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(CNN)There are those who will point to the decline of print to explain why Playboy magazine is a shell of what it once was, when circulation topped 5 million in the 1970s (it’s a fraction of that now). And some will triumphantly point to the new push for diversity and inclusion in recent issues of Sports Illustrated’s famed swimsuit issue for stripping the mag of must-read (or rather, must-see) status.

In the same way I’m sure some social justice warriors believe awareness and cancel culture led to Thursday’s announcement that the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show would be no more.
But I tend to believe there’s a simpler explanation for the fate of these enterprises. Listen to the insightful words of Trekkie Monster, a character from the 2004 Tony Award-winning musical “Avenue Q:”
    The internet is for porn! The internet is for porn!
    Why do you think the net was born?
    Porn! Porn! Porn!
    In other words, society hasn’t grown a conscience, it just got a smart phone.
    Who needs to wait for a magazine to come in the mail or a TV show to air once a year in order to see scantily clad women in the privacy of your home when there’s Pornhub and sites like it? According to Similar Web — a UK-based company that monitors internet usage — Pornhub is visited more online in the United States than Netflix, ESPN and Walmart. There are three porn sites visited more frequently than CNN, four more than FOX and five more than the New York Times.

      A Victoria’s Secret model’s diet

    The narrative that a more enlightened society has led to a change in viewing interests may feel good but I would suggest that the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show cancellation came about because Instagram models are more readily accessible than runway models (Instagram, by the way is just behind Pornhub on SimilarWeb’s ranking). After all, record stores are all but deceased but we didn’t stop listening to music. Travel agencies are essentially a thing of the past but we’re still traveling. Telephone booths are gone but phone calls remain.
    Technology, not morality, led to the fashion show’s demise. Don’t believe for one second that the reptilian brain’s desire to glance at a woman’s backside has been reasoned away by a well-written thought piece posted on someone’s Facebook page. No, what likely happened is someone logged off of Facebook halfway through reading said post to look at porn.
    That’s not to dismiss the “indivisual” trauma and cultural damage caused by all those years of the Victoria’s Secret fashion, as it anointed itself the judge and jury of female beauty. Only that I don’t believe the country consciously rejected those standards as much as gravitated towards an easier way to satisfy its sexual fix. The atrophy Victoria’s Secret’s show suffered is a but a byproduct.

      Victoria’s Secret model wipes out on runway

    Besides, Victoria’s Secret’s strict definition of female beauty—thin, bosomy, unattainable–is not only outdated, it was never accurate to begin with. Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. Just because diverse voices have progressively become stronger over the decades and now challenge the Eurocentric image long held as the beauty standard doesn’t mean that standard was ever accepted as fact among real people.
    And thanks to the research conducted by Pornhub itself, we know users are interested in looking at a wider variety of women than the ones the lingerie show has historically featured.
      So yeah, viewership for the fashion show is down and we can debate ad nauseam why that is. But there’s good reason to believe enlightenment isn’t the driver.
      Too many still want to objectify women, they just want to do it their own convenience.

      Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/22/opinions/victorias-secret-granderson/index.html

      (CNN)If arias are like lyrical prose poems, then each singer who performs one is like a poet who reads their work with a unique timbre and cadence. Whether she was singing the Habenero from Act 1 of Bizet’s “Carmen,” “Lieder” by Richard Strauss or performing in a Wagner opera, Jessye Norman’s voice was pure poetry.

      Let’s face it: poetry and opera are two art forms that tend to make people feel inadequate. Talk of poetic forms and conventions elicits as much anxiety, defensiveness and accusations of elitism as mentioning overtures, arias and recitatives.
      Having been shaped in the world of Jim Crow Georgia in the 1940s, Jessye Norman understood what it felt like to be excluded, which affected her approach to performance. Yes, she was a diva, but she made you feel as if that status was earned, not derived from an ingrained sense of entitlement.
        On stage, Jessye Norman used the power of blackness as a bridge to those who might see her art as something they need not engage with. It’s something she makes clear in her 2014 memoir, “Stand Up Straight and Sing!” Each chapter begins with a line from a spiritual and closes with a reference to classical opera, an acknowledgment of how she sought to bridge her modest origins — as well as her memory of singing in church — with her standing in the opera world.
        Norman wrote of how her parents “dared to dream of and plan for brighter futures for their children — futures they held dear even if they had never experienced anything like them.” After leaving her hometown of Augusta, Georgia, for Howard University in Washington, DC, she continued to navigate a segregated world and her race sometimes led to her being perceived as a lesser performer.
        As a young singer in 1968, for example, she refused to let the judges of the Bavarian Radio International Music Competition arbitrarily change the rules on her during the second round in what appears to have been a racially motivated move. She won the fight and the competition. The following year, at the age of 24, she was invited to sing Elisabeth in Tannhäuser at the Deutsche Oper Berlin.
        After building her opera career on the stages of Europe, Norman returned to the United States. Her special projects built around African American music were close to her heart, particularly the performance of “Honor: A Celebration of the African American Cultural Legacy” at Carnegie Hall in 2009. But you need not have been at Carnegie Hall to hear how Jessye Norman bridged classical and black spirituals. Norman’s 1990 collaboration with Kathleen Battle, “Spirituals in Concert,” reveals how Norman blended the structure of her operatic performance with the improvisational style of the spiritual.
        On “Spirituals in Concert” you can hear Norman with her powerful soprano in all its glory complementing Battle’s inimitable coloratura style on “In That Great Getting Up Morning” and “Great Day.” The two women signify to each other in a black vernacular and throw shade back and forth while singing “Scandalize My Name.”
        And Norman clearly brings the house down with “Sinner, Please Don’t Let This Harvest Pass” and “Ride On, King Jesus.” When they sing, both of them place their blackness on full and unapologetic display and combine the classical with the traditional.
        View this post on Instagram

        So sad to read about the death of one of my favorite opera singers, Jessye Norman. She was a diva but she was also down to earth. “I do not consider my blackness a problem,” she said. “I think it looks rather nice.” Indeed it did.

        A post shared by W. Ralph Eubanks (@wreubanks) on

        After her performance at Carnegie Hall in 1950, gospel great Mahalia Jackson felt somewhat intimidated by the venue and felt she had to hold back on her religious display. “I got carried away,” Jackson acknowledged after the performance. “[I] found myself singing on my knees for them. I had to straighten up and say, ‘Now we’d best remember we’re in Carnegie Hall and if we cut up too much, they might put us out.'”
        Norman and Battle never felt they might get “put out” at the Metropolitan Opera Stage that evening. They owned the stage.
        When her memoir was released, I had the great privilege of getting to sit and have a brief conversation with Jessye Norman at a small gathering in Washington. She was dressed regally as she held court that evening, and we bonded over our connection with the American South, my Mississippi and her Georgia

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          She reminded me that my home state had given Leontyne Price to the world of opera. Did I ever get to hear Price perform, she asked. Then I told her of how my parents had taken my sisters to hear Price in 1967 to a concert in Jackson that benefited Rust College, thinking I would not enjoy it. “But I have always enjoyed hearing you perform and listening to your recordings,” I told her. She smiled with a demure crook of her head and thanked me graciously, like a Southerner, not an internationally known opera star.
          Each time I think of that evening, I can see that smile. But most important, the smile makes me think of the voice

          Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/01/opinions/jessye-norman-owned-her-stage-eubanks/index.html

          (CNN)We’re divided by culture as much as politics. The roots of red state vs. blue state tribalism reflect the different ways we live in rural and urban America. But while these divides run deep, they are also simplistic stereotypes that are reinforced by ignorance and insults.

          Country music comes from the heart of rural America. But it is both a cruel and stupid mistake to dismiss it as hillbilly music. It is a cross-pollination of different traditions that has evolved over more than a century. It’s the sound of Saturday night and Sunday morning, a music of love and loss. And like jazz, the subject of an earlier series from Burns, country music is an authentic American art form.
          The series is arguably the best documentary series Burns has made since his initial epics on the Civil War and baseball. Burns weaves a coherent story from disparate parts, using iconic characters like Hank Williams, the self-destructive “Hillbilly Shakespeare,” and Johnny Cash, the “Man in Black” who managed to be both a traditionalist and counter-culture icon, as narrative anchors.
            But it’s the interweaving stories that make the series an eye-opening journey. If you’re only an occasional listener of country music or someone who dismisses the genre entirely, you’ll be fascinated to hear the hardscrabble origin stories of early stars like the Carter Family and Jimmie Rogers. All American music is a cross-cultural gumbo, but you might still be surprised to learn about the black musical influences on country’s earliest evolutions.
            If that seems too Sepia-toned, there are lessons about the power of authenticity in art and life to be taken from Willie Nelson, who ditched the star-making assembly line of Nashville for Austin, where he stirred up a new scene and a popular subgenre, Outlaw Country. There is a slice of redemption in the racism that Charlie Pride, one of the few black country stars, confronts and then transcends through the power of his voice and unlikely advocates at the Grand Ole Opry.
            Dolly Parton is a study in self-creation, overcoming snickers and doubts to become an iconic singer songwriter. Dolly not only got the joke, but flipped it on her critics when she said, “I’m not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb. And I’m not blonde either.”
            Country music is about relationships and so it’s fitting that the series includes the great love story between Marty Stuart and Connie Smith, the father-daughter relationship between Johnny and Rosanne Cash and the doomed love of George Jones and Tammy Wynette that produced enduring songs out of the wreckage.
            Ultimately, the music is the medium. And if you think you know country music through a passing acquaintance with honky-tonk bars and whatever comes up on the radio during long drives, you’ll quickly realize what you’ve been missing.
            The defiant dirge of Waylon Jennings “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” is the essence of punk rock. Loretta Lynn’s “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind)” and even Jeannie C. Riley’s “Harper Valley PTA” are proto-feminist anthems. Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and Townes Van Zandt’s much-covered “Pancho and Lefty” are pure poetry. Kris Kristofferson’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down” and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s reimagining of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” fuse gospel and country into the equivalent of four-minute symphonies with their precision and ambition.
            Country music’s reputation as a reactionary soundtrack doesn’t hold up on close scrutiny either. Sure, anthems like Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee” may have resonated with crewcut audiences with lyrics like “We don’t smoke marijuana in Muskogee,” or “We don’t burn our draft cards down on Main Street.” But they did not represent the artists’ own reality: the ex-con later expressed his regret for writing the song, and turned to weed and grew medical marijuana in California in his later life. Bluegrass musicians joined rockers in playing Vietnam war protests, while the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s intergenerational country sessions were a metaphor for healing from the late 60s.
            But as always, it was Johnny Cash who walked the line most effectively, opposing Vietnam while playing for the troops overseas, bringing Bob Dylan to a country audience and accepting an invitation to the White House to play for Richard Nixon while rejecting his request that he perform a cynical conservative song called “Welfare Cadillac.”
            Instead, Cash played his tune “What is Truth” which honored the rebellious questioning of the younger generation against the conservative confines of their parents. The President had to accept the defiance with a grin plastered across his face.
            As with any distillation of a major theme in American life, there will be debates and quibbles as well as questions of inclusion. With hundreds of interviews, the story stops at the turn of the century and brushes over some of my personal favorites like Lyle Lovett. But then part of the purpose of a documentary like this is to establish the tributaries of tradition that get expanded and combined when a new crop of American originals like Jason Isbell, Kacey Musgraves or Sturgill Simpson come along.
            There will be other inevitable complaints from the self-appointed culture police. A new version of looking down at country music as being the music of poor white folks is to dismiss it as a soundtrack to white privilege. Among other things, this willfully ignores the painful and relatable role of class in American life, choosing to focus primarily on the wound of race, which has been a core theme of Burns’ work.
            That’s why I was gratified to see a tweet by none other than Chuck D of Public Enemy calling the documentary “amazing” and saying “for those MCs and fanatics in hip-hop that relish the power of lyrics…this is a can’t miss in the knowledge of music.”

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              And that’s the thing: for all the interesting differences and dramatic details of various musical traditions in America, we’re all part of the broader song. Understanding requires empathy. And by reaching out beyond our respective divides we not only bridge differences, we create something new and vibrant, mirroring the creative leaps that characterize American music.
              That’s the American alchemy that Ken Burns brings alive in this latest chapter of his American epic. He is one of our greatest historians, illuminating the past and present while guiding us to a shared future.

              Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/15/opinions/ken-burns-country-music-avlon/index.html

              (CNN)Criminal justice reform is deeply personal to me. When I was eight years old, I came home from school one afternoon to see my dad being led away in handcuffs as police officers raided our home.

              At the time, I was not able to fully articulate the pain I felt nor understand the gravity of the situation. But the trauma of that day forever altered the trajectory of my family. It also informs one part of why I have endorsed Joe Biden for president of the United States: I support his plan to strengthen our nation’s commitment to justice, reduce the prison population and eliminate racial disparities while making our communities safer.
              My father, Major Lance, was a Grammy-nominated singer in the 1960s. He opened for the Beatles. Elton John got his start playing for my dad. For many, he is still revered as a musical icon. But for me, he was simply my daddy.
                What I learned that day he was arrested was simple: Sometimes really good people make bad decisions. Only later in life did I realize that my dad was dealing with challenges related to addiction. Born on a share-croppers’ farm in the Mississippi Delta and raised in the Cabrini-Green housing projects of Chicago, he had not gone to college and did not have many viable job options. When his music stopped selling, he still had to feed a family and keep the lights on.
                My father received a 10-year sentence in 1978 for possessing and selling cocaine. He served three years in prison, and it was the death of our family. My parents divorced and my mother worked two jobs and went to cosmetology school at night in order to make ends meet. When my father went to prison, it felt as if I had lost not one, but both of my parents.
                According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the United States makes up less than 5% of the world’s population yet incarcerates more than 25% of the world’s prisoners. Disparities are even more striking along racial and ethnic lines. Recent data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics show black and non-white Hispanic inmates represent 33% and 23% of the nation’s prison population, respectively.
                Compounding this reality are significant disparities in the types of offenses people are incarcerated for — like the possession of crack versus powder cocaine — and the resulting criminal sentences. A first-time offender who is caught in possession of or using drugs can be sentenced to years in prison instead of being directed to a treatment program or drug court. This approach presents significant costs to the local, state, or federal governments jailing them, and it also denies individuals the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to their families and communities.
                All of this is why it’s essential to pursue Biden’s plan immediately.
                Biden proposes fundamentally rethinking who we send to jail, how we treat them, and how we get them services before, during, and after they are incarcerated. Like the former Vice President, I believe we need to tackle racism and income-based disparities in our criminal justice system, including extreme sentencing for non-violent crimes. Through his plan, Strengthening America’s Commitment to Justice, Biden proposes an innovative $20 billion program to spur states and cities to shift focus from incarceration to prevention. In order to receive this funding, states like Georgia would have to eliminate mandatory minimums for non-violent crimes while taking action to reduce their overall prison rates. He has called for an end to incarceration for drug use alone and diverting these individuals to drug courts and treatment.
                In Atlanta, we are in the process of converting our city’s detention center — a building that once housed ICE detainees and non-violent offenders — into a center for equity, health, and wellness. Those transitioning from incarceration and facing challenges getting on their feet will be able to access resources such as job training, education, social services, child care, and housing. Biden’s plan would help scale efforts like these nationwide.
                The former Vice President and I also agree that we must end the practice of criminalizing poverty in America by eliminating cash bail. One of the first pieces of legislation I championed and signed into law as mayor ended the city’s cash bail bond system for petty and minor offenses. The prevailing assumption was that Atlanta’s crime numbers would skyrocket, but they did not. Those suffering under this system were people, who by and large, would have ended up in jail if they did not have $200 cash in their pocket at the time of their arrest and could afford to pay to avoid incarceration. Instead of arresting people for minor offenses like urinating in a public space (when they are very likely homeless), we should expand pre-arrest diversion services, as we have in Atlanta, to direct people to the appropriate needed social services to address the underlying causes of recidivism.
                As Vice President Biden addresses in his plan, cash bail is a modern-day debtors’ prison and we must stop jailing people for being too poor to pay fines and fees. This disproportionately harms low-income individuals and helps create a cycle of poverty that often plagues families for years. If bail cannot be paid, the individual remains incarcerated, which often leads to loss of a job, significant probation fees — which cuts into the already thin margin of ability to pay other bills — and deeply disrupts a family financially and emotionally.
                Like too many others in communities of color, I experienced this firsthand when, as a teenager, I was in the car with a family member who was arrested and jailed for simply having an expired license plate.

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                  As a little girl, my weekends went from ballet classes and dance recitals to weekend trips to visit my father in prison. I still vividly remember seeing swarms of black men in prison and the tears streaming down the faces of young mothers and children desperate for more time with them. Things might have been different if my father and those men had other options, either before or after their arrests. While we cannot change the past, we can make the future for these individuals and their families and communities stronger and more successful through alternative approaches to criminal justice for non-violent drug offenses.
                  Biden’s proposal is not only smart policy and necessary, but deeply meaningful for the lives of black and brown Americans.

                  Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/25/opinions/joe-biden-is-right-on-criminal-justice-reform-keisha-lance-bottoms/index.html

                  (CNN)This past weekend at Coachella, rapper/”a-historian“/occasional MAGA-American Kanye West performed as a part of his “Please Just Pay Attention to The Music Tour.” This latest Kanye comeback involves his “Sunday Service” shows. These are performances where Kanye invokes the music and the spirit of the black church and drizzles a Kanye glaze over the top. It is kind of a no-brainer of a comeback for Kanye. If you want to get black people to fall in love with you all over again, and at the same time, if you want us to forgive you, then take us to church … or chuch, depending your pronunciation.

                    Texas is home to the world’s largest LGBTQ church

                  Let me be clear. I’m not above buying overpriced concert swag. I have done it many times. And I’m also not above churches selling merchandise to help cover the good deeds they do. And yes, Kanye using Christianity to help sell his overpriced merch seems a little extreme, even for a guy who seems to get bored by not being mired in controversy. But this time I couldn’t be mad at Kanye, because what he was doing is very similar to many current churches. But not the kind of 200-300-seat Baptist and Methodist churches I grew up in. I’m talking about 2,000-seat-and-larger megachurches. In many of these churches, entertainment, commerce and Christianity go hand in hand — as long as those hands are full of cash.
                  This Sunday on the season premiere of “United Shades of America,” I am looking into megachurches. And the first thing I learned is that all megachurches are not created equally. In the filming of the episode, I spent time at three very different megachurches: the flashy, and entertaining Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, led by Pastor Ed Young and affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention; Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ, the world’s largest predominantly LGBTQ church in Dallas, Texas, led by Reverend Dr. Neil Cazares-Thomas; and Friendship-West Baptist Church, also in Dallas, led by Pastor Freddy Haynes. Friendship-West is a Black church that aims to extend the social justice legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

                      Kamau Bell: Despite what Franklin Graham says, LGBT people can be good Christians

                    On my visit to Fellowship Church, I brought my own minister from Berkeley, California, Pastor Michael McBride. He lets me call him “my minister” even though I’ve only been to his church three times. Pastor Mike’s church is modeled on the kind of churches I grew up in, but with a more radical and inclusive vision. Much like Pastor Haynes, Pastor Mike is extending the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. But whereas the civil rights era was mostly defining the world as black and white, Pastor Mike’s church addresses oppression in all its forms and the congregation reflects that. Pastor Mike is not afraid to wade into political issues and take stances that more traditional church leaders either steer clear of or go full Franklin Graham on. Pastor Mike feels like doing this is a part of his calling to preach. And despite the fact he does sermons like “What Would Jesus Say to Donald Trump,” Pastor Ed at Fellowship claims he steers clear of politics. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen when they met. It was worth the wait.
                    Even though people overall are going to church less and less, more and more megachurches are opening up. This leads to churches competing for audiences. And unfortunately, that competition isn’t usually centered on how well you preach the message of Jesus. Often the competition is centered on how big and new your church is or how expensively dressed you are. There is even an entire Instagram account called Preachers in Sneakers that highlights ministers wearing high-end and/or exclusive footwear. And I’m guessing that the answer to the question, “What would Jesus wear?” would be that Jesus would wear Keens… or maybe Tom’s.

                      This pastor wants to call the church to repentance

                    But the issue that I wanted to get to the bottom of in this episode was twofold: money and message. If you want to make your preacher rich, that is fine with me, but I believe that megachurches should have to let us know what they are doing with the money. I believe it should work the same way charities work. Every charity has to let you know how much of the money is going to their mission. But churches don’t have to do that, because church finances are the one and only place where America truly separates church and state. Churches don’t pay income tax or property taxes. And that property tax is a big deal when you are Joel Osteen and your church is in an ex-basketball arena.
                    I understand that the founders of this country wanted to make sure that no church was stopped from doing good deeds or worse was shuttered because of a high tax bill, but I’m guessing they were thinking of small community churches struggling to get by, not a minister telling his congregation that he needed them to buy him a private jet.

                      Kamau learns why these atheists left the church

                    And then there’s the message. In the episode we talk about how different the message of many of these megachurch ministers is from the actual message of Jesus. To paraphrase Pastor Mike, some ministers put too much focus on “What would Jesus do?” Thinking in hypotheticals allows you to create your own personal Jesus who puts America first, and who supports police over people, and who wants the borders closed. Pastor Mike believes Christian ministers should be focused instead on “What did Jesus do? When you did focus on the words and action of Jesus in the Bible, it becomes impossible to encourage your congregation to support President Trump’s damaging policies and hateful rhetoric.
                      Not matching their methods with the actual message of Jesus is how you end up with church officials allowed to engage in the kind of inappropriate behavior that the Catholic church is known for. On this episode, I sit down with poet and activist Emily Joy, who was inspired by Tarana Burke’s #MeToo to create #ChurchToo. She used to hashtag to tell her story of being 16 years old and being groomed to marry an adult leader of her megachurch. I believe situations like Emily Joy’s happen over and over again because churches have the legal and cultural status to operate mostly in the dark.

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                      If you are truly doing the good deeds that you claim, if you are truly asking people to give you money so that you can help the world, if you are truly creating a loving and supportive community then you should want to show it off. The same way the best charities do. Hiding behind tax-exempt status and the privilege that being a megachurch brings is neither what Jesus would do or what Jesus did do. Welcome to season four of “United Shades of America.”

                      Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/27/opinions/kamau-bell-united-shades-of-america-looks-at-megachurches/index.html

                      (CNN)The grieving began quickly after the mass murder of 49 worshipers at two mosques in New Zealand Friday, and so did the debate about what awfulness could lay behind such a catastrophe.

                      The accused terrorist is clearly a man of his time, wrote Peter Bergen, since the atrocity combines “three emerging trends in the West: attacks against Muslim targets, the use of social media as a platform for terrorists to share livestream videos, and the violent targeting of houses of worship.” 

                      Muslims speak out

                        Muslims were outraged, though unsurprised. “We run your convenience store, drive your cabs, feed you late-night food when you’ve had a drink or look after you when you’re ill. We serve our communities,” wrote British political commentator Ayesha Hazarika. “Yet we have become the victims of harassment, hatred and now terrorism.” 
                        Dean Obeidallah noted that the news media have too long downplayed the dangers posed to Muslims by politicians who demonize them — “like President Donald Trump, media figures and others — without any consequence in terms of their electoral prospects or careers.”  
                        Imam Omar Suleiman recalled taking his kids to a synagogue in Dallas the night after the massacre at Tree of Life in Pittsburgh “to grieve and show solidarity with the Jewish community.” He wrote: “the message we must both live and give our children is one of resilience. That they should wear their hijabs and yarmulkes with pride, embrace each other as people, and face this bigotry with perseverance.” 

                        A President’s tone

                        The White House quickly condemned the Christchurch massacre, but was soon facing questions about President Trump’s failure once again to acknowledge the spread of white nationalism.
                        He could learn something from President Bill Clinton, suggested Julian Zelizer. After the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing by white nationalists, Clinton denounced the “loud and angry voices in America” spreading hate, wrote Zelizer. “The debates about his words were less about a lack of empathy than his willingness to give a tough appraisal of the climate that fueled extremism.”
                        Clinton’s former White House press secretary Joe Lockhart, now a CNN political commentator, urged close attention to Trump’s words earlier in the week. In an interview with Breitbart, the President hinted that his “tough” supporters in the military, police and Bikers for Trump could retaliate against his critics: “and then it would be very, very bad.” Lockhart asked: “Should we all care that our coarse President is threatening Democrats with Bikers for Trump?  Probably not.  Should we all care that we’ve become numb to all this? Absolutely…this is dangerous.”  
                        Trump also faced pushback from members of his own party Thursday, with 12 Republicans joining Democrats to pass legislation canceling Trump’s national emergency, declared to build his Mexico border wall.  Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, also a Republican, had pressed them: “It’s time for Republicans in Congress to put country over party.”  On Friday, Trump vetoed their bill.

                        St. Patrick’s Day: not just about the Irish

                        Colleen Hennessy said her two Irish-born children will proudly wear “their green and gold Kerry Gaelic Athletic Association jerseys and revel in the one-day celebrity status being Irish in America gives them on St. Patrick’s Day.” But Hennessy, the Irish-American wife of a formerly undocumented Irish husband, is thinking about immigration. 
                        “It is my hope that while the 34 million of us who claim Irish ancestry sip Guinness and boil cabbage…we also consider our role in honoring the experience of millions of Irish refugees throughout history by insisting on policy that reflects the facts of our nation, policy that creates incentives for safe and efficient legal immigration options that match today’s global workforce and economy.”

                        College scam

                        Federal prosecutors last week exposed what they said were the ridiculously expensive (and highly criminal) exertions made by some ridiculously rich parents to guarantee their kids’ acceptance into elite universities.
                        Two Hollywood stars, some CEOs, doctors, lawyers and several other powerful parents face charges in an alleged fraud-and-bribery scheme that spotlights “how hollow the ideology of meritocracy in American higher education is,” wrote Shan Wu
                        Actors Lori Loughlin (“Full House”) and Felicity Huffman (“Desperate Housewives”) were the best known of the 33 parents accused of paying William Singer millions for scams that included photoshopping kids’ faces onto athletes’ bodies, faking disability, getting stand-ins to take the ACT, and bribing test proctors. The goal: admission to places like Yale, Stanford, USC and Georgetown.  
                        Why did rich parents even bother?  “Legacy” admissions, expensive tutors and college prep courses already give them a leg up, wrote David Perry. “If someone can get their kid into Harvard by buying a building,” Perry wrote, “the scandal isn’t just what’s illegal, but what’s legal as well.” 
                        Coaches, university officials and others were also implicated. That’s painful, wrote Asha Rangappa, the former admissions dean at Yale Law. She worried about “future talented college applicants from underprivileged backgrounds who may opt out of reaching for the most selective schools, believing that the deck is already stacked against them.” 

                        Beto O’Rourke muscles in

                        With a folksy video (and a gushy Vanity Fair profile), Beto O’Rourke officially entered the 2020 presidential race this week—and swiftly put his foot in his mouth. His wife, Amy, is “raising, sometimes with my help,” their three kids, he told a crowd in an Iowa coffee shop shortly after announcing his run.
                        Can’t imagine a female candidate getting away with such a statement,” one commenter tweeted. Exactly, wrote Kara Alaimo. O’Rourke apologized for the line, which he’s used before, but that kind of helper-not-partner characterization reinforces “the still-widespread idea that moms should shoulder the primary responsibility for raising kids” a stereotype that holds women back in the workforce, she argued.
                        Another 2020 contender, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., saw a surge of donations after his well-received CNN town hall Sunday night. In a CNN Opinion piece, he lamented that “Americans have been offered a vision of greatness that means turning back the clock. We need big, bold policies that are shaped by what we want our country to look like generations from now.”  
                        Michael D’Antonio drew a sharp contrast between the mayor and another Hoosier in public life:  Buttigieg is the human rebuttal to everything Mike Pence stands for, he wrote. 
                        Some other smart 2020 takes:

                        You told us your stories (thanks!)

                        We asked readers to respond to a Reyna Grande commentary. She wrote of learning English as a young Mexican immigrant and rejecting her “mother tongue”—and, for a while, her own (Spanish-speaking) mother.  Reader feedback was tremendous–“diverse and powerful,” marveled CNN Opinion’s Jane Carr and Jhodie-Ann Williams, who curated the responses.
                        Bakir Brown, of Richmond, Virginia, “was first introduced and fell in love with [Spanish] by watching ‘Sesame Street.’ I just loved how the words just literally rolled off the tongue. It was beautiful.”   
                        Nadezhda Ayala, from San Antonio, came to the US from the Soviet Union, and recalls “translating for my parents and getting frustrated that they were not understanding something simple… It was not until I visited my birth country 18 years later as a 20-year-old that I truly appreciated the ability to communicate with my grandmother and family in Belarus.”

                        Tucker Carlson’s pre-existing condition

                        “It is not breaking news that Tucker Carlson has a sexism problem,” Jill Filipovic observed. But that didn’t make it any less shocking last week to hear the Fox News host in newly unearthed on-air radio conversations between 2006 and 2011 downplaying child rape, defending an imprisoned child rapist, calling various prominent women “white whores,” “c***y,” ugly and pigs, and warning about being castrated by Hillary Clinton.  Filipovic noted: Carlson didn’t apologize and neither did Fox, giving the rest of us a simple choice. Fox is “a propaganda network catering to a largely hateful audience. Turn them off.” 

                        Justin Trudeau’s “Lav-Scam”

                        Four years ago Justin Trudeau was Canada’s dreamboat—a telegenic, liberal, feminist, photo-bombing and forward-looking prime minister. Today? “Trudeau has lost two of his star female cabinet ministers, both resigning with claims that his government has lost its moral compass,” wrote Michael Bociurkiw. “He is also defending himself against accusations of political interference with the top prosecutor in the land over a criminal case involving one of Canada’s largest companies,” SNC-Lavalin.  Election Day is October 21, Bociurkiw noted. Can the “golden boy of Canadian politics…shed the impression of backroom sleaze, business-as-usual politics” in time to win?  

                        Boeing under scrutiny

                        A Boeing 737 crashed in Ethiopia last Sunday, killing all 157 aboard—a disaster, wrote former airline pilot Les Abend, that bore “uncomfortably similar characteristics” to a crash of the same type of plane last fall in Indonesia. Both jets were Boeing’s 737-800 MAX, and both had pilots struggling to control their ascent at takeoff, before crashing minutes later, he wrote.
                        After waiting three days, President Trump and the Federal Aviation Administration gave in to pressure and joined more than 40 other countries in grounding the “Max 8” planes. 
                        Talmon Joseph Smith, in The New York Times, suggested the delay might have had something to do with “the close relationship that Boeing, a major political force in Washington and a large government contractor, has with American officials.” 

                        Bomb cyclone? Oh, yes, it’s real

                        The ferocious winter storm that pummeled the Midwest with hurricane-force winds and blizzard conditions was awful. But did it really rate its terrifying sounding moniker—bomb cyclone?  Allow physicist Don Lincoln to explain:  Normally, atmospheric pressure changes about 12 millibars over 24 hours.  “To be a bomb, the pressure must change by one millibar or more per hour for at least 24 hours.”  This one had a pressure change of 33 millibars from Tuesday to Wednesday–and was accompanied by 100 mph winds.  That’s a bomb cyclone.  March can come “in like a lion and out like a lamb,” Lincoln observed.  “If that’s true, I think that this year we can look forward to a glorious April.

                        Don’t miss these:

                        –Sherrod Brown, Ro Khanna and Bonnie Watson Coleman on a tax policy that could transform American lives.
                        –Robert Klitzman: Would you take a pill containing a computer chip? They’re here.
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                          Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/17/opinions/world-stunned-by-explosion-of-hate-wiedenkeller/index.html

                          (CNN)Corey A. Stewart, the Republican nominee for the Senate seat in Virginia, appeared on CNN Friday and told Anderson Cooper that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul three weeks ago, was “a mystery guy. He’s a mystery figure. There are a lot of things that say he was a bad guy … there’s a lot of reports out there that he was connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, reports that he was connected to Osama bin Laden.”

                          More than a decade ago, long before any of this was a matter of controversy, I interviewed Khashoggi at length in London for a book I was writing, “The Osama bin Laden I Know.” On June 13, 2005, I asked Khashoggi a number of questions about the nature of his relationship with bin Laden, his connection to the Muslim Brotherhood, and the proper role of religion in politics.
                          When I spoke to Khashoggi, he was working as a media adviser to Prince Turki al Faisal, then Saudi ambassador to the United Kingdom. Before that role, Khashoggi had worked for a variety of Saudi newspapers as a journalist and later an editor. Prior to his journalism career, he had studied business administration at Indiana State University, from which he graduated in 1983.
                            Khashoggi discussed his pioneering reporting for Arab News about bin Laden, his understanding of the formation of al Qaeda, and the last time he met with bin Laden. Khashoggi also discussed his feelings about the 9/11 attacks and his hopes and fears for the future of Saudi Arabia.
                            What follows are excerpts from that interview. This interview shows that Khashoggi wasn’t some kind of secret jihadist, but a journalist simply doing his job who evolved from an Islamist in his twenties to a more liberal position by the time he was in his forties.
                            It’s also clear from the interview, which Khashoggi gave 13 years before he was was killed in what the Saudi foreign minister agrees was a murder (and six years before US Navy SEALS killed bin Laden), that he had once been close to bin Laden, but had become increasingly alienated from him, particularly beginning two decades ago when bin Laden first declared his war against the United States.
                            By 2005, Khashoggi said he had also rejected the Islamist idea of creating an Islamic state and had turned against the religious establishment in Saudi Arabia. He also had embraced the Enlightenment and American idea of the separation of church and state.
                            Khashoggi attended college in Indiana during the late 1970s and early 1980s, a period when he first became interested in political Islam.
                            “I was introduced to political Islam and I become an activist in a sense. It was after 1980, with the Iranian revolution and the rise of Islamic awareness throughout the world. I was still living in Terre Haute (Indiana) at that time and I began to attend Islamic conferences and meetings.”
                            “Seven months after my graduation [from college in Indiana] I ended up in working in a [Saudi] newspaper. I was about 24 or 25. I was religious at that time.”
                            Khashoggi came to know bin Laden when he was living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in the early 1980s.
                            “Osama was just like many of us who become part of the [Muslim] Brotherhood movement in Saudi Arabia. The only difference that set him apart from others, and me, he was more religious. More religious, more literal, more fundamentalist. For example, he would not listen to music. He would not shake hands with a woman. He would not smoke. He would not watch television, unless it is news. He wouldn’t play cards. He would not put a picture on his wall. But more than that, there was also a harsh or radical side in his life. I’m sure you have some people like that in your culture. For example, even though he comes from a rich family, he lives in a very simple house.”
                            Khashoggi was the first journalist from a mainstream Arab media organization to cover the Arab volunteers fighting in Afghanistan against the Soviets during the 1980s.
                            “In late ’87 I had a scoop. I was invited to write about the role of Arab mujahideen in Afghanistan and I liked the idea. It was Osama [who invited me]. I knew him slightly in Jeddah. We were almost the same age. I liked his enthusiasm. He was very enthusiastic, very devoted. We are from the same generation, same background. I went to Peshawar [in Pakistan] and then I traveled inside Afghanistan. [I found a] very enthusiastic bunch of Arabs who believe in what they are doing, very proud of what they are doing.”
                            “I interviewed Osama. [He was] a gentle, enthusiastic young man of few words who didn’t raise his voice while talking. [We discussed] the condition of the mujahideen and what he [bin Laden] was doing to help them. I did not know him thoroughly enough to judge him or expect any other thing from him. His behavior at that time left no impression that he would become what he has become.”
                            Bin Laden founded al Qaeda in Peshawar, Pakistan, in August 1988. He soon told Khashoggi about his plans for the group.
                            “Al Qaeda was founded almost the same time when I first heard it from Osama himself. Bin Laden saw that Afghan jihad would be over soon, the Soviets have withdrawn, and it’s just a matter of time. He predicted that the mujahideen would be victorious in weeks or months. So what will we do with those Arab mujahideen? They will go back to their countries, but the flame of jihad should continue elsewhere, so he saw that there would be opportunities in places like Central Asia. But there was no talk of United States, Europe. It will be called al Qaeda. Whenever we see an opportunity of jihad arising, we will call upon those members of al Qaeda to come and join us.”
                            “I was surprised, and I discussed it with him, and I said: ‘But Arab regimes will not like that.'”
                            Khashoggi met bin Laden for the last time in in 1995 in Sudan, where al Qaeda’s leader was then living in exile.
                            “Osama was almost about to change his mind and reconcile and come back to Saudi Arabia. It was a lost opportunity.”
                            In 1997, bin Laden gave a bellicose interview to CNN and subsequently issued a declaration saying he was at war with the United States.
                            “I was very much surprised to see Osama turning into radicalism the way he did. When I heard that announcement in that declaration he made. It is not Osama. It is not the way he was brought up.”
                            Khashoggi was at work when he first heard the news of the 9/11 attacks.
                            “I was in my office in Arab News in Jeddah. I was thinking of Osama at that time. I was thinking of him — no doubt about it. Two days later I wrote an article about 9/11 and I said, ‘May God help us. The Americans will come out from their wounds, but we will have a problem to last us some time.’ And I think I’m right.”
                            Khashoggi explained his political vision for Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East, which was to find an accommodation between secularism and Islam.
                            “Right now I don’t believe that we must create an Islamic state. I think an Islamic state would be a burden, maybe would fail, and people will have a big disappointment. Maybe it would shake our belief in the faith if we insist on establishing an Islamic state. What if the Islamic state failed? Like in Iran. Then we are going to doubt the religion itself. The Quran stresses that it is prohibited to force the religion on others. ‘There is no compulsion in religion.’ It’s a matter of choice.”

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                            “I think we must find a way where we can accommodate secularism and Islam, something like what they have in Turkey.”
                            In 2003, Khashoggi was forced out from his job as editor of the Saudi Al Watan newspaper because of critiques he had published of the conservative Wahhabi religious establishment in Saudi Arabia.
                              “The clergy. They didn’t like me. They didn’t like the way I ran the paper. Totally lobbied against me and they got me out. I miss journalism and I think it’s a very interesting time in my country. I see change, and I would like to be part of that change.”
                              Stewart and other Trump supporters who are hoping to smear a murdered journalist with his relationship with bin Laden that ended almost 2½ decades ago, or his purported Islamist sympathies, are not familiar with the facts of the matter, which Khashoggi laid out clearly in his 2005 interview.

                              Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/22/opinions/khashoggi-was-journalist-not-jihadist-bergen/index.html

                              (CNN)Donald Trump is a piggish, unrepentant misogynist who has demonstrated that he thinks women are only as valuable as their physical appearance, a gutter perspective he made clear again when he called Stormy Daniels “horseface” on Twitter Tuesday. So why in the world would his opponents stoop to his level?

                              That’s what rapper T.I. did recently in a music video clip he tweeted, in which a Melania Trump lookalike strips in the Oval Office, dancing for T.I.’s pleasure after the President leaves the White House. The point was to stick it to the President.But the means was the same tool the President uses: Misogyny.
                              T.I.’s message is fairly straightforward: Women are extensions of men, and it is humiliating for a man to have “his” woman stripping for someone else. Sexually objectifying Melania is a shortcut way of demeaning both her and her husband.
                                That humiliation relies on the same tropes used by Trump: There are “good” women and “bad” women, and a woman being either sexual or insufficiently attractive puts her in the “bad” category; that if you want to demean a woman, paint her as either slutty or ugly.
                                There are a lot of ways to mock Trump that don’t depend on the same sexist narratives that in a better world would have disgraced this presidency. The T.I. video isn’t one of them.

                                  Senator: We’ve all said things like ‘horseface’

                                But there are no sympathetic people in this story. Melania’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, is now calling for a boycott of T.I.’s music, which is rich, given that Melania is married to a man who won the presidency on the toxic fumes of his shockingly misogynist campaign.
                                The idea that sexism becomes out of bounds only when it’s directed at Melania (or Ivanka) is laughably hypocritical, and shows how little this administration and its enablers actually care about women — sexism, for them, is a cudgel with which to criticize their detractors in a way they know liberals won’t fight.
                                The fact is, you can’t be simultaneously outraged at the T.I. video and still justify voting for a man who calls female journalists bimbos and dogs, attacks his female critics as fat and ugly and has bragged about sexually assaulting women (and is accused of doing just that). You can’t pretend to be outraged at the objectification of and insult to a First Lady if you shrugged when Trump rallies were rife with “Trump That Bitch” paraphernalia, and when some in the Trump sexist and racist base, and their mouthpieces in right-wing media and politics, were attacking Michelle Obama by calling her fat, comparing her to a gorilla and calling her President Obama’s “baby mama.”

                                  With crass nicknames, Trump attacks Stormy Daniels, Sen. Warren

                                Trump’s supporters say they love that he isn’t “politically correct,” that he’s not afraid to use crass language when it fits and that he’s a real man who treats women like most men with power and money would (a sad indictment of how some in his base view men).
                                  Anyone who objects to the vulgarity, racism and sexism from him and his #MAGA fans is a snowflake who needs a safe space, they mock. But turn the tables and they are happy to jump on the outrage bus if it suits them politically. Melania is hardly an innocent bystander here. She is an adult woman who has stood with this administration and never uttered a single word of criticism — let alone decided to leave her objectively awful husband.
                                  The T.I. video is sexist and shameful. But if Melania’s team and Trump administration supporters want to boycott the sexist and shameful, they need to start at home, with the man in the White House.

                                  Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/17/opinions/ti-fake-melania-stripper-video-filipovic/index.html

                                  (CNN)Poliwood — the intersection of politics and Hollywood — can be a powerful combination, capable of elevating policy debates and inspiring broad audiences. Unfortunately, it can also dumb us down to a nation of slack-jawed spectators.

                                  On Sunday night, Taylor Swift told her million-plus Instagram followers to register to vote while endorsing the Democratic candidate for Senate in her native Tennessee, Phil Bredesen, a popular former Governor and Nashville Mayor. According to the director of communications for Vote.org, an estimated 65,000 people registered to vote within 24 hours.
                                  On Thursday, Kanye West entered the Oval Office for a meeting with President Trump, surrounded by a phalanx of reporters. Wearing a MAGA hat, the rapper delivered an enthusiastic if rambling monologue feet from the Resolute desk.
                                    In rough chronological order, Kanye called for prison reform, pitched hard for Adidas, called for abolishing the 13th amendment (which ended slavery), talked about living in the moment and his now-revoked diagnosis of bipolar disorder, proposed replacing Air Force One with a hydrogen plane, took a contrarian view on police violence, slammed liberals for their obsession with racism, supported inner-city manufacturing, endorsed teaching math and basketball at the same time to combat ADD, and mused about running for president himself, but only after Trump is finished.
                                    If Kanye’s comments had been coherent, they would have made great copy. Instead, it was a surreal and sad spectacle — one of the world’s biggest celebrities on an ego bender at best and on the edge of a breakdown at worst.
                                    But Trump seemed to eat up every odd moment. After all, Kayne is the probably most prominent African-American to endorse his presidency since Omarosa left the White House.
                                    Poliwood can make strange bedfellows. Conservatives embrace a rapper while liberals rally around a one-time country music star. And the Kanye-Trump meeting is just the latest example of how celebrities have been used for good and ill by presidents on both sides of the aisle.
                                    One hundred years ago, the first truly national celebrities from the silent movie era — Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks — were dispatched on a national tour to sell war bonds on behalf of the Wilson administration during World War I. (For those of you tempted to Google “war bonds,” I’ll save you a click: it’s how we used to pay for wars before we passed the buck to the next generation).
                                    Franklin Delano Roosevelt learned how to harness the power of someone else’s celebrity in the age of radio and summoned two of the biggest stars of the time– Frank Sinatra and Orson Welles — to perform at political rallies carried over the airwaves. The multifaceted genius of Welles even found time to praise Roosevelt in syndicated newspaper columns and serve as a ghostwriter for his campaign.
                                    Years later the young and telegenic Senator John F. Kennedy drew on pop culture for his campaign, commissioning Sinatra to sing “High Hopes” during the 1960 election. But while JFK’s celebrity friends added to the glamorous aura of Camelot, they were rarely deployed for policy purposes. Kennedy was more focused on the personal benefits that came from hanging out with Marilyn Monroe.
                                    Richard Nixon tried to flip the script for Republicans. He was brilliant but awkward; cold rather than cool. But he agreed to appear on the popular comedy variety show “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” to help cut the ice, gamely repeating the show’s catch phrase “Sock it to me!” He knew that while long-haired, baby-boom celebrities were protesting, he could count on older, establishment figures like Jackie Gleason, Bob Hope and Sammy Davis Jr. to back him.
                                    Then there was the time that Nixon met the King. Elvis Presley wore a purple velvet suit, a massive gold belt and a handgun to the Oval office. He asked to receive, without evident irony, a badge from the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. It has been, as of 2015, the most requested photo from the National Archives.
                                    President Jimmy Carter’s rise was aided by early positive profiles by Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson and the evangelical candidate’s surprising admiration for Bob Dylan and the Allman Brothers. Willie Nelson even famously smoked a joint on the roof of the White House after playing a concert for Carter.
                                    But the big daddy of celebrity politics was Ronald Reagan. For all the right-wing fundraising off stereotypes about liberal Hollywood’s hostile takeover of our politics, the only denizen of Hollywood who actually reached the Oval Office was Reagan. His White House attracted old celebrity friends, ranging from Sinatra (again) to Jimmy Stewart. First lady Nancy Reagan even publicized her “Just Say No” to drugs campaign with Mr. T.
                                    And in Reagan’s wake a host of celebrities ran for office as Republicans, from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson to congressman Sonny Bono.
                                    More recently, President George W. Bush developed a lasting friendship with U2 frontman Bono, who played a pivotal role lobbying Congress for the international AIDS drug program known as Pep-Far. It’s often cited as one of that administration’s proudest legacies, saving millions of lives. And President Barack Obama was criticized by Fox News’ Sean Hannity for hobnobbing with Jay-Z.
                                    At its best, Poliwood makes it cool to care, leveraging celebrity to galvanize support for something more important than celebrity. As George Clooney said during his work to bring international attention to the genocide in Darfur and the need to end decades of civil war in South Sudan, “Celebrity can help focus news media where they have abdicated their responsibility. We can’t make policy, but we can ‘encourage’ politicians more than ever before.”
                                    But at its worst, Poliwood can help politicians deflect attention from their own unpopular policies, dumbing down the electorate in the process.
                                    In some ways, President Trump represents the culmination of Poliwood to date. After multiple corporate bankruptcies, the publicity-loving real estate mogul reinvented himself as a reality TV star with “The Apprentice.” In the process, he solidified his place in the American imagination as a decisive executive, eager to say “you’re fired” at the end of every show.
                                    Trump earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and reoriented his business around marketing. He then parlayed his no-nonsense, politically incorrect profile into a successful pitch for the presidency.
                                    But the rush to emulate Trump’s cannonball into the political pool has its limits. “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon was trounced in her energetic attempt to run to the left of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary last month.
                                    Whether Poliwood is a force for good or simply a glittering distraction depends on this question: What’s actually accomplished?
                                    If a celebrity endorsement just benefits a politician looking to boost their profile and prove their cool, then it’s a lame effort to manipulate fans with short attention spans.

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                                    But if Poliwood draws sustained attention to a real public policy problem, it can serve as a gateway to civic engagement and spur political action.
                                      By that standard, Taylor Swift’s Instagram call to arms ended up having a measurable impact by encouraging voter registration. But the Kayne-Trump summit was a lost opportunity — an attention bath for two boundless egos rather than a serious attempt to raise awareness about prison reform.
                                      The comic-book-loving Kanye and his Presidential pal would do well do recall this bit of advice from Spiderman: With great power comes great responsibility.

                                      Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/14/opinions/hollywood-and-politics-collide-opinion-avlon/index.html

                                      (CNN)It’s the end of the internet as we know it. At least that’s what some say about new copyright legislation working its way through the European Parliament in Brussels. But behind all the talk about censorship machines and the death of memes is another much more fundamental issue — the power of big tech companies.

                                      The copyright legislation was designed to update European copyright law to reflect the challenges of a digital world.
                                      Indeed, the debate around the European copyright directive is really about who profits from what is circulated on the internet. Should it be the big platform companies like Google and Facebook that have created new ways of distributing content and built up gigantic advertising business in the process? Or should it be “legacy” media firms like newspapers and TV networks that still create a lot of content?
                                        Three parts of the regulation have proved controversial.
                                        Article 3 would limit companies’ ability to data-mine texts. Research organizations could use algorithms to mine texts, but in some cases firms would need a license to do the same thing.
                                        Article 11 of the directive would require content-aggregation sites to pay content owners for the headlines they use to link to an original article on another site. For instance, Google News would need to pay The Guardian for using a headline that links through to an article on The Guardian’s website.
                                        Article 13 of the directive puts the onus on large tech firms to get the agreement of copyright holders when sharing content on their sites. For instance, Facebook would have to make sure an image shared by a user is not under copyright.

                                          Copyright infringement vs. inspiration: Which is which?

                                        The new legislation has sparked outcries in the tech community. In an open letter to the European Parliament, 70 public figures, including Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the World Wide Web) , warned that it could transform “the Internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.”
                                        Intellectual property rights experts also claimed that changes to the legislation will create more problems than they solve.
                                        Some corners of the internet have been flooded with talk about “memes bans,” “link taxes” and “censorship machines.” Opponents of the directive have pointed out the role of “legacy” media outfits, like the German media conglomerate Alex Springer, in promoting the law.
                                        Behind the outrage is the tale of big tech companies confronting legislative changes that are a fundamental challenge to their business model. And, to avoid having to transform it, the companies are trying to use significant political power.
                                        Each of the changes in European legislation create a big problem for those business models. Article 3 would put the brakes on big business opportunities for these companies in text mining and artificial intelligence. Article 11 represents an attack on the huge business big tech firms have built by selling advertising placed next to content others have produced. Article 13 would make it much harder for big tech firms to benefit from content produced by others while not having to pay those who produced it.

                                          Did ‘Blurred Lines’ cross the line?

                                        The new legislation could mean lower growth opportunities, more cost and less profit for these big tech companies. According to one estimate, Google has spent about 31 million euros lobbying Europe in recent years.
                                          This has been both through direct lobbying (which it spent over 5 million euros on in 2016 alone), as well as indirect lobbying undertaken by the 24 lobbying organizations in Brussels it regularly funds. Bureaucrats working in the European Commission have declared the amount of lobbying from both sides of the argument “astonishing.”
                                          There is a big chance that as big tech battles it out with legacy media in a lobby war in Brussels, the one group that will lose out are the people who actually create the photos, songs and texts we share every day, and are unrewarded. What about them?

                                          Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/14/opinions/why-you-might-have-to-give-up-your-memes-spicer/index.html