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Aggregating and archiving news from both sides of the aisle.

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April's expected hiring boom goes bust as nonfarm payroll gain falls well short of estimates

Preview: Nonfarm payrolls were expected to increase by 1 million in April, according to economists surveyed by Dow Jones.

Goldman Sachs unveils new cryptocurrency trading team in employee memo

Preview: Goldman Sachs formally kicked off the cryptocurrency trading era on Wall Street.

Pfizer and BioNTech begin the process of seeking full U.S. approval for their Covid vaccine

Preview: Pfizer and BioNTech are the first companies to seek full regulatory approval of Covid vaccines in the U.S.

India reports over 400,000 daily cases for the third time in a week as second wave hammers country

Preview: Health ministry data released Friday showed there were 414,188 new cases over a 24-hour period, where at least 3,915 people succumbed to the disease.

Cryptocurrency investors should be prepared to lose all their money, Bank of England governor says

Preview: When asked about the rising value of cryptocurrencies, Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said: "They have no intrinsic value."

Fed warns about potential for 'significant declines' in asset prices as valuations climb

Preview: Rising asset prices in the stock market and elsewhere are posing increasing threats to the financial system, the Fed warned in a report Thursday.

DraftKings raises full-year guidance, expecting a return in sports

Preview: DraftKings said it has 1.5 million million monthly unique paying customers as of its first quarter, holding on to the gains in made in its fourth quarter.

The global chip shortage is starting to have major real-world consequences

Preview: The severity of the global chip shortage has gone up a notch over the last few weeks and it's now looking as though millions of people will be impacted.

Stocks making the biggest moves in the premarket: Beyond Meat, Peloton, Roku & more

Preview: The stocks making the biggest moves in premarket trading include Beyond Meat, Peloton, Roku, and more.

Norwegian Cruise Line CEO says U.S. ships are unlikely to sail this summer, calls CDC guidance 'unfair'

Preview: Shares of Norwegian Cruise Line fell nearly 7% on Thursday after the company released financial results for the first quarter.

Top Stories
Trumpism and Bidenism face off in what could define future elections and the course of a nation

Preview: As the Republican Party finds new ways to pay homage to Donald Trump and attack democracy, Joe Biden is pushing ahead with the grunt work of building a substantive presidency that could change the shape of America.

The US eyes possible 'Roaring '20s' recovery

Preview: Stock market hitting record highs, booming construction and rampant spending on consumer goods. Economists say we may be in for a second Roaring Twenties, but does that mean we are in for the same stark ending? CNN's Clare Sebastian reports.

Opinion: GOPer files complaint against Democrat for telling the truth about Big Lie

Preview: The campaign to deceive the American people is entering a new and dangerous phase. Now that most Republican elected officials in Washington have surrendered to the Big Lie -- the thoroughly debunked claim that former President Donald Trump won the November 2020 election -- they are moving to intimidate or punish anyone who provides evidence of their deception, or of their role in the lead-up to the most direct assault on American democracy in memory, the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

Bipartisan focus intensifies for crucial weeks ahead as path narrows on infrastructure

Preview: President Joe Biden and senior congressional Democrats plan to make a sustained push for a bipartisan agreement on a scaled-back infrastructure proposal over the next two weeks, according to aides and White House officials.

Analysis: Why Republicans won't walk away from the 'Big Lie'

Preview: There was an exchange Thursday between Fox News' John Roberts and Texas Rep. Kevin Brady that is remarkably telling about just how lost the Republican Party is at the moment.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs restrictive voting bill

Preview: Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday morning signed into law a controversial voting bill aimed at curbing access to mail-in voting in the state, joining a host of other GOP-led states pushing new limits in connection with former President Donald Trump's baseless claims of fraud in the 2020 election.

The White House lawn 'headache' Trump left behind

Preview: • Jen Psaki says she talked with Biden team about a roughly one-year term

Pfizer/BioNTech seeks full FDA approval for its Covid vaccine

Preview: • Major cruise ship company may avoid Florida over vaccine law • How should vaccinated parents navigate summer? A doctor's advice

Top Stories
BREAKING: Unemployment Rate INCREASES, Numbers ‘Way Worse Than Expected’. Talk Of Inflation Grows.

Preview: The economy appears to be struggling under President Joe Biden, according to new jobs report that was released on Friday morning. Top lines from financial reports: CNBC: Hiring was a huge letdown in April, with nonfarm payrolls increasing by a much less than expected 266,000 and the unemployment rate rose to 6.1% amid an escalating […]

FEC Drops Its Inquiry Into Trump’s Payments To Stormy Daniels

Preview: On Thursday, the Federal Election Commission terminated its inquiry into former President Trump’s payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels. The Commission is comprised of six members: three Republicans, James ‘Trey’ Trainor, Sean Cooksey and Allen Dickerson; two Democrats, Shana Broussard, the current chairwoman, and Ellen Weintraub, and one independent, Steven Walther. Both Democrats […]

Video Appears To Show Armed Anarchists In Portland Holding Up Man At Gunpoint, Assaulting Him When He Tries To Defend Himself

Preview: A video posted online Thursday appears to show heavily armed anarchist activists in Portland, Oregon, holding up a man in his truck. After the man seemingly tries to break through the activists while brandishing a gun, they tackle him to the ground. The video was first posted by left-wing Twitter account Durham Operations, and later […]

WATCH: Hysterical Man Harasses Pregnant Women In Grocery Store For No Mask, Scolds Her For ‘So Much Privilege’

Preview: A man videotaped and taunted a young pregnant woman who wasn’t wearing a mask in a grocery store and put the video online, which has amassed more than 400,000 views as of Friday. “Right there, right there, no mask,” the man said, zooming over to the pregnant woman as she checks out with her groceries. […]

Liz Cheney Orchestrated Secret Media Campaign To Counter Trump Rhetoric While He Was In Office: Report

Preview: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) reportedly orchestrated a secret media campaign with a left-wing mainstream media publication to counter rhetoric from then-President Donald Trump about the results of the 2020 election. The New Yorker noted that Eric Edelman, a friend of Cheney’s who served as a national security adviser to her father, former Vice-President Dick Cheney, […]

‘Devout Catholic’ Biden’s Day Of Prayer Proclamation Leaves Out God, Pushes Leftist Agenda

Preview: On Wednesday, President Biden, who has been touted as a “devout Catholic” by some, including White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, issued a proclamation for the National Day of Prayer, but did not mention God. Biden started, “Throughout our history, Americans of many religions and belief systems have turned to prayer for strength, hope, and […]

Gov. DeSantis Tells Unemployed Floridians Collecting Benefits To Start Looking For A Job

Preview: Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Wednesday informed unemployed Floridians during a Wednesday press conference that May will be the last month they can collect unemployment benefits without proving they are looking for work. DeSantis, who had lifted the state’s policy requiring such proof because of the pandemic, said that reopened Florida now offers ample opportunity […]

Cuomo Will Segregate Baseball Games With Vaccinated/Unvaccinated Sections, Give Free Tickets To Those Who Get The Jab 

Preview: Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that Yankees and Mets fans will be segregated into vaccinated and unvaccinated sections starting in mid-May. He also said anyone who gets the COVID-19 vaccination on-site will get a free ticket. “New York will set up vaccinated and unvaccinated sections at Mets and Yankees games, Cuomo announces,” […]

AOC On Planned Parenthood, Which Performs 300,000+ Abortions Per Year: They Save Lives!

Preview: Far-left Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said during a committee hearing on Thursday that Planned Parenthood, which performs hundreds of thousands of abortions per year, saves lives. “I don’t want to hear a single person on this committee or outside of this committee talk about, what about, valuing life when they continue to uphold the death […]

WATCH: Samantha Bee Tells Republicans To ‘Stop Transphobic’ Bills And ‘Mind Their Own F***ing Business’

Preview: Far-left comedienne Samantha Bee excoriated Republicans on Wednesday for pushing “transphobic” bills while telling them to “mind their own f***ing business.” According to Bee, Republicans have introduced bills barring biological men from participating in women’s sports as well as barring children from having their bodies mutilated through hormone treatment simply out of “retaliation” for the […]

Top Stories
Employers added just 266K jobs in April -- and March revised lower...

Preview: Employers added just 266K jobs in April -- and March revised lower... (Top headline, 1st story, link) Drudge Report Feed needs your support!   Become a Patron

CHINA PLANS ATLANTIC NAVAL BASE

Preview: CHINA PLANS ATLANTIC NAVAL BASE (Main headline, 1st story, link) Related stories: REVIVE STRATEGIC PACIFIC AIRSTRIP

REVIVE STRATEGIC PACIFIC AIRSTRIP

Preview: REVIVE STRATEGIC PACIFIC AIRSTRIP (Main headline, 2nd story, link) Related stories: CHINA PLANS ATLANTIC NAVAL BASE

ROARING 20S: STOCKS SET MORE RECORDS!

Preview: ROARING 20S: STOCKS SET MORE RECORDS! (First column, 1st story, link) Related stories: Fed Warns of Peril for Asset Prices as Investors Gorge on Risk... Dogecoin 12,000% Rally Spurs Hunt for Next Crypto Winner... Chicken Shortage Intensifies... Not Enough Chlorine, Propane... Copper jumps to record... Steel prices triple...

Fed Warns of Peril for Asset Prices as Investors Gorge on Risk...

Preview: Fed Warns of Peril for Asset Prices as Investors Gorge on Risk... (First column, 2nd story, link) Related stories: ROARING 20S: STOCKS SET MORE RECORDS! Dogecoin 12,000% Rally Spurs Hunt for Next Crypto Winner... Chicken Shortage Intensifies... Not Enough Chlorine, Propane... Copper jumps to record... Steel prices triple...

Dogecoin 12,000% Rally Spurs Hunt for Next Crypto Winner...

Preview: Dogecoin 12,000% Rally Spurs Hunt for Next Crypto Winner... (First column, 3rd story, link) Related stories: ROARING 20S: STOCKS SET MORE RECORDS! Fed Warns of Peril for Asset Prices as Investors Gorge on Risk... Chicken Shortage Intensifies... Not Enough Chlorine, Propane... Copper jumps to record... Steel prices triple...

Chicken Shortage Intensifies...

Preview: Chicken Shortage Intensifies... (First column, 4th story, link) Related stories: ROARING 20S: STOCKS SET MORE RECORDS! Fed Warns of Peril for Asset Prices as Investors Gorge on Risk... Dogecoin 12,000% Rally Spurs Hunt for Next Crypto Winner... Not Enough Chlorine, Propane... Copper jumps to record... Steel prices triple...

Not Enough Chlorine, Propane...

Preview: Not Enough Chlorine, Propane... (First column, 5th story, link) Related stories: ROARING 20S: STOCKS SET MORE RECORDS! Fed Warns of Peril for Asset Prices as Investors Gorge on Risk... Dogecoin 12,000% Rally Spurs Hunt for Next Crypto Winner... Chicken Shortage Intensifies... Copper jumps to record... Steel prices triple...

Copper jumps to record...

Preview: Copper jumps to record... (First column, 6th story, link) Related stories: ROARING 20S: STOCKS SET MORE RECORDS! Fed Warns of Peril for Asset Prices as Investors Gorge on Risk... Dogecoin 12,000% Rally Spurs Hunt for Next Crypto Winner... Chicken Shortage Intensifies... Not Enough Chlorine, Propane... Steel prices triple...

Steel prices triple...

Preview: Steel prices triple... (First column, 7th story, link) Related stories: ROARING 20S: STOCKS SET MORE RECORDS! Fed Warns of Peril for Asset Prices as Investors Gorge on Risk... Dogecoin 12,000% Rally Spurs Hunt for Next Crypto Winner... Chicken Shortage Intensifies... Not Enough Chlorine, Propane... Copper jumps to record...

Top Stories
Giant sequoia tree found still smoking from 2020 California wildfire

Preview: A giant sequoia has been found smoldering and smoking in a part of Sequoia National Park that burned in one of California’s huge wildfires last year, the National Park Service said Wednesday.

Washington man accused of lying about Grand Canyon group hike

Preview: A Washington state man is accused of defying federal regulations that limit the number of people who can hike rim-to-rim at Grand Canyon National Park.

29 people recovered from semitruck in Texas

Preview: More than two dozen people were recovered from a big rig that was stopped near San Antonio, including one person who was taken to a hospital

Colorado grocery store shooting: Report reveals how police wounded suspect Ahmad Alissa

Preview: A man charged with killing 10 people at a Colorado supermarket surrendered after being shot by a police officer who waited for him to come into view down a store aisle, according to new information about the shooting released Thursday.

Tennessee ban on teaching critical race theory gets state Assembly OK

Preview: The Tennessee General Assembly has advanced a proposed ban on the teaching of critical race theory.

Florida Army vet of Afghanistan gunned down on daughter's 4th birthday: reports

Preview: A suspect was arrested in Florida this week in the alleged killing of a U.S. Army veteran of Afghanistan on his daughter’s fourth birthday, Orlando police reportedly said.

Florida dental hygienist found guilty in cold-case killing of Navy recruit

Preview: A dental hygienist accused of killing a U.S. Navy recruit nearly 40 years ago, has been found guilty of first-degree premeditated murder.

San Francisco double stabbing suspect charged with premeditated attempted murder

Preview: The suspect accused of stabbing two elderly Asian women in San Francisco earlier this week is now facing multiple charges, including premeditated attempted murder, prosecutors said Thursday.

California border commuters kept waiting as migrants flood crossings: report

Preview: U.S. workers who commute to Southern California from places in Mexico like Tijuana have reported excessively long wait times at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a report.

Top Stories
Rep. Liz Cheney could lose GOP leadership role over her criticism of Trump. What does that mean? - USA TODAY

Preview: Rep. Liz Cheney could lose GOP leadership role over her criticism of Trump. What does that mean?  USA TODAY Why Republicans won't walk away from the 'Big Lie'  CNN Our Views: In attacking Liz Cheney, Steve Scalise sells out party's future to Donald Trump  The Advocate Elise Stefanik's shameful move  CNN Liz Cheney Confronts a House of Cowards  The Wall Street Journal View Full Coverage on Google News

Texas Republican lawmakers advance elections bill - Fox News

Preview: Texas Republican lawmakers advance elections bill  Fox News Florida and Texas Join the March to Restrict Voting Access  The New York Times Texas House debates new voting rules in late-night session  KXAN.com Column: A congressional shutout in Texas disappoints Democrats. Should they worry?  Yahoo News More House Democrats have their eyes on the exit — a danger signal for their majority  The Washington Post View Full Coverage on Google News

After All-Night Session, Texas House Approves New GOP-Backed Election Law - NPR

Preview: After All-Night Session, Texas House Approves New GOP-Backed Election Law  NPR

Did DeSantis violate First Amendment with Fox News-only bill signing? - Tampa Bay Times

Preview: Did DeSantis violate First Amendment with Fox News-only bill signing?  Tampa Bay Times Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs restrictive voting bill  CNN GOP Gov. DeSantis signs Florida election law while shutting out all media but Fox News  CNBC Fox & Friends hosts propaganda session for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis  The Washington Post Gov. DeSantis just made it harder for me - a veteran - to vote | Letters  Tampa Bay Times View Full Coverage on Google News

Big Chinese rocket segment set to fall to Earth - BBC News

Preview: Big Chinese rocket segment set to fall to Earth  BBC News Long March 5B, a Chinese Rocket, Expected to Tumble Back to Earth  The New York Times China Discounts Possibility of Harm From Falling Rocket  U.S. News & World Report Chinese rocket to come crashing down to Earth at unknown location - BBC News  BBC News Chinese Rocket Plunging Toward Earth Expected To Land This Weekend  NPR View Full Coverage on Google News

Hostages freed, suspect arrested after St. Cloud bank robbery standoff - Minneapolis Star Tribune

Preview: Hostages freed, suspect arrested after St. Cloud bank robbery standoff  Minneapolis Star Tribune A suspect has been arrested and hostages released after an eight-hour standoff at a Minnesota bank, police say  CNN Hostage situation at Minnesota Wells Fargo bank  CNBC Television Final hostage freed, law enforcement storms St. Cloud bank  Minneapolis Star Tribune Hostages held inside Wells Fargo bank in St. Cloud, Minnesota; police and FBI negotiating for their release  Yahoo News View Full Coverage on Google News

Sixth-grade girl accused of opening fire at Idaho middle school, wounding 3 - CBS News

Preview: Sixth-grade girl accused of opening fire at Idaho middle school, wounding 3  CBS News Student in custody for opening fire in an Idaho middle school | WNT  ABC News UPDATE: Two students, one adult custodian shot at Rigby Middle School; news conference at 4 pm  East Idaho News Sixth grade girl opens fire at middle school in Idaho, injuring 3  Yahoo! Voices School shooter could face attempted murder charges; doctor says condition of victims is an 'absolute blessing'  KSL.com View Full Coverage on Google News

The Arizona GOP's Maricopa County audit: What to know about it - CBS News

Preview: The Arizona GOP's Maricopa County audit: What to know about it  CBS News Arizona Election Results Review Is Riddled With Flaws, Says Official  The New York Times Justice Department: Arizona Senate Audit, Recount May Violate Federal Law  NPR Arizona Republicans hunt for bamboo-laced China ballots in 2020 ‘audit’ effort  The Guardian The great bamboo hunt: Arizona’s bizarre vote-examination effort gets more bizarre  The Washington Post View Full Coverage on Google News

4.7 quake hits near Lake Tahoe seconds after early-warning system alert - San Francisco Chronicle

Preview: 4.7 quake hits near Lake Tahoe seconds after early-warning system alert  San Francisco Chronicle California earthquake rattles Lake Tahoe area  Fox News Multiple Earthquakes Rattle Sierra North of Truckee  KPIX CBS SF Bay Area 4.7 earthquake hits near Truckee area, felt across the region  KCRA Sacramento Reno area rattled by evening earthquake  Las Vegas Review-Journal View Full Coverage on Google News

Capitol police condemned by US states for January attack failures, emails show - The Guardian

Preview: Capitol police condemned by US states for January attack failures, emails show  The Guardian

Top Stories
Manchin on collision course with Warren, Sanders

Preview: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is headed for a high-profile battle with the Senate's leading progressives over whether to expand Medicare eligibility as part of President Biden's human-focused infrastructure agenda....

Arizona Republicans to brush off DOJ concern about election audit

Preview: Republicans conducting an audit of votes from the 2020 presidential election in Arizona plan to tell the Department of Justice (DOJ) that they do not need federal assistance or involvement in the process, a spokesperson s...

Tempers flare in Colorado House after member calls another 'Buckwheat'

Preview: A Colorado state lawmaker sparked uproar in the legislature this week after calling one of his colleagues "Buckwheat" during a House session.Rep. Richard Holtorf (R) was talking about about milit...

Lindsey Graham: GOP can't 'move forward without President Trump'

Preview: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Thursday said the Republican Party can't "move forward" without former President Trump. Graham made the remarks in an i...

FEC drops investigation into Trump hush money payments

Preview: The Federal Elections Commission (FEC) has closed its investigation into whether former President Trump illegally made hush money payments to women prior to the 2016 election. ...

'You'll never be white': Footage goes viral of woman's exchange with LA deputy during traffic stop

Preview: Footage showing the moment a woman berated a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy during a traffic stop last month, referring to him as a "Mexican racist" and telling him he would "never be white," is going viral.In...

Texas Senate approves bill allowing people to carry handguns without license

Preview: The Texas Senate has voted to advance a bill that will allow people to carry handguns in the state without a license, setting up the state to be the largest in the country to allow permitless carry.The legislation...

Lawyer for accused Capitol rioter says client had 'Foxitis,' 'Foxmania'

Preview: A lawyer for an accused Capitol rioter says his client had "Foxitis" after watching Fox News often, according to multiple reports. During a virtual hea...

Economy adds 266K jobs in April, far below expectations

Preview: The U.S. economy added 266,000 jobs in April and the unemployment rate rose to 6.1 percent, an unexpectedly poor showing falling well below expectations.The less-than-expected showing exposed gaps in a recovery tha...

Trillions of cicadas are about to swarm 15 states

Preview: The brood will emerge in large quantities, covering surfaces en masse and emitting the sounds of a nonstop lawnmower.

Top Stories
Armed U.S. Army Trainee Hijacks South Carolina School Bus Full Of Children

Preview: Jovan Collazo “got a little frustrated” and ordered the bus stopped after the children peppered him with questions, said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.

Ted Cruz’s 2016 ‘Running Mate’ Reveals Why She’s ‘Very Disappointed’ In Him

Preview: "I was wrong about Ted Cruz," said former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.

Florida Newspaper Rips GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis For Acting Like ‘Tyrannical' Trump

Preview: And "like Trump, DeSantis keeps revealing his thin skin," wrote the editorial board of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Chuck Schumer Wants Biden To Cancel $50,000 In Student Loan Debt To Support Veterans

Preview: The president "is moving in our direction" after previously saying he would forgive only up to $10,000 per borrower, the top Senate Democrat told HuffPost.

Josh Hawley’s ‘Canceled’ Whine Gets Thoroughly Debunked By CNN’s Brianna Keilar

Preview: “Just try to get away from Sen. Hawley. It’s like trying to escape the Kardashians," said the "New Day" host.

Twitter Users Spot The ‘Embarrassing’ Part Of Ted Cruz’s T-Shirt Tweet

Preview: "We all knew you were obsessed with yourself, but damn...," one person responded to the Texas Republican.

Minnesota Bank Robbery Standoff Ends Peacefully; Hostages Unharmed

Preview: The man accused of holding five employees hostage at a Wells Fargo branch in St. was eventually captured and arrested.

Lindsey Graham Mocked After Making Bizarre ‘Trump Cult’ Prediction About GOP’s Future

Preview: The South Carolina senator reached new heights in his Trump adulation.

People Are Very Puzzled By Eric Trump’s ‘Pathetic' Second Gentleman Tweet

Preview: "That’s so cute!!! You thought you did something!" one critic sneered at ex-President Donald Trump's son.

Trevor Noah Loses It Over The Wildest Tidbit From Arizona's Recount

Preview: Cyber ninjas, secret watermarks and now bamboo ballots?

Top Stories
NewsWatch: A million new jobs? That’s how many Wall Street thinks the U.S. created in April

Preview: The U.S. might have created a million jobs in April --- or more --- as the economic recovery spread across the country and reached businesses that suffered the most in the first year of the pandemic.

MarketWatch Premium: Gold has rebounded — and investors are now close to being excessively bullish

Preview: Gold bears have jumped on the bullish bandwagon in recent weeks.

Metals Stocks: Gold prices jump over 1% after U.S. April jobs report much weaker than forecast

Preview: Gold prices jump early Friday after a closely watched reading of labor conditions in the U.S. for the month was much weaker than forecast.

Economic Report: U.S. gains disappointing 266,000 jobs in April, but all signs still point to faster hiring in months ahead

Preview: The U.S. created just 266,000 new jobs in April even as the economy gained strength, suggesting companies might be struggling to fill open jobs even with millions of people still unemployed. The jobless rate also rose to 6.1% from 6%.

The Escape Home: Here’s how to book a glamorous spot to go glamping

Preview: There’s been a 300% growth in glamping --- or high-end camping --- since the pandemic started.

Need to Know: Here’s the catalyst that could shift the market debate from selling the news to buying the dip

Preview: Investors didn't reward earnings beats this quarter. Here's what could change that response.

: Under-40s to be offered alternative COVID-19 vaccines to AstraZeneca’s

Preview: People under the age of 40 in the U.K. will be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, where possible, due to an "extremely small risk" from rare blood clots.

Cryptos: As dogecoin price tops 60 cents, Elon Musk says ‘please invest with caution’ ahead of ‘Saturday Night Live’ guest-host gig

Preview: Elon Musk has issued the crypto community perhaps a rare word of caution about dogecoin.

Commodities Corner: Copper looks to set fresh record Friday as economic recovery, electric-cars drive rise in metal’s price

Preview: Copper futures trade at records Friday morning, putting the industrial metal on track to deepen its ascent to new heights as economic reopening from COVID lockdowns helped to spur a surge in the red metal.

Futures Movers: Oil on track for weekly gains as reopening optimism outweighs COVID worries

Preview: Oil futures edge lower Friday but remain on track for weekly gains as optimism over the economic reopening in the U.S. and Europe rises, though concerns remain about the surge in COVID-19 cases in India.

Top Stories
U.S. economy adds 266,000 jobs in April

Preview: The Department of Labor has released a report showing the U.S. economy added 266,000 jobs in April, far fewer than their one million estimate. NBC's Stephanie Ruhle discusses the report.

Why Rudy Giuliani’s cash crunch should worry Donald Trump

Preview: Former U.S. attorney Joyce Vance details Rudy Giuliani’s legal woes and the likelihood that he might cooperate with law enforcement and turn over material on Trump

Republicans who voted against popular Biden Covid relief bill tout its benefits 

Preview: Rachel Maddow points out that Republicans are associating themselves with the popular features of the Covid relief plan they voted against, and notes that with Mitch McConnell essentially admitting he intends to follow the same obstructionist playbook he used against President Obama, Democrats should feel free to continue to advance popular legislation without bothering to wrangle Republicans along the way.

‘Soulless’: Rep. Gallego on why he’s no longer friends with this congresswoman

Preview: “When you become seditionist, and you are smart enough to know the difference—She’s bright. She’s sold herself out,” says Rep. Ruben Gallego on why he's no longer friends with Rep. Elise Stefanik.

Gaetz’s new defense in sex crime probe: I’m like Trump

Preview: Rep. Matt Gaetz is battling allegations of sex trafficking and sex with a minor, denying the allegations and fighting back in the media. Gaetz now defending himself by asserting he’s just like Trump. MSNBC’s Chief Legal Correspondent Ari Melber and director of Defending Democracy Together Bill Kristol discuss the investigation.

Joy Reid on GOP’s push to oust Liz Cheney: ‘This is what total surrender to Trump looks like’

Preview: Joy says that the GOP is ‘exiling one of their leaders because she refuses to go along with a deranged lie about the election being stolen from Donald Trump.’

Liz Cheney is playing a 'very smart long game,' says GOP strategist

Preview: Republican strategist Susan Del Percio writes in a new NBC Think column that 'The Republicans in Washington know Cheney is right. They simply do not care.' Del Percio joins Morning Joe to discuss.

Job growth in April falls short, jolts debate over Biden's plans

Preview: This morning's jobs report should be a wake-up call to Congress: Biden's American Jobs Plan matters. Approaching the issue with passivity is a mistake.

Liz Cheney's would-be successor makes a misguided pitch to the GOP

Preview: What does it take to be a Republican leader in 2021? Elise Stefanik is answering the question in painfully embarrassing ways.

Biden's ACA special enrollment period continues to pay off

Preview: As one observer put it, "So this is what it looks like when the people in charge of 'Obamacare' want to enroll as many people as possible."

Top Stories
How golf course creeps spy on Paige Spiranac

Preview: It appears “following” Paige Spiranac on social media isn’t enough for some. During Tuesday’s episode of her “Playing A Round” podcast, the 28-year-old influencer addressed recent headlines surrounding the top-ranked New Jersey golf club, Pine Valley, and its decision to admit female members after only allowing women to play the course on Sunday afternoons. Spiranac...

‘Muppets Haunted Mansion’ Special Heading to Disney+ This Halloween

Preview: It's an all-new terrifying tale of total scariness.

‘Fear the Walking Dead’: Grace Is in Deep Trouble in This Exclusive Clip

Preview: Fear wouldn't kill off a pregnant lady... Right?

Jesse Williams is Leaving ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ After 12 Seasons

Preview: Williams' final episode airs later this month on May 20.

US added just 266,000 jobs in April, far below 1 million expected

Preview: In a massive disappointment to economists, the US added just 266,000 jobs in April and the unemployment rate rose slightly to 6.1 percent, the feds said Friday.

Listen to Episode 49 of ‘Amazin’ But True’: Was Mets’ Firing of Chili Davis the Right Move? feat. Howard Johnson

Preview: I guess Diesel Donnie is going to have to try and save the Mets offense now. The team decided to fire hitting coach Chili Davis Monday, days after this phantom approach coach became the talk of the town. The Mets offense did not do Davis any favors through the first 23 games, leading to his...

Pfizer-BioNTech seeks full FDA approval for COVID-19 vaccine

Preview: The companies are the first COVID vaccine makers in the nation to apply for full approval, which would allow Pfizer to market the vaccine directly to consumers.

New Movies + Shows to Watch this Weekend: ‘Shrill’ Season 3 on Hulu + More

Preview: ...plus Jupiter's Legacy, The Boy from Medellín, Little Fish and more!

Real estate agent allegedly wanted hitman to kill former mother-in-law

Preview: Leigh Ann Bauman allegedly tried to hire a hitman to kill her ex-husband’s mother and make it “look like an accident," according to reports.

Kendall Jenner talks about her anxiety: ‘Sometimes I think I’m dying’

Preview: The "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" star opened up for Vogue's "Open Minded" series.

Top Stories
U.S. Adds 266,000 Jobs in April, a Dramatic Slowdown

Preview: Economists are expecting another large hiring jump when the Labor Department releases its April jobs report on Friday. Here’s the latest on the economy.

Pfizer Seeks Full F.D.A. Approval for Its Vaccine

Preview: The U.S. and nations in Europe are debating vaccine access for countries in need. Here’s the latest on Covid-19.

Health Advocate or Big Brother? Companies Weigh Requiring Vaccines.

Preview: It is a delicate decision balancing employee health and personal privacy. Some companies are sidestepping the issue by offering incentives to those who get shots.

Japan Extends Emergency Measures Before Tokyo Olympics

Preview: The expanded restrictions come 11 weeks before the scheduled start of Tokyo’s Summer Games, as a fourth wave of coronavirus infections continues.

Florida and Texas Join the March to Restrict Voting Access

Preview: The efforts in two critical battleground states with booming populations and 70 Electoral College votes between them represent the apex of the Republican effort to roll back access to voting.

Arizona Election Results Review Is Riddled With Flaws, Says Official

Preview: Arizona’s top election official said the effort ordered by Republican state senators leaves ballots unattended and lacks basic safeguards to protect the process from manipulation.

Republicans Attack Democrats as Liberal Extremists to Regain Power

Preview: As Democrats prepare to run on an ambitious economic agenda, Republicans are working to caricature them as liberal extremists out of touch with voters’ values.

Stefanik Moves to Oust Cheney, Resurfacing False Election Claims

Preview: Republicans say Liz Cheney, their No. 3, is being targeted because she won’t stay quiet about Donald J. Trump’s election lies. Her would-be replacement is campaigning on them.

F.E.C. Drops Case Reviewing Trump Hush-Money Payments to Women

Preview: The case had examined whether Donald Trump violated election law with a $130,000 payment shortly before the 2016 election to a pornographic-film actress by his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Virginia G.O.P.’s Choices for Governor: ‘Trumpy, Trumpier, Trumpiest’

Preview: As the party prepares to pick its nominee this weekend, the race embodies the collapse of Republican power in a state that has tilted more sharply to Democrats than perhaps any other.

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The Very Weird Fight Between Facebook and the Encryption App Signal

Preview: “You got this ad because you’re a teacher, but more importantly you’re a Leo (and single).”

New Study Says U.S. Covid Death Toll Is Actually 900,000, Far Higher Than Reported

Preview: The analysis found the global death toll was double the official tally.

Dear Care and Feeding: My Wild Aunt Used to Seem Awesome. But Can I Trust Her With My Kids?

Preview: Parenting advice on cool aunts, unwanted pregnancies, and b-day concerns.

What <em>Mythic Quest</em> Gets Right (and Wrong) About Sexism in the Gaming Industry

Preview: A veteran games producer vets the Apple TV+ series.

Elise Stefanik Is a Special Kind of Realist

Preview: House Republicans rallied around nonsense, while Mitch McConnell accidentally told the truth.

Why Police Won’t Confront Their Deadliest Danger

Preview: And what their low COVID vaccination rates could mean for everyone else.

Ziwe’s Most Uncomfortable Interviews Will Help You Brace Yourself for Her New Show

Preview: Before her Showtime series launches, get to know the internet’s most provocative interviewer.

The NHL’s Ugly, Self-Inflicted Fighting Controversy

Preview: North America’s worst-run major sports league can’t stop hitting itself.

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Foreign Dictators in U.S. Court, Part V

Preview: To resolve the dictators’ asymmetry, Congress should adopt a Foreign Sovereign Anti-SLAPP statute and amend the FSIA. Courts should also interpret FSIA exceptions broadly, and reform the act of state doctrine and foreign official immunity.

Teachers Unions Use Political Clout To Keep Classrooms Closed

Preview: The public school system is a travesty that does not—and cannot—put students first.

Review: Wrath of Man and The Columnist

Preview: Guy Ritchie returns (with Jason Statham, wisely) and a Dutch woman discovers the ultimate cure for online menacing.

Today in Supreme Court History: May 7, 1873

Preview: 5/7/1873: Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase died. One month earlier, he dissented in the Slaughter-House Cases, and was the lone dissenter in Bradwell v. Illinois.

If You Want to Fix the Country, Devolve Power

Preview: Revived federalism is a start, but it doesn’t go far enough.

Kingdom of Silence

Preview: The new documentary traces the evolution of journalist Jamal Khashoggi's attitude toward the Saudi regime.

Want Me

Preview: In her new memoir, journalist Tracy Clark-Flory weaves in a quarter-century of cultural advice, warnings, and gripes about the sex lives of millennials.

Brickbat: Chickie Run

Preview: Four District of Columbia police officers were injured and two patrol cars were totaled after the officers engaged in a drag race while on duty. "They decided to drag race each other on Anacostia Avenue at 5 p.m. in the evening," said Sixth District Commander Durriyyah Habeebullah. The officers have been placed on leave pending…

Thursday Open Thread

Preview: Please feel free to write comments on this post on whatever topic you like! (As usual, please avoid personal insults of each other, vulgarities aimed at each other or at third parties, or other things that are likely to poison the discussion.)

N.Y. Court Pressuring Mother to Remove Rock with Small Painted Confederate Flag

Preview: "Given that the child is of mixed race, it would seem apparent that the presence of the flag is not in the child's best interests, as the mother must encourage and teach the child to embrace her mixed race identity, rather than thrust her into a world that only makes sense through the tortured lens of cognitive dissonance."

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When will we all be vaccinated?

Preview: Vaccine rollout

Here come the cicadas

Preview: Tracking Brood X

Finding peace in Minneapolis

Preview: 🎥 'Boots on the Ground'

2021 NFL Draft

Preview: 🏈 All 259 draft picks

Rep. Liz Cheney could lose GOP leadership role over her criticism of Trump. What does that mean?

Preview: Rep. Liz Cheney is angering her fellow Republicans over her criticism of Trump as the party looks to retake Congress in 2022.

Pfizer-BioNTech seeks full FDA approval for COVID-19 vaccine

Preview: Like other vaccines available in the U.S., Pfizer-BioNTech have been providing their vaccine under an emergency use authorization.

'It's real': A 6th grade girl opened fire in Idaho middle school, injuring 3; horrified students thought it was a drill

Preview: A shooting at Rigby Middle School in eastern Idaho left three injured and a student in custody, the local sheriff says.

'High-level chess': How Biden is navigating his relationship with Mexico's President 'AMLO'

Preview: Joe Biden and Mexico's Andrés Manuel López Obrador are under pressure to work closely to stem migration. First they have to fix a rocky relationship.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms not seeking reelection

Preview: In an open letter late Thursday, Keisha Lance Bottoms announced that she will not seek a second term as Atlanta mayor.

Pfizer could become first vaccine in US to get full FDA approval; India sets new global record for cases: Latest COVID-19 updates

Preview: Pfizer-BioNTech are asking the FDA for full approval of their COVID-19 vaccine. India recorded a single-day high in new cases. Latest COVID-19 news.

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One Good Thing: A Zoom experience that will still be fun post-pandemic

Preview: The logo for Plymouth Point, an immersive show you can only experience on Zoom with friends. | Swamp Motel A mysterious, immersive theater show provides a fresh way to connect with far-flung friends. The day I got my second Moderna shot was also Valentine’s Day. I anticipated feeling the side effects, so I’d preplanned a fun but low-key activity that evening. Not that I had much of a choice, thanks to the pandemic. A few minutes before 7:30 pm, my husband and I settled in front of his computer with dinner and glasses of wine, and clicked on a Zoom link I’d been sent earlier that afternoon. When we logged in, we greeted our co-conspirators for the evening, two other couples we’d invited to join us. We all live within a few miles of one another, but we hadn’t seen each other in a year except on screen. And we were about to go on an adventure. Soon, a mysterious figure appeared in the Zoom window — a woman with a British accent who told us an odd story about a young woman in her apartment complex who seemed to have suddenly disappeared. Instructions appeared in the chat box. We had to follow some clues. Our mission was to find the missing young woman. From there, we were off. Four of the six of us are journalists, and the other two are smarty-pants, so we were armed and equipped. We had our browsers open, our notepads at the ready, and our metaphorical sleuthing caps on. We plunged giddily down the rabbit hole. We scoured public Facebook pages for clues. We listened to recordings leaked by some mysterious source. We hacked into corporate intranet sites and watched videos about strange initiation practices at a shadowy hedge fund. If we started to head too far toward a dead end, a ghostly presence pinged into the Zoom chat to redirect our attention. And it was all over in less than an hour. We laughed about some of our dead ends, wished one another a happy Valentine’s Day, and signed off to spend the rest of the evening in our houses. But for a brief period of time, it felt like we’d been romping around London, hot on the trail of a mystery. What we’d actually been doing was experiencing Plymouth Point, the first in a trilogy of — actually, I still don’t really know what to call it. Immersive theater? Virtual escape room? Puzzle box? Some combination of the three? Plymouth Point is the brainchild of Swamp Motel, an immersive theater company helmed by Ollie Jones and Clem Garrity, two creative associates of Punchdrunk — the theater company that created, among other things, the immersive show (and smash hit) Sleep No More in New York. Plymouth Point is designed to be experienced entirely over Zoom, which is why a bunch of New Yorkers could participate in a “show” based in the UK. Using pretaped elements and a set of skillfully designed clues spread out across the internet on a combination of public and private sites, the Swamp Motel artists created a compelling puzzle for a group to experience during the pandemic. Plymouth Point is also the first installment of a trilogy of pandemic-era immersive theater experiences (the other two are The Mermaid’s Tongue and The Kindling Hour), all designed for a small group to watch and participate in together from behind their various computer screens. I suppose you could do one of them alone, but Plymouth Point is meant to be played by a group of at least four, and it’s much more fun that way. There’s nothing quite like yelling “I’ve GOT it!” to your friends as you all scroll frantically through archives of corporate newsletters in search of a lead. (I’m assuming your cat won’t respond with quite the same enthusiasm.) View this post on Instagram A post shared by Swamp Motel (@swamp_motel) Our night with Plymouth Point was a few months ago. Everyone in the group has since finished their vaccination regimens, so if we want to hang out together in person, we can. And right now, I’d much rather see my friends in person than in a box on my computer screen, especially since I’m tired of looking at this screen and sick to death of the word “Zoom.” But as we near the point of some return, I’ve been thinking about things that might be fun to keep doing even after we have the choice to go out or stay in. When I’m no longer forced to do everything on a screen, what might still merit that kind of engagement? And one possible answer, for me, is Zoom-based theater. There is no universe in which I (or anyone who works in, writes about, or loves theater) wants to see virtual plays and performances replace the electricity of an in-person show. However, there are some upsides to experiencing a play or show through a medium such as Zoom. It’s accessible to people who might otherwise be unable (or prefer not) to travel to a theater and sit in a creaky seat for two hours. It gives directors a chance to innovate inside the restraints the medium creates. And, in the case of an interactive experience like Plymouth Point, it offers a different way to connect with friends who don’t live nearby. I can’t give a friend from graduate school an extra ticket to an off-Broadway show; they all live on the other side of the country. None of my family lives close to me. Plenty of those who do have small children or other responsibilities that make it harder to get together in person. Sure, we can get on the phone and chat (or text; we’re millennials, after all). But one way people build friendships is through doing things together, not just talking to one another. There’s a surprisingly low number of activities available to long-distance friends. And that can make keeping those friendships alive, especially when time or money are short, pretty tricky. One odd hidden blessing of this enormously terrible year is that we’ve been forced to reimagine what long-distance friendship can look like, because for those taking Covid-19 precautions, all friendships became long-distance. That long-distance element will mercifully lessen as the pandemic wanes; I personally hope to never hear the term “Zoom happy hour” again, and would like to attend weddings and baby showers in person instead of watching them on a screen. And yet, some version of experiencing art and togetherness through the internet might be worth maintaining. I would happily set up an hour to hang out with faraway friends in the future to play a game, watch a live show, or experience a work like Plymouth Point. I want to see my relationships flourish through having fun together, beyond just sharing memes and snark on the group chat. I can’t say having those options available now is a gift from this time, exactly, since a deadly pandemic doesn’t really leave gifts behind. But if it’s a way to snatch joy from the jaws of misery, to prove that human ingenuity finds a way to give life in the middle of frustration and sadness, well, sign me up. Tickets for Plymouth Point, The Mermaid’s Tongue, and The Kindling Hour are available at their respective websites. For more recommendations from the world of culture, check out the One Good Thing archives.

The great American chicken wing shortage is upon us

Preview: rudisill/Getty Images How big business and bad weather are killing your local bar’s “Wing Night Wednesday.” On a Wednesday in February, I took the same five-minute trek uphill to my local bar that I’d taken weekly since the pandemic began. It was “wing night,” what with both the day and the dish starting with a “w” and all, and a global pandemic that prevented indoor dining added a layer of self-righteousness — support of a local business — to my favorite meal. Good wings are usually accompanied (until the last decade, at least) by the faint smell of cigarette smoke from a smoldering ash tray shoved over to the corner of the table when the waiter arrived — a staple of bar culture. This was how I spent the majority of my late teens and 20s, until I quit drinking three years ago, telling friends it was for my kids instead of admitting it was a preemptive strike against alcoholism. The first time you tell someone you quit, there’s a palpable moment of tension; a face drops in hurt or confusion, then someone makes a joke and the tension disappears. Everything is back to normal, even if it’s never the same again. The price of a dozen wings was temporarily up, from $12 to $19 six days a week and $16 on Wednesdays I didn’t mind losing the booze, but I’d be damned if I lost the wings. On those alliterative Wednesdays, once the kids were down to sleep, I’d duck out to grab a dozen and watch a game, drink some club soda, and maybe meet up with a few friends who no longer asked if they could buy me a drink. The wings act as a sort of time capsule, each plate and each bite a reminder of a previous bar or night out, the memory experienced as a flash of warmth passing through the base of your skull. But this time, a hastily put-together sign on the door gave me pause as I went to enter: Due to a chicken wing shortage at the bar’s supplier, the price of a dozen wings was temporarily up, from $12 to $19 six days a week and $16 on Wednesdays. The bar had suffered two separate forced closures due to coronavirus exposure in the past six months, so I chalked it up to a casual lie; restaurants were already closing around the country, and if my local bar wanted to make up lost revenue on the back end by jacking up prices on their most popular menu item, I wouldn’t begrudge it. I’d check every Wednesday for the price to go back down, but it never did. In the meantime, a funny thing happened: More bars in the area started jacking up wing prices or making Facebook posts informing customers that wing night was temporarily postponed. My local grocery store rarely had wings in stock, so I couldn’t even fry up a batch in the Dutch oven to satisfy my craving. The chicken wing shortage I had written off as a tall tale was very real, apparently due to a combination of rising prices to meet demand and damaged flocks from the record cold temperatures that swept across America’s heartland. Panic set in: What if the best food on the planet became a delicacy? During the pandemic, getting takeout wings on Wednesdays continued to act as a totem, while also letting me feel good about buying things from a local restaurant during a time of communal need. The government had abandoned us, thus the need for unfruitful $11 lunches to try to prop up a dying local economy. It didn’t really work on a macro level — the bar still had to close twice, after all — but it did do its part in draining America of its crucial chicken wing reserves. Too many Americans shared the goal of eating our way to fiscal stability. Wing sales went up 7 percent, which may not sound like a lot until you remember that it’s 7 percent of billions: Roughly 9 billion chickens are slaughtered each year for commercial sale and consumption. The National Chicken Council is already ahead of the messaging around the shortage, leaning into the harsh winter as a root cause and indicating that extra time is needed to have supply “catch up” with demand due to the impacted chicken flocks. We’re going to make up for lost meat by increasing the very practice that will only ensure the perpetuity of our environmental calamity The ongoing plague may have distracted from it for some, but the southern US suffered record cold and volatile weather conditions all winter, most visibly during the tragic Texas freeze and energy blackouts. It’s easy to draw a direct link between the chicken wing shortage and climate change, and the efforts to ramp up production of chickens to slaughter to meet new demand is a perverse way of making sure it continues. It’s well documented that beef production is a massive contributor to climate change (and at a much greater rate than that of chicken production), but factory farming of meat in general is the problem, not just the cow. We’re going to make up for lost meat by increasing the very practice that will only ensure the perpetuity of our environmental calamity. There are other reasons to be less than enthused about factory farming, regardless of how delicious so many millions might find the outcome. Before a mass-produced chicken is shown the mercy of being stunned in an electric bath and bled out in its shackles, it lives a life of immense pain. It’s unlikely to ever see sunlight and spends its days dragging an oversized body through its own waste, joints in danger of collapse from its freakishly enlarged breasts and legs. On its final day, whatever semblance of a bird remains is hung upside down and taken through a Rube Goldberg machine specifically designed for its efficient demise: The bird is shocked in the water bath, its throat is cut (being hung upside down facilitates faster bleeding), and then it’s dunked into a scalding bath to remove its feathers. It’s complicated when projecting human emotions onto animals, but the sense of relief from suffering is universal. This already happens about 9 billion times per year in the United States. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Pizza Hut (@pizzahut) But this brutality is deemed necessary to satisfy an economy based around consumer demand wherein everything must be available for consumption all the time, which brings us to the next reason for the chicken wing shortage. If the market requires 10 percent more chicken wings to satisfy new consumer demand in perpetuity, that means 10 percent more overgrown chickens that will never see the sun. That means billions more electrified bodies and cut throats, trillions more feathers scalded off. As national and regional chains rushed to meet the demand of the pandemic delivery market, a natural first inclination was to add chicken wings to the menu. In conjunction with the push to support locally owned businesses and struggling bars, demand for chicken reached its highest levels in years, and reserves are at the lowest levels seen in a decade. To the average person, this factor alone doesn’t really matter. But when you consider that massive corporate chains with more buying power than your local bar are now competing for and snapping up the same wing stock, the effect is higher prices at local spots you love and stable prices at lesser wing providers. Try as they might, franchises simply can’t compete with local dives on taste or atmosphere, as even the best food offerings at franchises are often nothing more than an echo of the original dish they were modeled after. Wholesale prices have increased dramatically since before the pandemic started, and it’s hitting small businesses — primarily independent bars — the hardest. No bar menu is complete without chicken wings, but nobody wants to spend twice the usual price for a dozen. That leaves bars with a choice: Pass the cost onto customers to keep everything running smoothly, like my local bar, or eat the cost by charging the same amount and essentially losing money on every plate of wings that leaves the kitchen. For massive corporate chains that regularly feature loss leaders on their menus, this is less of an issue. For independent kitchens with already paper-thin margins, the choice becomes more perilous. This is why those damp wings with the limp roasted meat from national pizza chains are the same price, while your local place has either discontinued wing night or made it such that it doesn’t really feel like you’re getting a deal anymore. We’ve allowed the brands to lead us into a hell where independent restaurants may have to start charging “market price” for a plate of buffalo wings, as if they were Maryland blue crabs. And the planet reaps irreparable damage as a result. The rapaciousness of business isn’t limited to wings; the market regularly runs rampant over the things we profess to want. Every push for a new electronics release, for example, ramps up lithium production, which then ramps up mining efforts, which causes everything from labor abuses to international coups to help preserve favorable trade arrangements for the US. Fortunately for all of us, that tension is hidden deep within our fitness trackers or our phones or our vape rigs. To us it’s just a battery, and any apparent suffering to bring it into being happens far away from our wrists and pockets. This is less true with something like a dead animal, where any shortage and requisite ramped-up effort to meet consumer demand has a 1:1 (or greater, when factoring in labor conditions and the exponential increase in greenhouse gases) relationship with death. The shortage in chicken wings has reminded me I’m contributing to forces I’d rather turn my back on The local price increases and subsequent rabbit hole have reintroduced the creeping sense of unease I have with my relationship to my food, or my relationship to our economy. Silly as it may seem, the shortage in chicken wings has reminded me that even in my flailing attempts to prop up a local business, I’m contributing to forces I’d rather turn my back on. And while poultry production plants across the country scramble to meet shifting consumer demand and ensure further environmental disaster, the United States will continue to have a food surplus from the damage already sowed. And the feeling we’ve been duped will persist; since the pandemic began, it’s been hard to shake the feeling that our economic system is more than smoke and mirrors. The US has been producing enough housing and food and wealth to give all of its people the dignity and quality of life they deserve, but it chooses to bow to the whims of “markets” and fail the people instead. Production will ramp back up and a scarcity will soon become a surplus, making consumers and brands and bars happier than they should be. I’m still looking forward to late summer or fall, when wing night returns just in time for a vaccination rate that’s high enough to allow me back into a bar with friends, a plate of cheap wings and watery ranch sitting next to a club soda. Each bite and each plate will remind me of the other nights, the flash of warmth in the base of my skull, and with it something new that I can’t quite place — something I’m probably still too cowardly to confront. Normal, but never the same.

Join the Vox Book Club!

Preview: Zac Freeland/Vox Our pick for May 2021 is Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian. The Vox Book Club is linking to Bookshop.org to support local and independent booksellers. Here’s how the Vox Book Club works: Every month, we pick a book. Around the middle of the month, we publish a discussion post containing thoughts and questions from Vox book critic Constance Grady, but we also have comments turned on and moderated so you can share your thoughts, too. Talk among yourselves! Post your opinions and questions! Or use the conversation as a jumping-off point for your own conversations with friends and family. And at the end of the month, we gather on Zoom for a virtual live discussion. Our pick for May 2021 is Sanjena Sathian’s assured and immersive debut novel Gold Diggers. It’s got alchemy, heists, and diaspora politics, and it should give us plenty to talk about! Constance will host a live discussion of Gold Diggers on Wednesday, May 19, at 5 pm ET, featuring Sathian herself. We’d love to see you there! You can RSVP here, and in the meantime, sign up for the Vox Book Club newsletter to be notified about new book selections, discussions, and related live events. Here’s the full Vox Book Club schedule for May 2021: Friday, May 14: Discussion post on Gold Diggers published to Vox.com Wednesday, May 19: Virtual live event with author Sanjena Sathian at 5 pm ET. You can RSVP here. Reader questions are encouraged!

There’s a better way to protect yourself from hackers and identity thieves

Preview: Authenticator apps like Google Authenticator might seem intimidating, but they’re easy to use and safer than texts. | S3studio/Getty Images If you’re using texts for two-factor authentication, it’s time to change to an app. Here’s what you need to know. When people ask me for security tips, I give them the basics. One is a strong and long password with upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. (No, “Passw0rd!” is not good enough.) Each password should also be unique to each account (We love a good password manager!). And you always use two-factor authentication, or 2FA. (Don’t be like me, who didn’t have 2FA on her bank account until a hacker wired $13,000 out of it.) But the type of 2FA you use is also increasingly important. Text-based 2FA, where a text with a six-digit code is sent to your phone to verify your identity, is better known and better understood because it uses technology most of us use all the time anyway. But it’s a technology that wasn’t meant to serve as an identify verifier, and it’s an increasingly insecure option as hackers continue to find ways to exploit it. That’s why I recommend using an authenticator app, like Google Authenticator, instead. Don’t let the name intimidate you: There are a few extra steps involved, but the effort is worth it. SIMjacking: Why your phone number isn’t good enough to verify your identity By the time Mykal Burns got the security text from T-Mobile informing him that his SIM card had been changed to a different phone, it was already too late. In the 20 minutes it took Burns to get the SIM switched back to his phone, his Instagram account was gone. With access to Burns’s SIM card, the hacker simply asked Instagram to send Burns a password recovery text in order to take over Burns’s account and lock him out. All Burns could do was watch the hacker destroy that part of his online life. “It had been wiped clean of the 1,200 or so photos I had shared since creating the account in 2012,” Burns, a Los Angeles-based television producer, told Recode. SIMjacking, or SIM swapping, was famously used to take over Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey’s own Twitter account in 2019. But as Burns’s story shows, you don’t have to be a famous billionaire to be a target. If a hacker knows enough about you to convince your mobile carrier that they are you, an unsuspecting customer service representative might switch your SIM to them. There have also been cases of mobile carrier employees accepting bribes to switch SIMs, in which case a hacker wouldn’t have to know much about you at all. Putting a PIN on your SIM might prevent some of this, but it’s not foolproof. And, as Vice reported in March, hackers have found other SMS exploits that don’t even require access to your SIM card. “SMS, as a technology, has been around for a long time,” Marc Rogers, executive director of cybersecurity at Okta, an identity authentication technology company, told Recode. “It was designed to be a cheap way of sending messages. It wasn’t designed to be secure. And we built a bunch of security services on top of it. ... There are now more ways to compromise an SMS service than they can hope to fix.” Basically, if you’re using texts or your phone number to verify your identity, it’s time to consider something else. Authenticator apps — which are usually free — take a few more steps to set up than text-based authentication. Some people might find that — choosing and downloading another app, scanning QR codes, accepting tokens — to be too intimidating or simply not worth the extra effort. I’m here to tell you that it’s not intimidating, and it is worth it. “That’s our whole purpose of really promoting these authentication apps,” Akhil Talwar, director of product management for LastPass, which makes a password manager and an authenticator app, told Recode. “They’re really easy to use, they’re super secure, and they’re also convenient. You’re just getting a push notification in some cases.” How to choose and use an authenticator app Authenticator apps work the same way text-based 2FA does, but instead of having a code sent to you via text, the code appears in the app. The code also changes every 30 seconds or so as an added measure of protection — it’s next to impossible for a hacker to guess at the right code when it changes so frequently. A hacker would have to be ridiculously lucky (anything’s possible, I guess) or have possession of your physical device to gain access to the code. Several sites have recommendations for good authenticator apps and their respective features, which should help you figure out which one works best for you. Google Authenticator is one of the most popular and it comes from Google, so you can trust that it’ll be around for a long time and that the company knows what it’s doing to keep the app secure. But it’s also one of the most basic authenticator apps out there. If you’re looking for a few more features, Authy is highly recommended by most, has a nice interface, and lets you search within the app for a specific account (very helpful if you have a lot of accounts to scroll through), and is easier to switch to a new device than Google Authenticator. LastPass and 1Password’s authenticator apps can be linked to those companies’ password managers. And Microsoft’s authenticator — which, like Google, has the backing of a massive and long-running company behind it — is also a good choice. “Three key things to think about when deciding on an authenticator app are the reputation and stability of the company that created it, the independent security reviews performed on it, and the ability to backup and restore the application in case of a lost or stolen phone,” Mathew Newfield, chief security and infrastructure officer at Unisys, told Recode. Some authenticators have a push function where you simply confirm you’re trying to log into a site rather than remember and enter a six-digit code. But not all authenticator apps do this, and not all websites and apps support that functionality — at least, not yet. Some apps give you an option to have a backup in the cloud or to use the app across multiple devices, which you might be happy to have if your phone (and, therefore, authenticator app on it) breaks or is lost. Some apps have a search function so you can find the app you’re trying to log into easily — pretty helpful if you have a long list of logins. “The one overarching rule is any authentication app is better than none,” Rogers, of Okta, said. Once you’ve decided on an authenticator app and downloaded it to your device, it’s time to add your accounts to it. In honor of our friend Burns, let’s use Instagram’s app as an example of how to connect your authenticator app to an account: Go to Settings > Security > Two-Factor Authentication > Authentication App From there, Instagram will ask to open your authenticator app and add your Instagram account automatically to it. You’ll then see a 6 digit code on the app. Enter that code on Instagram and you’re all set. Google Authenticator is your basic authenticator, and now my Instagram account is on it. But you aren’t done. Instagram will then show you a set of backup codes. Write some or all of those down and keep them in a safe place (not on your phone) — you might need them to restore access to the app or website if you lose access to your phone and your authenticator app doesn’t have its own backup system. Websites are a little different to set up. In honor of our other SIMjacked friend, Jack Dorsey, let’s use Twitter’s website as our example. Go to Settings and privacy > Security and account access > Security > Two-factor authentication > Authentication app. From there, you’ll be prompted to scan a QR code with your phone’s camera, which will open your authenticator app and add your Twitter account to it. If you can’t scan a QR code or the app won’t open correctly, you can also generate a code and enter it manually instead. Authy is another authenticator app. Adding my Twitter account is easy. Back on Twitter’s site, click “next” and enter the six-digit code on your app. Again, remember to save Twitter’s backup code somewhere safe. Now that you’re set up, when you log into Instagram or Twitter, you’ll be prompted to enter a code from your authenticator app. Open the app, get the code for the account you’re trying to log into, and enter that into the site or app. You can choose to do this every time you log into a site, or you can choose to only do it once if you’re using a device you trust. And that’s it. Two very important and final things to remember Once you’ve got the authenticator app up and running on an account, make sure you’ve disabled text-based 2FA and removed your phone number from the account (unfortunately, some apps and websites won’t let you do this). And don’t use your phone number as an account recovery backup option. After all, the whole reason why you’re doing this is that phone numbers make for poor identity verifiers. Finally, if you’re getting a new phone, make sure you transfer your authenticator app from your old device to the new one. If your authenticator app requires that you have both devices in your possession to do this, make sure you plan ahead, or else you’ll have to rely on all those account backup codes to manually restore access to your accounts. Not good. Not fun. But still better than being hacked. Again, this is going to be a little more work than relying on SMS-based 2FA, but think about what you stand to lose if your accounts are hacked. You may not realize how valuable some of those accounts — and the things on them — are until you lose them. Burns now uses an authenticator app wherever possible. He was able to get his Instagram account back after two days, thanks to a connection he had at Facebook. But he didn’t get back the 1,200 photos that were on his account — including those of his beloved dog, Bonnie, who died last year. His Instagram account is private now, and his use of it has been sparing. “I have most of the original photos backed up from my phone, but gone are any photo edits (filters, etc.) I made in the app, whatever memories I attached in the captions, and any comments from others,” Burn said. “Pretty disappointing ... I didn’t really post anything to the account for a year after getting it back, and have only recently begun posting photos again.” Open Sourced is made possible by Omidyar Network. All Open Sourced content is editorially independent and produced by our journalists.

Biden agreed to waive vaccine patents. But will that help get doses out faster?

Preview: Demonstrators hold a rally on May 5, 2021, on the National Mall in Washington, DC, calling on the US to share vaccine formulas with the rest of the world. | Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images Vaccinating the world will be tough. Here’s what intellectual property waivers can and can’t do. The Biden administration has announced that it will work with the World Trade Organization (WTO) to negotiate a deal to suspend intellectual property rights associated with the Covid-19 vaccines — a surprise move for the administration, which had initially resisted taking such a step. The reversal came as Covid-19 deaths are mounting in India and elsewhere. The vaccination program in the US is going well, but much of the world is still waiting for vaccines, which has made the role of pharmaceutical companies and intellectual property in the global vaccine effort the subject of intense debate. There is unanimous agreement on one thing: There is a lot of work to be done to speed up vaccine manufacturing and vaccinate the world. As the WTO’s General Council meets this week, patents have risen to the top of the agenda. India and South Africa have asked the WTO to waive intellectual property (IP) rules relating to the vaccines so that more organizations can make them. The case for waivers is simple: Waiving IP rights might enable more companies to get into the vaccine-manufacturing business, easing supply shortages and helping with the monumental task of vaccinating the whole world. The case against them: Taking IP rights from vaccine makers punishes them for work that society should eagerly reward and disincentivizes similar future investment. Opponents have also argued this step would do very little to address the vaccine supply problem, which has largely been the result of factors such as raw material shortages and the incredible complexity and tight requirements of the vaccine-manufacturing process. The debate has raged for the last several weeks — with Bill Gates as a notably outspoken defender of IP rights — but recently intensified as the Covid-19 crisis in poor countries worsens. Wednesday’s announcement unambiguously puts the US on record in support of such a waiver — a reversal from its previous position. “The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines,” US trade representative Katherine Tai said in an announcement. Done correctly, making the IP associated with these vaccines available to the world can be a good first step — the more information-sharing here, the better. But it’s a small thing to do at a time when bigger commitments are needed. Waivers might help, but ending the pandemic worldwide is going to require so much more. While the Biden administration’s decision is a positive development, but debates over intellectual property can also distract the world from the policy measures that could really end the pandemic: building our vaccine-manufacturing capacity, committing to purchase the doses the rest of the world needs, and working directly with manufacturers to remove every obstacle in their path. Patents, trade secrets, and what you need to know to make a vaccine To unpack what the Biden administration’s move means, it’s important to understand the role patents play in vaccine manufacturing. When a pharmaceutical company makes a drug, it applies for a patent. The patent protects its intellectual property for a fixed amount of time, typically 20 years, after which others can make “generic” versions of the drug, which are generally a lot cheaper. Simple enough, right? When it comes to Covid-19 vaccines — and many modern pharmaceutical products — the situation is much more complicated than that. First, a modern vaccine is often in a web of different intellectual property rights, with the vaccine manufacturer having purchased the rights to some elements of its vaccine from either other pharmaceutical companies or researchers. The lipids (shells that contain the mRNA molecules) used for mRNA vaccines, for example, are licensed to Pfizer and Moderna, but other companies have the rights to them. Patents held by the vaccine companies are actually a fairly small share of what’s going on in this IP web. It’s better to talk more broadly about all of the intellectual property that goes into a vaccine: licensing deals, copyrights, industrial designs, and laws protecting trade secrets. The other complication is that, while there are legal barriers to copying the existing vaccines, that’s not what’s really making them impossible for other companies to start manufacturing. Experts I spoke with emphasized that, generally speaking, the world’s entire supply of critical raw materials is already going into vaccines, and there are no factories “sitting idle” waiting for permission to start making them. What’s more, changing a factory’s processes to produce a new kind of vaccine is a difficult, error-prone process — which went wrong, for example, when a plant converted to make Johnson & Johnson vaccines spoiled millions of doses. Moderna is an instructive example here. The pharmaceutical company made a splashy announcement in the fall that it would not enforce its Covid-19 vaccine patents. Despite that move, there is still no generic Moderna vaccine, and none of the experts I talked to believed one was on the horizon. (It turned out well for Moderna — get the PR bump from the announcement without suffering the financial drawbacks.) In the long run, though, a world where everything Moderna, Pfizer, Novavax, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson know about manufacturing their vaccines was freely available online would make vaccines easier for other manufacturers to make. It would also make them cheaper and more accessible to countries that have had trouble getting them. At a meeting this week, the WTO is considering requests from India and South Africa to waive the patents for the duration of the emergency. Most countries have their own patent laws, but international agreements about how they enforce each other’s patents — and disputes when countries suspect each other of ignoring IP concerns — tend to be mediated by the WTO. Although the Biden administration’s announcement is a win for the pro-waiver side, the US isn’t the only country that needs to be persuaded for the WTO to agree on a patent waiver. For their part, the EU, the UK, Japan, and Switzerland have expressed opposition. But the US is influential in these debates, and the Biden administration’s about-face may well be decisive. The case against IP waivers Many global health researchers, Bill Gates (and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), and some within the Biden administration have vocally opposed waiving IP rights on the Covid-19 vaccines, generally with two arguments. First, they argue society should want pharma companies to invent vaccines like the ones they did for Covid-19, and waiving rights will make that less likely in the future by making similar projects less appealing targets for investment. Second, they contend that patent waivers will set that precedent without even speeding up vaccine manufacturing. “For the industry, this would be a terrible, terrible precedent,” Geoffrey Porges, a research analyst at SVB Leerink, an investment bank, told the New York Times. “It would be intensively counterproductive, in the extreme, because what it would say to the industry is: ‘Don’t work on anything that we really care about, because if you do, we’re just going to take it away from you.’” Perhaps most prominent among those who’ve taken this stance is Bill Gates. “The thing that’s holding things back, in this case, is not intellectual property,” Gates said in a controversial interview on Sky News. “It’s not like there’s some idle vaccine factory with regulatory approval that makes magically safe vaccines. You’ve got to do the trials on these things, and every manufacturing process has to be looked at in a very careful way.” Instead of intellectual property, Gates’s argument goes, the problem is deep technical know-how: the important details of the process that goes into making a vaccine. This is an especially critical problem for the mRNA vaccines Pfizer and Moderna created because they use a new technique. (The mRNA vaccines give the body instructions it can use to make the spike protein on the coronavirus. From there, the body can recognize it and fight it off. This is different from the vaccines we’re all familiar with, which expose a patient to a dead or weak virus, or a chunk of a virus, to help prime the immune system.) Moderna and Pfizer know not only the exact formula of their vaccines but also countless procedural details about making them successfully: equipment modification, temperature settings, how to troubleshoot common problems, different kinds of failure and what problems they indicate, and so on. Waiving IP protections won’t make this information available. This isn’t an instance of Bill Gates going off message; it has consistently been the stance of his foundation. Last year, it worked to convince Oxford to partner with AstraZeneca on vaccine production, a partnership that has come under heavy criticism for having held back the Oxford vaccine’s potential for wider, cheaper sharing as AstraZeneca scaled up production slower than was hoped. Why would advocates for global health want partnerships with for-profit pharmaceutical companies? They contend that, if the world predictably waives patents for sufficiently critical medications and vaccines, companies will find it harder to attract investment when they work on those problems. And vaccines developed without a pharmaceutical partner — say, by a university — might have no luck being manufactured at the needed scale. “At our foundation, we believe that IP fundamentally underpins innovation, including the work that has helped create vaccines so quickly,” Mark Suzman, CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, wrote in February. “From early in the pandemic, there were lots of smart people at the Gates Foundation thinking about how to structure financing and incentives for accelerating vaccine development,” Justin Sandefur, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, a nonprofit think tank based in London and Washington, DC, told me. “To their credit, they worked on this really early on. They convinced themselves that IP was important.” The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation isn’t alone in thinking IP is important or waivers would be a bad idea. Vaccine makers “are already cooperating widely with competitors and generic manufacturers, including via voluntary licenses, contracted production, and proactive technology transfer,” the CGD’s Rachel Silverman argued in a CGD-hosted debate about whether to waive IP. “Diluting that commercial incentive may reduce their interest in pursuing the voluntary horizontal collaborations that are already driving scale.” The case for IP waivers The case for IP waivers is that, while there are definitely many other barriers to getting the world vaccinated, removing even one is better than letting it remain in place. As part of a no-holds-barred effort to get the vaccine to everyone, the world should do everything in its power to cut through some of the restrictions delaying vaccines, even if it will take additional steps for this particular action to make a big difference. “There’s a question of where the onus of proof lies in this situation,” Sandefur told me. “The standard line you hear is, ‘Well, there aren’t that many factories that can do this.’ And I can’t point you to the [specific] factory that’s ready to produce AstraZeneca, but we want to free up the market to let the discovery happen.” If you really want to get something done, it makes sense to address every possible thing standing in the way of getting it done, even if it’s not the biggest or most significant barrier. And while the vaccines genuinely are incredibly difficult to manufacture, those from Novavax, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca aren’t quite as out of reach as the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, and years of this fight are still ahead — time during which some company could, perhaps, pull off what has been dismissed as too difficult or even impossible and get generics off the ground a little faster. What’s implicit in that argument is there’s actually only a small chance of seeing benefits from waivers. But, proponents of waivers argue, there’s also not much chance of harm. If it’s true other companies can’t make the vaccines easily, the IP waivers won’t undercut sales for the existing companies or disincentivize future R&D. Conversely, the only way the IP waivers could actually cut into existing companies’ profits is if they successfully incentivize more vaccine development. If that actually happened, the thinking goes, that’d be worth it. Some supporters of IP waivers have argued the debate is essentially a matter of class warfare: Gates and big pharma against the global poor. But there are passionate defenders of the interests of poor people on both sides of the IP waiver debate: Many experts who’ve spent their careers fighting for the world’s poor also see IP waivers as a counterproductive step. Smart people disagree on whether this approach does, in fact, increase vaccine access where it’s needed most, and whether it damages our preparedness for the next pandemic. What the intense focus on IP waivers misses Regardless of whether they were for or against IP waivers, everyone I spoke to agreed on one thing: IP waivers are much less important than just directly funding poor countries’ access to the vaccine. Many people who aren’t opposed to IP waivers nonetheless caution against advocating for them because it could distract from better solutions. Silverman called waiver advocacy “an inefficient use of limited global advocacy/political capital for vaccine access.” IP is “not the point in the medium term,” Amanda Glassman, director of global health policy at CGD, tweeted Wednesday. Her focus: urging governments to give money to Covax so there’s clear demand for increased manufacturing. Covax is supposed to purchase vaccines for the world but has found them scarce; the overwhelming majority of vaccines have been distributed in rich countries. Despite the devastating consequences of letting the pandemic rip through poorer nations, richer countries have been stingy with Covax, and it needs more resources to succeed. “I think [waiving IP protections] is almost as much of a PR move as anything else,” Derek Lowe, a medicinal chemist who works on drug discovery in the pharmaceutical industry, told me. “There are a lot of people who are convinced that the only thing that’s holding back the generic vaccine is the patents, so the Biden administration said, ‘Okay, let’s see.’” Indeed, the attention the debate over patent waivers has generated in the past week has obscured an important point: There’s no one trick to making vaccines widely available. Doing so is going to require commitments to buy billions of doses once companies make them, and months of hard work easing the supply bottlenecks that slow down production. Even if companies can manufacture generic versions of vaccines, they won’t do so without committed buyers — and that’s where committing to help poor countries purchase them really becomes essential. In other words, it would be a mistake to take a victory lap following the Biden administration’s announcement. Even if legal barriers are addressed, countless practical barriers remain between here and vaccinating the world. If the IP waiver is a first step, great. But there are many steps to go if we’re to conquer Covid-19 in every corner of the globe.

Rachel Cusk’s lovely, vicious Second Place seethes with the desires of a woman on the verge

Preview: Second Place by Rachel Cusk. | Farrar, Straus and Giroux The Second Place is Cusk’s first novel since the breakaway success of her Outline trilogy. Rachel Cusk’s new novel Second Place — her first since the breakaway success of her Outline trilogy — is a lovely and vicious piece of work. It is vexed and questing, in search of some missing piece, some object that will bring meaning to the world but is utterly inaccessible; it fairly seethes with discontent. Cusk has patterned Second Place loosely after Lorenzo in Taos, a memoir by the artist’s patron Mabel Dodge Luhan about the time D.H. Lawrence came to stay in her artists’ colony in Taos, New Mexico. “My version,” Cusk writes in a brief author’s note, “is intended as a tribute to her spirit.” Like Lorenzo in Taos, Second Place is addressed to a figure called Jeffers; Luhan’s Jeffers was the poet Robinson Jeffers, while Cusk’s remains a mystery. And it deals with a woman we know only as M, who narrates, to us and to the unknown Jeffers, how she happened to bring the famous painter L to come and stay with her in 2020, as the pandemic spread. M is a middle-aged writer who lives with her husband Tony on a marsh in rural France. M has suffered enormous pain in her life — she writes obliquely of a withholding mother and a cruel first husband — and so she lives in a state of constant uncertainty, catastrophizing every tiny setback. If she were 20 years younger, she’d have an anxiety diagnosis and an SSRI prescription. “If you have always been criticized, from before you can remember, it becomes more or less impossible to locate yourself in the time or space before the criticism was made,” Cusk writes, with devastating simplicity: “to believe, in other words, that you yourself exist.” M sees the quietness and peace of her life with calm, unyielding Tony as an antidote to the terrible glittering outside world. She is never certain that she herself exists, but she is certain Tony does, so she can anchor himself to him. All the same, she craves art, M explains, and outside eyes. So she has made a habit of inviting artists to come and stay in the little cottage she and Tony have fixed up on their land, their second place. M invites L to stay at the second place with high hopes, telling him that she wants to see her beloved marsh through his eyes. She’s seen some of his paintings before, and she has found that when she looks at them, a phrase reverberates through her mind, a phrase she has trouble holding on to or believing in other circumstances: I am here. What M wants, really, is to see herself through L’s eyes. She wants him to paint her, so that at last she can believe that she truly exists, so that she can see herself and think I am here. But when L arrives at M’s second place, he seems to want to paint everyone but M: Tony, M’s daughter, the girlfriend he brought with him. And when M at last confronts L about why he won’t paint her, he tells her quite callously, “But I can’t really see you.” The moment is both rudely funny and devastating, which is the tone most of The Second Place strikes. And it’s especially devastating because M appears so certain that she and L have a deep artistic connection. Just moments earlier, she has told L intimate secrets about her experience of psychoanalysis. She has informed us of “the sense of intimate familiarity I felt with L from that very first conversation, an intimacy that was almost kinship, as though we were brother and sister” — and now we find that this intimacy is entirely one-sided. M’s relationship with L is that of a viewer before an artist, or a reader before an author. She has looked at his art and has felt recognition, and now she wants to feel the same flicker of recognition or affirmation for herself. But L has no particular use for M, despite his willingness to stay at her second place and avail himself of her hospitality during a time of global chaos. He has in fact a contempt for her, a contempt that seems to be wound up in the fact of her femininity and her middle age. And so every time M throws herself before L, she finds herself reenacting the peculiar sort of disappointment women feel when they go looking for themselves in the novels of great male writers and are met with only hatred. She has fallen in love with the way he sees the world, only to find there is no place for her to exist within that vision. Like reading Philip Roth all over again. Still, M persists in pursuing L, certain that she can, eventually, find a way to make him see her, until this attempt seems to have become her project for the summer of quarantine. All the characters seem to have such a project underway, and Cusk is often very funny about them: At one point, the boyfriend of M’s daughter performs an impromptu and unsolicited two-hour reading of his fantasy novel-in-progress, not ending until 1 o’clock in the morning. (“It’s really far too long,” L tells him.) But it’s M’s ceaseless, ravening want that animates this novel, swirling under the surface of every immaculate sentence. Dwight Garner calls Cusk’s prose “hot-but-cold,” which comes as close as any descriptor could to summing up the exact quality of her sentences: They are detached, but also passionate; they writhe with furious wanting; they analyze all wants with ferocious mistrust. When M writes to L to ask him to come stay with her, she includes a description of the marsh she would like him to paint. Most artists, she says, “miss the point of it entirely,” so that whenever they try to paint it, “what they end up painting is the contents of their own mind.” She herself thinks of the marsh as “the vast woolly breast of some sleeping god or animal, whose motion is the deep, slow motion of somnambulant breathing.” M, like all the artists she disdains, has painted out the contents of her own mind. That deep, slow, unceasing breath pants below her entire narration. It’s the movement of her desires: of a mind striving, endlessly, to manage to say of itself, I am here.

Apple has an antitrust problem. Here’s one way to solve it.

Preview: Apple CEO Tim Cook talks about the company’s app store during the product launch of the iPhone 7 in San Francisco, California, on September 7, 2016. | MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images John Gruber has a reasonably modest proposal. Apple’s App Store is a marvel. Introduced in 2008, a year after the debut of the iPhone, it’s become a marketplace that generates billions of high-margin dollars for Apple every year. But the App Store is also a problem for Apple. The company’s tight control over it — which is the only way iPhone customers can get apps onto their devices — has attracted sharp scrutiny, generating antitrust complaints and investigations, and now, a high-profile antitrust lawsuit from Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite. It seems impossible to imagine Apple fully relaxing its grip on the App Store, where it charges app developers as much as 30 percent of each sale they make within the store. This is in part because the company believes its control protects Apple users from malware and scams, and in part because Apple’s Wall Street story now depends on the high-margin profits the store generates. So it’s dug in against an increasing number of opponents. John Gruber thinks he has a face-saving solution: better signs. Or more accurately: signs. Gruber, a blogger and podcaster with a passionate audience among Apple fans (and executives), thinks Apple will eventually have to relent on at least one of the App Store policies former CEO Steve Jobs instituted years ago: Apps can’t tell their users they can buy something — say, sign up for the paid version of an app or buy virtual currency for Fortnite — outside of the app. In practice, this means developers that don’t want to sell through the App Store — such as Netflix and Spotify, which sell subscriptions to their streaming services on their own sites so they don’t have to give Apple a cut of their monthly revenue — can’t tell app users they can do so when they open the app. Instead, they have to just hope users figure out how to do it on their own. Here, for example, is what Spotify tells iPhone users who want to start paying the company for a monthly subscription: You can’t do it this way, but we can’t tell you how you can do it. “We know, it’s not ideal.” Developers hated the rule — created explicitly to keep customers buying things on Apple-controlled apps — back when it first showed up in 2011. But they haven’t been able to get Apple to budge. Now, Gruber told me during this week’s Recode Media podcast, it seems as though relenting on this rule is the most likely concession Apple can make — it doesn’t change Apple’s overall control of its app ecosystem, and Apple can afford to take a relatively small hit to its revenue that it might feel as a result. On the other hand, Gruber argues, Apple has to do something. Courts and regulators might force it to, and continuing to dig in now is not a good look. “At some point, you have to balance the dollars from holding on to every single penny they can through the App Store, with the damage it’s doing to Apple’s brand,” he said. And that brand matters to customers — and to the developers that depend on Apple but are increasingly unhappy about the way Apple runs the store. “I also think that there’s a reckoning within Apple that they really should look at the resentment that’s grown slowly but surely, like any slow-festering problem, where so many developers resent Apple” over the 30 percent fee, he said. Like many other observers, Gruber doesn’t think Epic Games is likely to prevail in its fight against Apple. And ditching the no-signs rule now wouldn’t stop the case that’s already underway. But it could certainly help Apple in other fights. The conventional wisdom is now that Spotify has a better antitrust argument — in large part because Apple sells its own music service that competes with Spotify but isn’t subject to the same 30 percent. European Union regulators said as much last week in a preliminary finding. Changing that rule now, before things get finalized — and before other suits pile in — could give Tim Cook and the company some breathing room.

Right-wing coffee companies want to make coffee great again

Preview: Conservative Grounds in Florida appeals to coffee-drinking Trump fans. | Conservative Grounds Facebook From Conservative Grounds in Florida to Covfefe Coffee in Maine, MAGA wants to come for Starbucks. Cliff Gephart doesn’t drink coffee, but he didn’t let that stop him from opening Conservative Grounds last year. You can find his first coffee shop at the end of a Tampa Bay area strip mall, across the parking lot from an Arby’s. The store’s decal lays out the offerings inside: “COFFEE, DONUTS, PASTRIES,” and of course, “PATRIOTISM”; The slogan underneath the logo reads, “The RIGHT COFFEE FOR AMERICA.” The interior looks surprisingly cozy; Conservative Grounds has a homey blackboard menu, a smattering of wooden supper chairs, and an overflowing bounty of MAGA merch. Presidential portraits of both Donald Trump and Ronald Reagan gaze over from the rightmost wall, and cardboard standees of the most recent former First Couple beckon toward a selfie-ready re-creation of the Oval Office in the back. Donald Trump Jr. even paid the store a visit and recorded a video that now rests on the Conservative Grounds website. “They’re playing Fox News instead of the Communist News Network,” he says, to a flicker of laughter, gesturing to a television near the bar. Gephart’s creation brings to mind the cheeky themed restaurants of Disneyland or the jousting knights of Medieval Times — businesses built to appease bored tourists in search of a technicolor lunch. The only difference is that Conservative Grounds doesn’t deviate far from American reality. After all, 74 million people voted for Donald Trump in 2020, and unlike Gephart, many of them drink coffee. “Often people say, ‘Why don’t somebody open a liberal coffee shop?’ And I say, ‘They have. They all are.’” “We don’t consider ourselves as a coffee shop, we refer to ourselves as a camaraderie shop. Because there’s a lot more camaraderie going around in Conservative Grounds than there is coffee,” says Gephart, in a phone call with Vox. “Often people say, ‘Oh, you’re a conservative coffee shop, why don’t somebody open a liberal coffee shop?’ And I say, ‘They have. They all are. That doesn’t need to be addressed.’” The culture war that has consumed the global discourse has manifested in all sorts of odd shapes and sizes since 2016, but nobody predicted that the battle would eventually be fought in our morning brews. Conservative Grounds is not an outlier. The Trump administration, and the emerging MAGA faction of the political constituency, has given rise to a number of different coffee shops and brands running Gephart’s playbook. (“I think the success [of our store] has probably spurred some copycats,” he says.) The most prominent conservative coffee business is perhaps the Black Rifle Coffee Company, a subscription-based roaster founded in 2014 by an ownership group composed of former military personnel, which earned $163 million in revenue in 2020. Black Rifle got national attention shortly after Trump’s inauguration, when they announced that the company would be hiring 10,000 veterans — a retort to Starbucks, which announced that the company would be bringing on 10,000 refugees in response to the Muslim ban. (Black Rifle also caught the ire of certain MAGA corners last year, when it divested itself of any connection to Kyle Rittenhouse.) Black Rifle does not make many overt references to the former president in their marketing material, but counterparts like Thrasher Coffee in Hiram, Georgia, do. Thrasher’s latest roast is called the #47 Blend, a follow-up to their #45 Blend, which is aimed at those holding out hope that Donald Trump will return to the White House for a second presidency in 2024. (“Tired of liberal Starbucks? All other coffees are FIRED!” reads the inscription on the online storefront.) Covfefe Coffee, a shop in Maine that closed shortly after the election, adopted a similar naming mechanism to Thrasher. Their inventory included the MAGA Dark Roast, Drain The Swamp Medium Roast, and Red Pill Light Roast. Conventional wisdom says coffee does not need to be packaged with a confrontational political persona to move units, but there are at least a handful of businesses that disagree. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Thrasher Coffee (@thrashercoffee) The more you dive into this niche, the more it becomes clear that one of the unifying bonds between all of the regressive coffeehouses is a deep umbrage at Starbucks. Gephart tells me he first came up with the idea for Conservative Grounds after an incident in 2019, when a Starbucks employee asked six police officers to leave a location in Tempe, Arizona. “I decided that shouldn’t happen in America,” he says. “That’s the genesis.” (Starbucks would later apologize for the ousting.) That antipathy might seem paradoxical — the Seattle mainstay has traditionally enjoyed a long, prosperous history of relative social inertness — though there is an argument to be made that Starbucks has always been slyly oriented toward rank-and-file Democrats. The company has taken progressive stances on gay marriage and gun control in the past, and they’ve sold plenty of Norah Jones CDs. But there is nothing about their brand identity that orbits anywhere close to the boldness of Conservative Grounds, which has held concealed-carry permit classes for $49.95 on weekday evenings. (Even Howard Schultz, Starbucks’s former CEO and prodigal liberal darling, has entrenched himself as a staunch centrist.) However, Starbucks has been beset by constant, keening Trumpian grievance over the last four years, initially spurred on by a boycott campaign over the company’s muted Christmas cups. Slowly but surely, coffee became a wedge issue in America, and an easy target for the relentless MAGA grift. “Starbucks as a polarizing brand is a more recent development. So this is interesting to see. But people have always liked a good opponent. It’s always impactful when you find a good foil, when you can compare two things and put forward an argument,” says Tim Calkins, a professor of marketing at Northwestern University. Calkins notes that coffee is an easy commodity to sell. It doesn’t expire, benefits from a wide appeal, and can be sourced from all over the world. That flexibility offers any enterprising reactionary a canvas to broadcast a bespoke set of values that have nothing to do with the blends themselves. “You give the coffee a name that has lots of meaning, and suddenly, you’ve done it,” says Calkins. “It’s a perfect product to express a differentiation of political views.” That was one of the most pressing questions I had for the MAGA coffee roasters: Is there anything about their flavor profiles, tannins, or mouthfeel that could reliably be identified as conservative? Or at least, as conservative as the packaging itself? “We call our flavor profiles bold — they are all very strong and many say they don’t even need cream and sugar in them,” says Liz Martin of Thrasher Coffee, when reached over email. “It is our messaging that is more or less conservative, not our delicious roasts.” Clearly, these baristas understand what they’re really selling, as they hand over a piping hot mug filled to the brim with #47 Blend. Thrasher, it should be said, merchants a wide swath of MAGA ephemera beyond coffee. Like Conservative Grounds, they too have an apparel store that caters to every flavor of Trump/Pence outrage. The most recent addition to the catalog appears to be a raglan shirt emblazoned with the red-and-white striped top hat from The Cat in the Hat. “Come and take it,” reads the words printed just below the logo — a reference to the ongoing, exhausting debate surrounding certain racially insensitive Dr. Seuss books. That is the core gambit that empowers MAGA profiteering; to make money by appeasing the New Right, one must be in constant search of the latest cultural combat zone, and be agile enough to jump on the bandwagon before it’s too late. Coffee, children’s books, pinto beans, it doesn’t matter. The substance of the product was entirely immaterial during the advent of Trump, and he continues to cast a shadow over so many of our consumer decisions. Gephart himself is a minor Facebook celebrity with over 22,000 subscribers attuned to his standard MAGA pontifications. Just as he said, people in this sector are offering camaraderie over anything else. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Conservative Grounds (@conservative_grounds) If there is to be an eventual disentanglement between US brands and US politics, it likely will not come in the short term. Within the last few years every company — not just niche, conservative coffee roasters — was forced to take an ideological stance. Last summer, in the midst of the George Floyd protests, countless mainstream brands filled their social feeds with messages of racial consciousness. Some were heartfelt, many were hackneyed, but the overarching theme was clear; there was no option to sit on the sidelines anymore. That’s a curious development, especially considering how long and hard commercial enterprises have worked to posture themselves as neutrally as possible. But something about Trump morphed the ethereal quality of Washington legislation into an urgent element of identity for so many Americans. We have never been more politically engaged, and therefore, never more willing to shop along those partisan lines. “Brands really struggled with Donald Trump, and how to navigate Donald Trump. You could see companies thinking about every word they said, and attempt to play down the middle when it was impossible to play down the middle,” says Calkins. “But Joe Biden hasn’t been the polarizing figure that Trump was. Brands aren’t struggling to navigate Joe Biden. The real question is what comes next. Will politics become less polarizing? Or will the country fracture in ways that force brands to take a side?” A lot of Democrats are hoping for the former, as the prime MAGA agitators remain banished from Twitter and Biden continues to posture himself on a platform of unity. But the divisions of the last four years are drawn deep. With Trump plotting his own social media platform and newly radicalized firebrands like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Madison Cawthorn in Congress, it is clear that the unsteady peace that Calkins speaks about is tenuous. The culture war continues, one mug at a time.

The census shows the US needs to increase immigration — by a lot

Preview: Candidates for US citizenship listen to the presiding field officer during a naturalization ceremony on March 8, 2021, in Newark, New Jersey. | Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images The 2020 census shows that America isn’t full — and that it needs immigrants. The results of the 2020 census are a warning sign that America is on a course for slow population growth. Economists broadly agree that population growth fuels economic growth in wealthy countries. But the recently released census figures show the US population was 331.5 million people, an increase of just 7.4 percent between 2010 and 2020 — the lowest rate since the 1930s. Projections suggest that, unless current trends change, those numbers could continue to diminish dramatically over the next two to three decades, with the population growing by just 78 million by 2060. Some parts of the US are already beginning to experience some of the downsides of population slowdown or decline: Shrinking tax bases in rural areas have made it harder for government budgets to support essential services, such as infrastructure and public schools. As population growth slows, the pressure for cuts will likely grow. Meanwhile, the existing population will continue to age; by 2030, the Census Bureau estimates that one in five US residents will be of retirement age. “Slow population growth, at least in the United States and a lot of other developed countries, will become a dire age dependency problem,” William Frey, a senior fellow at the Brooking Institution’s metropolitan policy program, said. “It puts a big strain on the rest of the population.” There are ways that policymakers can turn the situation around — the Biden administration has advocated for family-friendly policies that could make it easier for Americans to have more children. But that will not be enough to overcome a widening gap in the number of working-age adults that are able to support an aging population of baby boomers. That leaves immigration, which has historically insulated the US from population decline and represents a kind of tap that the US can turn on and off. Over the next decade, it is set to become the primary driver of population growth for the first time in US history. The question now is exactly how much more immigration might be needed to accelerate population growth — and whether US policymakers can actually overcome their political differences on the issue to make it an effective tool. “Immigration is one of the most feasible and rational ways to help respond to this challenge and we know that it will have a really significant impact,” Danilo Zak, a senior policy and advocacy associate for the National Immigration Forum, said. Immigration is the easiest way to increase population growth There are two main ways that the US could increase overall population growth: by encouraging people to have more children or by increasing immigration levels. On their own, pro-natalist policies have historically failed to increase birthrates in the kinds of numbers that would be required to stave off stagnant population growth. Internationally, research has shown that child allowances have led to slight, short-lived bumps in birthrates. From 2007 to 2010, Spain had a child allowance that led to a temporary 3 percent increase in birthrates, but that was mostly because more people decided to have children earlier, rather than have more of them. After the allowance was revoked, the birthrate decreased 6 percent. President Biden has proposed his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, which would cap child care payments for parents earning up to 1.5 times the median income in their state, guarantee 12 weeks of paid parental leave, and maintain a new enhanced child tax credit for another four years — the kind of policies that might make it easier for families to have children. But even so, the US isn’t likely to see the kind of baby boom of the 1950s and ’60s, when the population was overall very young and a high percentage of women were in their childbearing years. “Pro-family policies are important, but it’s proven pretty hard to get people to have more children when they don’t want to,” Zak said. Immigration is a much more reliable driver of population growth. The average age of newly arriving immigrants is 31, which is more than seven years younger than the median American, meaning that they could help replace an aging workforce. They are also more entrepreneurial, which encourages economic dynamism, and more likely to work in essential industries, such as health care, transportation, construction, agriculture, and food processing. Immigrants may also help stave off regional population declines. Immigrants are more likely to settle in areas where foreign-born populations already live, which are typically large metro areas that have lost population in recent years. Frey found in a 2019 report that, of the 91 large metro areas that gained population since the beginning of the decade, 15 would have actually lost population were it not for immigration, including New York, Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia. In another 11 large metro areas, immigration accounted for more than half of their population growth. Refugees are also more likely to settle in less dense population centers where housing costs are lower, possibly reinvigorating the nearly 35 percent of rural counties in the US that have experienced significant population loss in recent decades. Raising immigration levels wouldn’t necessarily require a major reimagining of the US immigration system, though that might offer more flexibility to reevaluate immigration levels periodically — it could be accomplished by just increasing the caps on existing forms of visas and green cards. “Legal immigration is not something that’s been discussed very much,” Frey said. “I hope ... these census numbers will force people to think about being more serious about that.” To really reap the benefits of increased immigration, though, the US would have to ensure that immigrants have the ability to integrate, which it has done successfully in the past. Immigrants in the US already have a higher employment rate and labor participation rate than native-born citizens, and immigrant children tend to perform at or above the educational level of comparable US-born children. In recent years, states and cities have adopted a patchwork of policies to promote immigrant integration, including programs designed to provide English classes, schooling, and professional training; resources to start businesses; and access to citizenship. But Biden has reestablished an Obama-era Task Force on New Americans to expand the role of the federal government in such initiatives. “We need to figure out how to give those young people the opportunities for success,” Frey said. Some researchers say America needs to raise immigration levels by more than a third It’s hard to estimate just how many more immigrants the US would need to accept annually in order to reverse its low population growth trend. In recent history, before President Donald Trump pursued policies curbing immigration and global travel largely came to a halt during the pandemic, the US typically admitted more than 1 million immigrants per year. But under that scenario, census projections indicate that the US would see less than half the population growth between 2020 and 2060 than it saw over the previous 40 years. Some have argued that the US should try to set its immigration levels equal to its historical per capita rate of immigration, or to the per capita immigration rates of comparable countries, such as Australia or Canada. Others have argued that the US shouldn’t set immigration levels at all and instead let the market decide how many people are needed to fulfill the needs of employers. But Zak said that all those methods seem somewhat arbitrary and unlikely to spur members of Congress to action. In his research with the National Immigration Forum’s president and CEO, Ali Noorani, he argues that the US should increase net immigration levels by at least 37 percent, or about 370,000 additional immigrants a year, to prevent a “demographic deficit” stemming from low population growth. That number of immigrants, they estimate, would maintain the current “Old Age Dependency Ratio” (OADR), which is the number of people ages 16 and 64 per person over age 65 — basically, the number of workers available to support one retired person. It’s generally considered to be a good indicator of the demographic health of a country. Today, the US’s ratio is 3.5, down from 5.4 in 2005 and 6.4 in 1965. By comparison, Japan has an OADR of 2.1, the lowest worldwide, and is scrambling to shore up the viability of basic services for its aging population, such as public pensions, health care, and long-term care systems. Even just maintaining the US’s current ratio may not be enough to avert the problems associated with an aging population. But it provides a preliminary benchmark for members of Congress, who, in an ideal world, would reevaluate immigration levels every few years. (The last time the US significantly increased legal immigration levels was with the Reagan-era Immigration Reform Act of 1986.) “When we talk about maintaining the current OADR, it’s a conservative judgment, hoping to at least stop the bleeding,” Zak said. “We look at it as an initial target, rather than a cap. We don’t want things to get significantly worse.” America needs all kinds of immigrants — not just workers America doesn’t necessarily need to be picky with regard to the kinds of immigrants it seeks to welcome. The US might need more workers to help fill growing labor shortages associated with demographic decline, as well as more immigrants who are sponsored by their family members to ensure that immigrant populations feel comfortable putting down roots in the US and having children. The children of immigrants will be a major driver of population growth in the long term. But immigrants in general, including refugees and asylum seekers, carry the benefit of boosting population in rural areas that are feeling the brunt of the effects of demographic decline. “When it comes to responding to demographic needs, that really needs to emphasize all different kinds of immigrants and the value they all bring to the country and to help us respond to the demographic challenges we face,” Zak said. But the US could also take a more targeted approach by addressing existing labor shortages in industries such as home health care, hospitality, transportation, and construction. The Labor Department has a list of occupations with shortages, making it easier for employers to bring immigrants to the US to fill those jobs, but it hasn’t been updated in many years. Currently, just physical therapists, nurses, and artists and scientists with “exceptional ability” qualify as shortage occupations. “We need to do an even better job of figuring out where our labor shortages are going to be in the coming years,” Zak said. The US can fill those shortages with a range of flexible visa programs. Lawmakers have already weighed creating a state-based visa that would allow states to select what kinds of immigrants they will accept based on their specific labor needs. Rep. John Curtis (R‐​UT), with the blessing of Utah’s Republican then-Gov. Gary Herbert, introduced a related bill in 2019 under which each state would get an average of 10,000 visas a year and would be able to determine how long they last and how often they could be renewed. But the US could also look for policy solutions abroad: Wealthy countries such as Australia have adopted visas for immigrants who can fill national labor shortages, and Canada created its Provincial Nominee Program to encourage immigration to provinces that are experiencing labor shortages. These kinds of increases in new, legal immigration can be used in tandem with programs to legalize the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants already living in the US. Researchers from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania found that the provisions in Biden’s comprehensive immigration reform proposal granting legal status to undocumented immigrants would increase the size of the US population by more than 4 percent by 2050. That’s because it would decrease their likelihood of emigrating and increase their birthrates. “There’s no doubt that we should be pursuing all of these ideas to help us respond to what’s really one of the most pressing challenges the country will face over the next several decades,” Zak said. Clarification, May 6: Updated to clarify that the most recent census found the US population was 331.5 million people, representing a growth rate of 7.4 percent between 2010 and 2020.

Here’s just how much people have stopped talking about Trump on Facebook and Twitter

Preview: Former President Donald Trump speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February 2021. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images Trump used to be everywhere on social media. Now he’s nowhere.  Donald Trump used to be everywhere on social media — but lately, it feels like he’s nowhere. Many have noted just how little people have been talking about Trump — from cable news to Google searches — since he lost the election and was kicked off Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube four months ago. New data Recode obtained from social media measurement firms Zignal Labs and CrowdTangle shows just how drastic the drop in conversation about Trump has been. Mentions of Trump went down by 34 percent on Twitter and 23 percent on Facebook the week after he was banned from both platforms following the Capitol riot on January 6. Since then, Trump mentions have continued to decline around 90 percent on both platforms from where they were the week of the riots. (That decline may be even greater than what the current data reflects on Twitter because it doesn’t include retweets and tweets from accounts that have since been deleted, like Trump’s.) Of course, it’s impossible to divorce the decline in the Trump conversation from the fact that he’s no longer president. It’s natural for people to talk less about a world leader once he or she is no longer in office. Even before the bans, mentions of Trump had started to drop after he lost the election. But Trump wasn’t an ordinary president, and he’d made it very clear he planned to continue being present in political discourse after his loss — as evidenced by his posts inciting Capitol rioters. Still, the steep decline of mentions in recent months shows just how the president who once set a national political agenda with his around-the-clock social media posts has been relegated to lesser relevance on the mainstream internet, and in conversation more broadly. Now that the Facebook oversight board has extended Trump’s Facebook ban six more months, that dampening will likely continue. What the data shows During his four years in office, Trump was one of the most active and influential figures on social media, often setting off global news cycles with a single 140-character tweet. And even after Trump lost the election, he was able to garner unparalleled social media attention as he perpetuated baseless conspiracy theories about the election results. But everything changed when a crowd stormed the US Capitol in early January as Trump encouraged his followers to overturn the result of the election. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube then took the unprecedented step of kicking the then-sitting US president off their services. Recode asked Zignal Labs and Facebook-owned CrowdTangle for data about Trump’s social media mentions to better understand his social media presence over time, and how his social media suspensions impacted that presence. !function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",function(a){if(void 0!==a.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var e in a.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.getElementById("datawrapper-chart-"+e)||document.querySelector("iframe[src*='"+e+"']");t&&(t.style.height=a.data["datawrapper-height"][e]+"px")}});window.addEventListener('DOMContentLoaded',function(){var i=document.createElement("iframe");var e=document.getElementById("datawrapper-eWUSI");var t=e.dataset.iframeTitle||'Interactive graphic';i.setAttribute("src",e.dataset.iframe);i.setAttribute("title",t);i.setAttribute("frameborder","0");i.setAttribute("scrolling","no");i.setAttribute("aria-label",e.dataset.iframeFallbackAlt||t);i.setAttribute("title",t);i.setAttribute("height","400");i.setAttribute("id","datawrapper-chart-eWUSI");i.style.minWidth="100%";i.style.border="none";e.appendChild(i)})}() On Twitter, Trump garnered nearly 50 million mentions in the week beginning January 3, the week of the Capitol riots, according to data from Zignal, which searched for “Trump” as a keyword or hashtag. The following week, after Trump was banned, mentions dropped to around 30 million and have continued to decline precipitously. In the last month, that number has shrunk to around 3 million mentions per week — or roughly the level it was at in 2016, before Trump became president. “While Donald Trump is still a heavily discussed figure on Twitter, his suspension in January has had a significant impact on the volume of mentions of his name on the platform,” said Jennifer Granston, chief customer officer and head of insights at Zignal Labs. “In the nearly five months since the permanent suspension of his account, there have been 151 million mentions of his name on Twitter. For context, during just the week of the 2020 presidential election, his name accumulated 56 million mentions.” Screenshot of CrowdTangle data on Facebook interactions — “Likes,” reactions, comments, and shares — with posts including “Trump” over time. On Facebook, the week that included Election Day 2020 had the highest number of interactions, with 427 million “Likes,” reactions, comments, and shares on posts by Trump or including the word “Trump” on Facebook pages, public groups, and verified profiles. That spiked again to around 300 million the week of the Capitol riot but has since declined to levels below any seen in the past year — around 30 million a week. CrowdTangle’s data, as of publication, includes engagement with Trump’s account that has happened after he was banned from posting. Again, it’s not entirely surprising that a lame-duck president would start to fade from public discussion. But Trump was an exception. Even after his mentions and presence on social media had begun to decline post-election, he rallied his social media followers in a drastic rebound. In early January, Trump capitalized on the “#stopthesteal” social media campaign to attempt to overturn the results of the election and once again dominate discussion on Twitter. One of the reasons the conversation about Trump finally dropped off is because, at the same time they banned Trump, social media companies also cracked down on major far-right groups that bolstered discussion of Trump online, like “#stopthesteal,” QAnon, boogaloo, and Proud Boys. For example, about a week after banning Trump, Twitter suspended more than 70,000 QAnon accounts popular among Trump loyalists. With Trump off Twitter, that also meant people couldn’t retweet or reply to him — key ways he often became central to the public conversation on social media. When his account went away, there was less for people to react to — either positively or negatively. “While there are certainly many contributing factors, now that users no longer have the ability to engage with his account, mentions of Trump’s name have shown a steady decline,” said Zignal’s Granston. It’s impossible to say exactly how much social media companies’ bans on Trump — versus the natural course of events when a politician loses — were responsible for the drop in chatter about him. But it’s important to remember just how crucial social media was to Trump’s success in the first place. He was the Twitter president, and he used social media to build his campaign, push policy, and recruit supporters. It’s also important to note that Trump still has an audience on other platforms, like his new cable news networks of choice, One America News and Newsmax. And his supporters still have robust communities like Facebook groups and pages and MAGA-oriented Twitter accounts. Trump has also said he would build his own social media platform, but so far his efforts seem more like a blog than anything like Twitter or Facebook. But it’s clear that the ban had a serious effect on the volume of conversation about Trump on mainstream platforms, even if we can’t exactly measure how much. Why Trump’s social media ban matters The decision to ban Trump from social media was one of the most challenging and controversial ones that social media companies have made to date — and they avoided making this decision until after he’d been voted out of office. Twitter and Facebook made it clear over the past four years that they did not want to ban the president. In the past, even when Trump violated these companies’ rules on harmful speech, they resisted taking down his account or taking much action at all against his rule-breaking posts, saying that it was in the public interest to keep his posts up. During Trump’s term, companies created a “newsworthiness” exception solidifying this reasoning. In the runup to the election, companies did start to take modest action against certain content that contained misinformation about voting and Covid-19. Meanwhile, conservatives have long made unfounded accusations that they were censored by social media companies. In turn, social media companies have tried to prove they were neutral platforms. Everything changed when Trump lost the election and refused to concede — and egged on increasingly violent protests in the US Capitol. There was a clear, immediate, and physical threat to the stability of US democracy. Now, that danger is seemingly less immediate, and there’s a debate about whether Trump should be brought back, or if social media companies should have indefinitely banned him at all. Proponents of the ban argue that if Trump is brought back onto the platforms, he could stoke civil unrest. And they point to how much misinformation on social media has declined after companies banned Trump and his allies — by as much as 73 percent, according to a January analysis by Zignal and reported by the Washington Post. But opponents of the bans say that social media companies should not have the power to silence a former world leader, no matter how controversial his speech, and they worry about the precedent that sets for future bans. The impact of these bans is going to be further discussed in the months to come. On Wednesday, the company’s newly created oversight board, which has been called its “Supreme Court,” ruled that Facebook was correct to suspend Trump’s account in the short term but that the company needs to come up with clearer reasoning and a timeline around whether it wants to continue the ban. The oversight board’s decision underscored that the debate around how social media companies should handle Trump will continue without any clear answers for the foreseeable future. One thing we do know now is the numbers show these bans have a clear impact.

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