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

Facebook plans to invest $20m in affordable housing projects

The tech company, long criticized displacing low-income residents in Silicon Valley, will partner with advocacy groups to amid massive campus expansion

Facebook has agreed to invest $20m in affordable housing initiatives after facing intense criticism for failing to help low-income residents in Silicon Valley where the technology boom has exacerbated displacement and gentrification.

The corporation, which is pushing forward with a massive campus expansion in northern California, announced on Friday a partnership with community organizations aimed at funding affordable housing construction and assisting tenants facing eviction.

Housing activists who have long been critical of Facebook and its role in accelerating income inequality in the region said the investment marked an unprecedented collaboration between Silicon Valley corporations and advocacy groups and that the project could push neighboring tech companies to better address local poverty.

Im hoping this fund will be the thing that starts to move the rest of the region, said Tameeka Bennett, executive director of Youth United for Community Action (Yuca), a non-profit in east Palo Alto that helped negotiate the new agreement.

The housing shortage has reached crisis levels in Silicon Valley, which is also home to Google, Apple and many other wealthy technology firms. Rapid job creation combined with a lack of new housing has created an estimated shortfall of 22,000 homes, with the region building only 26% of the housing needed for low-income people, according to non-profit group Public Advocates.

That means only the wealthy can afford to live near their Silicon Valley jobs, forcing an estimated 70,000 low-income workers to commute more than 50 miles to work.

Facebook, headquartered in Menlo Park, has contributed to the problem in direct and indirect ways. The company sparked backlash after it began offering generous bonuses to employees if they live near campus, which advocates say has hastened gentrification. Local real estate managers have evicted low-income tenants en masse, explicitly marketing units to Facebook employees.

The funding announced this week is not simply a philanthropic donation from Facebook, which is valued at $350bn. The corporation is legally required to fund certain community benefits as part of its ongoing expansion project, and activists have spent months pressuring the company to make substantial investments.

Facebook plans to add 126,000 sq ft to its campus and bring 6,500 new employees to the area, increasing the Menlo Park workforce by 20%. Development laws mandated that the corporation contribute $6.3m to below-market-rate housing.

Still, non-profit leaders said the housing fund could have a significant impact and noted that Facebook executives have relied heavily on the input of local advocates with the kind of intensive collaboration advocates rarely see from corporations.

The community groups that have the expertise really were equal players, said Sam Tepperman-Gelfant, senior staff attorney at Public Advocates, which had raised formal objections to Facebooks expansion proposal.

I hope having one large prominent Silicon Valley company leading the way on this will be a wake-up call for all the other global corporations that the Bay Area is hosting and the need for them to work locally, he added, rather than just thinking of themselves as global corporations that exist online.

In addition to investing $18.5m toward the creation and preservation of affordable housing, the company has offered $500,000 toward legal and rental assistance to tenants threatened with displacement.

A Facebook spokesman told the Guardian that the company doesnt have projections on the number of housing units the partnership could fund, but noted that the $20m is an initial contribution and said the company hopes to attract additional public, private and philanthropic entities to contribute to the fund.

Kyra Brown, Yucas social justice program director, said it was critical that Facebook do a better job diversifying its workforce and hire locally in east Palo Alto, a historically black city. African American employees make up only 3% of the corporations senior leadership in the US.

Silicon Valley is known as this very innovative place when it comes to addressing everyday issues, she said, but my hope is that we also take that same innovation and apply it to social issues.

Brown, who grew up in east Palo Alto, said the announcement was an important first step in the tech sector helping to address inequities in the communities theyve entered.

Im glad that Facebook is thinking about the legacy it wants to leave particularly when it comes to communities of color, she said.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/dec/02/facebook-affordable-housing-silicon-valley

Texas A&M confirms white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak at university

Alt-right figure invited to campus by former student, not university, which defends event on grounds of free speech despite protests


Texas A&M University has confirmed that Richard Spencer, a prominent figure in the white nationalist alt-right movement, will be allowed to speak at the university, despite protests against his appearance.

Spencer hosted a widely criticized event in Washington DC earlier this month. At the event attendees gave Hitler salutes while Spencer himself quoted Nazi propaganda and shouted Hail Trump. Spencer was invited to appear at Texas A&M by Preston Wiginton, a former student.

Wiginton met with university officials on Monday, in a meeting protesters had hoped might lead to the cancellation of Spencers appearance. Almost 10,000 people had signed a petition urging Texas A&M to cancel the 6 December event and denounce Spencers neo-Nazi, white nationalist rhetoric.

Amy Smith, a spokeswoman for Texas A&M, told the Guardian the event would be held as planned, however. Smith said the university had not invited Spencer, but would not cancel the event for reasons of free speech.

Texas A&M plans to hold its own event at the same time celebrating the inclusive environment and core values that we hold dear, Smith said.

Wiginton, who described himself as sympathetic to nationalists, told the Guardian he had invited Spencer before the Washington DC event which highlighted the racism and sexism of some in the alt-right movement but had not considered withdrawing the invitation.

He said he had invited Spencer primarily because hes been in the news quite a bit with the Trump election.

At American universities the education is so left-leaning that its more of an indoctrination than a discussion of ideas, Wiginton said. Ive brought other controversial speakers to A&M on topics that people dont want to discuss. Things such as immigration. So I just thought it was an opportunity.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has described Spencer as a suit-and-tie version of the white supremacists of old, a kind of professional racist in khakis. He is the president of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist thinktank, and has proposed a 50-year ban on immigration to the US, to preserve a white-dominant America.

More than 9,800 people signed a petition calling on Texas A&M to cancel the Spencer event. Smith, the universitys senior vice-president and chief marketing and communications officer, described Spencers views as reprehensible but said the event would go ahead.

Our students and our faculty, our staff and our alumni are outraged that this is happening to our campus when no one from our campus desires it, Smith said.

Smith said Wiginton had booked the event space before Texas A&M had realised he would use it to host Spencer. When the university discovered Wiginton planned to host a white nationalist event they were unable to cancel it due to free speech laws. Smith said Texas A&M planned to review its booking policies.

Texas A&M will hold an alternative event at the same time as Wigintons event, Smith said, which will be a celebration of the universitys core values and diversity.

Well have people address the crowd and itll be more of an inclusive event focus [rather] than giving credence to some person and their rhetoric that we find reprehensible, she said.

Wiginton, who attended Texas A&M in 2006-07, said he had invited Spencer as a private citizen. He said he had not yet decided whether the event would be exclusively for university students or would allow members of the public.

Spencer is due to speak at Rudder Tower on the university campus. Wiginton said he did not know how many people would attend, but the space would hold 400 people.

Wiginton said that he had previously hosted an event with Jared Taylor a white nationalist who also appeared at the alt-right event in Washington DC at Texas A&M in October 2012.

On that occasion 11 people came to see Taylor speak, Wiginton said, after college lecturers asked students not to attend.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/28/texas-am-university-richard-spencer-white-nationalist-confirms

Trumpitecture: what we can expect from the billionaire cowboy builder

The tower with a combover, the 90-storey skyscraper with just 72 floors, the name in huge shiny letters Trump says his buildings are beautiful. But all they stand for is money, status and power

As the self-styled builder president, Donald Trump began his electoral campaign with a grand architectural promise. I will build a great wall, he said, standing in the lobby of his proudest creation, Trump Tower in New York, surrounded by 240 tonnes of pink Breccia Pernice marble. Nobody builds walls better than me, believe me. And Ill build them very inexpensively.

The billionaire real estate tycoon and president-elect has made a career out of building inexpensive walls and filling them with very expensive apartments. But this would be a wall of a different kind: an impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall that would march along the Mexican border, to keep out the drugs, crime and rapists, punctuated with one big, beautiful door presumably so his Trump Tower taco bowls could still come in.

Like most of Trumps policies, the wall has always been big on bluster but light on detail. It mysteriously grew in height as his campaign snowballed, from 30 to 55ft, while budgets rose from $8bn to $12bn. Independent assessments suggest it would cost more like $25bn and require more than three times as much concrete as the Hoover Dam. Unperturbed, Trump insisted his wall would have beautiful everything and be just perfect. Maybe someday theyll call it the Trump Wall. So I have to make sure its beautiful, right? Since winning the election he has conceded that, in places, it might actually be a fence.

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Tall storeys Trump Tower apartments start on floor 30 despite there being just 19 floors below them. Photograph: Don Emmert/AFP/ Getty

If its anything like the other edifices that bear his name, in 20ft high bronze letters, beauty might be stretching it. From the serrated flanks of his brooding Trump Tower to the gold lam attire of his Las Vegas hotel, his buildings glow with a surface sheen, like his own bronzed face, but it is a veneer of luxury that masks a prosaic product underneath.

As the former New York Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp put it, Trumps towers dont quite register as architecture but instead stand as signs of money, status, power like the diamonds, furs, yachts and other tokens of the deluxe life enjoyed in Marbella. What Muschamp found objectionable about Trumps taste was not the desire for attention, for the best, the most, the tallest, the most eye-catching but his failure to realise these desires creatively in the architectural medium. For the king of superlatives, nothing has ever turned out quite as tremendous as he promised.

His first Manhattan project, completed in 1980, set the tone, taking the ailing Commodore hotel, a handsome brick and limestone building from 1919, and entombing it inside a shell of mirrored glass. It spawned the Trump style of wrapping standard buildings in paper-thin party costumes of chrome, bronze or gold depending on the occasion, and adorning them with sparkly signifiers of glitz and glamour.

Just like his policies, Trumps real estate projects are often characterised by bold claims that dont quite stand up beginning with their height. He famously inflates the floor numbers of his buildings: the 90-storey Trump World has 72 floors, while apartments in Trump Tower begin at floor 30, despite there being just 19 commercial storeys below them. People are very happy, he has said, openly proud of his marketing ruse. They like to have apartments that have height, the psychology of it.

The Trump Tower in Chicago was planned to be the tallest building in the world when it was announced in 2001, but it was hurriedly scaled back following the 9/11 attacks despite Trumps rhetoric of not being cowed by terrorists. It now stands like a stunted Mini-Me version of Dubais Burj Khalifa (designed by the same architect), at less than half the height of its Arabian cousin.

Lacking the desired height, Trump tried to make up for it with the size of his sign, which spells out his name in back-lit stainless steel letters running the length of half an American football field across the 16th floor. Mayor Rahm Emanuel slammed the sign as tasteless and set about changing the citys regulations to prevent a repeat of such vulgarity. As ever, Trump hurried to Twitter to defend his creation: Before I bought the site, the Sun Times had the biggest, ugliest sign Chicago has ever seen, he thundered. Mine is magnificent and popular.

Taken
Taken down a billboard in Dubai, where Trump is building a golf course in the desert. Photograph: Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty

But the popularity of the Trump brand a byword for Superior Quality, Detail and Perfection according to his website has suffered hammer blows as a result of his vitriolic presidential campaign. In Dubai, where he is building a golf course in the desert, a large billboard featuring the man himself swinging a club was taken down following the announcement of his plan to ban Muslims from entering the US, while sales of his home decor range were also suspended.

In Istanbul, where the conjoined tilting shafts of the Trump Towers loom 150 metres above the city, President Erdoan has declared that the ones who put that brand on their building should immediately remove it. Even before his comments, the $300m scheme had not provided the premium that investors were promised.

The
Prices slashed the Trump Ocean Club, Panama City. Photograph: Rodrigo Arangua/AFP/Getty Images

Similar stories of inflated expectations, followed by legal wrangling, are repeated across the globe. The Trump Ocean Club in Panama was plagued by delays. By the time the yonic edifice was completed in 2011, there was a glut of high-end apartments, so prices were slashed and many buyers walked away. The condo owners association is trying to sack Trumps management company, claiming it exceeded budgets and used its fees to cover hotel costs. Trump, in turn, is now seeking $75m in damages.

The Trump Tower hotel in Toronto topped with a strange quiff like the man himself also opened late to find the market flooded with five-star hotels. It has been subject to a lawsuit by buyers who say they were misled by marketing materials, while the local developer is also trying to remove Trumps name from the project.

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Topped with a strange quiff like the man himself the Trump Tower hotel in Toronto. Photograph: Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket/ Getty

The story is repeated in New York, where Trump unusually settled a lawsuit brought by buyers of his $450m Trump SoHo development. They asserted that they had been defrauded by exaggerated claims. He admitted no wrongdoing however. According to the New York Times earlier this year, a separate lawsuit stated that the project was developed with the undisclosed involvement of convicted felons and financing from questionable sources in Russia and Kazakhstan.

Elsewhere, plans for further Trump towers, from Rio to Azerbaijan, have hit the buffers, while recent records show his controversial golf courses in Scotland have made losses of almost 26m. In sum, it all suggests that Trump might not be quite the star deal-maker he claims to be. So what is it like to be on the wrong side of his famous deals?

Architect
Architect Andrew Tesoro. Photograph: UPI/Barcroft Images

Architect Andrew Tesoro had first-hand experience of being on the receiving end of the Trump Organisations deal-making machine when he was commissioned to design the Trump National golf club in New York state, a process that left him on the verge of bankruptcy. Driven by Trumps infectious enthusiasm, the project quickly tripled in size along with the associated workload but the additional fees were not forthcoming.

By the time the building was completed, Tesoro had amassed unpaid invoices to the tune of $140,000. After endless requests and meetings with his associates, he finally got a face-to-face meeting with Trump, which proved to be a textbook lesson in Trumps trademark cocktail of charm and ruthlessness.

He told me that we built the most spectacular clubhouse in the world, Tesoro recalls. I was the finest architect hed ever met, he was going to make this project the best-known building of its type in the world, the next project was going to give me the opportunity to recoup any money that Id lost and, just because Im such a nice guy, he was going to offer me $25,000 to go away.

The
The Trump National golf club in New York state. Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters

At first Tesoro declined, so he was handed over to Trumps attorney. The attorney told me quite directly that, if I sued, I would probably get all the money I was owed, but that it was his job to make it take so long, and cost me so much, that it wouldnt be worth it.

It raises questions over how Trump plans to administer his $500bn infrastructure plan, a scheme that has already got the construction industry salivating at the thought of the tax-credit-driven contracts. We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals, Trump declared in his victory speech. Were going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none.

Tesoro featured in this Clinton campaign video

The American Institute of Architects was quick to pledge its unwavering support to the new administration, writing that its 89,000 members stand ready to work with Trump on his grand building plan. But it turns out that the AIA had neglected to consult its members, many of whom have pointed out that Trumps bigoted pronouncements dont quite chime with the institutes diversity and inclusion goals.

The Architects Newspaper, meanwhile, warned that architects who contributed to the proposed border wall or its attendant detention centres, federal and private prisons, and militarised infrastructure would be perpetuating inequality and the racist patriarchy of Trumps ideology.

As architect and critic Michael Sorkin writes in an open letter: Trumps well-documented history of racial discrimination, tenant harassment, stiffing creditors, evasive bankruptcies, predilection for projects of low social value such as casinos and his calculated evasion of the taxes that might support our common realm are of a piece with his larger nativist, sexist, and racist political project.

He concludes: We call upon the AIA to stand up for something beyond a place at the table where Trumps cannibal feast will be served. Let us not be complicit in building Trumps wall but band together to take it down!

The AIA has since issued a grovelling video apology, admitting their statement was tone deaf while no doubt rushing out to stock up on security fencing and gold glazing catalogues.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/nov/27/architecture-donald-trump-tower-president-elect

Woman who gave birth in her car gets $7,400 bill for hospital delivery room

Paula DAmore gave birth outside Boca Raton regional hospital in April and has since attempted to dispute the high bill but the hospital stands by it

Paula DAmore was never expecting to give birth in the backseat of her Jeep. A few hours after she felt a contraction on 7 April, she loaded into the car and her husband started driving to the hospital, only to feel a burning sensation as the car pulled into its driveway.

Never in a million years wouldI havethought this would happen, DAmore said.

Her husband ran into the hospital to tell the staff his wife was in labor. As he came back and opened the door, the baby began crowning and he was forced to deliver the head. Moments later, a few nurses joined at the car and a midwife helped complete the delivery of her newborn daughter, Danielle.

Only after giving birth in her car was she taken to a recovery room because all the labor rooms at the Boca Raton regional hospital were full.

Given that she gave birth in her car, DAmore was shocked to receive a hospital bill that charged her more than $7,400 for a delivery room. She is also disputing an additional $4,000 bill for a time her daughter spent in the neonatal intensive care unit.

I laughed, she said when she got the bill. You gotta be kidding right? How do you charge for something that you didnt do?

DAmore and her husband switched to a $5,000 high deductible insurance package that she had saved up for in preparation for the pregnancy, so her expenses will be capped at $5,000 and she has not disputed payment for other services, including the midwife. But she refuses to accept the hospital room charges given that she gave birth in the car.

I cannot swallow seeing that they have the audacity to charge $7,000, DAmore said.

Labor and delivery are among the most expensive healthcare costs in the US. According to a 2013 study by Truven Health Analytics, the cost of childbirth in the US has tripled since 1996. Truven also found the average price of pregnancy and newborn care for a baby was approximately $30,000 for vaginal delivery, and $50,000 for a C-section. Delivery costs alone are an average of $10,000 and over more than $15,000 for a vaginal or C-section respectively, according to the International Federation of Health Plans (IFHP).

After working with counsel provided by her husbands employer, she took her grievances to the hospital who said they found nothing wrong with the charges after two reviews.

Boca Raton Regional Hospital has reviewed the matter, understands the concerns of this patient, and has previously attempted to resolve the outstanding balance concerns with the patient, Thomas Chakurda, vice-president of marketing at Boca Raton regional hospital, said in a statement. The hospital appropriately bills for the medical services and care it provides and has determined that the level of care provided and billing were appropriate in this instance. We take all of Mrs DAmores concerns seriously and are willing to review them further.


Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/04/woman-childbirth-in-car-hospital-bill-florida