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Monthly Archives: March 2018

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For the past year, Millennial Pink appeared to be the color that just wouldn’t quit. It was everywhere, from beauty products to cookware to clothing and even suitcases. But there’s a new color ready to take over our Instagram feeds ― they call it mellow Gen Z Yellow

The sunny shade seemingly started trending last summer, with Gen Z stars like Yara Shahidi, Zendaya and Millie Bobby Brown trying it on for themselves. (I also gave the color a try.) As Insider pointed out, it “made a splash” even earlier, when Beyoncé donned the now-iconic yellow ruffled Gucci dress in her “Hold Up” music video. 

One of the keys to this sunny shade’s popularity may be that it’s not just one particular hue. Instead, Haley Nahman at Man Repeller wrote, it’s about “several shades, from buttercream to melted butter and beyond.” 

“By 2018, the entire internet will probably look like the inside of a banana,” she added.

Well, here we are in 2018, and Gen Z yellow is definitely the latest “it” color, with skincare brandscelebrities and fashion designers fully embracing it. If you’re on the fence about trying out the shade for yourself, you should know that research has shown yellow can actually evoke positive emotions. And not only can it help brighten your day (physically and mentally), it may have positive effects on those around you. 

“Because [bright colors] usually aren’t the norm, they will attract attention and usually other people tend to like them and will comment to somebody, ‘Oh, you look great. I love that color,’” Leslie Harrington, executive director of the Color Association of the United States, told HuffPost in 2017. “That then feeds into this cycle of feeling good about ourselves.” 

We have no doubts in our minds that Gen Z Yellow really is going to be everywhere this spring and summer. If you still need inspiration, or proof that Gen Z Yellow is even a thing, just keep scrolling:

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    (CNN)When President Donald Trump signed the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill on Friday, he approved what his administration calls the largest military budget in US history, $700 billion.

    On Tuesday, CNN reported that Trump has privately floated the idea of using that military budget to fund construction of a border wall with Mexico. Trump discussed that idea in a private meeting last week with House Speaker Paul Ryan, a source familiar with the conversations said, as he reviewed the omnibus spending bill, which does not include funding for construction of a wall.
    It was not immediately clear how serious Trump was about pursuing this option, but the move would likely face steep hurdles with appropriators in Congress.
      Trump said the military spending was one of the major reasons he signed the bill, which had earlier threatened to veto.
      “Our military is very depleted, but it’s rapidly getting better. And in a short period of time it will be stronger than it has ever been,” Trump said, touting some weapons systems as the best the world has ever seen.
      “We in the military are humbled and grateful to the American people for their sacrifices on behalf of this funding,” Secretary of Defense James Mattis said. “Now it’s our responsibility in the military to spend every dollar wisely in order to keep the trust and the confidence of the American people and the Congress.”
      In the cases of several items, Congress gave the Pentagon even more than it asked for.
      Here are some of the highlights of what US taxpayers are getting for their $700 billion.

        F-35 fighter flies off Navy ship

      F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

      The Pentagon asked for 70 of the stealth jets, which come in three versions for the Air Force, Marines and Navy, at a cost of $10.8 billion. Congress threw in $2.9 billion more to add 20 of the jets to the order. Trump calls the F-35 “the most sophisticated aircraft in the world,” but questions remain over its effectiveness, with the Project on Government Oversight reporting the 235 F-35s now in service are only fully mission capable 26% of the time.

      F/A-18 Super Hornet

      The twin-engine jet is the mainstay of Navy and Marine Corps aviation, and the Pentagon asked for 14 of them at a cost of $1.3 billion. Congress added 10 more for an additional $739 million. The F/A-18 fleet has been pushed by high operational demand, and in February 2017, the Navy said nearly two-thirds of its F/A-18s were grounded by repair delays and a lack of spare parts.

      AH-64 Apache helicopter

      Boeing says the Apache is the most advanced multi-role helicopter in the world, definitely music to the President’s ears. Congress likes them a lot too, granting the Pentagon’s request for 63 of the choppers at $1.4 billion and adding $577 million to the budget to put 17 more in the US Army’s inventory.

      UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter

      The Pentagon asked for 48 of the Black Hawks, the US Army’s primary platform for tactical transport and air assault. Congress funded that $1.1 billion request and added $108 million for eight more Black Hawks to go to Army National Guard units. It also added $400 million for eight units of the Navy’s version of the UH-60, the MH-60R Seahawk, which the Navy uses for anti-submarine warfare.

        America’s new carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford

      Ford-class aircraft carrier

      The budget provides $4.5 billion for construction of a Ford-class aircraft carrier, the most expensive and sophisticated warships in the world. The USS Gerald R Ford, the lead ship in the class, was commissioned last year after amassing $13 billion in construction costs. The second Ford-class carrier, the USS John F. Kennedy, is under construction and the first steel has been cut for the third, the USS Enterprise. But the Ford may not be combat-ready for several years as the Navy tests and integrates its systems.

      Arleigh Burke-class destroyer

      The Navy asked for and got $4 billion for two of the guided-missile destroyers, the backbone of its fleet. Arleigh Burke-class destroyers made headlines in 2017 when two of them, the USS Fitzgerald and USS John McCain, were involved in deadly collisions with cargo ships off Japan and Singapore, resulting in the deaths of 17 US sailors. Those two ships are under repair and the two ships in the latest budget will be additions to the fleet. Besides naval combat duties, Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are equipped with the Aegis missile defense system, an important tool in protecting the United States and its allies from ballistic missile attacks.

      SM-3 Block IB missile interceptors

      Congress added $178 million to the Pentagon’s $454 million request for the interceptors, the sharp end of the Aegis missile defense system. The interceptors cost about $15 million each. “We are spending tremendous money on missile defense,” Trump said Friday. The Navy has been testing newer, longer range versions of the SM-3 interceptor, but the most recent test off Hawaii in January failed.

        Inside the Navy’s ‘most lethal warship’

      Virginia-class submarines

      The budget provides $5.5 billion for two of the nuclear-powered attack submarines, which can carry Tomahawk missiles to hit land targets and MK48 torpedoes for targets at sea. The Navy has 13 Virginia-class subs on duty with another 15 under construction or on order. When one of the Virginia-class subs, the USS South Dakota, was christened last year, the Navy touted its stealthy characteristics as crucial as adversaries such as China and Russia make improvements to their navies.

      KC-46A tankers

      Trump raved about the tankers on Friday, saying they “allow our planes to travel anywhere in the world without landing.” While that may be a bit of hyperbole, keeping combat aircraft on station over the battlefield is a big deal so they can react to support requests quickly. Congress is giving the Air Force money for 18 of the twin-engine jets (the service asked for 15), or about $3.6 billion.

      A-10 Warthog

      Congress allocated $103 million for upgraded wings for the veteran ground-attack aircraft, which have proved vital in fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq and have recently been deployed to Afghanistan. The Air Force said last year the money would be used to reopen a Boeing production line for the A-10 wings as well as funding wings for four planes. There are 283 A-10s in the Air Force fleet, but the service said about 40 would need to be grounded in the next three years unless new wings became available. The twin-engine jets first entered service in 1977.

        Inside a US Navy Poseidon

      P-8A Poseidon

      The P-8A is the US Navy’s most-advanced submarine-hunting and surveillance aircraft. Congress saw fit to pony up $2.1 billion for 10 of the aircraft, three units and $501 million more than the Pentagon asked for. P-8As have been in the headlines several times in the past several years, being the targets of intercepts by both Chinese and Russian jets as well as participating in searches for a missing Argentinian submarine and the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

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      When RuPaul made the decision to cast another full-time judge ahead of “Drag Race” Season 7, he had three requirements: The person who would sit alongside him and longtime table mate Michelle Visage had to be “wickedly funny, smart and experienced.”

      As it turned out, two candidates fit that bill. And since Ru couldn’t choose between them ― one a beloved style guru, the other a red carpet stalwart ― he went ahead and hired both. Enter Carson Kressley and Ross Mathews. 

      On a reality series that boasts its fair share of celebrity guest judges (Kathy Griffin, Margaret Cho, Johnny Weir, Lena Headey, Neil Patrick Harris, Vanessa Williams, Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera, to name a few), Michelle, Carson and Ross manage to do what a cameo player never could. They rise above the enthralling fracas of competition to deliver whip-smart commentary and artistically sound evaluations episode after episode, without falling prey to the show’s real stars: the queens.

      As RuPaul insists, the judges aren’t “just showbiz experts, they’re super-fans and longtime lovers of the art of drag.”

      Fans and lovers, yes, but also cultural critics who have been endowed with a serious responsibility. Whereas Simon, Randy and Paula needed only to identify a good voice and a pop-friendly image on “American Idol,” Michelle, Carson and Ross (and Merle Ginsberg andSantino Rice before them) must coronate a queen who meets the drag world’s highest standards ― all the while entertaining an audience who might be getting their very first taste of drag culture courtesy of VH1. It’s no small task, and it takes a trio of entertainment veterans to pull it off.

      HuffPost caught up with Kressley, Mathews and Visage before the Season 10 premiere to learn more about their ability to amuse the masses and their careers before “Drag Race.” Here’s how, in their own words, they came to sit comfortably beside Mother Ru. 

      Michelle Visage

      Michelle Visage was raised in New Jersey by overly supportive adoptive parents, who never failed to tell her how special she was “from the moment they received me.” 

      RuPaul, it seems, had a similar reaction to meeting Visage. They first came face to face in the late ’80s New York nightclub scene, when Visage was 18 or 19, and then officially reunited in 1992 at the New Music Seminar.

      “We bumped into each other in the green room and that’s when I said, ‘Honey, I don’t know if you remember me?’ And he was like, ‘Bitch, remember you?! You are a fucking superstar. I have been watching you for years.’ And I was looking around going, ‘Me?! You’re talking to me?! I’m a superstar?’” she told HuffPost. “This is the first person other than my mom and dad who ever told me I was a superstar. Somebody like RuPaul saw me clearly, with full vision, and that was the moment where I was like, ‘There’s something else to this relationship.’”

      Of course at that point, Visage, now 49, had already made a name for herself in the music business. Being an entertainer was something she’d dreamed about ever since she performed “Rhinestone Cowboy” on her organ in the second grade. From an early age, she wanted to become the next Madonna, so she moved to New York City, attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and hustled to find gigs after graduation. Theater casting directors initially told her that she wasn’t the right fit for Broadway, so Visage decided to follow a different path. 

      “I auditioned for [the R&B girl group] Seduction, which was really ballsy and weird because they had already had the Caucasian girl, so to speak,” Visage said. “I basically said, ‘Well, you don’t have me and you haven’t heard me. I’m the one that you really want.’ I always had balls of steel and that’s kind of how it started.” 

      We bumped into each other in the green room and that’s when I said, ‘Honey, I don’t know if you remember me?’ And [RuPaul] was like, ‘Bitch, remember you?! You are a fucking superstar. I have been watching you for years.’ Michelle Visage

      At 19, Visage became a member of Seduction, with April Harris and Idalis DeLeón. The ladies produced a few hit songs, including “It Takes Two” and “(You’re My One and Only) True Love,” but never had the leadership they needed to achieve bonafide success. 

      “En Vogue was out at the same time and they were so amazing, but everything went to them at that point and Seduction was forgotten about,” Visage said. “The record label and PR people didn’t really know how to work us in the correct way. And then, of course, there were personal issues amongst the girls.”

      After the group disbanded in 1991, Visage had no management, no agent and no support from producers.

      “I ended up not knowing what to do, not getting my solo deal and working in a strip club in Queens hosting the hot oil wrestling on the microphone,” she said. “I did that for nearly two years, starting out in Queens at Goldfingers, and then Goldfingers opened in Manhattan and it was huge. That’s when C+C [Clivillés and Cole], [Seduction’s] producers, contacted me to do a solo project, which ended up being S.O.U.L. S.Y.S.T.E.M.”

      S.O.U.L. S.Y.S.T.E.M.’s one hit, “It’s Gonna Be a Lovely Day,” appeared on the 1992 soundtrack for “The Bodyguard,” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club chart and peaked at No. 34 on the Hot 100

      After that moment of fame, Visage dabbled in radio and eventually landed a gig with WKTU in New York. Following her successful stint as the “girl on the street” alongside Hollywood Hamilton and Goumba Johnny, the station decided to set Visage up with another on-air personality. 

      “They said, ‘We want to send a person to fashion week, so meet at 5 a.m. tomorrow morning,’” she recalled. “I show up to the hotel at 5 a.m. and in walks RuPaul. Literally, Ru looks at me ― I didn’t know it was going to be Ru, he didn’t know it was going to be me ― and he said, ‘Of course it’s you sitting here! Who else would it be? This is why all roads led to this day.’ And we did our week together, they hired us immediately, our first ratings book beat Howard Stern in New York City ― which hadn’t been done in decades ― and they knew it was a hit. So we signed for two years, and then Ru immediately brought me in as a sidekick on his VH1 show.” 

      Since then, Visage has been by RuPaul’s side, officially joining “Drag Race” as a regular mentor on Season 3 in 2011. 

      “It’s been a gift, and the biggest gift of all is to be able to sit next to my best friend and watch the amazing talent that comes through,” she said. “The more the show continues, grows and expands, the more drag changes, grows and expands. These kids who were once 11 and grew up on ‘Drag Race’ are now 21 and can audition, so there’s a whole new crop, plus the ones who were already in existence for 20 years. There’s no end in sight to me and it’s changing the queer landscape for the better.” 

      Carson Kressley

      Carson Kressley was gliding out of “Queer Eye” fame when RuPaul summoned him to the “Drag Race” stage in 2014. 

      “We did a show together called ‘Skin Wars,’ which was on the Game Show Network, and he was one of the hosts and permanent judges,” Kressley told HuffPost. “I was a guest judge and that’s when he asked, ‘Why haven’t you been on my show?’”

      A fitting question for someone who has more experience than most in the realm of lifestyle critique. 

      Born and raised outside Allentown, Pennsylvania ― “almost in Amish country, I call it Amish-adjacent,” he said ― fashion aficionado Kressley has always considered himself a standout. 

      “I grew up on a pony farm, which I know sounds like the reason why I might be gay,” he joked. 

      Kressley became an equestrian at a very young age and spent a lot of time alone with the horses on his family’s farm. “It was a little bit like an after-school special but not quite that sad,” he said. “It was the 1970s, so I think I was wildly influenced by television. I became enraptured by ‘The Carol Burnett Show’ and ‘Fantasy Island,’ and I think I got my penchant for shopping from watching ‘The Price Is Right’ on sick days. My eye for fashion came from TV as well, from shows like ‘Hart to Hart’ and ‘Charlie’s Angels.’”

      The 48-year-old said that when other kids were drawing pictures of race cars, he “was drawing French provincial houses and pantsuit sketches,” adding that he begged for and eventually received the Fashion Designer set by Milton Bradley as a present. 

      Kressley also credits his mom with inspiring his love of design in the ’70s. “I remember being marched off to a store called The Hum to get a suit that I wore on Sundays — it was polyester and a terra-cotta color,” he said. “Seeing my mom wearing Bob Mackie long evening gowns to go to a cocktail party or a pantsuit for work, I was taught the importance of wearing the right thing at the right time.” 

      His passions drove him to New York City in the ’90s, where he eventually landed a job at Ralph Lauren.

      Shane Gritzinger via Getty Images
      The original cast of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” (left to right): Jai Rodriguez, Thom Filicia, Carson Kressley, Ted Allen and Kyan Douglas.

      During his seven-year tenure as a stylist-turned-creative director at Ralph Lauren, Kressley more or less stumbled across “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” a reality series being created for Bravo in the early 2000s. (He doesn’t appear in the Netflix reboot.) On the set of an ad campaign, a producer friend told Kressley that Bravo was looking for a stylist to be part of a group of gay men (aka the Fab Five), all with their own expertise, who would help straight men discover their true potential.

      “I called Bravo, and at that point I thought they were a non-stick cooking spray. I had no idea they were even a network,” Kressley laughed. After some back and forth, he was called in for an interview, and then another, and another, until he was cast in the pilot episode. 

      “I took a couple of vacation days off of work, we made a pilot on Newbury Street in Boston, and then lots and lots of time went by,” he said. “In that interim, Bravo was purchased by NBC and the new head of the network said, ‘I really like this concept for “Queer Eye,” let’s do it.’ So the producers called and said, ‘Are you ready to quit your job?’ And I said, ‘Oh my God, do you guys have dental insurance?’” 

      The show was an overnight success, and Kressley and his co-stars became household names.

      “We had no idea the show would do what it did,” he said. “I look back at the pictures and I’m like, ‘I did host the Flame Worthy Awards with Dolly Parton! We did go to the White House!’ We did so much in such a whirlwind amount of time that we couldn’t really savor it all.”

      After “Queer Eye” ended in 2007, Kressley was given opportunity after opportunity, and he didn’t turn down a single one. “I say yes a lot,” he joked. “I call it the William Shatner School of Showbiz.” Programs like “How to Look Good Naked” and “Carson Nation” led him to appear as a contestant on “Dancing With the Stars” in 2011 before he ultimately met up with RuPaul, who he believes offered him the perfect gig.

      “A lot of the judging on this show I think of as coaching,” Kressley said. “Michelle, Ross, Ru and myself, we’ve all done a thousand auditions at the start, and we all realize the importance of presentation and the hoops you have to jump through in showbiz,” he said. “We just want them to be successful … and we can save them, hopefully, a lot of time and heartache by giving them some valuable kernels of wisdom.” 

      Ross Mathews  

      Ross Mathews bumped into RuPaul at a red carpet event a few years into his budding career as Ross the Intern on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” 

      Already a longtime fan of Ru’s, Mathews grew even more enamored as they chatted about the drag queen’s first book, Lettin’ It All Hang Out. “I remember thinking, ‘This person looks so fabulous, so show business and so glossy, but here they are writing about the real nitty-gritty.’ I was intrigued by that juxtaposition,” Mathews told HuffPost. 

      Admittedly, Mathews has always been dazzled by Hollywood types. 

      “I wanted to meet every celebrity in the entire world. I wanted to interview them, I wanted to see a soundstage, I wanted to know who pulled the lever that made the curtain open. I just wanted to know everything about show business,” he said. 

      That’s pretty much how he found himself as a correspondent on “The Tonight Show,” where he appeared for nearly 15 years beginning in the early 2000s. He would do bits and attend red carpet events for the late-night program, showing off his natural charisma and built-in comedic chops while attending California’s University of La Verne as a communications major. 

      “I went from zero to a million miles an hour on that show,” he said. “I was literally living in the dorms but appearing on the No.1 late-night show in the nation, and so I learned incredible work ethic and incredible gratitude. It was like showbiz bootcamp — I was learning from the best of the best.”

      Mathews said he’s wanted to be a talk show host since he was 7 years old. Growing up in a little farm town in Washington, he was well aware that he wasn’t like the other kids, but he had the unending support of his family and friends. 

      “It could’ve been really difficult, because I’m kind of like a gay cartoon and there weren’t a lot of people like me growing up in Mount Vernon, Washington,” he said. “But I lucked out. Of course I had challenges, but I had the best weapon in the world, which is humor.” 

      While learning the ins and outs of production as a creative consultant alongside Leno and his team, Mathews began booking side gigs on networks like VH1 and E!, where he was a regular commentator on Chelsea Handler’s show, “Chelsea Lately,” and co-hosted red carpet shows. 

      “All those years I covered the red carpet, it wasn’t just like a pinch-me moment but a pinch-me life,” Mathews said. “I used to cut out pictures of the Oscars or Golden Globes from the magazines and tape them to my wall, and here I was, as a grownup, on the red carpet year after year after year.”

      Throughout his career, mentors like Leno, Handler and Rosie O’Donnell have taught him to “trust my own voice and carve my own lane. I couldn’t sort of imitate anybody,” Mathews said. “No matter how hard I try, I’m never going to sound like anyone else. I realized that some people may be funnier than me, but nobody has my point of view.”

      That confidence is what caught the attention of RuPaul, who after their initial meeting asked Mathews to appear as a guest judge on Season 4 of “Drag Race.” The team asked Mathews to return as a permanent judge a few years later. 

      “It was one of those moments in life where I wanted to push pause for a second and let it digest, because I don’t know if I’ve ever been more qualified for anything in my entire life,” he gushed. “I love drag queens, I go to drag shows all the time, I love sitting in the front row, I love breaking a $50 so I can tip the girls. I judge like a fan.”

      The 38-year-old said he’s honored to be a part of “Drag Race” and to sit beside his fellow panelists.

      “It is unbelievable how Ru and these producers up their game every single time. Just when I think things couldn’t get any better, it gets so much better, and that’s a testament to Ru,” Mathews said. “I just want to say something about RuPaul: Ru is the most fabulous person I’ve met in my entire life and the fact that Ru thinks I’m fabulous makes me feel like a unicorn,” he added. “It makes me feel like I could do anything in the entire world. And I think anyone who’s met Ru or seen Ru on TV can understand how I feel.” 

      “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 10 airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on VH1. 

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      ESPN baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian should never cover the Grammy Awards.

      During the Opening Day broadcast of the Chicago Cubs-Miami Marlins game in Miami Thursday, the 61-year-old announcer hilariously confessed to striking out when it comes to music knowledge.

      “I need to get out of the house a little bit more, I think that’s fairly obvious,” he told fellow commentators Eduardo Perez and Karl Ravech. “I thought Lynyrd Skynyrd was a guy ― I thought his name was Len, I didn’t know it was a band. I thought Jethro Tull was a guy instead of a band.”

      “And ― this is really bad,” he went on. “For a very short time in my life… I wasn’t sure if Kanye West was a man or a woman. That’s how bad I am at music.”

      For the record, there was a real Jethro Tull and a real Leonard Skinner.

      Twitter users had some fun with Kurkjian’s confession.

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      (CNN)Joshua Blue didn’t know Draylen Mason. The two never met.

      Like Mason, Blue is a classically trained musician. Like Mason, he is black. And like Mason, he shared a connection to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio.
      Mason had just been admitted to Oberlin’s prestigious music school, but the 17-year-old died without hearing the news of his achievement.
        So now, Blue, who graduated from Oberlin in 2016, wants to do something to help Mason’s musical legacy live on. He’s launched a petition urging Oberlin to create a scholarship fund in Mason’s name.
        “(Mason) would’ve gone on to be a mentor to the people that will come after him,” Blue explained to CNN.

        Minorities in the arts

        As a fellow musician of color, Blue said he understands the challenges that minorities face to succeed in the arts and he feels someone should recognize how much Mason had accomplished in his short life.
        The petition calls for two things: a scholarship fund under Mason’s name to help people of color attend the conservatory, and the awarding of a posthumous degree to Mason.
        “People of color continue to be appallingly underrepresented in the musical arts. A student who was clearly up for the challenge, Draylen would have been entering the world of music without many mentors who look like him,” Blue wrote on the online petition page. “His entry into musical academia would in itself be a radical action, and for his sake, and for those who are put off by the lack of representation, this needs to change.”
        Originally, Blue’s goal was 700 signatures — one for each student at Oberlin’s Conservatory of Music. In one day, he got 1,500.
        Now he’s aiming for 3,000 signatures — to roughly represent the entire student body of Oberlin College. He said he didn’t expect signatures to pour in so quickly.
        “I thought that at the very least it was going to be a gesture of good faith,” said Blue, a tenor who is currently a masters student at the Juilliard School in New York .
        Blue said he’s been in contact with Mason’s family about the idea of creating a fund under Mason’s name. He’s also been in contact with Oberlin about how such a fund might be established.
        Oberlin has not responded to multiple requests for comment from CNN.

        A ‘most remarkable talent’

        As a recipient of many scholarships at Oberlin, Blue understands their impact.
        “I don’t come from a high-income family,” he said, “For someone like me to have a scholarship, it’s allowed me to do a bunch of things.”
        Mason had already been accepted into the selective Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin, CNN affiliate KXAN reported.
        He was the “most remarkable talent in a most remarkable youth orchestra program called Austin Sound Waves,” said Doug Dempster, dean of the College of Fine Arts at UT Austin.
        An online campaign also is underway to raise money to help Mason’s family rebuild their home, which was damaged in the March 12 bombing.
        In his petition, Blue praised Oberlin for its history of fighting inequality and racism. He said he’s hoping that his effort will inspire the college to make a clear statement about supporting musicians of color.
        “It’s really important for me to see an institution that I was a part of saying, ‘we support this,'” Blue said.
        Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Mason’s family has not yet agreed to the creation of a scholarship fund.

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        Government accuses WikiLeaks founder of putting international ties at risk by failing to abide by deal not to interfere in other countries

        Ecuador has cut Julian Assanges communications with the outside world from its London embassy, where the founder of the whistleblowing WikiLeaks website has been living for nearly six years.

        The Ecuadorian government said in statement that it had acted because Assange had breached a written commitment made to the government at the end of 2017 not to issue messages that might interfere with other states.

        It said Assanges recent behaviour on social media put at risk the good relations [Ecuador] maintains with the United Kingdom, with the other states of the European Union, and with other nations.

        Comunicacin Ecuador (@ComunicacionEc)

        COMUNICADO OFICIAL | El Gobierno de Ecuador suspende las comunicaciones de @JulianAssange.

        March 28, 2018

        The move came after Assange tweeted on Monday challenging Britains accusation that Russia was responsible for the nerve agent poisoning of a Russian former double agent and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury earlier this month.

        The WikiLeaks founder also questioned the decision by the UK and more than 20 other countries to retaliate against the poisoning by expelling Russian diplomats deemed spies.

        Assange has lived in the embassy since June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over allegations of sex crimes he denies. Sweden has dropped the case but Assange remains subject to arrest in the UK for jumping bail and fears he will be extradited to the US for questioning about WikiLeaks activities if he leaves the embassy building.

        Ecuador previously cut Assanges internet access in the embassy in October 2016 over fears he was using it to interfere in the US presidential election following Wikileaks publication of leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clintons campaign adviser, John Podesta.

        In May 2017 the Ecuadorian president, Lenin Moreno, again asked Assange to refrain from commenting on Spains dispute with the separatist region of Catalonia. Assange had tweeted that Madrid was guilty of repression.

        As part of a subsequent agreement between Assange and the Ecuadorian government, he is not permitted to send any messages that could interfere with Ecuadors relations with other countries.

        Why can’t Assange leave the Ecuadorian embassy?

        Assange sought asylum in the embassy in June 2012 following a series of legal challenges through British courts to a European arrest warrant issued by Sweden. He is technically free to leave but says he cannot because he is in breach of a warrant that was granted to extradite him to Sweden, and faces arrest. Assange has not at any point been charged with an offence under Swedish law but was sought for questioning over complaints of sexual assault by two women in 2010. Assange had raised concerns about Swedish demands that he be questioned in person,fearing extradition to the US.

        Assanges comments on the nerve agent attack on double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia prompted the British foreign office minister Alan Duncan to call him a miserable little worm during a Commons debate on Tuesday. Duncan said he should leave the embassy and surrender to British justice.

        Assange replied: Britain should come clean on whether it intends to extradite me to the United States for publishing the truth and cease its ongoing violation of the UN rulings in this matter.

        If it does this disgraceful impasse can be resolved tomorrow. I have already fully served any theoretical (I havent been charged) bail violation whilst in prison and under house arrest. So why is there a warrant for my arrest?

        The former Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, and the music producer Brian Eno said in a statement they had heard with great concern about Assanges lost internet access.

        Only extraordinary pressure from the US and the Spanish governments can explain why Ecuadors authorities should have taken such appalling steps in isolating Julian, they pair said, adding Assange had only recently been granted citizenship.

        Clearly, Ecuadors government has been subjected to bullying over its decision to grant Julian asylum, support and ultimately, diplomatic status.

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        The harvesting of our personal details goes far beyond what many of us could imagine. So I braced myself and had a look

        Want to freak yourself out? Im going to show just how much of your information the likes of Facebook and Google store about you without you even realising it.

        Google knows where youve been

        Google stores your location (if you have location tracking turned on) every time you turn on your phone. You can see a timeline of where youve been from the very first day you started using Google on your phone.

        Click on this link to see your own data:

        Here is every place I have been in the last 12 months in Ireland. You can see the time of day that I was in the location and how long it took me to get to that location from my previous one.

        A Google map of every place Ive been in Ireland this year. Photograph: Dylan Curran

        Google knows everything youve ever searched and deleted

        Google stores search history across all your devices. That can mean that, even if you delete your search history and phone history on one device, it may still have data saved from other devices.

        Click on this link to see your own data:

        Google has an advertisement profile of you

        Google creates an advertisement profile based on your information, including your location, gender, age, hobbies, career, interests, relationship status, possible weight (need to lose 10lb in one day?) and income.

        Click on this link to see your own data:

        Google knows all the apps you use

        Google stores information on every app and extension you use. They know how often you use them, where you use them, and who you use them to interact with. That means they know who you talk to on Facebook, what countries are you speaking with, what time you go to sleep.

        Click on this link to see your own data:

        Google has all of your YouTube history

        Google stores all of your YouTube history, so they probably know whether youre going to be a parent soon, if youre a conservative, if youre a progressive, if youre Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, if youre feeling depressed or suicidal, if youre anorexic

        Click on this link to see your own data:

        The data Google has on you can fill millions of Word documents

        Google offers an option to download all of the data it stores about you. Ive requested to download it and the file is 5.5GB big, which is roughly 3m Word documents.

        This link includes your bookmarks, emails, contacts, your Google Drive files, all of the above information, your YouTube videos, the photos youve taken on your phone, the businesses youve bought from, the products youve bought through Google

        They also have data from your calendar, your Google hangout sessions, your location history, the music you listen to, the Google books youve purchased, the Google groups youre in, the websites youve created, the phones youve owned, the pages youve shared, how many steps you walk in a day

        Click on this link to see your own data:

        Facebook has reams and reams of data on you, too

        Facebook offers a similar option to download all your information. Mine was roughly 600MB, which is roughly 400,000 Word documents.

        This includes every message youve ever sent or been sent, every file youve ever sent or been sent, all the contacts in your phone, and all the audio messages youve ever sent or been sent.

        Click here to see your data:

        A snapshot of the data Facebook has saved on me. Photograph: Dylan Curran

        Facebook stores everything from your stickers to your login location

        Facebook also stores what it thinks you might be interested in based off the things youve liked and what you and your friends talk about (I apparently like the topic girl).

        Somewhat pointlessly, they also store all the stickers youve ever sent on Facebook (I have no idea why they do this. Its just a joke at this stage).

        They also store every time you log in to Facebook, where you logged in from, what time, and from what device.

        And they store all the applications youve ever had connected to your Facebook account, so they can guess Im interested in politics and web and graphic design, that I was single between X and Y period with the installation of Tinder, and I got a HTC phone in November.

        (Side note, if you have Windows 10 installed, this is a picture of just the privacy options with 16 different sub-menus, which have all of the options enabled by default when you install Windows 10)

        Privacy options in Windows 10. Photograph: Dylan Curran

        They can access your webcam and microphone

        The data they collect includes tracking where you are, what applications you have installed, when you use them, what you use them for, access to your webcam and microphone at any time, your contacts, your emails, your calendar, your call history, the messages you send and receive, the files you download, the games you play, your photos and videos, your music, your search history, your browsing history, even what radio stations you listen to.

        Here are some of the different ways Google gets your data

        I got the Google Takeout document with all my information, and this is a breakdown of all the different ways they get your information.

        My Google Takeout document. Photograph: Dylan Curran

        Heres the search history document, which has 90,000 different entries, even showing the images I downloaded and the websites I accessed (I showed the Pirate Bay section to show how much damage this information can do).

        My search history document has 90,000 different entries. Photograph: Dylan Curran

        Google knows which events you attended, and when

        Heres my Google Calendar broken down, showing all the events Ive ever added, whether I actually attended them, and what time I attended them at (this part is when I went for an interview for a marketing job, and what time I arrived).

        Here is my Google calendar showing a job interview I attended. Photograph: Dylan Curran

        And Google has information you deleted

        This is my Google Drive, which includes files I explicitly deleted including my rsum, my monthly budget, and all the code, files and websites Ive ever made, and even my PGP private key, which I deleted, that I use to encrypt emails.


        Google can know your workout routine

        This is my Google Fit, which shows all of the steps Ive ever taken, any time I walked anywhere, and all the times Ive recorded any meditation/yoga/workouts Ive done (I deleted this information and revoked Google Fits permissions).


        And they have years worth of photos

        This is all the photos ever taken with my phone, broken down by year, and includes metadata of when and where I took the photos


        Google has every email you ever sent

        Every email Ive ever sent, thats been sent to me, including the ones I deleted or were categorised as spam.


        And there is more

        Ill just do a short summary of whats in the thousands of files I received under my Google Activity.

        First, every Google Ad Ive ever viewed or clicked on, every app Ive ever launched or used and when I did it, every website Ive ever visited and what time I did it at, and every app Ive ever installed or searched for.

        Read more:

        Back in 1997, photographer Beth Yarnelle Edwards began a project in her local area of San Carlos, California, with the aim of documenting the everyday lives of families in suburban America.

        The project started as a response to her own dissatisfaction with suburban life, so she set about discovering what makes it appealing to so many people. “I felt isolated and trapped, but I realized that the people around me really loved being there,” she told TIME magazine.

        As she already knew her subjects, she was able to get an authentic glimpse of their home-life and everyday routines and habits, their hopes, dreams and fears. She interviewed people extensively to create a full picture of a life that is so often overlooked, the quiet contentment of suburbia. Is this what they meant by “The American Dream?”

        20 years later, after many changes in her own life, she returned to her old neighborhood to revisit some of her original subjects, and revive the project. It is fascinating to see how people have changed physically, especially the children who have grown into adults. But Beth was surprised by how stable the lives of some suburban families can be, with many aspects remaining unchanged. “This population is kind of blessed,” she said. “This isn’t how the larger population lives.”

        Scroll down to check out some photographs from Beth’s project below, and let us know what you think in the comments!

        Photographer Beth Yarnelle Edwards, famous for her Suburban Dreams series, is now on a mission to recreate pics with the same families 20 years later

        Lilah In 2004 And 2016

        “A year after the second photo, I am a senior in high school. It’s my first year at an online school because my ballet schedule doesn’t allow me the time to attend a brick-and-mortar school. I do ballet from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. I have a lot of schoolwork. I spend very little time in Brisbane, where my mother lives and where both photos were taken, because my parents are divorced and my dad lives in San Francisco, and also because the San Francisco Ballet is located in San Francisco, and because all my friends live in San Francisco.
        I still love clothes and fashion. I also love cooking. I still spend lots of time at my mom’s art gallery, but now I work for her on the weekends. I also still spend almost every weekend with my grandparents, cooking, swimming, and reading. Life is crazy and busy and overwhelming, but also exciting.
        Deciding I wanted to become a professional ballerina is probably the biggest change in my life since the first photo was made. Also, my parents’ divorce is something that I definitely didn’t see coming in 2004 and that drastically changed my life. For smaller things, my friends have changed, I have my driver’s license, and I can, sort of, speak Spanish!” — Lilah

        Niki, Rita, And Lucia In 2000 And 2017

        “My sisters and I grew up with parents who prioritized family and who made sure that we maintained a loving relationship with one another. Our mom used to say, ‘You can hate me, but you can’t hate your sister. You’ll need her. She’ll be your best friend someday.’ It’s true! We share a sense of humor that can usually get me out of a bad place in a matter of seconds. Our parents still live in the house they got married in 1975. They remodeled it a couple times, from a small bungalow to a larger but simple home to fit their family of five more comfortably. Even after they remodeled, and we each had our own room, we still chose to sleep in the same bedroom together for the first few years. And dinner was like a sacred act. Every single night we sat down as a family, 99% of the time made from scratch by our working mom, and often with produce that our dad grew in the garden. Dinnertime was when we talked about school or work, complained, laughed, cried, shared advice, and got into fights.” — Lucia

        “We are beyond lucky to have our parents. They raised us to be close, to look after each other, to be honest with each other, and I think that gave us a really strong foundation for our relationships with each other. We grew up in an environment where the truth — whether it was difficult, uncomfortable, or ugly — was valued, along with education, community and family, above all else.” — Niki

        Erin In 1997 And 2017

        “In the first photo, I had an average life for that time. It was all about friends and school. Now my life is all about the children. Having two kids under two takes over in a good way. Our lives really revolve around food and eating. The kids and Joe and I love to eat, and we are all good at it. The weekend is about farmer’s markets and Costco, and then barbecuing or cooking big dinners or eating at our favorite Chinese or Vietnamese places. And music.
        There isn’t really anything I wish I’d known before. I think everything turned out the way it did for a reason. Maybe just don’t sweat the small stuff. Think big picture.” — Erin

        Lisette In 2002 And 2017

        “The first photo was almost fifteen years ago. My kids were six and nine. I was a single mom, widowed at thirty years old. Today I’m living in the same house in San Carlos with my children, 21 and 24, and two dogs. I have a career in art and teaching, which has flourished after going back to college for an MFA. I’ve worked with a wide variety of people, including the elderly, children with cancer, people with autism, and young people in a juvenile hall. I’m also a scuba diver now. I wish then I had known that I was capable of taking care of myself and had felt less anxious”— Lisette

        Antonette And James In 2002 And 2017

        “In the 2002 photo, we were first-time parents who had just purchased a home in the Hayward Hills. We were a young and hard-working couple with dreams. We wanted to give our daughter, Danielle, the best life possible. Before the second photo, we had added a son, Darien, who is now fourteen. Danielle is now a freshman in college. She did extremely well in high school and was accepted into many prestigious universities. We have done some home improvements. I lost my mom, and James lost his dad. I grew up in Oakland, and James grew up in Richmond, California. We both lived in the inner city in blue-collar communities with modest single-family homes. We now live in a larger home in a middle-class suburban community. It’s a more affluent neighborhood than the ones we grew up in. Like us, our children have only known one home from the time they were born.
        Time flies by quickly, so you have to enjoy your children at each stage in their lives. Also, spend more time with your aging parents, as they may not be with you for much longer” – Antonette

        Marg And John In 2000 And 2017

        “2000 was a hectic time in our lives. John was working long hours at a Silicon Valley startup, I was working as an assistant grade school teacher, and Rachel was an active teenager involved with many sports, extra-curricular activities, and a thick web of friends. We live in the same house today in San Carlos, California. Between the first and last photos, both of our children have moved out on their own, and our oldest, Sara, got married. John retired from full-time management activities, and both of us have had to deal with some significant ‘medical adventures,’ which we happily have gotten through. We’ve done significant remodeling of our home and continue with improvements.
        We both grew up in the East. John in Wisconsin and Marg in upstate New York. We are third-generation Americans, whose grandparents were born in Europe. We remember some of the traditions from the ‘old country’ and try to incorporate them in small ways, especially during the holidays” — John & Marg

        Kyle In 1997 And 2016

        “In 1997 my life was fun and free, living by the moment. Now it’s more structured. I’ve graduated college and am working as an IT engineer while I try to get my startup, which I’ve been working on a little over a year, running. In addition to my startup, my goals are to travel the world taking photos and to buy my own place. I’m currently living with my parents in Hillsborough, where I grew up. If I had known then what I know now I would have invested in Google and other tech companies” — Kyle

        Rita In 1997 And 2016

        Here are some of her other pics from the same project we’re hoping she’ll manage to recreate too:

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