spur my own interest in U.S. history.

Yet as I grew older reading broadly on both the war itself and the 19th-century South, enjoying scholars such as Bell Irvin Wiley, John Hope Franklin, and Victoria Bynum, I realized that I fell in love with the series—but not for its historical accuracy. Instead, it offered a kind of self-satisfaction for me as a white American, and, more importantly, as a white Southerner. I came to realize that by downplaying the importance—and horrors—of slavery, and instead concentrating on hard-fought battles, valiant, virile soldiers, and heart-wrenching tales of romantic love and loss, the documentary specifically targeted one audience: white people.

While there are several difficulties with “The Civil War,” the fact remains that the entire production was written, directed and produced by white men with little in the way of historical training and few connections to academic historians. While undoubtedly masters of the mediums in which they were trained, biographer Geoffrey Ward, producer Ric Burns, and Ken Burns himself surely had blind spots and lacked the diverse perspectives necessary to convey the sheer magnitude and long-lasting impact of the war.

Many professional historians immediately took issue with “The Civil War,” and their concerns were published in a 1997 volume edited by Robert Brent Toplin. Featuring essays by some of the most well-known scholars of the day, including Eric Foner and C. Vann Woodward, with responses by Ken Burns and Geoffrey Ward, Ken Burns’s The Civil War: Historians Respond did little to lessen the continuing impact – indeed, the cultural and intellectual legacy – of the film itself.

It’s worth noting that filmmakers not trained as historians, like Ava DuVernay (Thirteenth) or Marlon Riggs (Ethnic Notions, Color Adjustment), have been able to produce challenging and accurate documentaries. Indeed, through lenses like theirs, the Civil War narrative would have been much more nuanced and would have encompassed of a wider set of experiences and ideas. PBS’s own highly rated Civil Rights documentary, “Eyes on the Prize,” aired in 1987, just a few years prior to “The Civil War.” Although written and directed by a variety of people, “Eyes on the Prize” was – and still is – considered good, sound history, and is still being screened in history classes across the U.S. today.

With funding and filming taking place in the late 1980s, “The Civil War” did reflect the time in which it was made. James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom won the Pulitzer Prize in 1989, and Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels, a best-selling novel from 1974 about the Battle of Gettysburg, still exerted obvious influence. Both of these popular histories were focused almost solely on military history – battles, soldiers, and life on the warfront, and they seemingly guided the general focus of both the editing and production of “The Civil War.”

But scores of other field-changing histories were overlooked by the documentarians: Eric Foner’s magnum opus Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 won the Bancroft Prize the same year Battle Cry of Freedom won the Pulitzer. Carrying on themes from W.E.B. DuBois’s Black Reconstruction in America (1935), Foner’s work opens in 1863 with the Emancipation Proclamation, and unquestionably places slavery at the center of the Civil War. In so doing he shatters the myths of the infamously pro-Lost Cause Dunning School, whose racist theories had shaped Americas historical narrative since the early 1900s. Not only did these white Southern-sympathizers eventually determine how the Civil War and Reconstruction would be taught throughout U.S. schools, they also quickly came to dominate popular culture as well, most famously in the wildly popular Birth of a Nation, D.W. Griffith’s 1915 blackface film.

Among many other omissions, the documentary completely ignores the work of the Freedmen and Southern Society Project (FSSP), a group of highly regarded historians based out of the University of Maryland. By the mid-1980s, the FSSP had produced considerable new scholarship explaining both the political importance and daily brutalities of slavery, as well as the complicated transition out of it. By “transcribing, organizing, and annotating” tens of thousands of documents explaining “how black people traversed the bloody ground from slavery to freedom” between 1861 and 1867, the FSSP’s research could have been easily incorporated into “The Civil War.”

The problem of having an all-white, all-male (and non-historian) production team was further compounded by Burns’ choice of interviewees. Eight-and-a-half minutes into the first episode, Shelby Foote, a Mississippi-born writer with an accent as thick and sweet as Tupelo honey, made his unforgettable debut. The descendant of wealthy, slaveholding planters who fought for the Confederacy, Foote, a writer and journalist with no historical background, made the first of many appearances in which he spoke with the authority of a historian, but with none of the scholarly understanding of the war. Yet Foote was so charming and stereotypically “southern” that the Burns brothers used his interviews as the dominant narrative throughout the entirety of the film.

At nine minutes into the first episode, the film’s only historian with a doctorate, Barbara Fields—now recognized as one of the world’s foremost scholars on race and racism—unequivocally stated that slavery was the primary cause of the Civil War. The bloodiest time in our nation’s history, she argued, was about “humanity, human dignity, human freedom.”

But Foote was given the final word in the scene. Instead of slavery, he claimed, the Civil War occurred because of our “failure to compromise.” Fields would receive approximately eight-and-a-half minutes of airtime throughout the nine episodes, while Foote, whose quotes could best be described as a Confederate apologia, would be featured for an astounding 45 minutes and 56 seconds.

In a 2011 article for Slate, historian James Lundberg also took the film to task, especially for its extraordinary and disproportionate focus on Foote. “For all its appeal, however,” he wrote, “‘The Civil War’ is a deeply misleading and reductive film that often loses historical reality in the mists of Burns’ sentimental vision and the romance of Foote’s anecdotes.”

To be sure, “The Civil War” skews towards propagating the idea of the Lost Cause, often venerating Confederate officers and soldiers if not the Confederacy itself. The first episode alone reveals how deeply this ran: Within the opening few minutes, narrator David McCullough literally attributes the cause of the war to states’ rights. In what would become a refrain among groups ranging from the Ku Klux Klan to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, his proclamation resonates: “What began as a bitter dispute over union and states’ rights…”

The first mention of slavery is not until six minutes into the film, at which time it is invoked with McCullough erroneously stating that Robert E. Lee “disapproved” of slavery, a fact easily challenged by the fact that Lee fought to inherit enslaved people who his father-in-law, George Washington Parke Custis, wanted to free. Soon after, the first African-American is mentioned: a short vignette about the writer, activist and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, referred to as a “runaway boy” even though Douglass was about 20 years old when he escaped slavery. After a very cursory four-minute discussion (a full minute less than the time devoted to the Battle of the Monitor and Merrimack), slavery—and the enslaved themselves—are rarely discussed.

The sins of omission in “The Civil War” unfortunately are not without consequence. Because so many Americans have had their basic understanding of the causes of secession, the realities of racial slavery, and the atrocities of the Confederacy profoundly shaped by this documentary, current day topics, from the Confederate Monument/flag debate to the push for reparations by American Descendants of Slaves, remain bitterly divisive, even though clear historical answers obviously exist.

By focusing on a type of military history wherein all sides can be seen as—in some way—heroic, “The Civil War” allows us, as white Americans, to forget about the reasons why we were fighting in the first place. It allows us to focus only on an antiseptic form of history that makes us feel good, on a narrative that emotionally relieves us of sins that should not be relieved. It allows us to convince ourselves that the dishonorable were in some way honorable; it reassures our sense of selves as inculpable white Americans; it allows us a psychological pass for the sins of our forefathers.

While all major projects inevitably have detractors focusing on what was left out, the film’s near silence on a range of topics—from Native Americans and campaigns in the West to labor issues and the divided South—might allow it to be called a good work of military history, but not much more than that.

We desperately need a new Civil War documentary that can be seen by broad swathes of the American public. Because film is such an emotionally resonant medium, and such a wonderful means of bringing a scholarly subject to the general public, it is imperative that true experts of Civil War era and slavery studies use this medium to (re)educate the American people about our own history.

Americans would greatly benefit from a new telling of the Civil War, of its causes and effects, of its soul-crushing violence and its joyful freedoms, of its heartening triumphs and abject failures. But it must be the story of ALL Americans—not just of white politicians and soldiers. Ideally this new documentary would draw on the burgeoning and innovative field of slavery studies, featuring the work of new scholars.

By the end of the documentary, Ken Burns and his team made the Civil War seem almost unavoidable, and by making Americans believe in the war’s inevitability, the film allows whites a type of psychological “pass”—forgiveness for the sins of our forefathers—for both the war and its cause. By focusing on reconciliation, and by advancing a story that centered on personal stories of common soldiers, “The Civil War” provided a soothing narrative of American greatness—one that often bordered on the importunate idea of American exceptionalism.

Minimizing hundreds of years of uncompensated, brutalized slavery, omitting the abject failure of any type of reparations, and completely ignoring the racist violence following the end of the war, “The Civil War” ultimately allowed white Americans to distance themselves from current-day racism and the persistent (and worsening) racial wealth gap. It pardoned sinners who had never asked for pardon; it erased the sadistic violence of the era that still has yet to be fully exposed; it made it all, somehow, feel worth it.

Earlier this month, though, with the airing of “Reconstruction” on PBS, Americans got to see what a documentary written and produced by, and featuring, a diverse cast of historians could do to reframe the dominant narrative. Viewers learned basic facts about the era which were not— and devastatingly, still are not—taught in textbooks. “Reconstruction” laid a sound and accurate base of political and cultural history upon which other filmmakers will surely build.

Unfortunately, it seems as if “The Civil War” will not hold up against historical scrutiny as well as “Reconstruction” likely will. As Eric Foner opined in his critique of “The Civil War,” “Faced with the choice between historical illumination or nostalgia, Burns consistently opts for nostalgia.” As we’ve seen in “Reconstruction,” historical reality, no matter how painful and violent and vivid, can be effectively and evocatively portrayed though documentary film.

Source: smithsonianmag.com

First ever criminal charges for a pharma distributor and exec – ABC News

Source: abcnews.go.com

Mitt Romney poses a major headache for Trump on Fed appointments – CNBC

President Donald Trump’s effort to stack the Federal Reserve with ideological allies has run into a familiar foe: Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, who’s likely to continue to act as a bulwark against the central bank becoming a target for political appointees.

During the 2016 Republican presidential primary season, Romney held a news conference to lambaste candidate Trump. The Utah senator also was critical of the president following last week’s release of Robert Mueller’s investigation into accusations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to sway the General Election.

The battleground has now shifted, and Romney is expected to dig in against efforts by Trump to appoint Fed officials who will enforce his highly publicized demands for lower interest rates.

“On a lot of issues, Romney is sort of a Boy Scout. I think he sincerely believes in getting the best qualified people, and clearly Cain was not,” said Greg Valliere, chief U.S. policy strategist at investment manager AGF. “Romney is going to try to be the arbiter of who’s qualified and who’s not. The friction between Romney and the White House is only going to intensify.”

Romney’s office did not respond to several requests for comment.

The 2012 Republican presidential nominee told Politico in an interview earlier this month that he was opposing Cain because he wanted Fed governors who are “economists first and not partisans.”

“The key is that someone is outside of the political world and is an economic leader not a partisan leader,” he said.

With Cain, as well as economic commentator Stephen Moore, Trump nominated two people who came under fire both for their academic qualifications as well as questionable conduct regarding women. Cain faced harassment allegations that he denied during his own 2012 quest for the presidency, while Moore has seen controversy regarding a divorce, and more recently columns he wrote years ago that used sexist language toward women.

Whether the personal issues would come into play is unknown, but Romney has made it clear what kind of candidate he wants.

Romney “intends to use his new position to try to shield the Fed from overt politicization as part of what we expect will be a broader effort to curb the excesses of the Trump administration and its undermining of independent institutions within government,” Krishna Guha, head of the global policy and central bank strategy group at Evercore ISI, said in a research note. “Romney’s standard – that he wants to see Fed nominees who are economists first and partisans second – would appear to rule out Moore too.”

Moore, though, may have an easier time of it simply because the Republican-controlled Senate may not want to reject both of its president’s nominees.

Markets will be watching the developments closely. The Fed is always a focal point for Wall Street but has been even more so as Trump has stepped up his criticism even while Chairman Jerome Powell has indicated no rate hikes are planned at least through the rest of 2019.

Trump “has demonstrated repeatedly disregard for institutional independence within government,” Guha said, and if that persists it has the potential to rattle markets.

“Against this backdrop, the readiness and ability of Romney and other pro-business Republicans to be effective gatekeepers now on the current batch of nominees will materially influence how markets price the risk of a more serious assault on Fed independence – one of a cocktail of political risks that will take on substantial importance in the run-up to the 2020 election,” Guha wrote.

For his part, Trump has said he believes in Fed independence, but also in expressing his desires.

“The president believes, and I concur, that the Fed’s target rate should be lower,” Larry Kudlow, the chairman of the National Economic Council and a key advisor to Trump, said Tuesday at the National Press Club. “As you may now, the president is not bashful about expressing his opinions. … He actually knows quite a bit about this stuff.”

Source: cnbc.com

Netanyahu Seeks to Name a Golan Settlement for President Trump – The New York Times

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said on Tuesday that he would ask his government to approve naming a new Jewish settlement in the Golan Heights for President Trump, in appreciation of the American leader’s proclamation recognizing Israel’s authority over the long-disputed territory.

Mr. Netanyahu’s announcement, made during a Passover tour of the Golan Heights with his family, came a month after Mr. Trump’s proclamation, which delivered a valuable pre-election gift to Mr. Netanyahu even as it upended decades of American policy in the Middle East.

Despite facing corruption charges, Mr. Netanyahu has since won a fourth consecutive term in office — a fifth over all — setting him on course to become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, surpassing the record of the founding premier, David Ben Gurion.

“All Israelis were deeply moved when President Trump made his historic decision to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” Mr. Netanyahu said in a video on Tuesday, against the backdrop of the sunny, windswept strategic plateau that Israel captured from Syria during the Six-Day War of 1967.

including Mr. Netanyahu in 2010 — have tried to negotiate a land-for-peace deal with Syria that would involve an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights.

expressed deep concern over reported government plans to increase the population of the area to 250,000 people by 2048.

Although Mr. Trump’s recognition remains at odds with United Nations resolutions rejecting the seizure of land by force, Mr. Netanyahu has hailed it as a diplomatic victory.

Some Israeli experts welcomed the recognition as a friendly gesture, though one that has limited value.

“It’s nice to have, but how significant it is could be argued,” Sallai Meridor, who served as Israel’s ambassador to the United States from 2005 to 2009, said in a recent interview.

commentators responded with sarcastic suggestions like calling the territory “Golden Heights” or “Golfing Heights.”

In late 2017, after Mr. Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, an Israeli minister proposed to express his gratitude by putting Mr. Trump’s name on a new train station that would bring thousands of tourists directly to the Jewish Quarter of the disputed Old City.

The minister, Yisrael Katz, was in charge of transportation and intelligence affairs at the time. He is now also Israel’s minister of foreign affairs.

It is unclear whether the new train station will ultimately be built.

nytimes.com

On a Day of Mourning in Sri Lanka, Religious Tension Builds – The New York Times

NEGOMBO, Sri Lanka — The coffins came one by one, some heavy and others unusually light.

As bulldozers tore into the fresh earth, clearing an enormous burial ground, barefoot men dripping with sweat scooped shovelfuls of dirt. The sun beat down, and one family stood in the shade. They were here for the burial of an 11-year-old boy.

“I don’t even know what to say,” said Lasanthi Anusha, whose son stood looking at the grave of his friend. “There were even smaller ones.”

Mass burials of the victims of Sunday’s suicide attacks in Sri Lanka, which killed more than 300 people, including dozens of children, began on Tuesday.

The bombers, identified as Islamist extremists by the government, struck three churches during Easter Mass and three hotels. In Negombo, the site of the deadliest attack, armored personnel carriers lined the roads as funeral rites unfolded amid intense security and sadness.

briefed in great detail in early April about a possible attack on Catholic churches.

“I want to talk with the president!” she yelled. “The government knew this was going to happen. I want to go on television saying this. They don’t care about us because we are poor people.”

As the day turned hot, it was time to lay Ms. Fernando’s body to rest.

Her family blessed the coffin. The sons-in-law filed out onto the road. Their wives stayed behind, planning a more intimate trip to the grave with candles for the next day.

At the burial grounds, the men gathered next to a red coffin. A priest read the Lord’s Prayer. They bowed their heads.

They stood silently, watching as a wooden stake labeled “22” was pushed into the earth.
Another two dozen stakes were placed a short distance away, ready for the next bodies to arrive.

nytimes.com