Trump’s day of doom for national monuments approaches

Created by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the Cascade-Siskiyou monument protects Oregons extraordinary biodiversity, from butterflies to trout. But a Trump review threatens to open the landscape to the timber industry

Dave Willis, a grizzled woodsman and backcountry outfitter, has spent decades laboring to protect the mountains of south-western Oregon, one of the most beautiful, biodiverse regions in the country.

Through grassrootsactivism, Willis and his conservationist allies have won the support of two US presidents. In 2000, Bill Clinton created the roughly 52,000-acre Cascade-Siskiyou national monument, proclaiming it an ecological wonderland. Located just outside of Ashland, it was the first such monument established solely for its extraordinary species diversity. Its a place that harbors rare lilies and endemic trout, Pacific fishers andgoshawks, black bears and a stunning array of butterflies.

During his final week in office, meanwhile, Barack Obama added about 48,000 acres to the Cascade-Siskiyou monument, nearly doubling it in size.

Now, the Trump administration is threatening to undo it all. In April, the White House announced its intent to review 27 different national monument designations, as the Interior Department looks for commercial opportunities for the oil, mining and timber industries on American public lands. And the Cascade-Siskiyou preserve is on the list.

All the signs indicate that were in the crosshairs, says Willis, as his horses drift through 10-storey trees during a recent ride through the monument. We could lose it all.

With the monument review due to the president on Thursday, conservationists like Willis are on edge. Ryan Zinke, the swaggeringMontana native who is the secretary of the interior and is leading the effort, has already unveiled some of his recommendations. They include shrinking the Bears Ears national monument in Utah, a 1.3 million-acre monument created by Obama to protect Native American antiquities. Zinke said six monuments should be left alone, which leaves 20 including the Cascade-Siskiyou at risk of being reduced in size, eliminated or opened to industrial uses.

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Ryan Zinke, whos overseeing Trumps review of 27 national monuments, has said only six should be left alone. Photograph: Steve Marcus/AP

In late July, Zinke, visited Cascade-Siskiyou; he met with monument opponents and supporters. He hasnt yet publicly signaled the direction he is leaning in. But since his arrival in Washington, Zinke has been remaking the interior department by filling senior positions with representatives from extractive industries and rightwing advocacy groups.

At its core, the monument review is an attempt to weaken the Antiquities Act, one of Americas oldest public-interest conservation laws. Backing the review are some of the most powerful conservative factions in Washington, including organizations such as the Heritage Foundation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Americans for Prosperity, all heavily financed by dark-money funds tied to wealthy Republican donors.

The debate over Cascade-Siskiyou presents a snapshot of the cultural and economic conflict that so often characterizes public land management in the American west. Its a conflict that regularly pits scientists, conservationists and the burgeoning outdoor-recreation economy against the industrial interests that have dominated the region for well over a century. The struggle is about power and wealth and culture who gets to decide how the publicly owned mountains and mineral deposits and timberlands are managed.

The underlying issue, across the west, says Steve Pedery, the conservation director at Oregon Wild, is that oil, gas, mining, grazing and logging interests are angry because 20 years ago they ruled public lands, and today they dont.

Under the Antiquities Act of 1906, the president is authorized to unilaterally declare any federally owned object of historic or scientific interest a national monument and preserve it in perpetuity for all Americans. Every president since Theodore Roosevelt, save Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H W Bush, has used it, and this country now has a grand total of 129 such monuments. The 27 monuments now under review were set aside over the past three decades by Clinton, George W Bush and Obama. Donald Trump is the first president to consider undoing the designation of monuments by his predecessors.

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Bill Clinton, flanked by Al Gore, designates the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Photograph: Doug Mills/AP

In 2000, when Clinton initially established the Cascade-Siskiyou monument, he described it as a biological crossroads the interface of the Cascade, Klamath and Siskiyou eco-regions, in an area of unique geology, biology, climate and topography. The monuments extraordinary species diversity includes a vast selection of birds and furbearers, of wildflowers and ferns and fungi, much of it undisturbed by industrial activity or real estate development.

In 2011, however, local scientists came together and concluded that the monument did not sufficiently protect the full range of species diversity in the landscape. They published a report that urged the Obama administration to expand it and began a campaign to make the Cascade-Siskiyou monument bigger.

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A cascade within Sucker Creek inside the Siskiyou National Forest in southern Oregon. Photograph: Kevin Schafer/Getty Images

The Soda Mountain Wilderness Council, chaired by Dave Willis, along with a slew of other environmental groups, led the charge. They did the slow grassroots work that conservation work often requires, from lobbying federal representatives to taking people into the backcountry to see the landscape for themselves. Oregons governor, both its senators and numerous state legislators backed the expansion. The nearby Klamath Tribes were behind it, too.

In mid-January, they largely prevailed when Obama agreed to expand the monument.

But the opposition was significant. The expansion would permanently withdraw as much as 45,000 acres of land from most commercial timber production though many of these had already been set aside for conservation purposes. Greg Walden, the states powerful Republican congressman opposed the expansion. The governments of all three counties containing the monument, as well as seven Oregon state legislators and two California members of Congress, also were against it. The most vigorous foes, though, were members of the timber industry.

The economic impacts [of the monument expansion] would be devastating, says Travis Joseph, president of the Portland-based American Forest Resource Council, or AFRC, a timber industry trade group. Joseph says neighboring counties would forever lose revenue for public safety, health and roads, asserting that those acres could support or create a few hundred jobs.

In March, the AFRC filed a lawsuit in federal court arguing that Obamas national monument expansion wasnt just economically harmful but also fundamentally illegal. The suit relies on a little known law called the the Oregon and California Revested Lands Sustained Yield Management Act (known as the O&C Act) of 1937. The law declares that these lands are to be managed for permanent forest production to provide timber, protect watersheds and contribute to local economic stability.

In its lawsuit, AFRC claims that Obamas monument expansion violated the 1937 law by banning most commercial logging. A few other parties, including a regional wood products manufacturer called Murphy Company and an alliance of county governments, filed similar lawsuits last winter.

While this fight is about timber production on public lands, it also reflects the sense among some people that the federal government is an overweening bully trying to snuff out the economic and cultural heritage of rural westerners. Colleen Roberts, for instance, a Jackson County commissioner, sees the monument expansion as a top-down designation that will stifle local authority.

Another concern I personally have is just a continuation of federal land-grabbing, she says, sitting in front of an American flag in her Jackson County office. Constitutionally I dont know if that is what the federal government was supposed to do, to own all of our land and control it.

A similar mentality was on display last February, in what might be the Cascade-Siskiyous most Bundy-esque moment. For one day, a caravan of big pickups descended on the area for an anti-monument rally meant to protect culture, heritage and livelihoods. Scores of protesters drove to the Green Springs Inn, a small restaurant and hotel located on private property inside the Cascade-Siskiyou area and whose owners are ardent monument advocates. The rally featured a hodgepodge of members of interest groups from militia supporters to motorized vehicle proponents, who stood outside the inn and held signs reading New Endangered Species: Rural American and Quit Closing Roads.

We really need to stick up for our culture, said Ryan Mallory, a local marketing consultant who helped organize the rally, during a radio interview in February. And in a way I feel like this is an attack on a culture, a culture of people that has been here for more than 150 years.

Diarmuid McGuire, one of the Green Springs Inns proprietors, says the monument has helped business and put us on the map. But it has also inflamed raw divisions.

You have two cultures with two totally different value systems and two different political agendas and in our community everyone is sort of amalgamated, McGuire says. It is a culture war, really, and when you organize a political rally around it, you get the anti-monument people, you get the gun people … and then you get the anti-government militia mixed in, and we had them all here across the street. He points to his neighbors property across the street, displaying a sign in block letters: NO MONUMENT OUR LAND OUR VOICE.

Steve Pedery of Oregon Wild says the forest products industry and its allies are trying to return Oregon to some long vanished golden era of timber riches. The industry, after all, has declined immensely in the state, from a peak of having nearly 90,000 direct payroll jobs in the 1950s to roughly 31,000 today.

All the while, the outdoor recreation industry has blossomed, currently employing more than 140,000 people in Oregon, according to a report from the Outdoor Industry Association.

In February and March, conservation groups like Oregon Wild, Williss Soda Mountain Wilderness Council and some of their collaborators, fearing that the Trump administration might settle with the timber industry, lawyered up and intervened in the court cases in an attempt to defend the monument.

Willis is troubled bythe lawsuits and Trumps monument review, but he and his allies have battled what he calls the timber-county industrial complex for years. Its been a hard slog to prevent timber sales, buy out grazing permits, limit off-road vehicle access and otherwise preserve and restore this place. Willis, who lost both feet and his fingers to frostbite during a Denali ascent decades ago, is a determined man. And no matter what transpires now, no matter what the secretary of the interior says or a distant judge declares, hell keep fighting to protect the landscape he loves.

Love where you live, he says, riffing on a conservationist slogan. Defend what you love.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/20/national-monuments-review-may-limit-environment-protection-

I was held hostage by Isis. They fear our unity more than our airstrikes | Nicolas Hnin

In Syria I learned that Islamic State longs to provoke retaliation. We should not fall into the trap

As a proud Frenchman I am as distressed as anyone about the events in Paris. But I am not shocked or incredulous. I know Islamic State. I spent 10 months as an Isis hostage, and I know for sure that our pain, our grief, our hopes, our lives do not touch them. Theirs is a world apart.

Most people only know them from their propaganda material, but I have seen behind that. In my time as their captive, I met perhaps a dozen of them, including Mohammed Emwazi: Jihadi John was one of my jailers. He nicknamed me Baldy.

Even now I sometimes chat with them on social media, and can tell you that much of what you think of them results from their brand of marketing and public relations. They present themselves to the public as superheroes, but away from the camera are a bit pathetic in many ways: street kids drunk on ideology and power. In France we have a saying stupid and evil. I found them more stupid than evil. That is not to understate the murderous potential of stupidity.

All of those beheaded last year were my cellmates, and my jailers would play childish games with us mental torture saying one day that we would be released and then two weeks later observing blithely, Tomorrow we will kill one of you. The first couple of times we believed them but after that we came to realise that for the most part they were bullshitters having fun with us.

They would play mock executions. Once they used chloroform with me. Another time it was a beheading scene. A bunch of French-speaking jihadis were shouting, Were going to cut your head off and put it on to your arse and upload it to YouTube. They had a sword from an antique shop.

They were laughing and I played the game by screaming, but they just wanted fun. As soon as they left I turned to another of the French hostages and just laughed. It was so ridiculous.

It struck me forcefully how technologically connected they are; they follow the news obsessively, but everything they see goes through their own filter. They are totally indoctrinated, clinging to all manner of conspiracy theories, never acknowledging the contradictions.

Everything convinces them that they are on the right path and, specifically, that there is a kind of apocalyptic process under way that will lead to a confrontation between an army of Muslims from all over the world and others, the crusaders, the Romans. They see everything as moving us down that road. Consequently, everything is a blessing from Allah.

With their news and social media interest, they will be noting everything that follows their murderous assault on Paris, and my guess is that right now the chant among them will be We are winning. They will be heartened by every sign of overreaction, of division, of fear, of racism, of xenophobia; they will be drawn to any examples of ugliness on social media.

Central to their world view is the belief that communities cannot live together with Muslims, and every day their antennae will be tuned towards finding supporting evidence. The pictures from Germany of people welcoming migrants will have been particularly troubling to them. Cohesion, tolerance it is not what they want to see.

Why France? For many reasons perhaps, but I think they identified my country as a weak link in Europe as a place where divisions could be sown easily. Thats why, when I am asked how we should respond, I say that we must act responsibly.

And yet more bombs will be our response. I am no apologist for Isis. How could I be? But everything I know tells me this is a mistake. The bombardment will be huge, a symbol of righteous anger. Within 48 hours of the atrocity, fighter planes conducted their most spectacular munitions raid yet in Syria, dropping more than 20 bombs on Raqqa, an Isis stronghold. Revenge was perhaps inevitable, but whats needed is deliberation. My fear is that this reaction will make a bad situation worse.

While we are trying to destroy Isis, what of the 500,000 civilians still living and trapped in Raqqa? What of their safety? What of the very real prospect that by failing to think this through, we turn many of them into extremists? The priority must be to protect these people, not to take more bombs to Syria. We need no-fly zones zones closed to Russians, the regime, the coalition. The Syrian people need security or they themselves will turn to groups such as Isis.

Canada withdrew from the air war after the election of Justin Trudeau. I desperately want France to do the same, and rationality tells me it could happen. But pragmatism tells me it wont. The fact is we are trapped: Isis has trapped us. They came to Paris with Kalashnikovs, claiming that they wanted to stop the bombing, but knowing all too well that the attack would force us to keep bombing or even to intensify these counterproductive attacks. That is what is happening.

Emwazi is gone now, killed in a coalition air strike, his death celebrated in parliament. I do not mourn him. But during his murder spree, he too followed this double bluff strategy. After murdering the American journalist James Foley, he pointed his knife at the camera and, turning to the next intended victim, said: Obama, you must stop intervening in the Middle East or I will kill him. He knew very well what the hostages fate would be. He knew very well what the American reaction would be more bombing. Its what Isis wants, but should we be giving it to them?

The group is wicked, of that there is no doubt. But after all that happened to me, I still dont feel Isis is the priority. To my mind, Bashar al-Assad is the priority. The Syrian president is responsible for the rise of Isis in Syria, and so long as his regime is in place, Isis cannot be eradicated. Nor can we stop the attacks on our streets. When people say Isis first, and then Assad, I say dont believe them. They just want to keep Assad in place.

At the moment there is no political road map and no plan to engage the Arab Sunni community. Isis will collapse, but politics will make that happen. In the meantime there is much we can achieve in the aftermath of this atrocity, and the key is strong hearts and resilience, for that is what they fear. I know them: bombing they expect. What they fear is unity.

Nicolas Hnin is author of Jihad Academy, the Rise of Islamic State

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/16/isis-bombs-hostage-syria-islamic-state-paris-attacks

What is a black professor in America allowed to say?

The long read: Tommy J Curry thought forcing a public discussion about race and violence was part of his job. It turned out that people didnt want to hear it

One Thursday morning in May, Tommy J Curry walked through the offices of the philosophy department at Texas A&M University with a police officer at his side and violence on his mind. The threats had started a few days earlier. Since you said white people need to be killed Im in fear of my life, one person had written via email. The next time I see you on campus I might just have to pre-emptively defend myself you dumb fat nigger. You are done. Curry didnt know if that person was lurking on the university grounds. But Texas is a gun-friendly state, and Texas A&M is a gun-friendly campus, and he took the threat seriously.

Curry supports the right to bear arms. It was part of how he ended up in this situation. In 2012 he had appeared on a satellite radio show and delivered a five-minute talk on how uneasy white people are with the idea of black people talking about owning guns and using them to combat racist forces. When a recording of the talk resurfaced in May, people thought the tenured professor was telling black people to kill white people. This idea swept through conservative media and into the fever swamps of Reddit forums and racist message boards. The threats followed.

Anonymous bigots werent the only ones making Curry feel unwanted. Michael K Young, the president of Texas A&M, had called the professors comments disturbing and contrary to the values of the university. Curry was taken aback. His remarks on the radio were not a regrettable slip of the tongue. They were part of why the university had hired him.

A police officer met Curry inside his academic building and rode with him in the elevator to the philosophy department, on the third floor. In a hallway, the professor pointed to photos of his graduate students so the police officer would know who was supposed to be there. The officer told him to keep an eye out for unfamiliar faces. Curry picked up his mail. There were a few angry letters, and also an envelope marked with a Texas A&M logo. He put the hate mail into a folder and carried the whole bundle downstairs. Back in the car with his wife, he opened the university envelope. Inside was a copy of a letter from a campus official that he had received a few days earlier by email before his inbox was flooded with racist messages.

I am delighted to offer my congratulations on your promotion to Professor at Texas A&M University effective September 1, 2017, said the letter. This measure of your achievement is an indicator of the very high esteem in which you are held by your peers. We are honored to have you on our faculty.

As the car pulled away from the campus, Curry reread the letter and rolled his eyes. He has not been back since.


The drama that unfolded at Texas A&M is about a scholar who was welcomed by a public university because of his unusual perspective, and who became estranged from the university for the same reason. It is a story about what a university values, how it expresses those values under pressure, and how that pressure works. It is about freedom and control, reason and fear, good faith and bad. Mostly, it is a story about a black man in America who did exactly what he said he set out to do, and who became a cautionary tale.

It starts in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where Curry grew up in the 1980s and 90s. His family lived in a mostly black neighbourhood on the east side of the city. The white folks lived on the other side of the highway. At the Woolworth store downtown, he saw the faded outline of letters that remained visible on the window glass: No Coloreds. Currys father sold insurance. He told his son stories about how white people used to break into black peoples homes and terrorise them. The family kept a shotgun behind the couch, and Tommy Sr owned a pistol as well. He constantly told us that there is a very real threat of white violence, said Curry. The idea of black people having a right to defend themselves is just something I grew up with.

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The Texas A&M University campus. Photograph: Spencer Selvidge/Reuters

His mother, a social worker, told him to arm himself with an education. Curry was a serious child who hoarded information. He joined his high schools debate team, where he learned how to arrange information into arguments and recite them at breakneck speed. He became accustomed to being the only black voice in the room, although he occasionally met other black boys in the debating scene. One was Rob Redding, a preachers son from Atlanta who was going to college in Lake Charles. Redding, who was a few years older, was struck by the high-schoolers confidence. I remember him coming to the debate room, and a lot of people thinking he was very bright, but maybe a little too self-confident, too self-assured, said Redding. Even some black people, who should know better, would think he was too cocky.

Curry used debate scholarships to attend Southern Illinois University, where he won an award for his prowess as a cross-examiner. After getting his masters degree in Chicago, he went back to Southern Illinois to work on a doctorate in philosophy. He showed little deference to the canon, often challenging the universal claims that western philosophers made in their work. That annoyed a lot of people in the department, but Currys adviser, Kenneth Stikkers, considered Curry a model student who inhaled the texts he recommended, reading them closely even if he disagreed with them. It was always a delight when hed come to see me, said Stikkers, because I was always going to learn something.

Stikkers, who is white, understood that not everybody would find Currys iconoclasm as energising as he did. Philosophers consider themselves open-minded, he said, but the department was still a white neighbourhood with expectations of how a black guest should behave. Curry was not interested in playing that game. In comments on Currys papers, Stikkers found himself repeating a refrain: Dont unnecessarily antagonise your audience. Currys patience for that advice was limited. He would say at times that he liked nothing more than pissing white people off, said Stikkers. I think he did get a certain thrill from that.


In 2004, while Curry was studying at Southern Illinois, the people of that state elected a young, mixed-race law professor to the US Senate. Liberals at the university had high hopes for Barack Obama as a unifying political figure, and a symbol of how far US race relations had come. Curry did not share their optimism. In the days after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he heard that the police had opened fire on a group of unarmed black families on the Danziger Bridge in New Orleans. It would take years for courts to determine the guilt of the officers, but Curry didnt need an official judgment to convince him it was true. The aftermath of the hurricane bolstered his belief that anti-black racism in the US was a storm that would never end.

The evidence of the last 50 years has convincingly demonstrated the failure of multicultural coalitions, civil rights legislation and integration, he wrote in a 2007 paper. The current task of radical Black thought now rests in the development of alternatives in light of this disappointment. Those alternatives might include violence: Historically, the use of violence has been a serious option in the liberation of African people from the cultural tyranny of whiteness, he wrote, and should again be investigated as a plausible and in some sense necessary political option.

It was a provocative thesis, and Curry knew it. He did not consider himself a violent person. Even when he was a teenage socialist, his revolutionary vision had been passive: white capitalism would collapse under its own weight, and black unionists would help build a more egalitarian society in its ruins. Anyway, philosophy was supposed to be about asking hard questions without fear or prejudice, and Curry was not interested in steering clear of topics just because they made his white colleagues uneasy.

Stikkers urged him to pre-emptively defend himself against charges that he wanted to incite violence. In the paper, Curry explained that he wanted to raise violent resistance in the context of US racism not as a call to arms, but as an open-ended political question. Still, the young philosopher knew he was treading on dangerous ground. To some, he wrote, for a black scholar to even ask if violence should be used to combat racism is a career faux pas.

The paper was published in Radical Philosophy Today, and Curry put it on his curriculum vitae. Two years later, he earned his doctorate from Southern Illinois, and Texas A&M brought him on as a diversity hire, he said. The universitys philosophy department, like philosophy departments everywhere, was all white. They sold it to me based on the idea that they were trying to change, he said.

Black philosophers are rare in academe. In 2013 a study counted 141 black professors, instructors and graduate students working at US colleges, accounting for about 1% of the field. At Texas A&M, Curry turned heads almost immediately. In 2010 he taught a course that used hip-hop as a lens for philosophical ideas. The rapper 50 Cent was on the syllabus alongside Thomas Hobbes.

Curry didnt want to confine his teaching to the classroom. In 2012 he reconnected with Redding, the acquaintance from his debating days in Lake Charles, who had gone on to become a radio host. His show, the Redding News Review, played online and was broadcast in several cities. Redding began featuring Curry in a segment called Talking Tough With Tommy. Every Thursday the professor would call in and lecture about race, fear and complacency during the Obama years. He warned listeners of what might happen as white America began to feel the levers of power slipping from its grasp. We despise black people who are pessimistic about the political situation, he said in one episode, as if history hasnt already borne out what happens when black people make progress, even if its illusory.

Earlier that year, grim news from a Florida suburb had reminded the nation of how precarious the political situation was, no matter who was in the White House. Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, had been stalked and killed in a gated community where his fathers girlfriend lived. George Zimmerman, a neighbourhood watch volunteer, had seen Martin and assumed he was up to no good. He grabbed his gun and followed Martin. There was a confrontation. Martin broke Zimmermans nose and injured the back of his head; Zimmerman then shot Martin in the chest. The case brought attention to stand-your-ground laws, which gave the residents of some states, including Florida, the right to use lethal force rather than retreat if they fear they might be in serious danger. (In court, Zimmerman was later acquitted.)

That December, Django Unchained was released in cinemas. The film starred Jamie Foxx as a black gunslinger in the antebellum south who frees his wife and murders her white slavers. In a Saturday Night Live monologue, Foxx joked about how great it was that he got to kill all the white people in the movie, prompting some white pundits to accuse him of racism.

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Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained. Photograph: Allstar/Weinstein Company/Sportsphoto

Curry made plans to talk about Django on Reddings show. He wanted to place the film in the context of Nat Turners slave revolt of 1831, the writings of the civil rights leader Robert F Williams, and the history of black people taking up arms. Once again, conjuring visions of black-on-white violence would be risky. The audience this time was not just the subscribers of Radical Philosophy Today. Currys words would go out on the public airwaves and the internet. He knew that saying that would be controversial, said Redding. They decided the professor should focus on self-defence.

When it came time to record the segment, Curry spoke without a script. When we have this conversation about violence or killing white people, it has to be looked at in these kinds of historical terms, he said. And the fact that weve had no one address, like, how relevant and how solidified this kind of tradition is, for black people saying, Look, in order to be equal, in order to be liberated, some white people may have to die. Ive just been immensely disappointed, because what we look at, week after week, is national catastrophe after catastrophe where black people, black children, are still dying.

White conservatives speak reverently of gun rights, said Curry. But when we turn the conversation back and say, Does the black community ever need to own guns? Does the black community have a need to protect itself? Does the black individual have a need to protect himself from police officers?, we dont have that conversation at all.

The segment aired, and nothing happened. Redding posted Currys piece on YouTube in December 2012 with the title Dr. Tommy Curry on killing whites, then forgot about it.

Until Rod Dreher found it.


Dreher, too, is from Louisiana. Born 12 years before Curry, he grew up in St Francisville, a small town 160 miles north-east of Lake Charles. Only a few years before he was born, white vigilantes there had stalked and terrorised black men who had tried to register to vote in the town. In 1963, a tenant farmer named James Payne told a justice department official that a white mob had showed up at his house a day later. The intruders disarmed him, threatened to burn his family alive, and fired a bullet from his own pistol into the ground between his legs.

Dreher had a fling with progressive politics during his college years, at Louisiana State University, but his ideology took a right turn and he moved to the north-east, where he became a writer, cultivating an urbane Christian conservatism. Personal experience made him wary of vigilantism. In a 2001 column for the New York Post, Dreher bemoaned an elaborate funeral procession that black mourners had arranged for Aaliyah, the 22-year-old R&B artist who had died in a plane crash. A traffic-snarling, horse-drawn cortege in honor of a pop singer most people have never heard of? he wrote. Give us a break!

Dreher has vivid memories of what happened next. Callers flooded his voice mailbox with messages. They cursed him out, hurled antisemitic slurs (Dreher was raised Methodist and had converted to Catholicism), called him racist and said he should be fired. All of the callers had black accents, he later recalled. Dreher tried to brush it off. He recorded a cheeky voicemail greeting that instructed his critics to press 1 to leave a death threat, 2 to leave a bomb threat, 3 to get him fired, and so on. Still, the outrage scared him. Every time a black man got within 10 feet of me, I thought: Could this be one of the people who made the death threat? he wrote in a blogpost years later.

Dreher came to regret the Aaliyah column, admitting that it was insensitive, but he nevertheless saw himself as a victim of racial venom coursing through parochial networks. He blamed black radio hosts for using their influence to mark him as the enemy of a race. He eventually moved back to Louisiana and cultivated an online following as a blogger for The American Conservative magazine. His take on the Trayvon Martin case was that Martin had overreacted to Zimmerman confronting him with a gun, and that black people had overreacted to Zimmermans just acquittal. Dreher didnt see Django Unchained, he said, because revenge fantasies were corrupting. His audience eventually grew to about a million readers a month.

By the time Dreher learned about Curry earlier this year, he was writing regularly about campus politics, which he thought had grown more toxic since he was in college. The racial terrorism of the 1960s was in the past, as far as he was concerned, but the social-justice warriors remained on the warpath. Worse, college administrators indulged those students petty outrages.

In spring, a reader sent Dreher an email, telling him that a black professor at Texas A&M was saying racist things about white people, and the university was letting it happen. (The tipster used a pseudonym, according to Dreher, but he guessed it was a student.) He Googled Curry and soon found the killing white people YouTube clip that Redding had posted. He also found the professors 2007 paper on violence against whiteness. To his ears, Curry sounded like a bully. That rat-a-tat-tat way of talking reminded me of people Ive encountered in the past who are so busy talking at you that they dont actually listen, said Dreher. He reminded me of political and religious extremists Ive run across in my life in that way. That stuff sets me on edge.

So he decided to expose Curry on his blog. Dreher embedded the YouTube clip and quoted from other radio appearances in which the professor had talked about how white people would never voluntarily surrender their advantages. What does any of this racist bilge mean? wrote Dreher. To prove his own human worth to Tommy Curry, a white person has to despise himself? Good luck with that, Tommy Curry.

He published it on Monday 8 May at 8.30am.


Drehers post sent the professors words racing across a network primed for racial outrage. The internets rightwing news belt had expanded during the Obama presidency. Websites such as Infowars and Breitbart, once on the fringe, had found a champion in Donald Trump, who seemed passionate about defending white Americas borders and voting rolls from usurpers such as Muslim refugees, undocumented Latinos and poor blacks.

One of the first online hubs to notice Drehers article about Curry was a Reddit forum devoted to the lionisation of President Trump. When Is It OK To Kill Whites? somebody wrote there, posting a link to Drehers article on The American Conservative. THE HELL?!?! This guy teaches at Texas A&M!! Liberalism at Universities as [sic] gotten completely out of hand!! Cristina Laila, a writer for The Gateway Pundit, a blog devoted to exposing the wickedness of the left, also saw Drehers post about Curry. This is more proof that rasicsm [sic] is ok, she wrote, as long as the attacks are against whites.

Infowars was next. Then, on 10 May, somebody posted a link on the neo-Nazi website Stormfront. Some of the people who responded seemed to welcome the thought of a race war. They liked their chances. My West Point and 82nd Airborne cousins are more than happy to accommodate those of us who may need a little help in just such an emergency, wrote one person. So please, oh pretty please, do TRY to initiate hostilities sooner rather than later.

Curry had succeeded in getting people across the country to talk about racial violence in the name of self-defence. Now they were talking about how Texas A&M University needed to defend itself from Curry. To hundreds of people on the forums of TexAgs, an A&M community site, the answer was clear. Can we not fire him? wrote one person. What an embarrassment to Texas A&M, wrote another. Waiting on a response from President Young, knowing it will never come.

Michael Young, a lawyer, was hired to run Texas A&M in 2015 after a four-year stint as president of the University of Washington. At his new university, Young had swiftly earned a reputation as an able navigator of public-relations crises relating to racism. In 2016, white students had taunted a group of black and Latino high-school students who were visiting the campus from a Dallas preparatory school. One A&M student reportedly asked the prospective students what they thought of her Confederate flag earrings; other students told the high-school visitors to go back where they came from.

Michael
Michael K Young, president of Texas A&M University. Photograph: Youtube/Texas A&M

Young responded by announcing an investigation and then travelling to Dallas to personally apologise to the students who had been harassed. He was later praised widely for making a heartfelt response without rushing to judgment.

Kneejerk responses have to be avoided at all costs, Young said a few weeks after the incident. The key to beating the outrage machine, he said, is to know exactly what your university stands for. If you do that, even if it doesnt play out the way the Twitter world initially thinks it should, you never have to back away or apologise.

Texas A&M officials quickly realised that Drehers article might become a problem. Amy Smith, senior vice president for marketing and communications, advised the head of the philosophy department, Theodore George, on how to respond to inquiries about Curry. Barring direct threats by him to others, Dr Curry has a first-amendment right to offer his personal views on this subject, she advised him to say, no matter how incendiary and inappropriate others may consider them to be.

It soon became clear that would not be enough.


Even before Currys comments were covered in the mainstream press, Porter Garner III, head of the Texas A&M Association of Former Students, an influential fundraising body, began receiving angry calls from donors. They thought Curry was encouraging violence against white people. Many of the callers might not have been fully informed of the context of Currys words, said Garner, but some of them were longtime donors, volunteers, and friends of the university, and their concerns were pretty rational and very respectful.

Young said he disagreed with the idea that Curry was inciting violence. But as president of the university, he felt an obligation to take the concerns seriously. Public outrage can be perilous for a public university, especially when race is involved. After black students and their allies caused a national stir by protesting racism at the University of Missouri in 2015, the universitys fundraising efforts took a big hit, and it became a punching bag for the conservative state legislature. Two years later, freshman enrolment has dropped by 35%, and the university has temporarily shuttered seven dormitories.

Young said that finances were not on his mind as he weighed what to do about Curry, but also that he acknowledged the importance of staying in the good graces of constituencies beyond the campus. People send their children to A&M, and students come to A&M, because its a very special place, he said in an interview. I didnt want anybody to doubt what they believe it stands for is what it stands for.

On the morning of 10 May, Curry was asked to meet with university administrators. The professor agreed, but told them he wanted another person of colour in the meeting. He didnt want to feel surrounded by people who didnt get it. At the meeting, Curry said, he got the impression that university officials wanted to draw a distinction between his radio commentary and his work for Texas A&M. But Curry told the university officials there was no difference. Earlier in the year, a panel of judges from the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy had honored Currys radio work by giving him an award for public philosophy. His radio commentary wasnt some offbeat rant, the professor told his bosses. This is part of what you hired me to do.

They backed down a little bit, Curry said. He said they told him to put his defence in writing, so they could use it to respond to people who were contacting the university to complain. Curry wrote in the third person, assuming that his bosses would adopt his voice as their own.

The inflammatory phrase When is it OK to kill white people, he wrote, referring to Drehers headline, deliberately misconstrues Dr Currys distinction between revolutionary violence and self-defense. He continued: Dr Curry, drawing from the Second Amendment tradition, suggests that the laws failure to protect the lives of Black, Latino, and Muslim Americans requires new conversations which may require self-defense and more radical options than protest. In no way does his work promote or incite violence toward whites or any other racial group. The professor sent the text to his department chair that evening. Two hours later, Curry was sitting in his apartment, at his computer, when a message arrived from President Young. It was addressed not to Curry, but to all faculty, staff and students.

As you may know, a podcast interview by one of our professors that took place approximately four-and-a-half years ago resurfaced this week on social media, seen for the first time by many of us, wrote Young. The interview features disturbing comments about race and violence that stand in stark contrast to Aggie [Texas A&M] core values most notably those of respect, excellence, leadership and integrity values that we hold true toward all of humanity.

Curry read the email, the text of which was later posted on the universitys website, with dawning anger. Hes throwing me under the bus, the professor thought. Young continued: As we know, the First Amendment of the US Constitution protects the rights of others to offer their personal views, no matter how reprehensible those views may be. It also protects our right to freedom of speech, which I am exercising now. We stand for equality. We stand against the advocacy of violence, hate and killing. We firmly commit to the success, not the destruction, of each other.

Have no fear, the president assured them: Texas A&Ms core values remained intact.


Smith, the communications vice president, immediately sent Youngs statement to the presidents of all the non-profit organisations that help fund Texas A&M. She felt good about the statement. Fair was fair: in December 2016, when the white nationalist Richard Spencer visited Texas A&M, Young made it clear that the university did not share his values, either. After trying and failing to bar Spencer from speaking on campus, university leaders organised a unity-themed rally in the football stadium. If youre a purveyor of hate and divisiveness, said John C Sharp, the chancellor, and you want to spew that kind of racism, this is the last campus on earth that you want to come to to do that.

In light of the situation with Curry, Smith found herself moved by the chancellors words. It is even more meaningful now, she wrote to the president the next morning, as we articulated our core values again yesterday in a new-but-related situation that shows we mean this equitably.

But the statement did little to slow the momentum of the story. The outrage machine was just warming up. Conservative writers struggled to square their love of free speech with their horror at Currys words. Certainly, no one should be stopped for sharing and debating ideas; the country has seen too many prohibitions of speech in past years, wrote Ron Meyer, editor of Red Alert Politics, a Washington-based blog. However, paying a professor to share radical ideas on behalf of a university has nothing to do with free speech.

Garner, of the Association of Former Students, was still getting calls from alumni who thought Young had not gone far enough. Some said the president should have condemned Curry more forcefully. Others were upset that the professor hadnt been fired. A petition was started encouraging alumni to withhold all donations to Texas A&M and its affiliated fundraisers until the board took action against Curry and Young. The alumni were not the only ones who were upset. Youngs attempt to get ahead of a national story created another outrage closer to home.


To some of Currys colleagues, the statement the president sent out to mollify the professors critics was not an affirmation of the universitys core values. It was a betrayal of the sacred privilege of academic freedom. Joe Feagin, a long-serving sociology professor, wrote to Young the next morning. Michael, he wrote, I wish you had contacted me about the Curry matter. In a separate email to a student newspaper reporter, Feagin argued that Currys 2012 radio piece was, in fact, based on good research.

Nandra Perry, an associate professor of English, also wrote to the president. Previously, she had assumed the university would have her back if anybody used a classroom recording to attack her. Now she wasnt so sure. To call this incident a blow to academic freedom, Perry told Young, doesnt begin to do justice to the chill it will have on my teaching, and indeed the teaching of almost everyone I know.

Perhaps the most scathing rebuke to the president came in a letter signed by every faculty member in the Africana Studies department, where Curry also holds a faculty appointment. The history of black thought, they said, includes more than Martin Luther King Jrs crossover hits. By dismissing Currys comments on violent resistance as personal views, they said, Young had delegitimised the professors expertise and dismissed centuries of history.

Blacks in the United States live with the daily fear that a traffic stop, or a trip to the store or the park, could be the end of their lives, wrote the professors. Yet we cannot talk about black resistance? Historically or contemporaneously? They demanded an apology.

When Dreher heard that Curry was getting death threats, he wrote a follow-up blogpost. Anyone threatening violence against Curry, he said, should be ashamed and, if possible, arrested. I hope Dr Curry is armed, he added, so that if anybody shows up at his house threatening him, he defends his home and family by any means necessary. Still, Dreher stuck by his interpretation of Currys 2012 radio commentary. I dont believe Tommy Curry is encouraging black people to go out today and cut throats, he wrote. I think he is entertaining dangerous thoughts here, same as far-right white radicals. (He later would write a third post, which was removed, comparing the professor to Emperor Palpatine, the Star Wars villain who encourages morally complex characters to give in to the dark side.)

An
An anti-racist rally at the University of Missouri in 2015. Photograph: Michael B Thomas/Getty Images

Curry read the second blogpost somewhat differently from how Dreher had meant it. That evening the professor wrote an email to Young with a headline that was provocative, if a bit misleading: Rod Dreher retracts.

The president decided to make another statement, and his advisers spent several days discussing how to thread the needle. On 17 May, a week after Young had put out his statement about Texas A&Ms values, he put out a new one. He said he was committed to academic freedom. He acknowledged that scholars often find their work oversimplified or misunderstood. He reiterated the universitys position that racial violence is always bad. He did not, however, offer a personal apology to Curry.

Despite the title of Currys email to Young, Dreher has not changed his views on Currys ideas. Dreher believes the only practical solution to racial resentment is the power of forgiveness. In 2015, Dreher marvelled at the Christ-like love of the teenage children of Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, one of the nine black parishioners killed by the white supremacist Dylann Roof at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Roof shot her five times. The next night, at a vigil for their mother, Chris and Camryn Coleman-Singleton told an interviewer that they had already forgiven Roof.

Dreher saw their gesture as both inspiring and necessary. There will always be haters, of all kinds, and sometimes those haters will murder in service of the hate that consumes them, he wrote at the time. But to deny that things have changed for the better, and can change for the better if we work at it, is to deny to ourselves the hope that inspired Martin Luther King and the civil rights heroes.

Curry is no hero, Dreher said. He thinks the professors talk of racial violence is reckless, and that he should cut it out before he inspires somebody to do real harm. Tommy Currys big fat radical mouth gets to me, he wrote in an email, because of the consequences of the things he believes and says. Its not a joke.


Back in America, Curry was more worried about the consequences of what Dreher believed and said about him. For two weeks, Curry rarely left his apartment, as messages arrived by email warning him of what might happen if he did. You and your entire family of low-IQ, affirmative-action herpes-infected african monkeys might need to be put to death. There were dozens like that. The professor forwarded them to the campus police department. Curry said a detective told him some of the messages appeared to have been sent from within the county. Police officers made a point of regularly driving past his apartment building for several weeks. But Curry worried about whether his six-year-old was safe at her elementary school. Driving her home at the end of the day, he would circle the block a few times to make sure they had not been followed.

Nobody came to his door, knocked him down, disarmed him, fired a bullet between his legs or made him beg for his life. The mob that came for Curry was digital and diffuse, everywhere and nowhere. The goal, however, was the same as ever: fear. And it worked. The Currys left town. They had already been planning to move, but Curry and his wife decided to leave early to stay with family. His daughters thought they were going on vacation. He does not plan to bring them when he returns to Texas A&M in the autumn.

In the course of his life, Curry has embodied both the promise of racial progress and its limitations. He was able to study at an integrated school, but his hometown remained divided by the legacy of segregation. He was hired by a university that wanted more black professors, then was mocked by conservative students who assumed his insight was worthless. He earned honours from his colleagues, then anger from strangers and a tepid defence from his bosses.

If thats the American dream, said Curry, then Id hate to see what the actual nightmare is. He plans to return to Texas A&M in the fall as a full professor. He knows there are people there who want him gone. He no longer trusts the university to defend him. He only hopes he can defend himself.

Main photograph by Benjamin Rasmussen. A longer version of this article first appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/03/what-is-a-black-professor-in-america-allowed-to-say-tommy-j-curry

‘Anonymous’ browsing data can be easily exposed, German researchers reveal

Pair secured database containing 3bn URLs from 3 million German users, spread over 9m different sites

A judges porn preferences and the medication used by a German MP were among the personal data uncovered by two German researchers who acquired the anonymous browsing habits of more than three million German citizens.

What would you think, asked Svea Eckert, if somebody showed up at your door saying: Hey, I have your complete browsing history every day, every hour, every minute, every click you did on the web for the last month? How would you think we got it: some shady hacker? No. It was much easier: you can just buy it.

Eckert, a journalist, paired up with data scientist Andreas Dewes to acquire personal user data and see what they could glean from it.

Presenting their findings at the Def Con hacking conference in Las Vegas, the pair revealed how they secured a database containing 3bn URLs from 3 million German users, spread over 9m different sites. Some were sparse users, with just a couple of dozen of sites visited in the 30-day period they examined, while others had tens of thousands of data points: the full record of their online lives.

Getting hold of the information was actually even easier than buying it. The pair created a fake marketing company, replete with its own website, a LinkedIn page for its chief executive, and even a careers site which garnered a few applications from other marketers tricked by the company.

They piled the site full of many nice pictures and some marketing buzzwords, claiming to have developed a machine-learning algorithm which would be able to market more effectively to people, but only if it was trained with a large amount of data.

We wrote and called nearly a hundred companies, and asked if we could have the raw data, the clickstream from peoples lives. It took slightly longer than it should have, Eckert said, but only because they were specifically looking for German web surfers. We often heard: Browsing data? Thats no problem. But we dont have it for Germany, we only have it for the US and UK, she said.

The data they were eventually given came, for free, from a data broker, which was willing to let them test their hypothetical AI advertising platform. And while it was nominally an anonymous set, it was soon easy to de-anonymise many users.

Dewes described some methods by which a canny broker can find an individual in the noise, just from a long list of URLs and timestamps. Some make things very easy: for instance, anyone who visits their own analytics page on Twitter ends up with a URL in their browsing record which contains their Twitter username, and is only visible to them. Find that URL, and youve linked the anonymous data to an actual person. A similar trick works for German social networking site Xing.

For other users, a more probabilistic approach can deanonymise them. For instance, a mere 10 URLs can be enough to uniquely identify someone just think, for instance, of how few people there are at your company, with your bank, your hobby, your preferred newspaper and your mobile phone provider. By creating fingerprints from the data, its possible to compare it to other, more public, sources of what URLs people have visited, such as social media accounts, or public YouTube playlists.

A similar strategy was used in 2008, Dewes said, to deanonymise a set of ratings published by Netflix to help computer scientists improve its recommendation algorithm: by comparing anonymous ratings of films with public profiles on IMDB, researchers were able to unmask Netflix users including one woman, a closeted lesbian, who went on to sue Netflix for the privacy violation.

Another discovery through the data collection occurred via Google Translate, which stores the text of every query put through it in the URL. From this, the researchers were able to uncover operational details about a German cybercrime investigation, since the detective involved was translating requests for assistance to foreign police forces.

So where did the data come from? It was collated from a number of browser plugins, according to Dewes, with the prime offender being safe surfing tool Web of Trust. After Dewes and Eckert published their results, the browser plugin modified its privacy policy to say that it does indeed sell data, while making attempts to keep the information anonymous. We know this is nearly impossible, said Dewes.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/aug/01/data-browsing-habits-brokers

Big tobacco still sees big business in America’s poor

The US is pegged as an exciting market, but this growth disproportionately affects the poor including the industrys growers and laborers

Wheeling his oxygen tank in behind him, Leslie E Adams shuffled into the lung doctors exam room, and let out a long string of rattling coughs. He tried to catch his breath, and coughed some more. He is 63, but looks a decade older.

I got stage three black lung. There aint no stage four. Im on my way out, said Adams. Now, I am slowly going down the mountain.

The American smoking rate has plummeted since the mid-20th century. Yet somehow the US remains a growth market. That is partly because the proportion of smokers has fallen, but the population is rising.

Add a nation bedeviled by inequality and those public health gains, while significant, have simply not reached every corner of the country.

With low taxes on cigarettes, intermittent regulations and tobacco-friendly politicians, many US states still mirror conditions around the developing world where tobacco companies see potential.

West Virginia arguablyhas the highest smoking rate in the nation. In places such as Logan County, where retired coal miner Adams is from, the smoking rate was 37% in 2015. The last time the national average matched that was 1974.

I smoked Winston, I smoked Viceroy. I dont know what I was smoking last, I couldnt tell you, said Adams, about brands that once belonged to Reynolds and British American Tobacco (BAT). I just smoked anything. If it blowed smoke, I smoked it. Adams is disabled with stage three pneumoconiosis, better known as black lung.

Adams will tell you he quit, but the truth is, after seven days in the hospital on a ventilator, he still tried smoke three times. I smoked about a half a one, and it just I mean your lungs it just takes all the oxygen out of them.

Despite smoking bans, hundred-billion-dollar settlements and a smaller proportion of the American public smoking, Reynolds longtime ally BAT sees the US as an exciting opportunity for long-term growth.

Through the years, as the population rose, the proportion of Americans who smoke shrank, but their raw numbers stayed the same at around 45 million smokers. Further, since the 1990s, the threat of tobacco litigation diminished and regulations proved less costly than feared, leaving tobacco companies room to increase the price of a pack. In America, where cigarettes are still relatively cheap, BAT will only need to sell two packs of cigarettes to make the same profit as selling six in other markets.

America is highly attractive and the worlds largest tobacco profit pool outside of China, BAT chief executive Nicandro Durante said, as he described a $49bn deal to buy Reynolds American in January. The deal will make BAT the largest listed tobacco company in the world.

It also means revenue from eight out of 10 cigarettes sold in the US will be pocketed by BAT and a rival group of companies Altria Group, a US Philip Morris company. Not since Theodore Roosevelts presidency in the first decade of the 20th century has tobacco been so consolidated.

Mergers and acquisitions have allowed tobacco companies to squeeze profits from customers and the supply chain. Companies charge more for cigarettes, while union organizers say poverty wages keep families on the ropes. Both are trends seen worldwide.

At the same time, the typical profile of smokers has changed radically. In 50 years, smoking moved from glamorous to common. Wealthy Americans have the lowest smoking rates, and the middle class has increasingly quit; instead smoking became a burden of the poor, less educated and marginalized.

The $49bn merger between BAT and Reynolds, expected within weeks, is the most recent act of faith by tobacco companies that selling cigarettes to Americans will remain profitable long into the future, even if the Americans who buy them cant afford it.

As a young man, Adams worked in mines so tight he laid on his belly to dig. He dug his own hole to piss in. When he learned mine owners handed out dust masks that didnt work, he sued.

Adams lives in the Appalachian mountains, in a valley between two green hills affectionately called a holler. He and his wife had two daughters and a son, and those children had eight of their own.

He started smoking at eight, sneaking beside the creek to puff corn silk. He smoked cigarettes for 40 years. Now, after one son died of a drug overdose, unable to chase after his grandkids and still craving cigarettes, Adams questioned whether cigarettes should be legal at all.

Leslie
Leslie E Adams, 63, said he wishes cigarettes could be outlawed. Photograph: Billy Wolfe for the Guardian

They got so many drugs in there you couldnt quit if you wanted to. I still crave them. If I had one right now, and Id go to sleep, youd hold it, Id smoke it in my sleep, he said. Thats how bad you crave them.

Dr Tom Takubo sees more than 30 patients like Adams each day at his clinic in Charleston. His is the largest pulmonology office in West Virginia. Set in the capital of a rural state in a rural region, Takubo sees patients from as far away as northern Kentucky and southern Ohio.

Even if smoking dropped off today, I would probably be going for the rest of my career, said Takubo.

No one is allowed to smoke in his office, but even so, the air smells faintly of cigarettes. Takubos patients carry the scent of the smokes they prefer. Former miners, shop owners and factory workers waiting for their appointments named L&Ms (by Altria) or Salems (by Reynolds) as their go-to. One woman admitted she smoked whatever was cheapest, and called them floor sweepings.

Takubo estimates 80% of his patients see him for smoking-related diseases. Cancer, acute bronchitis, flare-ups of their asthma, he said, naming a few.

The national adult smoking rate dropped from 42.4% in 1965 to 16.8% in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control. But in West Virginia, the smoking rate in 2014 was still 26%, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. One researcher with RWJF called the rate extraordinarily high.

When he is not seeing patients, Takubo has another role. He is also a Republican state senator in West Virginia, putting him in the unique position of treating the same people whose cigarette taxes he hopes to raise. He is occasionally told by a patient: Now doc, dont raise the price of my cigarettes.

Its really hard for me, because you hear people argue for financial reasons, for freedom of choice, Takubo said about his fellow legislators, shaking his head. This year, inspired by a patient, Takubo introduced a bill that would have fined adults for smoking in the car with a child.

I have a patient thats lost about half of her lung function. Shes never smoked a day in her life, he said. Instead, her father smoked in the car. If she complained about it, he would roll the window up to teach her a lesson. She remembers even getting in the floorboard of the car because she couldnt breath.

But the bill was not successful. Takubos fellow Republicans voted it down.

Dr
Dr Tom Takubo points to an X-ray of a patient suffering from a severe case of coal workers pneumoconiosis, also known as CWP or black lung. Photograph: Billy Wolfe for the Guardian

West Virginia is also the epicenter of Americas drug overdose epidemic, but lung and throat cancer have proven far deadlier than opioids.

Drug overdoses killed 41 people for every 100,000 in West Virginia in 2015. The same year, lung and throat cancer killed tripled that number in south-western counties, such as Calhoun. There, those two disease alone killed 123 people for every 100,000, according to the states health department.

The same year, 46% of adults in Calhoun smoked, RWJF found. The West Virginia department of health estimates that one in five deaths of people over 35 are due to smoking.

West Virginia scores badly on every imaginable indicator of poverty and inequality. Takubo has also argued increased tobacco taxes could bring the state significant financial relief. A $1 tax would have generated $100m in revenue for a state that had a $380m shortfall in 2016, and which spends $277m annually on smoking-related diseases. That too failed, although Takubo did help get a 65-cent tobacco tax passed.

Now, fearing Republicans in Washington will pass a healthcare reform bill that could severely cut Medicaid, a public health program for the poor, Takubo said simply: That would kill us.

State of the nation

In Washington DC, things have also changed in the halls of Congress. People who still smoke stand out, and perhaps for a good reason Congress is mostly well educated and wealthy. Every single US senator has a college degree, and just 5% of the House of Representatives lack one. Most members of Congress are millionaires.

Today, someone with a high school equivalency diploma is nine times more likely to smoke (34.1%) than someone with a graduate degree (3.6%). A poll found Americans who earn between $6,000 and $11,999 are more than twice as likely to smoke as someone who earns more than $90,000.

Even 10 years ago, the offensive and very strong odor of a cigar prompted an aide in Democrat Keith Ellisons office to call the Capitol police on a congressman. Last year, Republican House speaker Paul Ryan took pains to detoxify his predecessors office, a suite held by former speaker John Boehner. Boehner is a Camel smoker. He now sits on Reynolds board.

Tobacco companies dont spend as much money lobbying Congress as they once did. They spent $72m trying to persuade lawmakers to see their perspective in 1998, compared to $19m in 2016, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

But they have not abandoned political spending. They have shifted strategies.

Last year, Altria and RJ Reynolds spent $71.3m in California trying beat back a cigarette tax hike referendum. They failed there, but succeeded elsewhere. In North Dakota, tobacco companies spent more than $5 for every man, woman and child in the state, $4m altogether, and convinced voters to reject the tax. They also succeeded in Colorado, where they spent $7m.

States were awarded billions in damages from tobacco companies in recognition of the public health consequences. Yet they largely fail to spend the money they were awarded to prevent smoking. States collected $26.6bn from tobacco settlements in 2016, but spent only 1.8% on smoking prevention, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Tobacco companies, by comparison, spend $9.1bn a year on marketing, or $1m an hour, according to an analysis of Federal Trade Commission data.

North Carolina, Americas dominant tobacco-producing state, receives $139m annually from such tobacco settlements. Initially, the state set up three trust funds to spend that money: one to prevent smoking, one to help rural communities hit by a decline in smoking and one to help tobacco farmers.

The fund to prevent smoking was dismantled in 2011; all of that money was sucked into the states general fund. However, lawmakers allowed the settlement to continue to fund tobacco growing efforts.

Between 2000 and 2004, another $41m of North Carolinas tobacco settlement went to retrofit tobacco curing barns, a move that researchers called arguably counterproductive to tobacco control, and which some farmers believed was at the behest of tobacco manufacturers.

From our very first day there was a constant struggle with the legislature, said Vandana Shah, the first person to head the tobacco use prevention fund in North Carolina. She now works for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Id be doing the rounds of begging and pleading that they dont take our money away, and explaining the value of the program.

Winston-Salem, AKA Camel City

Reynolds Americans hometown of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, has developed a relatively strict tobacco policy. Smoking an after-dinner cigarette in Camel City will need to be done outside, and finding a hotel room to smoke in will be a task.

The regulations are reflective of how cities have handled smoking in recent years. Even Reynolds employees who smoke must use smoking lounges away from their colleagues.

Tobacco companies, said Gayle Anderson, the head of the Winston-Salem chamber of commerce, really didnt fight these laws at all There just didnt seem to be that kind of pushback. She worked for Reynolds from 1976 to 1987.

Once North Carolinas largest city, Winston-Salem enjoyed a golden era on Reynolds wealth. The moneyed families that ran the factories and mills shared their wealth with the community, endowing it with high schools, auditoriums, hospitals, stadiums, parks and recreational facilities bearing their names, the local history From Tobacco to Technology said about the 1930s. Their executives chaired the charities and the capital campaigns to raise money needed to achieve the communitys objections, be it a new terminal at the airport, an arts council for the city or assistance in relocating a college to the city.

Reynolds still employs about 5,000 people in Winston-Salem, according to Anderson. For many years the notion was: If you could get in at Reynolds, you were set for life, she said.

Reynolds recently donated a 70,000 sq ft, immaculately maintained research facility to the town for redevelopment. Reynolds, Anderson said, is still probably the single largest philanthropic company.

I cant imagine how many hundreds of millions of dollars thats worth, said Anderson. Theyre benevolent and care a lot about the community, but its more like a partnership. If Reynolds were to ever leave, it would be a real blow to our ego, for sure.

Tobacco
Tobacco grows on state highway 222/111 outside Dudley, North Carolina. Photograph: Justin Cook for the Guardian


Were down here getting sick, going hungry

If the company is seen by some as benevolent, that does not necessarily translate to automatic financial security for farmers and their workers. One twentysomething farmer stood by a running tractor as he described the start of each tobacco season in eastern North Carolina. It begins, he said, with a loan from the bank that you dont know if youre gonna pay back.

He started cutting tobacco in a friends field when he was about eight years old, the farmer said. As he smoked a Camel menthol, he acknowledged: I shouldnt, as much shit as I spray on it.

For farmers, the tobacco system has changed considerably since the 1990s. Auctions are obsolete. Now, farmers contract directly with cigarette manufacturers or leaf buyers. This farmers entire crop is contracted to Alliance One, one of two major leaf companies.

Labor disputes are common here. Farmers can face cash shortfalls mid-season, making it difficult to pay workers on time. Farm laborers have no collective bargaining rights in the US, and child labor is legal on farms. Children as young as 12 can start working unlimited hours outside of school, and children of any age can work on a family-owned tobacco farm.

With only a handful of companies left to sell to Philip Morris International, Altria, BAT, Japan Tobacco International and two leaf buyers who serve the same companies farmers feel at the behest of tobacco companies, those interviewed by the Guardian said. This year, some tobacco buyers didnt offer farmers formal contracts until spring, when tobacco was already growing in greenhouses.

Nevertheless, after a long fight with the Mount Olive Pickle Company, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (Floc) secured a collective bargaining agreement with farmers in the North Carolina Growers Association. Several tobacco companies used farmers in the association, thus some tobacco workers were also covered. Last year alone, Floc handled around 500 total labor complaints, often for wage violations. But their influence is small: the union represents just 7% of North Carolinas 100,000 workers.

The group has asked BAT to recognize a right to organize for all farm workers worldwide, and blames low pay for frequent disputes.

I think they should pay more, said Sintia Castillo, a labor organizer for Floc, whose accent reflects her heritage. Some words come out North Carolina country, others with a snap of second-generation Spanish. Youre rolling in money at the top, and were down here getting sick, going hungry.

Castillo has six brothers and sisters, and started working in the fields with her family at age seven. She moved to tobacco around 13 and into packing houses at 18. Now shes 24, a woman whose work has acquainted her with the paradox of organizing people without rights.

Theres been times I fire people up, and then they get fired, she said.

Catherine
Catherine Crowe, 23, and Sintia Castillo, 24, who work with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (Floc). Photograph: Justin Cook for the Guardian

She tells a story about Brent Jackson, a state senator and tobacco farmer. Jackson was forced to repay several thousand dollars in back wages after he was sued in federal court by migrant workers. The union then alleged he blacklisted the seven farmworkers. Jackson pulled out of the growers association.

Last week, he sponsored a bill to make it illegal for farmers to deduct union dues from paychecks, or for growers to end a dispute with farmworkers by signing a union contract. The bill is currently on the governors desk. Campaign finance records show Jackson received $9,400 in donations from tobacco companies.

Child labor exists because of poverty wages. Theres no way that a family can live off of $7.25 per hour, said Catherine Crowe, an organizer with Floc. Forcing children not to work without increasing wages, the union contends, would only leave struggling families worse off.

Philip Morris International and Alliance One have said they do not buy tobacco from farms that employ children under 18 for most tasks and, in general, tobacco companies have said growers are not our employees. Nevertheless, tobacco company audits have identified many instances of child labor in the supply chain.

In the past, Crowe and Castillo said, BAT has shown more willingness to work with the organizing committee, promising to encourage Reynolds to listen to union demands. As for how the unified company will act in the future: That, said Crowe, is the question.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/13/tobacco-industry-america-poor-west-virginia-north-carolina

Uber’s scandals, blunders and PR disasters: the full list

The company has had a seemingly never-ending string of missteps, from its controversial CEO to questionable tactics and sexual harassment claims

Uber has been rocked by a steady stream of scandals and negative publicity in recent years, including revelations of questionable spy programs, a high-stakes technology lawsuit, claims of sexual harassment and discrimination and embarrassing leaks about executive conduct.

The PR disasters culminated in CEO Travis Kalanick taking an indefinite leave of absence this week and promises of bold reform that largely ignored the ride-hailing companys strained relationship with drivers.

Here is a timeline of some of the most consequential controversies.

Boob-er backlash, February 2014

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick faced backlash for a sexist joke about his increasing desirability, telling an Esquire reporter: We call that Boob-er.

Targeting the competitor, August 2014

Uber faced accusations that it booked thousands of fake rides from its competitor Lyft in an effort to cut into its profits and services. Uber recruiters also allegedly spammed Lyft drivers in an effort to recruit them away from the rival.

The God View scandal, November 2014

Uber executive Emil Michael suggested digging up dirt on journalists and spreading personal information of a female reporter who was critical of the company. He later apologized. It was also revealed that Uber has a so-called God View technology that allows the company to track users locations, raising privacy concerns. One manager had accessed the profile of a reporter without her permission.

Spying on Beyonc, December 2016

A former forensic investigator for Uber testified that employees regularly spied on politicians, exes and celebrities, including Beyonc.

Self-driving pilot failure, December 2016

Regulators in California ordered Uber to remove self-driving vehicles from the road after the company launched a pilot without permits. On the first day of the program, the vehicles were caught running red lights, and cycling advocates in San Francisco also raised concerns about the cars creating hazards in bike lanes. The company blamed red-light issues on human error, but the New York Times later claimed that the companys statements were false and that the autonomous technology failed.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jun/18/uber-travis-kalanick-scandal-pr-disaster-timeline

Donald Trump releases financial disclosure about his business assets

Documents offer first glimpse into his business empire since inauguration, including detail that new Washington hotel has brought in almost $20m

Donald Trump on Friday released documents that offer the first glimpse into his business empire since he was inaugurated.

Trumps Washington hotel has brought in almost $20m in revenue since it opened last fall. His Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, which hes visited seven times as president, pulled in millions of dollars more than was reported in previous filings.

The new details are included in a financial disclosure that Trump voluntarily submitted Friday to the Office of Government Ethics.

When he took office in January, Trump turned over the reins of his global real estate, property management and marketing empire to his two adult sons and a senior executive. But Trump did not divest, instead placing his enormous portfolio of financial assets in a trust controlled by the executive and Donald Trump Jr. The president can take back control of the trust at any time, and hes free to withdraw cash from it as he pleases.

His latest financial disclosure covers January 2016 through this spring.

The documents have added importance because Trump isnt following the long tradition of presidential candidates and office-holding of making public his tax returns. Those returns provide more complete financial information than the financial disclosures, which include mostly broad ranges for income and debts.

The report shows Trump resigned from more than 500 positions, stepping down from many on the day before his inauguration. Trump listed at least $315m in liabilities, about the same as in a report he filed last year.

The president still owes more than $100m to Deutsche Bank and a similar amount to Ladder Capital Finance, a New York-based real estate investment trust.

What is unclear from the disclosure is whether Trump added to his debt in any significant way to help pay for his presidential campaign. Because the ranges required for disclosure under federal ethics laws are so wide Trumps disclosure lists five separate liabilities each at over $50,000,000 it is impossible to tell whether his debt load has changed appreciably.

Some of Trumps businesses appear to be earning more money than they had a year earlier. However, because this filing cover 16 months, it is difficult to make direct comparisons between Trumps financial disclosures from previous years.

Mar-a-Lago, where Trump played host to several foreign dignitaries during his seven weekends there this winter, has improved its finances. Trump listed the resorts income as about $37m, up from the about $30m it had taken in prior to his May 2016 financial report.

Donald
Donald Trump Chinese president Xi Jinping during a meeting at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump International Hotel, housed in the Old Post Office building down the street from the White House, has seen a burst of activity since opening its doors last fall. In addition to serving as a hub during the inauguration festivities, it has hosted numerous events for foreign diplomatic and business interests.

The hotel is cited in three separate lawsuits arguing that Trump is violating the Constitutions emoluments clause, a ban on foreign gifts and payments. Trump and the justice department have called those claims baseless.

Some of Trumps businesses saw a decline in income, including the Trump National Doral Golf Club in Florida and Trump Turnberry, a golf club in Scotland where Trump was met with protests when he visited in June 2016. Income from the Scottish resort fell by $3.7m.

The president continues to earn money from his days as an entertainer, including nearly $11m from the Miss Universe pageant and $84,292 from a Screen Actors Guild pension.

Trumps literary efforts also continue to pay dividends. Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again, Trumps 2015 campaign diatribe, earned at least $1m in royalties, while his 1987 memoir The Art of the Deal brought in at least $100,000.

Another book the commander-in-chief might want to revisit, 1990s Trump: Surviving at the Top, however, was less successful. According to the filing, it brought in less than $201.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/16/donald-trump-financial-disclosure-business-assets

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: ‘Can people please stop telling me feminism is hot?’

The novelist has been accused of making equality mainstream: isnt that the point? Plus an extract from her new Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was in Lagos last summer, teaching a writing workshop as part of an annual schedule that sees her time divided between Nigeria and the US. For much of the year, Adichie lives in a town 30 minutes west of Baltimore, where her Nigerian-American husband works as a medic and the 39-year-old writes in the quiet of a suburban home. When Adichie is in Nigeria, where her parents and extended family still live, she has a house in the vast city she regards with the complicated love and condescension of the part-time expat.

Its an ambivalence with which many Nigerians regard her, too; last year, the workshop ended in a question-and-answer session, during which a young man rose to ask the famous novelist a question. I used to love you, she recalls him saying. Ive read all your books. But since you started this whole feminism thing, and since you started to talk about this gay thing, Im just not sure about you any more. How do you intend to keep the love of people like me?

Adichie and I are in a coffee shop near her home in the Baltimore suburbs. We have met before, a few years ago, when her third novel Americanah was published, a book that examines what it is to be a Nigerian woman living in the US, and that went on to win a National Book Critics Circle award. A lot has happened since then. Half Of A Yellow Sun, Adichies second and most famous novel, about the Biafran war, has been made into a film starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton. Her essay, We Should All Be Feminists, adapted from her 2013 TEDx talk, has remained on the bestseller lists, particularly in Sweden, where in 2015 it was distributed to every 16-year-old high-school student in the land. The talk was sampled by Beyonc in her song Flawless. Adichie has become the face of Boots No7 makeup. And she has had a baby, a daughter, now 15 months old.

Adichie is still somewhat in the blast zone, not entirely caught up on sleep, but has published a short book, Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions, an extended version of a letter to a friend who, after having her own baby girl, asked Adichies advice on how to raise her to be feminist. I have had twin girls myself since our last meeting, so I am curious about her approach, not least because one of my two-year-olds currently identifies as Bob the Builder and the other as Penelope Pitstop. I would like to equip them to be themselves, while resisting whatever projections might be foisted upon them. We show each other baby photos and smile. Welcome to the world of anxiety, Adichie says.

The success of We Should All Be Feminists has made Adichie as prominent for her feminism as for her novels, to the extent that now I get invited to every damned feminist thing in the whole world. She has always been an agony aunt of sorts, the unpaid therapist for my family and friends, but having the feminist label attached has changed things, and not just among her intimates. I was opened to a certain level of hostility that I hadnt experienced before as a writer and public figure.

This is partly why she has written the new book, to reclaim the word feminism from its abusers and misusers, a category within which she would include certain other progressives, and to lay down in plain, elegant English her beliefs about child-raising.

Dear Ijeawele is, in some ways, a very basic set of appeals; to be careful with language (never say because you are a girl), avoid gendered toys, encourage reading, dont treat marriage as an achievement, reject likability. Her job is not to make herself likable, her job is to be her full self, she writes in reference to her friends daughter, a choice Adichie has come to elevate almost above any other.

That day in Lagos last summer, her friends were furious at the cheek of the young mans question, but she rather liked his bravery and honesty in asking it. She replied in the same spirit. Keep your love, Adichie said. Because, sadly, while I love to be loved, I will not accept your love if it comes with these conditions.

Having a baby has made Adichie think differently about her own parents, particularly her mother. Grace Adichie, who had six children and worked her way up from being a university administrator to the registrar, taught her daughter to love fashion as well as books, and was a very cool mum whom she idolised as a child. Nonetheless, and in the manner of most snotty young adults, young Chimamanda went through a phase of being very superior to her mother. Now, the novelist looks at her daughter and gulps.

Adichie recently came across her own kindergarten reports. My father keeps them all. You know what the teacher wrote? She is brilliant, but she refuses to do any work when shes annoyed. I was five years old. She laughs. I couldnt believe it. My husband couldnt believe it. I must have been an annoying child.

Its not as if she comes from a family of radicals. My parents are not like that. Theyre conventional, reasonable, responsible, good, kind people. Im the crazy. But their love and support made that crazy thrive.

Unlike Adichie, who was raised exclusively in Nigeria, her daughter will be raised in two cultures and subject to slightly diverging social expectations. Already, Adichie says with a laugh, friends and relatives from home are concerned that her mothering is insufficiently stern.

A friend was just visiting and she said to me, Your parenting is not very Nigerian. In Nigeria and, I think, in many cultures you control children. And I feel like, my daughter is 15 months, she doesnt have a sense of consequences. And I enjoy watching her. So she tears a page of a book? Whatever. She throws my shoes down. So? Its fun. I love that shes quite strong-willed. The joke between Adichie and her husband whom, to her intense annoyance, their daughter looks much more like is that her character cleaves to the maternal side. He says to me, Well, at least we know where she got her personality from. Shes quite fierce.

In the new book, Adichies advice is not only to provide children with alternatives to empower boys and girls to understand there is no single way to be but also to understand that the only universal in this world is difference. In terms of the evolution of feminism, these are not new lessons, but that is rather Adichies point. She is not writing for other feminist writers, and shows some frustration at what she sees as the solipsism of much feminist debate.

That morning, on the way to see her, I had read a review of a new book by Jessa Crispin, entitled Why I Am Not A Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto, a critique of everything that is wrong with feminism today. If one can get over the eye-rolling aspect of books by feminists decrying the feminism of other feminists for degrading the word feminist by being insufficiently feminist, the book does raise questions about where one should be focusing ones efforts.

Chiara
Fashion blogger Chiara Ferragni wears Adichies Dior T-shirt during Paris fashion week, January 2017. Photograph: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

The proposition is that feminism has become so mainstream as to be an empty marketing tool, a mere slogan on a bag or a T-shirt. Without being named, Adichie is implicated in this critique, given that last year she collaborated with Christian Dior on a T-shirt bearing the line We Should All Be Feminists; depending on ones view, this is either a perfect example of pointless sloganeering or a brilliant piece of preaching to the unconverted.

Im already irritated, Adichie says. This idea of feminism as a party to which only a select few people get to come: this is why so many women, particularly women of colour, feel alienated from mainstream western academic feminism. Because, dont we want it to be mainstream? For me, feminism is a movement for which the end goal is to make itself no longer needed. I think academic feminism is interesting in that it can give a language to things, but Im not terribly interested in debating terms. I want peoples marriages to change for the better. I want women to walk into job interviews and be treated the same way as somebody who has a penis.

Still, one can see a theoretical obscenity about the Dior collaboration: the words of a movement that should be concerned with helping low-income women, used to promote and make money for a wealthy company. On the other hand: what is the damage?

Yes: whats the damage? Adichie says. I would even argue about the theoretically obscene. Theres a kind of self-righteousness to the ultra-left that is hard for me to stomach. Its approach to poverty can sometimes border on condescension. I often think that people who write a lot about poverty need to go and spend more time with poor people. I think about Nigerian women who can hardly afford anything but who love fashion. They have no money, but they work it.

Adichie mentions a TV soap opera that used to run in Nigeria called The Rich Also Cry, a terrible drama series, she says, that was very popular. But sometimes I think about that title. So, the creative director of Christian Dior is obviously a woman of some privilege. But does it then mean that she doesnt have gender-based problems in her life? Because she does. Does it mean she doesnt have this magnificent rage about gender injustice? Because she does. Wanting to use that slogan was it going to make the world a better place? No. But I think theres a level of consciousness-raising and a level of subversion that I like.

She doesnt believe it was a cynical marketing ploy? No. Sorry. Feminism is not that hot. I can tell you I would sell more books in Nigeria if I stopped and said Im no longer a feminist. I would have a stronger following, I would make more money. So when people say, Oh, feminisms a marketing ploy, it makes me laugh.

The bigger issue here is one of range. Adichies irritation with aspects of what she thinks of as professional feminism is that it runs counter to her ideas as a writer: that people contain multitudes. She is a brilliant novelist and a serious thinker, and she is also someone who makes no apology for her own trivial interests. Life doesnt always follow ideology, she says. You might believe in certain things and life gets in and things just become messy. You know? I think thats the space that fiction, and having a bit more of an imaginative approach, makes. And that the feminist speaking circuit doesnt really make room for.

There is much in the new book about double standards, including those governing the images of motherhood and fatherhood. I think we need to stop giving men cookies for doing what they should do, she says, and goes on to explain that her husband, who needs less sleep than her, tends to get up in the night to tend to the baby. On the one hand, I realise that my husband is unusual; on the other, I feel resentful when hes overpraised by my family and friends. Hes like Jesus.

He probably senses shes about to go off the deep end, I suggest, and Adichie smiles to acknowledge how impossible she is. I did all the physical work to produce her! Theres something fundamentally wrong with the way weve constructed what it means to be female in the world.

Chimamanda
Photograph: Stephen Voss for the Guardian

This is something she writes about in a lovely passage of the new book about hair. As a child, Adichie and her sisters and every other girl she knew were routinely tortured with a metal comb to subdue their hair, something her brothers were spared. Im glad I wrote that, Adichie says. We had just come back from Lagos and my sister, God bless her, had already had a talk with me about my daughters hair. She said, You need to do something about it. With my family, theres an eye-roll and a here-we-go-again with her, and she said to me, Do you want me to send you a set of combs? And I was like, No, thank you. And I know its going to keep happening. But, no, Im not going to conform in that way. Im not going to have my child go through pain because society expects a certain neatness. It happened to me, its not going to happen to her. And Im ready to have all the battles I need to have.

The original letter on which Dear Ijeawele is based has been shared on Facebook, and while Adichie was in Lagos, a woman whod read it approached her in a shop and said, Heres my daughter, look at her hair. She had very loose cornrows that were not neat according to Nigerians. And she said, You inspired that. My daughter is happier, Im happier. And do you know, it was the highlight of my month.

This is not just a question of image. It is also about time. Women have less time than men, in almost every arena, because their responsibilities to look or act a certain way are more onerous.

It is one of Adichies bugbears that as someone who loves fashion, she is by default not taken seriously. When Boots approached her to be the face of its No7 makeup range, she said yes, because she thought it might be fun; in the end, she says, it became vaguely alarming. I have no regrets, but you wake up one day and think, what the hell have I done? There were too many of these pictures everywhere. Her point, however, is that its not that Im a feminist and made a strategic choice to speak about makeup and fashion. Its that I was raised by Grace Adichie in a culture in which you care about how you look. Its a part of me I once hid, because I felt that I had to to be serious. Now, Im just being who I am.

Recently, Adichies identity has been tested in new ways. I wonder if she is less affected by President Trump than an American, on the basis that she is less invested in the American story. Quite the opposite, she says. Because theres a part of me that needs a country I can think of as being one that largely works. Which is not a luxury that Nigeria can have. She laughs.

Someone said to me, Now that this is happening in the US, do you think of moving back to Nigeria? And I thought, no, because its not any better there. I admire America. I dont think of myself as American Im not. So its not mine. But I admire it, and so theres a sense that this thing I built in my head, its been destroyed.

There is also, she says, something familiar about it all. American democracy has never been tested. You might have disagreed ideologically with George W Bush, but he still kind of followed the rules. Here, it feels like Nigeria. It really does. Its that feeling of political uncertainty that Im very familiar with, but not a feeling I like. Its ugly. But even worse, because America is so powerful, and so much at the centre of the world, these things have consequences for everyone. Nigeria doesnt have that kind of reach, so our problems remain our problems.

In January, Adichie and her husband joined the Womens March in DC. It was fleeting, and symbolic, she says, but it gave me the smallest slice of hope. There are all of these people who seem to realise that America has changed by electing an unhinged person. On the other hand, theres a part of me thats very sceptical of too much sentimentality. I hope it translates into people organising and going out to vote.

Long before talk about piercing the filter bubble, Adichie instinctively subscribed to rightwing blogs and newsletters. She was an early watcher of Fox News, until it became too unhinged and ridiculous. But she has carried on, because Im interested in ideological concerns and how people differ, and how we should build a society. Whats a welfare state? People who have less, are we responsible for them? I think we are. And I think I can make a selfish case, which is apparently what appeals to people on the right. People on the left say we should do it because we should be kind. And people on the right think, Excuse me? But if you say to them, If these people dont get healthcare, they will go to the ER and your tax dollars will pay for it, suddenly they sit up.

Chimamanda
Adichie with her husband, Ivara Esege. Photograph: DDAA/ZOB/Daniel Deme/WENN

As a result of her reading, rightwing ideology is not something I think is evil, she says. Some. A bit. But, in general, I dont. I have friends who are good, kind people who are on the right. But Donald Trump is an exception. Its not an objection to a conservative, because I dont even think hes a conservative. My objection is an objection to chaos. Each time I turn on the news, Im holding my breath.

Trumps erosion of language is one of the most frightening things about him, but even progressives, Adichie says, can be sloppy on this front. In response to her new book, a reporter emailed her the question: Why not humanism? (instead of feminism). To which, she says, I thought, what part of the fucking book did this person not read?

Its like the people who go around saying All Lives Matter, I say, in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Right, which I find deeply offensive and very dishonest. Because we have to name something in order to fix it, which is why I insist on the word feminist or feminism.

This, she says, in spite of the fact that many of her friends, particularly black women, resist that word, because the history of feminism has been very white and has assumed women meant white women. Political discussion in this country still does that. Theyll say, Women voted for… and then, Black people voted for… And I think: Im black and a woman, so where do I fit in here?

As a result, Many of my friends who are not white will say, Im an intersectional feminist, or Im a womanist. And I have trouble with that word, because it has undertones of femininity as this mystical goddess-mother thing, which makes me uncomfortable. So we need a word. And my hope is we use feminism often enough that it starts to lose all the stigma and becomes this inclusive, diverse thing.

This is her goal and her defence, although she still doesnt see why she needs one. Her understanding of feminism is intertwined with her understanding that we all want to be more than one thing. And anyway, she repeats, Can people please stop telling me that feminism is hot? Because its not. Adichie looks magnificently annoyed. Honestly.

Beware feminism lite: an extract from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichies letter-turned-book, Dear Ijeawele

Be a full person. Motherhood is a glorious gift, but do not define yourself solely by it. You dont even have to love your job; you can merely love the confidence and self-fulfilment that come with doing and earning. Please reject the idea that motherhood and work are mutually exclusive. Our mothers worked full-time while we were growing up, and we turned out well at least you did; the jury is still out on me.

In these coming weeks of early motherhood, be kind to yourself. Ask for help. Expect to be helped. There is no such thing as a Superwoman. Parenting is about practice and love.

Give yourself room to fail. A new mother does not necessarily know how to calm a crying baby. Read books, look things up on the internet, ask older parents, or just use trial and error. But, above all, take time for yourself. Nurture your own needs.

I have no interest in the debate about women doing it all, because it is a debate that assumes that caregiving and domestic work are singularly female domains, an idea that I strongly reject. Domestic work and caregiving should be gender-neutral, and we should be asking not whether a woman can do it all, but how best to support parents in their dual duties at work and at home.

Chimamanda
Photograph: Stephen Voss for the Guardian

Beware the danger of what I call Feminism Lite; the idea of conditional female equality. Being a feminist is like being pregnant. You either are or you are not. You either believe in the full equality of men and women, or you do not.

Teach your daughter to question language. A friend of mine says she will never call her daughter princess. The word is loaded with assumptions, of a girls delicacy, of the prince who will come to save her. This friend prefers angel and star. So decide the things you will not say to your child. You know that Igbo joke, used to tease girls who are being childish What are you doing? Dont you know you are old enough to find a husband? I used to say that often. But now I choose not to. I say, You are old enough to find a job. Because I do not believe that marriage is something we should teach young girls to aspire to.

Try not to use words like misogyny and patriarchy. We feminists can sometimes be too jargony. Teach her that if you criticise X in women but do not criticise X in men, you do not have a problem with X, you have a problem with women. For X please insert words like anger, ambition, loudness, stubbornness, coldness, ruthlessness.

Do you remember how we laughed and laughed at an atrociously written piece about me some years ago? The writer had accused me of being angry, as though being angry were something to be ashamed of. Of course I am angry. I am angry about racism. I am angry about sexism. But I recently came to the realisation that I am angrier about sexism than I am about racism. Because in my anger about sexism, I often feel lonely. Because I love, and live among, many people who easily acknowledge race injustice but not gender injustice.

Teach your daughter to question men who can have empathy for women only if they see them as relational rather than as individual equal humans. Men who, when discussing rape, will say something like, If it were my daughter or wife or sister. Yet such men do not need to imagine a male victim of crime as a brother or son in order to feel empathy.

Teach her, too, to question the idea of women as a special species. I once heard an American politician, in his bid to show his support for women, speak of how women should be revered and championed a sentiment that is all too common. Tell her that women dont need to be championed and revered; they just need to be treated as equal human beings.

This is a condensed and edited extract from Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, published on Tuesday by Fourth Estate at 10. To order a copy for 8.50, go to bookshop.theguardian.com

This article was amended on 4 March 2017. It originally referred to Lagos as Nigerias capital. This has now been corrected.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/mar/04/chimamanda-ngozi-adichie-stop-telling-me-feminism-hot

Call of the wild: can Americas national parks survive? | Lucy Rock

Americas national parks are facing multiple threats, despite being central to the frontier nations sense of itself, says Lucy Rock

Autumn in the North Cascades National Park and soggy clouds cling to the peaks of the mountains that inspired the musings of Beat poets such as Jack Kerouac and Alan Ginsberg 60 years ago. Sitting on a carpet of pine needles in the forest below, protected from the rain by a canopy of vine maple leaves, is a group of 10-year-olds listening to a naturalist hoping to spark a similar love of the outdoors in a new generation.

This is one of 59 national parks which range across the United States, from the depths of the Grand Canyon in Arizona to the turrets of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. All plus hundreds of monuments and historic sites are run by the National Park Service (NPS), which celebrated its centenary last year. The parks were created so that Americas natural wonders would be accessible to everyone, rather than sold off to the highest bidder. Writer Wallace Stegner called them Americas best idea: Absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.

Its easy to agree. Nicknamed Americas Alps, Washington States North Cascades is an area of soaring beauty, a wilderness of fire and ice thanks to hundreds of glaciers and dense forest where trees burn in summer blazes. The Pacific Crest Trail made famous by Cheryl Strayeds memoir, Wild, and the subsequent film starring Reese Witherspoon runs through the park. Walking along Thunder Creek one midweek morning, the only sound is rushing water and birdsong. The view is a nature-layered cake of teal water, forested mountain slopes and snowy summits. But it is here that you can also observe the threats facing the parks in their next 100 years. They are fighting a war on three fronts: severe underfunding, climate change and a lack of diversity and youth among their visitors.

Jack Kerouac spent the summer of 1956 as a fire lookout atop Desolation Peak in the North Cascades, surrounded by silence and rocky spires, far from the drink, drugs and distractions of his San Francisco life. He drew on his Cascades experiences in Dharma Bums, Lonesome Traveler and Desolation Angels, in which he wrote: Those lazy afternoons, when I used to sit, or lie down, on Desolation Peak, sometimes on the alpine grass, hundreds of miles of snow-covered rock all around Those views look different today. Climate change is causing the glaciers to melt: their square footage shrank by 20% between 1959 and 2009.

Running
Running with the herd: bison on the prairie below the Grand Teton mountains in Yellowstone. Photograph: Matt Anderson/Getty Images

Saul Weisberg, executive director of the North Cascades Institute, an environmental educational organisation, said that the difference between photos from September when the seasonal snow is gone in the 1950s and today was, Incredibly dramatic. Snow is melting back more and more and now you see a lot more rock when you look at the mountains.

Climate change is killing trees, threatening birds and mammals, and leading to devastating wildfires across the 85m acres run by the NPS. Patrick Gonzalez, the principal climate-change scientist at the NPS, told me about rising sea levels (theres been a 22cm rise across the bay at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California, since 1954); high ocean temperatures bleaching and killing coral in Virgin Islands National Park; and major vegetation types and wildlife moving upwards.

Yosemite saw subalpine forests moving up into subalpine meadows over the last century and small mammals, including mice and ground squirrels, shifting 500m uphill. As temperatures warm, he said, things on higher elevations get warmer and things on lower elevations move up. Bark beetles, once killed by cold winters, are now surviving and wreaking havoc with trees. You go to Rocky Mountains, Yellowstone hillsides formerly covered in a green canopy of trees are now just rust-coloured areas.

If no action is taken, the glaciers of Glacier National Park may melt away; Joshua trees could die out in the park that bears their name; bison may disappear from Yellowstone; and the ancient cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde in Colorado could crumble away.

The NPS is tackling the issue in two ways, said Gonzalez, first by cutting emissions from its own operations by 35% by 2020; and secondly, by adapting its management of the parks to cope with how things might look under climate change rather than trying to maintain them as pictures of the past. With full implementation of the Paris climate agreement and further improvements in energy efficiency and sustainability we can avoid the most drastic effects of climate change, he said.

Digging
Digging deep: the Grand Canyon, one of 59 national parks in America. Photograph: Michele Falzone/Getty Images

However, Donald Trump has called climate change a hoax. After the election, he conceded there was some connectivity between human activity and climate change and wavered on a previous vow to cancel the Paris agreement. Yet several of his picks for key posts in his administration are climate science sceptics, including Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke.

The ravages of climate change exacerbate another peril facing the parks: lack of money. There is an $11.9bn maintenance backlog and the system is understaffed, with 10% fewer employees than five years ago. Roads and bridges are crumbling, trails need repairing and campgrounds are neglected.

The 140-mile Yellowstone loop road was designed a century ago for horse-drawn carriages and requires a $1bn rebuild. The adobe Old Santa Fe Trail building needs $2m-worth of repairs to walls damaged by water and pests.

The North Cascades, which became a National Park in 1968, has a $21.8m to-do list. All of it needs attention, said Denise Shultz, of the NPS. National parks are like mini cities with water-treatment plants, electrical grids to take care of and bridges. There are over 300 miles of trails in the park. Its like housekeeping. It never gets finished.

Although wear and tear is visible at the amphitheatre at Newhalem campground in the North Cascades, you can see the wooden stage is rotting and the asphalt is buckling visitors are shielded from much of it.

Largely, the parks service prioritises projects that improve and maintain the visitor experience and ensures the safety of visitors, said John Garder, the budget director at the National Parks Conservation Association that lobbies on behalf of the parks. But there are safety concerns, such as old wiring that has to be replaced. There are major multi-million dollar issues with water and waste water. If those ageing systems arent dealt with then it will raise questions about whether the parks are still able to accommodate visitors.

The bulk of the parks $3.1bn budget comes from Congress with the rest from entrance charges, philanthropy and fees paid by hotels, restaurants and other businesses operating on the land. But Congresss embracement of austerity after the recession saw the NPSs purse strings pulled ever tighter, the annual amount received falling 8% from 2005 to 2014 after adjusting for inflation.

Sunrise
Setting sun: climate change means the Joshua trees that gave the national park its name could die out. Photograph: James O’Neil/Getty Images

Half of the $11.9bn repair list is transportation infrastructure roads, bridges, car parks and the like. Money for this is earmarked for the NPS in a transportation bill passed by Congress and has stood at $240m annually for the past few years. Congress has approved an increase totalling $220m over the next five years. That investment should be hundreds of millions more, said Garder.

The non-transportation part of the backlog is funded by Congress through the park operations account (for smaller projects and day-to-day maintenance) and the construction account (for major repairs).

Garder said both had been insufficient for years and the construction account, after controlling for inflation, was scarcely half of what it was 10 years ago.

His verdict on a 9% increase given to the NPS by Congress to mark the centenary? A considerable increase, yet much more needs to be done. He hopes that Trumps promise to invest in infrastructure will cover the parks repairs, too. This would create construction jobs and help tourism, he said. The parks are vital to local economies: for every $1 invested, $10 in economic activity is generated and they fund 300,000 private sector jobs in terms of hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops and more.

What the national parks are not short of is visitors a record 307m in 2015, 14m up on the previous year, meaning more wear and tear that stretches funds further. The top draws were Great Smoky Mountain National Park on the Tennessee/North Carolina border, with 10.7m visitors; Arizonas Grand Canyon, with 5.5m; and Colorados Rocky Mountain National Park and Californias Yosemite, both with 4.15m.

But while the national parks belong to everyone, not everyone is going. Those who do are mainly white, middle-class and well into middle-age. The challenge is how to attract a younger crowd to ensure support for protection and funding of the parks in the future.

The NPS is trying to tell a more inclusive story of America by increasing the number of sites and monuments honouring African- American, Latino, Asian-American, Pacific Islander, LGBTQ and womens history.

Rust
Rust belt: pine trees in the Helena National Forest devastated by bark beetles, once killed by cold winters. Photograph: William Campbell/Corbis via Getty Images

To tear millennials away from indoor digital distractions, the Find Your Park campaign is marketing the parks, ironically, via social media. Meanwhile, Every Kid in a Park gives all 10-year-olds a free family pass (many parks charge an entrance fee).

Nor do the parks staff reflect the visitors they want to attract in terms of gender, age or race. Around 80% are white, 63% male and 50% over the age of 46. Recent revelations of sexual harassment and bullying in the workforce havent helped its image. Internships and volunteer opportunities are being offered to encourage those who might not have thought of working for the NPS to apply for jobs.

In the North Cascades, rangers work with local Hispanic communities. We bring school kids out into the parks and give them experience of doing things that are fun, said Denise Shultz, but which many of us take for granted, like camping and hiking, and learning how to identify birds and plants.

Some people fear the outdoors, she said, and it was about finding out how to make them comfortable. She recalled taking a group of urban Latino female bloggers to the Grand Canyon to kayak and hike. She asked what had worried them most. One said: I am a full- figured Latino woman and the thing that scared me the most was shopping at REI [an outdoor-gear retailer]. Shed thought it was a store for skinny white people and was afraid nothing would fit and she wouldnt know what all the equipment was for. It can be a whole different language and culture for people. She said she had a great experience in the store when she actually went.

The NPS boosts its efforts by providing a ranger to help with Mountain School at the non-profit North Cascades Institute.

At the institutes learning centre on the shores of Lake Diablo, the children who were listening to the naturalist in the forest in the afternoon join 70 classmates in the evening to inspect the skulls of wolves and black bears with ranger Anna Mateljak, before singing around a campfire.

Saul Weisberg is passionate about the power of education to effect change, and gave up being a ranger to co-found the institute 30 years ago. It was at the height of fights over the spotted owl [environmentalists blamed logging for destroying their habitat] and timber wars. There were demonstrations, court fights, direct action, tree sit-ins. It seemed like no one was using education as a tool of conservation.

As well as adult and graduate courses, and weekend getaways for families, it runs leadership camps for high school pupils with no experience of the outdoors, and the Mountain School where children stay for three days of hands-on activities.

Weisberg, also a poet, was drawn to the Cascades after reading Kerouac at high school in Ohio. He still indulges his passion by running a Beats on the Peaks course, which includes a hike up Desolation Peak to the lookout. Hes not sure the Beat poets have the same pull for todays teenagers, yet at a time when the national parks future is unpredictable, perhaps Kerouacs advice is still relevant: Because in the end, you wont remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing the lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain!

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/15/call-of-the-wild-can-americas-national-parks-survive

Is America developing a crack-like addiction to Botox beauty?

How a culture hooked on body image is fuelling a dangerous trend

A remarkable new study of the use of Botox in America has revealed that some women suffer a crack-like addiction to the process, as they attempt to top up previous treatments.

The number of women aged between 19 and 34 having the cosmetic procedure has risen by 41% since 2011, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Men are also increasingly turning to Botox they now make up 10% of all users, leading to it being dubbed Brotox.

Many younger female users are persuaded by dermatologists that the drug derived from botulinum toxin, the worlds most lethal neurotoxic agent will stop wrinkles forming. But Dana Berkowitz, a 38-year-old gender studies professor at Louisiana State University, who has herself used Botox, argues in her book Botox Nation: Changing the Face of America that this expectation is based on a flawed idea of what Botox can do, leading to frequent return visits to the plastic surgeon.

She told the Observer: It is and it isnt preventative: its complicated. Youre injecting this neurotoxin into your facial muscles to prevent them from being able to move. If you cant express an emotion for long periods of time, you dont get certain lines.

However, the problem is that Botox only lasts for between four and six months, so once you start seeing those lines form again you go back. Women I interviewed talked about it in terms of it being addictive. One said she was crack-like about it. Berkowitz added: The problem for me is that in targeting younger women the doctors are trying to create this lifetime consumer.

While researching her book, she read many magazine articles that quoted dermatologists, cosmetic surgeons and beauty experts talking about the preventative properties of Botox and the notion of starting early. These included statements such as: You want to clean up your room before it gets too dirty.

Berkowitz said: Its not the advertisements that are doing this marketing; it is happening in a much more insidious way.

Botox was approved for cosmetic use in 2002 and 11 million Americans have since paid for it, at between $300 and $400 a session. Berkowitz interviewed women in their 20s and 30s and learned that many believe the claims about prevention. I heard things like, I use Botox because its a pre-emptive strike, or my friend is really smart: shes started using Botox at 22 that way wrinkles dont even form.

Berkowitz explores the way the multibillion-dollar beauty and anti-ageing industry in the US boosts sales by cultivating feelings of inadequacy.

Many of the women she spoke to first chose to undergo the injections after hearing about a clinic offering it at a discount or going to a Botox party. More women between the ages of 22 and 40 use Botox than do women over 60, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

Nicole Garcia, a beautician, first tried it when she was 26. She told Berkowitz: I started using it because my mom actually told me I needed it. I always make this confused face when I am watching TV, and she is the one who noticed it and always pointed it out.

Myka Williamson, a yoga instructor in New Orleans, was interviewed for the book when she was 31 and had just had her first child. She tried Botox when she was 29 at a friends house: It was a Botox party, so that kind of was a little risky not doing it at a doctors office but at someones house. But I was kind of feeling like I had nothing to lose and, you know, it was experimental, and I wanted to try it.

Williamson had used it once since the party and was planning to have more sessions once she stopped breastfeeding.

While the drug was for the most part safe, said Berkowitz, there had been reports of side-effects, including blurred vision and drooping eyelids, and some of the women she spoke to had suffered headaches. Botox can also be a gateway to other, more invasive cosmetic procedures, such as dermal fillers.

Rachel McAvoy, a 30-year-old meteorologist from Minnesota, told Berkowitz: I love Botox, but the only problem is that now the attention is taken away from my forehead and Im starting to notice my parentheses around my mouth. I feel like I want fillers there.

Berkowitz said that when she began researching her book she was 31 and strongly opposed to Botox. But she changed her mind over the years and had injections herself when she was 34.

She explained: It was partly because I grew older. Also, as part of the book project, I read hundreds of articles on Botox in womens magazines, which was the worst thing I could have done for my sense of self-worth.

I was an active feminist and had stayed away from those. Then I interviewed women my age who told me I was stupid not to have it and dermatologists, one of whom said I was being negligent.

It was a very strange feeling to have something foreign taking over your face. The ability to move the top of your face is gone. Then people started complimenting me. It was like having a little secret.

She said she has experienced both the appeal of Botox and the shame of using it not just for being vain but also for what I perceive as a personal failure in adhering to the core ethics of feminism.

She had it again two years later and decided to tell her students: I was giving a lecture on bodies and beauty culture and I remember thinking, Im such a fraud. Here I was navigating very complicated tensions as a feminist, and so I wrote an essay and had them read it. It opened the door to a wonderful conversation about feminism and body culture. I am really happy that I came out to them.

Berkowitz, who last had Botox before her wedding six months ago, thinks better role models are needed for women. The body work that celebrities engage in is so public, for all the world to see like in the Real Housewives shows and the Kardashians. How do we make ageing become cool?

Asked to comment on Berkowitzs argument that the preventative theory of having Botox is flawed, Dr Dan Mills, the president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, who has a practice in Laguna Beach, California, told the Observer: It is true that the more you wrinkle the skin in one particular way, the more likely you are to get creases there, so Im not going to say that it isnt preventive.

If you started in your twenties and did it your whole life, you wouldnt have any wrinkles where your elevens [lines between the eyebrows] are. The more you use the muscles, the more you will see the wrinkles, so there is truth to both sides of this argument.

Allergan, the company that owns the Botox brand name, did not respond to a request for comment.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jan/08/botox-nation-america-addiction-crack-like-cosmetic-procedures